Wonder Woman is the first female-led superhero film in over a decade, but happily, comics aren’t such a boys’ club. Countless superheroines have been fighting crime and saving the world for years on the shelves of your local comic book store. Some of them are rightfully famous, but others are underappreciated gems. Their stories have a lot to offer long-time superhero fans but are also a great place to start for those new to the genre.
So, don’t wait for the Wonder Woman sequel or the next season of Supergirl to get your fix of superpowered ladies kicking butt. Check out these awesome graphic novels and prepare to feel empowered.
You saw her fight robots in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but do you really know the Scarlet Witch? She has one of the most complicated backstories in all comics. Mutant or witch? Hero or villain? And just what is up with her family tree? James Robinson plays up the magical aspect of her powers as she investigates a supernatural mystery that leads her across the globe. The art style changes each issue, but one thing that stays the same is how each style is breathtakingly gorgeous and matches the story’s tone and setting perfectly. If witchcraft and monsters are up your alley, give this book a read.
Fans of the CW’s Supergirl TV series are missing out if they don’t pick up this book. Steve Orlando captures Supergirl’s optimism and compassion perfectly, and there’s plenty of superpowered sci-fi action. While taking inspiration from the TV show, the comic is its own unique story and introduces a fresh take on the character after DC’s latest relaunch. As a teenager, Supergirl struggles with that familiar conflict of balancing her heroics with school—except in this case, she’s attending school on a new planet with a strange culture and significantly less advanced technology. You don’t have to be an alien to relate to how lost and out of place she feels, which makes her victories in both her personal life and crime-fighting feel all the more meaningful.
You’d really have to look hard to find a series more adorable than this one. Lunella Lafayette, AKA Moon Girl, is a bullied and misunderstood preteen genius. Devil Dinosaur is…well, a bright red t-rex. This odd couple doesn’t exactly get along at first, but Lunella eventually warms up to the big softie. Together, they fight evil cavemen and invading aliens while dealing with body-swapping hijinks and trying to survive middle school. A great book for kids and adults alike, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is guaranteed to make you smile.
Fun fact: Batwoman was originally created in the 1950s as a love interest to fight allegations that Batman was gay. So it’s pretty funny that her modern day incarnation is a lesbian. This volume tells the origin story of the former soldier turned vigilante, as well as her fight against the Religion of Crime. It’s as dark and creepy as you’d expect of a mystery set in Gotham City, and you can read the twisting story or just stare at the stunning artwork. Because seriously, half of me wants to tear this book apart and frame the pages on my wall.
Ms. Marvel took the comic book world by storm a few years ago, and for good reason. Kamala Khan is an adorkable fangirl who stumbles into superpowers and becomes quite possibly the world’s most likeable and upbeat superhero. There’s something refreshingly unique about this story of a Muslim American teenager fighting crime in New Jersey, and the fun action is hiding some impressively deep themes. The supporting cast is fantastic, and the cartoonish art style wonderfully matches the tone. This is one of those rare books that definitely lives up to the hype.
I don’t have much to say about this besides The Legend of Wonder Woman is one of the best Wonder Woman stories I’ve ever read. Seriously. It starts with Diana’s childhood on the island, goes to her meeting with Steve Trevor, and follows her journey into Man’s World. Standard stuff, but the beautiful art and wonderful character work make it all seem fresh and new. Diana’s romance with Steve is great, but the true heart of the book is her friendship with Etta Candy. (If you liked Etta in the movie but thought she didn’t have enough screen time, then this is the book for you.) Wonder Woman is strong and compassionate, and from beginning to end, her story feels truly mythic.