On my way to book club tonight I stopped by my favourite comic book store to peruse the single issues shelves. I thought I might check out the latest Spider-Gwen, ask about the release date of the new Fiona Staples’ Archie comic, maybe take a peek at the new Saga cover.
So I picked up Spider-Gwen, the most recent Thor, and to my surprise, I even bought the Jem and the Holograms #1. Then I got in the car, went to book club and largely forgot about my new issues.
And then I got home.
When I took the comics out of the bag and laid them all before me something clicked. it occurred to me that I bought three comics where the protagonists were all women. The titles were the names of women (yes, even Thor!), and the conflicts within the stories were real social and personal conflicts that had NOTHING to do with men. No love story, no damsel in distress, no all encompassing quest towards a male counterpart. Just three women dealing with the struggles of finding success, happiness, and a place in this world. Same as many of us do every day.
I love reading comics. Heck, I love reading anything, so to read from a male protagonist’s perspective has never irked me. I have always been ok with it. I have even been ok with the stories where the girl is the love interest and in need of saving. But when characters like Captain Marvel, Black Widow, Wonder Woman, Kamala Khan (the new Ms. Marvel), Sue Storm, and Jessica Jones show their female readership that they can hold a story on their own, you get used to women being in the spotlight. A limited spotlight, granted, but there nonetheless. Sure, with the exception of Jones and Khan, they don’t typically look like the rest of us women, and therefore some find it hard to connect with the characters, but at least their stories are being told. But wait! I opened Jem and the Holograms, and to my pleasant surprise, Jerrica, Aja and Shana look normal (makeup aside). Like, short and not-fit, borderline chubby normal. Kinda like me.
So a female protagonist maybe isn’t such a big deal, but that I bought THREE titles, and the only three titles at that, in one outing is. I always go for Batman, Cap, Wolverine, Hawkeye, or Thor (Odinson), without thinking about the social ramifications of constantly choosing male heroes. Maybe that is wrong, maybe not, but for me to unintentionally choose three female centred titles suggests that I am not buying strictly because the characters are female, I am buying because female characters are getting good stories, looking more like the rest of us, and holding a mirror up to the nature of true womanhood. These stories are worthy of anyone’s attention, gender notwithstanding.