In a year where we all thought we would get our first female president and then (spoiler alert) we did not, I think we’re all in need of a little feminist pick me up. Well, have no fear because I am here to remind us all about the great feminist books that came out in 2016. I have definitely missed some very important books since I am merely a mortal who hasn’t read everything, but this is my best attempt to capture of all the great feminism we were given this year! These are my top 7 feminist comics of 2016 starting with…

FAITH by Jody Houser, Francis Portela, and Marguerite Sauvage (Valiant)

Feminist Comics of 2016
FAITH #1 cover by Kevin Wada

The greatest comic books of all time are about people at the core. Superheroes might have powers and crazy costumes, but at the end of the day, we connect and love them because they struggle and succeed just like us mere mortals. Summer Smith by day and amazing superhero Faith Herbert by night, FAITH features a plus-sized protagonist who is fully realized. She has a style, look, and personality that dazzles. She is confident, kind, funny, and extremely well-versed in all things nerd culture. While the book is the story of a superhero, it is, at its heart, just a story about an amazing person named Faith who loves life. Much like Superman is the goal we all strive for, Faith is the character who we all want to be, and most importantly, feminists thank her for it.

READ: Need a little Faith? Read about how Faith avoids deification unlike every other superhero out there!

JONESY by Sam Humphries and Caitlin Rose Boyle (Boom! Studios)

Feminist Comics of 2016
JONESY #1 cover by Caitlin Rose Boyle

JONESY is a favorite of the staff at ComicsVerse, and it’s no wonder why. Sam Humphries and Caitlin Rose Boyle have come together to create a wonderful story about a young woman of color, named Jonesy of course, who discovers that she has the ability to make anyone fall in love with anyone else… except herself. While the premise is wonderful on its own, the way Jonesy deals with and learns from this power is the best part of this story. Instead of falling solely into a completely played out stereotype like “the independent black woman who don’t need no man” or a girl who falls completely head over heels for everyone, Jonesy straddles the line like any normal human person. She struggles with wanting to be loved and being comfortable with her independence in an extremely real and relatable way. This story is for any feminist who struggles with the inherent contradictions of wanting to fall in love and wanting to be completely autonomous.

READ: Want a longer in-depth analysis of JONESY? Check out why she is a new type of feminist hero here!

BITCH PLANET by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro (Image Comics)

Feminist Comics of 2016
BITCH PLANET #9 cover by Valentine De Landro

BITCH PLANET has been a favorite of the ComicsVerse staff for about two years now, but it has gained a place on this list for its continued attempts to diversify and broaden its feminist scope. For those who are not enlightened, BITCH PLANET is set in the not-so-distant future where bad women are sent to a prison planet colloquially known as Bitch Planet. Telling stories about a variety of different women of color with complicated personalities and backstories, the comic has always excelled in presenting a fully realized intersectional feminism. In addition to the stories DeConnick and De Landro tell, every issue is always supported by an excellent feminist essay at the end focusing on how the themes discussed in the comic manifest and apply to everyday life. However, the new arc takes the books to new heights by highlighting the difficulties and struggles between feminists within the movement — specifically focusing on the lack of support for the transgender movement in the early feminist movement. Due to the fact that Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro continue to complicate the feminist landscape with new characters and perspectives, this book is a must-read for anyone who wants to see a realistically portrayed and complicated look at why everyone needs feminism.

JEM: THE MISFITS by Kelly Thomson and Jenn St-Onge (IDW Comics)

feminist comics of 2016
JEM: THE MISFITS #1 cover by Jen St-Onge

Is there anything more punk rock than the feminist movement? If I had to give an answer, I would probably say Pizzazz and the other members of her youthful and crazy band, The Misfits. A spin-off of the extremely popular JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS comic that took the world by storm over the last two years, JEM: THE MISFITS gives readers an inside look at a day in the life of the best band in the whole wide world, The Misfits. Focusing on the fun characters we already know while fleshing out Pizzazz’s backstory creates a fun and emotional experience that anyone with a soul would enjoy. While a less sophisticated and lazier book might simply portray the tenacious heroine as a spoiled brat with a heart of gold, Thompson cleverly crafts Pizzazz’s backstory and personality into two parts of the same whole. Pizzazz has to be this way to survive, and she survives because she is this way. With a sympathetic and complex look at one of the most fun characters I’ve ever gotten to read about in a comic, this book is a great one that is sure to turn into something totally punk rock in the new year.

READ: Want a different perspective? Read our initial review of JEM: THE MISFITS here!

THE MIGHTY THOR by Jason Aaron and Russel Dauterman (Marvel Comics)

feminist comics of 2016
THE MIGHTY THOR #11 cover by Russell Dauterman

Jane Foster emerged as the Mighty Thor two years ago and nothing else was ever quite the same. Telling the story of Jane Foster, a cancer patient, who gains the power of a god by picking up the mighty Mjolnir gave 2016 a lot of fun Thor adventures with a dark undercurrent that readers could not escape. While this title might not be for those who are not interested in the canon of Thor — even though this book totally converted me — I think the best thing about this book is that underneath it all is a very human woman struggling with weakness all the time. To the outside world we as people — and as women — may always look like a goddess of thunder, but underneath we all have a secret that makes us broken. While not everyone is dying of cancer — although far too many are, which makes this story even more important to tell — everyone is always trying to hide their weakness under intense strength. For finding a way to communicate the fragility found in strength, Jane Foster and THE MIGHTY THOR are a must-read feminist experience for anyone who happens to be a human being.

SNOTGIRL by Bryan Lee O’Malley and Leslie Hung (Image Comics)

feminist comics of 2016
SNOTGIRL #1 cover by Leslie Hung

A departure from SCOTT PILGRIM and SECONDS, SNOTGIRL tells the story of a young Instagram model who is caught up in murder as well as terrible allergies. Millenials do not always get the best wrap in fiction, but I have never seen such an interesting look at the way that images truly affect people’s perceptions of other people and our perception of ourself. It is no easy feat, but O’Malley manages to perfectly capture the large amount of effort required to come off as an effortless beauty while also showing the toll it can take on a person who is painfully aware all the time that she is definitely not perfect. Manifesting these insecurities in crazy outbursts and the inability to remember her thankless assistant’s name, O’Malley’s main character Lottie may not be the person anyone aspires to be, but a lot of the time she is the person that we end up being: confused, petty, and caught with a sniffling nose at the worst possible times. For a completely on the nose — pun intended — portrayal of the messy person we as young women can all be, SNOTGIRL gets a big place on my list.

PAPER GIRLS by Brian K. Vaughn, Cliff Chiang, and Matt Wilson (Image Comics)

feminist comics of 2016
PAPER GIRLS #10 cover by Cliff Chang and Matt Wilson

The last entry in this big old feminist list is the amazing PAPER GIRLS. Popping onto the scene at the end of last year, it caught the eye of many comics fans, but now that it’s had time to flourish, we can without a doubt say it is a book worth reading and keeping up with for the foreseeable future. Telling the story of a group of girls doing a paper route in the 80’s who get stuck in the middle of a futuristic alien invasion, Brian K. Vaughn manages to deliver another amazing story, but this time he focuses in on the realistic struggles and joys of what it means to be a 13-year-old girl in the 80’s. Supported by amazing art with beautiful lines from both Cliff Chang and Matt Wilson, PAPER GIRLS is simply an amazing book filled with awesome well-realized characters stuck in the middle of a crazy situation a la Spielberg’s E.T. or Netflix’s STRANGER THINGS. Sometimes the most feminist thing you can do is tell a brilliant story about four very real girls, and that is what PAPER GIRLS does so well.

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