Last week we took a look at 10 graphic novels and collections perfect for adolescent gals (or their parents) looking to enter the daunting world of comic books. If you happened to venture into a comic store after reading and liked the experience, well guess what: you can return every month for new chapters of some of the most riveting, addictive modern mythologies produced by unbelievably talented individuals. (If you’re looking for a cool shop, here are some great places to get started).
Luckily, the comics industry has been especially active in this endeavor, breathlessly releasing comics designed for a young female readership. As we looked at the latest books in a medium that’s historically catered to boys, it was hard not to notice that many of them only debuted in the past year or two. While it may be hard to argue the excellence of a comic that’s only existed for a couple of months, we’re also taking the creative team’s track record into consideration (honestly, can Jason Aaron write a bad comic?) Here are ten more great comics currently released every month — or in batches of miniseries — for adolescent girls.
1. Adventure Time with Finn & Jake
Yes, the Adventure Time series usually focuses on a young boy (Finn) and his hyper-elastic dog (Jake), but characters like Princess Bubblegum and Marceline the Vampire Queen — especially Marceline the Vampire Queen — more than balance out the gender quotient. Add in miniseries like Marceline & The Scream Queens and Fionna & Cake, and the candy-colored post-apocalyptic wilderness of Adventure Time touts some of the most whimsical, downright cool gals in comicdom. Arguably, Bubblegum and Marceline even tout more moxy and leadership than the titular stars.
Writer: Paul Tobin
Artist: Colleen Coover
Publisher: MonkeyBrain/Dark Horse
Bandette feels like some archaic, lost treasure discovered in a European thrift store, merging the timeless comic-strip charm of Tintin with a post-modern energy usually found in Wes Anderson flicks. Bandette is quintessentially the good-bad guy (errr…gal), foiling crimes while also committing grand larceny throughout the angular streets of Paris. The husband-and-wife team of Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover work in frictionless union to create an eminently fun, dashing and exuberant experience with a lead who steals hearts and priceless valuables in equal turn. Bonus: a cleavage-less costume that successfully pulls off a yellow cape.
3. Gotham Academy
Writers: Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher
Artist: Karl Kerschl
One of Paste’s favorite new series, Gotham Academy injects the Harry Potter formula into the Batman universe with a healthy dose of Nancy Drew mystery. In this series, melancholic teen Olivia Silverlock navigates the perils of Gotham’s most regal education institution, while also managing the adolescent mainstays of catty drama (we’re looking at you, Pomeline), occult masses and the onslaught of confusion (and hormones) inherent in youth. Gotham Academy layers vulnerable, human characters into a whirlpool of intrigue and mood. And though we’re sad he’s working less on The Abominable Charles Christopher, Karl Kerschl’s lush pencils bring a distinct, animated finesse that’s rarely seen outside of Disney’s stellar work in the ‘90s.
Writers: Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis
Artist: Brooke Allen
Saturday morning cartoons may have suffered an unfortunate demise last October, but Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis and Brooke Allen have compensated with one of the most joyous, stylized odes to childhood escapism well….ever. The cast avoids stereotypes (no dudes!), casting a dynamic group of rugged lasses without a princess among them. With adventures that careen past yetis, latent super powers and epic capture-the-flag skirmishes, the girl’s club has never looked so enticing.
5. Ms. Marvel
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Adrian Alphona
Adolescence often feels like a metaphysical changing room of identities and values. You only truly discover who you are by escaping your parent’s safety to venture deeper into the maw of life, with all of its depravities, perils and joys. G. Willow Wilson takes this progression to brilliantly literal levels with Kamala Khan, a Pakistani teen who gains the power to shape-shift after a nightly stroll in some Terrigin (aka alien power-granting) Mists. The resulting journey incorporates a subtle sensitivity to Islamic culture and genuine look at what it feels like to be a good kid balancing the tight rope of inner growth and familial expectation. Ultimately, Ms. Marvel is a delightful lil bildungsoman with disarming dialogue (“I am 911!”), bolstered by Wilson’s unique cultural perspectives.
6. Penny Dora and The Wishing Box
Writer: Michael Stock
Artist: Sina Grace
We’re only one issue into Penny Dora, but those first 28 pages hint at a magical, colorful journey, with deeper issues simmering underneath. Penny Dora Jefferson wakes up on Christmas morning to find an especially odd gift: an antique box that whispers to her at night, demanding wishes. Monkey paws and genies historically lead to poor outcomes for the protagonist, but Penny displays a humanity and realism that should lead to a far less patronizing narrative here. The tale also hints at the realities of divorce and parental strife, which should lend itself to some interesting subtexts and explorations in future issues.
Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Artists: M. Goodwin, Emily Martin, Others
Publisher: Action Lab
Why should able young ladies wait for dudes in bowl cuts to rescue them from dragons and other exotic peril? Writer Jeremy Whitley asks this same question in Princeless, the story of feisty, 16-year-old Princess Adrienne and the best example of medieval feminism since Joan of Arc. After her parents command her to wait in a tower for her future savior, Adrienne breaks loose to pave her own empowered path. She takes up the cause again this January in The Pirate Princess, helping fellow princesses bust out of their boxes for the freedom of the seas.
8. Princess Ugg
Writer & Artist: Ted Naifeh
Ted (Courtney Crumrin) Naifeh transports the timeless odd couple parable to the fantasy genre in Princess Ugg, a touching tale of a barbarian princess realizing her full potential. After her mother dies, Princess Ulga of the mountainous Grimmeria keeps a promise to gain a formal education in the prim and proper Atraesca. Ulga finds herself rooming with Princess Julifer Astoria, a waifish aristocrat who doesn’t take well to axe threats, pet mammoths and au naturale hygiene practices. Naifeh busts out some laugh out loud moments — that may include a roasted unicorn on a spit — while seamlessly showcasing the beauty of cooperation and subjectivity.
9. Rocket Girl
Writer: Brandon Montclare
Artist: Amy Reeder
For more mature readers, Rocket Girl features a kinetic, manga-influenced barrage of action and attitude. DaYoung Johansson gets to fly — it’s why she joined the NYPD. She also travels back in time to a pre-Giuliani New York where crime and neon signs reign supreme, kicking all kinds of ass and taking many a name. Aside from revolving around a 15-year-old, jet-pack dominating action hero, Rocket Girl also dives deep into sci-fi conundrums and the grey morality of the greater good. Bonus: all of the police in the future are teens because adults can’t be trusted. This is a perfect gateway to other Image titles like Rat Queens and Saga for the growing reader.
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman
Quoth The Breeders, the new Thor is just looking for one divine hammer. Jason Aaron may be perfecting gritty machismo in Southern Bastards, but his new Thor relaunch with Russell Dauterman is all about girl power. Even before a mysterious blonde assumes the identity of a certain pagan Thunder deity to perforate some ice giants, the original male Thor’s mamma and matriarch, Frigga, reveals that the fairer sex may be pulling the strings on more than one level, ensuring that Midgard (earth’s in there) remains protected whether the guys are up to it or not. There are more dismemberments here than any other entry on this list, but nothing you wouldn’t find in the high school lit of Beowulf or Njal’s Saga.