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Riot Grrrls: 15 Great Girl Gangs In Comics

by  in Lists Comment

For Women’s History Month, we’ve decided to shine a much-needed spotlight on our favorite femme fatales in comic books with series where women band together like family to kick ass and take names. A girl gang is simply defined as a group of ladies who get together to support each other or a common cause while creating a sense of female camaraderie.

RELATED: The 15 Most Powerful Women In DC Comics

There is something amazing that happens when women team up, especially in comics. Not only do these comic books tell stories of ladies kicking butt and saving the world, but they also take a deep dive into the dynamics and emotions of female friendships, no matter how different the characters may be. It’s a sense of unity that can be found and, more importantly, felt in any of the girl gang comic books on this curated list.

15. RAT QUEENS

The Rat Queens

Amidst the recent controversy over the future of “Rat Queens,” the booze-guzzling, cursing misfit group of female fantasy characters is back with a soft reboot and new artist as of March 1 2017 with “Cat Kings And Other Grays” #1. This hilarious series is a high-fantasy comic about the chaotic adventures of an all-female (but not human) gang in a “Dungeons and Dragons”-inspired world. The book was originally launched in 2013 by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch, however Upchurch was replaced and the book was forced to take a hiatus.

These four rowdy and often foul-mouthed friends were nominated for the 2014 Eisner Award for Best New Series and won the 2015 GLAAD Media Award. So, if you prefer unconventional ladies with bad attitudes, “Rat Queens” has them all. They include Hannah, the rockabilly Elven mage covered in tattoos; Violet, the red-headed dwarf warrior; Dee, a magical cult escapee; and Betty, the pot-loving hippie. If that sounds like a cast you can get behind, “Rat Queens” is right up your alley.

14. BITCH PLANET

Bitch Planet

“Bitch Planet” might be the ultimate in girl gang comics, considering that the lead characters are actually members of literal girl gangs that are “caged and enraged,” and also responsible for a massive uprising against the current incarceration system, which of course is an extension of the story’s virulent patriarchy. Created by writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and artist Valentine De Landro, the series is a feminist look at ’60s and ’70s exploitation films that takes place in a dystopian reality where non-compliant women are banished to a prison located on a different planet.

We get to know each of the rather brazen characters well as the narrative shifts back and forth between their own personal stories of how and why they were deemed non-compliant in the first place, and their violent experiences in Auxiliary Compliance Outpost. “Bitch Planet” is a story about tough gangs, feminine power and most importantly, what happens when a woman is pushed beyond her limit.

13. LUMBERJANES

Lumberjanes smooch

What’s more fun than a summer camp for hardcore lady types? Probably nothing! “Lumberjanes” from Boom! Studios creators Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Brooke A. Allen and Noelle Stevenson came about when they decided they needed a female-centric ongoing comic. “Lumberjanes” follows a diverse group of gal pals (Mal, Ripley, Molly, April and Jo) as they encounter crazy creatures and strange happenings at Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types.

Each character is unique in their own way. Whether you relate to punk rocker Mal, transgender leader Mo or even the overly dramatic April, these lovely ladies are easy to connect with, considering the book is written and inked by only female creators. Everyone wants to be Lumbie Jumbie! It’s an all-ages series, so younger girls can get in on the fantasy adventure as well and get a sense of girl gang camaraderie when they are looking for it the most.

12. PAPER GIRLS

Paper Girls

“Paper Girls,” from Eisner Award-winning writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Cliff Chiang, is often referred to as the “Stranger Things” of comics. However, we happen to think that the current ongoing series is much better than the show (which, by the way, we also love), considering it’s already won Best New Series and Best Penciller in 2016. The ‘80s-loving story follows a group of four newspaper delivery girls when the town is suddenly struck by a paranormal super sci-fi invasion. Fire and strange creatures reign down from the sky while the girls are on their daily paper route.

“Paper Girls” is an exciting thrill ride full of inventive ideas that makes for a real page-turner. The story is led by one tough girl gang of 12-year-old gal pals. Whether it’s Mac with her chain-smoking, KJ beating people down with her field hockey stick or the new naïve girl Erin losing her childhood innocence; they are all rebellious in their own way. No matter what crazy occurrences this girl gang encounters in their action-adventure series, they always protect each other first.

11. HARLEY QUINN AND HER GANG OF HARLEYS

Harley Quinn being carried by her gang of Harleys

Harley Quinn may have began her reign on “Batman: The Animated Series” in the early ’90s, but since then she has been nothing less than a smash hit (literally) in every comic she’s appeared in. No matter how toxic her origins were with the Joker, she has shown women everywhere how to get back up again after you fall, and she has done so with strength, bravery and a little bit of insanity. “Harley Quinn and Her Gang Of Harleys” is an ongoing miniseries by Jimmy Palmiotti, Frank Tieri, Mauricet and Hi-Fi.

In the story, Harley decided she needed a little break from clownish crime-fighting and decided to recruit her own crew to take over while she just… relaxes. She puts out a want ad and nearly 80 applicants respond. She then determines who makes the team by turning off the lights to see who is left still standing. It’s a fun book for sure, punny in its own way and once again proves how girl gangs can rule the world or at least attempt to protect it.

10. GOTHAM CITY SIRENS

Gotham City Sirens

“Gotham City Sirens” is a short-lived comic book series created by Paul Dini and Guillem March that is less about the ridiculous storylines and more about the diverse relationships between the three most popular DC femme fatales with Harley Quinn, Catwoman and Poison Ivy. The spinoff series ran from June 2009 to August 2011 with a total of 26 issues. “Gotham City Sirens” focuses on these three ladies fighting against each other just as much as they fight against their common enemies (mirroring many girl gang friendships).

“Gotham City Sirens” explores the dark corners of female friendship and tackles love and romance between women, except these ladies are dangerous, volatile anti-heroes. In fact, throughout the series, Harley and Ivy are in a serious romantic yet toxic relationship. Ivy desperately tries to help Harley heal from having horrible flashbacks of her abusive ex-boyfriend, the Joker. After her break-up with the Joker, Harley’s life is in pieces. In the comic, Ivy and Catwoman help her put it back together while Harley reclaims her own strength. It reads just like a real-life situation of any women helping a friend get back on their feet after a horrible break-up.

9. A-FORCE

A-Force

“A-Force”, also known as the first all-female Avengers, debuted in May 2015 as part of Marvel’s “Secret Wars” event. The series is written by G. Willow Wilson and Marguerite Bennett, and drawn by J Jorge Molina. She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, Medusa, Dazzler and a brand new cosmic superheroine, Singularity, were tasked with protecting the world from evil forces. Let’s just say that they did a pretty good job by proving that women are just as capable as the men in the Marvel universe, which gave the book a feminist vibe.

“A-Force” set out to make a point – that all superheroes are equal and strong women-only teams of heroes can save the world, too. Women readers want to see more of themselves along with positive female role models in comic books; “A-Force” accomplished just that. Plus, almost every A-Force member now has her own on-going series, which of course we love to see!

8. WORLDS’ FINEST (NEW 52)

Huntress and Power Girl

“Worlds’ Finest” is a short-lived all-female reboot of the original series “World’s Finest Comics” that ran from 1941 through 1986 and featured Batman and Superman on the cover. When DC rebooted with the New 52, World’s Finest returned as a team up adventure with Huntress and Power Girl on Earth-2. Power Girl is Earth-2’s own version of Supergirl and Huntress is Earth-2’s Helena Wayne, daughter of Batman and Catwoman.

Although the series only ran for less than two years, “Worlds’ Finest” was a fun, action-packed superheroine buddy book with enough girl power for everyone on both Earths. From George Perez, Paul Levitz and Kevin Maguire, the story follows Huntress and Power Girl as they get stranded on Earth-1. The series follows their desperate and often comedic attempts involving secret cover-ups in hopes of finding their way back home. When they succeeded in their mission with issue #27, the series casually ended. Because Huntress and Powergirl are such beloved characters, we’d love to see them team-up again!

7. DC BOMBSHELLS

DC Bombshells

We cannot ignore that DC’s cast of female heroines, villains, and even anti-heroes have often been drawn and depicted as total bombshell babes. “DC Bombshells” began as a new line of pin-up style statues of Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn and Batgirl. They were an instant hit, so many more were commissioned for superheroines like Batwoman, Mera, Stargirl and Zatanna, among others. The statues became so popular and heralded by fans that they eventually led to a new lady-centric comic book “Bombshells” that was set during the time of World War II.

Set in an alternate reality, the most powerful DC superheroines fight on the front lines of the war and behind the scenes. Created by Marguerite Sauvage and Marguerite Bennet in 2015, the storyline follows the superhero girl gang kicking butt and explores their friendships, including the lesbian romance between Batwoman and Maggie Sawyer. Readers meet women of all-different colors, faiths and nations that come together to prove that women can either stand on their own two feet or fight together as one.

6. KIM & KIM

Kim and Kim

“Kim & Kim” from Black Mask Studios, written by Magdalene Visaggio and drawn by Eva Cabrera, is described as “Tank Girl” meets “Superbad.” The series follows two rebellious gal pals (with the same name) who are out to kick butt and take names in a sci-fi version of the Wild West. They decide to hijack some high-stakes bounty which of course gets them into some serious trouble, but nothing that this girl gang can’t handle! Time travel, guitars, guns, shape-shifters – how much more action could you want out of a comic book?

“Kim & Kim” is an adventure series that puts queer and transgender women at the center of an uproarious, absurd story. The title has been described as “a bright, happy punk rock sci-fi adventure that is queer positive.” Along with many other female-led comic books, “Kim & Kim” focuses on the importance of girl gang friendships. Through a fantastic and fun narrative, it teaches us that no matter what crazy mess our friends may get into, there is always a friend nearby to bail them out. That’s what girl gangs are for, right?

5. JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS

Jem And The Holograms

Being a rock star in “Jem And The Holograms” was every little girls dream in the 80s, so when IDW rebooted the beloved animated series into a comic book in 2015, it flew off the shelves. Although the series will be taking a hiatus in April 2017, writer Kelly Thompson has promised it will be back. The comic book updated the original series to include a more diverse and realistic cast of glittery pop stars like queer characters Kimber and Stormer and even a transgender character in Misfit Blaze.

The storyline is full of some serious cat fights and rivalry between the Misfits and the Holograms, as well as the girls themselves. The series deals with real-world issues that every girl gang goes through, like performance anxiety, the constant pressure to win and a whole lot of neon holographs. Although the current run will be ending with issue #26, we will be seeing a special summer edition this year that celebrates women!

4. DC SUPER HERO GIRLS

DC Superhero Girls

Needless to say, “DC Super Hero Girls” took off in 2016. The new line focuses on popular DC superheroines when they were younger, in hopes of giving young girls more positive female role models. Along with their own comic book series, “DC Super Hero Girls” also has a treasure trove of novels, action figures, animated shows, and even movies to boot.

It’s a girl gang for young girls! “DC Super Hero Girls” follows Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Raven, Black Canary and more while they are in high school. Not only are they dealing with growing up and being teenagers, but they are also struggling with how to use and control their powers. The series is a fun and family-friendly book that easily relates to young girls and the struggles they may encounter in their daily lives. There’s nothing that says “DC Super Hero Girls” is just for kids either!

3. BATGIRL AND THE BIRDS OF PREY

Birds of Prey

The “Birds of Prey” are a group of DC lady heroes headed up by Oracle (Batgirl) that was also a short-lived television series. Though the team’s roster is constantly changing, the leaders of the group have always been Oracle, Black Canary, and Huntress (Earth-1). Again, these lady superheroes have been around for quite some time and many women have carried these mantles, but DC Rebirth just soft-rebooted Batgirl, Huntress and Black Canary back to basics with female writers Julie and Shawna Benson. Their focus with the new series is putting Black Canary on the forefront of the storyline. There is no doubt that fans love this birdie girl gang!

The Bensons themselves recently teased the next upcoming issue, saying “In Issue #9 we’re going to see Dinah going old-school BoP undercover in order to unravel the mysterious Blackbird. It’s almost entirely a Black Canary issue and we’re excited to give her some much-deserved spotlight. We’ll see the Birds of Prey (with a little help from their friends Nightwing and Green Arrow) work together to take down Blackbird before she can do more harm.” So far, this new series is a hit!

2. SPIDER-WOMEN ALPHA

Spider-Women Alpha

A girl gang of lady Spideys? Sure! “Spider-Women Alpha” from Jason Latour, Dennis Hopeless, and Robbie Thompson brings together Spider-Gwen, SILK, and Spider-Woman for their very own web-slinging adventure in the ultimate Marvel superheroine team-up story. Spider-Woman decides to take the other ladies under her web to offer some much-needed mentoring, spider to spider. A familiar storyline, but this time with web included.

However, when they are enjoying a peaceful brunch on Earth 65, Cindy Moon has some bad-girl ulterior motives for the Spidey-Women squad and gets her super-spy organization involved. It’s true that girl gangs learn from other girl gangs, much in the same way that Spider-Woman had attempted to mentor the two younger heroes. It’s also a wonderful feeling to see more mature superheroines trying to be positive role models for heroes who are struggling to adjust to their new lives. If anything, hopefully this inspires women to do the same!

1. JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS

Josie and the Pussycats

With all of the madness for “Archie Comics” lately, we just had to include the most rockin’ girl gang “Josie And The Pussycats” on this list! The series was originally created by Dan DeCarlo back in 1963 and ran until 1982. More recently, “Josie And The Pussycats” was relaunched in September 2016 as part of the “New Riverdale” universe, but keeps the teen-comedy aspect of the original series, following a gang of super-talented musical girls as they climb the ladder to super-stardom. The comic addresses real struggles and triumphs that young women have when they are under pressure to be the best.

The current ongoing series is co-written by Marguerite Bennett and Cameron DeOrdio with art by Audrey Mok. Josie gets the band back together and gets them ready take their big shot at being rock stars. That is, until they start some cat fights with their manager’s not-so-nice daughter. There is nothing better than a girl gang comic full of sisterhood, friendship, teenage drama, leopard print and cat ears.

With girl gang comics, it’s always about the camaraderie, friendship, and supporting each other. Do you have any favorite girl gang comics? Sound off in the comments below!

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