10. SHE-HULK/JENNIFER WALTERS (new!)
Ah, so happy to have her here, so depressed that her book is going the way of the dodo. She-Hulk has been more on my radar in recent years thanks to an especially strong turn in FF a funny oddball book with gorgeous art by Michael Allred. Jen had a significant role there and I loved what I saw of her so I was delighted to see her getting her own series in 2014…only to be desperately sad to have that book (one of my favorites of the female led books Marvel launched in 2014) cancelled. Writer Charles Soule and artist Javier Pulido found a really wonderful off the wall way to deal with Jen’s surreal life, and Pulido’s flat cartoonish style was a breath of gorgeous fresh air. There were a few growing pains (including an unfortunate guest artist for two issues early on) but once Soule added Hellcat to the mix, there really was true magic going on. Jen was complicated and flawed, beautiful and magnificent, struggling to make it work, hilarious and heroic all at once. I love her. I hope she’ll be back.
Read She-Hulk: Obviously the best spot is in her ongoing series (which will end with issue #12). The first trade of the book (collecting the first six issues) is out now. Also worth a look is Fraction and Allred’s FF (out in trade), and though the cast is overly large and thus Jen gets a little lost, she’s got a few hilarious bits in Kathryn Immonen, Tonci Zonjic, and Emma Rios’s Heralds:
09. MIA “MAPS” MIZOGUCHI (new!)
Perhaps the entry deserving of the most side-eye on this list is Maps, who has been in only three issues so far, but that should speak all the more to just how wonderful – and needed – a character like Maps is. Full of joy and energy, up for any adventure and brimming with heart this character has just soared into my life. She’s everything I’ve been missing at DC Comics. Maps has a great very modern sense of humor and she’s outrageously nerdy and doesn’t really care who knows it, in fact, she wears it as a badge of armor. In life, were she real, she would probably sometimes irritate the crap out of you with her boundless enthusiasm and curiosity for and about everything, however, on the page she’s passionate and impossible not to love. Some small part of me likes to pretend that in a more perfect more idyllic world, Maps is a lot how someone like Cassandra Cain might have turned out if raised in love…instead of trained from birth to be a mute assassin. J
Read Maps: Unfortunately you can only read Maps in Gotham Academy and there have only been three issues so far so it’s not yet in trade. You can pick up individual issues at your local shop or online, or you can grab digital copies at Comixology.
08. BIG BARDA (up from #17)
I’ve always been a sucker for the whole stranger in a strange land thing, and nobody embodies it better (in the right writer’s hands) than Barda and her hilarious assimilation to modern Earth culture. I’m also a sucker for a truly devoted couple in love, and Barda and Scott Free are one of the best in comics. Someone somewhere on the internet (I’m sorry I don’t know who or where you are?) said that one of the things that makes Big Barda easier to love than Wonder Woman, is that her relationship with Free has always grounded her and humanized her in a way that Diana usually feels untouchable. Now, I don’t necessarily agree that Barda is ‘easier to love’ than Diana but I can absolutely see the truth in that statement. I think that HAS been a stumbling block for Diana over the years, and one Barda never had. Regardless, I can’t think of much I’d like more in comics than a Barda/Scott Free book, in the meantime I’ll have to satisfy myself with the old tales and hope for a future DC where there’s room for a great character like Barda.
Read Barda: To be honest, I wouldn’t recommend any of the current Barda stuff. For the older stuff it’s obviously all the great Kirby/Fourth World/Mister Miracle stuff…where you can read about Barda saying things like that she will punch a shark to death FROM THE INSIDE. She’s the best. She also has some great stuff in Birds of Prey but I’m not actually sure what issues/trades you should look for – any readers want to shout out in the comments?
07. MS. MARVEL/KAMALA KHAN (new!)
What a damn treat to be able to add a YA heroine that’s also a Muslim-American. This time last year I don’t know if I could have predicted that. Well, mayyyybe as people were pretty excited about Kamala Khan’s forthcoming debut. Kamala has had such perfect debut and in part because creators and editors were so smart with how they rolled this character out we have been treated with one of the most exciting and rewarding debuts in a very long time. Looking at Kamala it’s hard not to be excited to be a comics reader…and hard not to be a female comics reader! She’s everything a young heroine should be -- smart, spunky, powerful, energized, optimistic, flawed, a bit tragic around the edges, and decidedly complex. The Ms. Marvel team – a perfectly chosen mix (even when it came to guest artist Jake Wyatt who just killed it on a two issue Ms. Marvel/Wolverine team-up) that are responsible for truly wonderful work should be damn proud of what they have done here. And here’s to Ms. Marvel being around for a very long time…on this list and many many others.
Read Ms. Marvel: The best (and only) place to go at this point is the Ms. Marvel ongoing comic book. The first volume is available in trade now. Here’s Kamala being hilarious:
06. CAPTAIN MARVEL/CAROL DANVERS (up from #7)
Seventeen year old me would probably spit on this list for Carol Danvers appearing on it, and in the top 10 no less! But what 17 year old me didn’t know was that Kelly Sue DeConnick was going to come along and totally make me fall in love with Carol, even though that’s in direct opposition to my fierce loyalty to Rogue. Under DeConnick’s pen I have come to care for Carol so much – it’s kind of incredible. Hell, thanks to DeConnick and Andrade I freaking cried. CRIED! Jesus. Anyway, Carol’s development as a character has been incredible and though 2012 series didn’t quite make it through the publishing gauntlet, it was so encouraging to hear that not only was Marvel giving the series another try, but with DeConnick still at the helm. The second try which began last winter with DeConnick and artist David Lopez was a wonderful re-start that jettisoned whatever didn’t work and kept everything that did. The result has been a smart and beautiful series full of heart, humanity, and heroics. I can’t wait to see where they take Carol next, and with a female led film on the (somewhat distant) horizon, let’s hope Marvel continues to invest in Carol as their leading lady.
Read Carol: The current ongoing series by DeConnick and Lopez is the obvious place to start, there is one trade of that volume out now. Also worth a look are Captain Marvel Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. though I actually recommend Vol. 2 as I think Andrade is the better Captain Marvel artist and he takes over partway through that volume. I also think DeConnick really hits her stride in that volume AND Monica Rambeau shows up as a guest star. Super cool bonus point? I’m quoted on the cover of Vol. 2 (from my CBR Review of the book). So, yeah. Volume 2, yo! Also worth a look is The Enemy Within crossover which is good, and I really loved DeConnick’s work on Avengers Assemble: Science Bros with gorgeous art by Stefano Caselli and Pete Woods. Carol’s only a guest star, but it’s really fun superhero stuff.