First published in issue one of Cinders Magazine

We in Cinders love a good comic. Here are some of the best comic books and graphic novels with kick-ass, difficult, fabulous, brave female characters. 

Ms Marvel

The petite Ms Marvel may look small – but don’t say that to her face – she might just ‘embiggen’ herself to settle a score with you! Marvel’s newest female superhero, Kamala Khan is also its first Muslim superhero which was why she made headlines when the first issues hit the shelves last year. That isn’t why she’s stuck around though. The tough, super-human-obsessed fangirl is both badass and endearing with fantastic storylines. Her defence of New Jersey is a great contrast to most superhero’s dedication to New York and gives Ms Marvel her own territory. With a varied cast of friends and family Ms Marvel is a fully realised world that gives a unique perspective on the superhero lifestyle. She has all of the problems of a teenage girl in a conservative household who also has to get out and save the world a few times a week. The artwork in each issue is unique and beautifully realised, particularly the work of Adrian Alphona, who uses a great watercolour style to bring Kamala’s world to life. Every issue is written by G. (Gwendolyn) Willow Wilson whose conversational style and excitement is palpable on every page and carries the story forward.

Nimona 

Nimona is everything you want in a sidekick – funny, intelligent, able to shapeshift. She is fully dedicated to hell raising and havoc with Lord Blackheart – who didn’t particularly want a sidekick in the first place. But he’ll take one if it will help in his vendetta against the remarkably shiny golden haired Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin (yup that’s his name). Noelle Stevenson created the clever, ever optimistic, slightly murderous Nimona for her online webseries, then HarperTeen produced the entire series as a graphic novel.

“The story is sharp, irreverent and epic, set in a world with an institute dedicated to villainy and to heroics that provides no end of laughs”

Nimona is full of everything fun about a fantasy: neverending nemeses, dragons, an obsession with science and symbolism, the list goes on. The story is sharp, irreverent and epic, set in a world with an institute dedicated to villainy and to heroicsthat provides no end of laughs. And Nimona sharply beats to her own drum not really falling into either category (aside from killing the odd goon and hired hand here and there). Noelle Stevenson’s style is sharp and illustrative and because of the web series format really feels like it’s unfolding in real time. You won’t be able to put Nimona down once she gets going.

Fresh Romance

Fresh Romance is something a little different. A web series that unfortunately hasn’t updated in the last few months but it is still absolutely worth checking out. It was actually just purchased by Emet comics so we will have more Fresh Romance soon! Produced by Rosy Press, Fresh Romance revives a genre that hasn’t existed for a long time. The romance comic. Wait! Don’t go yet, this isn’t a revival of the romance comics of the 50s (although some of them were kind of cool) this is a complete update of the genre.

“The stories are told over a series of four or five issues and have everything from witches, regency marriages to aliens and beautiful fairytales”

Fresh R4586402-sub010997omance features a group of different comics by different artists and writers. The stories are told over a series of four or five issues and have everything from witches, regency marriages, aliens and beautiful fairytales. The stories also have a wide variety of romances, featuring  couples who are diverse and funny and interesting. Some of the stand outs are School Spirit, and Ruined and Beastly. The Purple Balloon is also a lovely piece without any dialogue.

Fresh Romance is both unique and beautifully drawn and is a great treat that you can dip in and out of as you want.

-By Méabh McDonnell