Sunday Social: Jessica Jones and Fierce Female Comic Book Characters

The Sunday Social is intended to explore current news, trends, or something generally interesting happening in the world of comics which could impact library services from collection development, display ideas, and reader’s advisory.

Have you ever heard of this little comic book character called Jessica Jones? She may not be as household of a name as Captain America, Batman, or even Hellboy, but you, and your patrons, may be fascinated with her after the Netflix series Jessica Jones which was released a month ago today. The comic book cinematic universe has been exploring lesser known characters in their television properties including Supergirl, Daredevil, Huntress and Arrow, and Jessica Jones. What’s different and interesting about Jones is that she’s an un-uniformed hero, and one many non-comic book readers have ever heard of, even though she plays an important role in the Marvel Universe.

Now, almost a month later, most patrons are done binge watching Jessica Jones and want more strong, female comic book characters to indulge in. So, if your patron asks for more characters similar to Jessica Jones, here are some recommendations.

Ororo Munroe aka Storm
storm coverStorm is a household name after her appearance in the many X-Men franchises. Portrayed by Halle Berry in the 2000s films, Storm is an amazingly strong character, the wielder of the winds. However, many people don’t know her back story, she’s a queen, a ruler of nations, and a teacher, Storm has been a beacon of hope and a wealth of knowledge of mutants and humans alike. Greg Pak recently wrote a very thoughtful Storm two-trade story titled “Make it Rain” and “Bring the Thunder”.


Patsy Walker aka HellcatHellcat cover
Patsy Walker grew up inundated in the comic book industry. Her parents were comic book authors and serialized their daughter’s formative years. After meeting Beast, she made him promise to help her become a superheroine. While she doesn’t have any particular “super” human powers, she has great heart and is a great friend of many characters in the Marvel universe. She has played a consistent role in many events, including Secret Wars, the Avengers, and the Defenders. Check out Charles Soule’s “She-Hulk” trades where she plays the best friend and personal muscle of She-Hulk, our next leading lady. And keep your eyes out for the standalone Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat title which comes out this week.

Jennifer Walters aka She-Hulk
She-Hulk CoverI will admit that She-Hulk is a personal favorite of mine, the character is strong and powerful, yet uses her smarts as well. As a lawyer, Jennifer Walters has taken on many cases, and put herself at risk in the process. After being shot and receiving a blood transfusion from her cousin, Bruce Banner, she takes on the qualities of a Hulk, but not the aggressive nature. It is great to have a female superhero who was not created as a love interest for another character. After her debut in 1980, her character has continued to become more complex and has been utilized for more than her strength, most recently being pitted against Matt Murdock to defend Captain America in the court of law. Check out She-Hulk in Matt Fraction and Mike Allred’s Fantastic Faux, Civil War and the Fearsome Four in Fear Itself.

Katherine Kane aka Batwoman
Batwoman_ElegyWhile Batwoman was originally created as a love interest for Batman in the 1950s, her character has morphed to create a unique woman in the comic book world. Of Jewish descent, Kate Kane is a lesbian who was kicked out of the military under the, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” era and wanted to continue her quest for justice. She dons the black and becomes Batwoman. The stunning art of J.H. Williams III also brings a haunting nature to the character, with her pale skin and bright red hair, plus his two page spreads in Elegy and Batwoman volumes 1-4 bring an elevated elegance to the story. Also, like Zatanna, check out DC Bombshells for a great 1940s Batwoman without too much of the overt sexuality of traditional pinups but a fun Nazi butt-kicking superheroine.

Zatanna Zatara
Zatanna coverA magician on the stage and in real life, Zatanna is one of the most magical characters in superhero comics. The daughter of magician Giovanni Zatara and Sindella, a member of the Homo Magi race, Zatanna’s power of illusions and magic have been passed down through the generations. As a natural born spell caster, many of her stories rely on her losing her voice, therefore being rendered unable to complete her incantations, an interesting metaphor of the voiceless feeling of woman across the world. I’ve been really enjoying DC Comics Bombshells, and she has been featured in Neil Gaiman’s The Books of Magic and is a main feature in Justice League Dark during the New 52 series.

Of course, there are many other great female characters and ensembles. Numerous X-Men story line feature great female characters like Jubliee, Psylocke, Rogue, Jean Grey. Marvel has recently resurrected many characters like Hellcat, Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, A-Force, and Black Widow. Spider-Gwen is an extremely popular new series. DC Comics has Wonder Woman in the Justice League, Black Canary, Starfire, Harley Quinn and Batgirl. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe soldiers on. Bitch Planet and Paper Girls round out the Image scene. There are lots of great female characters, if you know where to look!

Who’s your favorite Jessica Jones-esque comic book lady?