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Over the last few years, Image Comics has been a front-runner in bringing us comics featuring a variety of kick-ass women. These women aren’t your cookie cutter “strong female characters” but rather women written to be relatable forces of nature whether they’re solving mysteries, smashing the patriarchy, hunting monsters or traversing the stars. One thing that all of these comics have in common is that they’re well written and have a compelling plot to go along with their characters. It’s slowly becoming a good time to be a lady comic book fan. Here are several titles from Image that you should be checking out:

Rat Queens

Rat Queens is what happens when Lord of the Rings meets Dungeons & Dragons but with a cast of foul-mouthed, drunken mercenaries with a wide variety of abilities and vices. At face value, it’s an adventure quest romp that features women doing what we’ve typically gotten used to seeing men do in the past, but beyond that it has a lot of deep themes and messages and it addresses a lot of things that aren’t commonly brought up. Kurtis Wiebe expertly writes the characters without hitches because he chooses to write them as humans as opposed to aiming to write them solely as women.

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Bitch Planet

How could a book with a title like this NOT make the list? Kelly Sue DeConnick is a force of nature all on her own and for Bitch Planet, she teams up with Valentine De Landro to tell a story about a group of women sent to a space prison nicknamed Bitch Planet. The book has inspired countless women to get “branded” with Non-Compliant tattoos to show how over the patriarchy they are, among other things. It’s only got 6 issues out and it’s already a classic that turns sexploitation tropes on their head.

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Saga

Alana. Hazel. Izabel. Klara. Lying Cat. Gwendolyn. The Stalk. Sophie. Yuma. Just a few of the female characters that make regular appearances in the series over the course of 30+ issues. I don’t need to write anything about Saga to convince you that Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples have put together a winner here. They’ve won countless awards for the series and it isn’t all for show. The writing keeps getting better and better and what Staples does with her world-building is nothing short of brilliant.

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Velvet

Easily one of the best comics on stands right now, Velvet is Ed Brubaker’s answer to James Bond, except even better. Velvet is a multifaceted character that is overlooked and underestimated over and over again from the very beginning of this series and Brubaker shows that nothing is more dangerous than thinking a woman can’t be just as good as you, if not better. Velvet also features a series of fantastic essays following the main story and explores other related topics.

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Shutter

Joe Keatinge and Leila Del Duca bring us Kate Kristopher, a world famous explorer who has her world rocked when she finds out a secret from her past that threatens to destroy everything (literally). She has to figure out what’s going on to stabilize her world and get back some semblance of normal.

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Pretty Deadly

Another series from Kelly Sue DeConnick here with art by Emma Rios. Pretty Deadly is the story of death’s daughter, Ginny aka Deathface Ginny and her companions, Fox and Sissy. The end of November saw the start of the second arc and the continuation of the story we’ve already come to love. Admittedly this story read a lot better to me in trade form, but the covers by Emma Rios and the amazing variants make it beyond worth picking up month to month.

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Sex Criminals

The leads for this story are a man and a woman but let that not deter you from the fact that Susi is amazing. The sexuality of this comic and the comedy that Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky bring to the table are a couple of the reasons why this is top-notch. Trying to explain it to someone who hasn’t heard about it is awkward as heck but hey, it’s a small price to pay to turn someone on (no pun intended) to a great new series. This book deals with sexuality, mental illness and an insane inbetweener world called Cumworld. What’s not to love?

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Revival

I. Love. This. Series. I’m admittedly a little bit behind here but this self-titled rural noir series keeps the dark twists and turns coming but never makes you feel like you aren’t having questions answered. The lead characters in Revival are sisters, one a local police officer and the other affected by a mysterious illness that brings the dead back to life. The characters evolve and grow from the first issue and never stop, just like in real life.

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Paper Girls

There isn’t too much to say about Paper Girls yet as it’s only two issues in (three as of Dec 2). That being said, the whole cast is made up of girls that have taken up newspaper routes and have also stumbled across something a little more sinister. They know their value. They know the streets. They know how to stay safe. And they know they have each other. Brian K. Vaughan knocks another series out of the park and Cliff Chiang’s art has arguably never looked better.

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Sunstone

Not only does Sunstone by Stjepan Šejić feature an incredible cast of female characters but it features an incredible story that showcases what proper, consensual BDSM relationships should look like. The women in this story aren’t sexually advanced “deviants” looking to get off, but women looking to explore their sexuality with each other and find safe environments to do that in. It sends oodles and oodles of positive messages out there not only to women but to anyone and everyone looking to explore the boundaries of their bodies. There are a few volumes out already which contain Šejić’s art and story that you should DEFINITELY make sure to put on your Must Read list.

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