The best superhero graphic novels starring heroines who have yet to hit the big screen

Who am I?

I’ve been a comic book nerd forever and a comic book historian for the past fifteen years, specializing in the history of female superheroes and writing books about Wonder Woman, Lois Lane, Catwoman, and more. A lot of amazing heroines have been featured in adaptations that have introduced them to a larger audience, but there are so many other great characters still waiting to get their chance to shine. I’m excited to share a few of them that I really love with you here, as well as spotlight a diverse collection of creators and characters that deserve a closer look.


I wrote...

Not All Supermen: Sexism, Toxic Masculinity, and the Complex History of Superheroes

By Tim Hanley,

Book cover of Not All Supermen: Sexism, Toxic Masculinity, and the Complex History of Superheroes

What is my book about?

The book is a broad overview of trends in the superhero industry that explores how sexism has been wired into the genre from its earliest days and how that sexism has lingered and led to the rise of toxic masculinity in comics, adaptations, and fandom. It examines how the nostalgia-heavy genre enshrines outdated values of the past, with sexist tropes and attitudes woven into the fabric of its stories, and how catering to a male audience combined with the persistent devaluing of women through omission and objectification to create toxic forms of masculinity.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Amethyst

Tim Hanley Why did I love this book?

We’re finally starting to see superhero movies and TV shows featuring the amazing heroines of the comic book world, but some have yet to make the jump. One of these heroines is Amethyst, and Amy Reeder’s recent reinvention of the classic 1980s series is a great distillation of the character. The book is colorful and action-packed, an amazing introduction to a unique setting and heroine that melds the real world with a fantastical realm unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Reeder’s writing is engaging, and her art as she explores and populates Gemworld is gorgeous and immersive. I automatically pick up anything Reeder draws, and this book is her at her best.

By Amy Reeder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Amethyst as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Reintroducing Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld! Teenager Amy Winston lives a second life in the magical realm of Gemworld, where she is known as Princess Amethyst. Or at least she did. When she tries to return to Gemworld to celebrate her 16th birthday in style, she discovers that the Amethyst Kingdom is mising! Her subjects have vanished, and no one in any of the neighboring lands note evenher best friend remain loyal to her house. Left alone and dejected in this colorful fantasy realm, Amy must find new allies and confront dark secrets if she is to restore what's been taken...…


Book cover of Batgirls Vol. 1

Tim Hanley Why did I love this book?

I love all of the different Batgirls DC has introduced over the years, and this book brings them together in one delightful adventure. Barbara Gordon is the original Batgirl mentoring her two protégés, the snarky Stephanie Brown and the martial arts master Cassandra Cain. The trio is a mix of different personalities and strengths, but teamwork and sisterhood come first. Cloonan and Conrad craft a rollicking story in this first volume, and Corona’s bombastic artwork is a perfect vehicle for all three of these enjoyable characters.

By Becky Cloonan, Michael Conrad, Jorge Corona (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Batgirls Vol. 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Batgirls Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown are only able to navigate the dark, gritty, and oftentimes scary city of Gotham by leaning on the bright light that is their best-friendship. Mentored by Oracle, the Batgirls move to the other side of town where Barbara Gordon can keep a better eye on them while the hacker Seer is still invading their lives. Steph may be too rash sometimes, and Cass doesn't speak much-but what they lack in similarities, they make up for with their mutual respect and love for each other...and what makes them stronger together as Batgirls! And they may…


Book cover of Hollywood and Vine

Tim Hanley Why did I love this book?

Superhero comics are known for hyper-sexualizing female characters and limiting them to one uniform, impossibly curvaceous figure. Valiant’s Faith Herbert is a direct reaction to this, the first plus-sized heroine to star in her own comic as she patrols Los Angeles as the high-flying Zephyr. Beyond this meaningful step for the genre, Houser has written a compelling story and Portela and Sauvage deliver great artwork that brings Faith to life. The character is a game changer for superhero comics, and this first collection of her adventures is such a fun read.

By Jody Houser, Francis Portela (illustrator), Marguerite Sauvage (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hollywood and Vine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

VALIANT'S MOST DEMANDED HERO STEPS OUT OF HARBINGER...AND INTO AN ALL-NEW ADVENTURE!

Orphaned at a young age, Faith Herbert - a psionically gifted "psiot" discovered by the Harbinger Foundation - has always aspired to greatness. But now this once ordinary teenager is taking control of her destiny and becoming the hard-hitting hero she's always known she can be - complete with a mild-mannered secret identity, unsuspecting colleagues, and a day job as a reporter that routinely throws into her harms way! Well, at least she thought it would... When she's not typing up listicles about cat videos, Faith makes a…


Book cover of Nubia

Tim Hanley Why did I love this book?

In recent years, DC has branched out into standalone YA graphic novels that reimagine their characters, and Nubia: Real One is my favorite one yet. In the mainline comics, Nubia was Wonder Woman’s long-lost twin sister, but here McKinney and Smith reimagine her as a teenager in the southern United States, dealing with her Amazon powers as she reckons with injustice and police brutality. The book was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and McKinney and Smith’s desire to create a heroine that resonates with the issues faced by young, Black readers, and they deliver a fantastic story.

By L.L. McKinney, Robyn Smith (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nubia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nubia has always been a little bit different. As a baby she showcased Amazonian-like strength by pushing over a tree to rescue her neighbour s cat. But despite her having similar abilities, the world has no problem telling her that she s no Wonder Woman. And even if she were, they wouldn t want her. Every time she comes to the rescue, she s reminded of how people see her: as a threat. Her moms do their best to keep her safe, but Nubia can t deny the fire within her, even if she s a little awkward about it…


Book cover of Squirrel Power

Tim Hanley Why did I love this book?

Marvel’s wide array of movies and TV shows have brought many of their heroes to life, but unfortunately, Squirrel Girl has yet to make the jump. This is a shame, since she’s defeated some of Marvel’s most dastardly foes in incredibly creative ways. She eats nuts, she kicks butts, and she uses her squirrel-based abilities to tackle villains with her own optimistic, STEM-infused perspective. North’s writing is charming and hilarious, and Henderson’s art is a perfect pairing that sets the book’s fun, energetic tone. It’s such a good time, basically joy distilled into comic book form.

By Ryan North, Erica Henderson (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Squirrel Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 11, 12, 13, and 14.

What is this book about?

Collects The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1-4, Marvel Super-Heroes (1992) #8.

Doctor Doom, Deadpool, even Thanos: There’s one hero who’s beaten them all — and now she’s starring in her own series! That’s right, it’s SQUIRREL GIRL! The nuttiest and most upbeat super hero in the world is starting college! And as if meeting her new roommate and getting to class on time isn’t hard enough, now she has to deal with Kraven the Hunter, too? At least her squirrel friend Tippy-Toe is on hand to help out. But what can one girl, and one squirrel, do when a hungry Galactus…


You might also like...

The Blighted Mission

By E. Chris Ambrose,

Book cover of The Blighted Mission

E. Chris Ambrose Author Of The Mongol's Coffin

New book alert!

Who am I?

As an art school drop-out who'd been majoring in sculpture, I'm fascinated by material culture—artifacts created by early peoples that reveal their cultural values. Often, the relics and sites that engage both archaeologists and readers suggest unexpected depths of knowledge that show human ingenuity through the ages. I strive to incorporate the details of an artifact or monument's creation into the clues and descriptions in my work, hopefully illuminating a little-known historical realm, if only by torchlight as the adventure unfolds. The fact that I get to explore so many exotic locations, in research if not in person, is a definite plus!

E. Chris' book list on weaving adventure and history

What is my book about?

Disgraced British anthropologist Nigel Rowe hopes his YouTube adventure channel will be just the treat to redeem him, but vengeful treasure hunters have other plans! Seeking a legendary Jesuit mission in Baja, Nigel saves his producer’s life when the man takes a bullet meant for him. 

When an ex-Marine strolls up for a bodyguard interview, and dresses him down for his lax security, she might be precisely what he needs, or the last face he'll ever see. They plunge into the desert in search of fame, fortune and viral footage. Will he survive long enough to work out who's after him or meet a sticky end in the mountains of Mexico? All he can hope is that his new partner's doesn’t pull the trigger herself.

The Blighted Mission

By E. Chris Ambrose,

What is this book about?

A disgraced British anthropologist hopes his YouTube adventure channel will redeem him, but vengeful treasure hunters have other plans.

From the author of the internationally best-selling Bone Guard archaeological adventures!

On the trail of a legendary Jesuit mission in Baja—and the treasure it may contain—Nigel Rowe leaps into action to save the life of his producer when the man takes a bullet meant for Nigel. Alas, the list of those who might wish him dead spans the globe and ranges from American treasure hunters to Russian mobsters to his own dear brother, with their mother's consent if not her explicit…


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