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Paper Girls

By Brian K. Vaughn and Cliff Chiang

With the success of Stranger Things and the upcoming remake of Stephen King’s IT, the revival of the coming-of-age stories from the 1980s is in full swing. However unlike most ’80s coming-of-age tales, Paper Girls is a complex science fiction epic following a group of young girls caught in the middle of something much bigger than themselves and their paper route. Battling everything from mysterious hooded figures to nasty teenage boys, the Paper Girls have the same spunk as the 12-year-old boy counterparts that we are used to seeing in these stories. Characters like Mac, the tough girl with a smoking habit that the local cops already know by name, and was the first paper boy in this group, who wasn’t, you know, a boy.

After one of the girls has her walkie talkie stolen, the girls don’t seek the help of adults, they take justice into their own hands…only to discover a strange alien device in the basement of an unfinished house. From there it is a whirlwind of confusion and fear, as the Paper Girls, armed with hockey sticks, chase down the mysterious goons, and get confronted by bizzaro flying dino-demons, in what can only be described as a rapture-type…thing. The story only gets weirder and wilder from there and I fear I’ve already said too much. But if you want insane science fiction storytelling grounded by totally human and lovable characters, you can’t go wrong with Paper Girls.

Sunstone

Sunstone

By Stjepan Sejic

Sometimes, the hardest female characters to portray are not the ones in the predominately male worlds of science fiction and action, but the ones that tend to be misrepresented in their more common roles as romantic interests and sexual objects. Sunstone is a story that honestly portrays two women not only exploring their first same-sex relationship, but also their suppressed fetishistic desires. Ally, a domme looking to find her first true submissive, and Lisa, a sub who has only fantasized about being in a BDSM relationship, meet in an online chat room and decide to take their online relationship to the next level by meeting in person.

The beauty of Sunstone comes not only from its frank and open discussion of different kinds of female sexuality, but in the way that it beautifully and hilariously navigates the awkwardness that comes with real life, like when you can’t figure out what outfit best suits the kind of domme you want to be on a first date, or that awkward moment when you want to seem cool and sexy, but you really have to pee. As their relationship continues, this romantic comedy artfully and realistically portrays what a real BDSM relationship is like, cutting through a lot of the misconceptions and misrepresentations ever present in today’s media. Sunstone is sensual, sexy, and has a lot heart.

the wicked and the divine

The Wicked and the Divine

By Kieron Gillen and Matthew Wilson

Every 90 years, a handful of gods manifest into the bodies of young adults in order to walk the Earth again. Known as The Pantheon, they come to life as pop stars, worshipped and adored and hated, but only for two years. At the end of these two years, they die. Each god of the Pantheon is a different poster-being for some pop culture cliche or another. There’s the gorgeous teen pop star, Amaterasu, whose concerts literally cause the audience to pass out in orgasmic euphoria to the elusive ‘underground’ star, The Morrigan, who is so underground you have to break into abandoned underground stations if you want to see her, and the androgynous Lucifer, otherwise known as Luci, in the guise resembling the Thin White Duke, who showcases an apathy towards fame that just seems too cool for school.

However, through this mystical pandemonium, we find our voice in a human girl by the name of Laura. A super-fan of every member of the Pantheon, Laura comes to the aid of Luci after the deity finds herself arrested for a very public murder she claims not to have committed. Putting her faith in the devil, Laura goes to meet the other gods brought to life in the Recurrence, in this mystical story about fandom, technology, pop culture, and obsession.

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Death

By Neil Gaiman 

The nerd world is hot and heavy right now over the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel, American Gods over on Starz. However, Neil Gaiman is perhaps best known for his comic book work, having created an elaborate mythology for his acclaimed series, Sandman. Within the pages of this classic series, a spin-off was born in the form of Sandman’s (Dream of the Endless) older sister, Death of the Endless. The Endless are the most powerful entities in the universe, older than anything known or unknown. Death is exactly her namesake – the personification of the end of life. She takes the recently deceased and guides them onward. “But in the end, I am there for all of them.”

Unlike the typical grotesque and terrifying, grim reaper versions of Death, Nail Gaiman’s Death is a friendly, caring, goth girl with an ankh around her neck and eyeliner representative of the eye of Horus. She is a source of wisdom and nurturing. Like the mother that brings you into the world, this version of Death delivers you to the afterlife with warmth and understanding. Appearing as a recurring character in both Sandman and Lucifer (another spinoff from the Sandman series), Death is a DC heroine too often overlooked. Unlike the others on this list, Death is a character, not a series so whether you read all ten volumes of Sandman (highly recommended) or just pick up the single collected volume of Death’s collected stories, this beloved, otherworldly character is worth your time and attention.

Tank Girl Prologue

Tank Girl

By Jaimie Hewlett and Alan Martin

A little bit Mad Max, a little bit Borderlands, and a whole lot of attitude, Tank Girl is a feminist icon created by Jamie Hewlett (co-creator of the Gorillaz) that is about as anti-convention as you can get. This dirty, violent, and vulgar character lives in a tank with ‘some really big ’n’ violent weapons.’ She drinks beer, chain smokes, and has questionable encounters with horny mutant kangaroos in post-apocalyptic Australia. She is magnificent.

This self-aware black and white comic is often chaotic, with a story style fitting her punk rock exterior. After failing to complete a rather strange mission for Sergeant Small Unit involving a colostomy bag, Tank Girl has the whole of Australia on her back. In what kind of stands as a giant middle finger to over sexualized female comic book characters, Tank Girl often times appears only in a bra, or shirts that are only shirts in name alone. The unapologetic and often crass Tank Girl has been a feminist icon since her creation in the ’80s, finding herself as a popular protest image for the lesbian community in the UK, particularly fighting Margaret Thatcher’s “Clause 28” that prevented the promotion of homosexuality and the acceptability of homosexuality. Though she may not be for the faint of heart, Tank Girl is the kind of empowering feminist that will leave all the boys shaking in their boots.

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