DC Comics and I have a tumultuous relationship. They don't really have the best track record when it comes to drawing the women in their comics. Sure, Marvel had that whole Spider-Woman scandal, but Power Girl kind of takes the cake. And have you seen what DC did to Starfire? The mind boggles. After that incident was followed by a couple more harrowing encounters in the pages of various Batman" and Justice League comics, I swore off DC for a while. Which was a pity, because "Teen Titans," "Young Justice," and the animated Batman series were a good part of my childhood.
When I got older, though, I started to tentatively venture back. Thanks to online messaging boards and fan sites, I was able to find a community of like-minded women who pointed me towards some of the titles listed below. Community is a wonderful thing. Though my personal reading list remains largely centered around independent and Marvel titles, the new crop of writers is restoring my faith in DC. Check out the titles below!
1. "The Adventures of Supergirl"
I am very specifically referring to the 2016 reboot they did after the CW show was such a smash hit. That show, for all its ups and downs, has been a ray of light in the dark and grim roster of shows that currently make up the Arrowverse.
The comics pull from the show's legacy and make a committed effort at portraying Supergirl in a feminist and human manner. Well, as human as you can get with a solar-powered extraterrestrial. It expands on the TV universe and features a whole host of new villains! Plus we get more relationship development, which is always nice.
2. "Birds of Prey"
There are many, many reboots of this one. Mostly because it is so iconic.
It is especially significant because of Oracle. In the aftermath of the controversial "Killing Joke" comic, Barbara Gordon is paralyzed from the waist down and has to hang up the mantle of Batgirl. Not one to be down and out, she immediately takes on a new identity as "Oracle" and becomes a digital spymaster to continue crime-fighting. Her role in the "Birds of Prey" is a crucial part of this character development and one of the best depictions of a disabled hero I have seen.
The series started in the 90s, featuring a partnership between Black Canary and Babs Gordon aka Batgirl aka Oracle. Then Gail Simone took over in 2003 and the rest is history. Throughout its run, it features a revolving roster of some of DC's lesser-known female heavy hitters, like Big Barda and Lady Blackhawk (not to be confused with Hawkgirl).
The most recent iteration was "Batgirl and The Birds of Prey," and all three volumes are available! Though this one features Babs as Batgirl and not Oracle, as indicated in the title.
Next time some snot-nosed gatekeeping troll decides to be a douchebag and asks you obscure "Batman" questions (as if he's read every single issue ever), you can come right back at him with "Huntress" trivia.
3. DC's "Bombshells"
This is definitely hailed as one of DC's most female-centric publications ever. It also has a mostly female creative team, so buying it means supporting women in the publishing industry!
The story is set in the 1940s, with each of the main characters trying to navigate their own small slice of the world. Supergirl and Stargirl are Soviet propaganda icons in the war effort, Wonder Woman is fighting Nazis, and Zatanna is trying to stop the destruction of the world. You know, the usual.
Also, Batwoman has a literal freaking bat. She uses it both for baseball and whacking baddies. It's great.
Yes, this is that series where the characters are all drawn to resemble pin-up models. But it is not in the least objectifying. Think more of a tongue-in-cheek callback to the legacy of sexualized women in all comics, but with the soft colors, complex relationships, multi-layered plot, and intricate backgrounds making it clear that this is so much more.
4. "Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell"
Zatanna is amazing. Black Canary is amazing. The two of them teaming up to investigate a series of occult murders that are possibly curse-induced is all kinds of awesome.
This comic is also predominantly female-driven. The main villains are also mostly women, and there is practically no gratuitous posing of any of the parties involved, thank you very much. All the characters also come fully equipped with mad skills and snappy dialogue, which is a joy to read. The art is also pretty cool, evoking a grungy, old-timey cabaret feel towards the end. The panels during the boss battle are particularly magical.
It's also a single trade or volume, so it shouldn't burn a hole in your pocket if you decide you want a copy of your own!
5. "Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death"
Is she a genius geneticist and botanist with multiple PhDs? Yes. Is she technically a villain? Also yes.
Poison Ivy (and basically any lady in the Batverse) is kind of a mixed bag because she has been written both very well and very poorly. This is one of the former, and it is not for the light-and-fluffy lovers. The art gets really gory and really dark, real fast. But what else is new for DC?
This story focuses on her efforts at starting a family. Specifically, bioengineering two adorable plant-babies and adopting a third. At first, it's all sunshine and roses (read the comic, then you'll get the pun), but once the little bitties become teenagers, poor Ivy realizes that motherhood is not some idealized happily-ever-after. It's a story about love, growing up, and letting go, with cannibal plants. I felt vaguely like crying at the end.
This one's also a single trade/volume, so short and bittersweet.
You should also check out the 2015 Harley Quinn comics if you want a really sweet Ivy/Harley relationship to cleanse your palette after all the nonsense with the Joker. Still only for older readers, though.