The comic book industry as a whole has seen a lot of criticism for their sexist and misogynistic undertones in some of the older series. Longtime fans, like myself, often overlook the comments as petty feminists trying to impose new standards on our classic characters. But, pausing to think of the younger female readers, are there enough female lead books to bring in a new generation of “Geek Girls.”
According to an article by Bleeding Cool from March 2017, only 18% of all DC books have female leads with only a staggering 15% in the Marvel Universe. Between July 2016 and January 2017, we saw a slight growth of 6% in Marvel and 1.5% in DC. October 2017 sales numbers give us only 16 titles of female lead books in the top 100! Is this enough?
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra ranked 66th overall in sales based on total units sold (34,405) of products invoiced October 2017 by Diamond Comics. She is a perfect example of a female lead book that can appeal to both male and female readers, but her numbers continue to leave her in the bottom half of the top 100 comic book sales. This could be a result of the stigma that female lead books are not exciting and that somehow can’t draw the appeal if they are not tied to older material that has a built-in readership or doesn’t have sex appeal. Aphra has, fortunately, benefited from the Star Wars title, but she deserves so much more.
Doctor Aphra’s first appearance was in 2015’s Darth Vader #3 Vol. 1, where Vader first recruited her for his own devious agenda. Although you are not required to go back that far to understand her story, it could add depth to the overall feel of Aphra. Her evolution and storyline crossovers with Star Wars, Darth Vader, and others provide a sense of meaning; that Aphra was meant to be a force within the universe (No pun intended). Her overall character persona is nothing short of extraordinary. She has a very tragic and colorful past which makes you want her to win that much more. She is smart, like genius level smart! She works with technology and artifacts that even the likes of Darth Vader admire. There are some questionable moments in which you wonder if she is going to be the villain, but in the end, you know she is doing the best that she can. She is the Anti-Hero. She has shown strength and courage in the face of many dangers, most of which are self-inflicted, but you really want to root for her like you hate to love your favorite flawed TV character. Aphra’s ensemble includes two homicidal torture/ interrogation droids and a Wookie bounty hunter that are all “with” her but against her. There is enough comedy, action, drama and overall Star Wars appeal to keep you wanting more.
If Doctor Aphra is not on your pull list, you are really missing out on a very good read (In our opinion of course). There are other great female characters out there, but why be a hero or a villain when you can be both? We would love to hear from you as well. Are there any “forgotten” reads that we should be picking up? Let us know in the comments.