Marvel Comics is renowned and beloved for their iconic characters, from the Hulk to Daredevil to Spider-man. But comics fans are exasperated with Marvel’s inconsistent characterization, bad writing, repetitive plots and lately, drastic antisemitism. Marvel has become particularly transparent with their bigotry. Captain America (a hero created by Jewish writers with the explicit purpose of being anti-fascist) and Magneto (a Jewish Holocaust survivor) are both, in the new Secret Empire series, working for Hydra, a fictional fascist organization highly associated with the Nazis. Also, in Marvel’s cinematic universe, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver’s identities as Romani and Jewish have been completely erased and they got powers willingly from Hydra. Not to mention that Ike Perlmutter, Marvel’s CEO, donated to Trump’s campaign and has a spot on his administration. Here’s some more in-depth reading on Marvel’s issues. Do with this information as you will, but know that because of the growing controversy, many are choosing to boycott Marvel. If you are too, you can better spend your time and money on creative, diverse, anti-fascist indie comics. Here are some of my favorites:
Paper Girls (Image Comics)
Brian K. Vaughan’s Paper Girls opens in a quiet suburban town the day after Halloween, 1988. The comic follows four twelve-year-old girls whose newspaper delivery route goes apocalyptic when time travelers drop out of the sky. The writing is excellent, Cliff Chiang’s art is gorgeous, and the plot is magnificently weird. Even without that, you should read it just for the well-developed female characters, half of which are POC and one of which is Jewish.
The Wicked + The Divine (Image Comics)
In The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen, pop stars are literally gods. So the tagline reads: Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. Jamie McKelvie’s richly saturated art brings myths of all kinds (not just Greek) to modern life in a glorious and deadly explosion.
Motor Crush (Image Comics)
Motor Crush is written by the team behind Batgirl of Burnside. It revolves around Domino Swift, who from the cover art pictured above, is probably your new comics crush. She’s a bada** Black gay biker balancing a tricky double life: professional motorcyclist by day, illegal motorbike gladiator by night.
Lumberjanes (Boom! Studios)
Lumberjanes takes place at a Girl Scouts-esque summer camp where foxes have three eyes, secret caves hold anagrammed codes and nothing is as it seems. All the characters are distinct and lovable. The story is creative, adorable, empowering and very very gay.
Giant Days (Boom! Studios)
Giant Days, written by John Allison, is about three very different friends navigating college. It’s not insane gritty scifi/fantasy, but it’s genuinely heartwarming, which is just as good if you’re in the mood for it!
Slam! (Boom! Studios)
Pamela Ribon’s Slam! slams the reader right into the world of roller derby with best friends Jennifer Chu and Maise Huff. It’s a clever, gorgeously-illustrated, action-packed story with friendship at its heart.
Saga (Image Comics)
Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga takes a tried-and-true Romeo & Juliet concept and runs with it. Alana and Marko are soldiers on opposite sides of an epic space war. After falling in love they both decide to desert their respective armies. Unfortunately, their union makes them fugitives from both of their homeworlds, and they have to flee through the cosmos with their newborn daughter, Hazel.
Joyride (Boom! Studios)
Joyride by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly is yet another space odyssey. Uma Akkolyte, reckless rebel, breaks out of a future authoritarian earth with her best friend Dewydd. The two find an unexpected ally in newly-ex-soldier Catrin. Hijinks ensue.
Niobe (Stranger Comics)
Niobe, written by Amandla Stenberg, is everything I could ask for in high fantasy. A half-elf teenager struggles to fulfill a prophecy and save her kingdom, all while discovering herself. The art glows on the page. Read it for 1) Black elves, and 2) Amandla.