Graphic Novels, Tough Chicks celebrates the amazing female characters that abound in graphic novels. While many people still associate this particular form with a male readership, certain graphic novels empower women and combat feminine stereotypes through illustration and text. Tough chicks resist injustice, fight for their beliefs, and they don’t take flak from nobody. These women are capable of fighting their own battles, both literally and figuratively.
This week I revisit the wonderful world of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples with Saga Vol. 2 and the introduction of yet another tough chick!
Author & Illustrator: Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Publisher: Image Comics on July 2, 2013
From award-winning writer Brian K Vaughan and critically acclaimed artist Fiona Staples, Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the universe. Thanks to her star-crossed parents Marko and Alana, newborn baby Hazel has already survived lethal assassins, rampaging armies, and horrific monsters, but in the cold vastness of outer space, the little girl encounters her strangest adventure yet… grandparents.
In SAGA VOL. 2 we have not one, not two, but three tough chicks kicking booty and making no apologies for it. Hallelujah!
I’ve featured Saga in a Graphic Novels, Tough Chicks post before: I discussed Alana, the soldier turned conscientious objector who fell in love with her enemy and had the audacity to have a child with him. As easy as it would be for me to write a hundred more posts on her, for the sake of keeping things interesting in this edition I’ll be discussing equally tough chicks, Gwendolyn and Izabel.
For your viewing pleasure, I present Gwendolyn. Take a moment to appreciate her awesomeness. The fierce look in her eyes. Her simple yet effective staff. Her amazing ‘fro.
Girl, you do you! Clearly people are not exaggerating when they say that Marko is a ladies man because both Alan and Gwendolyn are friggin’ gorgeous. But who who is Gwendolyn, really? A powerful woman on Wreath, Gwendolyn was able to dodge military service by choosing instead to work in politics. She also happens to be that Gwendolyn, Marko’s jilted fiancee mentioned in Vol. 1. And believe me when I say that outer space hath no fury like a woman scorned.
Another Tough Chick in the Saga series is Izabel, who is Gwendolyn’s opposite in many ways. For one thing, she’s a teenager – the only teenager in all of the Saga series thus far. She’s also one of the only women Saga Vol. 2 who isn’t sexualized. With her t-shirt, beanie, and copious hipster jewellery, Iz looks like any other teenage babysitter. As long as you can overlook her exposed entrails. When a character is the only one of something – the only woman, the only POC, the only teenager – it’s usually pretty significant. I’m not sure exactly what the significance of Izabel’s unique characteristics will be yet, but I’m sure they’ll come into play in future volumes.
In a storyline that deals with racial prejudice, systemic violence, and sexual exploitation, you need someone like Izabel to lighten things up. Comedic relief is often overlooked as being the duty of a lower secondary or tertiary character, but Izabel plays an integral role in the escape of our erstwhile family and in watching over Hazel. Of course, you can see in the above illustration that she doesn’t do it without comment!
If you’re not already reading the Saga series, then you should be. Yes, there’s quite a bit of cursing, violence, and sexual images…but what media doesn’t have those things these days? At least they’re not gratuitous in Saga. Except for maybe the giant troll balls.