The ladies are taking the lead in one of Marvel Comics' top comic book properties, with an all-female Avengers team called "A-Force" debuting as the company intensifies efforts to bring more girls and women into its male-dominated fan base.
Not only will the book feature some of Marvel's well-known female heroes, it will be written by two of Marvel's female comic book writers, Marguerite K. Bennett and Willow Wilson.
Wilson, a Seattle comic book writer who helped break ground in 2013 with her "Ms. Marvel," the story of a Muslim female superhero, said women were rarely the focus of comic book superhero teams, usually in the role of a girlfriend or damsel in distress.
This book will challenge that script, Wilson said.
"I think that we're kind of asking some implicit questions with this lineup and one of them is: Do we respond to female superhero teams in the same way that we respond to superhero teams composed primarily or entirely of men?" Wilson said. "So it is a bit of a risk, but it's a risk that's been shown to work. "
A-Force won't be Marvel's first all-female team, with successful runs of an all-female mutant team in "X-Men." When it debuts in May, it will join Marvel's 14 other female-led books, like Ms. Marvel and "Captain Marvel," which is scheduled to become a Marvel movie. DC Comics also has several female leads, including Batgirl, Catwoman, Batwoman and Wonder Woman, the longest-running comic book with a female hero.
A-Force - which will feature characters like She-Hulk, Dazzler and Medusa, as well as a new hero called Singularity - will hopefully get more women and girls to transition from successful superhero movies like "Marvel's The Avengers" and "The Dark Knight" to reading comic books, Wilson said. Part of the way forward is to have female characters take the same kind of journeys taken by superheroes like Batman and Spider-Man and told from a female point of view, she said.
"There's a big push ... to have that same kind of recognizable, really enduring storytelling that appeals - not just to women readers but to men as well - and that reflects that same journey, that same coming of age, that same struggle that we all identify with through the eyes of female characters," Wilson said.
And while the majority of comic book buyers are male, millennials and Generation Xers are becoming more accepting of stories told from different points of view, she said. "In the past, when you had teams that were composed entirely of men and with maybe one woman, that was considered something very usual but to do the reverse was somehow unthinkable," she said. "We're at a time now where we can ask why that is."