Being in the fandom world wasn’t always easy for me. The nerd world wasn’t as diverse as it is now, and I’m jealous of all the kids who can grow up with new heroes representing every color, age, body type, and gender. As a kid, my favorite fandoms were DC Comics and Star Wars. I loved them — still do — but I never felt like I could relate to the content.
The fearless, inspiring female heroes were always my favorites. I wanted to know more about the women in these worlds — from cutthroat alien assassins and untrustworthy thieves to the dependable leaders of justice and intergalactic politics. They’re usually the least-acknowledged characters in their respective universes, and that never sat well with me. (No shade, but Jar-Jar Binks and Killer Croc should not get more attention than Shaak Ti or Lois Lane, and that’s the tea.)
What’s great about a new influx of fans and diverse characters in Star Wars and DC is that talented artists and writers are finally answering the call for female acknowledgment. Chronicle Books’ Women of the Galaxy, written by Amy Ratcliffe, and Women of Action, written by Shea Fontana, are prime examples of female excellence in nerd culture.
The books are beautifully illustrated collections of female character profiles from DC and Star Wars films, comics, novels, animated series, and video games. The collection includes familiar faces, such as Leia Organa, Padme Amidala, Silver Banshee, Catwoman, and Rey. It also covers lesser-known heroes, villains, mothers, bounty hunters, and pirates.
Women of the Galaxy is a collaborative publication that includes fresh insights and behind-the-scenes details about characters fans have never focused on before now. It was illustrated by 18 female and non-binary artists who wanted to celebrate the inspiring women who’re a part of the vast Star Wars universe. The illustrations showcase the beauty and strength of each character in unique environments. Each illustration is done in a different style, and the stylistic differences characterize the personalities of their profiles. My favorite page was on Ashoka Tano (of course it was); the illustration had her perfectly centered on the page with a daring, wise look in her eyes that pierces your soul. She appears calm and wise in the painting, but with white lightsabers in each hand, she is obviously dangerous. Ashoka’s independent nature shines through in the illustration — not going to lie, I feel like I need it on my wall.
Every page is lovely to look at, but what really brings it together is the text. Ratcliffe’s writing is passionate and carefully written to capture the essence of each woman, and it’s easy to read. She writes about villainous personalities that make you want to know more about them. I appreciated the fact that Ratcliffe included mothers in her character lineup — and not just violent characters. It was empowering to read about Mama the Hut, Shmi Skywalker, and Beru Lars; all of them are women as amazing as Rey or Leia, and it was because of their strength as mothers.
Women of Action is in the same format, but it separates DC Comics’ women into their environments. The book is broken into five chapters: Themyscira, Metropolis, Gotham City, Beyond, and Behind the Scenes. Each chapter includes the iconic female heroes and villains of each domain (beautiful illustrations included). Women of Action was developed by 14 women and non-binary artists, and the writer Shea Fontana brings new life to each character.
I could not recommend these books enough. They are perfect collectibles for an art lover. They include women of all backgrounds; whether they’re old, young, fair-skinned, dark-skinned, scarred, mentally deranged, tall, short, or covered in hair. Women are never the same, and each one has their own unique story. These are two books I would have loved as a little girl. Show your love for these powerful women by adding Women of the Galaxy and Women of Action to your collection.
Photos: Chronicle Books