When people think of superheroes, the ones that come to mind are Superman, Hulk, Spiderman, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, and so on. Superheroes are often stereo-typically male and white. When women are featured in comics, they’re either short lived guest stars, heroic love interests, or a sweet counterpart. Often, women have a limit placed on them for how they act: they can’t be too smart or too powerful. Comic creator Jazmin Truesdale, shares that “in the superhero industry, there are many physically powerful women and people of color but none of them are truly empowered. They’ll show up for a comic issue or two and then disappear into the superhero void (Huff Post).”
These are the reasons Truesdale decided to bring her Aza comics universe to life, to have a world where there isn’t a limit for what women can be. She started from scratch to create female characters who are individuals with real relationships with each other, and who aren’t defined by their romantic pursuits.
“When a male superhero defeats a villain, he gets the girl. But what does a female superhero win? Nothing. She defeats her villain and goes home alone. She doesn’t even have girlfriends she can call up and go out to celebrate her victory. If she does have a boyfriend, it’s usually a male superhero who is stronger than her, which subconsciously tells girls that in order to win the guy, you can’t be stronger or as strong as him,” said Truesdale on female comic book heroes.
Back in 2013, Truesdale ran online polls and focus groups among her friends in order to find out what women would like to see in superhero focused stories. She decided to write a novel with illustrations over a standard comic book with characters by women for women. When asked about this she said, “[The typical comics are often] very condensed and very short, so you don’t really get a lot of the meat of the story, or the meat of the story is spread out over so many issues that a lot of times women lose interest. So I thought, what if I could provide the meaty storytelling of novels, but then give them the visuals of the comic book?”
The Keepers: Origins is the first in a planned six novel series with each focusing on a different character. Keepers is a mix of prose and comic book, containing scenes by artist Remero Colston. The novel/comic is described as a space opera with various realms, civilizations, and adventure in a universe that has multiple heroic women. Book one features most of the main characters from the entire series, acting as an origin story of Amaya, Kala, Ixchel, Adanna, and Fenna, five women chosen by a prophecy to save the universe. They’ll go up against a Keeper whose been chosen by the gods to protect the universe but craves the power of having the universe for themselves. The second book will focus on Kala.
Truesdale hopes her Aza universe novels will go against the usual comic book stereotypes of women, and disprove this insane theory that women can’t get along. The main characters are a diverse group of women who come from different parts of the world, with different skills and backgrounds. For younger readers, she’s released a digital comic called Can You Keep a Secret in an effort to introduce these characters in their earlier adventure years. For further information on The Keepers and the Aza Universe, check out their website.
There’s ZERO doubt about it: women really can do it all.
YouTube Channel: Aza Comics
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