“Princeless Raven: The Pirate Princess” is the YA lesbian heroine we’ve been waiting for

I was so glad to have been given a tip (thanks Erin!) about this delightful new comic book series, because after reading the first three issues of Princeless Raven: The Pirate Princess, I’m ready to get my swashbuckle on. Originally introduced in the more YA leaning Princeless series, this dynamic character now has her own spin off and we are all the better for it.

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Raven Xingtao is the daughter (and rightful heir) of the Pirate King, and comes from a long line of powerful women. Unfortunately, her nasty brothers managed to convince their father to lock Raven away and allow them to take over the family business. Jerks. Well, you can’t keep a good pirate down, and Raven escaped the tower where she was imprisoned and is now on a mission to take back what is hers and teach her brothers and father a lesson. Along the way she meets a very attractive elf named Sunshine, who initially clashes with Raven, but quickly becomes her ally after learning her true identity. The romantic tension between Sunshine and Raven is clear from the start.

While it’s not explicitly said, and frankly doesn’t have to be, it’s pretty obvious that these women are queer—and queer for each other. In fact, writer Jeremy Whitley confirmed that Raven is indeed a lesbian, saying, “I wanted to have a young-ish lesbian character in this story. I wanted to have that sexual representation in there because that was a question that I got a lot when I started writing Princeless.”

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Whitley has a very Terry Moore quality about his writing, and seems to have a very good grasp on how to write female characters. This is no easy feat in the comic book universe where female characters are so often used to further the plots of their male counterparts. In any of the Princeless books, the ladies are front and center. For Raven’s spinoff, Whitley joined forces with illustrators Rosy Higgins and Ted Brandt, whose collaborative art is spectacular, and brings the action to life.

The series is chock-full—and I mean FULL—of terrific female characters of different ethnicities, races, sexualities, backgrounds and and body types. It’s beyond refreshing. Raven’s right hand woman is a tall, stocky, butch woman named Katie. It’s Katie’s idea to recruit an all-female crew after an interview session with a group of male pirates proves frustrating and fruitless. There’s a young spitfire named Jayla, who Raven grew up with, who is an expert in chemicals and potions. Jayla saves the day in Issue 2 in a very cool way. There’s even an homage to some popular women in the comic book industry that you might catch during a particularly fantastic sequence at the Guild with Kate and Sunshine.

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This series is so feminist and fun, you kind of want jump up and dance once you finish reading each issue. QWOC leading ladies are still a rarity, but hopefully with more books like Princeless Raven, it will become more and more common.

Issue 3 came out last week, and you can pick up all three issues now at your local comic book store or online.