You never know how, when or where your kids will finally be interested in the things you love. When I first heard about DC Superhero Girls a few years back, I was super stoked because it looked like it would be perfectly up my daughter’s alley. Young women with cool powers all going to school together and fighting bad guys? What could be better?!
Well, apparently a lot of other shows because, even though they’re available on our On Demand, I can think of only a handful of times that she wanted to watch the show. I will say that the episodes’ incredibly short length didn’t help. No matter how much I love a show, if you make it so I have to hover around the TV with the remote to play the next installment with that kind of frequency, I will not be a happy camper.
But then, a few weeks ago, I went to October Country in New Paltz for Free Comic Book Day and told the kids I would grab them something. So, I got the DCSHG book for my six year old daughter and Guardians Of The Galaxy for our three year old (I figured he’s like Baby Groot). Thanks to a sudden interest in comics and some knowledge of the DC characters from Teen Titans Go! and living with a giant geek like me, our daughter was interested!
We sat down that night during Books & Bed and read through the preview for the July-releasing Summer Olympus graphic novel by Shea Fontana and Yancey Labat. It was just a taste, but she was taken with the whole world and wanted more. Thanks to some looking around on our library’s website, I found that our local branch had the two existing books, so I grabbed them and we’ve been enjoying DC Superhero Girls adventures since!
As I mentioned above, the general idea of this multimedia concept is that a small army of characters all go to high school together in Metropolis. We’re talking Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Bumblebee, Starfire, Beast Boy, Cyborg, Flash, Katana and plenty of others. While taking superhero-specific courses like costume-making and weaponomics, they also deal with the usual teen problems like fitting in, family issues and trying to follow the rules and failing.
Though it’s actually the second in the series, we read Hits And Myths first. This one kicks off with Wonder Woman trying to read through The Odyssey while also being an awesome friend to everyone she meets. She’s also pre-occupied with a big sleepover she’s having back at her place, but when they get to the Batplane to fly off, it’s missing! The proceeding adventures reflect elements of Homer’s epic poem while weaving a series of engaging mysteries that incorporate the likes of Lobo, Silver Banshee, Black Canary, Magpie and plenty of other deep-dive DC characters.
While she’s not necessarily the main character of the story, I really enjoyed what Fontana did with Miss Martian’s character. In this reality, she’s super shy and nervous about everything, but thanks to the others’ faith in her, she gains courage to face Trigon, a demon in the Underworld (which might be a red flag for some).
After reading this book, I asked my daughter if she enjoyed it and she said she did. One of her favorite parts came at the very end after the girls finally got to their sleepover and they all had sleeping bags that represented their costumes! It’s not easy reading a comic to someone because of all the movement around the page and different characters, but she seemed to get what was going on. I was also able to explain some of the word balloon elements that she wasn’t familiar with like jagged lines representing shouting or dashed ones meaning whispering. I’m so familiar with these things that I take them for granted, but it’s cool being able to pass that knowledge on.
More recently we tackled Finals Crisis, the first graphic novel in the series. This one showcases a different character in each chapter right around finals time as they’re all worrying about how they’ll do on their various tests. Of course, it doesn’t help that a mysterious, shadowy figure keeps taking out the different characters with a variety of traps. One of the least likely of the group winds up saving the day in the end and everyone gets back in time to finish up the semester.
I like how this book is able to dive into each character’s concerns for a bit before moving on to the next. Poison Ivy worries that her projects won’t be big enough or accepted while Bumblebee just wants a honey smoothie. Not everyone needs to be dealing with headaches all the time.
Finally, and I fully admit that this is not my area of expertise as a white dude, but I love the representation on display in this book. Sure, it’s female-fronted, but that doesn’t mean the male characters are treated with any less respect or care. They’re just not front and center which is great, you can get that pretty much anywhere else. I’m also happy to report that our three year old son has reacted just as well to these cartoons and comics, though it’s definitely much harder for him to grasp sequential storytelling at this point.
So, all in all, I think that Fontana and Labat have come together to create a fantastic comic book experience for younger kids while also offering up plenty of fun for comic-loving parents like me. I want to say that it works for non-comic-fans as well, but I’m way too far down that rabbit hole to say for sure. My best advice while reading, just keep pointing to the characters in each panel who are talking, that seemed to really help my daughter and hope it helps your kiddo.