Hey, Kids Comics! – Supergirl, Cosmic Adventures In The 8th Grade

We’ve finally hit the sweet spot in my house where we’re doing nightly reading with the kids — dubbed Books & Bed, yes I’m a professional writer — and they want to check out comics! I’m sure I’ve talked about this here and there, but actually reading comics with kids can be a little tricky. Even if they’re interested in the format, leading them along in the right order and keeping them invested for what can be a longer reading experience, can lead to boredom or even frustration. Now that our oldest is reading more and more on her own and has had a fair amount of experience with comics, though, she’s a lot more interested.

And that means I’m buying more kids comics, which I’m pretty stoked about. Over the summer we spent some time at my inlaws’ place and I found myself with an afternoon to myself and a new comic book shop called Midgard Comics & Games to explore! I usually dive through longboxes looking for random 90s comics that I’ve always been curious about, but that time I decided to lean into the kid’s rejuvenated love of the medium and walked away with Supergirl, Cosmic Adventures In The 8th Grade by Landry Q. Walker and Eric Jones as well as the second volume of Scooby-Doo Team-Up, which I will get to in a later post.

I picked up Supergirl for a few reasons. First, my daughter already liked the character from the times we watched the first season of the TV show as well as her appearances in DC Super Hero Girls. Second, my buddy Kiel Phegley, who’s basically a kids comics expert, liked the book. So in we jumped!

The series kicked off with Supergirl’s rocket crashing to Earth, shooting through Lex Luthor’s latest giant battle suit in the process. After experiencing all of her new powers within a relatively short period of time, Kara chatted with Superman about exactly where she came from. In this version, the moon Argo was shunted into a pocket dimension when Krypton exploded. Her dad built a rocket that could travel to this reality, which Kara stowed away in after her parents said she couldn’t go to the launch because of low grades. After meeting up with Superman, she assumed she’d be good, but he revealed that he didn’t know how to get to Argo.

Understandably disappointed, Kara stuck around and her cousin set her up as  student at Stanhope Boarding School. There, she found herself trying to adjust to humanity as well as near-teenhood, dealing with a mean girl Bizarro by the name of Belinda Zee and complications due to her new roommate Lena Luthor’s hatred for Supergirl because she facilitated to her brother Lex’s latest prison sentence. Plus you’ve got the presence of the alternate dimension Supragirl, an alien cat, wildly powerful imps and a battle to save reality as they know it. And all in six issues, no less.

I had a few concerns as we read this book. First, the names got a little confusing. Kara’s from Krypton, she goes by Supergirl when playing hero and then took on the name Linda Lee for school. Later on, Supragirl joins in on the action. Apparently I was the only one who had a problem with that, the kid was fine mostly because of Jones’ easy-to-follow art. I also wondered if the scenes depicting Kara’s wild imaginings would be confusing, but once I explained that the balloon-y panel boarders meant that she was daydreaming, Lu was on board.

Mostly, though, I wasn’t sure about how she’d react to Belinda and the other kids being so mean to Linda. Our kiddo’s pretty sensitive and I have reservations about exposing her and her brother to nastiness even if it’s ultimately triumphed over because, well, it makes me feel bad and I don’t want them to also feel bad. She didn’t seem to care about it either way, but at least now we have a touchstone if she does start having to deal with jerk kids at school down the line.

At the end of the reading experience, my daughter had a great time, so Supergirl gets double thumbs up from both of us. This might not be the easiest book to cut your teeth on with a kiddo comic rookie, though, if you’re just starting to get into sequential storytelling. However, it was a great next-level project for us because it gave examples of word balloon variations and other lettering techniques that she asked about and I was able to explain (ie, dashed lines around word balloons to indicate whispering).

Walker and Jones did a killer job with this book, offering a beautiful looking and exciting-to-read story that, I believe, will offer new layers each time it’s read. They also teamed up for an Image book called Danger Club, but that’s definitely for older audiences. You can read the interview I did with them both over on CBR if you’re curious! Speaking of curious, I want to check out a comic they did together called Little Gloomy and also want to check out Walker’s The Incredibles comics which I’m currently requesting from my library!

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