Two things: first off, this was released on Free Comic Book Day back in May, so the “Back Issue Review” tag may be a stretch, but eh, whatever.
Second, this is a book aimed at young girls, which is fantastic, but I am neither young nor am I a girl, so it’s safe to say I am not in the target demographic for this book. That doesn’t mean I still can’t read it and convey whether or not you should read it too, though, so here we are.
A bit of background on this series: the DC Super Hero Girls brand is a line of merchandise for girls, featuring characters like Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn, each redesigned with a more youthful and kid-friendly look. There are toys, dolls, and even an online webseries, all designed to appeal to girls and get them into comic books. That is an idea I am behind one hundred percent, as these characters are for everybody and have fans of all types, be they male or female, young or old.
To help promote the recently released DC Super Hero Girls: Finals Crisis graphic novel, DC included this issue in its Free Comic Book Day offerings to give an idea of the kind of book it will be. So what kind of book is it?
I mean… it’s charming, that’s for certain. Like I said, I’m not exactly their target audience here, but it’s sweet, innocent fun regardless.
Right off the bat writer Shea Fontana and penciler Yancey Labat make it clear that these adventures don’t take place in the DC Universe proper, but a place that can be far more sinister and horrifying: high school.
Side note: you include Animal Man and you’ve already earned goodwill in my book.
The fun of reading a re-imagining like this is seeing how familiar characters will fit into a new mold. The main characters are basic high school students, and besides Supergirl, who is the book’s focus, nobody else really has any defining characteristics. Harley Quinn is the class clown, sure, and Wonder Woman and Batgirl seem to be pretty popular, but most of their traits come from what you as a reader will bring to the book rather than what’s in the book itself.
But really, that’s okay. It’s just an introduction to this new take on familiar characters, and there are some pretty great cameos throughout. Ted Grant is the gym teacher, of course, and Amanda Waller and Gorilla Grodd are the principal and vice principal, respectively, which is pretty amazing. Then there’s Crazy Quilt, who is… the costuming teacher, I guess? Bumblebee mentions that there’s a “weaponomics” class, so if we’re to assume this school is to teach them to be heroes and hone their abilities, of course there’s going to be a class where they learn how to sew and tailor. Not everyone can afford a butler, after all.
The actual story follows Supergirl as she freaks out over an upcoming assignment and flies back to Smallville to talk to the Kents, where she tells them about a time she was in school on Krypton and was bullied for riding a horse to school.
Through a series of somewhat complicated events (of course), Kara’s final school project goes from success to a massive failure. How massive? She gets an [unpronounceable symbol].
Naturally, this leads to her freaking out about her performance at school and having anxiety over tests and finals. The Kents give her some words of encouragement, as Ma and Pa are wont to do, and Supergirl heads back to school only to be incapacitated in a cliffhanger.
It’s very, very straightforward, but that’s okay. The storytelling is charming and fun, and it’s illustrated wonderfully with creative character designs and bright colors. The ending may not have left me chomping at the bit waiting to see where the story goes, but as far as licensed tie-ins go, you could do much worse.
- You have kids wanting to get into comic books, especially daughters.
- It was free, so the price is right.
- You like seeing fairly creative redesigns and picking out Easter Eggs.
- You’ve long wondered what the Kryptonian equivalent of ‘F’ was.
Overall: A niche product with a specific demographic, sure, this is still light, charming reading. I’m not going to go out and recommend this to everybody I see, but what it does it does well: it re-imagines familiar characters in a new setting and uses them to tell a story that can appeal to kids. It was smart of DC to release this as a free comic book because young girls can always use more representation on the comics rack, so bringing more attention to a nice property like this can do nothing but good.