Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, and the rest of the Super Hero High crew are back in Hits and Myths, the second original graphic novel in the DC Super Hero Girls line. With shades of classic literature and enduring myth, the team set off on an adventure that takes them all over the city in search of lost items and friends. So get your cape on and let’s take flight as we join the team and save the world from crime.
This line has been a runaway, smash hit, there’s no question there. New fans are being made every day, and parents have a property they can share a mutual love for with their children while simultaneously introducing them to the world of DC Comics. For that alone, I really like this property. And I still do, even if this story feels derivative of the first one.
It’s a new day at Super Hero High, and with that comes new challenges. With the weekend fast approaching, the girls have one thing on their mind: Wonder Woman’s slumber party. Being in school, they still have to attend to their studies, which is understandably frustrating when the average student can fly and/or lift mountains and/or fire some sort of energy blast. Still, they must abide by the rules, even when the rules are super lame and boring.
One of my favorite things about this line is the recasting of familiar faces within the context of a school. Of course Amanda Waller is the principal, and who else but Crazy Quilt for costuming? The literary professor? None other than Etrigan, and that’s pretty brilliant. Of course a centuries old demon with a penchant for rhyming is going to be the one who ensures the students are well-versed in the classics. Dude’s probably met at least a good half of the authors whose work he assigns. This week’s assignment? Homer’s Odyssey.
Shout out to Janice Chiang for that wonderful lettering work. Really reinforces the ancient literature motif.
Like Finals Crisis, Hits and Myths is broken up into several chapters, each following different members of the group on various adventures. The structure loosely (verrrrrrrry loosely) follows the plot of the Odyssey as well, such as a battle of the bands representing Odysseus’ encounter with the Sirens, but by and large it’s pretty much the same plot as the first graphic novel. Instead of missing friends, they’re looking for a missing Batplane, but that’s hardly a big enough difference to make up for a fairly derivative storytelling structure.
Granted, the familiar structure is aimed at younger readers, and I can’t really fault it for that, I just wish Shea Fontana had gone a different route with the storytelling. Each chapter even uses the same flashback device as the previous story: one group goes on adventure; checks in with another group who is in a peculiar situation; next chapter shows their adventure; repeat until the climax. The currently-running digital-first series Past Times at Super Hero High doesn’t use the same trope, though, so hopefully that’s indicative of future Super Hero Girls stories having more variety.
Storytelling qualms aside, Hits and Myths has another thing in common with its predecessor: it’s charming and has heart. Fontana knows her DC Universe really well, and the inclusion of such a variety of characters shows that. Sure, they don’t behave like they would in mainline continuity, but they don’t need to. Nobody is so different as to be unrecognizable, and even the “softening” of some characters still allows them to exist in the more “kid-friendly” universe established here.
What this line does so well is give young children, particularly girls, characters they can admire and look up to. The titular Super Hero Girls are smart and caring, opting to talk through their problems and work out solutions before resorting to fighting. They’re inclusive and friendly, accepting of even a ruffian like Lobo. It may seem cheesy, but they truly teach good lessons in friendship, and I think that’s great.
Of course, they’re also cool and tough when they need be, which is a bonus.
Yancey Labat’s pencils are generally solid, though there are some awkward panels here and there. Occasionally the plain backgrounds and the characters’ poses look a little stiff, almost like a frame from a Flash cartoon. By and large the look is bright and inviting though, with great character designs and some wonderful colors from Monica Kubina. I particularly loved the look of Diana’s dream early in the book, with a washed out sepia tone quality that emulates old parchment. It was a nice visual device that differentiated itself from the rest of the book, which looked pretty good itself.
If this isn’t for you, that’s fine, because it really isn’t for me either. It is for someone, though, and this may be the book that makes a lifelong fan of a kid.
At the very least, I think we’re all glad to know what Smallville’s Special Crimes Unit drives around in.
Bonus Features: Just some “file cards” for each character.
Value: Ten bucks for a physical copy or eight for digital. For more… casual fans I’d say wait for a sale, but if you know a little girl who loves these characters or wants to get into comics then full price is more than worth it.
Overall: A little repetitive, not exactly original, but not at all without its charms. Even if I’m not the target audience for the DC Super Hero Girls stuff, I’m glad that there is an audience and they get their own comics material. It’s bright, colorful, and fun, and charming in its own right. These books may not win any storytelling awards, but there are worse things a kid could be reading. And who knows, you may end up loving it, too.