DC Super Hero Girls: Summer Olympus review

It’s summer vacation for the students of Super Hero High, and with it comes opportunity for new adventures.  With the school year behind them, what are the likes of Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Katana, Harley Quinn, and the whole crew going to do on their break?

Spend it apart, apparently.

This is bad news for Wonder Woman, who receives a summons from her father Zeus, requesting that she spend the summer with him on Mount Olympus.  He says any of her friends can tag along, but everyone else already has plans: Harley goes to theater camp, Hawkgirl goes on an archeological expedition, Supergirl goes back to the Kent farm, and so forth.  It’s understandable, but a bummer just the same.  Luckily, Bumblebee is available to tag along, so Diana isn’t totally alone.

The previous two trade shared a pretty similar formula with each other: the group would be together until a conflict arose, then they would split up and the story would switch between each character or group until they all met up again at the end, jumping back in time at the end of each chapter to track another story up to the present.  It’s a fine formula, but it did feel kind of samey after it was used for two separate stories.  Thankfully, that’s not the case here, as this is by and large Wonder Woman’s story.  Most of the action takes place from her point of view, so she gets to grow as a character quite a bit.

This also lets Shea Fontana drop some pretty sneaky history lessons along the way, with some genuinely clever jokes dealing with various bits of ancient mythology.

A large portion of the narrative has a “fish out of water” feel to it with Diana adjusting to her numerous brothers and sisters on Olympus, all of whom embrace their archetype.  Aphrodite is all about the romance, for instance, and Ares is totally into waging war and conquering cities.  You know, typical teenage stuff.

And Zeus, I am happy to say, is all about the dad jokes.

I mean, it is on point.

As a dad, I want to hang out with Zeus, is what I’m saying.

Eventually trouble arises, as a globetrotting thief steals some powerful artifacts from different museums around the world.  This leads Batgirl, Beast Boy, and Katana to track down the culprit, only to uncover a plan to take over the world that two of Diana’s siblings are formulating.  Those scenes let Yancey Labat and Monica Kubina render some simplified but still pretty spot-on recreations of some famous landmarks.

Like I said, though, this is largely Diana’s show.  She has some great scenes where she bonds with her sister Siracca, who is an outsider on Olympus herself.  I really like that Fontana weaves in positive messages of friendship, acceptance, and forgiveness, as well as making each of the characters strong and capable on their own.  There may be situations where they can’t solve a problem by themselves, but the girls know how to work together as a team and use their strengths in a given situation.

The ending comes pretty quick, with a climax that has a lot of buildup but not much payoff.  That’s ok, though, because the story itself is enjoyable on its own.  There’s quite a bit of humor, which is expected, like Lady Shiva threatening a chicken, which is not.

There are some great background gags, too, be it fun little cameos or hilarious restaurant names.

Shea Fontana: the Queen of Dad Jokes and Puns.

The most welcome strength of the book is in its mini history and mythology lessons.  Nothing gets too in-depth, with most references consisting of either silly little jokes are quick asides, but there’s a surprising amount of Greek mythology referenced.  You get the popular characters, like Zeus and Hermes, and of course Ares is the main antagonist, but then they use guys like Janus.

Who is absolutely terrifying.

The only real complaints I can make are about things that this series isn’t even trying to be.  There isn’t much in the way of conflict, and even when there is the stakes aren’t remarkably high.  You feel for and like these characters, but you never really feel like they’re in any sort of danger.  And as charming and silly as the dialogue is, there are times when it gets a little one-dimensional.  For instance, Diana develops a fairly believable relationship with Siracca, but even when there’s tension between the two it’s over pretty quickly.  Then again, it does endorse a great message of resolving your differences with words instead of fighting, so I can’t fault it too much.

Even though this is a series that is largely for young girls, there’s plenty for fans of all ages to enjoy.  My four-year-old son just loves the different heroes, and I love the background jokes and deep cuts they use for cameos.  To that end, this is a perfect all-ages read, and the best in the series so far.  Get your cape on, then, and join the Super Hero Girls on another exciting adventure.

But that poor chicken

Bonus features: The usual “character bios” page at the beginning, and a “Wonder Woman Day” cover at the end.  That’s it, but…

Value: it’s nine bucks.  You could probably get it even cheaper, too.  It’s a fun story that’s perfect for kids, so full price is worth it.

Overall: DC Super Hero Girls continues to deliver excellent all-ages stories, and this is the best one yet.  Coupled with its trademark bright, energetic visual style, the story is a little more mature and complex in its structure, making it a rewarding experience to read.  Whether you’re a part of its “target audience” or not there’s still plenty to enjoy here: great characters, a fast-paced story, and some great set-pieces.  Oh, and dad jokes.  Dad jokes galore.

SCORE: 8/10