Pat Shand here, back with the fourth and final installment of In a World…, a series of articles about stories you know and characters you love, but where things may not be what they seem. We’re traveling to strange, alternate realities where familiar faces have been placed in different timelines, places, and maybe even worlds. This time, now that we’ve seen a dark possibility for Marvel’s future with Age of Ultron, let’s leave all the darkness behind and visit a version of the DC universe that will put a smile on your face.
The DC Super Hero Girls Universe.
I was first introduced to this all-ages reimagining of the DC universe in Target. My wife Amy is an avid toy collector, so all of our trips to the Labyrinth of the Red Dot begins with a trip to the toy section, where Amy will investigate the Lego situation, marvel at the new plushies, and contemplate buying anything that is both mechanized and ugly-cute. On one of these trips, I noticed a series of action figures with style that immediately caught my eye. They felt part-Tiny Titans (perhaps my favorite alternate superhero universe ever created), a large part Batgirl of Burnside, and part… well, something entirely new. The costumes and even the designs of the faces had this brand-new energy that I don’t remember getting from superhero collectibles before.
Of course, I wanted one, but I held back. Our apartment, you see, is kind of overloaded. If you’re reading this article, I’m pretty sure you might feel that struggle.
Anyway, I was surprised to later learn that the DC Super Hero Girls weren’t just toys, but were the basis of a TV show, comics, and more. I eagerly picked up the Halloween Comic Fest issue of the title, which features a chapter from the graphic novel Hits and Myths. I’m thrilled to see this title adopting the graphic novel format, which is the format I think most kids will gravitate to these days rather than single issues. And, if we want to exist as an industry in the next fifty years, we definitely need to get young readers interested with content that they, in 2017, can relate to and invest in passionately. This is the first superhero title I’ve read in a long time that I feel does just that.
Hits and Myths is written by Shea Fontana, drawn by Yancey Labat, colored by Monica Kubina, and lettered by Janice Chiang. It’s a fast paced story that has a lot going on, but it’s streamlined to focus on the character interactions and jokes above all. The characters are all unique but true to their personalities, but this version of the DC Universe has them all going to school together. Standout characters are the daring Batgirl, awesome Supergirl, and powerhouse Wonder Woman who take down a villain named Lion Mane before heading to school in a fun, hilarious battle sequence. Once they get to school, we get a sense of where the larger story is going when Wonder Woman starts reading The Odyssey on assignment, which will seemingly be a larger thread in the graphic novel.
The best stuff, though, comes from the interactions with class clown Harley Quinn, and their teacher… Professor Etrigan. It’s incredible how seamless this reimagined take on this world incorporates characters that would otherwise seem at odds with this super positive, energetic storyline. Harley is a ray of sunshine here, and is friends with all of the heroes, but still feels very much like herself. I kind of just love it. It’s great for kids, and it’s also a blast for adults. I love that DC Super Hero Girls exists in all of its forms, because this just might be the ticket to keeping this strange, beautiful artform of ours going strong into the next generation.
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