Review: ‘DC Super Hero Girls: Finals Crisis’
DC Super Hero Girls: Finals Crisis
Writer: Shea Fontana
Artist: Yancey Labat
DC Comics; $9.99
Mattel’s DC Super Hero Girls line of action figures launched last year, accompanied by online animated shorts, and then a TV special and a series of young reader novels. Given the source material that inspired the toy line/burgeoning media franchise–it’s right there in the title–it is perhaps a little surprising that it has taken until this summer for a comic book tie-in to surface. But better late than never.
Perhaps wisely eschewing the traditional serially-published, paper-and-staples format comic book series, DC’s DC Super Hero Girls comics come in the form of original graphic novels. The first, Finals Crisis, was just released last month, but a second, Hits and Myths, is already scheduled for a November release.
For those unfamiliar with the premise, it’s a rather simple one. Most of the DC Comics superheroes (and a few villains) are all teenaged high school students attending Super Hero High School in Metropolis, where the curriculum includes such subjects as Intro To Super-Suits and Weaponomics. The faculty includes Principal Amanda Waller, Vice Principal Gorilla Grodd and gym coach Wildcat.
While the main characters are composed of DC’s best-known female heroes and villains (and a few much more minor characters, promoted to star-staus for diversity’s sake), this isn’t an all-girls school: Plenty of the male superheroes populate the backgrounds or have supporting roles, from more popular characters like Green Lantern and The Flash to some very deep cuts like Bunker and The Ray.
Finals Crisis is set on the eve of–what else?–finals, wherein the students have to demonstrate that they have improved on their super hero abilities since the beginning of the semester. While each of our heroines has various difficulties with finals–Supergirl doesn’t test well, Bumblebee needs snacks to keep studying, Batgirl can’t study with roommate Harley Quinn playing music so loud, etc.–they face an even greater problem when a mysterious villain starts kidnapping them one by one, for his own mysterious (but still related to finals!) purposes.
Divided into nine chapters, Finals Crisis devotes a chapter to set-up and another to the climax and conclusion, while the seven in the middle each star a different one of the Super Hero Girls in overlapping action: Supergirl, Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Poison Ivy, Bumblebee, Katana and Harley Quinn.
While the intended target audience is obviously younger kids–most especially those at a toy-playing-with age–the book proves a decent all-ages read. I’m about as far out of the target audience as it’s possible to be, and yet I still really enjoyed the book, which reads like a somewhat more complex version of DC’s Super Friends toy/comics franchise from a few years back, but with a huge cast full of enough in-jokes to keep DC Comics fans of all ages and levels of experience and engagement with the publisher entertained.
Yancey Labat’s art is stylistically defined by the toy line, particularly in terms of character design, but it’s high-quality work: Smooth, clean, crisp, and flat, with eye-popping color art by Monica Kubina that gives every page the electric brightness and life of animation.
As a bridge between DC Comics and DC Super Hero Girls, I found it to be a two-way one: DC Super Hero Girls fans get a great gateway comic, and DC Comics fans get a nice introduction to the fun, funny world of Super Hero High.
About J. Caleb Mozzocco
J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.
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