Review: ‘DC Super Hero Girls: Past Times at Super Hero High’
DC Super Hero Girls: Past Times at Super Hero High
Written by Shea Fontana, illustrated by Yancey Labat, Agnes Garbowska, and Marcelo DiChiara
DC Comics, $9.99
For ages 8-12
The fourth graphic novel starring the DC Super Hero Girls expands the “kids in superhero school” premise (as seen in Finals Crisis and Hits and Myths) with time travel! And dinosaurs!
Writer Shea Fontana does a terrific job combining younger versions of classic DC characters with familiar but imaginative premises. Adults (well, those who’ve ever read any science fiction) know to be careful when you visit the past, for fear of changing the future, but the rules may have to go by the wayside when danger strikes the students’ field trip in time.
Batgirl, Harley Quinn, Beast Boy, Katana, Wonder Woman, and Supergirl head off to see real-life dinosaurs. Unfortunately, the beasts aren’t following the script, and the group gets separated. Their various survival strategies (which creatively extend beyond just “battle dinosaurs”, although there’s a good amount of that, too) end up changing history, so the team returns to find immortal bad guy Vandal Savage in charge of their high school.
Fontana knows her DC history. Liberty Belle isn’t a well-known character, but she’s one of my favorites, and since her original version dates from the 1940s (a time frame reflected in the period slang Fontana gives her), she’s a great choice for time travel guide for the kids, even if she doesn’t get to do very much.
Although several artists are credited, it’s difficult to tell their work apart, since all are quite capable of matching the character designs and drawing the necessary action. Of which there’s plenty, as the team works to restore their timeline against Savage’s stooges.
Harley and Batgirl have a rivalry, which they have to overcome to work together, with cameos from Amelia Earhart, Emily Dickinson, the Atomic Knights, and an adorable baby pterodactyl. There are themes about feeling one deserves a good friend and valuing everyone for their own unique strengths. That’s the fun of this series: it admirably combines inspiring morals with superhero adventure to show us more about these terrific characters and inspire reader imaginations.
(Check out our interview with Shea Fontana and Agnes Garbowska.)
Filed under: All Ages, Graphic Novels, Reviews
Johanna Draper Carlson has been reviewing comics for over 20 years. She manages ComicsWorthReading.com, the longest-running independent review site online that covers all genres of comic books, graphic novels, and manga. She has an MA in popular culture, studying online fandom, and was previously, among many other things, webmaster for DC Comics. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
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