DC Super Hero Girls: Hits and Misses

hitsandmythsLion-Mane is causing trouble in Metropolis at the beginning of Hits and Myths, the latest graphic novel by Shea Fontana and Yancey Labat. But DC’s Super Hero Girls are on a tight schedule. “We don’t have time for your silly games,” says Batgirl to the rampaging cat man. “Yeah,” agrees Wonder Woman. “We have to get to school.”

And so it is with everyone enrolled at Super Hero High School. Katana, Poison Ivy, Hawkgirl, Supergirl, Harley Quinn and all of their classmates are busy juggling the demands of homework and hero work. Everybody is on their best behavior because they don’t want to get in trouble with principal Amanda Waller and vice principal Gorilla Grodd.

After they dispatch Lion-Mane, the girls discover their poetry teacher (Professor Etrigan, aka the Demon) has been kidnapped by big daddy Trigon from the Under Realm. The rescue mission includes a rock’n’roll subplot with cameos by Cheetah (our favorite), Beast Boy, Flash, Ravager, Silver Banshee, Black Canary, Lobo, and Raven. We especially liked seeing Hawk (of Hawk and Dove) pop up in reoccurring panels throughout the book. He never says a word, but he’s always lurking somewhere in the background.

Nothing tickles us more than the ongoing success of the DC Super Hero Girls franchise. The toys, the cartoons, the comic books, the T-shirts, the Halloween costumes — honestly, we love the whole darn thing. The supplemental novels by Lisa Yee, in particular, are quite good (see our reviews here and here).

But we have to admit the graphic novels are not without problems. The scripts by Shea Fontana are undeniably fun and packed with good-natured spizz energy. But her panel-by-panel storytelling is weak. It’s obvious to us that she’s struggling with the format.

And the artwork by Yancey Labat is troublesome too. His drawings are so perfectly on spec they look like clipart. Gone are the days of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Comic Book by Evan Dorkin and Clerks by Jim Mahfood. Back then, companies gave their creators a little more freedom to do as they wished. The results, in our opinion, added substantially to our enjoyment of the source material.

These days comic book tie-ins must conform to strict licensing and approvals guidelines. Everybody wants to keep things consistent across all platforms. It’s a shame really. To us, it looks like artist Labat is being forced to trace animation cels. We understand that DC has a lot riding on this franchise. The company doesn’t want to mess around with a successful brand recognition/product strategy. But we think the girls of Super Hero High are a strong bunch. Let them fly without the weight of a multimedia-marketing blitz holding them down.

[DC Super Hero Girls: Hits and Myths / By Shea Fontana and Yancey Labat / First Printing: November 2016 / ISBN: 9781401267612]

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