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REVIEW: ADVENTURES OF SUPERHERO GIRL

REVIEWS - PRINT REVIEWS

With great power comes great, err, angst...

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I love superhero comics, probably a little more than a man of my age should, and I also love traditional old school comic strips like Peanuts, Dilbert and the like, which is perfectly acceptable for anybody, man or woman, of any age, so the coming together of the two in Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks is like finding the proverbial four leaf clover.

I must admit the only Superhero Girl that I was aware of until this collection popped up for review was the song of the same name by Floridian pop punks Eve6, but a quick read of the synopsis (“What if you can leap tall buildings and defeat alien monsters with your bare hands, but you buy your capes at secondhand stores, and have a weakness for kittens, and a snarky comment from Skeptical Guy can ruin a whole afternoon?”) had me at “Hello” and within a few pages I was hooked.

The artwork, drawn by Hicks with colours by Cris Peter, has a wonderfully familiar feel to it and reminds me of the comic strips of my youth, of Calvin & Hobbes, the aforementioned Peanuts and also of the Golden Age of Marvel comics (I was never really a DC kid). The latter is particularly fitting as legendary writer Kurt Busiek, author of the iconic Marvels series that redefined comics and introduced artist extraordinaire Alex Ross to the world, waxes lyrically about Superhero Girl in the foreword.

superhero girl with catIn addition to being genuinely smile inducing, Superhero Girl is a warmly written parody of the genre. As if suffering from the usual alter ego gripes of being broke and unable to talk to anybody about how she just saved the world for fear of giving away her secret identity isn't enough of a burden for our titular crusader she also has to deal with the added angst of having an older brother, Kevin, who is am infinitely more successful and popular superhero and steals her limelight whenever he flies into town. Then there's her local competition in the form of Spectacle Girl, her trust funded rival who never has to worry about making the rent payments or repairing her costume.

Every superhero needs an arch-nemesis, of course, and Superhero Girl's reveals himself in the form of Skeptical Guy, whose pithy comments and refusal to be in the least bit impressed by her feats of heroism drive her insane.  Throw in the constant annoyance of King Ninja who desperately wants to be a major league villain but can only send the most inept of black clad, nunchuck wielding minions to bother Superhero Girl and you have a comic strip that while ostensibly a superhero book, is in reality a very sweet love letter to the trials and tribulations of modern life.

Though a short read, this collection is very much of the quality over quantity variety and I spent a very entertaining hour with this witty, charming and wonderful book and highly recommend you do the same with Superhero Girl just as soon as she deals with those blasted ninjas!

4 stars


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