The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks. Dark Horse Books, 2013. Currently available.
Face Value: It’s gorgeous! Superhero Girl looks like a normal girl. She doesn’t have over-exaggerated body parts and her superhero clothes have a normal fit (it’s not a skin tight Spandex get-up). I love this cover simply because it shows a normal-looking girl in a position of power. There’s also a great sense of humor in this cover. While Superhero Girl is enjoying her moment of glory, forces of evil are sneaking around behind her. The pixilation of the artwork is a nod to the classic comic format of the book.
Does it break the slate? Absolutely. Superhero Girl shows that even people who do great things in their professions can have annoying real-life problems (like a tight budget and an overbearing family). The fallibility of Superhero Girl is what makes her so delightful, so appealing, and so Slatebreaking. Yes, she struggles sometimes. But that doesn’t stop her from using her talents.
Who would we give it to? I really loved this book because of the balance of the beautiful imperfection of the heroine. I think that any reader who struggles with self-doubt would find Superhero Girl to be an inspiring fictional ally. It’s also a great book for readers who struggle with blocks of text, because the comic format breaks down dialogue and visually tells the story.
Review: Faith Erin Hicks is doing great things for the comic medium. She’s a veteran of graphic novels, and her latest offering is in the format of the classic comic strip. Her book differs from the graphic novels I have reviewed before on Slatebreakers. The strips are episodic, capturing moments of Superhero Girl’s life, and not necessarily in chronological order. I found this to be one of the most endearing qualities of the book. It had a sitcom feel to it. Each time I dropped in to witness a portion of Superhero Girl’s life, I learned a little more about her and fell in love with her a little more. And there’s always humor infused in Superhero Girl’s less glorious moments. For example, a conversation with her mom ends on a disappointing note.
Superhero Girl is an extremely appealing Slatebreaker because she doesn’t let the mundane problems of everyday life stop her from battling evildoers. Yes, she may be falling short of her monthly rent payment, but she’s still going to kick some space alien butt. She also goes about her superheroing in a manner very different from her brother. They both find success, and that’s extremely rewarding. Superhero Girl’s success is not commercial (there won’t be any figurines of Superhero Girl), but philosophical. She continues to battle bad guys and girls and feel good about the way she’s helping her community. She’s the best advocate for working in a non-profit that I’ve ever read.
Superhero Girl is very much a normal young adult. She’s living with a roommate to cut costs. She doesn’t make enough money doing what she loves. And she is constantly being compared to her more successful older sibling, which drives her bonkers. It doesn’t help that her roommate just got a great new boyfriend, making Superhero Girl feel like a permanent third wheel. Superhero Girl’s life situation and social obstacles are much more in line with the “new adult” crowd – those in the 18 to 24 year old range. I definitely appreciated the book because Superhero Girl’s problems are familiar to me. I think that middle school and high school girls will also love Superhero Girl and her awkwardness, but her life experiences may seem distant for those readers. Still, girls who have grown up from reading Raina Telgemeier’s Smile and Drama may be yearning for something similar but more mature. The Adventures of Superhero Girl is definitely the book for them.
Reviewed from a library copy.