*Just the Usual Superpowers: A Superhero Girl Collection — Recommended

I’m breaking one of my rules here, because I am a total Faith Erin Hicks fangirl. I love her work. She even got me to like a zombie comic. So even though this collection of her webcomic The Adventures of Superhero Girl is only available from her at convention appearances, I’m still talking about it. (Normally, I only review comics that are easily available to readers.)

Just the Usual Superpowers

Just the Usual Superpowers collects the first 55 Adventures of Superhero Girl strips. (The name change was to avoid trademark issues.) Superhero Girl was originally created for The Coast, a free weekly newspaper in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and it updates on Tuesdays and Fridays online.

I often wonder how younger creators, those who came of artistic age where there are so many diverse options for comic careers, view superheroes. This collection helps answer that question — there’s a remarkable lack of traditional heroics, with the focus instead on being nice in daily life. Superhero Girl gets a cat out of a tree (in her own indomitable way), goes shopping for a new cape, and visits the bookstore in the first strips. We more often see her talking on the phone with mom than battling. It’s a very modern take on life — just because you have abilities doesn’t mean you know how to use them, and being special in one area doesn’t solve all your problems. You still have to do laundry and pay rent.

Of course, it’s all very well drawn, with just the right attitudes. I especially like the way Hicks punctures all the expectations early on, with an annoying boy telling the character she can’t be a real superhero because her past isn’t full of tragedy. Well, why on earth not? Superhero Girl has powers, so if she calls herself one, she can be one. And it’s very refreshing to see the clichés deflated, whether it’s ditching the cape after a bit or back-talking a space monster. It’s an excellent strip, all the more so when read this way.

Superhero Girl fights annoying hipsters, puts up with Skeptical Guy, and tries to find a job. There’s also a cute kitty to make up for public ingratitude. Just the Usual Superpowers is an excellent combination of daily life comedy and playing with genre expectations. The book also includes an author’s note on the genesis of the concept as well as the very first superhero comic she made. It’s worth hunting down — I hope the book becomes available through mail order at some point.

17 Responses to “*Just the Usual Superpowers: A Superhero Girl Collection — Recommended”

  1. David Oakes Says:

    I hate you.

    But I hate Canada even more for being so distant.

  2. Grant Says:

    Why is she wearing Retro Girls costume? I smell a lawsuit.

  3. Johanna Says:

    Who’s Retro Girl?

  4. Bill D. Says:

    I’ve been loving Superhero Girl. I’d definitely like to see this available for mail order.

  5. Don MacPherson Says:

    Hicks lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and I’m betting the preeminent comic shop there — Strange Adventures — will have some copies stocked. Don’t know if the shop will do mail order, but you never know.

    The reason I’m betting on it is that Strange Adventures started where I live, in Fredericton, New Brunswick, and is still in operation here as well. I’m hoping I’ll be able to snag a copy there as well.

  6. Chris Howard Says:

    Faith said at TCAF that the initial print run was fairly small as this was her first go at self publishing. You are correct however, that Strange Adventures has taken a large chunk of the print run.
    They may be willing to mail copies. I’m still recovering, but looking forward to it and many other books I bought Sunday.

  7. Don MacPherson Says:

    Retro Girl was the murder victim in the first Powers story arc by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Avon Oeming, and later in the series, a new character took on the super-hero identity of Retro Girl.

  8. Grant Says:

    “Who’s Retro Girl?”

    I actually find your lack of knowledge about all things superhero related from the past 20 years refreshing and somewhat endearing. ;)

  9. Johanna Says:

    I have known for a long time I don’t care for Brian Bendis’ work, so I don’t read it. Especially when he’s trying to be clever and meta.

    I read a whole lot of superhero comics up until … I should figure out when I quit. Mid-2000s? So not quite 20 years, thanks. :)

  10. James Schee Says:

    To be fair to Johanna, I still read more superhero comics than her and I had to google who Retro Girl was. (lol and that’s the one Powers TPB I read)

    This comic sounds really cool, too bad I’ll never see it given that I’m likely to never make it to a convention the creator will be at.

  11. Randall Says:

    Oh, I wish this wasn’t convention exclusive. I wish so hard.

  12. Chris Howard Says:

    Oh I don’t expect it will remain an exclusive. It’s just the first print run was conservative as Faith was unsure. I think she could easily double or triple it for the second run and look into distribution or at least dealing with indy friendly stores directly.

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