DC Super Hero Girls: Summer Olympus
As expected, DC Super Hero Girls: Summer Olympus features the group of heroes saving the day with friendship and teamwork, but it’s so good-hearted that I can’t fault it for being a bit predictable. Unlike the previous two books in the series — Finals Crisis and Hits and Myths — this one is more solo-hero-focused, as we follow Wonder Woman to Olympus for summer vacation.
There are still plenty of other drop-ins from her many friends. Checking in with what the other students are doing over the holiday provides much of the humor, whether it’s Batgirl, asking Beast Boy in pig form to eat more quietly, so he becomes a piglet, or Supergirl, Big Barda, and Lady Shiva going to the Kents’ farm for the summer, which makes for some cute animal gags.
Wonder Woman is now officially the daughter of Zeus, who’s played as a kindly old grampa type. (I don’t care for either of these, personally, but it didn’t get in the way of the story.) She’s invited to visit with her half-brothers and -sisters, where she and Bumblebee meet Siracca, demigod of wind. This leads to one of my favorite exchanges, as the new girl sums up Wonder Woman’s outfit:
Which of my sisters are you supposed to be? The goddesses of lassos? Champion of spandex pants? Ruler of shoulder pads?
Summer Olympus has the same creative team as the first two, writer Shea Fontana and artist Yancey Labat, and they have a real feel for the characters. There are also meaningful touches, as Batgirl expresses her appreciation of Sherlock Holmes and more seriously, Siracca is a Syrian refugee.
Since this is set amongst the gods, of course the villain is Ares, accompanied by Strife, the goddess of discord and conflict. This allows for plenty of character work as the cast fights, then overcomes to save the day. Seeing a wide-ranging group, beyond the usual core, is welcome, as there are so many great heroes to explore. Hawkgirl uses her archaeological knowledge to help with a museum thief. Strife messes up Star Sapphire and Green Lantern’s picnic date. Frost is serving Catwoman at the Capes and Cowls Cafe. Thunder and Lightning (whom I really want to know more about) help battle Ares, along with a bunch more superheroes.
The series seems clued in to what kids are interested in, moving beyond the insular DC universe, a good choice. From the mythology here, the next book in the series tackles dinosaurs, with Past Times at Super Hero High out this fall.
I was surprised and taken aback by the “Zeus is my father” comment when I saw it in the Free Comic Book Day preview of this book. When I saw this repeated elsewhere, it finally dawned on me why.
By changing Wonder Woman’s patron god from Athena to Zeus, it changes the character from an ambassador of peace to that of a warrior. This is a subtle but significant change, and not one for the better. I feel something very unique about the character has been lost.
I’m not sure I think there was that much thought put into it. (I also didn’t know her patron god was Athena.) It’s true that (male) creators on the (comic book version of) the character have in the past been obsessed with showing how strong and powerful she was. And I think the Zeus as father comes from the comics, not this franchise, first. Not sure why they felt the need to get rid of the “shaped from clay” origin there — although for this aimed at kids project, that does make a certain amount of sense.
You’re right, they probably didn’t put any thought into it.
I’ve been told the new origin was put in place with the New 52, so it now seems to be the “official” origin for her. So it’s not something I blame this book for.
Also, I think you are right – the shift in her background is a symptom of the way Wonder Woman has been portrayed recently, and not the cause of it. Nevertheless, I feel the total excising of the female Greek gods (who I maintain were significant in the book previously), is a powerful symbol of her shift from peacemaker to warrior.
Although from your description, the goddesses are a major part of “Summer Olympus.” I’ll have to check it out. I’m also interested in seeing how Shea Fontana portrays Diana in the regular Wonder Woman book.
Oh, yes, I’m looking forward to seeing how she handles the character there. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by her so far — although that’s only the Super Hero Girls stuff.