DC Super Hero Girls: At Metropolis High
As noted at the end of my DC Super Hero Girls: Spaced Out review, DC Super Hero Girls: At Metropolis High is the first of a new run of the series that changes the concept, characters, and look to match the TV cartoon. It’s written by Amy Wolfram and illustrated by Yancey Labat.
One of the key differences in this second phase of DC Super Hero Girls is that it’s much more conventional in its approach. Half the characters — including Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Star Sapphire, and Poison Ivy — are now back to being villains, and the heroes are attempting to maintain secret identities (which mostly gives them more clothes choices). The stories, themes, and messages are all simpler.
Instead of going to superhero school, the girls are now in a regular school pretending to be normal. Our team of heroes is Supergirl, Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Bumblebee (in armor), and Zatanna. In this book, they’re ordered by the principal to join after-school activities, which conflicts with their crime-fighting.
The art is more stylized, in keeping with the exaggerated look of the TV cartoon, but it’s also more static. There’s no sense of flow between these comic panels. Each seems like a frozen moment, and the story jumps from one to another. The best comics, in contrast, create the sense that there is movement happening between the moments we see. Instead, here, it’s like flipping though a stack of photos, where the characters are posing for us in each panel.
I miss the sense of a full DC universe that Shea Fontana’s stories had. The supporting characters here are generic students, just fodder for the background. I also didn’t find these girls anyone I wanted to spend time with. They were caricatures, given supposedly identifiable motives and interests, but it all falls flat. Only Wonder Woman, with an elaborate, archaic way of speaking, has a unique character voice.
The conventional mediocrity of this new approach killed my interest in the franchise. I know it’s not made for me, an adult woman, but I don’t think younger readers should settle for something poorly done and less creative, either.
As an historical note, these DC Super Hero Girls collections, At Metropolis High and Spaced Out, were the only two published under the short-lived DC Zoom imprint, aimed at middle-grade readers. DC Super Hero Girls: The Search for Atlantis was supposed to be part of the imprint as well, but it was released in 2018 without the branding, when the line’s launch was delayed.
(The publisher provided a digial review copy. Review originally posted at Good Comics for Kids.)