Saturday, October 1, 2016

DC Super Hero Girls: Supergirl at Super Hero High

The second volume of this series of books for young readers aimed at fans of DC Comics' new "Super Hero Girls" product line follows the same pattern as the first book.  New super hero arrives at Super Hero High - - she is new to the world - - she is unsure of herself - - she is coping with new found powers and new friends - - she messes up multiple times before finally gaining the confidence she needs to ultimately save the day in the end.  Very formulaic, but it does work for the age level at which these books are aimed.

Supergirl at Super Hero High welcomes the arrival of Supergirl to the academy (and readers of the first book might recall that the epilogue of the previous book introduced Superman's cousin to the school).  Author Lisa Yee provides young Kara Zor-El's backstory, of her escape from the doomed planet of Krypton, of her delayed journey through space that put her on Earth years after her cousin's arrival, and of her stay with Jonathan and Martha Kent.  When her powers start to develop under the Earth's yellow sun, however, there's only one place she can go to learn how to use those powers - Super Hero High!

Yee brings back the entire cast of characters, including Wonder Woman, Bumblebee, Hawkgirl, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Principal Waller, Vice-Principal Grodd, Janitor Parasite, tech wizard Barbara Gordon, Flash, Beast Boy, and all the others, and introduces readers to the new librarian, Granny Goodness (hint!  hint!).  And with the introduction of Supergirl, Yee does something that I thought was a very nice homage to the pre-Crisis DC universe - throughout the story, Supergirl and Barbara Gordon become the best of friends (a nice nod to the "super" friendship that Supergirl and Batgirl had in the comics prior to 1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths).

The story, while dealing with Supergirl adapting to her new-found powers and her place at Super Hero High, involves the mysterious locked room that contains Boom Tubes and Principal Waller's predictions that an invasion is coming.  At this point, it was pretty clear to me (and likely to any comic book fan) who the villain was going to be and what it would involve.  But it was fun watching the heroes gather clues and try to figure out exactly who was behind the attempts to break into the locked room (all clues point to Gorilla Grodd, but anyone who knows anything about Boom Tubes would know right away who the villain was).

What was disappointing about the book was the fact that Yee constantly had Supergirl bumbling around like an uncoordinated child, crashing into things, dropping things, accidentally knocking into people.  The author seemed obsessed with making Supergirl into the most morose young girl with absolutely no confidence whatsoever (I can definitely say I love the TV version on CW much better than the one presented here), and while I understand Yee likely wanted to show Supergirl growing into her powers and learning confidence, I think she overdid it with the constant whining, "woe is me" attitude throughout the book.

The epilogue gives readers a small preview of what's to come in the third book in the series (or better, "who's" to come in the third book), and I hope that given her characterization in this book, Batgirl at Super Hero High will tell a much better story of an already strong character.  With Wonder Woman and Supergirl, we've seen the insecurity - now let's show these young readers that it's okay to be strong and confident!

RATING:  6 crystal necklaces out of 10 for managing to sneak into the book a pretty cool little mystery and a great fight scene at the end!

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