Faith Erin Hicks‘s graphic novel, The Adventures of Superhero Girl, unravels its girl-next-door heroine slowly. Superhero Girl isn’t any more complex than you or I, but you and I both know that you just can’t rush getting to know someone. That’s an investment, after all. If Hicks had shown us all of her heroine’s flaws in the first comics, we’d have never read the rest, and that would be a shame.
Superhero Girl is just like us. She forgets to apply sunscreen, and she shrinks her cape in the wash. She makes questionable fashion choices, and she deals with men who are skeptical of her abilities. She has problems with her mother.
Recognizing ourselves on the page is something in which we can all take joy, but these looking-glass moments are often bittersweet. Perhaps the character is on a destructive path when we realize her choices are ours. Maybe the way that couple fights is exactly the way you used to fight. Art is pain – and love, sorrow, beauty, joy – and that is true whether we enjoy the pain or not.
Yet Superhero Girl never makes you feel a bone-cutting agony or even a deep angst. She vacillates between hopeless self-importance and affable acceptance of her flaws, much the same as any of us do. Some days you feel like laughing at yourself, and other days you want notoriety or death.
Superhero Girl’s rough-around-the-edges realness is what endears her to the reading audience. She isn’t Wonder Woman, but that’s okay. She’s still us – the collective, shit-not-quite-together-yet, likable Millennial woman – as a superhero.
With Hollywood execs snubbing superheroines based on outmoded data, the intelligent, down-to-earth Superhero Girl is a kick-ass breath of fresh air. We don’t have to worry that she’ll never have her movie; she doesn’t really care if she gets one. Sure, she’d love to outdo her super-successful older brother, Kevin, for once, but she’d settle for a proper archnemesis and a little bit of gratitude.
Pick up her Adventures for yourself, or for an important kid you know. Life’s too short to not see yourself as the hero.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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Image credit: JD Hancock/Flickr