THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERHERO GIRL. Faith Erin Hicks (writer/artist). Cris Peter
(colors). Dark Horse. Full Color. Hardcover. 112 pages. $16.99
This collected (and fully colored) edition of Faith Erin Hicks The Adventures of Superhero Girl comics from Dark Horse is simply 100% delightful.
Originally a weekly black and white comic strip available online in full and in the free Halifax newspaper called The Coast, The Adventures of Superhero Girl was a web strip Hicks worked on while doing a million other wonderful things – books like Zombies Calling, The War At Ellsmere, her latest – Friends With Boys, and Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong (both from First Second, both available online in full, NCPGW due in print in May 2013). How she has the time and talent for it all, I’ll never know, but doing all of it (practically at once) has made her one of the strongest and most impressive new voices in comics, and certainly one of the creators I have found myself most excited about and most interested in watching as she develops as a writer and artist.
Dark Horse was smart in picking up this up, not only because Hicks is a fantastic creator on an upward trajectory, but because they’ve packaged it beautifully as a hardcover edition that you want on your bookshelf, complete with extra sketches by Hicks in the back, and a lovely forward by Kurt Busiek. Dark Horse has also added to the value and given fans that have already read the strips online or in the paper a new incentive to read it again by tapping Cris Peter (who colored Hicks’ Elsa Bloodstone/Tabitha Smith short from Marvel’s Girl Comics #2) to bring full color to Superhero Girl’s adventures. Peter has a wonderfully saturated superhero appropriate style that is poppy and bright, a superb tonal match for Hicks writing and art style. She also uses a “dot matrix” effect that’s a great touch, feeling both modern and retro at the same time. The whole package is unbelievably charming and fun.
On the whole Hicks' The Adventures of Superhero Girl is a perfect blend of comics for kids and adults, I’m honestly not sure how Hicks does it. She’s found this way to perfectly balance sweetness and sarcasm, superhero commentary and humor, a modern sensibility and a simple premise. It’s a comic strip (and now book) that is equally for kids that enjoy superhero fun and adults that enjoy superhero fun. How Hicks manages to effortlessly find that balance is beyond me. She knows just how far too push the adorable without it becoming saccharine, and how far to push the Meta without delving into boring soapbox commentary. The Adventures of Superhero Girl is not a gravely serious work with a million layers to be excavated and debated, it’s just a really fun book that knows and embraces the joy of superheroes. That said, there is something serious and important that Hicks book can (and does) successfully do – and that is make a comic about superheroes accessible, enjoyable, and appropriate for kids. It’s something that is drastically wanting in the big two, as we all know, and it’s frankly awesome to see indie creators like Hicks continuing to deliver quality content that can make new readers and still please olds like me.
This collection is great and you’ll enjoy it over and over again as well as find yourself recommending it to and sharing it with friends but there’s an even better reason to buy it. Hicks is a great example of the future of comics. She’s heavily active in social media, and feels self-made in so many ways – posting work for free online – whether it be things like the entirety of Friends with Boys and The Adventures of Superhero Girl or her fantastic Wolverine Short from a couple years back – she’s an ideal indie artist to throw your support behind. Also, I figure the more money we put toward the collected Adventures of Superhero Girl, creating big demand, the sooner Hicks will have to get back to work on her continuing adventures, and the sooner we might hope to get a delightful "Volume Two."
Published on February 26th (according to Amazon, which apparently sends me books from the future!) The Adventures of Superhero Girl is available this week in bookstores and comic book shops everywhere, as well as online (and from the future).
And here's one last strip, perhaps because I find myself relating to it so heavily (being currently unemployed myself) - but thank goodness I don't have a superheroic older brother...