Writer & Artist: Faith Erin Hicks
Publisher: Dark Horse
Release Date: February 13, 2013
Originally published in weekly strip format in Halifax’s The Coast (not to mention in black and white), Faith Erin Hicks’s cute comic ran weekly until about a year ago, when she put it on pause to work on other projects. Roughly concurrent with Friends with Boys, this collection is less polished in many ways, but also more charming, especially with Cris Peter’s smart coloring and halftone-dot backgrounds. Where Friends was all gray washes and high school angst, The Adventures of Superhero Girl is beautifully simplified in its outlines and about as sunny, if not as soapy, as Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane.
That isn’t to say Hicks’s tales of a college-aged fledgling superhero don’t have rough patches for their titular character. She’s still very much figuring things out, living in the shadow of her older brother (also a superhero crime fighter, but a perfect one), struggling to pay her bills, and, most of all, trying to get some of the respect she deserves. Kurt Busiek smartly points out in his introduction that none of these setbacks mean the strip is satirical about superheros, and it’s true that it has less bite even than something like Adam Warren’s meta-heroine Empowered. Hicks doesn’t mock the tropes of the genre; it’s just that her protagonist happens to live in a more realistic world and deals with smaller-scale issues. This take isn’t totally novel, either, and it probably wouldn’t work as well in a longer format. The episodic blinks of a weekly strip allow for a somewhat continuous narrative without requiring or allowing major character development or extremely complex storylines.
You could make a case that The Adventures of Superhero Girl is at least as much about being a comics practitioner as being an uberfrau. Like Hicks, her character is hanging out in Halifax, honing her craft, trying not to starve, and making the world a better place. Huzzah!