Superhero Girl vs. the World!


The Adventures of Superhero Girl

It’s always kind of a risky thing to recommend a book that collects all the episodes of a webcomic. Why should you buy a book when you can get the comics online for free? I reckon it’s a fair question. And we’ll get to it a bit later.

But first: This is Faith Erin Hicks’ tribute to the workaday college-age superhero, “The Adventures of Superhero Girl,” originally published online — but she’s put it on hiatus for now because she’s been getting a lot more work lately doing art for other comics. So Dark Horse put them all together in one nice hardcover collection for us.

Superhero Girl is a superhero — and a girl! We never learn her real name, but she patrols a smallish Canadian city fighting crime. She has fairly generic superhero powers — strength, invulnerability, laser vision, and super-jumping — but her costume is basically normal clothing with a cape and domino mask. She fights ninjas and giant monsters and the occasional supervillain. And she also tries to live a fairly normal life, with a roommate who’s irritated by her crimefighting, a nonexistent social life, and trips to the laundromat to wash her cape. She tends to forget to take off her mask, which makes her secret identity a bit of a non-secret.

So she rescues cats from trees — by uprooting the trees. She tangles with King Ninja, a hipster with a shrink ray, the Spectacle, the Marshmallow Menace, a bear with a monocle — and her nemesis, a guy who doesn’t believe she’s an actual superhero. And she also tangles with job hunting, knitting, sunburns, cape shrinkage, jealousy over her brother Kevin’s wildly over-the-top success as a hero, and much, much more.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a charming, funny book with Hicks’ awesome, emotive artwork. You get superhero battles and everyday hijinx, all wonderfully funny and all really fun to read.

Why should you get the book instead of reading it all for free online? Well, there are a bunch of reasons, honestly. There’s a really keen introduction by Kurt Busiek. All the comics are in color, unlike the black-and-white art online. It’s a great way to support an awesome cartoonist. And it’s easier to read in book form than it is online. Especially if you’re reading it in the bathroom. And if you’re one of those weirdos who reads a tablet computer on the pot — please, just stop. You’re making the world a worse place.

The best reason? It’s fantastic art and storytelling, and these days, we all need more great art and storytelling.

It’s a fun book, and you should go pick it up.

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