Round three of the best, worst and most bizarre comics from 2018’s Free Comic Book Day offerings is another DC/Marvel skirmish. This time it’s for the younger readers, as DC’s surprise smash hit SuperHero Girls takes on the next generation of Marvel’s best for the YA and pre-teen readers. Right away it has to be stated that any series that introduces new young readers to the joys of comic books and their characters is a winner in its own right. But which told the better story, and offered more?
DC SuperHero Girls:
Barbara Gordon – Batgirl – has a problem: her dad. While they share a close bond, he’s more than a little over-protective and she needs some space. Catwoman offers a solution to Barbara, which is to find her father a new girlfriend… an idea which Barbara doesn’t take kindly to. Meanwhile, an explosion at STAR Labs is passed off first as an accident and then a training exercise, but Batgirl, Bumblebee and Lois Lane are convinced there’s more to it than meets the eye. But if so, then why is the Mayor lying about it?
While SuperHero Girls may not be for everyone and the overall premise takes some getting used to, there’s no denying that it looks great and that Barbara Gordon makes a great central character. The mystery takes real detective work, and her personal problems are easy to relate to. It’s a solid piece of work which fits with the Superhero Girls storytelling formula, and the back pages give quick summaries of the who some of the regular characters are to help bring new readers up to speed. Light and fun, it’s not brilliant but definitely does the job.
Marvel Rising #0:
It’s Marvel team-up time as Squirrel Girl and Ms. Marvel join forces when a school trip goes wrong! When the forces of AIM take over the Stark Institute for a mysterious purpose, little did they realise that the two young heroes would be there to stop them. Squirrel Girl and Ms Marvel form a fast friendship full of pun-laden fun! Meanwhile, for even younger readers there’s a sample from a new text-with-pictures chapter book adventure featuring Ant-Man, the Wasp and Spider-Man battling Doctor Octopus.
Simply put, if the proper Marvel Rising series is as good as this teaser, it could become one of the best titles of the year. Devin Grayson’s writing is excellent, blending action, comedy and a little drama in a way that’s suitable for all ages, and the art is fantastic. It doesn’t hurt that Squirrel Girl and Ms. Marvel are great characters in their own right either, but this achieves what many other books aimed primarily at the YA market struggle with: it doesn’t feel like it’s specifically targeting a demographic. It’s simply good solid storytelling, without forcing the characters to act or sound differently. As for the chapter book sample, it’s a fun diversion and hopefully will entertain the kids.
There’s no doubt that SuperHero Girls continues to be a success for DC, and that they’ve hit on something that works. Their pocket-sized FCBD offering is a joy in its own right. Yet Marvel Rising #0 is simply better as an all-round product, and the quality of writing is amazing. By making it genuinely accessible to readers of all ages it scores, and for new readers it’s a perfect example of the more fun aspects and characters in the Marvel Universe. They’re both worth reading, but if there has to be an actual winner here then Make Mine Marvel.