Over the past few decades, superhero comic books have been primarily targeted at young men. But it wasn’t always this way. Back in the ’40s, when William Moulton Marston’s original Wonder Woman comics were selling like hotcakes, there were as many young girls among his readership as young boys. Thankfully, DC is once again reaching out to the young-girl audience with comics like DC Super Hero Girls, which reimagine DC superheroines (including Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, Harley Quinn, and Bumblebee, to name a few) as young students at the colorful Super Hero High.
Based on the action-figure and cartoon franchise of the same name and aimed at readers aged 6-12, DC Super Hero Girls has become one of DC’s bestselling comic series since launching in 2016. It has energized its young fanbase with fun (and relatable) stories featuring its young heroines. The newest volume, Date With Disaster, sees young Batgirl realize that her single father might be interested in dating.
“One thing that was always really interesting to me is, how does Batgirl deal with Commissioner Gordon? He’s this helicopter dad who’s also a teacher at her school so she cannot get away from this guy,” writer Shea Fontana says of Date With Disaster. “With this book, I wanted to explore how those relationships change during our teenage years. When we’re kids we have this attitude that our parents belong to us, that they don’t have a life outside what we see them doing. We only relate to them in that way. So this is the moment in Batgirl’s life where we see her realizing that maybe her dad would want to go on a date or have a girlfriend. Then she takes this to the extreme, and instead of letting poor Commissioner Gordon make his own decisions about his life, she decides she’s going to set him up on a date, which of course goes terribly wrong.”
“I love the Gordon and Batgirl relationship,” adds artist Yancey Labat, who has two young daughters of his own. “I know I’ll be going through all this soon. Just talking to my oldest daughter right now, it’s amazing how much more mature kids are these days than when I was younger, with the questions she asks. I’m like yep, I’m definitely gonna be heading down this road soon. It was definitely a lot of fun seeing that.”
On top of Gordon family drama, Date With Disaster also gives a big spotlight to Catwoman. Here, the young Selina Kyle retains her playful, antagonistic side while also acting like a teenager.
“What’s great about these DC characters is they really are malleable for different uses,” Fontana says. “Catwoman can go from something like the current Batman run (which is amazing but obviously very mature) to being in something like this, where it’s about figuring out who she is at 16. Catwoman definitely has a spunky, playful side, so it’s bringing that out and figuring out how being one of our orphan characters has affected her. I like in here she doesn’t always need to be around people, she’s more introverted and she needs that time to herself to prowl on the town and see what’s going on.”
Another big spotlight of Date With Disaster is Lois Lane. Though she’s just as fearless a journalist as ever, the DC Super Hero Girls version of Lois doesn’t get the respect she deserves, especially not from male authority figures like Mayor Sackett. Fontana says she wanted to highlight that, as well as exploring the nature of truth-finding in the age of “alternative facts” for a generation of young readers who have never known life without the internet.
“It really is our freedom of the press story,” Fontana says. “We’re getting into Lois as a character. We see these little bits of sexism that the girls come up against, with people not taking them as seriously, especially Lois, because she’s a girl. But she’s gonna prove everybody wrong. This sense of justice and search for truth is a big theme throughout the book. Knowing the truth is the only way you can avoid being manipulated by these characters in power. Especially in this day and age, I think it’s really important to have kids thinking about those themes, about how knowledge works and the way we take in information and judge what is correct and not. Figuring out where the truth lies is gonna be a huge skill for kids growing up.”
DC Super Hero Girls: Date With Disaster hits stores on Feb. 6. Check out the first chapter exclusively below.