A rush of energy and charm.

POWERLESS

From the DC Super Hero Girls series

Teen girl superheroes tangle with a blackout.

The Super Hero Girls are a formidable team of teen heroes: Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Zatanna, Green Lantern, Supergirl, and Bumblebee fight crime by night and go to high school by day, all the while doing their best in both spheres. But after the city’s power grid fails and the cloud-computing technology gets knocked out, the band of heroes must face a startling new foe: a complete lack of technology. No smartphones! No gadgets! A cafeteria that only takes cash! The breezy graphic novel captures the tone of the popular TV series perfectly. Fans will be delighted, but newcomers will find plenty to adore here as well. The bright colors and sharply composed panels present the humor and action the brand is known for perfectly. The characterization of each supergirl isn’t particularly strong (all the girls speak in the same bubbly tone), but the diversity of skin tone is a welcome change from other DC teams that are almost exclusively white. (Batgirl, Supergirl, and Zatanna are white, Green Lantern is Latina, Bumblebee is black, and Wonder Woman has olive skin.) With mangalike stylings—in particular, enormous eyes—that give these teens a distinctly juvenile look, this is a comic ideal for younger readers, particularly those keen on the DC heroes but not ready for the more mature YA fare. It may not be great literature, but it’s great fun.

A rush of energy and charm. (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4012-9361-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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More trampling in the vineyards of the Literary Classics section, with results that will tickle fancies high and low.

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DOG MAN AND CAT KID

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 4

Recasting Dog Man and his feline ward, Li’l Petey, as costumed superheroes, Pilkey looks East of Eden in this follow-up to Tale of Two Kitties (2017).

The Steinbeck novel’s Cain/Abel motif gets some play here, as Petey, “world’s evilest cat” and cloned Li’l Petey’s original, tries assiduously to tempt his angelic counterpart over to the dark side only to be met, ultimately at least, by Li’l Petey’s “Thou mayest.” (There are also occasional direct quotes from the novel.) But inner struggles between good and evil assume distinctly subordinate roles to riotous outer ones, as Petey repurposes robots built for a movie about the exploits of Dog Man—“the thinking man’s Rin Tin Tin”—while leading a general rush to the studio’s costume department for appropriate good guy/bad guy outfits in preparation for the climactic battle. During said battle and along the way Pilkey tucks in multiple Flip-O-Rama inserts as well as general gags. He lists no fewer than nine ways to ask “who cut the cheese?” and includes both punny chapter titles (“The Bark Knight Rises”) and nods to Hamilton and Mary Poppins. The cartoon art, neatly and brightly colored by Garibaldi, is both as easy to read as the snappy dialogue and properly endowed with outsized sound effects, figures displaying a range of skin colors, and glimpses of underwear (even on robots).

More trampling in the vineyards of the Literary Classics section, with results that will tickle fancies high and low. (drawing instructions) (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-93518-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

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What a wag.

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DOG MAN

From the Dog Man series , Vol. 1

What do you get from sewing the head of a smart dog onto the body of a tough police officer? A new superhero from the incorrigible creator of Captain Underpants.

Finding a stack of old Dog Man comics that got them in trouble back in first grade, George and Harold decide to craft a set of new(ish) adventures with (more or less) improved art and spelling. These begin with an origin tale (“A Hero Is Unleashed”), go on to a fiendish attempt to replace the chief of police with a “Robo Chief” and then a temporarily successful scheme to make everyone stupid by erasing all the words from every book (“Book ’Em, Dog Man”), and finish off with a sort of attempted alien invasion evocatively titled “Weenie Wars: The Franks Awaken.” In each, Dog Man squares off against baddies (including superinventor/archnemesis Petey the cat) and saves the day with a clever notion. With occasional pauses for Flip-O-Rama featurettes, the tales are all framed in brightly colored sequential panels with hand-lettered dialogue (“How do you feel, old friend?” “Ruff!”) and narrative. The figures are studiously diverse, with police officers of both genders on view and George, the chief, and several other members of the supporting cast colored in various shades of brown. Pilkey closes as customary with drawing exercises, plus a promise that the canine crusader will be further unleashed in a sequel.

What a wag. (Graphic fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-58160-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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