DC delivers another charmer.

DEAR DC SUPER-VILLAINS

Members of the Legion of Doom answer their emails.

Harley Quinn, Black Manta, Lex Luthor, Katana, and more correspond with curious fans in this middle-grade graphic novel. After performing a daredevil museum heist in Cairo, Catwoman answers a question from a curious fan about how it is that Batman keeps getting the better of her (laser pointers, but she is sure not going to admit that). Giganta plucks an atomic payload from a truck she crushes before helping a young beanpole see the advantage of unusual height. And so on. This sequel to Dear Justice League (2019) improves upon its predecessor in nearly every way, starting with a poppier color palette that better suits these larger-than-life villains. There’s also more connective tissue among the villains’ vignettes, embracing their peculiar clubhouse energy. The book still contains a few too many of these vignettes, though: The format’s repetitive nature can’t quite be shaken. However, a larger narrative this time around concerning a master plot concocted by Harley Quinn gives the novel some semblance of a spine. Some readers may find themselves speed-reading through the panels of villains sitting down to read the letters to get back to the action. The characters are well designed, Peter’s colors are terrific, and the panels are reasonably propulsive. Black Manta and Katana help to diversify the mostly White humanoid villains, and there is diversity among their correspondents, including one kid who uses a wheelchair.

DC delivers another charmer. (Graphic adventure. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77950-054-0

Page Count: 176

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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