Given how Wonder Woman smashed box office records last year, it’s only expected that those largely unfamiliar with the comics flock to bookstores to check them out. Among them will likely be some younger readers and, luckily, that age group is covered thanks to DC Super Hero Girls.
Having first started back in 2015 as a web series that soon gave way to an expansive toy line, those were then swiftly followed by TV specials, animated movies and graphic novels such as Date with Disaster, the subject of today’s conversation. To my delight, a certain feline fatale enjoys a fair amount of the spotlight this time around, which we’ll get into shortly.
Basically, this franchise takes the heroes most of us are familiar with and reinterprets them as teenagers, thereby making them a bit more accessible to the generation coming up. Normally, we follow their adventures at Super Hero High, where we focus on the core group made up by the likes of Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Katana and Bumblebee.
Before this particular tale, Selina Kyle had appeared in only a minor capacity as writer Shea Fontana says that she, artist Yancey Labat and the rest of the creative minds had to first do “some other world building” before fully incorporating her. Actually this does make sense, even if Catwoman is one of DC’s oldest and most enduring icons. After all, you can’t just shoehorn as many characters as you want into something from the get-go; it has to make sense and feel organic.
That said, I’m thrilled to see Selina granted a contemporary design and being introduced to a new generation of readers. Really, she’s been one of my favorite characters since I was a small child, so I’m naturally elated to see her legacy endure.
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Recently, I had the honor of chatting with Shea Fontana herself ahead of Date with Disaster‘s release and, of course, I had to bring up Catwoman’s inclusion before anything else. And like how I pointed out above, she first cited the need to world build before delving into more specifics:
“They [WB] wanted a group of girls that obviously have some huge name recognition with, you know, Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Batgirl, but we wanted to really have an inclusive and diverse main cast so that any girl watching could see themselves represented in DC Super Hero Girls.
“So, we’ve been building this world out and Catwoman has already been part of our cast, but we haven’t had a lot of opportunities to get into her story until this book. But I think Yancey has done such a great job on the art, really bringing Catwoman to life and having that feline spirit to her. I love it when they find her in chapter 2 that she’s practicing her gymnastic skills, which is a huge part of her superhero skill set.
“So, it’s fun to see how lithe and spry and energetic Catwoman is. And we get to see a little bit about how she interacts with the other girls. She’s not necessarily part of the friendship group that we see with Batgirl, Wonder Woman and Supergirl. She definitely is not a ‘bad girl’ at Super Hero High, but she’s had some misgivings and misjudgments. She’s an interesting character…they’re not quite sure to trust her at first because she’s a little secretive, so it’s interesting to bring Catwoman to life in this universe. She’s more introverted, she likes being out on the town.”
Obviously, Selina’s not the only character in this book, so we soon discussed the plot at large. Having already written for marquee DC titles such as Wonder Woman and Justice League, Fontana knows a thing or two about writing for ensembles. In addition to allowing Lois Lane to step up in a big way in the latest graphic novel, here’s what else she says we should expect to see:
“At the heart of Date with Disaster, we’re really exploring those beginning teenage relationships that you start seeing in your early teens, especially how the relationship between Batgirl and her dad is evolving and changing as she grows up. Batgirl has always been the center of her dad’s life and we see on the animated content that he’s initially concerned about her being a superhero because he’s a helicopter dad worried about her safety, and he’s not so sure he actually wants her following in his footsteps into this crimefighting world. So, it’s interesting to see how their relationship has evolved over the series.
“Batgirl’s always grown up with her dad as a single guy and he’s a teacher at her school. He’s calling her every night to say ‘goodnight’ even though they just saw each other a few hours ago. She’s beginning to realize that maybe her dad’s old and lonely, and maybe he would like a girlfriend. Batgirl being a bit Type A and controlling wants to be the one that picks the perfect girl for him because it has to be the perfect girl for him, too.”
Seeing as how this doesn’t take place in Smallville, Barbara doesn’t register Jim on Farmers Only, but rather, “MetropolisMatch.com.” When elaborating on this, Shea points out the obvious:
“And, of course, there’s a reason police commissioners don’t date like this, and that’s because they’re the targets of a lot of supervillains. So, Batgirl’s kind of sucked into this world that actually overlaps with this explosion they’re investigating at S.T.A.R. Labs.”
From there, I’m going to leave the rest of the surprises to your reading experience, but you can probably tell that Fontana is having a blast straying from expected canon, saying that “it’s super fun to twist what people know or think they know about the DC Universe,” and, believe me, I think that’s one thing about this franchise that readers of all ages can find appealing.
DC Super Hero Girls: Date with Disaster is now available in comic shops and bookstores.