Cartoon Country: Early Impressions of “DC Super Hero Girls”
Back in April, Twinsanity did a Peeks on the DC Super Hero Girls initiative, a new franchise devoted to ‘girl power’ and female empowerment, which just got under way this fall. Now that we’ve seen some of it, I figured I’d give you all my early thoughts on what we’ve seen so far. I’ll let the web series explain the premise so I don’t have to:
And here’s the first webisode (there’s also a full song version of that “Get Your Cape On” number, but I’ll spare you that):
OK, now for my rambling thoughts:
- Of the 7 characters DC has designated to be the lead characters here (Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, Harley Quinn, Bumblebee, Poison Ivy and Katana), I admit that I’m only really interested in 3 of them: Wondy, Babs and Kara. I’m not an avid comic book reader (most of my comic book superhero knowledge comes from TV and movie adaptations, internet research, fan sites and general nerd osmosis) so I admittedly don’t know much about Katana, and frankly, what (admittedly little) I’ve seen of her here isn’t leaving me hungry for more. Katana just seems to be kind of, there, like window dressing that you don’t really notice. I’ve never been a big Poison Ivy fan (I like Ivy’s design here, but that’s about as deep as my enthusiasm for the character gets) and I’m already a little tired of Harley Quinn. The latter’s a shame, since I’ve been on kind of a pro-clown kick lately and so I wanted to like Harley more, but even more so than Madeline Hatter from Ever After High, this version of Harley just reminds me way too much of Pinkie Pie, and the Pink One is best taken in small doses for me. Harley could easily become annoying if overdone, and I really hope that doesn’t happen here. As for Bumblebee, eh, I’m just not feeling her. Bee is basically just DC’s equivalent to Marvel’s Wasp, and like Wasp I’ve always found her powers, well, silly. Shrinking and bee-blasts, whoop-de-smegging-doo. Plus, I wish the artists had stuck with Bumblebee’s Afro-Puffs; I don’t know what that brown and gold thing on her head is supposed to be. I’ve said this before, but if DC just wanted an African-American face among the crowd, I personally would gone with Vixen.
- The Good: the characters and art style look very nice. The bright colors, soft hues and tones are decent. The characters look like living dolls, which isn’t surprising, given that this series is meant to promote a doll line. The Not-So-Good: its’ principle setting is a high school…again.
I get that this is aimed at kids, I get that the obvious inspiration from Monster High is obvious, and I also understand that the producers needed some way to bring all of these characters together, but come on. Apart from Harry Potter, UBOS, Monster High, Ever After High and Star Dreamers, the use of high school as a principle setting is beyond tired. I hated, Hated, HATED school as a kid, so the last thing I wanted to see when I came home and switched on the tube was a bunch of shows about kids going to school. I probably would have just made Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Batgirl roommates in a high-tech clubhouse or something, but that’s just me.
-That said, I do like some of the fun the writers seem to be having with the concept, like the numerous cameos (Miss Martian, Cyborg and Starfire, cool!), Amanda Waller as Principal and Gorilla Grodd as Vice-Principal. VP Grodd reminds me of Beast from X-Men. I also like how none of the students and teachers are avowedly villainous; everyone is basically gray here. This series’ idyllic take on Metropolis as this beautiful place where Supers and Normals peacefully co-exist appeals to me, I hope we get to see more of it outside of the school walls.
- I like how Superman and Batman are decorated alums who have already graduated from Super Hero High. Makes sense, since few people would pay much attention to Batgirl and Supergirl if BatMAN and SuperMAN were around. I still find it a tad strange that DC went with Wonder Woman rather than Wonder Girl, though I understand why:
Wonder Woman is THE most popular and well-known super-heroine in the DC Universe, and as such DC likely figures that a) it would be insane to not include her as one of the main characters, and b) Wonder Woman will sell more dolls off the shelves than Wonder Girl would. After all…
And now, some of the web shorts (so far), and my thoughts on them:
-As previously stated, I feel the high school setting has been done to death, but the edifice geek in me does like the design of Super Hero High.
-The “She’s shy” bit with Miss Martian was cuter than the button on a teddy bear’s nose. I hope we get to see more of the alien students in future shorts, hopefully they’ll finally get some dialogue.
-Greg Cipes returns to voice Beast Boy. Nice. I know he’s not a girl, but I’d like to see more of him here, so long as he’s not portrayed as a moron like he was in the 2003 series.
-OK, so Babs is hiding her super identity here…why? I was under the impression that everybody could just be who (and what) they are here. I’m sure this’ll be addressed later on.
More Wondy/Harley shtick. Blah blah blee blah. Not much to see here, let’s move on.
OK, writers, can we spotlight some other characters besides Wonder Woman and Harley Quinn now? When do we get to see Barbara as Batgirl? When is Supergirl going to show up? And was that really how the short ends? But hey, at least we get Tom Kenny as Crazy Quilt.
Kind of odd that no one caught on to the fact that Cheetah was sabotaging Wonder Woman there; kind of flies in the face of the producers’ claim that DCSHG would have “no mean girls or mean girl cliques”. However, anything that features the talents of Maurice LaMarche is worth watching.
-These latter 2 shorts bring to mind another nitpick I have with these shorts: they don’t seem to have logical satisfying endings. They don’t end so much as they just…stop. It’s not because they’re just webisodes, shows like Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse manage to fit in a lot of jokes, character and story in just 3 to 5 minutes, so it’s not like such a feat is impossible. This bring me to another nitpick: these shorts aren’t as funny as they could be. They’re not unfunny, but the writers could be pushing the zany envelope a lot further than they have been so far. Again, I get that these are made for young girls and all, but they’re too restrained. Maybe I came in with the wrong expectations, but I was expecting something like a girl-centric Super Hero Squad Show.
I have no problem with the shorts being comedy focused over action, but if you’re gonna do that, be funny! Don’t hold back.
My overall rating (so far):
I don’t hate DC Super Hero Girls by any stretch, but it’s not exactly wowing me either. Of course, things are still very early; the producers have said that they already have about 20 or so episodes in the can and are said to be working on more. Maybe the show will find its’ legs and improve as it goes on, here’s hoping. This is an ambitious undertaking, I’d hate to see it go bust.