DC Super Hero Girls: Out of the Bottle
Shea Fontana (writer); Marcelo Di Chiara, Agnes Garbowska and Mirka Andolfo (artists); Janice Chiang (letterer); Silvana Brys and Jeremy Lawson (colours)
Aug 1, 2018
It’s August, which means the release of DC Comics’ latest trade of their hit kids comic series, DC Super Hero Girls: Out of the Bottle. In it, the girls—Harley Quinn, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Katana—are tasked with creating a comic in their art class. Despite their teacher, Ms. Moone, telling them stay clear of the potions and magic, Harley decides a little magic paint will give her project the pizzazz it needs. Mayhem ensues when the paint not only spills on her comic but everyone else’s as well, which brings to life characters who are… very evil.
A premise like this has created an opportunity for not one, not two, but three artists to tell this story, and it’s great to see how their different styles interact on the page. I found it particularly amusing to see Agnes Garbowska’s adorable chibi-esque Batgirl and Supergirl (characters in Supergirl’s comic) lean into being evil, and the traditional superhero comic art style for Ms. Moone’s origin story up against the more youthful art in the book.
When it comes to mixing these styles, colourists are more important than ever. Below is a scene which has Agnes Garbowska’s evil Supergirl interacting with Star Sapphire who is drawn in the book’s dominant style. It’s hard to imagine the six or so styles presented could complement one another and feel like they’re part of the same book without the colourists creating some kind of uniformity.
The lessons learned in this story are plentiful. DC Super Hero Girls: Out of the Bottle isn’t just about the literal spilling of paint, but also the emotions we like to keep inside rather than talk about. The book explores that through Ms. June Moone’s (a.k.a. Enchantress’) storyline and it helps little ones understand that feelings are things we can talk about and interrogate. The series’ writer goes as far as normalizing mental health professionals like therapists, too, which is refreshing.
Harley is a great character to have as a lead in this particular book as someone known for mischief but who learns to clean up the messes she makes. She also passes along the information she’s gleaned from going to a therapist to Ms. Moone which shows that kids have knowledge worth sharing too. I personally have enjoyed adult Harley as a chaotic figure but this Harley is someone I’ve grown fond of.
What’s also worth mentioning in a story about art is understanding where your talents lie: whether it’s a strength (Harley) or you recognize that it might be a weakness (Wonder Woman), ultimately the fun lies in the creation. I’d definitely give this comic to the kids in my life and it’s a great way to start these conversations with them. Who knows? Maybe they’ll want to start creating their own comic.