Let me make one thing clear: I really don’t like reading comic books.
I get bogged down by the speech bubbles, and I am happier using my own imagination to illustrate a story.
But I’ve always loved the idea of super heroes. I’ve always been fascinated by the almost soap-opera-like back stories, vendettas, imposters, secret identities, mysterious lineage and long-lost siblings of which super hero fans have near encyclopedic knowledge. (I think this is also why 100 Years of Solitude is my favourite novel.)
When my son got his first storybook featuring super heroes, he wanted to know their “real names” and how they got their powers. So began my trip down the rabbit hole of super hero canon.
DK Books has some fabulous titles that tell the stories of the heroes and villains that inhabit the DC and Marvel universes, and within those pages I discovered a little bit about the female characters who usually take a back seat to the big names even non-super-hero fans know, thanks to massive merchandising campaigns and titular movies.
I was really excited to crack open DK’s latest super-hero book: Fearless and Fantastic! Female Super Heroes Save the World, so we could learn a bit more about these charismatic characters. (And here’s to hoping that one day Shuri, Captain Marvel, Wasp, Gamora and their comrades will be as ubiquitous on clothing and lunch kits as Spider-Man, Iron Man and Hulk.)
So, what did I discover in the pages of Fearless and Fantastic? Proof positive that super heroes are just like me!
1 – I love cats!
Black Widow has a cat named Liho and Captain Marvel has a cat named Chewie. I could look after them when they’re out kicking butt.
2 – I was a great babysitter as a teenager!
Squirrel Girl has a prehensile tail and teeth that can chew through wood. And she’s also an in-demand babysitter, just like I was when I was in high school! One of her clients is Jessica Jones and Luke Cage’s daughter, Danielle. Squirrel Girl (aka Doreen Green) and I could’ve started our own Babysitter’s Club.
3 – I love to babywear!
I remember Jubilee from the X-men animated series back in the 90s, but I don’t remember her adopted son Shogo. Anyway, if this illustration of her fiercely babywearing her little tyke doesn’t make you think she’s my long-lost twin, I don’t know what would.
4 – I’m Canadian!
I’ve always bragged about Wolverine being a Canadian, but who knew we had a couple of other powerful Canucks up our plaid-shirt sleeves? Aurora can fly at supersonic speeds and was discovered in Montreal (I used to live there!) by the aforementioned Wolverine. Snowguard is an Inuit teenager who can shapeshift, fly and grow animal features. (I can grow a moustache!)
5 – I’m a mom!
Jessica Jones, Wasp, Jean Grey and Spider-Woman are mamas too!
A Book for all Super-Hero Fans
All right, all kidding aside, I have basically nothing in common with these fictional women who have mastered hand-to-hand combat, flying, telekinesis, invisibility, archery, sword-fighting and patriarchy-smashing. But that’s what’s fun about super heroes. They have superhuman skills we can all only dream of but human qualities that kids and adults alike can relate to.
DK’s Fearless and Fantastic introduces us to some of the most interesting females in the Marvel stable— some old, some new—all presented with stunning artwork that doesn’t look like the soft-core eye candy heroines that I saw as a child. This is a book young me would’ve treasured.