Between numerous books, movies, graphic novels and animated shorts, DC Super Hero Girls has established a shared universe that is every bit as rich and interesting as the older skewing DC Universe, and it only seems to get better with each new release. The latest graphic novel, DC SUPER HERO GIRLS: DATE WITH DISASTER, continues this upward trend in both world building and story, while also packing a few surprisingly timely messages. (But don’t worry, the book’s still lots of fun.)
Date with Disaster is centered around Batgirl’s attempts to set her father, Commissioner Jim Gordon, up on a blind date, but it also features a mystery and a more prominent role for Lois Lane…who has a few key things to say about the importance of the press.
“We wanted to introduce kids to these important themes in an accessible way,” explains writer Shea Fontana. “It may not be something that our younger readers pick up on the initial read-through, but our older readers (and their parents) will definitely be able to explore the ideas and think about what we’re presenting in this story. We’re setting a piece or two of the foundation for kids to start thinking about the world around them in a bigger way.”
As Fontana reminds us, the idea of the press has evolved a lot from what it once was, and at times it requires a greater level of scrutiny. But the importance of a free and open press remains as strong as ever.
“Freedom of the press has always been important, which is why it’s in the Constitution and is integral to free society,” she says. “But never before have people had so many news outlets at their fingertips, many of which have a loose relationship with facts. I think it’s especially important for kids to get a head start on understanding that you can turn a critical eye toward what you’re told by people in power and begin to think about why someone might want to manipulate the facts for their own good.
“One line in the book that I’m sure most people just gloss over, but is incredibly important to me is where Batgirl says she’s going to fact check someone’s story. Fact checking is a huge life skill, important for kids and adults alike! It’s always good to look for corroborating evidence, other points of view, and cold, hard data.”
Many characters that classically make up The Daily Planet crew crop up in the world of DC Super Hero Girls for the first time in Date with Disaster to help the Supers investigate the larger mystery. Personally, I was delighted to see Ron Troupe return to the comic page after a too-long absence. He was one of the primary African-American members of The Daily Planet staff and a replacement for Clark Kent who wasn’t alive at the same time in publication history. It’s understandable that in the main continuity, where Clark Kent is back in action, it might be difficult to find a place for Troupe, so it was great to see him back and running The Daily Planet (albeit on a temporary basis), here. However, considering the story being told in Date with Disaster, there was a practical reason for Troupe’s return as well.
“No way Perry White is letting all that nonsense happen on his watch,” argues Fontana, “which meant I needed a character who wasn’t used to being editor, who might be too overwhelmed to question some of the reporting that’s happening under his nose, which brought me to Ron. Ron wants to do what’s right, and we see him sticking up for Lois, but he’s never had so much responsibility before, so some things slide by.”
Along with Ron Troupe, Date with Disaster also features a greater number of non-superpowered heroes in prominent roles. (Catwoman features pretty heavily in the story.) It’s a wise choice at this point in the DC Super Hero Girls’ evolution, considering the emphasis on superpowers found in many of the past graphic novels and movies.
“I think it’s important for kids to see all types of characters acting heroically and unleashing their inner powers—even if those strengths aren’t physical-power based,” says Fontana. “Like Batgirl, Lois Lane’s strength comes from her intellect first, but Lois doesn’t have an interest in punching bad guys to stop them. She tackles problems from a different angle, which can be more effective in the long run. Throughout this story, we see that the world needs all sorts of heroes and there are many different ways to make the world a better place.”
Lois Lane is such a perfect addition to DC Super Hero Girls that it’s actually surprising she wasn’t added to the main cast earlier.
“One of the great things about Lois is that she’s not out to solve everyone’s problems!” Fontana shares. “She’s all about presenting the truth, and letting people make up their own minds about what’s best for them. She allows those around her have agency. I think of her as an ‘optimistic skeptic.’ Though she’s uncovered some disappointing things in her reporting and she always questions what she’s told, she trusts in the goodness of humanity to do what’s right when they have the facts.”
Lois, Ron and Jimmy learn that they work best as a team with ample trust between them and the Gordons learn that the love they share between them as a family is the most important of all. Date with Disaster ends with a happy reflection on the present and hopeful look to the future, which promises plenty more adventures for our favorite Super Hero Girls.
“We have some cool new characters coming up!” Fontana reveals. “It was just announced that our next title is SEARCH FOR ATLANTIS, which means we’re meeting Mera and Aquaman. As always, we’ll be flipping the trope on the head, and see our heroic girls rescuing the King of Atlantis in that story.”