Anti/Hero, DC’s latest graphic novel for readers ages 8-12, is the story of two young all-new characters in the DC Universe. Writers Demitria Lunetta and Kate Karyus Quinn, along with artist Maca Gil, have put a new super-powered spin on a timeless adage: Spend some time in someone else’s shoes before judging them too harshly. For the heroines of this tale, Piper Pajaro and Sloane MacBrute, the old saying becomes a literal new problem!
Anti/Hero is packed with all the astounding action, adventure and affection you expect in a DC graphic novel. But most of all, this is a story about a growing friendship that reminds readers of all ages that even the most unlikely of partners can find common ground.
Piper and Sloane are both thirteen years old and go to the same middle school in Gotham City. The similarities end there… or do they? Piper is athletic and outgoing, while Sloane is a brainy loner. Piper loves fashion and bold colors and she longs to stand out; Sloane is a wallflower who prefers to dress in gray and black.
But both share a common secret—secret identities! Sloane is a would-be villain, using her superhuman genius and cunning inventions to commit robberies under the moniker Gray. Piper is a fledgling superhero who calls herself the Hummingbird. She dresses in a colorful costume of her own design and is capable of throwing super-strong punches.
The striking panel layout as the readers get their first peek into the girls’ everyday lives masterfully illustrates their differing living situations. Piper’s house is filled with light and her mornings start with a smile and a tasty, home-cooked breakfast. Sloane, on the other hand, frowns as soon as she wakes up in her drab, dark room, forced largely to fend for herself as she gets ready for school. Another similarity shines through, however—the teens are both obviously loved and supported by the family members in their homes.
At school, the girls’ lives intersect more than once. Piper can’t help but be jealous of Sloane’s smarts and obvious love of learning, while Sloane struggles both socially and athletically. But when a contest sponsored by Bruce Wayne is announced over the PA system, both of the girls take notice. A chance to go on a summer-long adventure at the Wayne Enterprises Antarctic facility is an opportunity neither of them want to miss, but can they overcome their weaknesses for a shot at winning?
Then things get even more complicated.
When Sloane’s attempt to steal a mysterious device goes awry, she and Piper find that they’ve traded bodies, superpowers and all. As they step into each other’s lives, they learn that maybe they’re not as different as they thought. Piper and Sloane may have their own gifts that are easy to be jealous of, but they both also face challenges and hardships they hide from the people they know.
And we haven’t even told you about the criminal mastermind and giant bear yet!
The phrase “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” has long been a saying parents have impressed upon their kids, but it’s a mindset that works well no matter your age. In the era of social media and relentless self-image management online, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking others don’t have it as hard as you do. We all work hard to present ourselves in the best possible light, after all! But when you think about what might really be happening in the lives of people we may be envious of and try to look at things from their point of view, that empathy can do much to overcome hard feelings and build real friendships.
With trust, perseverance and a special cameo by a certain Gotham City hero, Piper and Sloane save the day and become the last thing they ever expected: best friends. Anti/Hero is a story of the very real superpowers that friendship and the love of your family can give you. In just one delightful adventure, these two new characters have made quite an impression within the ranks of DC’s heroes.
Kelly Knox writes about all-ages comics and animation for DCComics.com and her writing can also be seen on IGN, Nerdist, Geek & Sundry and more. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox to talk superheroes, comics and crafts.