I was raised on Mego and babysat by Marvel and DC comics pulled fresh off the spinner racks.
Yes, I’m a dinosaur and belong in a museum in an isolated, sooty floor under perpetual construction.
But enough of that. This isn’t about me. Or, actually, it is about me. Because I’m a father who desperately wants to pass on his Geekly passion and interests to his kids.
Problem is, I have two girls. My oldest is five and about as girly as it gets. So superhero slugfests don’t really float her boat. The two-year-old doesn’t care about anything or anyone that doesn’t pal around with a monkey wearing red UGG knock-off boots.
So it’s been quite stressful the past few years trying to find ways to activate that gene of fandom I hope my girls inherited from me. But the Big Two of comics haven’t made my job easy.
On the whole, DC has a much better selection of books aimed at very young girls, featuring the Big 3 of Female super-types: Wonder Woman, Batgirl and Supergirl. Learn more about them here.
Marvel, not so much, but that’s less a result of not enough books as it is not enough female heroes that really speak to little girls. Outside of Kamala Khan, most of Marvel’s female heroes don’t resonate with the pre-pre teen crowd. They’re not built that way.
And that’s why DC’s Super Hero Girls initiative, launching this month at Target, is incredibly important.
DC’s super-heroines spark interest in a variety of ways. First, DC’s female heroes are iconic. Even kids who have never read a comic book know who Wonder Woman or Supergirl are. They also have instantly recognizable costumes as well as distinctive (and easily explained) power sets.
But by putting them in a school setting, as DCE did with the “Super Hero Girls” animated webisodes, was genius work. I’ve been watching the episodes with my five-year old, trying to see if they would catch and hold her interest.
Absolutely loves them, especially Wonder Woman. She laughs along and can mostly follow everything that’s going on, with the exception of a few nuanced bits that older kids will catch. But the important thing is, she’s into it.
Look, I’m not one of those parents who’s anti-Disney Princess. Far from it. But I’m also not interested in raising girls who want to be rescued. I want my daughters to know they can be the hero, that they are in charge of their own destiny.
( I know, I know. This is what parenthood does to you. It forces you to examine things like action figures as foundational experiences)
The fact that DCE also is putting out a raft of Super Hero Girls-related merchandise is good news too, except for my wallet. Because I refuse to be that dad who insists on forcing his likes and tastes onto his kids. I’d love for my girls to want to plunder the Star Wars toy section at Toys R Us, but they’re just not feeling it. But I bet I won’t have a problem getting them to reach for the Super Hero Girl Batgirl or Supergirl action figure. Sorry, Action Doll.
Yeah, I totally recognize it’s really just a great big ‘cash in’ scheme by another obscenely large corporation, preying on our weakness for nostalgia and material goods. I’m just happy that my girls can now visit the toy store with me and get excited about something in the Super Hero section.
And yes, we can debate the educational value of it, but what’s the point? I don’t expect or want my kids to turn to DC Comics for learning purposes, outside of some very basic lessons. Like, don’t cheat or use superpowers to make friends at school.
I just want my girls to get the same level of enjoyment out of superheroes that I’ve gotten most of my life. I want them to be able to carry over their excitement from a movie or tv show, into the toy store or book shop.
Because that gives me something else I can share with them.