DC Super Hero Girls: Hero of the Year

Image result for DC Super hero girls hero of the year dvd

So.

It seems I write about DC Super Hero Girls a lot. Like, A LOT a lot.

And you know what? I’m not sorry.

I casually decided to check out this series not too long ago, interested in the webisodes and curious to see what it was all about. A girl-centric series aimed at the younger crowd, featuring all of my favorites? Sign me up.

Little did I know just how enthralled with the entire series I would become.  I realize it’s technically geared towards young girls who are easily 15 or 20 years younger than me. I get it. That doesn’t change the fact that there is plenty here for fans of all ages to love.  I’ve watched the web series, I’ve read the comics, I’ve read the novels. When I found out there were full-length movie tie-ins as well? Well, I knew how I was spending my night.

Unsurprisingly, Hero of the Year is on the same level as all of the other releases in this ever-expanding media empire.  As the heroes eagerly await to find out which superhero is going to win the coveted “Hero of the Year” award, trouble descends upon Super Hero High.  The Amethyst from Gemworld that sits atop the school begins to turn black for no apparent reason.  As the story unfolds, we learn that Dark Opal and Eclipso are responsible, seeking rare items that can be combined to make an all-powerful weapon. They steal Big Barda’s mega rod, Star Sapphire’s ring, and Hawkgirl’s Nth metal belt, among other items.  It’s up to the students of Super Hero high to thwart the bad guys and save the day.

As far as basic storylines go, this one is about on par with the others I’ve read in the series. It’s nice to see the characters on-screen for longer spaces of time, as opposed to the few-minute long webisodes that are normally released.  The girls band together to stop a bad guy, and their friendship, selflessness, and teamwork ultimately lead to their victory. It’s a formula that has worked for the series so far, and one I have absolutely no problem with. The stories are sweet without seeming treacly, and teach genuine lessons devoid of the cynicism so often found in media geared towards younger people today.

While the story alone was fun, what I find most exciting about this series is not only the numerous connections to main DC continuity, but also to other events within the DC Super Hero Girls world. Honestly, the continuity for DC Super Hero Girls is tighter and more accurate than that of the main comics storylines.  I found numerous references in Hero of the Year to other storylines, from prior webisodes, comics, and novels.  I love seeing connections like this, proving that it all takes place within one world, and is all part of the same narrative.  It would be so easy for these stories to be self-contained, never referencing one another and returning the status quo at the end so that order and continuity don’t matter. Instead, a lengthy narrative has been created within the series so that there is a clear order to things. No, it’s not necessary to know the entire story beforehand; you can just as easily begin with this movie and pick everything up pretty quickly. However, much like comics, those who follow the series and put in the time will be rewarded with richer, more complete storylines.

The connections/character cameos excite me beyond comprehension, simply because I love having my knowledge of DC Comics rewarded in something that isn’t directly tied into those original stories.  DC Super Hero Girls is awesome on its own, but it definitely rewards those who know about DC Comics lore and its plethora of characters. Some of the awesome references and appearances I picked up on include:

  1. Parasite as the Janitor at Super Hero High – this is nothing new to the series, but the image still makes me giggle.
  2. Students at Super Hero High include Animal Man, Hawk, and Dove. They don’t play a part in the film, but It’s fun to see them part of continuity.
  3. The voice actors on the series are LEGIT. The voices of Beast Boy, Cyborg, and Starfire are the same as those on Teen Titans Go. Tara Strong, longtime voice actress, voices Harley and Ivy.  Friggin’ Dean Cain is Jonathan Kent! It’s more than just what you see with this series. There are Easter eggs in what you hear as well.
  4. The Eclipso used in the show is the Eclipso/Jean Loring version. They never refer to her as Jean, but the image is clear. This is a particular favorite allusion of mine. Identity Crisis is one of those comics that DC Super Hero Girls should definitely not reference directly (at least in terms of who Jean Loring is and why she’s a villain), but it’s nice to see this very subtle nod to continuity.
  5. Just the fact that Princess Amethyst of Gemworld is even referenced, let alone plays a role in the film, is reason enough to celebrate. Her comics are out of print, but I’ve made it my mission to find them so I can learn more about the character.
  6. Batgirl’s computer A.I. is called Oracle. No explanation needed, that’s just awesome.

These are just some of the many references that sparked my interest during the movie.  I enjoy a good kid’s film as much as the next person, but it takes more than a cute story to hold the attention of an adult. I love that Shea Fontana has included so many Easter eggs and references for those who are familiar with DC continuity.  The story does an excellent job of appealing to old and new fans of DC, drawing everybody in.

Hero of the Year was a solid film, and has me eager to watch the others, Intergalactic Games and Lego DC Super Hero Girls.  The story is great and leaves you feeling happy and satisfied, while the references will have you geeking out for days.  Simply put, this is an exceptionally well-written, well thought out series, making connections to itself and the main continuity at every turn.  On top of that, it’s just plain fun.  I’ve seen so many posts on Twitter about how much people’s daughters love the series, and it makes me SO HAPPY to see a new generation of fans being brought up with this group of awesome, positive role models.

I’m sounding like a broken record lately, but I can’t help it. This series is just that good. If you haven’t checked it out yet, go read the comics, novels, or watch these movies. Whether you’re an expert or complete newbie, you can undoubtedly find something to enjoy about the series.

-Jess

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