Super Hero Squad: Infinity Sword Quest
FC, 176 pgs, $16.99 USD
I believe many of the superhero comics published by Marvel and DC are inappropriate for young children. Violence, mature storylines, complex plots, and the occasional sexually suggestive moment make mainstream superhero comics more suitable for teens and adults. Marketing to those demographics is certainly important, but a lot of publishers have also turned their attention to a younger generation in an effort to attract new readers and develop them into long-term readers of comics. One of the ways to do this is to make available quality, age appropriate comics to the younger readers and- equally important- to their parents. While there are many excellent, highly recommended comics and graphic novels for this young demographic, very few of these are within the superhero genre.
One of the rare series that fits the bill is Marvel’s Super Hero Squad. My 5 year-old son and I were first introduced to the comic via a 50 cent promotional issue on display at our local comic shop. (ComicReaders stocks many of the quality comics for young readers- both locations have sections dedicated to this demographic- but not all comic shops do so and it is a shame.) The comic had two self-contained stories. In the first, the Super Hero Squad (comprised of many familiar Marvel superheroes) fought robot clones of themselves. In the second, the squad tried to cure Fin Fang Foom of hiccups.
Yes, Fin Fang Foom had hiccups and every time he hiccupped he spit fire. He accidentally lit a Skrull warship, which upset the Skrulls so much they threatened to cover the Earth in cottage cheese.
If you are thinking Super Hero Squad is silly stuff, you are correct.
The silliness we found and enjoyed in the promotional comic is also present in Super Hero Squad: Infinity Sword Quest, a 176-page collection containing nine loosely connected short comics. The foes (Dr. Doom, Magneto, M.O.D.O.K and many others) are bumbling oafs. Dr. Doom, for example, has the habit of labeling all his nefarious devices with his own name and picture, which means the heroes are always quick to determine he is behind the schemes. The situations created by evil these fools and the manner in which the Super Hero Squad resolves the issues and saves the day are equally silly and fun to watch unfold.
The humour is intended for a younger audience, but the humour works for me, too. As a fan of comics I know how these heroes and villains are supposed to act, which makes the characters’ personality quirks and general silliness of the book that much more enjoyable for me.
Super Hero Squad is not something I would read on my own, but I really enjoy reading it with my son, laughing together, talking about the funny artwork- the artists have excellent comedic timing and the stubby character designs are delightful and whimsical. The best part though is watching my son learn about superheroes in a fictional environment that is appropriate for his age and meets my parental requirements.
A book like Super Hero Squad can lay the foundation for an interest in comics that will develop over time. It is the kind of book that could- with support and guidance from his comic fan parents- make my son a life-long comic reader, and new, long-term comic readers are something the comic industry really needs. (Chad Boudreau)