Evil in a Skirt! is book five of Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade, a revision of Supergirl especially designed for a middle-school readership, with a simplified origin and a story outside regular DC continuity. It’s graduation day for the girls at Stanhope Boarding School, and Linda Lee couldn’t be more excited about surviving the 8th grade, but her best friend and roommate Lena Thorul is underwhelmed: “We pretend everything is awesome for a very brief time. And then we start over in a couple of months with the 9th grade. It’s a cycle of humiliation and degradation at the hands of our peers that we are doomed to repeat for four more years.

This cycle is interrupted first by the arrival of another version of Supergirl – she’s a time-travelling Supergirl from the future, now called Supragirl – and then by the transformation of evil duplicate Belinda Zee into a Bizarro version of Supergirl called Superior Girl, and then by the transformation of Lena into a full-fledged Luthor who breaks her big brother Lex out of prison to help destroy Superman and all the other superbeings! There are many more complications to this state of affairs, including Comet the superhorse, the reappearance of Streaky the supercat and a big revelation about why Stanhope Boarding School is such a nexus for weirdness.

Landry and Jones’ updated version of a classic hero is by turns very silly and intensely smart, mocking the typical bombastic tone of comics where Superheroes live on a higher dramatic plane than ordinary humans, but using that difference in tone to enable surprisingly emotional characterisations of Supergirl, Lena and Belinda. Plus, lots of very funny jokes. The plot twists pile up in satisfyingly loopy ways, and as this issue hurtles toward its end, there’s no predicting how it will all wrap up. This book may be targeted at young readers, but it’s entertaining enough to delight anyone who enjoys good superhero comics.

Supergirl’s Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade conclude in Off to Save the Day… The hardcover library bindings of these thick books disguise the fact they only contain 22 pages of story, plus a glossary of usefully grandiloquent words. That’s because each volume of this series reprints a single issue from the original comics, an ideal length for young readers. There is also a trade paperback which collects all six issues in a single volume – Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade. It’s excellent value at 144 pages for almost the same price.