Review by Woodrow Phoenix
Kara Zor-El is Superman’s 12-year-old cousin from another dimension, accidentally marooned on Earth. Her other-dimensional knowledge is useless in this alien environment and her new superpowers are very unreliable. Superman tells her that once she learns to fully control them she can help him to protect the world. But until then, she has to keep them secret, in her new identity as Linda Lee, 8th grade transfer student at Stanhope Boarding School.
My Own Best Frenemy is book two of the six-part Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade, and in this instalment writer Landry Q. Walker and artist Eric Jones’ 1960s-inspired plotting complicates Linda Lee’s new life even further when she’s knocked out by a chunk of that dreaded relic of her home planet: Green Kryptonite. She wakes up to find that she now has an evil black-haired duplicate, Belinda Zee: “In fact I don’t just look like you. I am you. Identical. Well, except that I’m better. I’m like, the upgrade, y’know? Linda—version B. Or Belinda. Whatever.”
Belinda Zee proceeds to torment Linda by publicly humiliating her in a variety of ways, and there’s nothing she can do about it, until a brilliant science-nerd called Lena Thorul takes pity on her and zaps Belinda with a ‘quack-like-a-duck’ ray. The two outcasts Linda and Lena immediately become the very best of friends. But is there more to Lena than meets the eye?
This revision of a 1960s premise for a contemporary audience of young readers is superbly crafted by Landry and Jones, retaining all the silliness of its original setting with added modern twists. It makes this book a funny, fast-paced romp with cleverly complicated plotting that will delight kids and entertain older readers too, not an easy thing to pull off. The awkward tween heroine is so well characterised that you will find yourself identifying deeply with her goofy problems as she tries to fit into her new setting and fails, in hilarious ways.
Supergirl’s Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade continue in Super Hero School. Readers should note that although the hardcover binding makes this a thick book, it’s only 22 pages of story. Each volume of this series reprints a single issue of the original comic. These short books are ideal for young readers, but there is also a trade paperback available with all six parts complete in one place – Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade. It’s not as sturdy as this single hardcover volume in library binding, but is much better value for almost the same price.