God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls by Jaime Hernandez – A Review

God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls
Jaime Hernandez
Fantagraphic Books

I’ve never liked superhero comic books much. Even before I was a teenager I found them a little boring. Really, what happens in a superhero comic book? The hero spends his time moaning about their powers, or at least wondering if they’ll be strong enough to defeat the villain. The hero and villain run around chasing each other for the 30 pages or so, often the hero faces a set back, but then they overcome. While character development is a fine thing, comic books often suffer from the repeated analysis of their own heroic virtues. Yes, the very early comics were all plot, but at some time that switched and it was just tedious talking without even the littles bit of story telling. It’s harsh, and there are certainly quality examples of the superhero, such as the oft noted Watchmen. I’d rather read a Tin-Tin any day.

I mention all that because I finally read one of the Hernandez brother’s books. They have a great reputation among those who like graphic novels and it has long been over due for me to read one of their books. I know they write non superhero things, but I happened to pick up a superhero story. It has redeeming elements that take it beyond a superhero story. In the world of the Ti-Girls, only women are superheros and they have been fighting the good fight for many years. So many that the Ti-Girls are in retirement and are forced to come out of retirement when the most powerful woman in the universe goes into shock after loosing her baby and becomes a danger to Earth. While he has some nice touches playing with the stock elements of superheros the book, again, comes down to that same flaw. The heroes run around beating on each other. One side seems to get the upper hand, then the other, and in between they discus their powers and those of the mourning woman, and add in a little plot. Except for Hernandez’s reinvention of how superpowers are handed out, there isn’t too much difference between this and a Marvel or a DC comic. And I get it. Super powers are difficult to use, but it doesn’t mean that they have to be the center of every story. Super powers as a metaphor for identity  has been done, especially if you are writing for adults, which Hernandez  certainly is with his illusions to other superheros. The graphic novel has removed the constraints on comics, it is too bad that homages have to fall into the same traps.