Despite being in the middle of a company-wide move, DC Comics has announced DC Super Hero Girls: a brand new initiative to package its most famous female characters across online, television, toy and print content. What's unusual, for the company, is the intended audience: girls aged 6-12.
Though the DC Comics universe is the home of the world's most famous superheroine (and there are good arguments to say that it's the home of the top five female super heroes and villains most well-known by non-comics audiences), super powered characters, and comics in general, are rarely marketed directly to young girls. DC Super Hero Girls promises to take a significant stab at that closing that gap, with a slate of digital, online content coming this fall, to be followed by television specials, direct to video productions, and apparel in 2016. DC will be creating a series of original graphic novels based on the DC Super Hero Girls, and has partnered with Random House Children's Books to bring them to prose next year. The characters will also hit toy store shelves as themed Lego sets and as an action figure line from Mattel, a nearly unheard of occurrence for an action-oriented, all-female group of characters.
As you might be able to tell from the art that came along with DC's announcement, they're not exactly the same characters that adult readers know from the comics. From DC's press release:
Developed for girls aged 6-12, DC Super Hero Girls centers on the female Super Heroes and Super-Villains of the DC Comics universe during their formative years—prior to discovering their full super power potential. Featuring a completely new artistic style and aesthetic, DC Comics' icons such as Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Harley Quinn, Bumble Bee, Poison Ivy, Katana and many more make their unprecedented teenaged introduction. Each character has her own storyline that explores what teen life is like as a Super Hero, including discovering her unique abilities, nurturing her remarkable powers and mastering the fundamentals of being a hero.
It's not the first time that DC has built media around its female characters. Gotham Girls was an early effort, and, more recently, Lauren Faust's five Super Best Friends Forever shorts (featuring Wonder Girl, Batgirl, and Supergirl) were very warmly received. But this is the biggest commitment DC has made to the idea in a long time.
If only there were a few more specifics. It'd be great to know what kind of talent DC and Warner Bros. are putting on these various online and print incarnations, or the exact nature of the "immersive digital experience, original digital content and digital publishing" promised in its press release. It's also pretty curious that DC isn't launching this with an animated television series, given the modern success of girl-oriented or gender neutral animated content like My Little Pony, Monster High, Adventure Time and Steven Universe, not to mention the historical success of DC properties in that arena.
Perhaps the most open question of all is the exact way that they intended to massage Harley Quinn's character into something appropriate for a six-year-old with Suicide Squad hitting theaters in the same year DC Super Hero Girls ramps up to full implementation.