JL8 is probably one of the main reasons I’ve been feeling meh about DC lately. Because this, THIS, is how our heroes should be done!
Our favourite DC heroes – Clark, Bruce, Diana, Barry, Karen, J’onn and Hal – as they were in elementary school. If they were all friends and had their powers and were even more awesome than usual. The strips are utterly adorable while keeping the heroes very much in character, and it is all ages. That’s right, superheroes for the whole family to enjoy.
Yale Stewart has been uploading the strips twice weekly since last year, with over 120 instalments now under his belt. Obviously this is not an official DC project, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that any higher ups are too busy hoping Diana is not going to inadvertently break Karen’s heart with her lasso of truth at her 8th birthday party! The feels man, the feels.
The star of the show is almost certainly little Bruce, wearing full retro Batman gear while fretting that he does not look scary enough (his darker costumes are all in the wash). The pint sized crusaders best friend is the adorkable Clark, whose mega crush on Diana has led him to getting writing advice from Neil Gaiman and buying Anya’s Ghost for her birthday present. Meanwhile Barry is your typical hyperactive 8 year old, albeit sliiiightly faster, while he and Hal attempt to show new student J’onn the ropes of Earth living. And oreos.
In a lot of ways JL8 reminds me of my own misbegotten childhood favourite read – Calvin and Hobbes. But even dorkier. They may be 8 years old, but these kids are a lot truer to their characters here than many of their more grown up interpretations.
Why DC is not paying Stewart bajillions to actually put this in print and raise the profile of its heroes across this new demographic (approximately 4-104 years old btw) is a mystery. I may not be rich but I would give buy the hell out of that and give it to everyone I know.
As if that wasn’t enough, Stewart has also used his JL8 art to raise a ton of money for good causes in the aftermath of various horrible events in the last year. SUPERHERO.
Sadly no collection is likely to be forthcoming until DC come to their senses, but until then if you’re a fan of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Power Girl, Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, Neil Gaiman (coughSandmancough) and/or comics that are fabulous, go and read this now!
Laura Sneddon is a comics journalist and academic, writing for the mainstream UK press with a particular focus on women and feminism in comics. Currently working on a PhD, do not offend her chair leg of truth; it is wise and terrible. Her writing is indexed at comicbookgrrrl.com and procrastinated upon via @thalestral on Twitter.