Despite being a children’s cartoon, Steven Universe has amassed a hugely loyal following of all ages. The show has a reputation for cleverly tackling contemporary modern day issues in a colourful and energetic package.
Although there have been previous Steven Universe comic books from BOOM! Studios, Too Cool for School is a new original graphic novel. Scripted by Jeremy Sorese, with the story by Ian Jones-Quartey, the book is illustrated beautifully by Asia Kendrick-Horton and Rachel Dukes. This is all tied together Leigh Luna’s colours.
I have to start by saying that the cover created by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, looks amazing. Especially the statue and house where Steven and Crystal Gems live, out in the distance. Even though the characters are stylised and notably different from their onscreen depictions, it’s still very clear exactly who they are trying to portray in this alternative art style. There’s even the really nice touch of Steven having a Cookie Cat pencil case, which is a nice call-back to the series as well as of course being very fitting for Steven.
The artwork is very similar to the animated series, although at times it can be slightly amiss, with colours looking too bright, or with lines being a little too thick or loose. These quibbles aside, it still manages to capture the feel of the characters that fans have come to love.
The Crystal Gems are all in character from the second they’re introduced, with Amethyst lounging around, Pearl doing Yoga and Garnet, although busy, trying to keep Steven happy. The story of this release tackles Steven’s first day at a real school. I found this particularly interesting because it’s the first time we’ve seen Steven in such a mundane everyday scenario for a kid his age. Steven is introduced to the school quite organically, by being Connie’s show and tell topic. Keeping with true Crystal Gem style, wherever Steven goes, chaos soon ensues.
One thing that I found particularly impressive and respectful is the way that they tackle bullying. As Steven is “different” and there’s no one in the world of Gems or humans that is like him, he is seen as somewhat of an outcast. This is very different to his extremely supportive home life, where he has three supportive guardians who would do anything to keep him safe. Whilst he’s at school, he suddenly becomes much more vulnerable.
There are many different, and frankly quite hilarious, scenarios which Steven finds himself in across the story. As he has been taught to do, Steven uses his powers on reflex and instinct, which amusingly continue to get him in trouble over and over again.
Surprisingly there isn’t a lot of interaction with the Crystal Gems, something which may put some fans off, but the plot is still kept entertaining, with the banter and companionship between Steven and Connie making up for the lack of his parental figures. It also offers opportunities for us to see Connie and Steven working together in a combat environment, which is something that I’ve personally been looking forward to seeing and something we’ve only seen a small amount of on-screen so far. Outside of the main cast, there are also guest appearances from side characters such as Sadie and Lars.
You won’t get any spoilers from me, but we also find out something quite surprising about Steven here. So for those wondering if this releases furthers the overall story, or is just a casual side-story, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
Overall, Steven Universe: Too Cool for School is a really fun read. As it captures all the characters from Steven Universe perfectly, and the storylines are all entertaining, it feels as though you’re just reading an extra episode of the series.
Whether for someone new to the series or someone who’s already very familiar with the cast, the comic holds up as a great read for anyone with an interest in the show. It’s also friendly for any age range, from kids to older fans (like yours truly), with the central theme being school life, which everyone can relate to in some way or another.
If you’re a Steven Universe fan of any kind, this comic is worth a look.