Gilbert Hernandez doing an all-ages comic – one designed to be read by kids as well as adults – is an exciting prospect. So it’s something of a disappointment that his sassy young Venus doesn’t live up to our expectations.
Surprisingly for Hernandez, the character of Venus isn’t fleshed out enough. The book is chopped into short standalone stories, but Venus’s life is surprisingly humdrum. She’s an adorable girl, addicted to comics and caring towards her family and friends. But her conflicts are banal, her friends are stereotypes and you can’t help but wish that Hernandez would set up a more exciting episode, or delve deeper into her back story.
The book is set in Hernandez’s Love and Rockets universe: Venus is the daughter of Petra, one of Luba’s sisters. However, younger reader won’t have this frame of reference, so while we can happily spot well-known characters amongst its pages, I’m not convinced that there’s enough left over to entertain the kids.
When it comes down to it, this didn’t work for me. I don’t think there’s enough depth to engage older readers and there’s not enough drama to interest younger ones. I love Gilbert Hernandez to bits but I’d rather introduce my kids to him through Heartbreak Soup when they’re old enough, rather than turn them off too early with The Adventures of Venus.