Undoubtedly most of us have suffered through high school aptitude tests at some point of our lives. While they’re meant to provide teenagers with an idea of what their skills and abilities are good for so they can plan their future, in truth aptitude tests tend to be a waste of both time and money. Fortunately, cartoonist Andrew Power found a use for them in his school webcomic Aptitude Test, which is set in a world where superheroes are real… and Julie, one of the comic’s two protagonists, discovers she’s best suited to become a superhero. And no, she’s not thrilled at the idea, or at the thought of putting her life on the line seeing she has no powers and is deathly afraid of confrontations.
It’s a fascinating concept to build a comic from, and it provides Power with the opportunity to simultaneously develop a superheroic universe while also focusing on the mundanities of high school life. Okay, the comic mostly focuses on Julie and her best friend Rina (who was likewise displeased at her aptitude test suggesting she enter the wild and interesting career of office clerks – fortunately, a supervillain attack does help living things up for Rina (and Julie) so she’s not completely bored stiff) and the mundanities of being high school students, but I must admit the growing side-story concerning Momentum (the superhero who mentored Julie for a day to see if the superheroic life was for her) has been fun to read.
For all that I enjoy Julie and Rina’s story, I must admit I’m more interested in the evolving subplot concerning Canada’s growing superhero community (which came close to including Julie herself in their ranks) and what’s behind people gaining these powers. Momentum (or Kat in her civilian identity) is fairly certain her accident was anything but, and with the help of an unpowered hero (who I suspect is actually Julie’s dad) is investigating a corporation with ties behind the empowering of both heroes and villains. And while Julie herself has expressed no interest in becoming a superhero, she keeps finding herself drawn into the superhero subplot.
Still, I suppose what I enjoyed most about AT is watching Julie and Rina grow. Julie is gradually starting to overcome her fear of confrontations and has developed ties with Momentum, which hasn’t set well with Rina (who took an initial dislike for Momentum after she caught the eye of the cute office clerk Rina was trying to flirt with), though I’m not exactly sure as to why she continues to dislike the hero. Rina herself is a huge flirt (which Julie has some issues with, especially when she flirts with guys that Julie dislikes) and oddly enough starts the comic as Julie’s protector, though at the end it’s Julie herself who saves her friend’s life at risk of her own.
And of course there’s your more typical high school angst (such as Julie asking out the cute nice guy she’d been crushing on for ages, or the current storyline with a school presidential election) to amuse those readers who are into more mundane stories. This is AT’s greatest strength and weakness; it tends to jump around at times, which can become confusing as the cast of characters starts to grow. Despite this issue with complexity, Aptitude Test is an enjoyable comic with a large enough archive for the characters to shine, while still remaining small enough that it’s not overwhelming. As such, I highly recommend this comic.