REVIEW: Superior #5 (of 6)

by

Or – “It’s Pronounced Exactly The Same As Frank Miller…”

Three words: Edgy Captain Marvel.

With that premise, I think you’re either immediately in, or immediately out.

SUPERIOR #5
Writer: Mark Millar
Penciler: Leinil Yu
Inker: Gerry Alanguilan
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: V.C.’s Clayton Cowles
Editor: Nicole Boose
Publisher: Icon/Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, on Superior: Simon was a normal teenager when his disease made itself known.  Within a few months, Multiple Sclerosis had denied him the use of most of his legs, his promising basketball career, and nearly all of his friends.  After a viewing of his favorite superhero movie, Simon somehow found himself face to face with a talking monkey (in a spacesuit, strangely enough) who offered him one wish.  When the smoke cleared, Simon had been transformed into Superior, greatest superhero of them all, and begins using his powers in particularly dangerous and foolhardy ways.  After enforcing American foreign policy with his fists, Simon makes the mistake of threatening a school bully to protect his only friend, and then things got a little bit weird…

MONKEYS AS AGENTS OF THE DARK LORD!

I have to say, I entered this book worried.  The cover shows Superior at the head of a squadron of American fighter planes, and I was prepared for a Millar “America $&@$, YEAH!” rant (See Ultimate Captain America) that would leave me irritated and snarky for the entire review.  What I got… was surprising.

The first half of the issue has Superior in action in the Middle East, but it’s much more entertaining than I gave the story hook credit for.  Superior uses his powers to dismantle Taliban cells without a single casualty.  The dialogue is some of the best parts, as Simon the boy tries hard to keep up the front of Superior, but keeps slipping.  When told that the military has completely evacuated a city on his orders, Simon can’t help but look amazed.  “That’s awesome!”  Heh…  As the issue plays out, we see Superior crossing the globe, and not only is the story a kinder, gentler Mark Millar, but Leinil Yu delivers a much less jarring experience than his work on New Avengers a few years ago.  After assisting with relief efforts, the President asks if there’s anything that Superior wants, leading to a very amusing sequence where we see the President’s reaction to what Superior asks for, immediately cutting to a panel where he asks, “Are you SERIOUS?”

WITH GREAT POWER, COME D-BAGS WHO WANT YOU DEAD…

Last issue ended with a cliff-hanger involving Sharpie, the bully that Superior threatened in a previous issue, being offered powers of his own by the mysterious “space-monkey.”  We get a quick check-in with him, teasing something more conventionally super-heroey in the near future, and then we get a fun montage of Superior batting for the Mets, playing bass with his favorite band (although the art clearly shows a guitar) and even beating the Miami Heat on the court.  I have to say that the issue is tonally appropriate for a young teenage boy, and when Superior shows up at the apartment of a celebrity journalist, it seems like an intentional reference the 1977 Superman movie.  Things take a turn for the ugly, as the monkey appears to interrupt his date, and ends the issue with a shocking reveal AND a big cliffhanger.  Even thought the monkey’s nature was revealed last time, it’s still a nice “Dun DUN DAAAH!” moment to wrap up the issue.

THE VERDICT:  2 WEIRD TASTES THAT TASTE GOOD TOGETHER…

This issue reminds me of the Mark Millar I always love, the ‘Black Flash’ Mark Millar, the first 3 issues of ‘Wanted’ Mark Millar, even the Mark Millar who made Kick-Ass such a wonderful examination of superheroes in the real world.  (Kick-Ass 2, on the other hand, feels like an unnecessary Hollywood sequel, but that’s another review.)  This issue is fun, it’s kind of retro (Superior makes a point of explaining that he doesn’t kill) and it’s an interesting inversion of what happened to Dave Lizewski in Kick-Ass.  The coloring is the only real sadness here, taking some solid Yu artwork and draping it in drab red-and-earth-tone coloring that removes some of the story’s impact.  Still, Superior #1 was a fine diversion, a book that does a lot right even in the face of my low expectations, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.  Between this and Superior, I’m starting to realize that maybe my preconceptions are keeping me from reading books that I would really enjoy.  (Does this mean I should pick up an issue of “Tales From Wonderland”?)

Rating: ★★★★☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Which writers give you the “Jekyll & Hyde” experience with their work?