What if the superheroes of the past have traveled in time to the present day? What do they do? Who will they fight? Let’s find out in this review of Project Superpowers #1 from Dynamite Entertainment.
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Sergio Davila
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: August 1, 2018
Previously in Project Superpowers: Project Superpowers started in the 1940’s when the world was at war and everyone knew who the enemy was. Then the heroes traveled through time to 2018 to find a world that is much more complicated than the one they came from.
A COMBINATION OF HISTORY AND ORIGIN STORY
Project Superpowers #1 is a revival of a title that uses characters from the Golden Age and sets them in today’s world. What is really interesting about them is that while the hero types are familiar, these are not new analogs of characters we know from current comics. These are actual Golden Age heroes from a number of different past publishers brought together to make this book.
We start out seeing an empty American flag robe floating above a busy city scene, beseeching people to look up before it’s too late. Then we zoom in on Diana Adams, Masquerade, who explains that she has come here from the 1940’s. She was a costumed crime-fighter; she now has real powers. She came from a world where good and evil were clear-cut, but today it isn’t the same. She has written a book about her experiences and is interviewed on television. This is a novel way to fill us in on some of the backgrounds, but I also enjoyed the interview. Why would Diana give up the glamorous life of a superhero? “Well, people kept trying to kill me.” I do love when a book interjects a moment of down-to-earth realism like that. Diana was once part of a team, but they’re a team no longer. The world is too complicated; the enemy is not so clear cut anymore.
Next, we meet young Imani Cooper, eighteen years old, flying into New York to visit her father. She’s never flown before; she’s never been to Manhattan. As the plane approaches, there is a sudden burst of purple lightning and the plane starts to fall out of the sky. And not just this plane – every plane around the world.
Here we get our introduction to the heroes of Project Superpowers as they try to deal with this cataclysm. The Green Lama, master of the meta-natural, creates a magical web to catch the planes and hold them up. But it’s too much for him to maintain alone. A falling plane is caught by the mighty Samson (God-given strength; blind). Masquerade uses her mental powers to speak through the pilots, helping people evacuate safely. The Scarab also shows up (exoskeleton armor with flight and advanced weaponry), as well as The Black Terror (super-strength, invulnerability) – who is immediately mistaken for being a bad guy, after announcing himself by name, and is attacked by the passengers.
Imani is about to leave her plane when she catches sight of the Green Lama, who is hurt. She cannot help herself – she climbs up the magical web toward him to try to help him. He is attacked by The Death-Defying ‘Devil, who says that he doesn’t want to do it, but someone is trying to make him kill his friend. Imani tries to stop him; he attacks her, and suddenly she is clothed in the robe we saw in the opening scene. She has been chosen.
MODERN ART WITH A RETRO VIBE
I love the art in Project Superpowers #1. The panel layouts are interesting and very clear. There are several interesting angles on scenes. The close-ups of faces are particularly expressive and drawn very well or, at the very least, in a way the really appeals to me. Imani is a young POC, which I appreciate – with its roots solidly in the Golden Age, our base team is very white. Also, as each team member is introduced, we see their name as their logo which is a great touch.
Another thing which is done very well are the flowy robes, not only from the American flag robe which we see intermittently throughout, but also other costumes such as the Green Lama. It’s a great look. Actually, I like all the costumes. I really love Masquerade’s red dress and broad-brimmed red hat. (If I had the time to do cosplay, this would be one I would like to do.) The costumes have some nice touches that give them a certain flair, reminiscent of the Golden Age without all being of the tights-and-trunks genre.
BOTTOM LINE: A PROMISING REVIVAL
I have not read any earlier takes on this team, but Project Superpowers #1 seems to be off to a solid start. The story flows well, it has a big action scene that sets up the traditional big question of, “What is going on here?” and does so in such a way that it pulls me in. I really like Imani, who is young, optimistic, and tries to see the good in people. (While I can appreciate the grim-dark or angsty heroes, the world is more interesting when not everyone in it is grim-dark or angsty.)