These days, it can be very tough for a superhero series to stand out. And there’s also the growing opinion that there aren’t enough reader-friendly stories out there that don’t require knowledge of years of continuity. With this in mind, BOOM! Studios is releasing a welcome addition to the stands this week: Supurbia #1, a new spin on familiar territory, fueled by an obvious enthusiasm from its creators.
On the surface, it seems to be another typical superhero team, a group of heroes called the Meta-Legion. But the idea behind this book is that it seem less like the Justice League and more like a superhero version of TMZ or a Real Housewives reality show. The focus of Supurbia is the drama behind the masks, the problems that rise in families with secret identities are known and superhuman careers invite all sorts of arguments and misunderstandings, as well as unexpected secrets.
The book’s storytellers are writer Grace Randolph, known for her work at Marvel’s Nation X and Her-Oes, and new artist Russell Dauterman. The two introduce a quirky and inviting cast of characters, and Dauterman’s designs are very effective in quickly letting you know what kind of folks the Meta-Legion members are.
One of the more interesting designs is Batu, who is a lovely balance between an ethereal feminine quality and the obvious power of a skilled warrior. This is definitely not Wonder Woman, but a hero in her own right, a Mongolian warrior princess. Her design is very interesting and her facial expression is so calm and unassuming, you can see that she doesn’t think of herself as anything terribly special nor does she allow her ego to rise from her accomplishments. She simply knows what she’s capable of and she’ll do that she has to.
Agent Twilight is a mix of mysterious street vigilante and a dashing modern day Robin Hood. Not sure about the trousers, personally, but the rest of the design definitely works and is something Batman’s partner should have sported years ago if he truly wanted people to realize he was emulating the archer of Sherwood Forest rather than a red breasted bird. Bulldog and Omega Marine’s costumes announce a military perspective. And at first glance, our power houses seem to be the character Sovereign and the Cosmic Champion. The Sovereign’s design is a sleek uniform that gives a nod to Superman without being too derivative and the Cosmic Champion seems a nod to classic Steve Ditko design, an otherwordly yet uncomplicated look that makes us wonder just what he wants.
But Dauterman’s artwork truly shines with the designs of those characters not in costume. Since the families, friends, spouses, loved ones and kids are the true focus of this superhero series, it’s important that each of them have a distinct face. You don’t want to confuse anyone with each other, nor should anyone feel like they’re cut from the same characteristic or trope. That doesn’t happen here. Dauterman gives everyone their own face and style, while Randolph makes sure the characters each have a distinct voice. You can instantly tell what Batu’s daughter thinks of her warrior mother. And when Sovereign’s live-in girlfriend Helen finds herself put out by a pitfall of suburban life, you can guess from her eyes that she may be looking back on her super-villain days and imagining when she allowed herself to play out her revenge fantasies.
This promises to be a welcome choice for readers’ pull lists. Check out Supurbia #1 this Wednesday!
Alan “Sizzler” Kistler is an actor and writer living in New York City. He is the author of The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook, The Unofficial Spider-Man Trivia Challenge and The Unofficial Batman Trivia challenge. His work can be found on various websites and he has been recognized by publishers and news media outlets as a comic book historian and Doctor Who historian. He knows entirely too much about superheroes, time travel stories, Muppets, and vampires that don’t sparkle. His website is AlanKistler.com and his twitterfeed is @SizzlerKistler