SUPER #2/ Written by ZACHARY DOLAN & JUSTIN PIATT/ Art by ZACHARY DOLAN/ Inks by LAURIE FOSTER/ Ink & Pencil Assistance by TARA KAPPEL/ Colors by EVERARDO OROZCO/ Color Assistance by LUDWIG OLIMBA/ Letters by JUSTIN PIATT/ Chief Henchman Work by EDWIN REYES/ Published by UNLIKELY HEROES STUDIOS
Justin Piatt and Zack Dolan’s indie comic Super! had a dynamite debut issue last month, and while #2 isn’t quite up there it’s still (mostly) a good, fun read.
The issue has its down points, to be sure. To be up front about it, the Furious Fire-Ant’s – the narrator and POV character this issue – description of superheroines Blitz and Plastique may make female readers extremely uncomfortable. Blitz is described perfectly well until Fire-Ant notes that her ass is, “so tight you can bounce quarters off of it.” Plastique, clearly meant to parody the commonality of superheroines whose costumes probably violate public decency laws, has something considerably worse. It’s awkward, unpleasant, and alienating, and enough for many readers to justify never giving the book another chance. Dolan and Piatt can do and have done better with their satire, and hopefully they will knock it off. Beyond that, Dolan, Kappel, and Foster’s art job is solidly good work, though there’s some je ne sais quois about it all that makes it feel like it could be more energized than it currently is.
Other than the above issues, Super! #2 is good! The biggest appeal of the first issue was how much fun it was, and the above issues aside Super! #2 is a real joy to read. As promised in their interview, Dolan and Piatt give readers a glimpse at daily life in Cosmopolis, a city where supers are so common that bus stop advertisements feature them shilling toothpaste, and yes, you can call out of work because Baron Blizzard just froze you and your adorable puppy at said stop. The opening action scene does a good job of reintroducing readers to the cast, as well as the types of people they punch in the face every morning. But more interesting than the fight is the re-introduction of the conflict between Max Archer’s gang and the Peoples’ Champions.
To lift a quote, comparing the Champions and our heroes are like comparing apples to some fruit no one has ever heard of – and oh is the Fire-Ant bitter about it! But it is a pretty justified feeling – the Champions are a jagoff’s Justice League. They’re conceited and self-centered, their image shiny and glossed to a Photoshop perfection even though their behavior spells “ego” more than “hero.” The Champions’ leader Superstar’s unthinking non-acknowledgement of our heroes’ actions makes for good callous comedy, topped off with him punning and smiling that toothpaste smile for the news cameras. The whole scenario allows Dolan and Piatt to play with the comic book staple of a well-respected all-star superhero team, and the most interesting thing about it as that the gang is not uniform in their disdain. Fire-Ant makes his frustration known, but Blitz is just as gaga for Superstar and the Champions as the rest of the world. It makes her all the more endearing and relatable, as will the assuredly forthcoming disillusionment and pedestal breaking, however far down the line it is.
One of Super!’s greatest strengths is its cast, and while each character doesn’t get the focus issue one’s round-table of establishments allowed for, the ones who do get a focus are good. Fire-Ant gets narration duty, Blitz and Lush are the supporting cast, and the A-plot spotlights Max Archer. Archer is a lively, amusing character whose eccentricities lend himself to funny lines and some good visual laughs. His plot – receiving a prestigious science award – introduces Miss Culpepper, his own Pepper Potts and beleaguered straight woman, and colleague and rival in super science, respectively, Professor Proton and Doctor Quark. The awards ceremony itself is peppered with enough cameos to let eager readers have a blast trying to find them all (personal favorites: the Quests, Dr. Insano and Son, and Cybertron’s own Shockwave). Of course, some one out for Archer’s head crashes the awards ceremony, and the ensuing fight leads to some good (though cut short) action and laughs from the attending gang, particularly Lush and Adventure Man Zero.
In spite of its problems, Super! is still on the whole a good and fun enough of a time to readily follow. Issue two’s cliffhanger ending promises just as much next month, and it’s sure to deliver.