Sunday, 28 April 2013


It's easy to pigeonhole Mark Millar as a guy who just does action comics. Because, well, he does just do action comics. But he does them very well and there's more variety than you'd expect from someone who sticks so firmly to one genre. There's always action but he takes some pretty wild routes to get to it.

Superior is the perfect example of this. Not content with the premise of a young boy being transformed into his favourite superhero, looking like the actor that plays him in films (literally movie star good looks), Millar also chucks in demonic deals and astronaut monkeys. There's a closing action sequence that wouldn't feel out if place on the big screen.

It would be unfair and untrue to say there's no emotion in Superior. At times it feels a little forced and out of place but it's there. The protagonist Simon Pooni starts the book with multiple sclerosis and later on in the story he meets several other children with similar afflictions. It's written and handled well, and integral to the plot.

Elsewhere Millar is more ham-fisted. Mid-way through the book Simon reveals his ordeal to a Lois Lane-alike reporter, who listens to his entire tale before suddenly remembering she suffered from leukaemia as a child, prompting her to form a bond with him. I appreciate the need for dramatic reveals and plot developments but it's written as though she'd forgotten her experience until Simon mentioned his multiple sclerosis. Which, y'know, isn't terribly realistic.

On a similar note Simon's parents seem fairly unphased when he returns home having been missing for a week. They also seem a little too accepting of his story about magically turning into a superhero. Simon does at least get believable relationships with schoolchum Chris and bully Sharpie. Millar writes adolescent boys well his. That seems apt.

The action is where the book shines. Whether it's the second issue's scenes of Simon (now Superior) testing his powers by pulling trains and accidentally setting forests on fire or the final battle pitting Superior against not one but two of his adversaries from the silver screen the book's at its best when people aren't talking much. Leinil Francis Yu is particularly good at these sorts of scenes, his art style being dynamic and pacey. He's not bad at slower moments though. I like his art but I always think it's probably an acquired taste.

As a standalone series Superior is very hard to fault. It tells its story well, neither rushing it nor dragging it out too long and wrapping up in an entertaining (if maybe slightly predictable) manner. It revolves around a neat little premise and features some memorable visual moments. If you like the movie offerings of Marvel and DC there's plenty to enjoy and not much to dislike.


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