Supurbia #1

Written by Grace Randolph
Art by Russell Dauterman
24 pages, color
Published by Boom! Studios

The basic idea behind Grace Randolph’s Supurbia is a fairly simple one; superheroes and their spouses living next door to one another (in secret) in the same suburb. It’s a potentially fun concept, if one we’ve seen before. What can make a book like Supurbia stand out—both positively and negatively—is the execution. And with Supurbia, it’s the proverbial mixed bag; there are things to like here, and others to not care about. But ultimately, it’s the positives that will make you come back for #2.

Most of the first issue of Supurbia has Grace Randolph setting up the basic structure of the mini-series. We meet the spouses and the superheroes they’re married to, most of whom are direct analogues to famous characters. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Captain America are all represented, and the spouses also all run the gamut from former super-villain to business manager. It’s the less-traditional characters that ultimately stand out the most in a good way; the second-class citizen that is Batu’s husband Jeremy or their two children, or new recruit Bulldog’s wife Eve. Eve in particular is clearly meant to be a viewpoint character for the reader—someone from the outside just now entering the world—and Randolph obligingly sets Eve on the path of being the one who might just figure out what’s causing Marine Omega’s mysterious illness.

Randolph’s script falls down in a few places, for being a little too predictable while acting like it’s some big revelation. A version of Batman who’s having an affair with his sidekick? A Superman character who sees himself up above everyone else, even as his general lack of humanity is slowly revealed? These concepts are presented to the reader like they’re supposed to be shocking and outrageous, but it’s old territory that’s been plumbed before (and after Rick Veitch’s Bratpack, territory that should have been retired gracefully). Some of the exposition is also a little clunky; Helen talking to her probation officer on the phone while explaining that she can’t call her old friends (because it would violate her probation) feels like a speech that no one would actually give, and Dion’s wife Tia doesn’t seem to have any detectable personality other than to recite facts about other characters. Still, it’s the fun bits, like Eve being an unrepentant snoop (a character trait you wouldn’t expect for the main character), or the information on what’s happening to Marine Omega, that keep the script fun enough to make you want to read more.

I’d also add Russell Dauterman’s art as a positive piece of Supurbia #1. I liked that Dauterman draws Sovereign as beefcake, complete with a lot of flesh on display, and Eli chasing the pig across the yard is quite entertaining. He’s probably his best when it comes to drawing the "normal" people in Supurbia; Ruth Smith comes across as instantly powerful and commanding, even as she plays the "I’m just Marine Omega’s wife" role. Jeremy and Eli also jump out at the reader from the page; Jeremy in a trustworthy (if slightly in over his head) way, and Eli as a kid who’s turning out far more capable than Batu will ever recognize even as he’s desperate to be acknowledged. There’s so much packed into their expressions that I feel like Dauterman does a lot of the heavy lifting here, even with his adorably cartoonish art.

Supurbia #1 is ultimately a book that goes over familiar territory, but the little sparks of fun are what will keep you around for the second chapter. There’s a lot of potential for this comic to go places, and now that the set-up is over, I’m curious to see what Randolph and Dauterman have in store for us next. Theoretically this could go well beyond its original four-issue mini-series status; only time will tell.

Comments are closed.