By: Grace Randolph (writer), Russel Dauterman (art), Gabriel Cassata (colors)
The Story: Ever wanted to see a naked Superman demolish a house? Well, have I got a comic for you!
The Review: Some of you may have heard Grace Randolph’s Superbia described as the Real Housewives of the JLA. Technically that’s true, but Superbia is so much more.
Indeed, there are very few moments in this issue where you’d think ‘I’m reading about the hero’s wife.’ Most of the women are either heroes themselves or serve as essential support staff to the spandex set. What’s more, gender balance is more even than you might think. Whether it’s Sovereign, Eli, or Agent Twilight the men are active participants in the story. I actually would have liked to see a little more of some of the female characters, Batu or her daughter, for instance.
In fact, I’d have liked to have seen more of any of the characters. Superbia is a comic about a community rather than an individual, however, this month we see the down side of having so many characters in play. The comic flits around every couple of pages, popping in on another member of the cast. Some, like Sovereign get a moment out of this, but all too often it just feels like the writer taking inventory.
The tragedy of this is that Randolph has two excellent superhero adventures to play with and a myriad of interpersonal dramas yet can’t pick one to devote the issue to. Past months have focused on Hector Hall’s abduction of Zari, but that plot line ends up a bait and switch as we transition to the shape-shifter plot just in time for the comic to end.
Peaks at Randolph’s talent are peppered throughout the issue, one scene with Hella and Hector comes to mind, but it’s simply not enough.
Russell Dauterman’s art seems to morph effortlessly to suit the scene at hand. Hector’s imps are adorably sinister, while Hector and Hella are respectively sensual and terrified and they’re barely a page apart. Likewise, Eva’s quiet static remembrances are as confidently realized as Sovereign’s furious demolitions or Agent Twilight’s rather gory reunion.
Gabriel Cassata also deserves credit, providing not only excellent colors but pallets for entire pages that are simply gorgeous.
The synergy between the creative team is a blessing. Randolph knows that her artists can deliver what she asks for and, not only does it show, but it’s absolutely essential. Regardless of whether you like this issue or not, it would crumble without Dauterman’s fine work on the character’s expressions.
The Conclusion: While the art continues to be solid all the way through, the plot of this issue is a mess and the dialogue just isn’t enough to save it. If Randolph had given even one of her plots some time to breathe, this could have been a merely below average issue, but as it is it just feels aimless.
Superbia is a fine series, but this issue isn’t worthy of it.