Review: Superbia #1 (of 4)

For a little while, at least, Desperate Housewives was a pretty friggin’ good show.  I know the rough demographics of the comic reading audience, and presumably that audience doubles as our readership here, so I suspect I won’t get a lot of support on that statement, but I’m pretty comfortable saying it’s true.  In its first season, at least, it was a heady combination of suburban soap and darkly comic whodunit.  With compelling characters and a simple, interesting plot, it was an easy show to enjoy.  Now, I mention all this because, in my opinion, Desperate Housewives meets the Justice League is the easiest elevator pitch for Boom! Studio’s excellent new mini-series, Superbia, a book that looks easy to dismiss but conceals some pretty fascinating stuff just beneath the surface.

Superbia follows the wives, husbands, girlfriends and all-around supporting characters in the lives of the not-Justice League.  From Helen Heart, the reformed supervillain dating the Superman stand-in to Eve White, newly married to up-and-coming superhero Bulldog, Grace Randolph has drawn iconic characters and archetypical relationships from comics history, work that has paid off.  Throw in distinct, cartoonish art from Russell Dauterman that gives its characters visible personality and memorable design while avoiding cheesecake and vibrant colors from Gabriel Cassata, and you have what was one of my favorite opening issues in quite some time.

If I have one concern, and I do, it’s this: this reads much more like the first issue of an ongoing series than a four-issue mini.  It’s nice to have character foibles like Helen’s struggle with addiction or newcomer Eve’s general nervousness around her icons, but how much will they really come into play – especially given just how many conflicts Randolph sets up here.  All of the women come with their own conflicts, and, aside from geography and a single shared secret, none of them have much connection with the fairly loose plot.  It’s a concern, and one I hope can be resolved successfully.

Despite that, however, I will say this: this was a confident, assured, engaging first issue that successfully introduced dozens of characters and conflicts without seeming overstuffed.  But all this narrative efficiency would be meaningless if it wasn’t an enjoyable read, and I can assure you it remains a joy to read from start to finish.  Anyone looking to try something new this week could do much, much worse than giving Grace Randolph’s solid, ambitious Superbia a shot.

Cal C.

read/RANT

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2 thoughts on “Review: Superbia #1 (of 4)

  1. Thanks for the great review, Cal! I hope you like how the story evolves, and I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts going forward! Be sure to tweet me your reviews – @GraceRandolph

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