Written by: Zack Dolan and Justin Piatt
Pencilled by: Zack Dolan
Inked by: Laurie Foster
Colored by: Everado Orozco
Published by: Unlikely Heroes Studios
Reviewed by: Kristian Horn
Every once in a while you get a surprise in your e-mail inbox. I’d never heard of Super! I’d never heard of any of the creators behind Super! I hadn’t even read the previous four issues of Super! But when the review request for Super! came in completely unsolicited I decided to take a risk and read it…and I have to say I’m glad I did.
A comic book centering on super villains is really nothing new. Comic book superstar Mark Millar has explored the concept with his book Wanted and gosh knows that the big two have often tried their hand with comics focusing on classic bad guys such as the Joker or Venom or whatever nefarious nemesis is the flavor du jour but I don’t think I’ve seen a villain book that approached the subject matter in a classic ‘80’s Justice League “Bwhaha” sort of way. I’m surprised that it’s taken this long for me to come across a book like this and the creators of Super! get a lot of credit for putting together this refreshing take on villainy.
Super! centers around the misadventures of a Lex Luthor/Doctor Doom type of villains known as The Black Atom. The Black Atom’s life seems to be a bit different than your average super villain. He’s got a secret identity, you see, and he’s doing his best to keep his villain life separate from his domestic life. His girlfriend doesn’t know anything about his villainous deeds. As far as she’s concerned good ol’ Black Atom is a realtor by day, doing his best to bring home the bacon by selling homes. In reality, said boyfriend walks out the door, dons a badass suit of atomic armor and becomes one of the world’s premier super villains. It’s at that point where the hilarity begins.
See, Black Atom is in charge of his own little villain group. Unfortunately for him, the assembled villainy that Atom is attempting to lead has the maturity of a group of first graders hopped up on bomb pops. So while he himself is a force to be reckoned with, his deadly partners can’t get their acts together enough to pull off whatever serious caper Black Atom has in mind for them. They spend their time bickering, questioning each other’s abilities, and, most annoyingly to our central character, questioning Black Atom’s authority. So when the time does come to actually do some bad guy stuff BA and his team are essentially the least effective villains on the block.
Issue number five of Super! sees Black Atom and his crew attempt to steal an old Nazi super villain artifact. Said artifact is being displayed at a museum exhibit and Black Atom sees it as easy pickings from him and his gang of miscreants. The problem is…apparently super villain artifacts are considered highly valued collector’s items…especially among the bad guy set. So when the big bad shows up to collect his prize he’s confronted with someone who wants the rare collectible almost as badly as he does. To complicate matters even further, the individual vying for the item appears to be its original owner who was a hardcore Nazi scumbag back in the day. If that isn’t enough to screw up Black Atom’s best laid plans things go from bad to worse when the Super! universes’s Ant-Man equivalent turns up to stop everyone from capturing the coveted trophy.
Writers Zack Dolan and Justin Piatt do a great job of setting up the comic’s premise and executing a story that has a good balance of action and humor. Super! turned out to be a very accessible comic. Despite this being the fifth issue I was able to very quickly get up to speed with the story in progress and not once did I feel like I was unsure of what was going on, who the players were, or what their relationships to each other were. That is a big positive for a comic especially when we are dealing with a market where super being comics can be as hard to crack as the lock to Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. Super! is a comic that is fun, action-packed, funny, and just a tiny bit naughty. It’s a very good antidote to the many comics that seem to take themselves a bit too seriously. It’s not as laugh out loud funny as the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League International but with the right cultivation it could get there.
One of the big positives of this book is its art. Co-writer Dolan serves as penciller here with Laurie Foster working the inks and Everado Orozco providing some striking colors. The artwork is some of the most crisp and professional that I’ve seen come from a self-published indie comic. Each page is filled with lots of detail and the panel layout is direct and straightforward. With the exception of the first page, in which I couldn’t immediately tell whether a particular character was male or female, the look of the book is flawless. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m the type of comic fan that gets drawn to the art first when I discover a new comic book and the art in Super! was professional enough and eye catching enough to suck me in and keep me interested.
The only negative that I can find with Super! is that it seems to be only available via Comixology. It seems that a collected hardcover version will be available through the creators at this weekend’s San Diego Comic Con. This is a good thing because Super! is a book that deserves to be in print. Hopefully this hardcover is a first step to making a print version available on a wider scale. Regardless, the collected book is one of the many things that I’ll be looking to pick up while I’m at the con to end all cons this weekend.