In Review: Superzero #1

There's comedy, but too much came off as sad.

The covers: The Main cover is by Amanda Conner and Paul Mounts. In the dead center of the illustration is main character Drusilla Dragowski, flexing her muscles and ready to do battle with what she predicts is coming. The terrors coming include (going clockwise) someone receiving fluids and drowning in a different kind altogether, a voracious ant, a meteor, a beaker bubbling over in a lab, her father and stepmother getting mugged, and explosive energy coming out of a microwave. Dru is ready for action. This image nice summarizes much of what occurs in this issue without spoiling anything, and the colors make the entire cover pop out on the shelves against other books. Excellent work by both artists. The Variant cover is by Darwyn Cooke and Phil Hester. This cover features Dru as herself and how she wishes she was. She’s sitting in biology class, bored to death, complete with drool coming out of her mouth, as she leans on a bag of cheesus. In her dream she’s “Zero the Hero”, surrounded by a cheering throng. What student hasn’t felt this way at some point in school? Just as the Main cover does, hints are given about this book’s interiors, but nothing is spoiled. There’s also an exclusive cover put out by Emerald City Comics, which uses the art from the Main cover, though the colors are different for the background imagery. This cover has a large dialogue balloon to Dru’s left, which has signatures by Conner and Palmiotti. If you want a signed copy, it’s on EC’s website. Overall grades: Main A, Variant A-, and Emerald City Comics Exclusive A-

The story: “Cause & Effect” by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti opens with Dru driving her VW bus down the streets of Tampa, Florida. She narrates that she feels the earth has gone through many cycles, and that she can see that another “wash” cycle is about to wipe the slate clean again. ‘The secrets of this are written between the pages of our pop culture and transmitted only to those who can receive and translate the answer. I believe the Earth is sending a warning and it’s plain as day to only a few in the world. I happen to be one of those few.’ She spots a homeless man on the side of the street and wants to hire him. At a McBurger, and four McCheezys and a large fries later, she tells the man her beliefs and that she has to buy him some items: most are to help his hygiene while living on the streets, but she also has a clown mask and a gun. She flashes a picture. “That’s my dad and my stepmother. I want you to put on the mask and rob them at gunpoint.” This jarring demand segues into a completely unexpected direction for four pages, until reality comes crashing back into her life. Dru is a believable character. She wants her life to be more than it is, and she’s willing to do all that she can to make it so. She sees opportunities in several places, but life continues to confound her plans. Her dialogue is very reminiscent of Juno MacGuff, Ellen Page’s character in the film Juno: she’s smart, quick, and funny, but comes across as very sad for where she’s at in her life. I like the supporting cast, they’re really fun, and how they want what’s best for her, but her action on the fourth page and where she’s at mentally left me a little depressed. Overall grade: B-

The art: The visuals by Rafael de Latorre are good. Dru’s introduction as she drives along shows that he is capable of rendering a realistic Tampa and VW, as well as making the protagonist look good. The homeless man she hires is also drawn well, with him looking beaten down but not destroyed. The looks he gives Dru as she gives him items are humorous. Page 5 starts a quick tale that shows how Dru wishes her life was and it’s drawn with the style one would expect from a modern superhero book. Beginning on Page 11 Dru has a one-on-one conversation with another character and she has no emotion on her face. This bothered me. She’s a blank face for the entire dialogue. Granted, Dru is probably tired of having to explain herself for the zillionth time, but having her look this way, before this person, makes her look as though she’s given up on everything. This contributed to my feeling that she’s a sad character. The interiors of her house, her friend Tana’s house, and the place where her parents are in the final third are some outstanding settings. There are all believable locations that make Dru’s world real. This book is drawn well. Overall grade: A-

The colors: This is the strongest element of this book. Marcelo Maiolo has consistently shown on other books that he can increase the power of illustrations in superhero books, so I was looking forward to seeing what he would do on a book more grounded in reality. His coloring is superb. The opening page has him excellently capturing the bright sun of Florida, with some superb shading. The fifth panel on the second page is particularly strong. The final panel of the fourth page goes sinister due in no small part to his contributions. The pages where Dru is dreaming have the pop one would expect of superhero books, but Maiolo also does his trademark job on intense scenes: he colors the background in crimson and keeps all the images white, save the linework which is a matching red. This appears first in the third panel on Page 7. He repeats it often, and I’m an absolute fan of him doing this. The story has an interesting demand of colors on Page 14, and Maiolo pulls it off like a champ. I love the colors on this book. Overall grade: A+

The letters: John J. Hill provides scene settings, narration, dialogue, sounds, a whisper, and the tease for next issue. He makes all look well, with the sounds being outstanding. Hill should be doing more books. Overall grade: A

The final line: I’m going to pass on the next issue. There’s comedy, but too much came off as sad and I don’t want that in a comic book. Kudos to the writers for making this come off as real, but it was so real it depressed me. Overall grade: B+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
    One Comment
  • oie
    3 October 2016 at 8:23 pm -

    then that good an little real never hurt anyone

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