Superior #4 Review
- Written by Rokk
Writer: Mark Millar
Pencils: Leinul Yu
Inks: Gerry Alanguilan, Jason Paz & Jeff Huet
Colors: Sunny Cho & Javier Tartaglia
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with the producers of the Superior movies cancelling the franchise for now. They need to learn more about the real Superior running around and the legal issues involved before making more movies.
We cut to Maddie racing through town in her sports car. (It appears to be an Aston Martin. The car's license plates say "Kick Ass.") She phones her boss at the TV station and tells him that she is going to get the first interview with Superior. Maddie races her car off a pier and into the water. Maddie starts screaming for help. Nothing happens. She then panics and thinks what a dumb idea this was.
Suddenly, Superior arrives and carries her car out of the water and onto land. Maddie gets out of her car, vomits up water and then puts on a suit jacket and tells her camera crew who were waiting on land by the pier to set up for the interview.
Superior is stunned as Maddie begins to conduct the first exclusive interview with Superior. Superior keeps it simple saying that he is just a super hero trying to help people. Maddie blows that answer off and asks Superior what his angle is. Who is funding him. Superior responds that not everything has to have an angle. That he is here because he is needed. Simple as that. That he just wants to help. Superior then flies off.
We get a narration about how Superior was from the 1930's and designed to give people inspiration during the Great Depression. That eventually, Superior became outdated and never squared with the modern world and its angst-ridden anti-heroes. But, the "big red boy-scout" always reminded us of America at our best.
We cut to Simon's friend, Chris, getting beat up by Sharpie and his crew. We slide to Chris arriving at his apartment and telling Simon about him getting beat up. Superior says for Chris to come with him and that they are going to fix this right now.
We cut to Chris standing in the street and Sharpie and his crew approaching him. Suddenly, Sharpie disappears. We slide to the North Pole with Superior telling Sharpie that if he does not stop bullying Chris then Superior will leave Sharpie at the North Pole to die.
We hop back to Sharpie's crew in front of Chris and wondering where Sharpie went. Sharpie suddenly reappears and tells his crew to leave Chris alone.
We slide to Superior and Chris on the torch of the Statute of Liberty laughing about how scared Sharpie was. Superior then tells Chris that he is going to start solving global problems. That he is going to meet the President and work for him.
We shift to Superior arriving at the White House and meeting the President. Superior says that he can help the President win the war in Afghanistan (I wish) and that he can also get Bin Laden, too.
We zip over to Sharpie cursing Superior. Suddenly, the space monkey that gave Simon his powers appears. The space monkey says that he can give Sharpie anything he wants as long as Sharpie pays homage to the space monkey's dark and eternal master. The space monkey says "Just say you love Satan."
The Good: Superior #4 was a slightly above average read. There were moments in this issue that were well crafted. Unfortunately, once again, the overall execution of the story fails to capitalize on the potential of some of the plot lines.
I continue to like how Millar is handling Simon adjusting to his role as Superior. Millar has absolutely nailed Simon's character. The optimism, innocence and blatant naivety of how Simon has viewed his new role as Superior has been spot on perfect. The reader never forgets for a moment that this incredibly powerful super hero is nothing more than a young boy. Millar evokes echoes of Billy Batson as Captain Marvel with the way that he handles Simon playing the role of Superior.
Millar continually reminds the reader that Superior is a boy trapped in a man's body blessed with the powers of a god. Simon's desire to avoid unnecessary media attention and to simply do the right thing because it is his moral duty makes him the antithesis of the modern day super hero. Millar is able to take Simon's naive and simple view of being a hero and contrast it with the modern world and the people that surround Simon.
This contrast is never more apparent than where Superior and Maggie share the stage together. Maggie is the embodiment of cynical modern day society where we stop at nothing to advance our own cause regardless of how it may impact those around us.
Millar's version of Lois Lane is most certainly not a character that the reader is going to like. Maggie is as unattractive in terms of her personality as a character is going to get. While Simon has a clear set of morals concerning himself and the world around him, Maggie clearly does not. Maggie views morals as mere suggestions that can be massaged or simply broken if necessary to advance her own cause.
I actually have no problem with Maggie's character. I know that some readers may not appreciate this unflattering version of Lois Lane. However, for me it works just fine with this story. And, honestly, most people in the media tend to act more like Maggie than Lois anyway. It also helps set up a nice contrast to the "real" world setting and Simon's more idealistic and naive view of the world.
I enjoyed the delightful little twist at the end of this issue with the space monkey revealing that he is an agent of Satan. Millar already teased the reader with the fact that the space monkey was not a agent of good with the ending to Superior #3. The fact that the space monkey is an agent for Satan makes me even more interested in what nefarious plan he is up to with the granting of super powers to Simon.
The choice of the space monkey to offer the bully, Sharpie, was a nice thematic touch. After all, we all know that every hero needs a proper arch villain. And who is better to be Simon's arch nemesis other than Simon's long-time tormentor in Sharpie. It should be entertaining seeing Simon and Sharpie come to blows.
Millar continues to deliver a story that is massive in scale. Superior #4 is quite cinematic. The reader can appreciate the scope of all the Simon's incredible feats. Part of this impressive cinematic feel is due to Leinel Yu's artwork. Yu is able to deliver some breathtaking panels in this issue.
Now, Yu's style of art simply has never appealed that much to me. However, I certainly appreciate his talents and completely understand why so many people enjoy Yu's artwork.
The Bad: First, let me state that I enjoy Mark Millar's work. I know that is not a fashionable thing to say currently. It is far more trendy to summarily dismiss Millar's work in general. And, to be fair, Millar has not done much over the course of the past few years to disprove his recent critics. Therefore, I had hope that Superior might be a great story. I found Kick-Ass to be a solid title. I was not as blown away by it as some other people were, but I appreciated the unique approach on the title and the interesting themes and characters that Millar presented in Kick-Ass. I certainly found Kick-Ass to be Millar's best work over the past four years.
Now, I have been unimpressed and disappointed in Millar's work on Nemesis and Ultimate Avengers. I have dropped the incredibly shallow Ultimate Avengers and could barely make it through the first two issues of the unintelligent Nemesis. However, Superior seemed like such a neat concept. I also thought this would be a chance for Millar to show the world what he would do on a title like Superman. Unfortunately, the pacing and plotting woes have killed much of my interest in Superior despite the fact that Millar has a great concept at the heart of this story.
Like the previous three issues, Superior #4 moves at a snail's pace. This story is creeping along at an excruciatingly slow pace. Now, a slow pace can be effective and forgiven if the story is crammed full of strong character work, multiple complex story lines and plenty of psychological tension. Unfortunately, none of those elements are present in Superior #4.
The plotting in this title continues to be atrocious. Millar appears to be in no hurry to go anywhere at all. Each issue only offers up the barest minimum in plot progression. These first four issues of Superior could have easily been condensed into two much more attractive and entertaining issues.
Even after four issues, Millar has not managed to develop any plot lines at all other than the main plot line concerning the space monkey and why he gave Simon the super powers of Superior. I think over the course of four issues it might have been possible to cultivate a few more minor plot line in order to buttress the main overarching plot line.
The story is also terribly shallow. This is the biggest crime of this title. As I have mentioned, Millar does have several interesting themes and elements in this story. However, Millar only barely kisses the surface of each theme and story element. Just the lightest touch. Enough to whet the reader's appetite, but unfortunately, nothing nearly substantial enough to satisfy the reader's hunger. The result is a story that leaves the reader frustrated and disappointed that Millar simply delivers appetizers rather than full course meals with each element of Superior.
Readers who do not prefer copious amounts of cursing would do well to avoid Superior. Millar peppers this issue with plenty of salty language. Personally, I have no problems at all with cursing in comic books. If the cursing is in character and adds to the mood of a scene then I am fine with it. However, in the case of Superior #4, much of the cursing seems unnecessary and designed more for shock value or an "adult" feel to the story. The cursing seems more like lazy writing. A crutch that Millar uses rather than delivering stronger crafted dialogue.
Yu's pencils are hurt by the inking by committee in this issue. The three different inkers give the art an inconsistent look. I also did not like how shiny everyone looked in this issue. All of the characters looked to be made out of a polished and shiny plastic rather than flesh. It became highly distracting while reading the issue.
Overall: Superior #4 was a slightly above average read. Millar does a great job capturing Simon's emotions as he adjusts to being a real life super hero. And I appreciate the love and affection that Millar clearly has for the super hero genre. Currently, it seems that many comic book writers have disdain for the genre that pays them so handsomely. And their lack of love for the genre shows in the titles that they write for Marvel. Millar certainly loves the super hero genre and he handles this modern version of Superman with respect to the genre.
Having said that, Superior is simply too slow and shallow of a read for me to recommend purchasing the monthly title. I would only recommend Superior to fans of Millar or to readers who do not mind a story that lacks substance but makes up for it in sizzle.
If any of this story sounds interesting to you then I would strongly recommend waiting on purchasing Superior when it comes out in trade format. This story should read better in a collected edition.