Grace Randolph’s Supurbia is a tough comic to pigeon-hole. It both looks and feels like a superhero comic but plays out more like an episode of ‘The real housewives of..’. Suburbia makes what is usually the supporting cast of superhero comics, the caped crusader’s family and partner, the main event, putting an emphasis on emotion over action. This is a book that dares to explore what happens when the capes come off and it does it well.It should be noted that Supurbia #1 is not a number one issue as much as a continuation of the miniseries of the same name that wrapped up earlier in the year. Although having read the miniseries is not essential to understanding what’s going down in Supurbia #1, it certainly helps.
The issue opens with the superhero ‘Sovereign’ being confronted by his ex-girlfriend and journalist, Hayley Harper. What is presented initially like a classic meeting between Lois Lane and Superman soon takes a dark turn and it becomes clear that Sovereign is no moral paragon. Indeed all the heroes of Randolph’s ‘Meta Legion’ are delightfully all too human. The real strength of this book is the way it takes the traditional superhero archetypes and fills them out to become whole but flawed people. The flaws become even more evident in this fifth instalment as each Meta legion member and their family attempts to deal with the aftermath of the four issue miniseries. For the female warrior Batu, this issue is all about coming to terms with the fact that her son inherited her super-human combat prowess instead of the intended recipient, her daughter. Meanwhile Eve, wife of the new Marine Omega, attempts to rally the other Meta Legionaries’ partners into something that resembles a superhero support team. Also there’s a dragon.
Supurbia is bold in scope as it attempts to document the lives of four superheroes of the Meta Legion and their families, so understandably the comic jumps around a lot. Issue #1 mainly keeps the focus on Batu and Sovereign while going quite light on a lot of the other characters. For example we don’t even get to see Cosmic Champion this issue. This is not a bad thing in itself; I just hope Randolph hasn’t bitten off more than she can chew character wise. The other issue that really struck out at me in this issue was a lack of economy of words. Randolph is by no means as bad as Kevin Smith on this front, but a significant portion of the dialogue uses a lot or words to say very little. It felt like Randolph was trying to say and spell everything out with dialogue rather than utilise any visual storytelling techniques.
Russel Dauterman’s art, although still hit and miss at times, is looking a lot sharper. All the faces and facial expressions really helped to sell the drama and emotion of Randolph’s dialogue, while his overall style provides a playfulness iconic of the Superhero genre.