Numbercrunching: Superior #1 by Mark Millar and Leinil Yu

Welcome to the Numbercrunching review of Superior #1 from Marvel, out this week. Numbercrunching aims to eschew the traditional review for a more statistical, mercurial approach reflecting the subconscious desires of the comic indusyry's clientele. Sometimes it succeeds.

Issue: 1

Cost: $2.99

Page count: 22

Of those how many are splash pages: 2

Space monkeys: 1

Rapes: 0

Shits: 5

Fucks: 2

Bitches: 1

Asses: 2

Faggots: 1

Dicks: 1

Good bits: 2

Which are? That the alien intercessor, Orman, seems to be one of the monkeys the Americans sent into space, still in costume. (Relation to Frank Borman maybe?) And Leinil Yu creating flashy splashy pages, yet making characters appear haunted, almost scared for the next panel, an unnerving, rewarding experience to read.

Bad bits: 28

Give me a few. The huge waste that's felt with the set up of the Superhero character at the beginning that ultimately seems to have no affect on anything.

The glaringly obvious "all the old superheroes are boring" schtick that seems there to justify this comic, and while we're at it Kick Ass and Nemesis too. Doesn't sound alike anything a kid would say, when we were ten did we think Superman had been around for ever? No.

This overexaggeration of the power compensation motif – the adolescent child who feels powerless that fantasises about superheroes. Here it is meant to be given added depth as the kid in question suffers from multiple sclerosis. But Millar did this better with Chosen. Here it feels, well, nothing special. It feels hampered by corporate concerns that don't exist. The experience of being Superior is taken away from us. As a first issue, we are not thrilled, we are not even teased, we are denied.

That it felt like nothing. A puff of air. Millar's comics usually have something, some grit to start to work a pearl around. This has none of that. If the grit is that the kid suffers from multiple sclerosis, it's not enough. It feels far more throwaway.

Even the bully scene, which looks like it is going somewhere is defeated. A scene with a bunch of kids beating the shit out of another kid in a wheelchair, see that the Millar touch which would normally lift this kind of book out of the mundane. A mother coming along and stopping any such ruckus before it's started? Well, it might as well be published in the Cartoon Network section of the comic shelf. And not the Powerpuff Girls bit either.

Mark talks about this book being a departure for him, something he's never tackled before, a more simple superhero reality. Well that's a lie, he had a critically acclaimed run on Superman Adventures that many hold as his greatest work. Certainly there seems to be more innovation, interest and even grit in those comics than in this. And you actually got a story in an issue.

Americans aren't called Simon.

As it stands, this concept worked better in Prime, embedded as it was in extreme body modification. Or in Major Bummer when it was intentionally funny. Or Box from Alpha Flight, a quadroplegic given a new metal body. Even in Lee and Kirby's Thor where a limping damaged Donald Blake gains both the body and the mind of a god, or with the Lizard where the amputee Curt Conners gains limbs, but at a massive price. And we've had Avatar recently as well. Superior, as a mix of Captain Marvel and Green Lantern, feels more like Last Action Hero. And we all know how that did for Schwarzenegger's reputation. Or Marvelman's take l where a mundane man finds an exciting new superhero body just a word away.

But Superior? So far, it's worse than Big.

What happened to the numbercrunching? Sorry I think I forgot that bit.

Isn't that the intent of this column, to separate it from other reviews and use that strange qualification and deconstruction of a comic bookto explore other aspects of its worth? I'm sorry. I'll do better next time.

I highly doubt that. Brian Bendis would be ashamed of you. Shut up.

About Rich Johnston

Head writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world. Living in London, father of two. Political cartoonist.

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