Susie Sullivan is an average teenager leading an average teenage life… except that by night she is also the costumed crime fighter Sugar Glider, stalking the streets of Newcastle…
No, no, no come back! It may not seem like the most original concept in the world, but there’s still a lot to like here, and it’s all done at least as well as a title from the big superhero publishers. Susie herself is an interesting character, a youngster with a lack of direction and purpose, whose adoption of the superhero lifestyle seems to be either a reaction to her family’s disappointment in her lack of focus, or perhaps the latest example of that lack. Although it’s clear that Susie does have a sense of right and wrong, there’s no Uncle Ben here, and her nocturnal activities seem more of an attempt to stave off ennui than anything else.
Also interesting is the creators’ decision to skip the origin story. This first issue sees our heroine already established and it’s a refreshing approach in a genre that seems bound into the expository first chapter ritual of showing how the hero got their powers. There are hints of the Sugar Glider history in this initial instalment but they are minor background touches at most, and it is a pleasant change to jump straight into the action for once.
Gary Bainbridge provides chunky, expressive linework reminiscent of something from Oni or one of those indie graphic novels about how awfully difficult it is to be middle class and have no real problems in life. It is a bit too loose in places, perhaps indicating a lack of confidence, but his characters are full of personality and the storytelling is dynamic, with a good sense of movement, particularly in the costumed sequences. The costume itself is a strong design, combining a simple and effective black and white scheme with some realistic touches, such as the big goggles; it is a similar approach to that used in the 2001 Catwoman revamp, and works just as well as it did there.
On the other hand, there are some bumpy moments in the narrative where important events are unclear, but it is difficult to determine whether this is a result of omissions by the writer or the artist. Susie gets caught in what might be vandalism, or maybe a protest, and when it — whatever it is — happens again, she is prompted to take action against the miscreants. It is just about possible to piece together what the “threat” is, and a text piece at the end of the issue confirms it, but it’s almost impossible to figure it out as it’s happening in the story; although the intent of the saboteurs is to cause chaos, I do not think the creative team had the same goal.
So yes, Sugar Glider is a bit wobbly around the edges in places, but it seems to be due to a lack of confidence and experience rather than a deficiency of talent. Those flaws should be ironed out in future issues, of which I hope to see many more, as there is plenty of potential in this character.