As Superior makes the rounds in delivering its distinctly Mark Millar take on the classic superhero story, it lands this month upon one of the most treasured conventions of the genre–the hero’s discovery of his powers. As you might expect, Millar’s spin on this particular moment of his protagonist’s arc isn’t the typical paint-by-numbers affair. Instead, it’s a pseudo-realistic look at a wholly fantastical scenario, examining in depth the physical difficulties a normal human would face if suddenly granted extraordinary abilities.
Granted, Superior isn’t the first comic to venture into this territory, but it certainly does so convincingly. If you’ve ever speculated as to how Superman would turn on or off some of his more bizarre powers like super-breath or heat vision, then this issue is tailored to your sensibilities. Among young Simon Pooni’s various explorations of his newly bestowed gifts, the most impressive is his first attempt at flight, rendered beautifully by Lenil Yu as a frightening fall upward. You’ll believe that if a man could fly, it might end up looking something like this.
Lest we forget about this series’ heartstring tugging, the aforementioned scenes are also peppered with references to Simon’s pre-powers life as a teenager debilitated by multiple sclerosis. Some of it is heavy-handed melodrama, but other moments are genuinely resonant. Especially effective is the brevity in the featured flashbacks, with Millar picking the perfect snapshot moments to illustrate the weakness brought about by his character’s former condition.
Aside from the obvious, though, we still don’t have much of an idea of what Superior is actually about. Beyond the solicitation ready summary about a boy who gets transformed into a superhero, there is little else you could say about what has happened in this series, much less pinpoint a conflict. Perhaps there’s one being hinted at in this issue’s cliffhanger, though it’s hard to tell. Millar’s script as drawn by Yu tells a clear story for most of the way, but your guess is as good as mine regarding the content and implications of this final scene.
For those reasons, any verdict rendered on Superior as a whole would be premature at this juncture. Assuming that Millar has a big plan or two up his sleeve for this series’ future, then its safe to say that he’s done a fine job laying the necessary groundwork thus far.