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[Comic Book Review] Superior by Mark Millar (2010)

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Plot Summary: Simon Pooni, an angry, bitter 12-year-old boy suffering from multiple sclerosis, idolizes superheroes, particular Superior, a Superman analogue.  An alien monkey named Ormon appears at Simon's bedside, informing the boy that of all the people on Earth, he as been granted the honor of being bestowed a single magic wish.  Simon is then transformed into Superior.

Publisher: Icon Comics (Marvels Comics)

Writer: Mark Millar

Penciller: Leinil Francis Yu

Inker: Gerry Alanguilan

Colorist: Clayton Cowles

Review: by Anthony

I'm a fan of Mark Millar's work.  I've read and really enjoyed many of his comics such as The Ultimates, Marvel Knights Spider-man, Civil War, Wanted, and Wolverine: Old Man Logan.  After finding out that Superior had been picked up for a potential movie adaptation, I wanted to go back and read the graphic novelI wanted to be prepared for the movie, and honestly, this gives me another excuse to read more of Mark Millar's work.

What I Liked:

Mark Millar is a self-proclaimed lover of Superman and the Superman mythos. He even wrote Superman: Red Son, which is widely considered essential reading for Superman fans.  With that in mind, Millar wrote Superior paying homage to the character of Superman, but he did so in a way to make this perfect and all-powerful hero more relatable via a kid with multiple sclerosis that is given one magic wish.

The character of Simon is one that you instantly feel pity for.  He goes from running and jumping and playing on the school’s basketball team to having his legs taken from him as he lives with multiple sclerosis.  Any able-bodied teenager envies and looks up to superheroes. To be completely honest, there are probably grown adults that daydream of what they’d do if they had superpowers (count me among them).  So it was no surprise that Simon’s favorite superhero is one that can fly anywhere, lift anything, is practicably invulnerable, and (most importantly) can walk.

Another character I enjoyed was Madeline Knox. She was the Lois Lane-like reporter.  Her “do anything to get the scoop” mentality was right in line with the rest of this Superman-esque story.  I liked her method of securing her interview with new mysterious superhero Superior.  If he’s saving all the victims in the city, what better way to guarantee some face time than to become a victim and force him to save you?  Millar doesn’t just stop there with making her a clone of Lois Lane. He also gives her some back story that resonates with Simon, both motivating him and moving the story along very well.  I also liked how Millar used Knox as a representative of the media and what could happen in society today if a superhero showed up out of nowhere, especially if the hero resembled a movie star from some popular comic book movie franchise.

Early in the story, there’s a conversation I enjoyed between Simon and his best friend Chris about how “lame” Superior is.  Their back and forth reminded me of kids’ short attention spans and felt like a commentary of each new generation’s kids that get into comics.  The superheroes of your parents are old, boring, and point to the need of updated stories to bring in the new audience.  Who has the time for character development and the internal struggle to always do what’s right when you could have explosions and buildings being destroyed?

In any comic book or comic book movie, when the hero first gets their powers, there’s usually a scene or two dedicated to learning the power set.  I love these scenes and situations. Questions have to be answered, limits have to be tested, what can and cannot be done has to be figured out.  Do you have super strength and invulnerability? Is one pointless without the other?  I really enjoyed how Superior handled this. The initial jubilation of being able to fly was replaced by fear of what would happen if and when you fall.

Another thing I enjoyed was how Simon immediately wanted to use his powers for good and be an asset to society–not just on a small scale in New York City, but the entire US and eventually, the world at large.  These morally righteous ambitions serve as insight to Simon being a good person at heart and wanting to help others just because it’s the right thing to do.  If you had superpowers, would you use them for personal gain or are you obligated to help? If so, to what end?  It was cool to see how those type of questions were addressed and how Simon solved multiple problems, both man-made (terrorism in the Middle East) to natural disasters (floods, earthquakes, etc.).

There were several Easter eggs and nods to other comics, some more subtle than others.  For example, there was a car with the license plate “KICK-ASS”, which is another comic written by Mark Millar that was also adapted into a movie in 2010 (Kick-Ass) and its sequel in 2013 (Kick-Ass 2).

What I Didn’t Like:

As much as I enjoyed Superior, the ending was a tad corny to me.  The conclusion to the conflict that was introduced was predictable. However, the plainness of the story goes back to this being a clone of an old Superman-type story. Keeping that in mind, I was able to throttle back on the “unoriginal story” agenda and have some perspective.

You can purchase this comic on Amazon here.

Author Bio:

Mark Millar is an award-winning Scottish comic book writer born in Coatbridge. Now a resident of Glasgow, Millar has been the highest selling British comic-book writer working in America this decade. His best known works include: The Authority, Ultimates 1 and 2, adaptations of Jack Kirby’s and Stan Lee’s Avengers, Wanted, Marvel Knights Spider-Man, Ultimate Fantastic Four, and Civil War. In August 2007 he won the Stan Lee award at Wizardworld in Chicago.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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