Supurbia #2: More Super Than Soapy

What makes a soap a soap? Characters. Guess what? That makes a good comic, too.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Supurbia #2

When I checked out Grace Randolph's Supurbia #1, the schtick was that it was Desperate Housewives with superheroes, and I've learned this about myself – I give things less of a chance when they have a high-concept pitch like that. Such was the case when I explored Saucer Country and thought it was pretty interesting until someone called it The West Wing meets The X-Files. It's still cool, but a snappy summation like that takes some of the luster off an idea for me for some reason, although it sure makes it easier to explain to other people. As far as Supurbia goes, I was concerned that it might turn into soapy schlock which, while occasionally entertaining, isn't particularly my bag. However, as I read through Supurbia #2, I started realizing that what makes a soap opera a soap opera is essentially juicy characters bouncing off of each other. In fact, there has to be at least one so juicy it could actually be described as "delicious." Turns out that's the sort of thing that makes a comic book good, too.

Basically, The Meta Legion is a superhero team who all live in an isolated suburb together to protect themselves and each other in their private lives. Last issue, we learned that the elder statesman Marine Omega, who has been sick for some time, has been living with a shape-shifting alien disguised as his wife Ruth (or perhaps he married a shapeshifting alien and has been oblivious the whole time), and her goal is to keep him infirm. We see the new kid on the block Eve, freshly married to Marine Omega's sidekick Bulldog, trying to organize the other wives into more of a support system after she wakes up next to her bloodied and beaten husband, having collapsed into bed the night before. We find out that Tia Jenkins, wife of Cosmic Champion and mother of his child, used to be a crimefighter herself, and to her, the job's more about the action than it is helping people, and she's eager to get back into the fray once her daughter Zari is old enough. For her part, Zari discovers that Batu: The Daughter of the Bright Moon's son Eli is training on his own to be a warrior, but has to keep his skills a secret because Batu cares not for males and is trying to force her reluctant daughter into training instead. Even the kids are up to some skullduggery.

We've also got the ex-supervillain Helen, who is "missing" to the world at large, but actually living with Sovereign, the Superman allegory who is an aloof dick with no compunction about declaring people his property, knowing no force on Earth can stop him. However, reporters nosing into her disappearance may cause problems. Then there's the fact that Night Fox and Agent Twilight's gay affair has complicated the business relationship with Fox's wife Alexis and her CEO-ship of the Night Fox corporation. Oh, and Ruth has shapeshifted into Eve to manipulate Marine Omega into going off on a mission with the team by making him believe she's pregnant with his partner's child… and oh dear, we fear that's not going to end well for the good old man.

A lot of well-conceived, well-dressed and attractive characters, a lot of tangled plotlines, a lot of interesting situations and tense scenarios. Yeah, comic books are soap operas, with a bit more punching. Let's let 'em be what they are and have fun with that.

Russell Dauterman's art may be an acquired taste at times, but it works well for this story. Eve is always cute as a button, and the costume designs for the heroes are fairly slick. Marine Omega's look is sharp and radiates experience and respect, while Agent Twilight is a combination of Nightwing, Robin and the Mia Dearden Speedy – a perfect depiction of the kind of character that tends to drive fangirls crazy. And Batu has a really cool dragon.

When it comes down to it, what do you really want out of your fiction? Compelling characters you can invest in, be they stalwart, heroic, conniving or petty. Supurbia's got those, and chances are they're going to get even better as their lives intertwine evermore. Check it out. Once you get past the pitch, you should be able to find some good stuff to enjoy.