I don’t expect that much from Mark Millar anymore. Civil War and Old Man Logan will always be bold and entertaining prime examples of the epic nature inherent in the best superhero comics, but Wanted, Kick-Ass and Nemesis, while certainly daring, were never outstandingly original as his earlier works. Millar’s creations just seem to be becoming increasingly conventional and more reliant on profanity and extreme violence. However, Millar is not a bad writer and he has carved out a niche for guilty pleasures that no-one else comes close to.
For those unfamiliar with his previous work, they may very well drop Superior after this debut, but for the rest of us, we can surely expect bigger ideas to unfold in the next five issues. Superior uses a standard wish fulfillment premise as a springboard for a multitude of storytelling possibilities, of which are only hinted at here. Basically Simon Pooni used to be a star high school basketballer before multiple sclerosis began wearing down his body. Now he’s confined to a wheelchair, and along with his apparently only friend Chris is the target for bullies. After the pair see the latest Superior film (number five in the superhero franchise) Simon sleeps and is woken up by a talking monkey in astronaut’s clothing. This new hairy friend, called Ormon then tells him that he’s been “chosen” and becomes the scarlet clad, chest-barrelled Superior himself before being dropped down in his bedroom a day later. That’s pretty much it, and Millar only brings out questions in this debut with no hint of answers, but over the coming months we can look forward to clarification on why Simon was chosen, who Ormon is and who he represents.
With nods to Green Lantern, Captain Marvel and more, Superior is the kind of accessible tale that brings out Millar’s inner Spielberg, as he mentions in his afterword. It’s also no surprise that film producers have already show interest as it could easily become a family friendly affair, as long as they drop the four letter words in these pages.
Artist Leinil Francis Yu is a great match for Millar’s explosive pages and as he’s shown on New Avengers and Ultimate Wolverine vs Hulk and well, everything else he’s done, he knows how to make comics look like blockbusters. Surely there’ll be more of that in future issues.
Superior isn’t off to a rollicking start, but there’s a sense that Millar and Yu are downplaying things now to catch us off guard later. So far it’s just the appearance of a mysterious monkey and some profanity that set this apart from any Disney movie, but we can be assured that there won’t be anything safe and expected about this title for much longer.