Monday 20 May 2013

Monday Musings: Graphic Novel Review of Superior by Mark Millar and Leinil Yu

Former basketball star Simon Pooni is now in a wheelchair and blind in one eye - at the age of 12. Mutliple sclerosis has left him in this state, prayting for a cure. Then a talking monkey named Orman appears to him and offers him the chance to become a real life version of movie superhero Superior - for a week. But what will happen when the week ends?

There are some superhero comics which stand out from the crowded field by offering a new spin on superheroes. Chief amongst them, of course, are still Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's incredible critique of the genre, and Frank Miller's Dark Night Returns, putting an aged Batman in a bleak future. There are others that stand out by doing similar things to most of the hundreds of superhero stories out there, but just doing them incredibly well. Superior is one of the second type.

There's not that much original about the tale - even the title hero is clearly inspired by Superman, to the point where it's dedicated to Christopher Reeve and director Richard Donner. Fittingly, though, given the name, the writing and art is far superior to nearly anything else I've read in the last few years. Simon is a great hero, the supporting cast is well-portrayed, and if much of the series is fairly easy to predict, there are some shining moments for several characters - one in particular - which took me by surprise and made me smile a lot. Actually, I smiled a lot while reading most of this book, because it's a story told with such warmth that it's really enjoyable to read, while also being thought-provoking. It raises questions about disability, about temptation, and about choices. As good as the writing is, though, it's definitely matched by Leinil Yu's stunning artwork - particularly impressive on some of the jaw-dropping splash pages and the scenes in which Simon tries out his powers for the first time.

In addition, because it's a stand-alone, it's perfect for someone with little to no knowledge of comics to read, compared to trying to get into the sprawling worlds of Marvel and DC. Huge recommendation as one of my favourite graphic novels.

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