Comic Review: Superior
After the success that the film adaptations of, Kick-Ass and Wanted achieved, it is completely understandable that comic writer Mark Millar would want to tell a story which looked at the cinematic nature of superheroes, so with the talented pencils of artist, Lenil Yu he gave us the mini-series Superior. Let me go ahead and say right off the bat that the biggest and most irritating problem with this series was the habitual lateness of the series; currently Millar is performing writing duties on three creator owned series’ and all of them are notorious for their late shipping so I feel it best to read his stories in one collected volume. Like the other comics Millar writes this series is very violent and gritty but with a great sense of hope about it.
Superior tells the tale of a young boy named, Simon Pooni a former star basketball player who now struggles to live an ordinary life with multiple sclerosis. In order to find some form of escapism, Simon and his only friend in the world Chris religiousness follow the film franchise, Superior, an alter universe version of Superman. One fateful night after seeing the latest Superior film, Simon wakes up to find an astronaut monkey (no joke) named Ormon who grants the boy his greatest wish and transforms him from a poor feeble boy into a living breathing version of his favorite hero, Superior. The next morning he flies over to Chris’ house and tells him the entire unbelievable story and naturally the two of them set out to give his newfound powers a spin. They discover Simon can now; fly, use arctic breath, and of course he is more powerful than a locomotive. But unfortunately playtime is cut short when a space shuttle plummets towards the earth, forcing Superior to reveal himself to the world to stop it. One person who takes notice of the new hero is, Madeline Know, a gorgeous yet tough reporter who becomes determined to get an exclusive interview with this new hero.
Upon being revealed to the world Simon wastes no time in using his super powers to go all over the world helping those in need, a perfect demonstration on his innocence and sense of nobility. Despite his new celebrity, Simon does not forget about the one person who never left his side, Chris, who has had a a tough run-in with the neighborhood bully which causes Simon to use his powers to not hurt the bully, but to teach him a lesson he won’t soon forget. It seems as though the only person who is not leading a better life because of this new superhero is, Tad Williams, the actor who plays Superior onscreen, for with a real Superior saving the world there is no need for a movie about a fictitious one.
Unfortunately while Simon is nobly bringing peace to the world as Superior, Ormon the creature who gave him his powers is working against him by making a deal with the very bully who picked on Simon but was taught a lesson by Superior. While on his quest to save the world, Superior is continually flirted by Madeline Knox in true Lois Lane fashion. Simon could not imagine a better life, and that’s when Ormon reappears and gives him the horrifying truth. Ormon is a demon who can take away Simon’s powers anytime he wishes but if Simon pledges his soul to Satan the powers will be made permanent. Of course a kid who has proven himself throughout the series to be so good and decent of a character. Simon refuses and is returned to being a poor kid suffering from multiple sclerosis.
Of course going from being the most powerful and beloved person in the world to a disabled kid is bound to be tough, fortunately Knox gives Simon some much needed encouragement by revealing her own flaws and her past with medical problems, proving to him that even the seemingly weakest of people can achieve great things. As the world mourns the loss of Superior, Ormon and the completely amoral bully transform themselves into giant robotic menaces with the objective of creating mass death and destruction on as big of scale as possible, telling the world that the only hope of stopping them is for Superior to return. Keeping true to the kind of person he has been all along, Simon decides his soul is not as important as the millions of lives that will be lost.
In the climax of the series, Superior returns to action and risks everything to save the world and stop the two engines of destruction trying to destroy everything. After one of the coolest battles I’ve ever seen in comics Superior is triumphant; but Ormon taunts Simon of the fact that he now has the boy’s soul but the tables are quickly turned in a way in a beautiful way that you must read to believe (I’m not spoiling it for you sorry). The story ends with the world once again mourning Superior, whom they think died in battle and Simon is okay with this. He has completed his job of making the world a better place and inspiring people everywhere to be better and to believe in something greater than themselves. The sentiment of the world has inspired Hollywood to make another film featuring the superhero and at the opening night Maddie Knox brings as her dates, Simon and Chris. At in keeping with the Superman tributes that Millar has filled this series with, the comic ends with the audience at the premier at full attention as Superior flies over the earth and gives the audience a wink, mirroring what Christopher Reeve had done so many times on film.
Throughout his career Mark Millar has made no secret of his love for Superman, and ultimately this book is his love letter to the Man of Steel. Superior in this series began as a superhero who gave people hope during the Great Depression but ascended to becoming an icon, symbolizing all which is good and decent about humanity. Despite the violence and dark tone of the book, the protagonist Simon, is a kid who despite all he has been through is incredibly selfless and noble and his convictions remain unwavering. It’s as if Millar is making the case that many have made in the past, that no matter who we are or what we’ve gone through we all have the potential inside of ourselves to be like Superman and overcome whatever hinders us no matter what it is. Lenil Yu’s art has never been a better fit for a story; as the story evolved from focusing on a kid struggling with his disability into a story about a superhero battling giant robots, Yu’s edgy and detailed artwork keeps everything grounded in reality. I have read a lot of Millar’s work over the years, from The Ultimates to Civil War to Kick Ass, and I can’t remember anything from the writer that I have read that I enjoyed more than Superior, every line of dialogue and every action just oozes of his passion for this project. Whether you are a fan of Superman or not I can not recommend this book more for you to pick up; because if you love the Man of Steel as much as Millar does you will immediately fall for this tribute to the character; and if you are not crazy about Supes you will still enjoy this story about sacrifice and heroism.