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Aw yeah, Super Powers!

The fantastic team of Art Baltazar and Franco are back to deliver wonderful all-ages adventures for your enjoyment.  In the vein of the spectacular Tiny Titans and Superman Family Adventures, Super Powers is innocent, charming, and fun.  It may also be one of the best team books DC is publishing today, and that’s no joke.

After Batman has gone missing, Superman heads to Gotham to look for clues to find his friend.  He meets up with Commissioner Gordon on the GCPD rooftop and volunteers to fight crime in Batman’s stead.  It’s a pretty fun little montage, with Superman taking out the likes of Mr. Freeze, Killer Croc, and the Penguin with ease.  It’s only when Superman apprehends the Riddler does he begin to piece together the mystery of Batman’s disappearance.

In reading the work of Baltazar and Franco, the greatest joy comes from all of the little references and Easter eggs they manage to fit in their books.  Every character has a purpose, even if it’s to deliver a single line, and seeing the whimsical spin the duo put on familiar character designs is a delight.  That was one of my favorite things about reading Tiny Titans (seriously, Lunch Lady Darkseid is the best), going through and picking out little things in the background.  Superman Family Adventures had that same re-readability, and I can already tell Super Powers will too.

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With these guys, you get a package deal: the tone is lighthearted and fun, and the designs are clean, simple, and just a touch whimsical.  The closest thing I can equate it to is a Saturday morning cartoon from a bygone era, and the name of the series itself reinforces that.  I’m sure it’s no coincidence that the title “Super Powers” and the design of the logo are… pretty close to that of the toy line from the Eighties.

Seriously, it’s pretty much a palette-swap, as demonstrated here by a Mister Miracle figure.

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Unrelated but related: Mister Miracle rules.

The look is toyetic in the best way, a reminder of simpler times when you could just sit down on a couch, eat a big bowl of sugar masquerading as cereal, and watch your favorite heroes on TV for hours on end.

Lest you think this is just a bunch of fluff, it isn’t.  The storytelling, while simple, is still top-notch.  There’s a surprising amount of continuity at work, to the point that I actually had to go back and brush up on the events of some of the earlier series as a refresher.  Baltazar and Franco have quietly developed their own interconnected universe with these books, and it makes reading everything that much more rewarding.

Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman work remarkably well together, too, using their respective skills to solve problems without being overly dramatic.  Sure, the characterization is a little broad, but it’s nice to see the heroes being heroes, working together for the greater good without a hint of angst or brooding.  I said it earlier: this is a great team book, a great all-ages companion to the also excellent Trinity.  Just with more punching Brainiac-shaped ships and less of the Waynes getting murdered yet again.

If there’s a drawback, it’s that the direction of the series isn’t quite clear.  It seems a silly thing to complain about that in the first issue, but there’s a lot going on here.  Batman is (spoilers?) freed from Brainiac pretty quickly, only for the heroes to discover a deeper conspiracy behind his abduction.  There’s also a sub-plot with New Krypton and… well, if you haven’t read any of the other books I won’t spoil it, but let’s just say Superman’s biological family may be growing.

So, while the issue is certainly fun and incredibly charming, it’s not quite as focused and tight as the first issues of some of this team’s other books.

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No matter.  This is a perfect book for kids, and one that adults can enjoy too.  Baltazar and Franco have yet to let me down, and if this is any indication Super Powers is yet another winner.

Recommended if:

  • You want great, harmless fun.
  • You want an all-ages book to read with your kids.
  • You loved Tiny Titans and/or Superman Family Adventures.
  • And if you haven’t read those, you really, really should.
  • Let me repeat: Lunch.  Lady.  Darkseid.

Overall: The Saturday morning cartoons of comics, and that’s a great thing.  Super Powers is simple, pure fun from beginning to end, complete with great laughs and surprising depth.  With charming artwork and whimsical storytelling, this book is perfect for kids, families, and longtime comic fans alike.  I’m already a fan, so it’s already won me over, but if you’re on the fence, give it a chance.  It just might make you a fan, too.

SCORE: 8/10