Super Powers #3 review

Note: Batman does not appear at all in this issue.  Having said that, don’t let that put you off from picking it up, because this is just as fun as any installment so far.

Art Baltazar and Franco are playing in their toy box, and they’ve invited us to join in.  That’s really what this series is: two guys throwing in as much stuff as they can, telling entertaining stories that are more about excitement and fun than silly things like “plot” and “continuity.”  Because of that, this is just so much fun to read.

That may sound like a backhanded compliment or faint praise, but it’s not; this is a blast, through and through.

Last month, there were appearances from the Composite Superman and the Unknown Superman, both of whom fall toward the end of the “who do you think you’ll be reading a comic about this week?” list.  Somewhere around, I don’t know, Brimstone.

Who is in this issue.

When was the last time you thought about Brimstone?  Do you even know who Brimstone is?  The last time I thought about him was… well, I did review Legends, which contains his comics only appearance as far as I can tell.  But really, he isn’t a character I think about all that much, to the point that I had to look up his name to make sure this was indeed the same guy.

It’s actually a pretty great fight scene.  Baltazar’s style is unique and fun, though not necessarily one you’d equate with action set-pieces, but he certainly proves he knows how to stage an action scene.  Supergirl is the first hero to step up and face the threat, followed by Martian Manhunter, and the fight ends with a surprise assist from Wonder Woman.  It plays out just like you or I would have staged a confrontation with our toys, stopping short of having Optimus Prime or a giant Spider-Man figure from intervening.  We do have to be mindful of trademarks, after all.

Besides being a genuinely good action piece, it’s still remarkably funny.  The almost aloof, nonchalant nature in which the heroes respond to threats is great.  These guys are the good guys, after all; they don’t have time for things like “brooding” and “reservations about whether what they’re doing makes any difference.”  It’s an idealized view, and a relatively simple one, but it’s part of what makes reading these books such a blast.

The dialogue is top-notch, too.

Poetry.  Pure poetry.

The B-plot on New Krypton has gotten much more interesting, with Lara giving birth to a baby boy.  The previous issue ended on a pretty crazy stinger as it was revealed that the Phantom Zone radiation had caused some… irregularities in the baby’s physiology.

In short: he looks like Brainiac.

That is the weirdest family photo…

All of this leads up to a third act reveal that made me smack my head for not seeing it coming.  It involves little baby Prym-El carrying on his heritage and making a play off his name, which I’m certain will not spell doom for our heroes.  Not at all.

The final page has a “Prologue” caption on it that threw me for a loop at first, but then I realized what it meant: this is all leading up to a bigger conflict, and everything that’s happened so far is just setting the stage for a greater threat. That was a little weird to see, considering it comes at the end of the halfway point of the series, but these guys are all about playing with expectations and storytelling conventions.

With that impending threat looming over the next few issues, will everything work out ok in the end?  Most likely.  Is it worth it to see just just how creative Baltazar and Franco can be with their storytelling?  Definitely.

Recommended if:

  • You like fun.
  • You have kids.
  • Or even if you don’t, it’s still an absolute blast.
  • You’re ok with comics that don’t have Batman in them.

Overall: Not every book needs to be like this one, but I’m glad we have Super Powers.  It’s a break from darkness and cynicism, a book that exists solely to be fun.  As an all-ages book it works marvelously, and there’s plenty here to reward longtime DC fans.  Pick it up, leave any reservations at the door, and relive the pure joy of being a kid again.

SCORE: 8/10