Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Project Superpowers Chapter 1 Review!

As I mentioned previously, Chapter 1 of Project Superpowers is an 8-issue miniseries. Since you all saw the link I provided for issue #0, I'll skip that and talk about the rest of the series.

The story follows the Fighting Yank and the Green Lama as they attempt to rescue their fellow heroes from Pandora's Urn and strike back at the corrupting forces in modern society. It's fairly straight-forward, with action and intrigue galore.

Now, some folks have argued that one of the faults of PSP is that there are too many characters, and yes, there are quite a few. However, comics have done stories like that for YEARS (Crisis on Infinite Earths, Secret Wars, etc.). Really, there are only about 5 or 6 main characters who drive the story forward in Chapter One- the Yank, the Lama, Black Terror, Samson, the Scarab, and Dynamic Man.

While the remarkable Steven Sadowski did the art for #0 (and did a fine job), the rest is done by Carlos Paul. Paul is a relative newcomer, and it shows, as his art for this project is a bit inconsistent at times. Mostly, it's very good, but at certain points (especially large battle scenes), he starts skimping on the detail.

The story, written by Ross and frequent collaborator Jim Kruegger, was written in the waning days of the Bush administration, and it shows. One of the key plot points is that the U.S. is deployed in the "Middle East" waging a war about oil. Similarly, when the heroes reappear, they are labeled "terrorists" as they might upset the long-range policy goals set in place by the powers-that-be. Now, some folks may get upset about this, to which I say- Get over it. The "Evil Government Conspiracy" plot has been a staple for decades now, regardless of what party is in control; Ross and Kruegger just use modern analogs to make it more accessible for modern readers.

Another interesting aspect is how strongly the issue of faith comes into play. In most superhero comics, the issue of religion is usually glossed over (have often have you seen Superman go to church?). In PSP, however, it is an integral part of many of the characters backgrounds. The Green Lama is Buddhist, the Flame is Christian, and Samson is (presumably) Jewish. All three characters mention their religious beliefs as key elements for why they do what they do. It's something that's I find remarkable and quite refreshing.

Now, you'll notice their are two different trade paperback editions. The cheaper one is a softcover; the pricier one is hardcover, and includes a LOT of bonus material- the Fighting Yank's War Journals, character sketches by Ross, etc.

Overall, it's a good story, and one I recommend; the only problem is that the ending, while not a cliffhanger, does feel more like a "Stay Tuned For More" than an actual, decivise conclusion. Granted, Ross and company planned it as several insallments, but in this age of continuous crossovers, one yearns for a story that's complete unto itself.

Still, I like what they've done. They've taken old characters and made them seem fresh and exciting again. It's good stuff.

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