With its twelfth issue, the second volume of Grace Randolph’s Supurbia finally comes to a close, and as a firm fan, that kinda sucks a little bit. I’ve been lucky enough to cover the entirety of this run; in fact, it acts as a sort of calendar for my time as a reviewer, having been one of the first titles I’ve covered since being baptized a Comic Bastard. So you can call me out all you like for being biased when I say that I’m bummed to see it go, but don’t let that take anything away from the way this book has continued to - quite brilliantly - showcase its purpose, as a finely focused yet raucously entertaining read, exploring as it does a perilous domesticity set within the framework of superpowered mayhem, and vice versa.
Even from its cover, it’s clear that issue 12 exemplifies the oscillating undercurrents that crackle and hiss within this original series; although, as has been its trend in most recent issues, this one does so with a verve leaning more decidedly toward the fantastic.
The understandably shaken members of the Meta Legion continue their strike back against the hidden powers that have sought to disturb their waters in a massive, suburban battle which pits some seriously pissed off heroes against a retinue of shape-shifting cyborgs. The final cost at the end of this issue and series is suitably high and perhaps irrevocable, while the act of getting to that ultimate tally is itself fateful, haunting and, at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, the very reason I am able to stave off any jadedness toward superhero comics.
Randolph has a great command over both her characters and her audience, in the former setting up each as pastiche perhaps, but making them - and thus Supurbia as a whole - its own distinguished animal. In the latter, she inspires some truly heartrending loss, as the Legion is met with its most traumatic loss yet in a truly gut-wrenching scene of self-sacrifice, which is itself delivered by an agent of arguably more worrying evil.
Quite frankly, it’s a testament to Randolph’s ability as a comics writer that not only has she been able to set this story apart from something so simple as cheap imitation, but also that she has so effectively formed impressive bonds between the reader and the read. Of course, not just on her shoulders alone has Supurbia been built so soundly.
In this, the second series’ curtain call, the art team of Dauterman and Cassata continue to be trendsetters, redefining classic superhero visuals within a perhaps more family-oriented, yet no less gruesome dynamic. Like last issue, Dauterman here has once again birthed some truly exemplary work. If you’re able to shake off one particularly affecting scene, in which an ill-fated character’s skull is slowly, wetly penetrated by black cybernetic fingers, well then, you’re a much stronger person than I. It also doesn’t help that the victim is the book’s most innocent and altruistic character.
Cassata continues to work seamlessly within the artistic structure set up by Dauterman, piercing his art with the incessant buzz of bright power, looming shadow and the necessary dichotomy between the two. Like that interplay, the unique visual presence of Supurbia simply would not exist without this tandem, and I hope that this will not be the last time that we see these two work together.
My only complaint about Supurbia #12 is that it wraps up this series too abruptly, too quickly and without enough of the resolution or space it deserves. In short, this issue felt especially frantic, which I guess is to be expected in the swan song of a story that has been ramped up to dizzying degrees over its past few issues.
Still, it would have been nice to see more time spent on its closure; just one more issue explaining the events that take place “Sometime later,” but I guess that just means I’m well and truly “into” this story, having been sucked in so hardcore by it, and unwilling to let it go. Saying all that, the pace of Supurbia #12 matches its bright electrocution execution, and anyone who still defines this simply as “The Real Housewives of Superpowers” isn’t paying close enough attention.
Yes, those relationships still stand as paramount in the series’ ethos, but there is so much action in this and every issue that has preceded it recently, that to merely class it as a sort of spandex melodrama would be paying it a disservice. Supurbia’s second volume has been as much knock-down, drag-out superpowered slobberknocker as it has been a peek behind the capes and cowls.
Don’t get me wrong, there will be a significant amount to deal with going forward into a possible third series in terms of lost loved ones, broken homes and harrowing family dynamics, but so too will there be more grandiose problems, like the still-operational head of an army of shape-shifters, a now completely demonic queen bent on world destruction and the loss of this universe’s Superman. By its end, however, I’m happy to report that Supurbia found the balance in itself, and between the two sides of its inner conflict, measuring each against each other well.
This is going to be one bitchin’ trade, and will inevitably become a firm recommendation from me to anyone else who wants a robust tale of turmoil set between two worlds: one as pliant as human flesh, and the other as ostensibly unbreakable as bulletproof skin, but each benefitting from its own weaknesses and strengths. Kudos to the whole team on a finish, which may feel rushed and crowded at points, but is no less deserving of top marks.
Writer: Grace Randolph Artist: Russell Dauterman Colorist: Gabriel Cassata Publisher: Boom Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 10/23/13