I want to begin this review of Boom! Studios’ Supurbia #8 where the actual comic itself begins: at the cover. Now, I should say that none of Dauterman and Cassata’s covers could ever be described as “nondescript,” nor do they slouch in the impact department; in fact, the conceptual cover designs of many of the issues in this series have been par excellence and a real delight for us regular readers. However, the symbolism in the cover of issue eight eschews pomp and circumstance for simple and understated - a plain, white background punctuated only by an action figure of Agent Twilight, a finger of scotch on the rocks and an abandoned wedding ring: each a small thing with its own big purpose. While this image may not have much to do directly with the story at hand, it does speak to the subtext and future fallout of one of its major narrative threads, and if nothing else, it instills a false sense of calm before the coming storm that rages within the issue itself.
That’s another great aspect of where this book is heading - onwards and upwards towards brutal and unrelenting action! As we watch Agent Twilight confront an old enemy amidst his own storm of purple electric current and mechanical punches, and follow the nefarious Hector Hunt as he makes a splash by crashing the Galactic Protection Systems Expo with his black magic shenanigans, it’s pretty clear that Grace Randolph has officially opted for the nuclear strike, focusing on the “super” side of Supurbia rather than maintaining its slower burn of domesticity.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the daytime TV aspect of this series as it follows the quieter, more familial moments of a super-powered world, but this is a comic book first and Supurbia’s renewed emphasis on torn capes rather than soiled drapes is just the boost this title needed to get its blood pumping again. At the same time, Randolph is not dispensing with what makes this book so unique, and while she delivers her fair amount of gut shots to our heroes, she simultaneously tugs on their heart strings with everything from loss and betrayal to weakness and salvation.
Luckily, the characterization which Randolph has been building within this series continues to evolve exponentially, which is a tricky feat to pull off in a comic so jam-packed with action. As Hector Hunt finally makes his dark intentions and even darker power known to the world, we see some great interplay between characters who have been - for one reason or another - at each others’ throats.
These mostly come in the quiet moments amongst the heavy artillery, and in fact, it is these sparing peeks into the nature of the characters’ relationships that could spell even more dangerous tidings for our cast than Hunt’s magics. Eve and Ruth, for example, have a near-silent moment that will undoubtedly speak volumes for their respective roles with each other, as well as their object of shared affection, Marine Omega. Meanwhile, Hella Heart is forced to make a decision that puts her newly-shined moral compass to the test - whether she has passed or not is still in question, however.
The art from Dauterman proves more than capable of keeping up with Randolph’s narrative pace here, especially when draped in a deeper strangle of shadowy color from Cassata. The resultant visual experience becomes almost oppressive, smothering and defeatist. This all leads up to a final page, which itself is an exchange between two of the Meta Legion’s most influential members; it is acutely emotional and fairly unexpected in showing another sign of weakness for a character who until now has proven to be unflappable. This moment could not have been accomplished without the perfect storm of writing and art.
I love this newer, more intense direction for Supurbia - it’s a fantastic contrast to its more subdued build - and you get the feeling that while it may settle down slightly in the immediately forthcoming issues, this series as a whole is going to end not with a whimper, but with a bang.
Writer: Grace Randolph
Artist: Russell Dauterman
Colorist: Gabriel Cassata
Publisher: Boom Studios
Release Date: 6/12/13