Supurbia is one of those books that I would call a “workhorse.” I don’t think it’s been met with any measurably annoying delays, has exceptional art and coloring, and benefits from a steadily progressing, impressively multifaceted story that brings a fresh take to slice-of-life super-heroism. Boom should be very happy to count it amongst its regular ongoing titles, even if it sometimes doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Books like Supurbia are foundation players, not only because it establishes a standard of quality, but because it has heart. That heart, however, is being ripped out in issue nine ... in the most delicious way. There is a scene early on in this issue, which I think pretty well defines this book: the overpowered members of the Meta Legion are licking their wounds after the savage beat-down they received at the black magic-soiled hands of Hector Hunt, but they aren’t doing so in a headquarters antechamber or fortress of solitude. They’re gathered around a kitchenette set, drinking coffee, discussing their next moves as heroes ... panicking as families, frightened and fighting like children. It’s such a reserved, civilian scene, with this underlying crackle of godlike power and bad hoodoo.
The main big bad of the minute, Hunt does not actually feature large in this book beyond the first few pages, but what a brewing threat this guy is turning out to be; snide and conniving at the beginning of the series, his festering relevance came to quite a head last issue, and it pulses, spews and infects here, impressively and without much direct involvement from the character himself. In so doing, Randolph has established a presence about the character that is resounding. That’s just killer characterization.
She achieves similar results with Ruth, whose “true face” is officially and irrevocably shown this time. Dauterman’s contribution to this particular build is significant, especially in a simple, wordless panel that shows her bitterly chomping into a sandwich with all the disgust of licking an ashtray, mirroring quite clearly the debasement she must feel as an embittered covert enemy to the team. It’s such an amazing contrast to the purple electric undercurrent of her “people,” and the [SPOILER] actively violent torture of Agent Twilight that she is secretly overseeing.
The art in this issue continues to be a quiet, otherwise largely uncelebrated credit to the medium, and works amazingly well with the story to stink up the place with tangible tension. It may not take as many chances in terms of edgy layouts or rearrangement of the superhero framework, but what it does within that classic medium structure is as good as, if not better than, what you will find in any other mainstream book. Its silences are pregnant, its characterization through conflict and collusion (particularly within the younger, more pliable characters), its increasingly grating in-fighting, these are all building to a static, without congealing into nondescript white noise.
Speaking of which, the cover of issue nine is crawling with impact, and although it is admittedly misleading - at least for the story’s current events - it illustrates a very interesting (possible) turn of events that I am hoping will be explained and/or expanded-upon further in future. And that’s the thing: with every new issue, Randolph, Dauterman and Cassata (whose colors continue to glare sickeningly across the story’s dark turns) continue to flux the fuck out of this book’s mood, which always keeps readers like me on our toes.
Despite its invitingly undulating plot, Supurbia continues to be a solid monthly standard for me, and I hope for Boom’s sake that they continue to enjoy its positioning as a reliable, always entertaining workhorse.
Writer: Grace Randolph
Artist: Russell Dauterman
Colorist: Gabriel Cassata
Publisher: Boom Studios
Release Date: 7/10/13