25 Oct 2013

Cover To Cover: SUPURBIA #12

SUPURBIA #12
Writer: Grace Randolph
Art: Russell Dauterman & Gabriel Cassata
BOOM! Studios $3.99

Stewart R: I will admit that around the halfway point of this latest season of Supurbia I had been wondering where it was all heading and whether there might just be too many elements in play to enable this to form the fully engaging comic book that it had the potential to be. The huge ensemble cast, heroes, family and villains alike all demanded page time and it was clear that some issues were going to be a harder read than others to keep the momentum going with 14 characters to nurture, grow, torture and torment towards the arc's conclusion and the weaving together of the multiple plot threads. Here, as the dust settles in my grey matter from this turbulent finale, I think I can safely proclaim that Grace Randolph has built herself (and the readership) a fantastically well rounded, emotionally-intense and, most importantly, believable superhero world that heaps evidence on the argument that there is definitely fresh life in the genre away from the recognised canons of the Big Two publishers.

This twelfth issue drops us into the action with Ruth's mask now shed and the terrible truth about the how the Meta Legion has been duped from its very core threatens to claim the team and their families' lives. Thanks to the great preparatory work that Randolph has put into this story there's a genuine level of peril that had me gripped from the start as the heroes, finding themselves desperately on the backfoot, are forced to flee in the face of an enemy that has taken them by surprise and poses a very real threat. The great balance to this team means that there are weaknesses - both physical and character - that prevent this from being a clear cut  retreat-and-counter-attack struggle and the sway of the skirmish is tantalisingly tense and unpredictable. The great success of this final chapter is how Randolph manages to maintain the true sense of chaos for her cast, yet keep things so clear and vivid for the reader.

Series artist Russell Dauterman (complimented brilliantly by Gabriel Cassata's colour work) really has saved his very best for last as his depiction of the conflict is dynamic, capturing the panicked brevity of such a confrontation in just a handful of pages, before his subtle touch with facial expression is then called into play as things escalate further in heart-stopping fashion. So good is Dauterman's use of the close up, along with his general panel layout in this issue, that I've found myself flipping back through the pages far more often than I usually would for a Cover To Cover review, just to marvel at those moments that resonate with such strong emotion. The simple horror of what unfolds is handled so well by both writer and artist combined, that having finished my first read through of Supurbia #12 I couldn't bring myself to read another comic immediately afterwards, realising that I needed something of a reading respite to fully digest what had just transpired.

Much to this reviewer's relief, Randolph provides an epilogue dripping with raw-nerve realism that's just as numbing as the arc's action climax and thankfully promises life beyond this current second season of Supurbia.  There are just so many great questions left unanswered, characters who deserve a little more time in the limelight and plot threads that warrant further examination and expansion. I can only hope that the cogs of the BOOM! machine are spinning in the background as I write this to ensure that this is not the last we see of such a compelling comic book world. If and when the publisher collect this volume in trade paperback form it'll be a definite recommended purchase. 9/10

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