It’s been referred to as “Desperate Housewives meets Justice League” or the “Real Housewives of Earth’s greatest super-team.” To me, Supurbia embodies the core idea behind Heroes, the real-life struggles of normal people with abnormal abilities and the effects it has on their loved ones. It’s also like Heroes in the sense that there’s overlapping stories that connect to a universal theme. In that regard, Supurbia is indeed like a soap opera; everybody has drama on their plate. There are strained marriages, scandalous secrets, role reversals, and sibling rivalries. We see each of these at play in Supurbia #5, written by Grace Randolph, illustrated by Russell Dauterman, and inked by Gabriel Cassata.
However, because there are so many character arcs, I feel it is best I devote my time to the predominant ones and cover them one at a time. In doing so, you can all better appreciate what’s happening in the latest issue. Also, before I begin it’s important that I point out I’m new to Supurbia. I’ve read the debut issue and the most current; most recap knowledge was learned from Word of the Nerd and Comic Buzz.
I’ll start with Sara and Zari, the young daughters of Aso and Batu, two members of the Meta Legion (Randolph’s version of the Justice League). In a ploy to get back at his ex-girlfriend, Helen Heart for framing him for murder, Hector Hunt gave magical stones to Sara and Zari that infect their heroic sensibilities while asleep. The intro of Supurbia #5 reveals the darkness of this gift as the two young girls dream about being two super-powered juvenile divas in search of new boy toys. The precinct’s floors are littered with bloody corpses of fallen officers (it seems the femme fatales go for bad boys, the inmates in this case.
A split-frame reveals the two young girl’s reactions to the dream. Sara loved it while Zari hated it. Zari goes to her mom for respite; Sara pals up with Helen, whom she idolizes (this makes sense, considering Helen’s criminal past and Sara’s allure to darkness). Helen reluctantly agrees. Aside from her hero-worship, Sara pops in on Helen to avoid spending time with her brother, Eli; she sees him as the golden boy in their family and wants no part in his drama. Like Heroes, one story bleeds into another, which leads us to Eli.
Things in Eli’s family are a little different. There’s a role reversal with his parents. His mother, Batu, is the authoritative one while his father, Jeremy, is the doting guardian (Batu is the Wonder Woman of this universe). In the second issue, Batu presents her son before her Bright Moon clan. Pleasantries are not exchanged. By emerging triumphant in a skirmish with his mom, Eli dishonored the tribe. The tribe’s customs dictate two consequences for this act; he must be killed or breed with his opponent. Batu decides to kill him, but is imprisoned by her people, who voted on the alternative. In the present issue, Jeremy has taken Eli on an island getaway to distract his attention from the psychological scars inflicted by his mom. Zari tags along, too. She’s a compassionate soul who wants to fix things for everyone.
The scandalous story at work here is Night Fox’s impending divorce with Alexis because of his affair with Agent Twilight, the Robin to his Batman. Clearly, Randolph is drawing some influence from Saturday Night Live’s whimsical sketch on the dynamic duo. Night Fox is a complicated character; he’s torn between his wife and Agent Twilight. He was bothered when Jake Weintraub, his weapons specialist, kissed his wife. This, in turn, upset Agent Twilight, prompting him to publicly announce he was gay. This severs the crime-fighting duo and tarnishes Night Fox’s credibility as a public figure.
Supurbia #5 finds Night Fox in a contemplative crossroads. Seeking his parent’s advice, he summons them to his outer space-themed hideout. He discloses the biggie, the collapse of his marriage, leading to an unexpected reaction from his mother. She shouts, “What does love have to do with marriage?!” Both parents behave radically different than Thomas and Martha Wayne would.
There are many story arcs at work, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t pay tribute to Dauterman’s art and Cassata’s coloring. Dauterman does a fantastic job of molding these characters in a mild blending between fictional and nonfictional. The faces are expressive in accordance with each character’s troubles. Zari has a slight wrinkle on her forehead and bulging eyes after waking up from her nightmare, but Sara grins openly with her eyes shut in response to the same experience. Helen looks perturbed when Sara shows up, as revealed by curved eyebrows and her arms at her hips. Night Fox carries a perplexed mug, complete with stubble and baggy eyes that indicate his restlessness.
Cassata’s coloring is equally illuminating; the nightmare sequence reveals the contents of his tasty arsenal of ink. The precinct’s lights flash bright red while the blood of corpses is a deep shade of crimson. Whenever magic is employed, Cassata favors light colors such as sky blue and pink, contrasting supernatural with the natural. The characters’ outfits suit their personalities perfectly. Helen resembles Barbie with her long blonde hair and pink/violet dress. Sara has a tomboy-theme working for her with her green plaid shirt and punk rocker glove.
Supurbia #5 impressed me with its parallel to Heroes and its parody of the Justice League. It was neat seeing the difficulties these heroes face alongside their significant others.