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Superior Showcase #2
posted June 20, 2007
 

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Creators: Maris Hicks, Joey Weiser, Farel Dalrymple
Publishing Information: AdHouse, comic book, 32 pages, 2007, $2.95
Ordering Numbers:

This is not in any sense a good comic book, although at $2.95 and on sturdy paper stock it's certainly a nice vehicle for one. A spin-off of AdHouse's Project: Superior anthology, Superior Showcase provides a similar indy-comics take on superhero stories, by which I mean (mostly) good-natured satire that comes from tweaking values or perspectives or strategies typical to that genre. In this issue, that means short stories from Maris Hicks, Joey Weiser and Farel Dalrymple. Unlike a trade paperback where the number of stories means a greater chance a dud or two can be supported and the variety of approaches becomes its own selling point, Superior Showcase needs to have consistently excellent stories. These are not.

In fact, the Wicks and Weiser shorts are pretty much sub-standard as professional comics of any type. Wicks' take on a body servicing a wound in superhero garb is the kind of thing that one might have come across 35 years ago in an educational comic book freebie; you may have to resist an overwhelming urge to make a beep before turning the page. You'd pretty much have to be a craftsman on the level of Jim Woodring or Henriette Valium to make such a story interesting, and Wicks falls far, far short of that. Weiser's tale of a superhero who -- surprise, surprise -- is really a shy guy who can't talk to his crush-object superhero peer might be cute if you've never read any of the dozens of comic book stories created after 1980 that recast superheroes as having the hang-ups and peccadilloes of comics fans. Rather than providing a twist on that formula, Weiser plays it straight and gives us a short that's relentlessly predictable. It feels like it goes on forever. Only Farel Dalrymple's short adventure featuring the fat, street-level ass-kicker Hollis offers some interest, and that's almost all in the visual flair the cartoonist brings to his pages. The story itself is basically an exercise in laying out a concept as opposed to letting the concept develop within a narrative; it practically preens, and it's hard to figure out why.

If this book came out every month, you might forgive an occasional sub-par issue, but a publication schedule as infrequent as Superior Showcase offers fairly demands each one work on its own merits. This issue's not good enough to stand alone for anyone but super hardcore fans of gentle superhero satire, and it's not frequent enough to provide serial thrills. I can't believe it's doing anyone any good.