Overview

Project Superpowers #11

Review

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Project Superpowers #11

Credits

  • Words: Alex Ross & Jim Krueger
  • Art: Edgar Salazar & Doug Klauba
  • Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Aug 11, 2010

Historically, the North American comic book industry has been dominated by the superhero. So much so, that most fans, critics, and creators refer to these comics as “mainstream." For decades, the Big Two publishers, DC and Marvel, have ruled the shelves as the largest purveyors of superhero comics.

To be sure, over the years, there have been many attempts to replicate the success enjoyed by the publishers of Spider-Man and Superman but most of these alternative fictional universes existed for only a few years before bankruptcy or cancellation claimed them. Malibu Comics’ Ultraverse only lasted a handful of years before Marvel attempted to swallow them up. Now, the properties only live in a seemingly eternal legal limbo. Dark Horse Comics’ superhero universe was barely a flash in the pan, before fading into obscurity. Crossgen took itself too seriously, becoming bogged down in financial difficulties, even as its line ever-increasingly became a slave to its own rigid continuity.

Building a fully realized, thriving, and functional superhero universe is no easy task. As cynical as it may sound, it takes more than a handful of creators with fantastic vision to build worlds of wonder on the scale of the DCU or the Marvel Universe. It took them decades of sound editorial decisions, property acquisitions, and deep, deep pockets to achieve their creative and financial success.

It’s not something that happens overnight.

With this penultimate issue of the second volume of Project Superpowers, Dynamite Entertainment shows that with thoughtful planning, a creative yet shrewd approach to world building, and an intelligent marketing strategy based on the talent and visibility of Alex Ross, it is possible to develop a fictional universe capable of competing with the Big Two.

Mining the rich fields of the public domain, Dynamite was able to quickly assemble a legion of colorful heroes rivaling the diversity and numbers of their competitors. Once again, mystery men and adventurers such as the Black Terror, the Fighting Yank, and the Flame rose from the ashes to heed the call of duty and protect the innocent from evil and catastrophe.

Issue #11 finally reveals the true motivations behind the Fighting Yank’s betrayal of his comrades after World War II and witnesses the final defeat of a mad god masquerading as a hero. It’s been a long haul but also a journey fraught with exciting twists, real character development, and striking emotional beats. Now that the payoff is nearly upon us, it will be interesting to see what direction Dynamite takes these characters in, once a status quo is finally established and their return solidified.

Jim Krueger and Alex Ross have done a fabulous job shepherding these forgotten treasures into the present and exposing a generation of new (and often jaded) fans to a realm of heroes that embody much of our own current socio-cultural vulnerability and confusion. Their story is epic in scope yet grounded in humanity, as each of these heroes struggle valiantly to find their places in a world that has all but forgotten them.

Dynamite and the creative teams behind Project Superpowers and its numerous spin-offs deserve praise for their impassioned, intelligent, and patient approach to building their universe. It seems like they’ve succeeded where many have failed. Only time will tell if the Project Superpowers universe will have the legs to take a true run at Marvel and DC, though.

One thing is for certain: the meal thus far has proven to be a welcome change in flavor profiles for palates languishing over the same old entrees for the last seventy years. Hopefully, Dynamite will be able to preserve a respectful sense of tradition, while continuing to offer bold new tastes to an audience desperate for something fresh and exciting to sink their teeth into.

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