Thursday, April 9, 2009

Superfogeys, Chapter 1

My fellow webcomic blogger, Larry "El Santo" Cruz of The Webcomic Overlook, has a way of writing his review introductions. He comes in from an unexpected angle, relating an anecdote, or talking about "stranded in the universe" as a science-fiction plot trope, or beginning with a line like "One day, I will be reduced to a quivering neurotic heap in need of serious psychiatric help." It adds instant interest to the review, as you wonder what his introduction could possibly have to do with the comic up for review. And sometimes I try to mimic this approach, but other times I am not feeling quite so clever, so I'm just going to drop right into the review here. Today I'll be reviewing the first chapter of Brock Heasley's Superfogeys.

Superfogeys employs the familiar retired superhero trope as its premise: the characters are retired superheroes or villains with a career of super-powered adventure behind them. You'll see some familiar archetypes among the cast, some based directly off existing superheroes: the Superman, the Flash, the evil scientist, the sidekick, and the action girl. With a few humorous diversions, the basic story arc of the first chapter is that lecherous sleazeball villain Dr. Rocket tries to take advantage of Spy Gal, but his plan backfires--rather unpleasantly.

The "retired superheroes" premise would be an old, tired choice if it were played as straightforward parody. Fortunately, it's not. To be certain, there are jokes--some of the expected "dirty old superheroes" variety, and some not--but superhero parody isn't the name of the game. The characters are funny not because they're poking fun at tropes, but because they're humorous characters in their own right. Captain Spectacular's amiable acceptance of retired life puts a unique spin on the Superman archetype, as does sidekick Jerry's secret unrequited love for Spy Gal. In particular, Speedy most perfectly embodies the picture of a "superhero past his glory years." As his powers have dwindled, the world moves too slowly for him, so he's bitter and just wants to sleep all day. Also, there's a running gag with a "space pig" that's an amusing touch. There's humor, but there's enough spine and skeleton of characterization to hang the humor on.

The art is polished enough and decidedly competent, though not outstanding. Characters have strong outlines with a a touch of detail work, and coloration strikes an appropriate balance between bold and subdued. Cut-and-pasted elements are noticeable in parts, a flaw which the creator acknowledges and endeavors to correct as the chapter progresses. And the art recycling won't jump right out at you unless you're looking for it, so it's a forgivable offense. Overall, it's good artwork, and the balding Captain Spectacular's persistent Superman curl is a funny visual touch.

My only complaint with the humor is that off-color jokes are used a little too liberally--which isn't a moral complaint, as the off-color humor is no more offensive than, say, PVP or The Office, and I'm quite fond of The Office. But in Superfogeys #1, the lewd jokes often feel like a crutch-like substitute for real humor. Still, it's a minor complaint, and I get the impression that as the characters receive more development, it will be less of an issue in future chapters.

Overall? Superfogeys Chapter 1 is a not-too-shabby beginning for this tale of the supertired. It has the earmarks of a creator getting a feel for his own story, but it's still a promising start. And, at 28 strips, you can easily read through it in a few minutes and get a feel for whether this is your kind of comic. I'm looking forward to reading the second chapter and seeing how it develops.

1 comment:

Tony Piro said...

Nice review. It always strikes me as weird that Superfogeys doesn't get more press than it does. It's good to see someone spreading the word.