The graphic novel I read over break was Supurbia by Grace Randolph, a writer for Marvel and YouTube comic/movie reviewer. The graphic novel centers around the “real housewives” (and househusband) of Meta Legion, a super team that emulates the quintessential superheroes we are so often used to viewing in the comic book world. The central figure we, as an audience, are to empathize with is Eve, newlywed wife of Bulldog, a new addition to this secret super-society. She is a nurse and ultimately the essential glimpse into the world of superheroes behind closed doors, as she meets other superheroes and their significant others, discovering a world she doesn’t know how to get used to. Told from a third-person narrative, however, we know things she is not aware of, such as the secret identity of Ruth, matriarch of the wives and ostensibly the wife of the founder of Meta Legion, Marine Omega.
Within Supurbia, we see internal conflicts between the superheroes and their spouses, and their spouse’s dilemmas with each other. For instance, Helen Hart is the live-in girlfriend of Sovereign, a Superman type who has a coke addiction and fetish for evil, which is great, considering Helen is an ex-supervillain. We also see the struggle of children in the eyes of their super-parents, like Sara, who is supposed to possess the powers of a pseudo-Amazonian mythical warrior, but whose brother Eli is the one whom inherited such gains. We then see that in the eyes of the super-mother Batu, Eli is an abomination. Or in the case of the wife of Night Fox, who walks in on her husband being intimate with Agent Twilight, his wonder-boy sidekick, in a strange Batman/Robin dynamic. While none of the conflict is truly resolved between any of the characters, as it is an ongoing series, the graphic novel ends with Eve creating a support group comprised of the other spouses to help with their superhero loved ones, along with Marine Omega’s funeral and the promotion of Ruth, who (dun, dun, dun) is actually evil, to the head of the Meta Legion.
The graphic novel exemplifies many of the graphic design elements we have learned about in DTC 336, ranging from hierarchy, color, and time and motion. While it maintains a level of standard superhero comic book art, it develops its own mythology of how things are to be represented, such as the use of color to represent different realms. We see throughout the novel a red filter meant to represent a hellish realm that Helen is able to connect with byway of chanting a demonic verse. The novel itself has very warm tones, almost as if they are pictures shot through a brandy glass. In regards to hierarchy, the example to the right is shows Sovereign as not only much higher than Helen, but also much closer and bigger, giving him prominence as a super-figure. It makes sense for the graphic, as he seemingly dismisses her as he’s off to save the world. This is also an example of time and motion. We see his cape billowing behind him, showing the force of the wind, or how fast he’s going, naturally giving motion to the shot.
In another portion of the novel, Eli has a door closed on him by his mother, and in the next panel is a door being opened for him by his father, showing a subsequent change in time.
The graphic novel employs many design concepts, and overall it was an enjoyable read with “supurb” writing that makes you wonder whether superheroes would make super partners.