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Review: ‘Super Powers #1′

super-powers-1Super Powers #1
Writers: Art Baltazar and Franco
Artist: Baltazar
DC Comics; $2.99
Rated E For Everyone

The Tiny Titans creative team of writer/artist Art Baltazar and co-writer Franco have reteamed for another all-ages miniseries featuring DC’s superheroes, this one entitled Super Powers and featuring the Justice League characters.

The art style and the specific character designs that Baltazar employs in the first issue are the same seen in the pair’s 2012-2013 Superman Family Adventures series, which actually ended with a story introducing the Justice League and seemed to have been created specifically to segue into this series.

Unlike both Superman Family Adventures and their various Tiny Titans books, though, Super Powers is more serious. Or perhaps “straightforward” is a better word? Either way, they eschew the gag comic format with multiple chapters each built around jokes, and tell a superhero story whose light touches come mostly from Baltazar’s super-simplified artwork.

There are a few jokes–like, three–and they are as minor as Baltazar drawing The Penguin’s lackeys (actual penguins) tied-up in the background of a panel in which the villain is captured, and a pair of foregrounded ones near the end, wherein Batman uses “I’m Batman” as a punchline and Alfred Pennyworth comes to pick him up from an alien planet, piloting a Bat-spaceship.

With different art, or drawn in a different style, this could actually be a regular DC Comic book. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, it’s just a little unexpected, considering the previous projects from this pair, and the apparent lineage of the book, flowing as it does from Superman Family Adventures, which itself flowed out of Tiny Titans.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be completely unexpected, however, given that Baltazar and Franco did script the later issues of the short-lived Billy Batson and The Magic of Shazam book, which was similarly a straight superhero adventure comic rather than a comedic book.

Here Batman has gone missing, leaving it up to Superman to fill-in for him, fighting crime in Gotham City. Where is Batman? Kidnapped by Brainiac and held prisoner on the supervillain’s new headquarters of New Krypton.

On the island of Themyscira, Wonder Woman’s mom lets her know what’s going on and send her to New Krypton to help her save her super friends. The trio triumph, but on the last page we learn that Lex Luthor was pulling Brainiac’s strings, and a mysterious villain whose identity is purposefully obscured may be pulling Luthor’s, or at least is allied with Luthor.

There’s still just enough humor here to make this as appealing to fans of the creative team’s previous work, and, of course, if it was Baltazar’s drawings that attracted you to that work, that hasn’t changed. Sure, it’s a departure, but a slight one.

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J. Caleb Mozzocco About J. Caleb Mozzocco

J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.

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