Writers: Steve Stern, Matt Yuan
Art: Matt Yuan
Cover Art: John Yuan
One of the great things about comics is that you can tell certain stories that would either be too expensive to do in film or too crazy for a wide audience. I’m sure that you can think of a few of them. Most of the time comics are known for the fictional characters who jump from rooftop to rooftop, wearing revealing spandex costumes, capes following them closely behind. At least in my opinion, super hero comics are at their best when they take a look at the how the world operates despite having big green monsters that can level entire city blocks in seconds. The popularity and praise for books like Powers and Gotham Central prove this to be the case.
Serving Supes aims to do the same thing… sort of. The story focuses on two brothers, Cheech and Clive Ohuang, and their misadventures as court document servers who focus exclusively on, as the title implies, serving legal documents to people with super powers. The idea itself is a strong and original concept that has near endless possibilities and at least once I found myself making a comparison to the fantastic series Chew. That said, as much as I liked the concept of Serving Supes, I couldn’t find my way into enjoying it.
The very first thing that jumped out at me what opening Serving Supes was the lettering. Lettering is the voice of your book and can be compared to the audio track of a film. If this is off, the rest of the book starts to slip quickly. Most of the word balloons in Serving Supes suffer from a misunderstanding of breathing room and fairly often the stacking of the words themselves makes the book a chore to read, breaking the immersion. For most of this issue I had thought the letterer had forgotten to use apostrophes, only to realize in the final pages that the apostrophes were there but were so close to the preceding letter that they are nearly invisible. Kerning is very important. I am sure this won’t be as big of a drawback for many, but it is definitely an important piece of the equation for me.
As I mentioned before, the concept of Serving Supes is a grand one. It is disappointing that this concept is bogged down with some less than stellar “bro” jokes and some pacing problems. One of these pacing problems comes with the forth wall breaking introductions that each character makes when they appear. This is a neat technique when done well, but if done haphazardly it doesn’t work. The problem with doing so in this book is that it happens without much giving much concern to the page flip and rather than adding to the story, it breaks immersion in it.
For me, the high point of Serving Supes is in the art. It seems to have a Home Movies/ Science Court style to it that I am quite fond of and lands somewhere in between comic strip and traditional comic art. I never confuse any of the characters because they all look unique and despite the main characters being twins, the dialogue keeps Cheech and Clive from feeling like clones.
In the end, Serving Supes is a great concept that falls under its own weight due to some problems with execution. If the team can overcome the pacing problems, think up some smarter jokes, and hire a letterer, I wouldn’t mind coming back to see what the Ohuang brothers are up to.