REVIEW: Superb #3

The main focus of the publishing company Lion Forge has been several connected superhero titles under the umbrella of “Catalyst Prime”, in which meteors fall to Earth and give people superpowers. The diversity of the characters and situations in Catalyst Prime is well balanced, with many types of hero portrayed. A displaced black scientist, a latino speedster, and a team of unusual heroes are already on racks, with several more titles on the way. However, it was the prospect of highlighting a character with Down Syndrome in SUPERB that hooked me from the beginning.
.
.
You see, growing up, I had always made friends who have been stigmatized as “mentally handicapped” despite being placed in advanced classes. When I was young, I only knew what was in people’s hearts so it didn’t matter that Quarmayne, Bobby, Linda, and others needed more time to grasp what came easily to me. All I knew was that we had fun and got along and that not everything should be measured by standardized testing.
.
Not only that, but my mother has taught Special Education for well over a decade from elementary-aged all the way to high school. Over the years, I have heard all sorts of amazing stories about children who cope with conditions everyday that I couldn’t imagine. Blindness, paraplegia, behavioral and learning disorders, and all sorts of circumstances have needed my mother’s care. Some stories are funny, some are heartbreaking, still others are courageous.
.
Which is why we need this comic.
.
It is a common assumption that people with Down Syndrome or on the Autism spectrum cannot be productive members of society, and therefore could not have the capacity to operate as superheroes, but Catalyst Prime responds with two simple words: “Challenge Accepted”. Lion Forge partners with the National Down Syndrome Society to represent their community with respect and to help spread awareness that, yes, these people are amazing and need to be shown that way.
.
.
This comic is not just about Jonah Watkins, a metahuman with abilities that have not been truly explored but include eye beams and increased speed and strength. No, this is also about his friend Kayla. She is new to town because her parents work for Foresight, the company charged with dealing with superpersons. After Jonah (who emulates a comic book hero called Cosmosis) breaks into a holding facility to rescue his friend, he discovers that A) he is over his head and B) Foresight is much more dangerous than he thought. Kayla helps him hide and accompanies him to his best friend’s house. Abbie knows about Jonah’s crimefighting and builds him gadgets to help him out. She and Kayla butt heads, but Jonah is only interested in saving the people at Foresight.
.
This issue has many great developments. We find out that Jonah’s mother was a casualty of the meteorite’s impact after saving lives as a first responder. His single parent home was mentioned previously but not elaborated on, so this is a major detail for Jonah, not having a mother figure anymore. This may be why he gravitates to female friends, but either way I truly feel for the guy. We also now know that the bodies of humans affected by meteorites don’t decompose (and that only Kayla’s parents know this). This will be sure to drive the plot in the future, but for now? They’re just planting seeds. And finally, we introduce a second smart female teenage character in Abbie. Kayla and Abbie are very different, but are both kind to Jonah and want to help make the world better. Also, Kayla is African American and Abbie is drawn to have Asian heritage (though I’m no expert on the nuance of each country, so forgive me for not saying she’s Korean or whathaveyou), thus furthering my point on diversity.
.
.
What that comic lacks is action, but honestly? I do not mind all that much. The last two issues supply some superpowered exploits and high stakes infiltration, but this issue all about building the plot, introducing characters, and making the reader care about what happens next. Some may find all the talking and planning and small personal conflicts boring, yet I like a good story and without issues like this, explosions and battles just fall flat. Sure, the SWAT team doesn’t even hunt for Jonah, opting to have a nice friendly conversation with his father, and several pages are dedicated to a business meeting, but my interest is still held with promises of great things to come. And by the way, we learn definitively that one more character in the story has enhanced abilities (and if you read the last issue, the foreshadowing is clearly there).
.
Overall this was a great issue, despite lacking any big fight scenes or science fiction developments (aside from that last page). Instead, we get really solid writing and down to earth artwork that explains the last issue and leaves the reader craving the next. This comic series truly is SUPERB!
.
Four out of Five Stars.
2776 More posts in Reviews category
Recommended for you
Convention Review: Rhode Island Comic Con 2017

The Rhode Island Comic Con was the weekend of November 10-12, 2017. I was fortunate...