Many times in superhero comics, the significant others and the love interests aren't given much to do besides be in danger to motivate the hero. In Supurbia #1, from writer Grace Randolph and artist Russell Dauterman, they're given center stage in a suburban enclave founded by superheroes known as the Meta Legion, and the focus is not on the damsel in distress dynamics of yore, but rather the gossip and interpersonal relationships between the households. Yes, this is apparently the Desperate Housewives of the cape set.
Having never watched that show, I can still grasp the archetypes present here on both sides of the equation. The Superman allegory is named Sovereign, who is immensely powerful and much less nice, abusing his super-hearing to keep everyone from having secrets, and he's taken up with a former supervillain called Hella (ow, ow, ow, hate, bile for that word, so we'll use her real name Helen), who is the resident 'vixen' who is none too pleased with the humdrum nature of civilian life. Then you've got the Batman – aka Night Fox, who OF COURSE is having a secret gay relationship with his domino-masked sidekick Agent Twilight, and his wife Alexis (there's always an Alexis) discovers this and it threatens their relationship – not to mention the Night Fox brand that her massive corporation is built on. Then there's Mr. Mom, aka Jeremy Metzger, helping to rear his two children with Wonder Woman, aka Batu: The Daughter of the Bright Moon, who seems to despise her son in favor of her daughter, who seems to want nothing to do with her warrior lifestyle. Tia Jenkins is the wife of the Martian Manhunter-esque Cosmic Champion, and she seems to be the resident housewife with no sense of herself or her own interests anymore. And, just to make sure this isn't a one-sided DC parody, we've got a Captain America and Bucky sort in the forms of the old and infirm Marine Omega and the young and ambitious "second-in-command-not-sidekick" Bulldog, who are coupled with the inscrutable army wife Ruth and the nosy fangirl Eve, respectively.
So how will these people play off of each other? Who's the secret supervillain and the not-so-secret supervillain? There's enough intrigue here to at least check in for a few more issues, and there's enough actual comic-booky flair going on here to ensure that it's not just going to be a trashy soap opera. There are twists and turns in the unfolding characters that make things interesting – at first, we think Sovereign is going to be like Astro City's Samaritan, never resting from his good works because he's aware of everything going wrong in the world all the time, but he soon turns out to be more like a conqueror in repose, suggesting that his relationship with Helen might be more than just a saucy scandal waiting to go public. The focus on private lives instead of high adventure should be a refreshing change of pace from the norm as well. The art from Dauterman is solid, very bright and clean, although hopefully there will be a little more differentiation in his female faces – particularly between Alexis and Helen – in future issues.
So it's a decent start, although with some trepidation left to keep from embracing it whole-heartedly. Something about the Night Fox and Robin thing feels too cheap and easy, but Randolph does make a point of revealing that early on, obviously more interested in the actual ramifications of such a thing rather than building it up to be a big revelatory 'ain't I clever and hilarious' joke as many writers would. And "hella" is an expression that makes my skin crawl, so I'm not looking forward to seeing it all the time as somebody's code name. Nitpicks, surely. Supurbia #1 is still certainly worth checking out.