MINI-SERIES REVIEWS...

Super Powers #1 - cover by Jack KirbySuper Powers

(1984 - five issues, DC Comics)

Story: Jack Kirby. Script: Joey Cavalieri, Jack Kirby. Pencils: Adrian Gonzales, Jack Kirby. Inks: various.

This was the first of three identically titled Super Powers mini-series, done as nothing more noble than to tie in with the "Super Powers" line of DC Comics action figures then being released by Kenner Toys. It's basically a Silver Age-flavoured Justice League of America story as Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Hawkman, Green Lantern, The Flash, and Batman & Robin, get involved in evil Darkseid's latest plot to conquer earth, initially by recruiting villains Lex Luthor, Brainiac, The Joker and the Penguin.

And it's actually kind of fun.

Oh, make no mistakes, this isn't High Art. It's goofy, it's juvenile, but it's refreshingly...fun. As I said, it reminds me of the kind of stories Gardner Fox turned out in the sixties (minus Fox's redundant captions) -- little characterization, little deep emmotion, but a lot of cleverly off-beat, cliff hanger serial-like adventures, with the characters more often than not having to think their way through situations as much as pound their way through. Cavalieri scripts the first four issues (throwing in some amusing one-liners) and because this was supposed to seem like a Jack Kirby effort (Kirby provides the covers) Gonzales and a succession of inkers seem to try for a pseudo-Kirby style in the art -- it doesn't really succeed, ending up more just a little crude and simple-looking. It ain't beautiful to look at, but it suits the "tell it with gusto" storytelling philosophy at work.

Kirby takes over the writing and art for the final chapter and things actually get a bit odd. He throws in New God Metron (who, along with Darkseid, wasn't even in line to be a toy) which makes things a bit Deus ex machina if you aren't familiar already with Kirby's New Gods. And for a series that had steadfastly gone for an old fashioned, juvenile charm (where even the Joker is more comic relief than sinister psychopath) suddenly we get Metron spouting weird, metaphysical monologues.

Super Powers is largely a breezy, goofy effort...but, darn it, sometimes that's what even us adult readers need from time to time. It's fast-paced, constantly shifting in direction (without seeming unfocused or rambling) and bubbling over with ideas. It reminds you that some comics are meant to be fun, escapist fair.

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