Project Superpowers: Chapter Two #1
Written by Jim Krueger and Alex Ross
Art by Edgar Salazar and Alex Ross
Colors by Victor Ramones
Lettering by Simon Bowland
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Review by David Pepose
If you're looking for a good jumping on point for the Project Superpowers universe, think again. Despite a one-page synopsis at the beginning of the book -- which talks about an interesting sounding story about a hero who did some very bad things to try to save the world -- Project Superpowers: Chapter Two #1's lack of exposition really makes it a tough story to get into.
The story opens with the Project Superpowers crew fighting... well, the President of the United States. Does he have a codename? I'm not really sure, as writer Jim Krueger doesn't really explain much about him, other than the fact that he's superstrong and emits light from his body. He manhandles the Green Lama, as he threatens to "snap his neck like the twig you rode in on." The dialogue just felt really stilted, but unfortunately, the comprehension level goes downhill with the introduction of the Inheritors, the Project Superpowers version of the Teen Titans.
Because we don't really get a good grasp on the adult team, having a group of younger spin-offs gets even more confusing. What I understood was that they were trying to stop their AWOL mentors from succeeding in their coup d'etat -- what I didn't get was them falling into a well into the jungles of Burma. It opens up to a cool-looking fight scene, but again, I never really understood who these teens were as actual characters... and for the opening of the second chapter, having an unknown set of villains and a continuing string of unknown heroes, it just seems... impenetrable.
Artwise, Project Superpowers felt really disjointed. There are some exceptions, of course -- Salazar's portrayal of the Green Lama facing the Supremacy looks really nice, as does the feral David Merryweather (of course, in another surprising lack of exposition, we don't even get his codename) -- but overall, there are some serious problems, ranging from shading to distended anatomy to a lack of backgrounds in half the scenes in the book. One example that really stuck out for me was the President choking the Green Lama, and then suddenly the Lama is leaping with his legs swung out in an impossible angle -- it's just really choppy, and takes you out of the story.
Meanwhile, Colorist Victor Ramones tries valiantly to cover for his artistic counterparts, offering shading and effects to much of the artwork, but even he makes some weird choices, varying between strange green lighting on characters in pitch darkness, to strange blue shadows on the face of a character who happens to radiates light. Perhaps the most awkward image is the first one, as Ramones has to give the unknown villain abs and muscle definition, which just makes the whole page just look as if it were choreographed by Barbie dolls.
All in all, unless you've really invested your time and interest in the Project Superpowers universe, I can't recommend buying this book -- neither the writing nor the artwork really is dynamic enough to grab you, so instead it feels as though the entire premise is something derivative, whether it be the archetypes of DC's Justice Society or the razor's edge rebelliousness of Wildstorm's Authority. It's a shame, too, because I know that Dynamite has a lot of potential with this series, but if it keeps only preaching for the choir, this series will never transcend its Golden Age inspirations.