CATALYST PRIME: SUPERB #6
Written by David F. Walker and Sheena C. Howard
Art by Alitha Martinez, Ray-Anthony Height, Lebeau L. Underwood, Veronica Gandini, Chris Sotomayor, and Tom Napolitano
Edited by Joseph Illidge and Desiree Rodriguez
Published by Lion Forge Comics
Release Date: January 17, 2018
Jonah and Kayla… ooops. I mean, Cosmosis and Amina have a problem. Their parents are being held at a Foresight facility, and it’s up to them to get them freed. Only problem is they’re not very good at what they do yet, despite Abbie’s help. But a rogue superhuman on the inside might just be the distraction they need to succeed.
I think one of the things I like most about Superb is how genuine the voices feel. I have boxes of comics in my house filled with teen heroes that talk more like middle-aged men than 14-year-olds, so to land upon one that feels like it gets it right is more of a surprise than you’d think.
Indeed, co-writers Howard and Walker seem to have their fingers on the pulse of both Jonah and Kayla’s youth and relative naiveté, as much as one their individual determination to save the day. I adore that the writers make these characters so fallible, so awkward, and that their attempts to protect their families so plainly stumble right out of the gate.
That’s honest. And far from diminishing Cosmosis and Amina in my eyes, it underscores how courageous they are in the face of opposition, how committed they are to helping others — and each other. It steels me to see Jonah say, flatly, “It’s okay – we can do this,” when facing down a hallway full of soldiers. It brings a smile to my face to learn Amina takes her name from a book of “Great Women Warriors.” Even Corinna’s petulance is amusing. And none of it feels fake or artificial to me.
It feels real. Their voices are real.
With just a few intermittent pages of work by regular series artist Ray-Anthony Height, most of Superb #6 is directed by artist Alitha Martinez, one of my personal favorites from early issues of the New 52 Batgirl at DC Comics. Along those lines, Martinez seems like the perfect artist to render Amina’s development as a hero, so I’m curious to see if she’s simply guesting, or has more a long-term placement on Superb in the works.
But for now, Martinez’s work feels a little less choppy than Height’s, although some variations on inkers within her pages breaks the flow of the issue for me a bit, more than even the difference between pencillers. It’s something I’ve noticed over the past few years, and is apparent here too: shifting inkers mid-issue is a disruption that can exceed even that of doubling up on pencillers. The consistency of line weight is such a subtle aspect of the work when done correctly, and can make a book feel incredibly off-balance when not. Unfortunately, that’s the result here.
Despite that, Martinez delivers a kind of seamless quality in the way she renders hair, clothing, and facial features, making Amina and Cosmosis feel a little more classically “four-color,” while still maintaining the kind of dynamic energy Height has maintained in the series. Her Kayla and Corinna are both pretty in their own ways, but there’s no mistaking that both young women could tear down a wall with a glance if they wanted too.
With every issue, I’m enjoying the interplay of Jonah and Kayla more, and Superb #6 does not disappoint by that measure in the least. And after years of reading teen heroes who act and talk like they just finished refinancing their second mortgage, Cosmosis and Amina are definitely capturing my attention and imagination.
The Verdict: 8.0/10