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Monday, June 23, 2008

Superior Showcase #3 -- One of the year's best comics stories appears in this issue, published by AdHouse Books.

It's not Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca's Street Angel, although that story is the reason I picked up SS #3, and its horror-manga-inspired story of young Jesse struggling against evil while hospitalized (don't we all?) is a welcome return for one of my favourite comics characters. I hope we see more Street Angel soon, and I wish whatever market realities prevent an ongoing title from, well, ongoing, would set themselves straight soon.

The issue also includes an adventure of Kid Medulla by Dustin Harbin, exactly the sort of mischievous snark that my 12-year-old son lives for on Nickelodeon, as a young kid with mental powers causes a lot of farting and other embarrassments to revenge himself on a world he doesn't quite fit into. Fun stuff.

But, the story that really makes Superior Showcase #3 a must-buy for lovers of great comics is "Freaks," by Laura Park. The story starts with a violent schoolyard brawl that moves to a walk home by the victor and his older sister, who makes him a snack and tries her best to talk to her angry young brother while watching out for her family's overall needs. As the story progresses, quietly and with great narrative power, Park shows us the reasons the kids are considered "freaks," and reveals with great nuance what that means to the young people suffering under that label.

Park's artwork is stunning, from her evocation of a walk through the neighbourhood to the empathetic way she depicts the kids, to the stunning bedtime scene where the children's "powers" are revealed to the reader. "Freaks" is realistic in its handling of home life for modern-day kids, but optimistic and ultimately loving in the way the brother-sister relationship is explored. "Freaks" is about the importance of kindness and family and understanding and taking the time to just care, and it's one of the most moving comics stories I've read in a long time.

In just ten pages, Park creates a whole world and history for the brother and sister of "Freaks," one I'd love to see more of. Her bio on the inside front cover says she is working on her first book of comics (there's a little bit of info and a link to a lot of her art here). I'm definitely ready to see more. Hurry up already.



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