Building an interconnected universe can be problematic in the best circumstances, as any franchise beyond the MCU has proven. For every MCU or connected comic line, at least 10-15 failed attempts try to repeat the success to no avail. When rushed, a sense of artificiality and coincidence wafts over the shared landscape. That sense of forward thinking and organic establishment of a shared continuity is on full display in the Massive-Verse, linking various books like Radiant Black, The Dead Lucky, and NO/ONE to great effect.
Supermassive #1 – written by Kyle Higgins, Ryan Parrott, Melissa Flores, and Matt Groom with art from Daniele Di Nicuolo, colors by Walter Baiamonte, and letters from Becca Carey – offers the second team-up of characters from across the Massive-Verse, the now sprawling interconnected series of comics built around Radiant Black. (Though C.O.W.L from Higgins and Rod Reis is stated to be part of the universe and predates any currently running titles.) The previous Supermassive one-shot featured the first team-up of Radiant Black, Inferno Girl Red, and Rogue Sun as they battled a powered absorbing monster entangled with multiverse shenanigans.
Without spoiling here, there is one last reveal that makes sense in hindsight, but it was a genuine shock when reading this crossover. This time, the team is both Radiant Blacks (Nathan and Marshall sharing the glitching power), the current Rogue Sun (Dylan, who’s being possessed by an ancient wielder of the control), and Dead Lucky (Bibi Lopez-Yang, dealing with the events of her first arc). The trio is led by Rogue Sun on a quest to locate the Holy Grail, with the promise of fixing the damaged radiant and restoring Bibi’s dead fellow soldiers. After a series of quests, and the reveal of a link to Inferno Girl Red, the trio retrieves the Grail and confirms it is not the one of myth but a trap to lure in heroes and corrupt them.,
Supermassive is a testament to the strong foundations that Higgin and co. have built for their interconnected universe, in that they can throw readers new and old into a story that feels coherent and like a sampler for the larger world simultaneously. Just trying to provide context for the series in the paragraphs above felt like a difficult task, and it speaks to the talent of the writers to make it accessible for this issue. The status quo for the three lead characters is quickly and efficiently explained in a way that feels organic to the story unfolding, and the larger page count for this one-shot never feels wasted.
Using a classic, questing narrative like the Holy Grail is also an intelligent choice, as it not only allows the creative team to put a spin on the legend but creates a framework to hang a dynamic story on. The fun and tension come from the character interaction between the three heroes, the Witch from Rogue Sun’s past, and the magical hero’s ulterior motives. The fallout of the recent issue of each book influences the depiction of all four characters and their decisions in this quest, but each time feels organic in the microcosm of this one-shot. It’s a tight balance between fan service and accessibility, but the team does it to expert effect.
Bringing in an artist not working on any of the current Massive-Verse titles was also a solid decision, allowing the book to play with a similar style but feel original. Di Nicuolo’s linework feels at home with style built as a reaction to anime and Webtoons and works for a book that makes itself around similar influences. (It’s hard not to see the anime influence when suits of armor that look precisely like an Elric brother leap into action.) The action, expressions, and settings feel dynamic and kinetic, letting the linework sell the emotion and force of every fight. The book feels like an event, with cinematic wide panels, flashy splash pages, and magical transformations.
Each hero brings a bit of their book’s style and powers to the issue, with the flame motif of Rogue Sun blending with the epic fantasy of the grail quest. The glitchy bursts of the Radiant give the sense of a clash between sci-fi and fantasy, but it is on the fritz enough not to widen the chasm. Dead Lucky’s abilities work like the bridge between the two, and Di Nicuolo’s art and Baiamonte’s colors reinforce and bridge that gap in style.
Just as the writing team manages to keep the plot and characters cohesive for the larger narrative, the art and color work to ensure that these characters feel in place with one another visually as they battle demons, self-reflection, and a fire-breathing dragon, each hero gets their moment to shine and sell their desires’ emotions.
Supermassive #1 is an excellent place to sample the wider Massive-Verse, blending the sci-fi elements of Radiant Black with the urban fantasy of Rogue Sun, and the intersection of both in The Dead Lucky. The one-shot is welcoming to both newcomers who’ve never picked up an issue in the larger universe, while also moving the stories forward for each character and giving a sense of progression for the shared universe. Every element of the book hits the balance between being accessible and rewarding, and it succeeds across all fronts.
Supermassive #1: The Weight of a Crossover
- Writing - 10/1010/10
- Storyline - 10/1010/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 10/1010/10
User Review( votes)