Superf*ckers #279 (or: #4)

This is due out in a few weeks, "published on the brink of bankruptcy" by Top Shelf.

I think Superf*ckers may be my one favorite work by writer/artist James Kochalka. There's such total pleasure taken in being childishly outrageous on every single page; it's a weirdly honest work, I think, one that's not about to let the slightest concern get in the way of its fun, which is essentially how its teenage superhero characters face life anyway. In a weird way, it's reminiscent of superhero comics as diverse as Peter Milligan's and Brendan McCarthy's Paradax (in that it's a celebration of the notion that a superhero could indulge in excess without punishment and maybe that's ok), or some of the sillier works of Garth Ennis (only without any of the self-concious hand-wringing over genre), although it's also fully Kochalka's pet from every angle, from its simple character designs to its searing colors.

Regular readers will note that this series follows an odd numbering scheme - this is really issue #4, although there's absolutely no indication of such on the book itself. Instead, it's marked as issue #279, issue #3 having been #277 - the effect is that we only ever seem to find 'downtime' issues to read, with the suggestion of action and continuity floating around every story, even though the characters never actually do anything superheroic while we're observing them. If you'll recall, issue #277 ended with a cataclysmic disaster wrecking the very nature of reality - presumably issue #278 was an all-action spectacular in which lives were saved and worlds rebuilt, although we only ever get hints of it.

Instead, we're told that semi-protagonist Vortex somehow managed to save reality, making a few minor changes in the process; what those changes are provide the issue's mystery. He's also totally started sleeping with pungent teammate Grotessa, whose best pal Grotus is now firmly set in his role as team leader. And while Grotus may be little more than a glorping lump of living purple goop, it hasn't stopped him from enjoying the perks of leadership, such as the physical attentions of mean Princess Sunshine, who has completely dumped poor Jack Krak, who is still just about the most awful person in the world. Wandering around in a haze (and a pink ruffled skirt), Jack wastes no time in finding activities to occupy him, like invading Grotus' and Princess Sunshine's bedroom after they've left and licking & huffing Grotus' hallucinogenic secretions right off the sheets.

Elsewhere, the usual fun occurs. We enjoy the pulse-pounding introduction of the late Orange Lightning's clone, who quickly sets out to exhume his corpse and use the skull as a bong. Errant team leader Superdan is still trapped in Dimension Zero with the wholly unimpressive Omnizod (Destroyer of Worlds!!). One teammate steals another's pottery project to have sex with, only to shout "Your pussy sucks shit! 'I'll fuck anything once'... that's my motto. But this pussy is TERRIBLE." And plenty more fun and hijinx, and romance, and exposed genitals. And bleeding.

I suppose you can argue that Superf*ckers is providing most the same vulgar experience with every issue, but paying close attention does reveal a certain amount of character development, and a genuine underlying sympathy for foolish, aimless teenagers and their stupid antics (not to mention the sometimes-even-stupider antics of superheroes). It's not that a comic of this sort really needs to have 'heart,' but clearly Kochalka wants his to, and it works as best I expect it can.

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