If you were to ask me what my favorite comic book currently being published is, I’d have to say Radiant Black. Not only does it mix the best parts of genres I love – particularly the superhero and tokusatsu elements – but it also feels realistic, especially when it came to the characters and the struggles they faced. Last year saw the debut of the Supermassive one-shot which launched the self-proclaimed “Massive-verse”: a shared universe that grew to include Rogue Sun, The Dead Lucky, No/One and Inferno Girl Red. Now with a year under its belt, Supermassive returns for an entirely different story.
In 1412, a mage named Thomasin engaged in battle with one of the Rogue Suns for control of the Holy Grail. Yes, that Holy Grail. In the present day, the latest Rogue Sun seeks the Holy Grail for his own purposes. Soon he draws Nathan Burnett and his friend Marshall, who share the mantle of Radiant Black, as well as electrically powered soldier Bibi Lopez-Yang into his quest. But will their combined superpowers be enough to find the Grail?
What I loved about the first Supermassive book is that it managed to tell a complete story in a single issue, and did so in a way that readers of all walks could enjoy. Unlike most crossover events which span multiple series, you only need to pick up this one issue to understand the story. There is a little bit of a learning curve this time around as most of the story is building off of plot points in other Massiveverse books, but at the very least it should provide a good reason to go out and pick up the rest of the books.
The concept of teamwork within the book extends to the writers involved. Radiant Black writer and Massiveverse architect Kyle Higgins is joined by Rogue Sun‘s Ryan Parrott, Inferno Girl Red‘s Mat Groom and Dead Lucky‘s Melissa Flores; together they form a very cohesive unit. The issue is chock full of everything you’d want out of a superhero blockbuster, including intense action sequences and some great dynamics between the various characters. There’s even a massive surprise or two that I dare not spoil – suffice it to say, your jaw will hit the ground.
Each character also has their own reasons for seeking out the Grail. Nathan and Marshall figure that it will help them get a handle on their rapidly deteriorating Radiant powers. Bibi seeks to bring a fallen friend back to life. These motivations feel entirely in line with their characters, and proves that you don’t always have to place the world in peril to bring stakes to a story. In fact, it’s this kind of character work that makes the Massiveverse a match for – and even rival – Marvel and DC’s current output.
Joining the book are the art team of Daniele Di Niculo and Walter Baiamonte, who previously worked with Higgins on his Mighty Morphin Power Rangers run (a title that the other three writers also inherited.) Di Niculo is having an utter blast illustrating the issue; images as simple as Radiant Black and Rogue Sun flying through the sky have an almost animated feel to them. So do the action sequences, which seem to leap from one page to the next. There’s giant statues, a dragon, and a massive horde of zombies. All of it is rendered in rich color by Baimonte, especially the word balloons from longtime Massiveverse letterer Becca Carey. Each character has a distinct voice, especially Rogue Sun as his word balloons are tinged with flames.
Supermassive (2023) #1 delivers another action-packed, character-driven crossover that pushes the Massiveverse forward. If you’ve been wondering what the Massiveverse is all about, this is a great starting point.
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