It took me awhile to figure out what was going on in Project Superpowers. Oh, it's not that the story or the art is unclear. I simply couldn't recognize a character nor his/her/its importance to the plot until Ross and Krueger spelled it out.
Until then, I'm looking at this character, and I'm thinking, "Who is that dude fighting the Frankenstein Army? Is this the new version of the Heap? Is it some obscure hero that I know nothing about?"
When Ross and Krueger reveal the secret, everything falls into place, but before that, they had me guessing. They had my full attention. I really couldn't stop reading. I wanted to see what happened next, and that is what you want in a comic book.
Numerous factors pool together to make Project Superpowers the best team book aimed at a mature audience rather than an all-ages demographic. The concept is ingenious. World War II heroes are brought to the present, and they cast judgment through their actions. These heroes fought in, perhaps, the last just war. They arrive in the present, and they see the soldiers being treated as meat, as interchangeable. Their individuality has been subsumed into a shambling, never-ending army controlled by a cabal of CEOs thirsting for power. This horror must be stopped.
The heroes in Project Superpowers are all public domain characters. That means anybody can take them, do with them what they want and present their own versions to an audience. For example, several of the characters in Project Superpowers manifested in Terra Obscura from the former Alan Moore branch of DC comics. Miss Masque and Yankee Girl came out of the closet and fell into each others' arms. I'm a guy. I like lesbians. The trouble was that the incarnations in Terra Obscura were nitwits.
In Project Superpowers Miss Masque, now known as Masquerade, fights side by side with the Superpowers. She's only armed with .45 automatics and compassion, yet because of the authors' reverence and the artists' ability to imbue resonance, she comes off as formidable as the Black Canary, the original Black Cat, The Thorn and the Helena Wayne Huntress. This is what you want in a character. You don't want to laugh at this hero. You don't want to shake your head and sigh. You want to admire this character and root for her. That I'm afraid trumps girl-girl action.
Masquerade isn't even the focus of the story. She's one of the many who gets her moment. The Fighting Yank is arguably the star. Krueger and Ross take a character who could easily be despised and make him likeable. He did a terrible thing, but he admits to his mistake, and he does his best to put things right. As a result the Black Terror will not kill him as promised and he states this with a smile on his face.
After a riveting battle and the revelation of a second secret, the superpowers address the people and declare war on the puppet masters. They accept that they will be considered terrorists, but this book questions that general use of that label and the labelers.
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