AfterShock Comics, the bold new line of comics featuring some of the biggest names in comics, has been launching this month, and today one of their premiere titles hits the stands: SuperZero, written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti with art by the team of artist Rafael de Latorre and colorist Marcelo Maiolo, loosely fits into the “What if superheroes were real?” genre. But as you might imagine in a book from the writers of the smash hit Harley Quinn series, SuperZero has a lot of twists, starting with the heroine, Drusilla “Dru” Dragowski, a 19-year-old high school student whose been left behind a few too many times and dreams of turning into the superheroine Paladina.
But the mean streets of Tampa, Fla. have a lot of surprises for Dru, and in the first issue, her plans for achieveing superherodom go awry in an unexpected—and very funny—way.
SuperZero is firmly in the tradition of comics from Herbie to Kick-Ass that contrast the surreal nature of superheroes with the mundane suburban life of teenagers. But Conner and Palmiotti have given it a fresh kick —aided by the art team who give the book all the action and characterization it needs, topped off by some outstanding coloring.
Amanda Conner sat down to answer a few questions about Super-Zero exclusively for The Beat:
THE BEAT: What was the original inspiration for Superzero? We live in a pretty superhero soaked world, and your heroine, Dru Dragowski, seems to have been soaking it a little too long. I assume you must have met some people who take comics a little too seriously. Was that part of the inspiration?
Amanda Conner: I think I may be the one that soaked in it for too long. I used to really want to be a superhero when I was a kid. My parents had a lot of art supplies around the house, and one day I found some silver poster board. I fashioned some “bullet-proof” wristbands out of the poster board, and then told my younger brother to shoot at me with his plastic pellet gun, so I could practice my Wonder Woman skills. Needless to say, it didn’t go as well as I had pictured it going in my head. I did manage to deflect about 15%-20% of the pellets, but most of them ended up ricocheting off my head and neck. Ow. I am sooo lucky to have my eyesight. Granted, it was not a very powerful pellet gun, but….
Anyway, imagine taking that kind of silliness to a whole new level. That’s what Dru does.
THE BEAT: There have been a few series set in the real world about teens who try to be superheroes, and they often get pretty dark. The first issue has the potential for that but it goes in a different and much more humorous direction. Have you found yourself resisting those dark paths or embracing them?
Conner: We sort of looked at SuperZero from a very realistic point of view. What it would be like if a regular teenager tried to become a superhero, and the laws of physics, gravity, motion, etc., remained firmly intact and un-defied. Not all of us are spectacularly athletic, or have the boldness to try base-jumping or bull-riding, and many of the heroes in books are those kinds of people.
Dru, like a lot of us, is pretty ordinary, for the most part, and this book sort of represents what it would be like if most of us took super-hero-ing to the extreme. On the other hand, I think that’s what makes the book so ridiculously fun and unusual in itself. We even have a variant we are selling ourselves where we can write in any silly thing you like and Jimmy and I sign the book, something fun and unusual. Available at http://paperfilms.com/product-category/paperfilms-exclusives/
The Beat: The comic book public seems very intrigued with slightly unbalanced female heroes these days (cough cough Harley Quinn). Superzero’s Dru is obviously a good kid but she’s also a little…special. Why do you think these characters are so popular now?
Conner: It is so much easier to identify with a character that has flaws, that isn’t perfect. A character that makes mistakes lets you feel that when you make mistakes, it’s pretty normal, and you’re not alone in your mistake-making.
The Beat: There’s also some high school drama in the story that’s very engaging. Is this going to be a big part of the series?
Conner: Yeah, high school turmoil is a very real part of growing up and of going to junior high school or high school. To include it in the book is to acknowledge that Dru has a life that parallels some of our own lives.
The Beat: How did you hook up with artist Rafael de Latorre and colorist Marcelo Maiolo? I believe they are studiomates, and the book looks fantastic!
Conner: Yes! We really lucked out with them! Mike Marts and Joe Pruett showed us a whole bunch of different artists. All of them were so good, but Rafael and Maiolo just had that special something. They really nailed the environment, and they do a terrific job with the tone of the book. Mostly, they are so great with depicting teen-age characters, which is heart and soul of this book.
SuperZero #1 is on sale today. There’s a variant cover by Darwyn Cooke and a blank variant (Shown exclueivly above) that you can buy from Palmiotti and Conner at cons and get personalized as only they can.
Here’s a preview:
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.