[Disclaimer: Lion Forge is a sister company of Syndicated Comics, which publishes The Beat.]
Focusing on the African American community in New Orleans, Quincredible follows the aftermath of disaster — as the book itself says, first Katrina, then a meteor shower that caused much destruction and bestowed superpowers on numerous people in the city. The shower blessed teenager Quinton with the power of invulnerability. And as we all know, superpowers doesn’t mean he can negotiate the world of girls and bullies any better than he did before.
But Quincredible doesn’t just settle for typical teenager stuff and starts right off examining institutional racism and police brutality, as well as social responsibility and peaceful activism. And it examines these and other concepts, including how the black community would really react to superheroes, through a gray filter that focuses in on the complications rather than the easy answers. It’s very impressive in this way.
The series is written by screenwriter Rodney Barnes, known for plenty of things including Everybody Hates Chris. In the latest issue #4, Quin is faced with the personal toll of becoming a superhero, a trauma that also helps him understand that with his new status he is also a part of a community when he is helped by his mentor Glow in rescuing his parents from a situation. That leads to some truly touching scenes exploring the close family dynamics, Quin’s feelings about his place in the world because of those dynamics, and how your power comes from the other people in your life.
The most basic premise of Quincredible is that doing the right thing, the unselfish thing is hard. It requires work. And even the most incredible gifts require further work to apply them to these principles.
This is woke comics at its very best, but I fear calling it that will signal to some people that means the book is of a single purpose and eschews other aspects of storytelling in service of that purpose. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s a well-rounded work, with complex characterizations and a good story that understands that these aspects aren’t separate from the political and social ones, but intertwined, bouncing off each other and fashioning a reality from all these factors.
And there’s also some nice superhero hero action that breaks the cliches by planting them firmly in the real world. This isn’t a case of people getting powers and suddenly become combat warriors. Learning to fight crime is a process built from recurring failure. The superheroes are as human as the readers, and Quin functions as an intelligent, personable guide to their world.
Quincredible is written with sincerity and offers something really original in the superhero genre that doesn’t look back to its past, but firmly moves ahead to an enlightened future that considers and respects its audience, and takes cues from their real-life experiences and concerns. And it does a credible job of the delicate tightrope walk of considering different points of view in a conflict without demeaning or brushing aside certain ones. I wish there were more superhero comics like Quincredible.