SUPERMASSIVE Pulls You Into A New Universe of Possibilities
Have you ever gotten THAT phone call? That late night, “Listen, I just had a crazy idea” call from a close friend or relative? That invitation to a wild idea that’s both exciting and terrifying? Supermassive exists because Kyle Higgins is the man making those calls, and his friends all replied, “YES!”.
Supermassive is the first comic book crossover of Radiant Black (created by the above mentioned Kyle Higgins and Marcelo Costa), Inferno Girl Red (created by Mat Groom and Erica D’Urso), and Rogue Sun (created by Ryan Parrott and Abel); three tokusatsu-inspired superheroes who have to come together and save the world from an extra-dimensional threat. Some of you have been anxiously anticipating this book (for good reason, it’s incredible), but others may be unfamiliar with the superheroes involved. That’s ok! Radiant Black has been around for 12 issues – released over the past year – and Supermassive is actually the premier of both Inferno Girl Red and Rogue Sun! Making this a much easier backlog than, let’s say, 10 hours of movie binging.
Pulling off a crossover is an incredibly difficult thing to do and using it as an introduction for two brand new characters, makes it even trickier. Supermassive utilizes a unique strategy by focusing on Inferno Girl Red’s future, Radiant Black’s present, and Rogue Sun’s past. Inferno Girl Red was successfully Kickstarted in April of 2021. Her graphic novel is due to release later this year. And Supermassive is a flash-forward of who she will be by the end of her book. This both keeps her origin in her own story and allows her to be a fully competent superhero who can keep up with the other two. For Radiant Black, this is a continuation of the past year. Supermassive takes place right after Radiant Black 11. It rewards loyal readers who have picked up on the hints of what will happen without it being required reading. As for Rogue Sun, Supermassive functions as a prologue. Rogue Sun #1 will arrive in early March and follows Dylan Seigel as he uses the powers of Rogue Sun to solve the murder of his father Marcus Bell. Rather than meeting Dylan right away, Supermassive boldly uses Marcus Bell as Rogue Sun.
Marcus Bell is going to die. This isn’t a spoiler, it’s the elevator pitch for Rogue Sun as a series, and it’s alluded to in Supermassive. But why make one of the three protagonists marked for death? For a long time now, Marcus has been protecting New Orleans from supernatural threats. He uses a mysterious stone to access a fiery suit of armor which grants him flight and hellfire blasts. By following Marcus, we get a grizzled veteran hero who knows what he’s doing, and we invest ourselves in his future murder investigation. Marcus is rough around the edges, but it’s hard not to like him. Although he’s reluctant to team up with the other two more rookie heroes, he clearly feels a deep responsibility to protect the world using the powers he inherited and to do better than his father (who was Rogue Sun before him). His time with Radiant Black and Inferno Girl Red seems to have softened some of his “lone wolf” exterior and helped him grow into a great leader. So, it’s a shame that he won’t be around for the next team-up. But growing to like Marcus, just builds anticipation for Rogue Sun, because you want to see which of his traits Dylan inherits, and for his murder to be avenged by the next generation.
Speaking of the next generation, Supermassive’s other brand new hero is Cassiá Costa AKA Inferno Girl Red. Her powers are not fully explored, but it’s clear that they come from a dragon-bracelet on her arm where she can grow wings, shoot dragon blasts, and travel through other dimensions. That last power is the impetus for Supermassive, as Cassiá accidentally lands in the universe of Radiant Black and Rogue Sun while fighting a demonic-looking, multi-headed monster. This monster is a great threat that grows in power to pull our heroes together, but it’s unfortunately unnamed. While a minor sticking point, this monster would have been more memorable if it was named, or even cleverly nicknamed by one of the heroes. But it ends up just a missed opportunity. On my first read-through, it felt like Cassiá was the least developed of the three main characters. Both Marshall and Marcus are shown speaking with friends and loved ones before the action happens and both have very clear roles. Marcus is the experienced and cynical hero and Marshall, is the immature and comical, but surprisingly competent hero. Yet, it took me a while to realize that Cassiá’s role is the kid who has to step up. Marshall’s in his 30’s. He’s earned immaturity by being a functioning adult (barely) and by having a strong sense of self. Meanwhile, Cassiá is a teenager who has the best understanding of the threat, so she has to make herself heard. She is committed to her duty to protect others and wants to be seen as a serious hero that can handle her own problems. Cassiá really begins to shine as she buddies up with Marshall. Her maturity and his immaturity meet right in the middle and the two of them are responsible for the majority of the comedy in Supermassive. Hopefully, Inferno Girl Red is invited to the next crossover because her banter with Radiant Black is incredible.
Marshall’s time as Radiant Black has centered on the theme of trying to prove to himself that he can be a hero, and Supermassive continues this theme in a big way. While he has an important understanding of the threat, he still doubts himself, and some really touching moments come from Marshall looking to Marcus for advice or to Cassiá for reassurance. Marshall is an admitted fan of Rogue Sun (he has foggy memories of seeing him at Mardi Gras) and is the most enthusiastic about teaming-up with the other two to fight monsters, but the whole time, he’s also seeking out assurance that he’s able to keep up with his super-peers. Marshall can be rash, but his ability to de-escalate tense situations and outside the box thinking, is the glue that’s able to keep this team-up a success. You can see that Kyle Higgins put a lot of himself into Marshall. Like his creator, Marshall has big ideas and has to sell his allies on them, but those crazy “will this even work?” ideas lead to some of the most exciting moments of the entire crossover.
The action in this book is incredible, colorful, and explosive. It’s full of gorgeous art with blasts of color and scenes that fans will be talking about for years. Contrasting the action are the quieter moments colored in refreshing earth-tones. It’s a wonderful divergence that allows you to peak into who the heroes are under the helmets. One of the best sections of this book is when our heroes rent a car and go on a road-trip. By rotating drivers and passengers, you get great moments of heart-to-heart discussion and simple funny moments just like road trips with friends in real life.
The art does a great job of showing these scenes in blues, browns and greys. And it builds to a burst of color from a sunset that leads to some of the most vibrant and exciting action I’ve seen in comics. The fight scenes in this book are bursts of colorful excitement and everybody is highlighted. Radiant Black’s neon-blue punches stand out in beautiful contrast to Inferno Girl Red’s crimson dragon bolts and Rogue Sun’s orange hellfire, while the monster’s nuclear green energy occasionally overwhelms them with huge bursts of power. Every page of these fights is chock-full of action and detail and momentum. You really feel like you’re watching an action movie. A minor complaint is that I wish these were more full-page pieces of the fight scenes. There were some incredibly epic moments and a full-page piece would have been a great way to highlight those scenes and give a brief moment of awe before getting back to the action. But, if my biggest complaint is that I want MORE, that should be a pretty good indicator as to how I feel about Supermassive.
In just one year, Radiant Black has managed to expand into what is now being called the Massive-Verse; a universe full of heroes, villains, and anti-heroes that I cannot wait to see more of. And we don’t have to wait long! 2022 will have more Radiant Black, the premier of Rogue Sun, the release of Inferno Girl Red, the Radiant Red mini-series, Shift, and many more that have yet to be announced. It’s hard not to think about the next crossover and who might be invited to the party, because Kyle Higgins is making his phone calls and bringing in all of his incredibly talented friends to play in this new universe, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch unfold. So, the next time you’re invited to a crazy exciting new opportunity, will you answer the call? I hope so, because if a bunch of friends can create a massive universe like this, anything is possible.