Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"They say a funeral is for those who are left behind, but I don't really take much comfort from all this.
"I've lost my best friend, the mother of my boys, and my soulmate...
"Joanne is here in a wooden box and everyone is acting like it's so damn normal.
"The preacher says she's happier now and living up there in a better place. But how could it be better?
"We didn't spend one night apart in thirty-eight years of marriage.
"How can it be paradise if she and I aren't together anymore?"
I really did not believe that it was possible for Millar to produce a comic with more pathos than SUPERIOR, but I think he might have managed it, you know. There are so many heart strings getting tugged in the opening thirty or so pages, it's practically a full violin concerto of melodrama! I don't mind admitting there were a couple of moments when I had to wipe a discrete tear from the corner of my cynical old eye.
Our main character Duke McQueen (think a pension-age Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers, basically, and if this gets made into a film I would dearly love Sam Jones to play the lead) safely retired from derring-do in his silver-haired dotage, mourning the recent loss of the love of his life, being gradually ever-more sidelined by his two busy adult sons, is feeling lost. Human beings are social creatures, and denied the contact with those we love, through time and distance, or mortality, it can be a rather lonely existence.
Duke seems to be coping well enough. After all you'd expect no less from such a renowned space hero, right? Except, except, his youthful exploits took place somewhere far, far away, and no one on the planet Earth ever believed a single word of it, aside from his late wife. Even two generations on, his notoriety and public shaming hasn't been forgotten and has become something even young kids like to tease a crazy old man about...
"Uh, are you the guy that thinks he flew his plane to another planet?"
"The guys were saying you got sucked through a wormhole and came home telling everyone you'd met real aliens. Is that true or are they just messing with me?"
"Yeah, I'm not sure if it was a wormhole, but yeah... I ended up somewhere else for a while and saw some crazy stuff. I just don't like talking about it."
"Is it true they put a probe in Uranus?"
"Get the hell outta my sight!"
"Relax buddy, I'm used to it."
These days, he's playing out his third and final act almost as if in a dream, for all he has are his memories. Those of his dear departed wife... and those of his time riding dragons and duelling space dictators. When his two sons and their families aren't able to come and visit him on the anniversary of their mother's passing, inadvertently ruining the special meal which they have no idea Duke has spent days planning and preparing, it seems like he can't feel any more alone in the world, or should that be universe? So when Duke's house begins to shake as if a huge earthquake is starting, he's as shocked as anyone when a spaceship decloaks and a young alien steps out pleading for his help. Yes, it's time for Duke McQueen to saddle up and save the day once again!
This is superb work from Millar. I was gripped from the first page, not least because of Goran Parlov's opening sequence set on an alien world which is pure Moebius, and that top-notch standard of art is continued throughout even once we're (briefly) back on more mundane Earth, in Goran's own inimitable style. But also because instantly you care about Duke and you desperately want something, anything, good or better yet exciting, to happen for this care-worn, gentle giant of a man. Better buckle up! And keep your hankie handy for this is schmaltz at its finest!