Monday, September 23, 2013

Project Superpowers: Then & Now by RVGA!

 Back in 2008 a comic book company known as Dynamite Entertainment unleashed upon the industry a brand new universe of superheroes that have been lost to the sands of time since their popularity decades ago. These golden age heroes, many of which have not been heard from for 40-50 years, finally had a world all their own to share and many fans within the industry stood up and took notice as Project Superpowers landed on comic book shelves all over the world. The premise was simple: Take as many classic golden age heroes that can be acquired and bring them into the modern age and give the readers an explanation as to where they've all been over the past several decades. Use this as a launching point to create a line of comics that would eventually compete with Marvel and DC's superheroes and connect with fans both new and old who would either fall in love with these characters, or have already loved them for years and years.
     The line of books launched to a huge world-wide audience, the #0 issue landed in the top 10 of the Diamond Comics top 300 ordered books list (near the top) and several of the first volume issues lived healthily inside of the top 100. The fans who were reading the first chapter were insanely dedicated and blew up the official Dynamite forums and the Comic Book Resources forums with discussions about the title and the story going on within it. It thrilled fans of classic characters from the golden age and it excited readers who were used to reading books written for today's market, and through heavy promotion Dynamite successfully launched a popular and well received universe of superheroes. Finally, fans of shared universe style storytelling had a brand new line of comics to enjoy and follow from the beginning without 40-60 years worth of continuity to brush up on. It was fresh and new and fans didn't have to suffer through the same ol' same ol' that was going on within Marvel and DC at the time. What a concept it was.
     As the success kept on coming, Dynamite launched spin-off titles to support the line and tried hard to keep fans interested, but over time the sales and orders of the Project Superheroes franchise began to level out and the spin-offs just couldn't reach the success of their mother series. A lot of things could have been the reason for this. Mainly, when Dynamite launched Black Terror it released the first 4 issues and then said that the book was going on hiatus until Project Superpowers chapter two was to be released. This move left the Black Terror title in limbo for months and confused fans and casual readers about the status of the book, many thought it was just going to be a 4 issue miniseries when this happened. When things were back on track Dynamite released a couple more series of comics based on characters from the franchise, mainly Death Defyin' Devil and Lady Masquerade. These books were both very well done but didn't find the level of success that Dynamite had hoped for and basically only sold to the Project Superpowers die hard's. We were also treated to another 4 issue miniseries called “Meet the Bad Guys” which was an odd group of books based around a hand picked member of the group and their encounters with their biggest villains. It was kind of a neat idea, but didn't really make much sense and didn't really resonate with fans very well.
     When the second volume of Project Superpowers was complete and fans were as thirsty for a third chapter as they were for the second, Dynamite quietly let the franchise fade away and fall into a void. Die hard fans and casual readers were left with absolutely nothing to satiate their thirst for these books and it seemed like the party was over aside from a Christmas special that was published some time after chapter 2 was done. Month after month passed by with absolutely no word from Dynamite as to what was going on with Project Superpowers. It was strange, but there was a shimmer of hope in very early 2012 when Dynamite's President and CEO told fans that an announcement would be made regarding the series shortly, and by shortly that pretty much meant a year from then but I suppose we will cover that in a few minutes. Again, month after month crept by and people were still asking question on the official Dynamite forums and over at Comic Book Resources, it was as if Dynamite had forgotten about this franchise and just killed it for good. Until now. 
   Just recently Dynamite announced that they were going to publish a miniseries based on The Owl, a character within the Project Superpowers universe, and that it was going to be a bridge series to another series that would come in time. That series is heavily rumored to be the third volume of Project Superpowers. Fans who have been jaded by Dynamite's treatment of the franchise have returned and are still begging for more, while fans who have remained loyal continue to cry out in hopes that the rumored title to come is the next chapter in the series. Either way, Dynamite is sitting on what could be a goldmine if they treat the property correctly this time around and if they approach things slowly they could re-launch what could become the third biggest superhero universe in all of comics. The critical praise for the first two volumes of Project Superpowers was great and the fan response was tremendous, now they just need to nurse the baby until it's ready to stand up and walk on it's own (which may not take as long as you think with proper promotion). Time will tell as to what Dynamite has up their sleeve for this franchise but I'm hoping that it's going to be every bit as sweet as it would’ve been had the publisher not dropped the ball all those years ago. After all, these golden age heroes need a home too, right? Sure they do! But seriously, I do urge everyone who is reading this who hasn't done so yet to check out the first two volumes of Project Superpowers as well as some of the mini's and spin-offs that were released between 2008-2010, I think you'll fall in love with these heroes as much as I have and I really believe that the market needs these forgotten characters to keep the superhero genre fresh and on it's toes.
     Sure, the pulp books seem to be the big thing right now (and rightfully so) but there is still room for skin-tight spandex and heroic figures who want to serve justice in a non-bloody and death induced way. But if you're chomping at the bit for some of these classic characters now and don't want to wait than you can check out Masks, a series by Dynamite that is mainly pulp but add's in The Black Terror and Green Lama for a bit of balance to the book. Oddly enough the Green Lama was once a pulp hero himself, but I guess that's another conversation for another time. Well, that's it for now but like I said, get out there and go get yourself some of the Project Superpowers books and enjoy a universe that once was.....and may will be again.

Twitter - @OfficialRVGA
© 2013 Bill Mulligan

1 comment:

  1. Having been a subscriber of an Australian internet service provider for quite some time now, I am also hooked to games online. :)