James Kochalka, . . Top Shelf, $14.95 (141pp) ISBN 978-1-60309-052-0
A superhero team book like no other, Kochalka's gleefully disjointed romp explores what a group of young, confused people with superpowers would probably actually do, which is to say what the ones without superpowers tend to do: spend all their time playing cruel social-hierarchy games, indulging in awkward sexual experimentation, one-upping each other's potty-mouths, and figuring out creative ways to get high. Naturally, Kochalka draws it in his standard ultra-cute, clear-line style. Even his lines are mostly in a palette of simple, flat colors, giving the artwork a sense of candy-cane playfulness. The bulk of this collection was originally published as issues 271, 273, 277, and 279 of an “ongoing series” (no other issues exist, of course, but it's a hilarious excuse for Kochalka to dispense with pesky necessities like exposition and resolving cliffhangers); they're accompanied here by a solo story about the sycophantically adored and wildly irritable hero Jack Krack. There's a disarming sweetness about the whole thing, despite the satirical over-the-top vulgarity and the patina of angst and nastiness; even the occasional explosions of violence are adorable and briskly healed up.
Reviewed on: 01/18/2010