Metropolis Grove – Drew Brockington, Writer/Artist; Wendy Broome, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: DC has made amazing headway with bringing in top talent from the world of kids’ graphic novels to their all-ages OGNs, including the incredible Kirk Scroggs, and now they add a new name that list—cartoonist Drew Brockington. His DC debut, Metropolis Grove, is a charming and funny OGN about the challenges of middle school friendships that just happens to center around a certain caped Metropolis denizen—but maybe not the one you’re thinking of.
The story focuses on a trio of sixth graders—brash and energetic Duncan, his tomboy best friend Alex, and new kid in town Sonia, who has just arrived from Metropolis into the sleepy suburbs with her family. The two friends quickly take Sonia into their group, and they decide to spend the summer building a fort in the woods. Sonia also quickly tries to get her new friends to join her in being Superman’s biggest fan. There’s just one problem.
Duncan doesn’t think Superman is real.
This is a funny concept, but one that actually makes a lot of sense. We know Batman is seen as an urban legend, but how would people out of the big hero cities think about more public superheroes? Duncan is convinced Superman is just a publicity stunt by Metropolis, making him maybe the DCU’s first Super-conspiracy theorist. A scene where he and Sonia get increasingly heated while Alex determinedly talks to herself about her sandwich is probably the funniest bit of dialogue in the book.
Of course, this being a DC graphic novel, it’s not going to stay in the realm of debate. Soon enough, the kids start seeing weird sightings of Superman around the woods, and even find what looks like a makeshift fortress of solitude made out of stones. This is a fun take on local cryptid mythology, but the truth turns out to be something else entirely. It’s probably not a big spoiler to reveal that this isn’t Superman—it’s Bizarro, drawn in a unique style that makes him look more like a friendly ogre than anything.
Bizarro’s a character that’s never quite worked for me—I can’t stand the concept of Bizarro World—but here Brockington calls back to his post-crisis version as a failed clone who tries to do good, but whose mind often trips him up. As Sonia tries to help the hulking but gentle Super become the hero he wants to be—without all the property damage—an odd friendship develops. But it may damage her other friendships.
One thing I like about this book is that it’s really fair to all three lead characters. None of them is perfect and none of them is the villain. Duncan may be a bit brash and obnoxious, but he never turns his back on friends in need. Alex is too eager to please and can’t be trusted with secrets, but she’s kind and a peacemaker at heart. And Sonia has been lonely for a while and doesn’t really know how to have a group of friends yet, but she always sees the best in everyone. You’re not rooting for any one of them—you’re rooting for all of them to work it out.
The title turns out to be a good move—this isn’t really a Bizarro or DC story. It’s a story about these three kids and how the world of DC at the fringes of their little world influences their friendship. Brockington’s writing and art is a perfect match, with his character designs being cartoony and distinct. This is definitely one of the younger-skewing OGNs in DC’s lineup, with only a few moments of peril, and I think it’ll hit its mark with that audience.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.