BY JOE BERKOWITZ
That thunderous sound you heard this past month after Fantastic Four flopped was the enterprise of comic book movies crashing down to Earth. Don’t worry, nerds, these movies aren’t going away anytime soon. Captain America: Civil War will still make an outlandish sum of money next spring, heralding the return of the surefire superhero blockbuster. Still, the toxic response to Fantastic Four was a gut-check for all creatives with capes and weird powers on the brain. Before the moment passes, we should take the time to consider how to inject new life into comic books and the movies for which they serve as blueprints. One artist’s solution to the overly familiar origin story is setting it from the POV of the superhero’s mom–and the trailer he made for the series looks like the movie we need now.
Raising Dion tells the story of a New Yorker named Nicole whose seven-year old son has superpowers. Unlike Elastigirl from The Incredibles, however, she has to keep up with him using regular mom-powers. (Perhaps the point of the entire series is showing how formidable thosepowers are.) Over the course of the trailer, we see how Nicole must deal with invisibility, plasma powers, and telekinesis–and the increasing strength of these and further traits as Dion develops his superskills.
Created by Dennis Liu, a union director at the Director’s Guild of America, both the first issue and the trailer promoting it offer plenty of clever touches. There’s something of a comic book within the comic book, as Nicole creates an illustrated guide for Dion about when to use his powers. There’s a joke lamenting the visibility of Dion’s poop, considering the circumstances. There’s even a well-timed dig at Batman-voice. Another important aspect of the comic book is that its central characters are people of color.
“There has been a lot of talk about superhero films lacking minorities and diversity in Marvel and DC films,” Liu says. “I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to prove that you can make a compelling superhero story with a minority, female protagonist… And not just have her replace a stereotypical ‘male war hero’ role. The real hero in this project is the mom, not the superhero. She doesn’t even have any powers.”
Overall, it’s a clever spin on an established formula. Finding an interesting and fresh take on a superhero story seems like a superpower in itself lately.
Find out more about Raising Dion here.