Super Ego (Magnetic Press)
Written and illustrated by Caio Oliviera
Colors by Lucas Marangon
Do super heroes go to psychotherapy? Does their need to provide vigilante justice come from a psychological problem–perhaps a savior complex? One would imagine that it would have to, given the violence and chaos heroes see every day and the way they return to their job over and over. Super-Ego “Family Matters” answers the question of what super hero therapy looks like and what its end goal must be. The title is, of course, taken from Freudian theory on the ID, the ego, and the super ego. I nearly always like the books from Magnetic Press, but this one really captured my attention and imagination. It is straightforward, clear, clean story telling, with a compelling hook and likable characters.
Dr. Eugene Goodman is super therapist to Earth’s most powerful humans (and not-quite-humans). His day is filled with the romantic yearnings of an adolescent supreme being with a self-esteem problem, the addictive personality disorder of a playboy, billionaire, Mexican soap opera star-turned-masked vigilante, and a larger-than-life archer who is grieving for his wife, among others. The book is something of a collection of these characters’ stories as seen through the doctor’s eyes and written in a single narrative. While the story deals with some very dark concepts, Oliviera is careful to treat them gently and lightly enough that they do not drag the story down. Except for one rather brutal descent into darkness, it struck me as a hopeful story. The ending is just enough of a surprise to intrigue the reader, but is exactly what I would have expected in a comic book about a super hero psychotherapist, and left me very satisfied.
The art in this book perfectly complimented the narrative. It was easy to follow, and walked the fine line between being too bright and too graphically gory. I always appreciate comic book art that does not leave the reader confused as to what is going on in a panel or page. The colors were bold and the inking was dramatic. I loved the idea of the case files at the end of the book in which guest artists drew different characters. Several of the characters in the case files did not appear in the body of the story, so I am hoping that this is just the first of several books set in the Super-Ego universe.
I enjoyed this book much more than I originally expected to. It reminded me in some ways of A Once Crowded Sky, which we’ve discussed on the blog and on a podcast interview with the author. A beautiful hardcover copy of this book is available on the Magnetic Press website, and I definitely recommend getting a physical copy, just to best appreciate the art.
I loved this book and highly recommend it; it gets four and a half Death Stars from me.