Required Reading is DoomRocket’s love chest, where each week one of our contributors goes crazy over a book they just can’t seem to get enough of. Intrigued to find something new? Seeking validation for your secret passions? Required Reading gets you.


by Stefania Rudd. At some point in our day-to-day lives, we all have dreams of being something bigger or greater than ourselves. We spend hours daydreaming of what we could become rather than focusing on how to get there. For nineteen-year-old high school senior and rabid comic book fan, Dru Dragowski, sitting idle while her dreams run rampant isn’t cutting it anymore — it’s time to make her ultimate goal a reality. See, Dru wants to become a superhero.

Needless to say, this is easier said than done. In SuperZero Volume 1, Dru does her best to recreate the conditions of her favorite superheroic origin stories in the hopes that things will work out for her too. Needless to say, they don’t. What these (albeit well-intended) antics do lead to is trouble, scrapes that Dru then has to figure her way out of.

That’s what’s so fun about SuperZero. Dru’s pathological desire to become a superhero ends up having some very positive outcomes: A homeless vet gets back on his feet thanks to Dru’s tomfoolery, and her best friend, inspired by Dru’s proactive behavior, finally confronts her abusive father. It’s all about scale. If Dru inadvertently ends up helping people by kicking up a rumpus in her own neighborhood, imagine what happens when Dru stows away on a NASA shuttle and gets hurled into space. That’s what’s so magic about SuperZero: We don’t realize that the fate of the world actually rests in her hands until it’s right on top of us.

As much as Dru wants to be a superhero, at times her altruism gets shoved aside by her intense sense of pragmatism; by indulging in her self-anointed crusade, Dru ends up putting others at risk without regard to their feelings or needs. There’s nothing vindictive about any of this; if anything, Dru’s narrow-mindedness ends up becoming endearing over time. Thanks to Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, who take great care to create a realistic and lush world for us to inhabit, Dru becomes a hero, both figuratively and literally. Their years writing for another ebullient blonde with ambitions to kick bad guys in the tucus (that being DC Comics’ Harley Quinn) has forged Conner & Palmiotti into a formidable team.

And they’ve allied themselves with a fantastic pair of artists: Rafael de Latorre and Marcelo Maiolo provide bright, colorful, vistas of Southern suburban humdrummery — there are times where the Florida humidity feels as though its steaming through the pages — and when Dru slips into reverie, de Latorre and Maiolo soften their panelwork into a dreamy haze. When immediate threats pop up — and in a book like SuperZero, it’s often — Maiolo shocks the panels into a red alert. When a creative team is this good, it’s not difficult to become transfixed by their work.

SuperZero is a valentine. A forget-me-not. Drusilla Dragowski is every kid who ever looked up in the sky and wondered, why can’t I be up there right now. In short, she is all of us.

Aftershock Comics/$17.99

Written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti.

Art by Rafael de Latorre.

Colors by Marcelo Maiolo.

Letters by John J. Hill.