In this final week of villains month from DC comes the book that I found the most surprisingly entertaining of the bunch, Superman #23.4, aka Parasite #1. Writer and artist Aaron Kuder brings a fresh take and a slice of life feel to a character I have never seen in this light. Kuder also brings a vibe to the book similar to Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye with lots of fun and tongue-in-cheek humor.
The story begins with Parasite standing on the edge of a high rise contemplating ending his existence due to his insatiable emptiness and hunger, which is detailed in such a way you will find yourself running to the fridge for a snack. Cut to three weeks prior and let the comedy ensue. Before Joshua Michael Allen became Parasite, he was a bike messenger in Metropolis and a very poor one to boot. He hates people, traffic and his job, and it shows. He suddenly becomes unemployed due to his run-in with what could only be described in glorious detail as a giant booger monster. He hates Metropolis even more because of incidents such as this.
S.T.A.R. Labs contacts the pre-parasite bike messenger, and in an experiment gone wrong Joshua becomes the Parasite, and so begins his unending hunger. When he finally battles Superman he discovers that only the power from the Man of Steel can fill his emptiness, but it can’t be sustained as he can’t beat Superman or his fuel runs dry.
Like most of the villains books very few take place or are directly linked to DC’s Forever Evil event and many, like Parasite, are origin stories. Kuder seems to have a lot of fun with it and uses art techniques such as words as full on graphic elements, as opposed to just sound effects. He uses it to great effectiveness when the events transpire after his injury from booger monster, losing his job, his girlfriend and literally all hope. It’s also where we get the origin of the code name Parasite. Another impressive piece of art is a full page after Joshua’s transformation as he goes apartment to apartment trying to live a normal life as Parasite. There are enough details and underlying storytelling that make the issue a page to study not just read.
All in all, this is one of the single most fun issues of all the villains titles, and it actually piqued my interest in a character like Parasite. I would like to see Kuder work on more DC characters due to his ability to inject a lot of life and character into his storytelling, and hopefully this is the book that will make that happen. This issue doesn’t advance the Forever Evil plot or even Superman’s own story, but it’s worth picking up if you enjoy a more light-hearted take on superpowers and those who posses them. Superman #23.4 is definitely the standout issue in the final week of Villains month, and it also will make you seek out some of Kuder’s previous work and look forward to what he does in the future.