Words/Art/Colors: Michael David Nelsen
Publisher: 215 Ink
If there’s one thing I love about comics more than any other medium, it’s their boundless capacity for imagination. Without the constraints of budget or the limitations of CGI, unfathomable cosmic beings and vast alien landscapes are free to flow forth from the minds of the writer and artist. Even the boundaries of our human languages’ ability to describe can’t halt their push towards existence. The visual nature of comics is akin to gazing directly into the minds of their creators and all the wonders that lie within.
What I mean to say is… comics are wild sometimes.
To prove my point, here’s Michael David Nelsen’s Supernaut: a 21st Century Cosmic Hero Myth.
This book leans hard into the weirdness right from the get-go as we’re launched from a quote from the Bhagavad Gita straight to our hero confronting God Himself as he attempts to collapse the entire multiverse into a larger macroverse.
From there, we gradually piece together the backstory throughout the non-linear first issue. Stephen Haddon was an astronaut from an alternate earth, sent on a secret mission to investigate an alien temple on the moon. While there he touched an artifact that ascended his consciousness to a higher state of being and transformed him into the universe hopping cosmic hero Supernaut. Now, he and a band of interdimensional thieves (whose backstories in a later issue are laid out in a pitch perfect homage to old Handbook of the Marvel Universe entries) are in a race against time to collect/steal a series of artifacts that will allow them to further transcend reality, confront God, and stop the destruction of all of existence.
Still with me? Great.
It’s a heck of a ride and one that draws from a wide range of influences. The book wears its inspiration from Jim Starlin’s Captain Marvel on its sleeve and that Bhagavad Gita quote isn’t just for show, ideas of transcending consciousness and sense of self are central to the plot. Chuck in a large helping of conspiracy theories and a dash of homebrew D&D campaigns and you’ve just about got everything covered.
It’s certainly an impressive scope and Supernaut juggles these ideas at an electrifying pace and with a creative flourish. A particular highlight is in Issue 2 where two monologues on separate pages are actually a conversation Stephen is having with his own past self.
This kitchen sink approach can also be a detriment though. The book throws a lot at you and it can feel a bit overwhelming at times, especially with how much it likes to delay explaining plot and character details for a few issues.
This complexity also bleeds into the art a little bit. There are a few panels where the sheer density of transcendent reality weirdness pushes the story from mind-bending to just a pain to try and follow. However, this is balanced out by the book’s strong graphic design sensibilities (especially with the lettering), leading to some truly stunning layouts.
Supernaut is a book that rewards a slow and considered approach to reading it. Its denseness and obtuseness are going to be off-putting for some, but for those willing to stick with it, its a big chunk of cosmic fun.
Supernaut can be purchased at the 215 Ink store.