If you’ve ever wondered what life was like for Martha Kent, then Raising Dion, by Dennis Liu and Jason Piperberg, is your answer. About a woman raising a superpowered kid, Raising Dion is a warmer side of superhero comics, the domestic side that’s been so forgotten in recent years.
I’m not going to lie, I’ve been screaming about a need for domestic heroes for years, so when a friend sent me Raising Dion, I jumped for joy. It’s everything I ever wanted in a superhero tale — the story of the mom dealing with a kid no parenting book can handle. Raising Dion is all the stronger because the protagonist, Nicole, is going it alone.
The comic starts with Nicole and Dion, just glimpses of their normal, everyday life — Dion attempting to sneak cookies, Nicole catching Dion playing with the iPad instead of doing his homework without even looking up — but Dion is levitating the cookies towards his mouth or invisible as he holds the iPad with telekinesis.
It then flashes back to the Nicole meeting the man who becomes her husband, and Dion’s father — and this is where my issues with the comic begin. The story itself is a origin story, we don’t need the origins of the origin right off the bat. I would have loved it had we just been thrown into the current problem hinted at in the trailer — Dion has powers, and there are people who are after him.
Instead, the comic feels delayed, because we spend the entire first issue watching Nicole’s relationship with her husband Mark unfold. While this story is still interesting, rich with characters and potential, it’s not the story that we’re told we’re going to get. Furthermore, while I would love to see a story about a normal woman pregnant with a superhuman fetus, that’s a whole ‘nother bag of cats, and there’s not room for it in “Raising Dion”. Either way, most of the first issue feels like it could have been better saved for flashbacks. It left me hoping that the next issue spent more time in the present day.
I also took issue with the idea of using found footage/film as a framing device. While the hot new trend in film and movies, it comes off gimmicky in a comic, and completely unnecessary. And since the comic takes place before Nicole starts filming everything, it’s inconsistent. Nicole makes a point of saying she’s an artist, so why not have her record her story as a comic book? That at least would mesh with the medium.
However, I did love the paneling. As much as I love comics, I often struggle with figuring out what’s going on — figuring out the linear progression of panels, meshing what’s happening in the panel with what it’s trying to tell me about the story. I’m often completely lost, and I didn’t have that problem with Raising Dion at all. The story was clear, the art crisp and effective. Each character was visually distinctive.
“Raising Dion” has a lot of potential, but could benefit from better pacing. I hope later issues spend more time with Nicole and Dion, and dole out pieces about Nicole’s life before as they become relevant. Not only would it allow us more time to spend on the current plot, but it would add much needed depth and suspense.
As it stands, the comic is currently just as effective at telling the story as the absolutely incredible live-action trailer is. Each contains details the other skipped, but both feel like they could be promotions for something more. I finished issue one of Raising Dion ravenous for more material, which is unfortunate because-
The second issue has yet to come out, and it’s unknown when that will happen. No announcements have been made yet, and during my final edits of this article the website where you can buy physical copies of the book was down. However, you can read the first issue for free at dennis-liu.com, where you can also watch the trailer. I highly advise you check them out.