superpro1I love comics and I love the NFL so by default NFL SuperPro #2 should be an easy touchdown in my book, right? Wrong! Holy crap is this comic bad. I don’t mean bad in the we-fell-apart-in-the-4th-quarter bad, I mean bad as in watching a game between the Detroit Lions and the Oakland Raiders bad. So it should come as no surprise that this series only lasted 12 issues and a Super Bowl Special before it was canceled.

NFL SuperPro was published by Marvel Comics in 1991 and is written by Fabian Nicieza and drawn by Jose Delbo. I know what you’re thinking, “Fabian Nicieza? He sounds familiar…” And he should as he is the man who created Deadpool, Shatterstar, and X-Force. He’s also written chapters of the X-Men events X-Cutioner’s Song, The Phalanx Covenant, and Age of Apocalypse. His most recent work includes penning the entire Cable & Deadpool series, some issues of Robin and Nightwing, and the Battle for the Cowl tie-in, Azrael: Death’s Dark Knight. With a resume like that it’s tough to swallow the awkward pill that is SuperPro. Artist Jose Delbo is best known for his run on Transformers (1988-1990) and Wonder Woman (vol.1) issues #270-284.

What is the NFL SuperPro comic about? Well, the main character is Phil Grayfield whose career as a pro football player came to a dramatic end when he rescued a little kid who was falling from the bleachers at a football game. Having been to many pro NFL games, I can say that after you’ve had a few beers falling from the 300 level is easier to do than it may sound. Anyway, during the rescue Phil busted his knee beyond repair, but later discovered a powerful football suit. Once Phil put it on he became the ‘super hero’ SuperPro! The suit, complete with an obnoxiously large NFL logo as a breastplate, strongly resembles that of Captain Amazing from the movie Mystery Men, and Phil is equally as arrogant as the character portrayed by the awesome Greg Kinnear. SuperPro’s vehicle of choice is a crappy puke-green colored van with the words ‘Sports Inside’ painted on the door, as his day job is a reporter. Original, right? SuperPro travels around with his side kick/computer guy Ken, who helps him with reporting stories and gathers intelligence while SP is out on the beat.

Issue #2 begins with a flashback of Phil playing Linebacker for Notre Dame University in 1985. He’s a mad man on the field, making tackles and batting away balls at every opportunity. His defensive teammate Karl Moore is jealous of Phil, and when the game is over we see Karl writing down a shit list of plays Phil took away from him. Fast forward 6 years to where Quick Kick, a sword and nunchuck wielding ninja, is mugging some thugs. He’s looking for a shipment of stolen guns for his boss, and when he doesn’t find them, he shoots Michael Frazier who happens to be a player for the Miami Dolphins (in real life Michael Frazier is actually a writer for the Orlando Sentinel, not a football player). Being a Buffalo Bills fan, I was ok with this scene as all Miami Dolphins players should be shot (just kidding, I would never wish harm on someone… well, maybe Tom Brady. Wait a second- what’s with the Miami Dolphin’s theme of the 1990’s)…

We later learn that Michael Frazier wasn’t affiliated with the thugs, but was actually trying to stop two gangs from fighting before Quick Kick intervened. Frazier made it his personal mission to end gang wars in Miami by creating a community out reach program that was “notoriously discouraging local kids from joining gangs.” Hm. I was unaware that good deeds were typically classified as being ‘notorious.’ Anywhoo, Frazier’s Community Center provided tutoring for kids, a daycare for working parents, and a program that employed senior citizens to help keep them active- wowee what a guy!

Upon learning of the shooting, Phil decides to investigate and along with Ken they head to the Community Center to question some ex-gang bangers. The kids tell Phil who stole the shipment of guns to which he declares, “We’re going to nail those punks, so all of the good work you do here can continue!” He and Ken then proceed to run out of the place… so much for maintaining a secret identity, eh?

Quick Kick arrives on the scene first, taking out the thugs in a warehouse and getting his guns back. Then SuperPro shows up and the great reveal is made- Quick Kick is actually Karl Moore from the Notre Dame football team! We’re treated to Phil’s inner monologue, “I don’t know how or why Moore’s become a ninja killer- but I’d better be careful or I’m next on his hit list!” Funny he should mention that, because the readers also have no freakin’ clue how this guy became a ninja. The two duke it out, making their way to a propeller plane which is awkwardly placed inside the warehouse. Quick Kick makes a run for it and takes off, but to his dismay a wing is damaged and the plane crashes into a nearby lake, which appears out of nowhere. The plane explodes, presumably killing Quick Kick and destroying the shipment of guns inside (which somehow made it from the warehouse floor into the plane while the two were fighting).

After SuperPro is informed by a police officer that Michael Frazier has survived his gun wound, we get the moral of the story, “I battled a man who reminded me too much of myself- who thought that winning was all that mattered… and I wasn’t able to show him that what really counts is what you’re fighting for.” I can’t speak for the almighty SuperPro, but the last time I tried to give a full grown man a lesson in morality, I almost got punched in the face. The scene shifts to a cruise ship in the middle of wherever and we meet the real villain, Mr. Sanzionare who looks like a cross between a caveman and a porn star. When Sanzionare (is that a play on ‘millionare’?) gets the memo of Quick Kick’s failure to recover the shipment of firearms, he calls in the big gun; Instant Replay, a guy who can cut (not travel, but cut) through time!


Here are some quotes from the book:

“Call me SuperPro. The game’s over. You lose.” – SuperPro

“Correct your tenses there, Sammy… he was a football player… and he played for the Dolphins!” – Quick Kick

“Smoothest move he makes is off the field… I mean his 3.6 grade point average.” – Jane, Phil’s girlfriend

I read somewhere that Nicieza made this series up as a means to obtain free football tickets, and while I couldn’t prove that claim, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were true. Besides the Dolphins the only other team he plugs in this issue is the Philadelphia Eagles, which is ok by me because my Bills and Atlanta Falcons don’t need any more embarrassing asterisks in their team history.The real moral of this story is that NFL SuperPro #2 definitely proved that sports and comics should never cross paths again.