Super Crooks: Season 1 Review – IGN
Super Crooks Season 1 is now streaming on Netflix.
There are surprisingly few anime series inspired by superhero comics. Super Crooks is one of the most recent, an adaptation of the four-issue series by writer Mark Millar and artist Leinil Francis Yu. It’s an intriguing, action-packed prequel to the Super Crooks comic that takes a firecracker of a script from Dai Sato (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo) and runs it through the lens of director Motonobu Hori (Cowboy Bebop, Paranoia Agent) to create an anime Ocean’s 11 with, well, supervillains.
The 13-episode anime series follows supervillain Johnny Bolt (Jonah Scott) as he works to pull off the ultimate heist: robbing a private casino belonging to the world’s most powerful supervillain, Christopher Matts, also known as “The Bastard” (Jason Marnocha). Johnny’s ragtag bunch of supervillains includes his psychic girlfriend Kasey (Abby Trott), retired elderly villain Carmine (Doug Stone), weather-changing savant Forecast (Zeno Robinson), twin healers Roddy and Sammy Diesel (Bruno Oliver and Ben Pronsky), telepathic thief TK McCabe (Bill Rogers), translucent thief The Ghost (Bill Butts), and Gladiator (Beau Billingslea), blackmailed into joining Johnny.
Set within the world of Jupiter’s Legacy, which explores an uncharted island in the Atlantic Ocean where a group of people received superpowers, Super Crooks is actually a spinoff involving the “first” people who received their special abilities. We learn how Bolt gets his electrical-based powers from an early age, introducing young Johnny, living in a troubled household and getting through each day with the help of his favorite superhero comics. He can control electricity at will, from a simple “on” and “off” at first to snapping and generating electricity.
As every young hero and villain does, we see him experimenting with his newfound powers, bragging about it to his friends, and then ruining a few bullies’ days (and personal belongings) with his uncanny ability. Over time, young Johnny deduces that he must be part of the “first” superheroes’ bloodline with the help of a friend, indicating one of his parents must have had powers too. After Bolt’s powers are more firmly established and he creates a superpower name for himself, as well as an attempt at an alter ego, we realize his powers spiral out of control — as does he — and he turns to a life of crime after a particularly gruesome incident involving the neighborhood pool.
From there, Super Crooks introduces us to Johnny’s villainous friends and the seedy underworld of individuals with superpowers. Of course, the Crooks are going to need to put their heads together if they want to get to The Bastard and his fortune. Watching this ragtag bunch come together is a delight, especially when you realize it’s for a “good” cause — helping out a friend, not to be evildoers. Watching the Crooks work to pull this heist off, however, is the real treat.
It’s a colorful, debauched world, much like you’d expect from a Millarworld property, and it’s every bit as fun as you’d expect, too. Getting to know the Crooks is an incredible ride, especially since the events that actually happened in the comic books do take place in this series, but not when you expect them to. Instead, we get plenty of room to let the central characters grow and evolve while we learn about their powers, their motivations, and what makes them tick.
Plus, Studio Bones’ (My Hero Academia, Fullmetal Alchemist) animation is crisp, clean, and colorful. It adopts a more realistic tone that mimics a Western series more than its Japanese brethren, which works well for its comic source material. It also doesn’t shy away from mature themes (which are plentiful in Millar’s works, obviously), parading around humans with half their heads blown off, sensual moments between Johnny and Kasey, and plenty of foul language peppered throughout the excellent script. While the story may veer off into predictable territory here and there, however, it’s still an enjoyable ride through and through. There aren’t enough recent series that follow Super Crooks’ lead, and it proves that, like recent show Invincible, animation is the optimal medium in which to tell these kinds of tales.