They are the world’s greatest superheroes, oddly reminiscent of that team from The Other Guys. Now, the Squadron gets even more complex… (Fair warning: Large Spoiler Ahead.) Your Major Spoilers review of Squadron Supreme #1 awaits!
SQUADRON SUPREME #1
Writer: James Robinson
Penciler: Leonard Kirk
Inker: Paul Neary
Colorist: Frank Martin
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Editor: Mark Paniccia with Katie Kubert
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Squadron Supreme: Originally part of a “secret crossover” engineered by Roy Thomas (writing for Marvel) and Mike Freidrich (writing DC’s JLA title), the Squadron Supreme are universal duplicates/echoes of the legendary Justice League! At least, that was the initial incarnation, as each member of the team has many different incarnations (there are, I think, at least NINE different Hyperions floating about the pre-Secret Wars Marvel multiverses) and sometimes splintering timelines. Now, only a few scattered survivors of those alternate worlds remain.
But they still remember…
“BANDED TOGETHER FROM REMOTE GALAXIES…”
Eight months after the end of the world(s), we find a group of elite survivors banding together to discuss what to do next. Led by Kyle Richmond (the owl-masked Nighthawk from ‘Supreme Power’), their number includes Hyperion (the same one who recently appeared in ‘Avengers World’), Doctor Spectrum (the one whose entire planet was destroyed to save our Earth in the pages of ‘New Avengers’), Power Princess (the good one from Mark Gruenwald’s 80s ‘Squadron Supreme’) and The Blur (Jeff Walters, late of the New Universe team, D.P. 7.) With their worlds destroyed, the agree that a more proactive approach to the business of super-heroing is warranted, an assessment that suddenly brings back echoes of ‘Cry For Justice’, a previous work of James Robinson that was a convoluted, overly-violent and incoherent mess from stem to stern. This new Squadron has a personal mission to complete before they go any further, though: Revenge on the man who destroyed Spectrum’s entire planet, killing billions to save himself: Prince Namor, The Sub-Mariner.
A SHOCKING MOMENT OF BRUTALITY
That attack is shocking in its brutality (not unexpected from the tactical mind of this particular Nighthawk), with the team man-handling Namor, destroying the entire city of Atlantis (though Hyperion does make sure that the people of the city are able to escape, since he blames Namor and not his people) and leading to one of the most shocking moments I’ve seen in a comic in some time. It’s a rough moment to watch, once again raising the spectre of DarkAnGritty BadStuff, leaving Namor in pieces in the ruins of his home. The art handles both the kill-strike and the sight of a beheaded corpse as well as it can, and all our characters look amazing under Leonard Kirk’s pen. (Blur, especially, has a new look that is pretty cool.) The remainder of the issue deals with the fallout, as we see the public response to a team of heroes taking such liberties, including man-in-the-street interviews that show off the strength of Kirk’s layouts. Of course, Namor wasn’t without his friends, which gives us the last page teaser, as SHIELD Agent Jim “The Human Torch” Hammond and Uncanny Avengers field commander Steve “The Old Dude Who Was Captain America Once” Rogers muster up Steve’s team to confront the Squadron head-on, while future warrior Thundra watches the Squadron from a safe distance…
THE BOTTOM LINE: A LITTLE HEAVY-HANDED
Under different circumstances, the death in this issue is a moment that I would try not to spoil, but in this case, it’s really the key moment of the entire premise, and, frankly, if I said “something bad happens” that caused Namor’s two wartime allies to vow revenge, the moment would be pretty evident anyway. That said, the plotting of the issue is perhaps its weakest spot for me. The introduction of the Supremers (with, I’m happy to add, inset art excerpted from their original appearances to make it clear which alternate Justice League they’re drawn from) is a bit talky, and the attack on Atlantis ends up being “dogpile on Namor while Hyperion does the heavy-lifting.” It’s a perfectly valid approach to take, but one that treats the “Superman Problem” poorly, for me. Add to that color palette that is too heavy on the oranges (all the better to show you our apocalyptic expectations, my dear), and we have a comic where the skills of Kirk and inker Neary have to carry us through problematic story beats. All told, Squadron Supreme #1 isn’t an entirely disappointing comic, and it did succeed it getting my attention with a couple of fearless moments, but there are wobbly moments (and, yet again, a truly unattractive and bizarrely colored cover) enough to leave it with a better-than-average 3 out of 5 stars overall. We’ve seen the “proactive pragmatic supers” bit before, even in the context of the Squadron Supreme, but it’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out on the stage of the all-new all-different Marvel Universe…