Straczynski's Squadron

Supreme Power #1-18 (Marvel/MAX): In a lot of ways, Supreme Power is the exact opposite of something like Superman/Batman. And I don't mean that in a negative way, it just goes to show that you can have wildly different approaches to storytelling and still present a very entertaining package. At the most basic level, Supreme Power is Marvel and not DC. It focuses on somewhat familiar character archetypes rather than big gun properties which are household names. The storytelling is very decompressed, rather than the in your face brawl of say: Batman, Superman, and Supergirl taking on Darkseid on Apokolips. And of course, the MAX line is definitely for mature readers as opposed to the come-one, come-all approach that Supes/Bats is meant to occupy in the marketplace. Supreme Power is a fantastic read and really deserves the MAX label, not for nudity or language, but for the very adult and complex themes that are presented.

The main characters we've been introduced to are becoming increasingly bogged down in this bureaucratic morass that would likely surround an individual with these types of powers. In their attempts to be good samaritans or to just "help people" their intent becomes convoluted within political posturing and the media's perception. I'm reminded of the saying "Do a great right; one must do a little wrong." While trying to save people's lives, the speedster character discovers that he has broken half a dozen laws. All of this serves to beg the question, if super powered individuals did exist, would they, should they be held to the same criminal and civil liability as anyone else? If they're not, what would this do to the supposed egalitarian fabric of society? All the while, you can really feel something building within Supreme Power.

Each of the characters are slowly being forced out of the conventional roles they've been living in. As something uncomfortable brews, each of them is being pushed a little closer to one another, ultimately we assume, culminating with the formation of a team that stands above or beside normal society. Joe and the aquatic woman have a bond. Mark Milton is totally disenfranchised, a loner. Power Princess is running amok, directionless. The speedster character is about to burst out of his corporate sponsored confines. And Nighthawk has long been living on the fringe of acceptable societal norms. I can't wait until all of these seemingly disparate elements converge.

This series is the most intelligent analysis of the superhero paradigm that I've seen since Watchmen. Yeah, it's that good. Flawless execution of writing, penciling, inking, panel rendering, and a general sense of dramatic plausibility. This book has tremendous attitude and a dark tone, yet is simultaneously thoughtful and insightful with a twinge of hope. Probably my favorite Marvel Comic in the last 10 years. Straczynski's best work to date. Grade A.


At 6:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, couldn't agree with you more re: SUPREME SQUADRON. Great stuff, and the best written superhero team book since WATCHMEN. Shame what Marvel editorial decided to do with it, but as I recall, it was with JMS's blessing. Anyhow, the 18 issue run is a great stand alone read and I hope will someday be recognized more widely for how good it is.


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