In the late 90′s, Alan Moore–riding high on his re-imagining of Supreme–was commissioned to recreate the rest of Rob Liefeld’s superheroic oeuvre, to launch Liefeld’s then-new company, Awesome. Following the Judgment Day crossover, written by Moore and illustrated by Liefeld and a dozen friends and allies, Moore was to shepherd a number of relaunched Liefeld/Extreme properties. Two of them saw the light of day: Youngblood, Extreme’s principal super-team, and Glory, its platinum-haired Wonder Woman analogue.
Slow-operating artists and investor evaporation helped carry in a sudden crashing to Earth of Awesome’s output: Alan Moore and Brandon Peterson completed one issue of Glory before the end (although Moore’s remaining scripts were later licensed to Avatar Press and completed with new artists). Moore and Steve Skroce–who went on to storyboard The Matrix–completed two and a half issues of Youngblood. To promote these books when times were believed to be better, Awesome issued Alan Moore’s Awesome Universe Handbook #1, a skinny pamphlet containing various fan sketches Alex Ross had done of Supreme and his cast–and Alan Moore’s original proposals/outlines for the Glory and Youngblood series.
Fully aware of the metareferencing he was doing–he explicitly defines Glory in opposition/comparison to Wonder Woman throughout, suggesting characters like “a rich girl named Masonica Lodge” to replace figures like Wonder Woman’s plump WW2-era sidekick Etta Candy–his proposals are full of fantastic detail on how he would have constructed his books. His casual tone and inside-baseball nods make it seem effortless, and it’s enough to make you mourn a stillborn series. As a minor piece of Moore Errata, it’s worth tracking down, for the two or three dollars it’ll probably cost you.
I particularly like this excerpt, describing new Youngblood character Johnny Panic:
April 4, 2012
No, but seriously: two weeks into me deciding I’m going to review (or at least make fun of) comics again, they drop a week like this on me. Dear comics professionals–y’all some greasy fuckers.
DC Comics. Written by Grant Morrison. Illustrated by Rags Morales, Brad Walker, Rick Bryant, and Bob McLeod. Colored by Brand Anderson and David Curiel.
It’s like, they knew that after eight months (including a two-month interruption to go time-travel bugfuck), they knew that people would be hyped up and ready to see the biggest Super-shitkicking since the time Samson and Atlas used their combined might to engineer a nano-organism that feeds only on Lois Lane’s skirts. That’s in here, somewhere–the rotating artists and awkward framing made it so that it took me a couple pages to realize that Superman was, in fact, fighting Metallo, who was riding Braniac like a giant, phallic brain-bronco. (I’m sure you all got enough of me talking about penises when I rambled about Supreme, but really–is there a better thematic touch for the likes of Metallo than the pinnacle of advanced technology being held between his thighs like a giant, writhing erection?) Superman beats them up and saves the day. Manifesting a touch of Silver Age Super-hubris, he keeps Brainiac around as a houseboy for the new Fortress of Solitude.
Then we get the touches that point to the future, and really, that’s what’s got me excited. Instead of Lex Luthor being a purple-collared sci-crime whiz, or a doughy Wilson Fisk rip, or worst of all, the “well, he’s like Doctor Doom, but every now and then he takes his armor off” version we’ve been getting for years now, Luthor here is a weaselly little fuck with pillowy Michael Pitt lips, constantly relying upon subterfuge to get what he wants. It’s very nearly a new concept for the character, which alarms me to even read back to myself, having just typed it. Then there’s the landlady’s name, and the final panel, where a dinosaur’s head messily explodes.
That’s the statement of intent for future Action Comics tales: “Listen, mac, a t. rex’s head exploding is just the prologue to where we’re headed from here.” That’s a big hole in the skull to fill, boys.
Marvel Comics. Written by Dan Slott. Illustrated by Stefano Caselli. Colored by Frank Martin Jr.
You know, I feel leery of ever commenting on the coloring of Stefano Caselli’s work, just because no matter what happens, it’s like “well, at least everything isn’t cast in bizarre pink light like those old Secret Warriors issues.” Still, for a guy who gets a lot of his strength from the texture of his linework, this cover sure did a great job belt-sanding it all off, as if to say, “April fools, we meant to commission a cover by Clayton Crain, or possibly create a backing board on which to package 1995-era action figures.” It’s a mean thing to do to Caselli.
The plot: the Sinister Six, something something, Doctor Octopus, something something, threat to planet Earth, Spider-Armor. Most of the issue plays out like someone’s YouTube clip-show edit of a half-season’s worth of 24–roughly half of the comic is spent with various people yelling at each other tensely, to show us that the stakes be high, and so on. This isn’t so bad. Caselli draws great yelling, like a Terry Dodson who’s not scared to draw people making ugly faces. The other half is Spider-Man, wearing his new, everything-proof Spider-Armor, rolling up on the Six with his Avengers bros and summarily watching everyone on his side get taken out like they were small babies.
This new Spider-Armor is Mysterio-proof, Rhino-proof, Electro-proof, Chamelon-proof–Spider-Man was able to tell that Al Gore was an impostor because the real Al Gore isn’t a Howard Chaykin drawing–but not, as it turns out, cliffhanger-proof. I’m not sure how big a deal I was supposed to think the new Spider-Armor was, since Spider-Man himself seems so casual about it–”yeah, dude, I built a new Rhino-proof suit, what of it?”–to the point that he almost comes off like a dick. I don’t look at the ending of this issue and go ‘Parker Luck strikes again, oh no!’–I look at it and go ‘well, serves you right for being more arrogant than a Cam’ron track.’
Marvel Comics. Written by Christos Gage. Penciled by Karl Moline. Inked by Jim “Suicide Squad #52″ Fern. Colored by Chris Sotomayor.
I hate that side band on the cover. Like, I understand the reasoning for it–the way most stores shelve their product, it’ll stick out and people will go “Oh, shit, Runaways–war–I’m in.” (Cut to recap page: “…begins with a W.“) Still, it’s just sort of gross and it defeats the whole idea of having commissioned a joined diptych of a cover. I don’t want to be that guy, but sometimes I gotta be that guy.
Anyway, this is the most interesting story Avengers Academy has had in months, if not more than a year. The initial charm of the book was that it was kind of the hormones-and-acne version of Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley’s original Thunderbolts proposition–where a new team of superheroes were secretly veteran supervillains, poised to exploit public goodwill and rob the world blind. Instead, in AA, we had a couple nothing-else-going-on Avengers starting a training program for super-teens who had been discovered and exploited by a renegade government program. The kids were told they were the ones with the most promise as future superheroes, but really, they were just the most psychologically damaged and at-risk for descending into villainy.
Let’s be clear: I love that concept. I leapt onto the book with the vigor and enthusiasm of a Doctor Who fan leaping onto being annoying. Then it all just kind of wandered away–into a lengthy Fear Itself crossover and then into a story that reinvented the Academy status quo into something like “Well, it’s not quite the X-Men, and it’s not quite the West Coast Avengers, but…”
Dragging the Runaways in for a couple issues brings back some of the good stuff–the surging swell of furious angst, like that one Teenage Depression 7″ cover. The Runaways are homeless superheroes, like D-Man but with fashion sense and deodorant, and they roll with two little girls on the cusp of pubes, so Tigra and Giant-Man want to spirit the kids away and put them with warm, loving families, like the one Giant-Man has created for himself over the years. (I’m swinging a golf club, but you can’t see it.) The teen teams do battle: “So you’re fighting for your right to keep two little girls homeless.” “As opposed to what? Soldiers in your child army?”
I mean, it all gets resolved in a fairly pat fashion and people develop empathy, and that sort of stuff, but then we see near the end, Tigra standing there looking–what, amused? depressed? both?–as the two Runaways kids lay her werecat infant on the lawn and then dangle a ribbon over him so he can paw at it like a housecat, and it becomes clear that Avengers Academy is still full of people doing totally, totally fucked-up things to each other, and babies.
Marvel Comics. Plotted by Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman, and Matt Fraction. Scripted by Brian Michael Bendis. Penciled by John Romita Jr. Inked by Scott Hanna. Colored by Laura Martin.
Jesus, it really is 2012, isn’t it? If Marvel had done this crossover in 1997, that roster line-up page would be totally flipped–instead of 6 X-Men and 400 Avengers, it’d be the other way around and for some reason Forge would have a major part in it, if only to slap Tony Stark for boning Mystique (except it would turn out that Stark was really Mystique all along, and Forge was really Douglock, and Sabretooth would be revealed as his alternate future self with alopecia, who was just wearing a big, ugly yellow wig all the time).
We’ve also got little ‘AR’ tags in the corner of pages like ‘Audience put your 3-D glasses on now,’ but more on that later.
Last week, I went on a whiny tirade basically accusing Bendis of wasting space, which is to say, giving characters fluff dialogue that exists without any narrative or aesthetic purpose. I’m not enthused by our first significant page of dialogue, which is page six: Ms. Marvel arrives at Avengers Tower and goes “What’s going on? Never mind, don’t care.” Yeah, and? I’m sure it’s “more realistic” for Ms. Marvel to show up and make snarky noises (probably drinking again), but how does this set us up for the Avengers vs. the X-Men vs. the Phoenix vs. people spending their money on Game of Thrones box sets?
The thing now is that so many people call so many comics “decompressed” that the word has even less meaning than “overrated.” If you call a comic “decompressed” now you’ll get just as many people chortling about how what, maybe you want every comic book to be an old issue of Mark Gruenwald Captain America? As usual with comics discussion on the internet, everyone is insufferable, and here’s a statement that’s just as true: this comic book needed to tighten the fuck up more than a Jersey Shore vagina.
A page with five panels is positively packed by the standards of Avengers vs. X-Men #1. I’m not saying that this should be some hokey retro production where Cyclops explains his optic blasts in more time than it takes to actually shoot them, but it’s like, the dissemination of information from this comic book to the reader is so inefficient that you want to shake the fucking pamphlet and tell it to hurry up. There’s also the usual issue where one cadence and rhythm of dialogue is spread out across every character, ever. After a certain point, people come off less like they’re explaining their viewpoints than they are reciting someone else’s summary of said viewpoints.
And if you cut out every panel that was just people standing around, reacting without action to something that was just said or just done by someone else, this comic would be at least a third lighter. I didn’t bother to do the proper math on that, but it definitely feels that way.
“It’s the first issue,” the devil’s advocate says. “It’s setting things up. It’s a prologue.” Then what was #0 last week, a prank? Oh, go fuck yourself.
Marvel Comics. Same credits as the other version, plus more production staff, I guess.
Back in the 1990s, my folks gave me this CD-ROM thing that was, like, an “interactive” version of Giant-Size X-Men #1. You could click through the pages panel-by-panel, and there’d be little buttons that, when hit, would play sound effects, or direct you to relevant excerpts from other comics, or… actually, I’m not sure if they did anything else. I liked it when I was a kid, but watching the Marvel AR’d cover of Avengers vs. X-Men #1–lightning crashes, an old mother dies, and a motion comics (remember those?!) prologue plays with animated Greg Land art–I dunno, man. I really wish I’d instinctively remembered just about anything else, because it’s not a good connection to make.
Still, it’s like, this is a new toy, it’s pretty cool as a concept, I’ll give it a shot and not be a bitch about it.
The main problem I had was that all of the images came off pixelated and out-of-focus, as if they’d been done at iPhone size and then blown up, rather than “done at tablet size and then blown down.” Maybe it was just them punishing me for having a Samsung Galaxy Tab. Not sure. Either way, what’s the use of seeing JRJR’s original pencils when I could get better image fidelity by trying to take a picture with my shoe? Plus, there’s one page where the AR bit is just a bio of Hope Summers, like the back of an old trading card. Like the actual story itself, it just felt like a scattershot, “eh, that sounds good enough” way of making information manifest for the consumer. Why not just make that “who’s who on each side” page link to a special web page of bios, or whatever?
Then the whole thing was completely ruined for me when, on the first double-page splash of the Phoenix Force destroying, like, a shitload of stuff, the AR content is Axel Alonso walking across the page and not even having the decency to stop and pretend to cower in fear of the all-consuming cosmic nuclear death-flame. Immersion: gone.
Marvel Comics. Written by Mark Waid. Illustrated by Stuart Immonen. Colored by Marte Garcia.
This is, I swear, the last bit of Avengers vs. X-Men blather this week, if only to preserve my own sanity. Luckily, I saved the really enjoyable part for last. The bizarrely named Avengers vs. X-Men #1: Infinite (I guess it’d sell better than Avengers vs. X-Men: Prologue: Nova: The Phoenix Force: Nova: Digital #1) is Mark Waid and Stuart Immonen playing with what can be done in the traditional digital format. This “traditional digital format” is, it must be said, “basically looking at static comic book pages on a screen.” So there’s a lot of room to maneuver.
It’s not that Waid and Immonen are doing technically innovative work here–unlike other mediums, which tend to evolve at the speed of technology (i.e. cinema), comics are doing a breathless scramble to catch up to digital transmission formats, and this first big step for the latest “digital addenda” initiative is to fuse comic books with PowerPoint presentations. You tap the border and new captions appear next to the old ones, filling out the narrative of a panel piece-by-piece. Or a second image appears next to the first one, continuing a sequence. Or a static “camera angle” is maintained while drawings ‘move’ across it, one tap at a time. Or, and I liked these best, you tap and they pull a rack focus stunt, suddenly making apparent the threat behind our intrepid hero Nova–and later, the black screen of death.
The story is told in sixty-five “phases”–”panels” seems a misnomer–and feels more full and rich than nearly any 20-page pamphlet I’ve read in a while. The plot is thin–Nova outraces the Phoenix Force through space, and crashlands in New York, setting up Avengers vs. X-Men #1–but the pacing is so tight that it’s like the opposite of that Jersey Shore joke I made a while ago.
The crucial thing to consider is that Waid and Immonen may not be advancing new technology, but what they are doing is drastically restructuring the reading process of comics. The traditional means of absorbing information at will–letting your eye wander where it will, from panel to panel and page to page, flipping back and forth at your leisure, taking in entire sequences of action and conversation in a single glimpse of a page layout–don’t work here. Instead, there’s an enforced chronology, not just of words and captions, but also with regard to the examination of the panels themselves. When you tap to hit the next phase and the image doesn’t flip over into a new thing entirely, you’re forced to scrutinize the small details of the panel image and absorb more concentrated shortwave bursts of data than you would just glancing at a printed sheet. (I would not be able to say any of this truthfully if Stuart Immonen was not a master craftsman.) Or, to put it bluntly: Mark Waid and Stuart Immonen are fucking around with an element that print comics can’t even dream of controlling–the time it takes you to read it.
Motion comics my ass.
Marvel Comics. Written by Mark Waid. Illustrated by Khoi Pham. Colored by Javier Rodriguez.
This is a Point One issue, designed to be an easy access point for new readers–fair enough, considering that I’m pretty sure this is the eighth or ninth issue of Daredevil to be published within a four-week radius.
Waid remains a great Daredevil writer, and to put a cherry on top of that, he actually fulfills that Point One remit, rather than just treating it as a bonus issue of the title. If you’d never read Daredevil before, you’d probably be okay with this–it holds your hand just enough, like a teacher who’s scared of a parent finding out.
The wild card here is Khoi Pham, whose work I can’t claim too much familiarity with, mostly because what I did see–in stuff like X-Factor and a little bit of his Avengers stuff–I didn’t really care for. There were, to paraphrase Emperor Joseph II, “too many lines.” Here, he chills the fuck out, and it works very nicely, although I sort of wish he’d had an inker–someone like Scott Hanna or Mark Morales who can balance the spacious thickness of his shapes with enough fiddly linework to give them texture and weight, which occasionally things lack here. Still, he acquits himself well, and the bold moments are definitely as bold as they should be.
It’s just that shit, man, not getting Paolo and Joe Rivera every month is some kind of unwitting cruelty.
Also, Daredevil is threatening to “Julian Assange” people and he’s just lucky no one in that group of crooks was a lady. (Maybe the Secret Empire one was, but under that burqa, who can tell?)
Image Comics. Written by Ed Brubaker. Illustrated by Sean Phillips. Colored by Dave Stewart.
Fatale–like any Brubaker/Phillips enterprise–is a bit tricky to write about because the impulse is to treat it as a component of a story rather than a complete story unto itself, and there’s only so much you can do to say “this piece is just as good as the other pieces, and they’re all great, and everything’s great.” Brubaker’s mix of L.A. noir and H.P. Lovecraft is finally making eye contact, though–after four issues of build-up and teasing, out comes a cultist with a dagger and suddenly Sean Phillips has laterally shifted his work into the realm of Ed Repka album covers, and Brubaker isn’t lying when two pages later he describes what you just read as the point where things get “really fucked up.”
I can’t even front, though, Sean Phillips illustrating thrash metal LP covers–wouldn’t that be insane?
DC Comics/Vertigo. Written by Grant Morrison. Illustrated by Frank Quitely. Colored by Peter Doherty.
No, you can’t lay the fucker flat, but really, that’s a little thing.
The big thing is–shit, why would you even want to lay it flat? This isn’t a textbook. You’re not an animal–not come cat needing something to lay on. If you feel anything at all, why would you do anything but feel this book? Take the dust jacket off. Feel the varnish warm against your fingertips, or your fingertips warm against the varnish, or something. Stick your thumb in the cleavage and become part of your own view of the page. Connect. If you can’t connect with Flex Mentallo you’re hopeless.
Meta-this, meta-that. There are other blogs by people who own sweater vests that’ll get into all that. Still, some points bear stating: Flex is the most coherent treatise Grant Morrison has yet written on his theory of the Evolution of Utopian Super-Ideas, and the most heartfelt and affecting, too. It’s so open and so naked, despite being cloaked in fiction–Quitely draws a row of shuttered shops in the background and it just looks like Great Western Road to me.
“That’s what I remember; hot summer nights, sweltering in my bedroom, reading comics and dreaming and drawing, while life went on outside the window. Imagine a jail cell, yeah? A fallout shelter, where the walls are covered with so many drawings you can’t tell it’s a prison anymore. It’s so bright and colorful; sexy girls, handsome musclemen, adventure. You start to forget it’s not real. You don’t realize the world’s ended for you. Hot days and nights in jail…”
Grant Morrison wrote about 2012 something like 15 years before it happened. Either he’s a prophet, or none of us were paying attention.
DC Comics. Written by Ann Nocenti. Illustrated by Harvey Tolibao. Colored by Richard and Tanya Horie.
I love Ann Nocenti. At a convention I’d want her to sign the inside of my eyelid. Her Daredevil run from back in the 80s–the first comic I can remember wanting for myself, unprompted, was one of those. (It had Mephisto and Blackheart and stuff, as was the style at the time.) Now that I’m older (but no wiser, considering how I still read superhero comics), she stands out as even more of an odd duck amongst all these fans-turned-pros, because she asks and answers the sort of “well, really, what about this aspect of life…” that usually ends up fodder for cliche comics by people struggling to subvert their own super-hardons.
Back on Daredevil, Nocenti’s trick was to surround Matt Murdock–conflicted lapsed-Catholic vigilante and crusader–with women. Not just “women,” i.e. those things that keep Kyle Rayner’s fridge full, but actual women, with varying opinions on things and different personal aesthetics and all kinds of hang-ups of their own thank you very much. Green Arrow isn’t yet a repeat performance of that technique, if only because this New 52 take on Green Arrow doesn’t quite have the same strata of trauma tissue to cut into, like Daredevil. Instead, she’s entering slowly, but with no less of a flair for the obvious: Green Arrow feels no angst whatsoever about sleeping with a trio of super-villainous triplets, or even regret, beyond the loss of a bunch of technology and dignity–he’s half hero, half Tucker Max, and the only non-carnal lesson learned is not to let them sucker him like that again.
We’re also getting into environmental issues, patriarchal family dynamics, corporate intrigue, Shakespeare, animal experimentation… it might not be a total revolution, but it’s still frantic with willingness, and Tolibao’s art matches that idea (while occasionally dissolving into post-Neal-Adams page-layout LSD freakouts).
One line says as much about it as anyone could. In Ann Nocenti’s superhero books, the collection of DNA samples held by a mad scientist are rattled off thusly: “Napoleon, Rasputin, Byron, Mishima… others.”
Dark Horse Books / SAF Comics. Imagineered by Hermann. Translated by ???.
Picture Uatu the Watcher bearing down on you with his toga and his giant mutant baby head: “What If… The Turner Diaries Actually Happened?”
In the late 70s, when other Europeans were doing things like “inventing italo-disco” or “being Chantal Akerman,” Hermann left the Western adventure strip he’d been doing–Comanche–and started writing his own scripts. The product of this was Jeremiah, his best-selling book yet, and one which I’m pretty sure he’s been continuing as a series of albums ever since. The idea is simple: Jeremiah’s a good-hearted, kind-of-naive country kid, and Kurdy is a scrappy, clever little shit, and the two of them go around having adventures in a Neo Old West that civilization regrouped into following a nuclear Race War.
It’s gorgeous, as it should be, and the edition that Dark Horse and SAF Comics have put out is equally handsome, with vivid colors and an eye for the texture of Hermann’s line. Plus, I think it’s been re-translated and re-lettered–I read an English-language edition of the first volume years and years ago, and the dialogue hung a bit differently (not better or worse, just different), but the lettering on that older version was so self-consciously “Euro” that it was distracting to read, like back in the day when Wolverine was lettered with some font Comicraft probably sold with the label “unreadable chickenscratch.” No such problem here.
What you get out of Jeremiah is pretty much down to how much you get out of vaguely post-apocalyptic Westerns. If you feel nothing for ‘em, it can’t help you, dude, sorry. If you’re into them, you gotta bear in mind, this is some John Wayne shit right here. After a first page showing that the conflict that ended this modern world was, essentially, “white folks versus black folks,” the next seventy pages or so do absolutely nothing to follow up on that–it’s just a dude and his buddy and the messes they’re getting themselves into, with more of a distinct emphasis on class-on-class violence than anything else. In the post-Racialicious.com world, that sort of concern (“no, seriously, what happened to the black people here?”) chafes more than I imagine it did in 1978 Belgium, but it doesn’t diminish the beauty of Hermann’s artwork, which is what’s gonna put asses in seats here. 500 asses, specifically, because I guess Dark Horse knows what size market it’s investing in here.
Dynamite Entertainment. Written by Kurt Busiek. Illustrated by Alex Ross and Jack Herbert. Colored by Vinicius Andrade, whose name I typoed like six times trying to type it out.
I love one thing that Kirby: Genesis does with all of the warmth that my comics-defeated heart can muster, and that’s how it depicts the Pioneer Two–two otherworldly giant beings who float around in the sky holding hands. Where the rest of the world around them is Jack Herbert’s ink drawings, the beings themselves are Alex Ross paintings in that neo-psychedelic style he’s gotten more comfortable with over the years. In the right spots it really does look amazing, totally underlining the difference between men and supermen.
There’s other stuff here too, stuff like “THE SHE-DEMON DOES AS SHE PLEASES–AND SHE HAS SPOTTED MUCH TASTIER PREY!” and all that, but most of the plot revolves around new people showing up and showing off, and I’ll be honest, I barely even remember the names of the old ones. I think one of them is called, like, Miss Hair. Possibly Hair Madame.
Image Comics. Written by Alan Moore. Illustrated by Erik Larsen and Cory Hamscher. Colored by Steve Oliff.
Listen, all I’m gonna say is that Supreme talks about the Mir space station on one page. Suprema talks about Youngblood–like, the Alan Moore Youngblood–plot/character stuff on another. Kids are in a fucking comic book store. It’s like the comic book version of Awakenings or whatever that movie was where the guys in comas woke up and just kind of staggered around, confounded by the far-flung future of like 1991.
Larsen was right, though–Moore left a fucking hell of a cliffhanger.
Marvel Comics. Written by Jeff Parker. Illustrated by Declan Shalvey. Colored by Chris Sotomayor and Jordie Bellaire.
It’s hard to believe that something like forty issues ago–that is to say, what, two, two and a half years, ha ha Marvel–this comic was mostly about stuff like Nuke shooting an old Untold Tales of Spider-Man villain in the head while they tried to make Grizzly look less like a furry and more like some other kind of sexual deviant. My, how the Jeff Parker run has grown–and now, at #172, it proudly declares ’15 YEARS!’ (of Thunderbolts) on the cover, about three issues before the book is finally getting the Operation and becoming a woman, whose name will be Dark Avengers.
And just to bring it all full circle and remind us all what’s important for the big anniversary throwdown, Parker gives Citizen V dialogue about “that enormous phallic symbol in Central Park” while Shalvey tags in to draw V in a pose where he’s pretty much Michael-Scott-ing an outcropping of rock, lifting one leg so high that the only possible intent could be to showcase his sweet bulge while he yells about dick-towers, and that’s another week of superhero comics for you.
Last week we talked about the beginnings of Alan Moore’s run as writer of Supreme, and today we’re going to talk–well, I’m going to talk, you’re going to listen–well, I’m going to type, you’re going to read–well–about the big fat middle-to-end-ish section of that. For whatever idiot reason, I decided to break it up by “publishing companies,” which means last time we did 8 and this time we’re doing 20. Christ.
Anyway, to recap:
1. Rob Liefeld and Brian Murray invented Supreme for Image Comics, who was like Superman, but a psychotic zaniac.
2. Numerous writers attempted to invest some sort of creative direction into Supreme, including very talented ones; none really succeeded (go on, tell me all about Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming’s origin for the character, if you can).
3. Alan Moore, who was bumming it with the Image cats at the time, accepted the Supreme gig provided he could just do whatever the fuck he wanted and ignore all previous continuity. That deal was struck, and despite some pretty garish art, Supreme won awards and stuff.
4. After two issues of Moore, Rob Liefeld and his Extreme imprint decamped from Image Comics and existed as a separate publishing venture, Maximum Press.
5. Maximum Press folded and Liefeld regrouped, banding together with Jeph Loeb, Eric Stephenson, and others to form Awesome Entertainment.
That’s where we are now–Moore hadn’t even gone a whole year on Supreme when suddenly Awesome was made manifest and they came to Ol’ Alan, saying, “Hey–can you rewrite our universe’s bible to make it, you know, good?”
Hence: Judgment Day.
Judgment Day Sourcebook #1, Judgment Day #α, Judgment Day #Ω, Judgment Day: Final Judgment #3, Judgment Day: Aftermath #1
Awesome Entertainment. Written by Alan Moore. Penciled by Chris Sprouse, Rob Liefeld, Gil Kane, Stephen Platt, Keith Giffen, Adam Pollina, Dan Jurgens, Steve Skroce, Jim Starlin, Terry Dodson, Jeff Johnson, Rick Veitch, and Ian Churchill. Inked by Al Gordon, Jon Sibal, Joe Weems V, Bill Wray, Larry Stucker, Alan Weiss, Rachel Dodson, Norm Rapmund, Dan Panosian, and Marlo Alquiza. Colored by Donald Skinner, Tanya Laib, Andy Troy, Brett Evans, Jimmy Yu, Ron Rife, Richard Horie, I.H.O.C., and Quantum Color FX.
Fuck’s sake, look at that credits listing. If everyone involved in drawing this book was at the top of their game, it might go down as one of the most fantastic jam-books ever to hit mainstream comics. As it is: not really, but not bad, either.
Judgment Day, as previously stated, is Alan Moore rewriting the “Extreme” universe into the “Awesome” universe. I’m lumping all of its various pieces here because, really, it’s not a Supreme story (and placing it here actually interrupts the ongoing narrative of the Supreme “Story of the Year” arc, but Awesome’s publishing schedule was so totally fucked that I just kind of gave up). Still, it provides a bit of context and color for Moore’s superhero work for Liefeld’s various companies, and it gives me something different to talk about for a couple paragraphs.
The prologue for all of this is the confusingly-labeled Judgment Day Sourcebook #1, which according to its cover was exclusively put out through American Entertainment. You might remember American Entertainment from their full-page ads in mainstream comics throughout the early 90s, offering discounted prices to people who ordered 5-or-more, 10-or-more, etc. of various comic books. The speculator bubble collapsing sort of fucked them up the ass, and by the end of the 90s they were struggling to retain some kind of foothold before they got muscled out by the likes of Midtown and Lone Star. Judgment Day Sourcebook #1 also features a static Liefeld shot of Fighting American on the cover, which might make you suspect that Fighting American appears anywhere in it. You’d be wrong.
What the prologue does is set up the idea that this Awesomeverse is going to piggyback off of the things Supreme had been bubbling with–the idea that there was an entire parallel comic book universe, spanning decades, with its own faux Golden/Silver/Bronze Ages, that we simply had never noticed. The Allies, the League of Infinity… all that. The very first page is a pastiche featuring “the Phantom Aviator” and “the Golden Age Prophet.” You follow? But, like, in three panels he and Chris Sprouse give Youngblood member Riptide a more meaningful comic manifestation than she’s ever been allowed in eight years prior.
After the brief comic segment, we’re treated to design sketched by Sprouse, and samples cut out from Moore’s scripts for the upcoming Judgment Day series. This is all one panel:
NOW WE JUMP TO A SCENE DURING A PRIMORDIAL DAWN OR SUNSET WHEN THE SKY IS A RICH AND ANGRY PRIMEVAL RED. GIGANTHRO STANDS TOWARDS THE FOREGROUND, FACING AWAY FROM US IN SURPRISE AND BEWILDERMENT TO WHERE A GROUP OF STRANGELY-CLAD YOUTHS STAND FACING HIM FROM THE NEAR BACKGROUND, SMILING AT HIM WITH SOME OF THEM RAISING THEIR HANDS IN GESTURES OF GREETING. THESE ARE THE LEAGUE OF INFINITY, AND WHILE THEY ALL STILL LOOK LIKE FAIRLY YOUNG TEENAGERS AS WE SEE THEM HERE, THEY ARE DRAWN IN A MORE IMPOSING AND REALISTIC STYLE THAN WE HAVE PREVIOUSLY SEEN THEM, JUST AS WE’VE DONE WITH GIGANTHRO AND DINO MAN. WITCH WENCH, FOR EXAMPLE, HAS A BLACK RAGGED CLOAK FLUTTERING OMINOUSLY AROUND HER AND A DARKER LOOK IN HER EYES THAN IN RICK’S VERSION. SHE LEANS UPON HER BROOM STICK MORE AS IF IT WERE A STAFF, GIVING HER A WISE-WOMAN LOOK. ACHILLES IS DRESSED PRETTY MUCH AS RICK HAD HIM, BUT JUST RENDERED MORE REALISTICALLY FOR A MODERN CHARACTER. THE SAME GOES FOR YOUNG BILL HICKOCK AND FUTURE GIRL. AS THEY STAND ON THE VOLCANIC DAWN LANDSCAPE GREETING GIGANTHRO, WE CAN SEE THE CRACKLING EDGED DOORWAY THAT LEADS TO THEIR TIME-TOWER HANGING OPEN IN THE EMPTY AIR BEHIND THEM. FROM THE FOREGROUND, GIGANTHRO EYES THEM WITH SURPRISE AND SUSPICION.
The idea behind this series is a mixture of the fantastic and the supermundane. On the one track, in 1997–illustrated by Liefeld–we have the murder trial of Youngblood member Knightsabre, who’s accused of killing his teammate Riptide during a drunken blackout. (This is more interesting a situation than Knightsabre was in at any point prior to this series.) On the other track, we’re bouncing throughout various time periods and guest artists, tracing the history of some sort of cursed, magical book as it passes from hand to hand. Instead of just riffing on the history of superhero comics, like he’d been doing in Supreme, Moore takes this opportunity to stretch out into just about every major genre of the 20th century, from Westerns to sword-and-sorcery to medieval boy’s-adventure fantasy to World War II.
The plots converge when it comes out that Sentinel, one of Youngblood’s many heavy-hitters–a character who, for years, we were told were terribly terrific and important, without much demonstration why–had been using the magical book to rewrite reality and effectively single-handedly create the “dark age” of comics. He’d killed Riptide in order to maintain control of the book, and so on, and so forth.
The real purpose of Judgment Day was to simply put a capstone on all of that, and launch forward. We were given dynamic, interesting new origin stories for the various Awesome heroes and villains. We were set up with a new status quo, one with new and exciting situations for the various characters, including a new Youngblood team and a revival of Supreme’s super-buddies the Allies. (This was meant to be a series, if I recall correctly, but was never released.)
Will Judgment Day provide you any insight into the nature of metafiction? Nah, but it’s a clever superhero story. You could put it in front of a 12-year-old and they’d probably be perfectly happy. They might even get their minds a little blown. It’s a superhero Law & Order, done well (mostly) and with a touching, sweet tribute to the legendary Gil Kane in the Aftermath issue. It’s a sorbet for a sorbet.
Awesome Entertainment. Written by Alan Moore. Penciled by Mark Pajarillo. Inked by Norm Rapmund. (Flashback sequences illustrated by Rick Veitch.) Colored by Laura Penton and Extreme Color.
This is the second part of where we left off on Friday–Supreme, the Allies, and their… um, allies taking on the menace of Optilux and Hulver Ramik (the Soul Slaver). Sadly, this is the first point in Moore’s Supreme run where I’m left without much to say, or even much to make fun of. I think this is the point where it stopped being a self-aware, ironic parody of classical superhero comics, and started being a self-aware, unironic classical superhero comic. And that’s fine–no judgment. Still, it’s hard to really do much with a competently made superhero comic book, even a smart one, just because there’s a lot of them! There’s too many.
The best part about #49, by far, is Veitch and Moore doing a note-perfect rip-off of, like, Jim Starlin Captain Marvel. It’s not even a rib or a prank, it’s just this perfect little eight-page mini-comic, with a fraction of the mind-altering potency of a Starlin full-length feature. Even so, the jokes are like… how do you explain the joke of doing a Starlin parody? “Well, this one’s bugfuck crazy, and this one’s bugfuck crazy too, but it’s serious about it.”
Awesome Entertainment. Written by Alan Moore. Penciled by Chris Sprouse. Inked by Al Gordon. (Flashback sequences illustrated by Rick Veitch.) Colored by Laura Penton and Ron Rife.
Enter Chris Sprouse. He and Al Gordon are credited as “guest artists” here, but for all intents and purposes, this is the beginning of the Moore/Sprouse run. (Sprouse also illustrated the Judgment Day Sourcebook prologue story and a Glory sequence within Judgment Day proper, but c’mon, those don’t count–Supreme wasn’t even in ‘em!) When people talk about Alan Moore’s Supreme, this is the dude that they think of visually. His tenure is something like six or seven issues out of around thirty, but… well, that’s more than anyone else managed to do, except Veitch.
The reason Sprouse was a dream artist for this book is his mastery of drawing humans. When I say that, I don’t mean, like, “well, his anatomy is flawless” (although it is very good). I mean that Chris Sprouse can draw a human being just sitting back and not doing much in the way of superheroic action, and even though he’s very much a superhero artist, he can still make the everyday look absolutely thrilling. His style is distinct without showboating. He doesn’t bend pages into submission the way that, like, Neal Adams does. His style is refined, elegant, and so finely honed as to appear effortless.
Look at #50: the flashback stories excepted, it’s a story about Ethan “Supreme” Crane and fellow comic book creator Diana Dane, sitting around her apartment, talking about the Omniman comic book that they’re working on and trying to decide how to set the character up with a romantic relationship with his normal human identity’s normal human co-worker: that is, Omniman‘s Diana Dane, that is, Supreme‘s Lois Lane. After the straight-up Allies superhero caper, this is a return to the more metafictive Supreme, unashamedly dealing hard archetypes by volume like a crackhouse with a neon sign.
The way it shakes out is this: Ethan and Diana are trying to figure out who to hook Omniman up with, and they keep coming back to the idea of Omniman, in his civilian identity, getting into a whole romance thing with his non-powered female lead. Along the way, Veitch illustrates a series of flashbacks to Supreme/Ethan’s past attempts at romance–or, rather, his attempts at imagining romance, since all of these flashbacks are of Supreme watching simulations of what might happen, right? Meanwhile all of these simulations are just, like, straight up pubescent-boy paranoia fantasies–marrying a civilian tames Supreme, marrying an angel causes her to wither and become bitter, and marrying a superheroine creates a jealous, competitive, mutually destructive hell-pit. And then, just when Ethan has psyched himself up to make a move, it comes up just how dishonest it would be for a superhero pretending to be someone else to marry, or even date…
“Maybe you can come over again soon and tell me what happened to all those sweethearts of Supreme?”
“They all got along fine without him. Goodnight, Diana. You take care, now.”
Awesome Entertainment. Written by Alan Moore. Penciled by J. Morrigan. Inked by Norm Rapmund and Al Gordon. (Flashback sequences illustrated by Rick Veitch. Colored by Laura Penton and Ron Rife.
The knocks on modern characters are getting louder and more prominent. It used to just be Suprema and the characters who’d been time-frozen or soul-frozen or whatever for years. Now even Supreme is getting in on it: “‘Cyberzerk!’ What is it with all these modern villains and their stupid one-word names? At least crooks like Dr. Nocturne and the Shadow Supreme had a vaguely poetic ring about them…”
Cyberzerk, for the record, looks like a cross between Liefeld-created Youngblood foe Giger, Liefeld-co-created Spawn foe Overt-Kill, and a huge metal suppository.
Meanwhile, in the flashback, Supreme’s Girlfriend Judy Jordan: “Mm! These foot-long supreweiners are delicious!”
Oh, you guys.
Written by Alan Moore. Penciled by J. Morrigan and Mark Pajarillo. Inked by Norm Rapmund and Al Gordon. Colored by Ron Rife, Tanya, and Quantum FX. Backup stories illustrated by Rick Veitch, Kevin O’Neill, and Jim Mooney.
This is the climax of “The Supreme Story of the Year!,” Alan Moore’s year-long first big arc to reintroduce Supreme. Originally, it was meant to be published as a Supreme 80-page Annual or somesuch, but for reasons I can’t even begin to guess at, it was decided to publish them as two issues of the regular series instead. What would have been backup stories of the Annual–”Tales of the Supremacy”–were just split up between the two issues.
Throughout the year, we’d been teased with constant hints–always shown peeks of the Hell of Mirrors in Supreme’s Citadel, holding captive his worst foes, but the worst of them all, Darius Dax, had supposedly died of cancer decades ago. Well, of course he didn’t. He brainjacked Supreme’s Girlfriend Judy Jordan and grew old in her body, waiting for the moment to enact a Revenge Supreme. Now, here we are, with Dax using his Jordanself and an android granddaughter henchgirl to trap Supreme in his own Hell of Mirrors, with all of his worst foes.
“This showdown has been coming for sixty years…”
Of course it hasn’t, but it sure feels that way. I don’t want to keep going on and on about what a smart, talented, possibly handsome (who can tell under the beard???) guy Alan Moore is, but what makes Supreme work, beyond just the specifics of the parody and the carefully measured tone, is that he’s so deft and naturally meticulous a storyteller that he can make us believe in sixty years of Supreme history despite the title only having existed in its current state for twelve issues.
What I know about Moore’s scriptwriting is that because of the need for an artist to get a timely script, he does everything first-draft, and sends the scripts out in pieces as he writes it. This, to me, is insane. Not because it’s a bad method of working, but because it means that Alan Moore creates such a far-reaching wholesale-ready vision before he even scripts issue one of a book, that he can begin setting up payoffs a year ahead of time and still confidently carry them out as he intended. All the time, in long superhero-writer runs, it seems like stories get away from people, or mutate into different things, or get caught up in the needs of the greater universal body… and this guy just treats it like he’s driving a luxury car on a road so fucking flat and smooth it might as well be in a Wyoming suburb. Insane.
Then he goes and creates a Supreme strip about “National Flashlight Battery Inspection Day,” making jokes about turning kids into orphans. He’s just rubbing our faces in it.
Awesome Entertainment. Written by Alan Moore. Penciled by Chris Sprouse. Inked by Al Gordon. Colored by Ron Rife.
“Wow. So, like, then what happened?”
Alan Moore gets shit off some people for so broadly, obviously on-the-nose captions and transitions like the above line of dialogue, which begins the “second year” of Supreme and the formal start of the New Moore-Sprouse Adventures. Personally, I think those people can eat it. Sure, it’s transparently clever, but a magician who lets you know he’s doing a trick is still putting on a show. It calls attention to the artifice of comic-book-ery and comics storytelling, but people who want to get totally lost, ne’er to return, in page after page of static images are worse than people who go see 3D movies.
Meanwhile, for those of us who are able to handle our liquor, Moore and Sprouse have Szazs, the Sprite Supreme, show up and turn Supreme’s life as a comic book creator into a super-punching adaptation of If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, because in the 19th dimension, there’s only one way to compete: “…seeing which of us can come up with the most irrational and pointless stunt! I thought up this whole Omniman/Supreme routine just for openers! Ha ha ha! I’ve got a tiny little body, and everybody loves me!”
Take that, comics.
Awesome Entertainment. Written by Alan Moore. Penciled by Rick Veitch, Melinda Gebbie, and Chris Sprouse. Inked by Rick Veitch, Melinda Gebbie, and Al Gordon. Colored by Ron Rife.
Remember what I said last week about Suprema being Alan Moore’s best little gift to himself?
“By Saturn’s signet ring! That amateur avenger has forgotten about the flight paths up there!
“Lucky I’m here to give this jeopardized jet a shove supreme out of harm’s way…
“…after which I intend to give that Superjudy-come-lately a piece of my mind!
“Now you listen to me, Miss Trainee Titan! Your half-cocked heroics just risked innocent lives!
“Frankly, Judy, you don’t have what it takes as a cheesecake champion!”
I’m just saying.
Written by Alan Moore. Penciled by Chris Sprouse. Inked by Al Gordon. (Flashback sequence illustrated by Gil Kane.) Colors by Awesome Colors.
No shit, huh.
Written by Alan Moore. Penciled by Chris Sprouse. Inked by Al Gordon. (Flashback sequence illustrated by Rick Veitch.) Colored by Ron Rife.
I know I just did the whole “just post an image from the book without context thing,” but man, this is a great one. Even after what, twelve years, more, even… it’s one of the most indelible panels from the whole Moore Supreme run for me. It’s just so nasty and perfect and it says so much more–and so much more horrible stuff–than grisly maximalism ever could. It’s pure superhorror. I love it.
After #56, Supreme went off the air for a year. Moore had turned in scripts andbeen paid for them, as far as I’m aware, but Awesome Entertainment had a lot of problems both getting their product out on time, and getting investors to actually hold up their end of the cashflow. Moore took Sprouse, Veitch, and a collection of friends and other rogues over to Jim Lee’s Wildstorm, where he launched the America’s Best Comics imprint. In 1999, Awesome returned to the stands with the oddly titled Supreme: The Return, which continued the previous storyline with a new numbering.
Awesome Entertainment. Written by Alan Moore. Penciled by Chris Sprouse. Inked by Al Gordon. Colored by Awesome Color.
‘”I, Korgo son of Krugg, challenge you under the formal rules of the Cosmic Dictators Guild. What say you, William son of Clint?”
Alan Moore’s Supreme is some of the most endlessly quotable superhero comics ever written. After that yearlong layoff, Supreme returns, and in the very first scene, a kind of Space Genghis Khan is challenging Bill Clinton to one-on-one combat for control of America on the White House lawn, while this kind of a lion Battle Beast guy is hanging around laughing and calling Clinton a sissy. Tell me one X-Men spin-off with half the promise of that.
Then, then, an ant-woman goes around stealing babies from people, trying to use them to build her new ant-people empire, even though babies historically make extremely poor workers. It’s unbelievably silly, but no moreso than spandex bodysuits. Oh, I’m sorry, Captain American fans, wipe those tears away.
Then! Televillain, the villain who can go into and out of television broadcasts, uses his powers just to, like, shoot Monica on an episode of Friends. These are villains I can get behind. These are villains who commit the kinds of crimes that make a man proud to pay money for paper flaps of things that–that never were.
Awesome Entertainment. Written by Alan Moore. Illustrated by Jim Starlin. Colored by Awesome Colors.
“Statement: This ’90s model villain is dangerous. His almost complete lack of motivation makes him unpredictable.”
At this point, Moore is so confident in the world he’s built that it becomes self-meta. Darius Dax is a riff on Lex Luthor the same way that Led Zeppelin is a riff on old black bluesmen they didn’t pay any royalties to. Now, in this issue, we have riffs on Darius Dax, and on Supreme itself–this is a darkside re-enactment of Supreme #41, with a continuum society of cross-continuity Daxes instead of any sort of noble, gleaming Supremacy. In Supreme #41, Supreme advances into his new reality, knowing that Earth needs a protector and that its needs subsume his own. Meanwhile, Darius Daxes:
“The verdamnt Earth is currently without a Dax!”
“Well, it doesn’t have to be! Couldn’t I just go back there?”
“But you’re dead in normal space-time! It would be a breach of continuity logic!”
“It would shatter all the rules of existence itself!”
“Hee hee hee! It would lead to chaos and universal disorder!”
All Daxes in unison: “Hmmm…”
Not beautiful: There are two uncredited pages at the end of what looks like either Rob Liefeld trying to ape Chris Sprouse, or Liefeld inking very, very rough Sprouse pencils. It’s… it’s hard to look at. So I’ll just move on.
Awesome Entertainment. Written by Alan Moore. Penciled by Matt Smith, Rick Veitch, and Jim Baikie. Inked by Matt Smith, Rick Veitch, Al Gordon, and Rob Liefeld. Colored by Digital Broome, Matt Yackey, and Hi-Fi Colour.
You know, somewhere out there, there are people who like the old Superman Kandor Nightwing and Flamebird stuff, and if there’s any justice in the world, those people are being beaten to death in prison because the warden sadistically moved their child-molester asses into gen-pop.
Meanwhile, this issue has Veitch finally, finally doing a Kirby riff, and it’s fucking glorious, unlike most attempts to “do Kirby,” which are like watching creativity and talent hold hands and look directly into one another’s eyes, tears welling, while they have side-by-side third-trimester abortions.
Awesome Entertainment. Written by Alan Moore. Illustrated by Matt Smith and Rick Veitch. Colored by Digital Broome.
In this issue, Radar the Dog Supreme is a deadbeat dad who banged 378 dogs in, like, a day, and probably got them all pregnant, like John Stamos in that one episode of SVU where they actually had to write lines for Mariska Hargitay because Wikipedia didn’t have a “serial impregnators” article for her to quote statistics from.
Supreme stands around yelling at his dog for banging another dog. This is actually in a comic book, that people actually paid money to publish. Awesome Entertainment probably had like a dozen sharks circling it in open water at this point, and they’re sweating and mopping their brows and going “shit, only Alan Moore and Re:Gex can save us now,” and they open the treasure trove door to see what Uncle Alan’s got up his sleeve to singlehandedly restore the company to greatness and profitability, and they see it’s the script about Supreme’s dog getting his dog fuck on, and Jeph Loeb probably shat his pants.
“I just hope your three-hundred-and-seventy-eight-dog sex spree was worth it!” This shit is probably why Kevin Smith was so late with his Daredevil scripts–reading this issue of Supreme: The Return over and over and knowing he’d been fucked up the ass at his own game.
Awesome Entertainment. Written by Alan Moore. Penciled by Ian Churchill and Rick Veitch. Inked by Norm Rapmund. Colored by Digital Broome.
The title page of this issue has Supreme in such an unsubtly-clenched dick-thrust pose and Diana Dane in such a willing-receptacle mouth-popped-open state that instead of Suddenly… the Supremium Man! I wouldn’t have been shocked if the title was A Round o’ Blowies.
Maybe one person will get that joke, but you know what, who cares.
It’s beside the point, anyway, or at least a moot point–Alan Moore didn’t get into all that really freaky shit until he went full-time Knockabout with Avatar as his weekend girlfriend.
Awesome Entertainment. Written by Alan Moore. Illustrated by Rick Veitch and Rob Liefeld. Colored by Matt Yackey and Digital Broome.
And here we are.
Veitch does Kirby again. Moore does Kirby, too. “…BARAGOOM, the creature that walked like a thing!” Sticking out like a sore thumb in all of this is Liefeld doing Liefeld–Supreme is investigating this vast Kirbycity, and throughout, the figure of Supreme himself is drawn by Liefeld, all thin lines and weird blow-up doll lips in the midst of Veitch’s thick-lined, barrel-chested mania.
If there’s a trend of the Awesome era of Supreme, it’s an outward motion from Moore’s love of old Superman stories to a greater love of the whole history of superhero comics, culminating here–with a breathless, excitable tribute to the King himself.
Speaking of, he appears–years before Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo brought him into their Fantastic Four run. Here, it’s more of a novelty, even if it brings a thematic sense of conclusion to Moore and Veitch’s trompe l’oeil take on the history of guys hitting each other in bad clothes–who hit harder, or wore gaudier clothes, than the men and women of Jack Kirby’s pages? In Fantastic Four, Waid and Wieringo bringing in Kirby as a kind of God-figure was meant to resonate with the idea of the FF as characters who have grown into pseudo-living beings, whose existence is full of genuine emotion and weight simply because they’ll survive so long that they’ll be able to gradually accumulate so much more than any one real person. Here, well, let “King” explain it himself:
“It ain’t the physical stuff that’s important. It don’t last, you know what I’m sayin’? What’s important is the idea of a thing. See, all we are is ideas.”
Alan Moore, wearing the mask of Jack Kirby, spouting a sideways take on William Carlos Williams.
If this had been the ending, well, who could blame it? (Meanwhile, it’d be the only successful Superman riff to end with the line “Now, about this gay thing…”)
We’ve got one more issue, coming out on Wednesday. Erik Larsen drawing the last of the Moore scripts–one more to tie it all together, years and years later, and send us all on our way so the next people can take over. What’s next for Supreme?
Do tell, Erik:
A very, very different direction because Alan’s was very much a tribute to silver age Superman comics and I’m not into that. I mean, we have silver age Superman comics — those existed — if somebody wants to read them, they’re out there. I didn’t feel that that’s what made Supreme unique. The thing that made it unique was that he was Superman with a real twist in that he was kind of a dick. I’m kind of returning to that — Supreme as an asshole.
I could just go on and on for twenty pages.
In fact, I think that in the end, that’s exactly what I’ll do.
What do you even write about Alan Moore’s Supreme? I mean, it sounds good as an abstract idea, certainly. “Alan Moore rejuvenates a scathingly stupid character from Rob Liefeld’s Extreme imprint and invests him with an un-self-conscious love of Silver Age Superman, only for the whole thing to fall apart through no fault of Moore’s own.” The story’s pretty much that cut-and-dry, which is why Gary Spencer Millidge barely spends two pages on it in his handsome grimoire, Alan Moore: Storyteller.
Millidge quotes Moore, talking to Clifford Meth: “Given that a lot of the stuff I do is very serious these days, perhaps even tending towards the heavy side, doing some silly-ass superhero stuff in amongst all that is quite a tonic and a panacea. It’s a refreshing sorbet between main courses.”
There you have it, from the man himself: this is a sorbet, and a silly-ass one, to boot.
I don’t know, though–maybe it’s exactly that quality that keeps people buzzing, if not chattering, about Supreme, twelve years after Moore’s most recent issue was published. (He had one or two more scripts that were never illustrated; Erik Larsen will be handling them for the title’s revival next week. Sure, Alan Moore is the guy who gave us sex with monsters both consensual (Swamp Thing) and otherwise (Neonomicon), among other heavy fucking topics, but sometimes a man just has to let his beard down and have some fun, right? I won’t lie: one of my favorite things from the whole of America’s Best Comics, beyond even the likes of Promethea, was First American and U.S.Angel, a strip he did in the Tomorrow Stories anthology. It was straight-up slapstick humor, full of sex gags and rude meta-farts, like a comic book version of the Carry On… movies if neither superhero comics nor Carry On… movies were written by retarded people.
It’s not that Supreme is particularly weightless, either–it’s not like we’re sitting here, trying to hurl a piece of paper the same way one might toss a stone. It’s just a peculiar kind of weight. This is a comic book series designed to be fully understood by adult fans of superhero comic books. (Aren’t they all, now? But seriously, folks.) Its resonance is targeted at people who have strong ideas about the likes of Superman, god help them, and people who are keen to enjoy a Super-saga but need a comforting blanket of distance and irony in order to not feel quite so fucking juvenile about the whole thing.
This concept paints Alan Moore in a bad light, maybe. It depends on whether or not you feel like that’s a worthwhile enterprise: “adults making kid-safe adult-oriented comic books about the comic books that adults read when they were kids.” To be fair, this is easily a million times more ambition than Moore showed in his WildC.A.T.s comics, which had the seeming authorial mandate of “well, there’s nowhere to go but up, isn’t there?” Still, the subtext of such a series is thin gruel unless you’re one of the initiated, or failing that, a weirdo comics anthropologist trying to vibe to the big ape tribe’s backwards brainwaves. That’s not great, from a purely intellectual standpoint, but you also have to remember: that there is a subtext, at all, even a shallow one, puts it head and shoulders above an astonishing proportion of the competition, and certainly all previous issues of Supreme.
Supreme was Liefeld’s third big creator-owned initiative at Image, and it ran for forty issues, with some mini-series and stuff besides. First, there was Youngblood, which was his Avengers, then there was Brigade, which was his X-Force, and then there was Supreme, which was his Superman. Okay. Superman’s kind of boring, though, right? I mean, this is 1992 and we’re sitting here and they have to kill the stupid bastard off to get anyone to sit up and read his comic books. Supreme doesn’t sit around worrying about, hell, Jimmy Olsen. Who would? You? You’re ten years old, man, maybe even eleven, you’ve figured out that going to channel 300 gets you scrambled technicolor tit-wave porn fragments and you’ve seen at least two Friday the 13ths, and on top of all that your baseball cap is backwards because who cares what Mom thinks? You need a hero that speaks to you. So Liefeld picked up on that, him and Brian Murray, and they said “we got you, kid,” and they came up with Supreme, a hero who combined the power of Superman with the amorality and violence of Lobo, or maybe a berserk Wolverine. Is he mankind’s greatest hope? Or is he the planet’s most dangerous enemy? Isn’t that your dream, kid, to leave everyone guessing like that, to make them really feel the truth when you snap “You don’t know me!“–?
Forty issues of this! More, even! More than any other Extreme book, Supreme got passed around from writer to writer, each struggling to make heads or tails of how to create a sustainable book about a mad god. (Even Peter David, god bless him, was starting to crack under the strain of keeping Captain Marvel involving, once he made the title character certifiable.) So, whatever, they gave him more relatable supporting cast members: Kid Supreme, who was a carjack of the 90s Superboy, and Lady Supreme, who took all of the confusing, boring backstory of the Matrix Supergirl and added a slingshot thong bathing suit. Gary Carlson tried. Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming, they tried. Terry Moore tried!
So Alan Moore, he’s doing a bunch of work for Image, if only to keep his self-published darlings afloat. He did a mini-series where Spawn fought a vampire, and a couple brain-dead goofs starring Spawn’s enemy, the Violator. (People who call Deathblow: By-Blows the most inconsequential, lightweight thing in Alan Moore’s oeuvre have never read Violator vs. Badrock.) He did the 1963 thing and that didn’t work out. So Eric Stephenson–the guy who’s in charge of Image Comics these days–he calls Moore up and says, well, hell, Jim Valentino’s been writing this book, but he’s on his way out, maybe you could come give our psychotic roid-rage Superman a bit of that old Alan Moore shine?
“Sure,” Alan says, stroking his beard contemplatively. “But I want carte blanche to ignore the stuff I don’t want to use, or keep.”
Eric’s struggling to stay in his chair, he’s so excited–like hell he expected Moore to say yes. “Oh, yeah, yeah!” he blurts, maybe a little too quickly, probably a little too loudly. “I mean, you name it, it’s wiped out. What are we talking here–the Starguard? That whole Probe/Lady Supreme storyline? Thor and Loki?”
Alan sits for a moment, looking out his window, the corners of his eyes tensing up a bit as Stephenson rattles this stuff off. Probe Lady Supreme storyline? he thinks. What the hell kind of a deviant book is this? “Hurm,” he says, finally, before drumming his heavy, ringed fingers on the tabletop in front of him. “Actually, Eric, how about all of it?”
Even though this entire conversation I’m typing out is wholly imagined on my part, I can’t imagine Eric Stephenson having even the smallest, most secondary second thought on that.
Now we’re back to figuring out how to write about it again. You could compare and contrast the old and the new, but honestly, who wants to read forty issues of Supreme just to say “well, the twenty that came after are better?” I’ll leave that archaeology to the kinds of people who still think it’s clever to post reaction vlogs to no-hoper werewolf movies.
Another approach is a direct archaeological one: excavating the pages of Supreme to track down every last speck of Curt Swan’s blood laced into the ink. Someone already did that, though. It’s a 137-page MS Word document, and once there’s one of those things, how many more do you fucking need, especially for a sorbet?
So you know what, let’s just stop wringing our hands. Let’s just do this.
Image Comics. Written by Alan Moore. Penciled by Joe Bennett. Inked by Norm Rapmund. (Flashback sequence penciled by Keith Giffen and inked by Al Gordon.) Colored by Reuben Rude, which is a pretty amazing name, and I.H.O.C..
The recurring trend of Alan Moore’s Image days was the terrible trend of ol’ Uncle Alan having to work with hot-shot kid artists who weren’t in his pay grade. Some of them could step up to the plate: Bart Sears, Greg Capullo, y’know. The dudes he brought in himself fared the best, and here I’m talking the likes of Veitch and Bissette, old pros whose styles were just flat-out not Image-y enough for the Image Club. Then, uh, there was the Tony Daniel stuff, the Brian Denham stuff, the Todd McFarlane stuff… guys who just aren’t built for Alan Moore stories, especially when they were kids like Denham and Daniel (who was, I think, fresh off the Comico/X-Force boat).
You know this already–you’re someone who reads comic book blogs–but Alan Moore writes long, dense scripts. He’s the opposite of “Panel two: Dredd on bike”–he’ll describe exactly what flavor ice cream a little kid is holding half a mile away from the action. He does with his words what the likes of David Fincher do with production design. Every little piece is there to help build a plausible, inhabitable world, even if you give those little details no more thought than you do the trees in China. Joe Bennett’s grown leaps and bounds since 1996, but still, man, I don’t think I’d go to him now for that kind of gig. Solid super brick men gripping each other’s biceps and grunting from the strain, like Warrior and Hogan at WrestleMania VI–that’s some Joe Bennett shit.
Back then, Bennett didn’t even have that kind of stuff going for him. He was like a slightly more refined Chap Yaep, making dudes out of inconsistently size balloons, where the only things smaller than their feet were their heads. When you look at the first page of Supreme #41, the disconnect between Moore’s script and the abilities of the artist is right there, laid out, perfectly: Supreme is staggered by the fact that “my world looks like a double-exposed photograph!“–and instead of that double-image of Earth being the most prominent thing on the splash page, your eye is instead guded toward Supreme’s giant white left thigh, rendered with an even more bizarre system of muscles than a Total Justice action figure.
The meat of the issue, of course, is Supreme’s new status quo being introduced: instead of a singular cranky-pants Superman, he’s part of a vast spectrum of multiversal Supremes, from ‘Original Supreme’–a riff on Siegel/Shuster’s Superman, although Bennett draws him more like a C.C. Beck type–to Squeak the Supremouse. Again, this is where the inconsistency of Young Mr. Bennett doesn’t do the story any favors. He pulls off the giant Kirbyscape obelisk of the Supremacy, but all of his figures look like Joe Bennett drawings of Supreme, with bits and pieces changed. Can you image if someone like J.H. Williams had done this–Sister Supreme done up in Billy Graham or Legion-era Mike Grell trappings, a proper golden-age-Superman Original Supreme… It doesn’t help to sit there, reading this, going “what if someone else had done the job,” but sometimes you can’t help but see a blown opportunity for what it is.
Norm Rapmund tries to help out as best he can, but thin lines can only do so much.
It bears stating: this is clever as fuck. A lost city of misfit Supremes, living in their gold and chrome Valhalla after being written out of continuity by forces they can’t begin to explain, let alone control–”the unfathomable periodic changes in space-time we call revisions!” Alan Moore drops jewels out of his pocket as if he doesn’t even need them. He doesn’t just make fun of the whole process, either–his jabs are soft, loving ones. There are ironic references to stuff like ‘Superman Red and Superman Blue’ and why kid sidekicks and spinoffs appear and whatever the hell else, but it’s not sarcastic or even a little mean. Even Probe and Kid Supreme get bundled off into a happy ending, to live forever in bliss, before Supreme steps through the gateway to explore his new world.
Image Comics. Written by Alan Moore. Penciled by Joe Bennett. Inked by Norm Rapmund. (Flashback sequences illustrated by Rick Veitch.) Colored by Steve Oliff and Olyoptics.
The cover of Supreme #42 is another blow against what Moore is trying to do, and what the Extreme imprint’s house artists were capable of. Sure, I’m not gonna go out there and say “every silver age DC artist was a shining star,” but they could draw everyday stuff, you know? That’s part of why people can’t remember any of them beyond Curt Swan and Carmine Infantino these days–they knew how to draw what you could see if you looked outside. So on the cover of this issue, where it’s called for, like, a kid finding a magic rock, or a dog, or just a lady, it all goes kind of cock-eyed. Speaking of, Supreme visibly does not have a penis in the cover’s center image. Like, egregiously dickless, here.
What’s important about #42, though, is that this is the first appearance of Rick Veitch as Supreme co-artist, and the most consistent collaborator Moore would have throughout his run. (In #41, we get a flashback page done by Keith Giffen, which was I suppose some kind of dry run for the idea.) Veitch is so perfect for this because his sense of humor is just as perverse as Moore’s, but he’s able to keep a straight face throughout–you can’t tell if he’s cracking wise or dead-serious when he does an extended Curt Swan vamp for pages and pages, explaining the new origin of Supreme in the “don’t think too hard, kid, you might sprain something” language of 1950s comics.
Or, as Ethan “Supreme” Crane puts it himself in a narrative caption: “The woods were full of memories, colorful and simplified, the way things seemed when I was young.”
What also makes #42 stand out is that because so much of it is given over to Moore and Veitch recreating “past adventures” that never were (or at least, never were until they said they were), this is the first issue of the run where you really need some kind of knowledge of Superman to get past the cutaneous layer of the story. Darius Dax and his Tremendroid can only be stopped with the help of Kid Supreme’s friends from outside time, the League of Infinity–how many people are going to get that joke? Comics nerds, certainly. DC nerds, definitely.
I mean, as I hope we’ve established thus far, Alan Moore ain’t no sucker. He’s not going to write a comic book that only makes sense if you’re engaged with the minutiae of Super-continuity. The question I have is, would it be as effective with some other superhero, though? I mean, speaking from the perspective of a comic book nerd, Superman’s backstory never really stops to think about itself. We don’t have stories that try to reconcile the 1950s version of Smallville with the 1980s version with the present idea, just a neverending flip where each turn of the coin reveals a totally different side. Because Superman’s history is never explored so much as overwritten, I would argue that Supreme is more effective as a work of comic-hero metahistory–Batman, to cite another example, has too intensely self-scrutinizing a personal continuity to really have this kind of fun with, and other heroes like Wolverine are just so full of years of fluff and filler that digging deeply into their pasts would be tapping a dry well. Maybe Spider-Man would work, but he hardly has the sense of cosmic joie de vivre that silver age Superman–and by extension, Supreme–has.
Classic Superman and Adventure Comics and all that are, I’d reckon, not as widely read as Lee/Ditko Amazing Spider-Man–so there’s that, too. It’s like going into a city you’ve seen in the movies but never actually set foot in, and recognizing some of the buildings. Because the stories aren’t as, like, enshrined, it’s easier for us to swallow gags like “the Tremendroid”–who the fuck knows if there as actually a “Stupendobot” or whatever in some silver age Lex Luthor scheme? (Whoever does know: why would you bother to?) The idea of the Tremendroid is enough to carry us backwards. It’s something that might as well have been in some old Action Comics joint. ‘You’re not autistic,’ Supreme #42 says to us, ‘right? I mean, you can see where I’m going with this.’
Also of note: Dig those tiny spandex briefs Ethan Crane sleeps in on the last page. What?
Published by Maximum Press. Written by Alan Moore. Penciled by Joe Bennett. Inked by Norm Rapmund. (Flashback sequences illustrated by Rick Veitch. ‘Omniman’ sequence penciled by Dan Jurgens and inked by Norm Rapmund.) Colored by Reuben Rude and I.H.O.C..
Unrelated to Supreme, Rob Liefeld got himself in some shit with his fellow Image Comics honcho, apparently related to trying to headhunt the late Michael Turner from Image co-founder Marc Silvestri’s studio. He quit before he could be fired, and as such, two issues into Moore’s run, there’s a publisher change from Image to Liefeld’s own Maximum Press. There’s also a title change, from Supreme to Supreme: The New Adventures, for no really obvious reason. We’re also treated to some really horrendously brutally ugly Stephen Platt covers. Like, I’m sure the guy is making his Hollywood overlords cream in their jeans with his storyboard work, but back in his Prophet days, nothing he drew looked human, human beings least of all.
Meanwhile, we get a glimpse into Omniman, the comic book drawn by Supreme’s alter-ego, Ethan Crane. (A Superman analogue drawing the adventures of a Superman analogue. You get it.) “Not while I can still… unnnggh… tear my own heart out in a final statement that juxtaposes art, mysticism and absurdism!” Moore’s gotta be taking a shot at himself there. Writer Bill Friday is left rambling about “Omni-Dog’s rape-ordeal in #247,” which is like Moore halfway-scrying his own future Internet discussion.
Speaking of that kind of stuff, in this issue, Veitch’s flashback sequences make it really, really obvious that Supreme has a penis. The contrast between this artistic choice–a rare break from stiff-backed silver age parody–with the modern Maximum Press “smooth as a Ken Doll” style leads to the uncomfortable implication that Supreme has literally lost his genitals in the years since these adventures took place. Sadly, it’s more of a happy(?) accident than any kind of thematic overture. That’s a damn shame. Alan Moore would run rings around a Supreme penectomy story nowadays, especially since he doesn’t give a fuck about writing for kids and tweens anymore.
This issue also gives us our first glimpse of the Allies–nee the Allied Supermen of America–who are as unabashedly a parody of the Justice League of America as Supreme is a Superman riff. That’s what gets me thinking. Okay, like, we’ve got Alan Moore doing the Justice League and having a zany old time, but how is that different from, shit, just about any other Rob Liefeld / Extreme concept? We’re talking a company that did a book called New Men, which was basically a bunch of teenage X-Men rip-offs being led by a Niles Caulder rip-off, that then “reinvented itself” as–get this–New Force. So where’s the line? What separates a clever parody like the Allies from a craven long-sigh like the New Men? After all, it’s not like Moore is telling genius, epic stories with these Allies flashbacks. He’s blenderizing old Gardner Fox stories after plier-ing their teeth out, and coming up with cutesy (but sharp) alternatives to classic hero costumes and codenames. The New Men might not have been bright–codenames like “Pilot” and “Exit,” for god’s sake–but they told their own stories, right? (I refuse to actually read them, so I presume they told their own stories.) What makes the difference?
It might be love, but don’t quote me on that.
As to the narrative thrust of this issue: Supreme returns to his old Citadel to find his robot double, S-1 the Suprematon, has gone robo-insane, and is living in a false paradise with robot copies of all of Supreme’s friends and family. After three issues, Moore is able to craft a story that plays easily on common themes and large-print emotions to actually make you feel just a little bit for this guy. More importantly, for whatever reason, they used the panel of Supreme holding the bisected corpse of a robot of his dog for a house ad, without any hint of context as to why Supreme is standing there ripping a robot dog in twain.
Maximum Press. Written by Alan Moore. Penciled by Richard Horie. Inked by Norm Rapmund. (Flashback sequences penciled by Rick Veitch and inked by Bill Wray.) Colored by Donald Skinner and Extreme Color.
#44 provides our first viewing of Glory, who had debuted a year or two prior as Rob Liefeld’s answer to Wonder Woman–even, I believe, poaching away Mike Deodato, artist of Wonder Woman’s own book, to draw his knock-off instead. There’s not much to say about her, though. Moore treats her with a modicum of respect and restraint (beyond having aged heroine Alley Cat make a crack about Glory’s tits), and it’s like, some days that’s all you really want, especially if the dude who used to draw Chapel is going to absolutely wreak havoc on your anatomy and proportions. You gotta take your small victories, sometimes.
Meanwhile, in this issue, two months after Liefeld left Image forever and ever amen, Image partner Erik Larsen’s characters Super-Patriot and Mighty Man appear and seem deeply connected to Supreme’s history. Oops!
If you’re gonna read this issue, though, it’s gotta be for Supremelvin!!!, Moore and Veitch’s rip on Mad Magazine and Harvey Kurtzmann. It’s just too much–gags smash into one another with reckless disregard for narrative flow and panel space. It’s the same manic-episode approach Moore took to stuff like First American and that one Tom Strong story he did with Peter Bagge where Tesla burns the house down smoking crack. “It’s goodbye Meaty Man…” “…and hello Nightie Man!” Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. Because some other guys already did, and you’d be copying.
As an aside, this is like the fourth straight issue where there’s no real prominent plot beyond “Supreme piecing together the details of the new Supreme continuity,” which might be where Geoff Johns got the idea that doing something like that was okay for just, you know, everyday babytown frolics.
Maximum Press. Written by Alan Moore. Penciled by J.J. Bennett. Inked by Norm Rapmund. (Flashback sequence illustrated by Rick Veitch.) Colored by Laura Penton and Extreme Color.
Billy Friday visits the Citadel Supreme: “Oh my god, this is just great! This is, like, a classic superhero fortress. You’ve got the giant trophies, you’ve got the big machine with the flashing lights… This is like, a sort of post-ironic statement, yeah?”
Well, there you go, huh? So speaketh Moore.
Then, you know, five pages later:
“Great gosh, young Sally! Now the radiation from that mysterious meteor menace has turned your brother into Modern Art Supreme! How many more bizarre transformations can he take?” and there’s Supreme looking like fucking Guernica.
Written by Alan Moore. Penciled by J. Morrigan. Inked by Norm Rapmund. (Flashback sequence penciled by Rick Veitch and inked by Jim Mooney.) Colored by Laura Penton and Extreme Color.
This is the last of the Platt covers, and I gotta say, it’s been years since I’ve first seen it and I can’t get over how fucked up Suprema looks. Like, her right thigh and her left eye are both just so totally off that it sort of hurts to look at.
This is two key things: one, the first issue of Suprema, and two, the issue where Suprema’s satanic archnemesis, Satana, poses as Suprema and uses it as an opportunity to launch some old lady’s cat over the horizon. Seriously, that’s just such an elegantly fucked-up idea–from the creators of Watchmen and Brat Pack, true believers! Plus, Satan has seven heads, one for each of the deadly sins, so there’s always one that’s sleeping and there’s always one that’s happily jamming a whole fucking chicken leg into his mouth. Comics! I swear to god, this is why they’re great, and if you disagree, go read some old John Francis Moore X-Factor comics or something.
Anyway, this story prefigures that one Jeff Parker out-of-continuity Avengers story where Ego the Living Planet somehow tries to fuck the moon, by having Gorrl the Living Galaxy imprison Suprema in a black hole for thirty years, presumably so he can watch her pee or some other creepy abusive-galaxy-boyfriend thing. Everything in this issue is maximum fucked up, which I guess is the freedom you were allowed at Maximum Press.
Maximum Press. Written by Alan Moore. Penciled by J. Morrigan and J.J. Bennett (who between them form one Jolly Jonah Jameson). Inked by Norm Rapmund. (Flashback sequence illustrated by Rick Veitch.) Colored by Laura Penton and Extreme Color.
Could no one at Extreme draw a fucking dalmatian? At the bottom of page one, Radar looks like a cross between a stuffed toy and all of my nightmares, ever.
The first scene of this comic is where Alan Moore realizes what a gift he’s given himself with Suprema, whose standards of decency flash-froze sometime in 1966. Corralling up some foul-mouthed bank robbers, she casually drops the wall of a building behind her while she lectures: “Language like that isn’t big, it isn’t clever, and it isn’t funny! It’s just immature!” As a foil, Suprema is worth her weight in gold, just because she’s so prissy as to drive everyone up the walls, but what can you really charge her with–demanding that discourse be more civil? A more eye-twitching article would go on and on about how this reflects the tension between modern “bam! pow! comics aren’t just for kids anymore” and the fabled idea that up until the year 1997 or so, comics were friendly for kids, all the time, forever, and marketing to adults is why everyone’s unhappy.
Really, though, Suprema acts as a counterpoint to Supreme himself, which is how it should be. Supreme is a dude who’s spent seven issues now exploring his past as a means of preparing to deal with his future. Suprema’s content to live in the past and seems to suffer, if not actively resent, the forward march of social conventions. Between them is Radar the dog, who just wants to do right and make his masters happy, and because his sense of self-worth is contingent upon direct personal relationships, he feels none of their tension with their surroundings.
Meanwhile: now that we know Supreme’s Lex Luthor (Darius Dax), we also get to meet his Batman (Professor Night), Robin (Twilight), and their version of the Joker (Jack-a-Dandy). What I love about Jack-a-Dandy is that he’s honestly the mascot icon dude for The New Yorker, which suggests that the archenemy of the most popular comic book franchise in history (i.e. Batman) is, naturally, America’s most esteemed magazine of literary and cultural reportage. The rest is really just gravy.
Maximum Press. Written by Alan Moore. Penciled by Mark Pajarillo. Inked by Norm Rapmund. (Flashback sequences illustrated by Rick Veitch.) Colored by Laura Penton and Extreme Color.
Supreme and Spacehunter have the exact same face on the cover, minus the eyes. Like, the exact same. Not the same brushstrokes but it honestly might as well be. It’s creepy as shit.
This issue is all about the Allies, Extreme/Maximum’s fake Justice League (co-starring two Erik Larsen creations!), get back together to go on a mission to save some old friends from an alien soul-slaver. It’s full of amazing fake Veitch covers, each with running narration by the Allies as they bullshit about their old adventures the way people do when they see old friends.
“If I remember right,” goes one anecdote from Supreme, “Prysmalo turned up right after our first encounter with Florax. Posing as a famous intergalactic artist, he flattered the allies into sitting for him, little suspecting that his painted images would siphon away our life force. We should have suspected. The fact that Prysmalo had only one cyclops eye should have alerted us! I mean, how great a painter could he be without stereo vision?”
It all comes back to that Moore quote about his Supreme run. It’s a sorbet. You pay your $2.99 and you get your comic about a super-team that hadn’t even properly existed a year prior meeting up for the first time in twenty or thirty, and talking shit about their old adventures while sieging a slaver’s soul-space citadel. You’re not gonna learn much about yourself other than, like, maybe remembering what a good time you had with old-ass 1960s superhero comics, or what a good time you feel like you’re having with the idea of old-ass 1960s superhero comics. Do you follow? Maybe your hard-on for this is just an imaginary story. But then, aren’t they all?
Monday: Supreme: Judgment Day and the Awesome Years