Rising star Kyle Higgins has revived the Supreme Power brand, but is it good, or just another disappointment?
Credits & Solicit Info:
Supreme Power #1(of 4)
Written by Kyle Higgins
Artwork by Manuel Garcia and Michel Lacombe
Ah, Supreme Power, you promised so much. Back in the heady days of Nu Marvel, you were one of the standard bearers for mature, edgy superhero comics. Alongside Millar and Hitch's Ultimates and Grant Morrison's New X-Men, you were worth reading and worth discussing and worth loving.
But then JMS fucked it all up, the series was moved away from the MAX line, neutered, and then cancelled halfway through an important fight. Ultimate Power came and sucked, and Howard Chaykin's run strayed too far from what the series was supposed to be. Supreme Power is the Ultimate Justice League, it's a look at what Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Flash would be like in a more realistic world. It got away from that, all due to one man's inability to finish a project (Supreme Power was the first such instance, but JMS has done it time and again since), and what should have been remembered as a classic story, is now condemned to a heap of 'what could have been' and a whole mess of negative feelings.
But with the return of the Supreme Power name, and the return of the MAX label, things could be turning around for the world of the Squadron Supreme. Kyle Higgins is a writer on the rise, and with the announcement of his involvement in a couple of the new DC #1s, he's the perfect writer to tackle Supreme Power's twisted take on the DCU.
Higgins seems to get what makes the series work. It's not about superheroes slugging it out with each other in battles of cosmic importance, it's about how super-powered individuals would exist in the modern world. Higgins places Doctor Spectrum in the spotlight, and shows how the media perceives his actions, and how that perception is key. He also tackles real world issues by having Spectrum, a hero employed by the military, involved in taking down a Middle-Eastern super-villain who has been oppressing the people of Syria.
Wisely, Higgins keeps the focus on just one character at first, Doctor Spectrum (who is based on Green Lantern). In the absence of Hyperion, Spectrum has become the flagship hero of the Supreme-Verse, and it makes sense to get a grip on one character before he starts expanding and showing how this world has changed since we last saw it. I am excited to see Higgins' take on Hyperion, Nighthawk, Power Princess, Whizzer and the rest.
Manuel Garcia provides the artwork for this issue, and he does a good job, but is unfortunate in that he has to be compared to Gary Frank. Frank was perfect for the story JMS was originally telling. Garcia is great, but he doesn't hit that almost perfect level of realism that Frank did. I wish Frank would stop working on rip-offs like Superman and Batman, and come back to real deals in Hyperion and Nighthawk.
Overall, this issue is strong, and is a return to a world I recognise, to the Supreme Power we should have always had. It's got the depth of character I associate with Supreme Power, and it's got the slightly different take on superheroes that I expect. My only complaint is that it doesn't really do anything with it's MAX-label, there's one use of 'Fuck' and the violence is not much above what you get in regular Marvel Comics these days. I'm not one of those readers who constantly wants blood and guts and tits; but when you've got the MAX-label and you're charging the extra-dollar, you should use that extra freedom.
While in an ideal world JMS and Gary Frank would still be on this title, telling the story they intended, we all know this isn't an ideal world, and Kyle Higgins does a good job in reviving a poorly-remembered title and reminding us that the Supreme Power name used to mean something good, and will do again. Let's just hope he doesn't get bored and leave like a certain other writer.
Review by: Niam Suggitt