In July 2005 Rob Liefeld published this comic on another new imprint, Arcade Comics. Rob writes in the back of the issue:
What would you do if you possessed absolute power? What would you do if when you were a teenager, you were granted the powers of a God? Would you feel an instant urge to fight evil and do good? Would you help old ladies cross the street Get kittens down from trees? Or would you kick some serious tail, get revenge on your enemies and rebel against authority? My guess is that if we were all honest with each other, we’d all lean towards the latter.
Nitrogen is the beginning of a much larger tale that unravels the fabric of the Extreme Universe. The Nitro’s are a brand new team of hostile, reckless youths gone wild intent on tilting the balance of power to their anarchistic agenda. This issue is only the beginning. Things get real complicated from here. . .
Rob Liefeld wrote the plot, Brandon Thomas wrote the script, and then Jon Malin did the art, for this story called TWO EXTREMES. To be clear right from the start, this book is for hardcore Rob Liefeld fans, specifically the ones who have been following his creator-owned comics since the formation of Image Comics and have stuck with his work throughout the years since, and therefor have previous knowledge of his characters and stories, even the obscure ones. There’s not much explanation of whom the characters are, you’re just expected to know that. This is not a book for beginners.
Heck, I’m pretty darn knowledgeable of Liefeld’s work, and even with multiple readings I’m still not sure I’m clear with everything.
The basic is premise is that several of the younger superheroes of the Extreme Universe have gotten older and become more…extreme. They’ve adopted new costumes and new names. Of the four characters on the cover posted above, the armored man in front is the former Kid Supreme, now calling himself SUPERION.The woman on the right is S2, whom I believe is supposed to be the former Fighting American robot sidekick S.P.I.C.E. (or it could possibly be the evil Version 2 from Brigade #1), the other girl with “Boy Toy” on her shirt is GAUNTLET and the man in the back is GAME, and I believe that they’re supposed to be Geoff and Krya from Kaboom. Also from Kaboom, ZANG is now full-sized and also wearing body armor. Something happened within the Kaboom Cycle that has led Zang to recruit and remake these young heroes. It’s not clear what the purpose is, but it involves a lot more violence.
The comic opens with the team invading Waxy Doyle’s House of Wax, looking for some kind of mystical gem that he’s guarding. Waxy puts his old Waxman costume on and, armed with his wax-shooting guns, tries to defend his home, but the Nitro’s easily and brutally beat him down. And then suddenly LADY SUPREME drops in to defend Waxy.
She proceeds to fight the Nitro’s but Superion defeats her as well. They get the gem and return to their headquarters, which is the undersea city of Neuport (spelled Newport in this come due to what I assume is simply a spelling error). We learn that the Nitro’s had previous attacked the city, killing most of the inhabitants (presumably also Roman, although that’s not clear) so that could use it as their base of operations. After giving the gem to Zang, Superion goes to rest in his room. Later that night ROMAN’s neice CORAL appears, wanting vengeance for the destruction of her city. She fights Superion, and his surprised to find that her trident is capable of piercing his invulnerable skin. And then it turns out that she’s not alone, she’s brought about a dozen heroes from the LEAGUE OF INFINITY with her…and the issue ends with that cliffhanger.
It’s certainly an ambitious story. It’s got almost non-stop action, which is beautifully illustrated by Jon Malin, and Brandon Thomas tries to give us some insight into the motivations of the characters and hints and bigger mysteries and possible conflicts. Superion is the lead character her, with most of the story told from his POV. While he initially seems to embrace his new ruthless outlook, there are signs that he harbors some doubts. He wonders if he may have held back from killing Lady Supreme due to his emotions (during their fight she says “I know you’re still in love with me.”) and it’s also implied that there is some romantic history between him and Gauntlet, although she is sleeping with Zang now (and throwing it in Superion’s face).
So there’s some interesting ideas in here, but most curious is how to reconcile this issue with the previous continuity. Superion and Lady Supreme are both from the pre-Alan Moore continuity of Supreme (although Kid Supreme did manage to escape revision in the last issue of his solo series). Waxy Doyle is from Alan Moore’s YOUNGBLOOD, of which SUPREMA was a member, yet in this issue Lady Supreme seems very familiar with Waxy. And the LEAGUE OF INFINITY are likewise from Alan Moore’s Supreme. So it’s a little confusing.
Still, overall I enjoyed it. It’s definitely recommended for Rob Liefeld/Extreme Studios fans.
8 months later, in March 2006, Arcade Comics published Nitrogen Extreme Forces #1. Once again scripted by Brandon Thomas and drawn by Jon Malin, from a plot by Rob Liefeld and Jimmy Jay, in a story titled What Happened Happened And Couldn’t Have Happened Any Other Way.
This issue is almost two stories in one. The first 12 pages are a big battle between PROPHET and CRYPT (the dude who killed original Supreme years ago). They’re battling in broad daylight in the middle of city street, with all type of destruction around them. Also there is Joanna Prophet, who is Prophet’s cloned “daughter” from 500 years in the future. But she’s traveled back in the past and is watching the fight, concerned because she’s that this wasn’t what happened in history and is worried that her presence is messing with the timeline somehow. It’s all rather confusing, I’m not sure what the point is, but let me just say that all three of these characters do not make it out alive.
Then the next 12 pages picks up from the cliffhanger of Nitrogen #1. It opens in the middle of a big battle between the Nitro’s and a bunch of other heroes from the League of Infinity. However long it’s been going on, the Nitro’s are winning, viciously slaughtering the other heroes, including many that I don’t recognize. Superion joins the fight, which looks like the Nitro’s have won, but then a whole new group of heroes, including Lady Supreme arrive and annouce that a call has gone out to superheroes from “all levels of the space-time continuum” to bring the Nitro’s down for good. TO BE CONTINUED
This issue was less satisfying than the first one. The artwork by Jon Malin was still nice to look at, but the story didn’t accomplish much. The opening with Prophet seemed pointless, and the second half with the Nitro’s was just a fight scene, that didn’t reveal any new info about the storyline or the characters and ended pretty much exactly like the first issue: with a bunch of superheroes getting ready to attack the Nitro’s. That and, since there’s been no follow-up in the 9 years since, I have less enthusiasm to recommend this issue, unless you can get it cheap.