At some point in recent issues it must have been decided that the original concept of SUPREME just wasn’t working. I’m unable to find sales charts for the month of November 1992, when SUPREME #1 came out, but I’m willing to bet that like most of the early Image titles, and particular those published by Rob Liefeld’s Extreme Studios, it sold pretty well. Probably much better than most “hit” comic-books sell today. But by January 1995, the year SUPREME #23 came out, it was #62 in the Top 300. Still decent, and I’d say a testament to the health of the comic-book marketplace back then, but I guess it was felt that the book needed a change. I still feel the original premise had loads of potential (still does), but now with writer Gary Carlson firmly on board (for now), a radical change began. That began with Supreme’s death at the hands of Crypt in #23. In the final issue of the EXTREME SACRIFICE crossover, YOUNGBLOOD STRIKFILE #11, a new younger Supreme appeared and tried to help the assembled Extreme Studios heroes face the big bad guy of that series, LORD CHAPEL. Without saying a word he flew into battle straight at Lord Chapel, who swatted him away like a bug. Not the most impressive debut for a new superhero, to put it mildly.
But in SUPREME #24 this new Supreme crash lands in Japan. He’s disoriented and has amnesia. He has no idea whom he is. But the citizens of Japan recognize him as Supreme, and in this country he is a remembered as a villain due to being the one who personally dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. Supreme quickly finds himself attacked by a squad of soldiers in flying high-tech suits of armor. He fights back, but is unaware of the limits of his own powers, and causes a lot more violence than he planned to, and he is horrified at his own actions. In the aftermath of the battle, Supreme meets a young boy from America, and he say he’s a big fan of Supreme, and reads all the comics, and he hands him a copy of SUPREME #25, to prove that this new person is not the “real” Supreme. And that’s the end of the issue.
Seriously, this is how they catch-up to the special #25 issue that came out a year earlier, even though the status quo is now radically different. And SUPREME #26 opens with Supreme finishing reading the issue, marveling how arrogant the last Supreme was. He flies back to America where he is confronted by Kid Supreme, who thinks he’s a fraud and attacks him. After a brief fight, they’re both approached by Charles Flanders, the old man who was the original Supreme. Some supervillain named Blackheart appears and he manipulates Charles’ emotions, he is somehow able to steal Danny’s powers and is rejuvenated as a new “Kid Supreme” and he tries to destroy both Supremes.
Supreme defeats Charles, and helps him snap out of his madness, and Danny gets his powers back. Then Glory appears, in #28, shocked because she thought Supreme was dead, and is initially happy to see him, although he doesn’t recognize her, so he explains what’s been going on with him. This leads into a 5-part crossover called SUPREME APOCOLYPSE
This 5-part story crossed over into other Image titles, Prophet (written by Chuck Dixon), Glory (written by Jo Duffy), and Brigade (written by Marv Wolfman), before concluding in Supreme #30.
In all honestly, I can’t even begin to describe this storyline. It should have been a natural team-up, since Supreme (at least the original version) and Prophet both got their powers from the same source, the scientist Dr. Wells, but this is complicated jumbled mess that involved Darkthornn, a poorly disguised imitation of the DC Comics supervillain Darkseid, trying to invade Earth or something. I tried re-reading this story for this review, but I just couldn’t get through it. Ultimately nothing of any lasting importance happens in it. So you’re not missing anything.
The final issue is a simple little one-shot story. Supreme and Charles go out camping in the woods, and tussle with a couple strange planet-like beings, a man named Equinox and his daughter Roe. They’re the last of an alien race who landed on Earth and have been living in the woods ever since. Charles discovers a file on the internet, from Maxine Winslow, detailing the secret origin of Supreme that was revealed in The Legend of Supreme.
Supreme #31 was the last issue Gary Carlson wrote. During his run, a Japanese businessman named Dexter Cortez had been introduced, he seemed to know a lot more about Supreme than he let on, and had sinister intentions, but with the latest creative change this was just another subplot that would be dropped, and Cortez was never seen again.
This was a run that probably had some potential, if we could have seen this new Supreme exploring the Image Universe, learning to be a superhero, but it just felt more disjointed. Supreme just flies around with stuff happening to him, which he reacts to. And the mystery of his origins is never fully explained, or even treated like a major mystery. And the crossover story just disrupted the series. The art continued to fluctuate. Cedric Nocon and Shannon Denton drew Supreme #24, Joe Bennett drew #26-28, then Nocon and Bennett each drew half of #29, then Bennett back on #30, and finally Zebra MacPherson, Todd Nauck, and Brian Denham are credited on #31
Change was still necessary…