When Awesome Comics closed shop in early 2000, one of the greatest tragedies was that it left Alan Moore’s Supreme incomplete. Although the final issue that saw print, SUPREME: THE RETURN #6, was satisfying enough, there were still some open plot threads in the series, specifically whatever Darius Dax was up to, which were still left open. Alan Moore had completed the script for the next issue, which had gone unpublished all these years…until 2012, when Rob Liefeld revived several of his old Extreme Studios titles at Image Comics with new creatives teams, including SUPREME, which was to be taken over by fellow Image Comics founder Erik Larsen. One of the conceits of the various relaunches was to pick up the older numbering, instead of starting over with new #1’s, as if the original series never ended, hence why Larsen’s first issue is #63, since Alan Moore’s run was printed as Supreme #41-56 and then relaunched as Supreme: The Return #1-6 (although Supreme #52 was printed as two separate issues, labeled #52A and #52B, so technically this could have been Supreme #64, but nevermind).
Erik Larsen says he was given the opportunity to start over if he wanted to, picking up the series several years after the previous version ended so he could set a new status quo (like Joe Keatinge did with GLORY, Tim Seeley did with BLOODSTRIKE, Brandon Graham did with PROPHET, and John McLaughlin did with YOUNGBLOOD) but makes the brave decision to start off with Alan Moore’s final script, so he is simply the artist on this issue (with Cory Hamscher on inks). Why I think this is a brave decision will be evident at the end of this review.
So in the aftermath of their trip to The Supremacy, Diana Dane got the idea to incorporate the concept into the OMNIMAN comic-book that she now writes and Ethan draws. We see a page from the comic, showing Omniman meeting alternate versions of himself and being taken to the “Omnigarchy”, where they all live. Darius Dax, back among the living, picks up the issue at a local comic-book shop. Seeing this story, and noticing how similar it is to his experiences in Daxia, deduces that there must be a similar place for all of the various Supreme’s that have been revives out of continuity. So he devises a plan, he returns to Daxia and tells all the other Darius Dax’s his theory, and convinces them to mobilize for an all-out war against the Supremacy, figuring that they’ll have the advantage of surprise, since the Supreme’s are likely unaware of their existence. The plan is to return to current Darius’ continuity to attack Supreme, in hopes of drawing out the rest. While the Dax’s prepare, Darius ends up getting seduced by an evil version of Diana Dane who is married to an earlier version of Darius. When the other Darius catches them in bed together, current Darius shoots him in the head, and he and the other Diana continue having sex.
Back in reality, Supreme and Diana are having a date in the Citadel. After Suprema briefly confronts Diana and gives them her blessing for this relationship, Supreme and Diana have dinner and then go to Supreme’s bedroom to make love. But as they lay in bed together afterward, from across the sky an army of variant Darius Dax’s prepare to descend upon them…TO BE CONTINUED
And that’s what makes me so impressed with Larsen’s decision, because this script ended on a cliffhanger. Following ALAN MOORE is daunting enough, but to have to complete the second-half of an Alan Moore story, with no knowledge of what Moore had planned (other than a bunch of Dax’s and Supreme’s were going to fight) takes a lot of guts.
Anyway, it’s a good story. The only real “flaw” I’d find in it is that, naturally, since it picks up right from where the previous series left off, there’s not much explanation of what’s gone on before, so if this were your very first issue of Supreme, I think you might be a little lost (and that’s the only reason I don’t give this issue a perfect grade). However if, like me, you had read the entire previous series, then you’ll love this. Also, something I’d picked up on in much of Alan Moore’s following ABC titles, is this tendency to have characters stutter when they’re scared or surprised.
I-I don’t know…
B-But what does..
Examples of this are throughout this comic, from multiple characters, Diana, Suprema, several Dax’s, all with that same speech pattern? It starts to get annoying.
But on the art-side I have no complaints. I’ve always been a fan of Larsen’s style, and Supreme (being a big bulky guy, like SAVAGE DRAGON) seems like the perfect character for him to be drawing. Moore is known for packing his scripts with minute details, so I don’t know how much of it is just following Moore’s direction of Larsen using his own imagination, but Larsens fills many panels with some great background details. Whether it’s the opening scene in the comic-book shop, Diana in the Citadel, Darius’ return to Daxia, or the final page with the army of Dax’s in the sky, you’ll need to look closely to catch everything Larsen crams into the scenes. This relaunch was off to a good start.
P.S. I think it’s interesting to note that Eric Stephenson writes an editorial in the back of the book. In it, he says that when he first started working for Rob Liefeld at Extreme Studios all those years ago the title he was most excited about was SUPREME, saying: for some reason, Rob Liefeld’s plan to do a series about a supremely powerful being – a superman – unencumbered by the same moral restraints as most other superheroes, really appealed to me. Like most comics fans, there were often instances when mainstream superhero comics left me wondering why this hero or that didn’t just use the full extant of his powers to solve a particular problem. It was always like – “You have all this power at your disposal, what’s holding you back?” The notion that SUPREME would explore what would happen if a superhero didn’t hold back, ever, really excited me.
Again, I agree, that original concept of SUPREME was pretty darn awesome.
And so we had 40 issues of SUPREME, plus guest-appearances in comics like BLOODSTRIKE, and miniseries like THE LEGEND OF SUPREME, that brutally illustrated what that kind of superhero would be like. (Hint: There was lots and lots of violence). As the editor (and for a brief moment, writer) of those comics, I can assure you the reality didn’t always match Rob’s original vision. Like most comics that debuted in the 90’s, SUPREME had it’s shares of ups and downs, and before long, Rob and I were looking for ways to reinvigorate the title.
I think it’s candid that he admits the flaws with the execution of the original idea, even acknowledging his role in that execution. He then goes on to describe the recruitment of Alan Moore to the title, and embracing Moore’s new vision, and then the process of reviving this title and selecting Erik Larsen to contribute. It’s a nice little sneak peak at the behind the scenes development.