In January 2013, Erik Larsen’s brilliant but all-too-brief run on Rob Liefeld’s SUPREME came to an end with #68. Larsen left with the title with several dangling plot-threads, and I was curious to see whom Liefeld would enlist to follow-up on them. Tom Scioli publicly stated that he’d be pitching Rob Liefeld for the gig, and I’ll confess that I even briefly thought of putting together a pitch for the project myself to send to Rob. But it wasn’t until almost a year later when it was announced that Warren Ellis would be reviving the title, with Tula Lotay on art, in a new 7-issue series. The first ad for this upcoming series was this image:
Color me intrigued!
In interviews before the series launched both Ellis and Lotay invoked the name of David Lynch, in describing the tone of this series. Lotay said: “It’s definitely strange, it’s a sci-fi mystery with a Lynchian edge.”
Well alrighty then.
So this is story is about, well…it’s about…IT’S ABOUT 7 ISSUES TOO LONG.
I’m sorry to be flippant, but, seriously, this series is just weird. And not weird in a good way, weird as in I don’t know what the heck is going on. It’s weird for the sake of being weird. It feels like an Emperors New Clothes type of thing, where you supposed to read it and think it’s all deep and experimental and if you don’t “get it” then you just must not be intelligent enough to understand it. There are a lot of mysterious characters saying a lot of vague things, and not much actually happening. So in addition to being weird, it’s dull.
Look, I am saying this as someone who generally is a fan of Warren Ellis, I’ve read and enjoyed many of his works over the years (including OCEAN), and that is in fact the only reason I bought and read this entire series. Almost any other writer I would have given up after the first issue. But I bought every issue as it was released, waiting for it to fall into place and become a coherent story, and give us a creative deconstruction or reconstruction of the traditional superhero the way he’s done in books like The Authority, and Planetary and Supergod. But that never happened.
And I’ve re-read this several times for this review. Don’t be fooled by the published time-stamps on this, or most of my previous SUPREME reviews. I’ve been writing them at different times and then back-dating them, just so I could make sure that the entire series will be posted one after another on this blog. This post is being written on Saturday June 20th, the same day I wrote the reviews for Erik Larsen’s six issues of SUPREME. After finishing my review of #68 I re-read this series one more time, hoping that it was more coherent as a complete set. That only turned out to be marginally true.
Okay, here’s the basic overview, as best as I can ascertain: Another revision has happened (yes, AGAIN), but it’s been screwed up somehow. It’s incomplete. This new reality is about 4 months old at the time of the beginning of the series. This began with a part of the big golden palace from The Supremacy crashing into Littlehaven. Ethan Crane was viewed at the scene but has been missing since. Diana Dane is an unemployed and broke journalist. She has frequent dreams and visions of being in a place she’s never been before (we later learn that it is what’s left of The Supremacy), but doesn’t know what it means. She’s hired by a businessman named Darius Dax (who is a Black man now) to investigate the truth of what happened in Littlehaven. Along the way she encounters a lot of characters who provide her with bits of info.
I will say this, Ellis must have done his homework on SUPREME, in that a lot of little obscure characters and events from the entire previous history of the character, dating all the way back to the beginning, are seen here. There is a young man in a wheelchair whom we eventually learn is Danny, the former Kid Supreme. There is a woman referred to as Probe, and reference to the previous Lady Supreme. There’s a hotel in Omegapolis known as Hotel Khrome. Even Enigma appears in this book. Multiple characters from Alan Moore’s run appear, including Doc Rocket (drawn to look like Albert Einstein), Professor Wells (he’s a Black man now too) and Reuben Tube (the Televillain) and a deranged priest who turns out to be the Jack O’Lantern, along with Storybook Smith and Zayla Zarn. “Professor Night” is the name of “The Longest Running Adventure Serial in The World” and scenes from the show are shown in several issues, until the lead character eventually become real, plus one of Darious’ employees is a woman named Linda, who is hired to be Diana’s driver during her investigation and Linda using the callsign: “Twilight Girl Marvel”. So if you’re familiar with those previous runs it’s an extra treat when you see these characters appear in their altered forms, but if you’re a brand new reader it won’t mean anything.
It’s not until the final issue where we actually meet Ethan Crane (who, for the record, never actually appears in costume as “Supreme”), who has been hiding out with Judith Jordan (as she’s called here) and there’s a big confrontation in the end with Darius Dax, who shoots Ethan with a special ray, which ends this reality and triggers another revision. THE END
I’m sorry if this review doesn’t make much sense, but I did the best I could. Check out Elvis Dutan’s reviews of the series HERE, he liked it more than I did)
Overall I found this entire run to be pointless and particularly disappointing in light of the way Erik Larsen left the series. I would have liked to have seen someone follow-up from those plot-threads, instead of whatever Ellis was trying to do here. If there is to be a proper revival of SUPREME someday, I suspect that this run will be ignored. Rob Liefeld’s upcoming BRIGADE relaunch is due to have an appearance of SUPREME in it and, judging by the preview pages shown on Kickstarter, this will be new interpretation of the character by Rob himself.
So will see what comes of that. But as for SUPREME BLUE ROSE? I think this series can simply be skipped.