James Robinson & Leonard Kirk of the latest Fantastic Four iteration will be launching a Squadron Supreme ongoing following the conclusion of Secret Wars. More details at Marvel
Squadron Supreme makes a loud entrance with some interesting story choices in the titles debut. While it’s not without it’s flaws, the series opening chapter definitely makes a bold statement.
The Squadron Supreme is a weird concept to consider in a modern context that’s almost never worked as a solo book in and of itself. Squadron Supreme was created by Roy Thomas & John Buscema on their Avegners run in the early 1970’s to work as a sort of evil analogue of DC Comic’s Justice League from a parallel reality. As foes, they offer a unique and immediate contrast if not a whole lot else but they made sense at the time of their creation when Marvel was a young upstart publisher and DC Comics was the establishment. Over time, the Squad would make various cameos in addition to the occasional miniseries but rarely made much of an impact. While I think Mark Grunewald’s 12 issue miniseries on the property is notable in some ways for being a thematic pre-cursor to Watchmen, the depth and ambition of Watchmen makes the aforementioned miniseries feel irrelevant in comparison which is about as big as The Squadron Supreme get’s in terms canonical comics.
After Secret Wars, Marvel has taken members of different Squadron Supremes across the multiverse and had them come together to hand out superhero justice “with the reasoning of Frank Castle” coming out of the shadows in this issue to take revenge on Namor for his part in the incursions from Hickman’s New Avengers. They do so by destroying Atlantis, decapitating Namor and kicking his head in defiance. Writer James Robinson can be a bit heavy handed in the exposition here and the logic for killing Namor specifically seems to ignore the more popular character’s who had a hand in those worlds destructions ala Iron Man or Black Panther. There is also the addition of that Avengers team that was also added in the final moments of Black Knight #1 that feels like a bit much at such an early point in the series although because of their relationship with Namor, it at least makes a bit more sense.
With all that said, Robinson is making an interesting point here about national security, even if it’s completely devoid of any subtlety. Perhaps the most fascinating moments of the book come from the public’s mixed reaction to the lethal actions of the Squad against Namor and how that parallel’s our own post 9/11 society. In that sense, Robinson does a great job of capturing the multifaceted voice’s of the man on the street to give the book a little more weight beyond the main storyline. Artist Leonard Kirk, inker Paul Neary and colorist Frank Martin are solid in creating a cartooney superhero visual narrative. There’s very little in the “wow” category for the art but there is enough “cool” to make their effort on the title felt. Though it rarely rises above your standard superhero art style, it manages to do a lot with that in a way that keeps the book exciting where it needs to be.
Because of it’s story choices and allegory, Squadron Supreme is an intriguing debut issue. It doesn’t always work but it manages to work overall which, for a book that is basically a Justice League analogue in the Marvel Universe, is a kind of achievement in it’s own way.