Friday, 6 April 2012

Supreme #63 review

At last, the comic you've dreamed about is here! The Supreme Story of the Year ...

Given that the last issue of Supreme appeared in 2000, Image Comics might like to call this The Supreme Story of the Millennium. Whatever anyone else is calling it, I'm calling this an unexpected treat - Alan Moore's final tale of the Ivory Icon, as drawn by Erik Larsen and Cory Hamscher. I never even knew there was an unpublished Moore story.

For those coming in late/those who weren't yet born ... created by Rob Liefeld, Supreme was his attempt at a Superman analog, but taken to extremes. When Moore took over the writing he basically made Supreme into Superman himself, but a Superman plonked down in a minefield of metafiction. The hero became aware of his status as a fictional character, subject to continual revision. He met earlier versions of himself, his friends and enemies in the Limbo-like dimension named the Supremacy, and Moore had a ball. A hymn to a more innocent time, his stories - drawn by the likes of Chris Sprouse, Rick Veitch and Silver Age great Jim Mooney - are collected in Supreme: The Story of the Year and Supreme: The Return. And they're just wonderful.

Well, if you were raised on Silver and Bronze Age DC Comics. Younger fans may not enjoy them quite as much as me, but I don't doubt they'll like them.

Supreme #63 is very much a continuation of The Return, but I venture that anyone could dive right in. As a craftsman, Moore knows the value of introducing his characters and concepts, so you're told enough about Supreme, arch enemy Darius Dax, girlfriend Diana Dane and sister Suprema to get into the story. The episode sees a comic book clue New Dax in on the likelihood of the Supremacy's existence as an equivalent to his already discovered realm of Daxia, where hundreds of alternate versions of himself - including a Daffy Duck type - live in less than harmony.

Meanwhile, Diana is waiting for Supreme to return and resume their date in the Fortress of Soli ... sorry, the Citadel Supreme. She's not alone, with Supreme's old girlfriend Luria the angel, and Suprema for company (click on image to enlarge).
As for what happens next, let's just say 'lots of fun stuff' and leave it at that. If you're already a Supreme fan, or reckon the book sounds interesting, you'll want to find out for yourself. I will say that this is Moore on great form: we get a brain-bending story, perfectly structured and paced; intriguing characters interacting in fascinating ways; whip-smart dialogue full of wordplay; homages that are never lazy; and big ideas everywhere. All this, and two very different ways to court Diana Dane.

As I understand it, Larsen provides layouts to which Hamscher adds final pencils and inks. This gives Hamscher a chance to make the final art job his own, but he's obviously a Proper Professional, so the overall effect is Larsen. The dynamic poses, big-eyed expressiveness, scratchy finishes, packed panels, it's very Larsen. But then, I'm not familiar enough with Hamscher's own style to recognise the nuances he brings to the book (I suspect the Ditko-esque scene of New Dax in his lab, for one). Whatever the case, I like the stripwork here, so credit to both chaps.

The other two artists to hand are master colourist Steve Oliff and acclaimed letterer Chris Eliopoulos (I spotted one spelling error, but going big on it guarantees the Hubris Elves would stud this review with typos aplenty. Or rather, 'aplenyt').

The cover - one of several variants - wants to be an infinity cover, but bottles it. Darn. Anyway, it's by Larsen alone, and isn't quite as pleasing as the interiors with Hamscher.

Larsen continues Supreme's revival next issue and plans to incorporate Moore's run without attempting to copy the Big Man. I wish him luck and look forward to seeing what tone he brings to the book. For now, I'm happy just to get one more brilliant issue of Alan Moore's Supreme.

13 comments:

  1. Hooray to Martin for reviewing this! I thought Moore's Supreme run to be the best comics story ever done. I can't describe them any better than Martin does: "brain-bending story, perfectly structured and paced; intriguing characters interacting in fascinating ways; whip-smart dialogue full of wordplay; homages that are never lazy; and big ideas everywhere", or more succintly put: "lots of fun stuff"!

    The key word is really "fun," done with "metafiction." Moore's Watchmen was genius, but I don't think it can be desribed as "lots of fun;" I think his nostalgic, metafiction homage to the archetypes of Superman is better than his postmodern deconstruction of capes. This looks great. Thanks Martin!

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    1. I agree about Watchmen - I read and enjoyed it as it was coming out, but have never been back to it, unlike Moore's work on the likes of Captain Britain, Swamp Thing and Tom Strong.

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    2. All excellent, but yes those Tom Strongs were very special indeed.

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  2. I, too, thoroughly enjoyed the Collections Supreme as a gorgeous homage to Silver Age Superman stories, complete with team-ups with other heroes and an overarching storyline that fairly oozed meta-fiction.

    Hope to pick this up as a one shot just to complete the run.

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    1. Hopefully you'll let us know what you reckon either here or at Crisis on Earth Prime.

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  3. This one was right on the edge of my should I list. Larsen and Moore together - that team-up seemed as much of a unique incentive to get the book, as a unpublished Supreme issue did!

    Hopefully a thumb through at the counter will go in the right direction.

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    1. I suspect you'll make it to the cash register, Dan.

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  4. Cool stuff, I really like your page. Will follow.

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  5. Martin! Excellent review (as always) I'm going to have to track this one down. In your humble opinion, is this the 'other' Moore series to read or would you recommend something else (let's assume I've read 'From Hell,' 'V for Vendetta,' ecetera ecetera, yes lets ...

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    1. I've a lot of affection for Moore and Davis' Captain Britain, have you read those?

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  6. Dag, missed this at the shop. Will remedy next week!

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