So, we're back with Alan Moore and back during the 1990s when he worked doing superhero stories to keep food on the table while he pursued his two real passion projects From Hell and Lost Girls. This time it's the collected edition of the first twelve issues of his run on Supreme for Rob Leifeld's studio Awesome Comics I'm looking at, the studio Leifeld set up after his split from Image. Supreme is generally regarded as the best of Moore's superhero work during this period, although personally I enjoyed his WildC.A.T.s run a lot more. Supreme was originally conceived by Leifeld as a Superman expy who had anger issues and killed people and so on. Handed over to Moore, he chucks all that out of the window in the first issue and reboots Supreme as a much more traditional Superman clone, with the stories taking place in both the present where he, in the guise of his alter-ego comicbook artist Ethan Crane, spends each issue remembering parts of his new past which form a commentary on comicbook history and are beautifully drawn in different period and genre appropriate art by chameleonic artist Rick Veitch contrasting with the "Image" style of the modern day sequences drawn by a variety of artists. As I am not a huge fan of Silver Age whimsy done straight I find some of this stuff a little hard to swallow, but Moore was correct in predicting a backlash against the dark anti-heroes of the late eighties and early nineties was coming which also resulted in more well known works such as Kingdom Come and Grant Morrison's retooling of the Justice League. If you want to know more about pre-Moore Supreme, may I direct you to his wikipedia page, but really there is nothing about him that lasts into Moore's version. So let us continue.
|The world is changing.|
He comes around quickly and the Supremes take him through a portal to "The Supremacy" to keep him safe while "the Flickering" settles down. The Supremacy is a huge island of golden buildings hanging in a white void. The young one says in 1940 it was nothing, just ask "Original Supreme" about it. He himself is a 1960's "Son of Supreme" and the black woman is "Sister Supreme".
They are welcomed by a huge stone Supreme who laments he got one appearance and that was it for him. It also warns him about "Darius Dax". Supreme asks Son of Supreme what he means and Son of Supreme says in his reality Darius Dax might not even be his arch enemy. They land and are greeted by "his majesty Supreme the Fifth of the 1960's Silver Dynasty." Supreme is introduced to him as the newest one.
|A place of muliple Supremes.|
Original Supreme takes up the story, he was born in 1920 and was given superpowers as a child from a form of mysterious metal. He lived a double life fighting crime as Supreme and working as a reporter in his secret identity. Then one day with no warning he was flung into Limbo along with bits and pieces of his world like the paper he worked for.
Soon other Supremes and their supporting casts arrived, but they were really able to create the Supremacy as it is now when His Majesty, whose backstory was that he was an alien, arrived with his planet that they were able to turn into the Supremacy they are in now. Supreme is confused, he at least remembers he's been Supreme since the 1940s. But he can't remember much more:
Original Supreme: "Your past hasn't been written yet! You probably popped into being a few weeks back!"
His Majesty takes Supreme to ride in a coach pulled by a sentient horse, the whole Supremacy wants to honour his inaugration as the newest Supreme.
His Majesty: "It's as if the universe is desperately trying out new variations to get things right. Before it gives up and starts again."
They meet up with the huge brained "Supreme-of-the-Future" who says he's studied Revisions and thinks that they are either a ripple effect from the creation of the first Supreme or reality has always modified itself at intervals and the Supremes are the only ones who notice.
It's time to say farewell, the Flickering is finished. So Supreme goes through a golden portal and walks out of a door in the comicbook company office he works for. After his editor mithers him over getting the next issue of "Omniman" done, he checks his wallet to find out he is called Ethan Crane and goes to the address listed where he picks up a photo of him with his deceased parents outside their store and looks thoughtful.
|Supreme's new reality.|
We get a flashback, to Supreme's origins done in the style of the Golden Age of comicbooks. Ethan is five and goes off into the woods playing with his dog Radar. Then a meteorite made of white metal falls and starts affecting him badly. Radar manages to drag him back to the house.
Ethan's hair has turned white and his parents take him to Doc Wells to check he's OK. Doc Wells says he's returning to normal and he dresses in a safety suit and goes and retrieves the mysterious metal. He names the metal "Supremium" saying it shouldn't even exist to Ethan's parents.
|Supreme gets his powers.|
He creates a secret base under his parents house with robot doubles to fool people. He even gains an arch enemy in the form of Darius Dax. One day his parents tell him they're adopting another child and we meet Sally. At this point in time he decides to leave home for the big city, he creates a base in orbit round the Earth and declares on his final visit to Doc Wells that he is just "Supreme" now. The boy has become a man.
He fights on the world stage now, including the escalated threat from Darius Dax. He has a secret life as Ethan, who works for a radio station, and when war breaks out he joins up "a beacon of hope in a darkening world."
|Judy Jordan appears.|
Darius Dax has built a robot that has Judy in its claws. Ethan watches from the crowd and thinks he'll have to give away his secret identity to save her, when another teenage boy dressed as him confronts the robot. The robot drops Judy and Ethan goes to rescue her but time suddenly stops. A young woman appears and calls herself "Zayla Zarn" from the 25th Century.
She is part of the "League of Infinity, youths from many ages who have banded together to fight crime across time." He is taken through a door into their time tower. The Big Bang is at the bottom of the tower and the end of the universe at the top. They point out his future self higher up and they wave to each other.
|Two Supreme in different time zones.|
We return to the present and Judy takes Ethan out to the cemetary where his parents are buried. Judy tends the graves as well as the one belonging to Darius Dax. She says he wasn't all bad, at the end before he died he sent her a religious book. Judy's grand daughter Hilda runs up and gives Ethan a drawing she has done of Supreme and he says he'll pass it onto Supreme. He returns home and ponders what he has learned and what is still missing from his memories.
|Hilda gives Ethan a picture.|
Omniman: "You'll never truly kill me, Great Unwashed. Any more than you could kill Jean Genet, Isidore Ducasse or Malarme! Not while I can still unnngh.. tear my own heart out in a final statement that juxtaposes art, mysticism and absurdism!"
Sick burn, Alan. Back in the office, Ethan and Diana are discussing Omniman's new direction. Diana (who writes Warrior Woman) isn't sure about resurrecting Omniman as a Hezbollah extremist. Billy dismisses her opinion saying this clear out and reboot of Omniman is the way to go. Diana and Ethan go to lunch and asks Ethan if all British writers are like that. Ethan just says he met Neil Gaiman at SDCC once, "he seemed stressed."
They part and Ethan gets into his Supreme costume and flies up to his fortress on the sky, "The Citadel Supreme." He unlocks the door and goes inside and starts wandering its halls as the past slowly starts coming back to him and we get another flashback.
It begins with Supreme takng his co-workers up to the Citadel in his disguise as Ethan Crame. The robot Supreme is with them and Ethan is flying them all secretly. This is an exculsive for K-Zam the radio station he works at. But the Citidel is already open and they find a note saying there is a puzzle to solve.
He goes to check the Time Tower. Aladdin is on his way up and says no one else is in the tower presently. Then he checks the hall of armaments taken from alien invaders and the sample of Supremium he's synthesised. He checks the note again and says it all makes perfect sense. He flies his friends back to the Hall devoted to the "Allied Supemen of America."
The real Allies are hiding amongst the dummies and said they wanted Supreme to show off his detective skills. He noticed that the note was an acrostic that spelled out "Allies." Supreme goes to "find" Ethan and returns with S-1 his main robot double and they fly back to Earth, the adventure over for now.
|The puzzle revealed.|
His parents and Judy realise they too are robots and ask to be deactivated which he does, holding Judy sadly as she "dies". Then he sticks up the drawing Hilda did of Supreme and back on Earth Hilda says she has the "strangest feeling" her drawing has been hung up...
|Supreme vs. the crazed S-1|
We then cut to Supreme in the deserted base of the Allied Supermen of America. He starts to have a flashback to them all gathered together to celebrate the new year into 1950, when three witches appear and offer to take them to the future. This flashback includes material done in the form of E.C's horror and humour lines. Supreme and a couple of others volunteer to check out Earth in the fifties. They find it a blasted atomic wasteland, with the pathetic remnants of humanity scraping to get by.
1st Witch: "This is what America will be afraid of in the fifties. Red attack! Nuclear doom! Radiation! You inspired people through a war, but can you give them hope against terrors like these?"
Defeated the Allies ask to go back. Then we return to the present and Supreme has sent out the call to assemble the Allies. Glory is the first to arrive. He says it's good to see her after all these years, she thinks they met recently but her memories are kind of blurry.
|Glory in classic Escher Girl type portrayal.|
A second witch takes the next group through. This time they see human depravity in all its unpleasantness. A woman is setting up something to kill her husband, the police chief is her secret lover, her son on heroin and the final straw, when they go to warn the husband they find him and his friends are part of the Ku KluX Klan and are lynching a black man, which the Allies puts a stop to at least.
|The Allies are out of their depth.|
"Those were strange times" mulls Supreme in the present. They fought together during the war, but afterwards it felt like the war had been their only reason for existing. After that they sat around waiting for stuff to happen. Then Mighty Man flies in carrying in Waxy Doyle. He says "the 1950's happened."
The final flashback takes the form of a charicatured comedy comic. Glory runs the home and Supreme is her henpecked husband. She kicks him out to find a job and he runs around in his spotty boxer shorts looking for work as he bumps into charicatures of other members of the allies. The 3rd Witch then returns them to normal and they sign off with this message:
Witches: "Not only will the fifties be too weird for you. Not only will the fifties evils be beyond you. But worst of all, the fifties will laugh at you. So long Antique Surplus of America!"
And the Allies see in the new year in somewhat subdued fashion wondering if it might be time to find new careers.
|And thus dawns a new decade...|
A quick catch up as to where all the others are: Roman, Diehard and Super-Patriot in teams now. Professor Night dropped out of sight. Blackhand is in hospital after a stroke and Storybook Smith lost his magic book in 1958 (see Judgement Day). As for Jack O'Lantern, "who knows?"
Fully caught up the others bar Glory leave. She gives Supreme a peck on the cheek saying no one will mind him taking some souveniers from the base. He returns to the Citidel Supreme, gets suited up and closes off the science labs as he is about to do some tests on the artifical Supremium in there.
The next chapter starts with an unenthused Supreme taking Billy Friday up to his Citidel Supreme. We hear in voice over that Billy has started a new comic based on his life, and a good beginning would be to see Supreme's base so can Ethan ask Supreme if he'll take him there. So for the good of the company Ethan agrees.
|Billy Friday comes for a visit.|
Ethan is discussing the radiation from the artificial Supremium with two robot doubles, a reprogrammed S-1 and S-2, he's trying to induce a "violet" stage in it. Then turns his attention back to Billy. He takes him to the arsenal and Billy asks him what the radiation is, and Supreme tells him its beyond imagining and we get another flashback.
It's Sally's birthday and Supreme and Radar return to his parent's house to celebrate. Then a man, glowing white and violet falls from the sky. The radiation from him makes Sally "feel funny". Supreme tells her to get inside and he'll deal with the glowing man. But the man turns Supreme into a ventriloquist's puppet.
The glowing man is heading for Doc Well's place. He breaks in and turns Supreme into a 2-D image. Doc Wells says that when Supremium turns violet it causes unpredictable effects. The glowing man rips open the vault holding the meteor and it is violet too.
Glowing man: "Of course! All Supremium resonates in unison. In a sense there is only one isotope of it, spread through time."
But then as he absorbs it he becomes smaller and denser until he disappears, from his view space-time is collapsing and he falls right through reality. Back with Sally and his parents he notes her hair has turned white as well although no superpowers... yet.
Back in the present Supreme wants to get back to his work and so palms Billy off on S-1. They carry on with the tour, then Billy says there is something wrong. And he starts to grown extra arms. S-1 calls over the intercom for Supreme. Supreme comes to see what has happened and finds Billy is now a mass of limbs and he's multiplying exponentially.
|Billy Friday gets out of control.|
Down there, S-1 shows them a two-way video link he's set up so Billy can communicate with the outside world. He seems happy with the situation, "I can't see how I could be more post-modern if I tried!" He'll fax them the first issue soon. The editor thinks this could be a selling point, "even Shooter never thought of this one."
Out on the roof, S-1 bids Diana and Ethan goodbye. Diana notes how alike they look, although Supreme is taller. She asks if he had a female side-kick or counterpart and Ethan says she did, "her name was Suprema".
The last chapter we're looking at today begins with Supreme flying through space, as he does so we see a newspaper cutting telling us Supreme is leaving Earth and Suprema will take his place. He's flying at lightspeed now and flies out past the Galactic Rim. And he is thinking of her, which starts another flashback.
Suprema is tied to a wheel in hellish landscape while her arch enemy Satana disguises herself as her to take her place. It began with Suprema hearing someone call for help. A voice leads her down into a magma filled underground canyon. Suprema says she'll take the girls place because she can't be hurt.
|Suprema in trouble.|
Then Lord Sin appears, and when Suprema tells him Satana used deceit to swap places, he says that's against the rules and lets her go. But as the two Supremas fight and he looks on, he can't tell which is Satana until Suprema catches the kitten who was flung from the tree earlier (yaaay!). This proves she is the real Suprema and Lord Sin carries off Satana. Suprema returns the kitten and scolds Sally's/her boyfriend for enjoying the kiss a little too much.
Back in the present, Supreme realises that "Gorrl the living galaxy" is behind Suprema's disappearance. The newspapers he checked said Suprema gave herself up as a companion for him so he'd leave the Milky Way alone. Using the isotopes of Supremium in Suprema's body he is able to track her. He finds someone but it isn't Suprema, it's Radar, his metabolism slowed to a crawl so he can survive out in space.
|Radar the Hound Supreme.|
They finally make it to where Suprema is sleeping on a four poster bed. Radar licks her hand and she wakes up, surprised to see Supreme back from space so soon. Supreme tells her because of time dilation with the black hole, thirty years have passed outside. He's going to take her home, but Gorrl has other ideas.
Suprema asks what Earth is like now. Supreme says it's worse than ever "Littlehaven's a ghost town. Glenvale's gone". Her boyfriend is middle aged and likely married now. "Drat" she says. They fly back to Earth and use Radar's collar radio to let people know they are coming and when they get there a welcome parade in Suprema's honour is in progress. She is still remembered with warmth, things aren't all bad.
|Welcome home Suprema!|