The second half of my look at the first collection of the first twelve issues of Alan Moore's run on Supreme. Originally conceived as a kind of "dick Superman" by Rob Leifeld, an angry, XTREME, superpowered murderer, Moore jettisoned that entire backstory in his first issue and rebooted Supreme as a much more traditional Superman pastiche. His secret identity is Ethan Crane, who draws a comic called "Omniman" for Dazzle Comics. He has huge gaps in his memory and the gimmick of the series is that when something or someone triggers a memory we get a flashback in the style of old Golden and Silver Age comics drawn by the talented Rick Veitch which contrast nicely with the VERY 90's artwork of the present day sequences as drawn by several different artists in the Image style. In the first half of my look at this volume we were introduced to several different characters: Judy Jordan his girlfriend back in the 40's now an old woman with a grandaughter, Billy Friday a British comicbook writer who accidentally mutated himself and is currently inside Amalynth the light world for his own safety, Diana Dane a fellow employee at Dazzle Comics and now the new writer of Omniman and finally Suprema his adopted sister who has similar powers who he rescued from Gorrl the Living Galaxy. He also reclaimed his Citadel Supreme in the skies above the Earth from his robot S-1 who'd gone mad with loneliness and created a family using robot duplicates of his parents and a young Judy. We also saw him take on his arch enemy Darius Dax in flashback, but Dax is long dead in the present day. Or is he? Time to read on and find out.
Suprema and Radar the Hound Supreme have got back into crime fighting with aplomb as the pair of them take down some hostage taking bank robbers in Omegapolis. Ethan meanwhile is visiting the home of some old friends in the neighbouring Star City. He arrives at a posh looking manor and is greeted by an old man called Pratap who recognises him and says "I always knew it would be you who finally came to their aid."
|Professor Night and Twilight.|
He says on the final night they were alive they had returned home agitated and started looking up something in the "Night files." Pratap found them an hour later collapsed and lifeless. The debate who of their enemies might have done this and this sends Ethan into another flashback.
We see the villain "Jack-a-Dandy" playing host to a visit from Darius Dax. Dax has a plan, he has invented a machine that can switch the life forces of two people, a "Transferratron". Jack asks if that would mean he's end up facing Professor Night with the power of Supreme, but Dax says Night wouldn't be able to control those powers. So Jack agrees and they issue a challenge to their two opponents.
Supreme, Night and Twilight arrive at the place they have been directed to, and Dax activates the Transferratron. Supreme tries to fly and falls on his face, while Night ends up catapaulted into the air by his new strength. Jack uses his "sleep snuff" to incapacitate Supreme but Twilight intervenes so the two villains scarper.
As Twilight helps Supreme up, Night starts blasting things with Supreme's super laser vision. Keeping his eyes closed they all get into the Night Wagon:
Night: "How humiliating. We've been defeated by each other's powers."
Twilight uses the Night file's computer to discover Jack-a-Dandy's secret hideout then says she has an idea of how to get their powers back in the correct body.
|Fooling the enemies.|
Twilight then commandeers the machine and switches Dax and Jack's personalities. Dax is overcome with foppish ennui while Jack can't deal with all the ideas for giant robots and time machines and so on that fill his head. Dax and Jack go to jail and the flashback ends on a laugh.
Ethan changes into Supreme and travels up to the Citadel to start figuring a way to help Night and Twilight out. S-1 passes on a message that Billy Friday had a disagreement with Szazs the sprite Supreme and is now in the ninth dimension. Supreme puts on his "Ideospatial Imaging Helmet" to find his friend's lost conciousness.
|There is no soul...|
Supreme: "That horrible absence! That gaping spiritual void! I didn't see anything of Taylor's soul... Taylor's soul is gone!"
He says to Pratap to show him the last thing Night looked at before he found him lifeless, he thinks he might have recognised the stone glyph where the soul should have been.
It turns out it was the record on "Hulver Damik: The Slaver Of Souls". Supreme realises this wasn't a personal enemy, but one Night had made through his "group affiliations". Damik was a major enemy of the sixties incarnation of the Allied Supermen of America which was called The Allies. Damik has taken the souls to sell them and so Supreme gathers the currently active members of the Allies to help save them.
The Allies arrive at the Citidel Supreme unsure of what Supreme has planned. While they admire his base of operations, memories flood back to them. There is no full flashback this chapter just spoof front covers interspersed in the narrative as they chat and remember stuff. They recall reforming as the Allies when a giant plant called Florax invaded Earth.
Supreme: "In the realm of thought, swimming in raw naked conciousness itself".
This is humanity's shared mind-space and as they start to move through it, they reach the part that is human emotion. Glory doesn't understand why they didn't see all this the first time the bought Ramik down.
Supreme says it's because they were pulled directly into his kingdom by his mind hooks. And we are shown another front cover with the Allies as slaves under Ramik. Glory rather sardonically points out that from the forties to the sixties "I was getting tied up every other month. I mean was that just me? Did you guys get it too?"
Supreme says "uh no". And they fly on into the realm of archetypes and symbols. The creatures from Supreme's mythopoeic zoo come from here. This ocean of ideas has sea creatures.
Supreme: "Sometimes I think every angel, demon, god or monster mankind ever dreamed of came from here."
Then they are confronted by a many tenctacled beastie. They are aggressive so the Allies start fighting them. They realise the monsters actually come from the beginning of the universe. Supreme says that for them past, present and future are happening at once. He uses his plasma beams to force them to retreat back into the void.
|Squids from the Id!|
Supreme says he enjoyed the team-ups, did they continue into the seventies after he left for space. Might Man says no, they broke up at the start of the decade, "the seventies were sort of.. bleh." They keep travelling, entering the mind fogs, and finally find a large structure "the Alcatraz of the Soul!"
Supreme scans inside and finds many people in glass tubes, including Professor Night and Twilight and to his surprise, every vanished sixties hero is there too including "The Fisherman" and we get a front cover showing him joining the Allies.
They decide to split into teams, as the powerhouses, Supreme and Mighty Man will go in hard while the others come at it from different directions. Supreme and Mighty Man then fly down and attack. The others drop down to give some ground support.
Ramik is there and doesn't want his deal messed up and sets his Soul Snares on them. But Supreme's laser eyes can deal with them. The Patriot wonders why Ramik has waited so long to sell the souls, but Supreme says time passes differently here in Idea Space, "what's years to us, may have been weeks to Ramik".
Ramik knows he's outnumbered and surrenders to them. He says once the Allies disbanded they were "easy pickings". Supreme wants to know who the client was and what fee he offered. Ramik says it was someone too big and powerful to argue with and tells Supreme to look around. He does so and is greeted by Optilux the entity made entirely of light.
Optilux: "My Rapture Engine, to transform the entire universe into sublime, ethereal luminence that I am already become. Now I think that's a highly spiritual motive".
The Allies, hearing this attack, but shooting at light is useless. He starts "disintegrating them" and even does it to Supreme. Who then wakes up on a bed with Glory.
Supreme says they are lost in Optilux's thoughts now. Glory asks if it is a "mind maze" and Supreme says yes and the others will be trapped in mazes of their own. He also warns Glory that sometimes mazes are inhabited. Optilux fashions creatures out of his photo-plasm.
They are then attacked by manta-ray looking light creations. They avoid Glory, who says being the daughter of a Goddess has its advantages and Supreme fights them off. They reach the end of the maze and are confronted by an huge expanse of yellow mist. Glory says they are in for a long, boring walk so Supreme can tell her about Optilux as they travel.
He tells her that Optilux was a messianic alien who turned himself into light and wanted to turn everyone else too, trapping whole worlds in refractive prisms. "His apparent suicide was the reason I left Earth in 1969". We then get a flashback to the start of "Supreme: The Space Years".
|Feels like a Jim Starlin parody here.|
He is looking for the threshold of awareness, an answer to the riddles of God, death and existence. A reason for us our universe to be. But then Jack-O-Lantern confronts him saying Supreme most not come any further, "The threshold you seek is one the living may not pass. Go back."
Supreme refuses, saying he's come this far and attacks Jack-O-Lantern. He passes through Jack into a weird dimension, "the borderlands of being".
Jack-O-Lantern: "I want you to understand the sheer impossibility of what you are seeking. Beyond these margins, nothing human can survive".
Supreme says he's not human and attacks Jack again who just reforms each time. He multiples himself and gives Supreme a powerful beatdown.
Supreme spins superfast and knocks Jack off him and stuns him momentarily which gives him enough time to glimpse behind the curtains of knowledge and existence. It completely overwhelms him and he passes out.
Jack stand over his body saying the abyss gazed back at Supreme and now his memories are gone, he'll have long years of amnesia and recovery ahead of him.
Jack-O-Lantern: "The light I serve burns low, 'tis true. And flickers in the winds of change... yet may its waning light find you, for you are lost...and all the world's made strange".
And the flashback comes to an end. Supreme says he roamed the universe having adventures. Glory says he was lucky missing those decades, "everything in the seventies had to be relevant and the eighties we're just plain depressing" (a reference to comics discovering social issues in the 70's and darkening and becoming more adult in the 80's spearheaded by some chap called Alan Moore).
They finish walking and Supreme realises he can disrupt the maze with enough electro-magnetic interference. He does so and they find the others and then are standing in the hallway full of heroes in tubes. He smashes them all and Professor Night thanks Supreme for coming to the rescue.
All the heroes attack Optilux but he just absorbs all the attacks. Then Supreme has an idea. He uses his laser vision to melt the broken tube glass into a large glass crystal. He then baits Optilux into attacking him by telling him he restored Amalynth to material form. Optilux attacks Supreme full on but hits the big crystal he's holding and gets trapped inside, "his light will rebound in here forever" says Supreme.
Ethan arrives at Diana's flat, she is happy to see him and gives him the latest update on Billy Friday's situation. Apparently he annoyed Emerpus so much he sent him back to Earth but in the wrong time period, so Zayla Zarn of the League of Infinity is looking after him now. He's still faxing the office with his experiences, although he's sounding more unbalanced. "Or maybe it's a British thing" says Diana.
She and Ethan sit and start going through her Omniman notes. She wonders what a superheroes love life would be like. Ethan tells her Supreme did an experiment in 1962 to find out what would happen if he got married using a "Possibilitron". And we get a flashback as he checks out what would happen if he married Judy Jordan.
Unfortunately it doesn't go too well, they are happy at first but she quickly ties him down into a stereotypical domestic existence where he is unable to be a superhero because he's always doing chores and being exploited by their "good" neighbours.
Back in the present, Diana laughs at how fifties that idea was that women wanted to emasculate their men. She then returns to her Omniman notes and says he couldn't romance Linda Lake without giving away his secret identity, he must have human needs. Ethan looks longingly at her and says "yes, yes he does."
|Diana Dane, his secret love.|
Another flashback. This marriage also doesn't go well. She can't visit Earth without people mobbing her for blessings and forgiveness so Supreme sets her up with lots of TVs in the Citadel. She gets depressed by all the news she watches and starts moulting her feathers. She finally dies in his arms saying "this world of matter and madness" have killed her. Supreme grieves hard but still wants to try for romance.
In the present Ethan says that ruled out relations with beings more celestial than Supreme. Diana thinks Linda Lake is looking like the best option, that a relationship between a mortal and immortal is sexy. Diana wonders though if there is something else they could try, another super-type. Ethan says Supreme tried that with the final part of his romance experiment.
|Superhuman lovers tiff.|
In the present they decide a human woman would be the best for Supreme. As Diana talks through the scene where they get together, Ethan starts sneaking an arm round her shoulder. But when she pauses and says the relationship would be dishonest, he pulls it back. She says her not knowing who Omniman really was would be unfair.
She decides Omniman would decide at the last minute that he isn't in a position to become intimately involved. Ethan looks sad. He leaves her flat looking downcast and when Diana asks what became of the sweethearts of Supreme he responds, "they all got along fine without him".
We end this chapter with Judy Jordan and Hilda. Hilda has done a drawing which turns out to be a very detailed one of the Citidel Supreme. Judy tells Hilda to fetch her coat, "you and grandma are going visiting".
The next chapter begins with a purple cyborg thing attacking the Dazzle comics office thinking Omniman is real and that Diana is Linda Lake, he grabs her and Ethan slips away to change into Supreme. He deals with it easily and rescues Diana, "Cyberzerk" collapses into a pile of junk.
|90's villains are rubbish.|
He takes her round the "Hall of Villains" and we get to see some of his foes. Stupendo the Simian Supreme sits at the entrance. He is friend with Supreme now and compliments Judy on her dress. The rest of the villains are waxworks, there is Darius Dax, Emerpus the backwards Supreme and Szazs the Sprite Supreme.
Judy is bored and asks to go back to the main hall, then notices the Dax and Emerpus waxworks have switched places. Supreme says she's imagining things. She wonders if any of his enemies could be hiding here, he dismisses her "female imagination". They go and look at Optilux, the scientist who converted himself into living light. And the Televillain, a TV repairman who made a suit that allowed him to invade TV programmes.
Judy still thinks she senses someone following them. Supreme shows her a model of Supremium Man who fells from the skies in 1956 (the one who gave Suprema her powers). They take a look at the Shadow Supreme a shadow copy of Supreme created by Darius Dax. Then Judy notices Emerpus has appeared again.
Emerpus comes to life as does Shadow Supreme and freaks Judy out. But Supreme laughs and says they were acting as a diversion to stop them reaching the main exhibit before it was ready. And he takes Judy into a room entirely devoted to her, she forgives his prank saying it's a wonderful surprise. And the flashback ends.
Supreme looks a bit sad at the quality of enemies around now in the 90's and bids Diana farewell. Meanwhile Judy and Hilda are outside, Hilda says the Citadel Supreme is above them now. She holds onto Judy and blasts off into the sky, they land outside the front door and Hilda uses her powers to unlock it.
|Hilda makes short work of the Suprematons.|
Several of the imprisoned baddies congregate and take a hold of Supreme. Judy, with Hilda translating it into backwards speak so Supreme can understand it, tells him a story about "the greatest man who ever lived. His name was Darius Dax". Dax made a big mistake when he was fifteen, he stole a lump of Supremium from Doc Wells (see part one for details of that escapade).
Some people exposed to Supremium got superpowers. Dax however got lymphatic cancer. In 1967 he was told by prison doctors he had a year to live. So he built a device that would "digitise and record his memories and personality: his entire mind!" The computers he did it on were minute, smaller than dust, he put them on the pages of a book, mailed the book to an old friend and then he died.
The book went to Judy Jordan. When she opened it she breathed in the dust and it started disconnecting her brain linkages and creating new ones. It took two days to erase Judy's personality and five to rewire her as Darius Dax. Her body was on the kitchen floor for a week.
He then spent the years watching and waiting. He built Hilda, "High Impact Lethal Defence Automaton", and she located the Citadel using the drawing she gave Ethan which he put on a wall there. Dax then leaves Supreme to the mercy of the other prisoners in the mirror world. He tells Hilda he's going to drop the screens round the Citadel and arm it with the "Planet Smasher".
We then cut to Sally introducing herself to Diana who is eating in a cafe. She wants to know if she can help Sally find a place to live, when suddenly everyone starts looking at the sky. The Citadel is hovering right over Omegapolis and Dax makes his demands:
Dax: "Here's the basic picture: by noon, North America will either be mine or it will be smaller. Then, one pulverised city per hour until surrender."
Dax then decides to take on a more suitable body and transfers his conciousness into the body of Magno which appears to be just lying around the Citadel.
|Radar and Suprema to the rescue!|
Diehard and Glory also arrive at the Citidel. But Dax in Magno's body incapacitates Diehard and zaps Glory. Supreme meanwhile has been dragged to a mysterious being sat on a throne. We don't get to see its face, and it tells them to get lost, now is not the right time for it to kill Supreme. So the others decide to do it themselves and drag him away.
Down on the ground, Suprema has recovered and uses a live news broadcast to send a message to Zayla Zarn for help from five hundred years in the future. She flies back up joining Professor Night and Twilight who are also coming to the rescue. Using coordinated eye laser beams Suprema and Radar take down Hilda.
Dax has decided to destroy Omegapolis anyway, but before he can do so, the League of Infinity, with Billy Friday appear. As the League battle Dax, Zayla Zarn puts Supreme's enemies on pause and gets him out of the mirror prison. Coming out his wounds heal and his powers come flooding back and he flies at Dax delivering a massive punch to his face.
|Pow! Right in the kisser.|
He starts glowing gold then he suddenly falls through a hole that appears under him, which transports him to Littlehaven in 1958. He was the Supremium man that gave Sally her powers. They see him absorb the Supremium isotope back then and see him become a lump of Supremium that goes back further in time to Littlehaven in 1925, where Ethan got his powers. And thus a timeloop is created and closed.
The book ends with Supreme having Judy's body kept somewhere safe and comfortable so he might be able to restore her mind somehow. He goes to the Time Tower to see off the League and waves to himself further down the stairs in 1930's. Supreme then takes to the Citadel balcony to reassure the people of Omegapolis that everyone is safe now and that the ordinary folk of the world are the reason why he does what he does. The end.
|The Good Guys triumphant.|