By Scott Southard. Oh jeez. Some things just happened and I don’t know how to feel. Big things, earth-shaking things, things that force a change in the perspective through which you view Marvel, superheroes, and comics as a whole. James Robinson is making moves and proving to the world that he’s here to stay in a way that very few authors ever would ever dare. Maybe it’s sacrilegious and it’s definitely over the top, but there’s an excitement found here that doesn’t often occur.
Writers have been working in ghastly twists and playing with the ethereal space between good and evil for decades, exposing our ethical spectrum through an ensemble of supermen. Then Squadron Supreme takes it to the next level, and you feel it. This is all to say that when a new iteration helmed by Robinson’s genre-busting, ferociously abrasive pen showed up, I was ready to sit back and absorb it.
The team of Robinson and Kirk did solid work on Fantastic Four and now they’ve moved onto another classic Marvel team. This time, Squadron Supreme is made of the surviving scraps of Secret Wars, but mostly, it’s just a good excuse to get the old squad back together with a few fresh faces. Each member comes with their own voice and ideals, and consequently their own set of history, baggage, and motivation for hero-ing around.
What’s most exciting about the new series is Robinson’s staunch refusal to leave the purgatorial zone of questionable actions, misguided motives, and the illogical flaws of human emotion. The methods he uses, however, are shockingly aggressive and kind of hard to swallow. We see the individuals of Squadron Supreme completely devastated by the damage Namor has caused, losing family, friends, and entire planets. Their response is a violent backlash of complete destruction, and I mean complete (like, his head is on the ground and next to it is his body) in the face of justice, peace, or what’s morally right. The book opens with what would normally be the ending sequence to a long running action series. It’s gory and universe-shattering and I’m eating it up with a spoon.
By the end of it, Squadron Supreme could be the kind of series that critical essays get written about (United States and Middle East relations? The inner conflict of the human mind?), and gets critics rabidly arguing about context and restrictions. But mostly, as it is with James Robinson, this comic is a showcase of James Robinson. He’s got something to prove, and he’s swiftly confirmed his status as a man who destroys the arbitrary rules laid in front of him.
Although it opens with a bang of gruesome aggression, Squadron Supreme doesn’t solely rest on the (admittedly baffling) action sequences, as the nuances of each character are thoughtfully portrayed with subtlety and righteousness. They are the anti-binary of right and wrong. I believe in Squadron Supreme as the defenders of Earth, and as beings who believe they do what they do for a reason. Even if the choices they make aren’t always right.
Written by James Robinson.
Art by Leonard Kirk and Paul Neary.
Colors by Frank Martin.
Letters by Travis Lanham.
8.5 out of 10