“Accept no imitations…Image Comics”

-Rob Liefeld, Supreme #1

Yeah but what do we do when your character is an imitation of another famous character? Do we not accept it? Just some musings I have when I read these comics.

Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of the “Field Guide To The Comic Book Bargain Bin.” Today I am going to take a look at, what I consider, to be the Best Liefeld creation to date.  That is Supreme. What makes Supreme so great to me? I don’t know really. Nothing about him is particularly special. He is just a derivative of Superman. That might be it. See unlike some Superman derivatives (Captain Marvel, Marvel Man, Sentry, etc. ) Liefeld is pretty upfront about Supreme’s origin. It gets even better when Alan Moore takes over the book and runs with the Superman derivative idea to make the one of the best Non-superman Superman story to date. Though I am not here today to talk about Moore’s run. I am here to talk about Supreme #1.

Just taking a second to dissect the cover, the scans just don’t do it justice. The cover does use the foil embossed letters and it’s amazing because, as you can see, the fists of Supreme overlap the letters.  “So what?” you may ask but the fists don’t are on another level. It just feels great. The cover itself is pretty nice and it actually shows what sorta happens on the inside. Overall I like the cover. Another quick note, the “volume two” thing you see on the cover is never explained. I can’t find what the deal is as there was never another Supreme series before hand. Maybe it was some weird print error.

As for the character of Supreme the character design is rather simple and it works. It breaks the mold of Liefeld’s designs. Gone are the pouches, the weird facemask things, and even the guns. Not a single bandolier or even a belt for that matter. There are some shoulder pads but those are rather small and symmetrical unlike the bulky lineman pads that other Liefeld characters have done. Also they quickly fade away in later issues in favor of your normal cape. The wrist bands break up the costume and the small use of red makes it pop. The only complaint I have is the sleeveless look of the costume.  It just looks dumb but I can take it compared to other costume traits from this era.

Here is some background on Supreme before diving into the plot of this issue.  The character has a weird origin. It was totally redone and adapted by Alan Moore to take on a meta-deconstruction of the Superman character. Before that though, Supreme was more like a Superman character who left earth after World War 2. He comes back to Earth to find the world has changed and the new crop of heroes has taken up the job protecting the Earth. The world he finds is led by money and genetic engineering. This leads to his motivation thinking he is better than everyone. He does have an ego and will flaunt it. Even taking on the Liefeld-verse Thor and beating the tar out of him.  So in a weird way you have Kingdom Come Superman but handled with a little more tact. Knowing this we can dive into the plot of the book.

Supreme #1 follows Supreme as he returns to earth after being in space, doing space things, for around 50 years. We really don’t get much back story to why he left or why he has returned but he has and we are just going to roll with it. When he enters Earth’s atmosphere, the joint-government agency mobilizes Team Youngblood (The global team) to confront Supreme before he can reach populated areas.

This makes sense as they don’t know who this guy is and why he is speeding towards earth at an alarming rate. Youngblood and Supreme’s first meeting is like any super hero first meeting, they have a brawl. But this time it is in Space. Supreme defeats, what is meant to be, the greatest super-powered team without breaking so much a sweat (worf-effect?). In midst a startling defeat Youngblood basically surrenders to the strange visitor (They are really banking on he’s the real Supreme and not some alien imposter.)

They take Supreme to their leader (I’m not kidding) and he is highly suspicious of Supreme but lacks evidence to prove otherwise. See, the scientists try their damndest to get a reading on him and they just can’t get one. Turns out, Supreme’s physique is impossible to actually take any sort of measurements off of him. His skin is too thick for the instruments to read, his mass, density and weight is in a state of flux (honestly you just have to say Mass is in flux and it works), but the maturity data matches the previous models.

Using what is basically a hunch, the leader decides to believe Supreme’s story and Youngblood even offers him a contract to work for the team. Supreme takes off without accepting or denying the offer to join Youngblood. It is then revealed that the leader of the agency plans to have Supreme lead a team called Heavy Mettle (Suicide Squad type force, I think).  The issue ends with Supreme flying in the upper atmosphere and crying while the leader states, in caption boxes, that with all that great power has a great weakness.

Not much happens in the first issue but it does setup a few things- It shows Supreme’s conflict of the past and the present (A running theme early in the series) and establishes the power level of Supreme. He is the end all beat all of Superheroes in the Liefeld universe. This also becomes a reoccurring theme in the comic series over the next few issues. It also introduces the team Heavy Mettle, which is probably the only team created by Liefeld not to get their own title. Think about this real quick, even Bloodstrike got a team book and this team didn’t. That has to say something about the team and how much faith Rob had in them.

Now, this is the part of the review where I have to ask the three questions: “What is this comic is trying to do?” “Does it succeed?” and “Was it worthwhile?”

What Supreme #1 tries to do:
It tries to establish the Supreme mythos and make the character to be the strongest in the word. They try to play up his attitudes towards the modern world and how he has a mighty than thou attitude to everything. The comic shows this at one point when in response to being called Mr. Supreme several times, the character states “Supreme. Just Supreme”

Basically they try to establish Supreme as a jerk with Superpowers. Also they try to establish he has a weakness of some sort with the whole crying in space.

Does it succeed?
Yes and no. Yeah it hits all the points it needs to in order to make this story flow along but it doesn’t do it the best way possible. In trying to show his dislike with the modern world Supreme asks, “How long have you been genetically Engineering Super-humans?”

Yeah, cause Genetic engineering is totally synonymous with modern society. I know this was the 90’s and the hot topic of the day was genetic engineering heck half of Youngblood was genetically engineered to be super-soldiers. It still doesn’t make any sense to have that be his out of touch moment or his dislike of the present (take your pick on that one).

As for the attitude moment it was a way for them to make Supreme seem real, but honestly he was a jerk.  Yeah I know the whole premise for Supreme is what if Superman was real and this character is one of the earliest versions of the Real Superman archetype. That is my main problem with this character overall really. The guy isn’t that likeable. Know they do try to establish a flaw but they really don’t explain why he is flawed. I am certain they explain it in the second issue, but I haven’t read that one and this review is about this comic. So based on this issue Supreme is very much a Gary Stu. Even more so than Superman because Superman’s weakness is well known and he is a likeable character.

Was it worthwhile?

Despite all the crap I gave this comic, I enjoyed it. It is probably my favorite Liefeld comic I own and the character itself improves with later issues. I read those later issues thanks to this comic so it hooked me. Still I think your mileage may vary on this one. The main reason behind this is Liefeld’s writing. As I’ve stated in the Prophet #5 review, Liefeld is no wordsmith. His dialogue is clunky and comes off as stale. The words don’t flow like they should and he honestly has no rhythm to his words. See when you write a comic you need to find a rhythm of some sort. The dialog should follow a cadence and read like a normal conversation would. Instead we get what feels more like statements and less like dialog. I bet if I remove a side of the dialog you really wouldn’t notice.

The art itself is actually solid in this comic. Unlike other Liefeld comics the artist doesn’t follow the Studio style that many of the other artists did. That artist is Brian Murray. He draws the figure relatively correct in proportion but still unique enough not to look bland. There are moments where he screws up the continuity, especially in the beginning. Supreme changes positions on re-entry 2 times.

Also the coloring at times is screwed up. There are moments where Supreme looks like he is wearing white long sleeves instead of short. My only guess to why they kept such an obvious screw up was the costume changed before the comic was finished and they ran with the screw up. That or the colorist messed up and no one fixed it. I like to think it was the sleeves idea because I really like the idea of sleeves on this costume.

Other than that I can’t think of any serious problems with comic. Honestly if you can get pass the lame dialog you will find an enjoyable comic to read.  Supreme is easily my favorite Liefeld creation and that‘s in large part due to my love for the Superman archetype and how the character acts. Yeah he’s a jerk but he grows on you. He’s a jerk in a more quipping type way and less in an Achilles type way. This brings me today’s lesson

Lesson #3- Not all Liefeld comics are bad. Most are but the guy was so prolific you are bound to find a series you will enjoy. Be it Youngbloods, Bloodstrike, Brigade, Supreme, etc there is something for you to enjoy. So I suggest if you are going to go bin diving for Image comics check out a Liefeld comic. Who knows you might end up liking it. I’ve found fans of Prophet, afterall.

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