Supreme (comics)

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Supreme

Supreme, Suprema, and Radar.
Art by Alex Ross.
Publication information
Publisher Image Comics
Maximum Press
Awesome Entertainment
Arcade Comics
Checker Books
Devil's Due Digital
First appearance Youngblood #3 (1992)
In-story information
Alter ego Ethan Crane
Team affiliations Brigade
Heavy Mettle
Allied Supermen of America
The Allies
The Supremacy
Notable aliases Doctor Dark, Kid Supreme, Supreme-Mite
Abilities Superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, breath, and vision
Molecular adaptation to any threat
Flight

Supreme is a fictional superhero created by Rob Liefeld and first published by Image Comics (1992−96, and again from 2012), then Maximum Press (1996−98), and later by Awesome Entertainment (1999−2000). He was originally a violent, egotistical Superman archetype, but was rebooted by Alan Moore to pay tribute to the classic Silver Age Superman mythos, as guided by Mort Weisinger.[1]

Supreme is also the name of a comic book series which lasted 56 issues. Moore started with issue #41 and his run would later be collected as two trade paperbacks by the Checker Book Publishing Group: Supreme: The Story of the Year and Supreme: The Return. Moore's work on the series won the 1997 Eisner Award for Best Writer.[2]

Character history[edit]

Supreme[edit]

Cover art to Supreme #1.
Art by Brian Murray.

Supreme was originally introduced in issue 3 of Rob Liefeld's initial Youngblood limited series as a flipbook story, and he was later spun off into his own series. His history varied from story to story; at one point, he was an extremely religious angel of vengeance, who cited Scripture to justify his actions. At other times, Supreme considered himself to be a god, especially after defeating the Norse god Thor and taking his mystical hammer, Mjolnir. Although considered to be the most powerful being in the Liefeld universe, he had his share of defeats, including being killed in the cross-title Deathmate Black series (published by both Image and Valiant Comics), losing his powers in Extreme Prejudice, and being brutally killed by Crypt in Extreme Sacrifice.

Supreme was eventually given a more comprehensive treatment in The Legend of Supreme, a three-issue miniseries by Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming. In the story, a reporter named Maxine Winslow investigates the "origin story" of Supreme. As the story unfolds, we learn that, in 1937, Ethan Crane shot and killed two men in retaliation for the rape of a 15 year-old girl. Crane was subsequently shot by two police officers, but he survived and was sentenced to life in prison. In prison, the government offered him a chance to participate in an experiment to enhance humans, hoping that, unlike the six previous guinea pigs, he would survive.

Crane perished like the others; but unlike the others, he came back to life. The outside world was strange and new to him. Making his way to a church, Crane found sanctuary given by Father Beam, and soon discovered some of his new abilities. He took the name "Supreme," and, upon hearing about the ongoing war in Europe, he decided to do his part. Not much was revealed about Supreme's work in World War II, but it is known that he joined the Allies. After the war ended, Supreme felt that he had done his part, playing a good Samaritan to society, and left Earth. In reality, the accidental death of Father Beam at his hands drove him away.

Supreme spent decades in space, fighting against various threats on the side of an alien race known as the Kalyptans (the race of Gary Carlson and Erik Larsen's Vanguard). He eventually returned to Earth in 1992 to find a greatly changed society, complete with genetically enhanced superpowered humans that could be found in teams like Youngblood and Heavy Mettle. Supreme became the field team leader of Heavy Mettle for a short while, but soon left the position after defeating the villain Khrome.

As Supreme fought Thor over the possession of Mjolnir, a character by the name of Enigma acquired another Supreme from an alternate timeline, to be kept in storage in case Supreme was defeated. Supreme did not lose, so the other Supreme was left to his own devices (most importantly in the events of The Legend of Supreme). Supreme eventually appeared to die during an assault on humanity by Lord Chapel, but in actuality, he ended up stranded on an alternate Earth. He spent several years there until the alternate Supreme originally removed from this reality by Enigma returned and was overpowered by the original Supreme. The original Supreme managed to switch bodies with the alternate Supreme, thus restoring his powers. After various events involving Enigma and Probe (Supreme's daughter from the future, sometimes known as Lady Supreme), the original Supreme worked with Probe, Enigma and the alternate Supreme to defeat the evil Norse god Loki, whose machinations had been the cause of the various shifts between realities. In the end of Supreme #40, loose ends had been wrapped up, and, while Probe remained on the alternate Earth, Supreme returned to Earth.

Alan Moore's Supreme[edit]

Cover art to Supreme #41 (after Superman #1), the start of Alan Moore's run.
Art by Jerry Ordway.

Rob Liefeld asked Alan Moore to write further adventures of Supreme. Moore agreed, on the condition that he could throw out everything previously done with the character, as he felt the comic was "not very good."[1] Beginning with issue 41 of Supreme, Moore began retooling Supreme, using multiple layers of metafiction, with each issue containing commentary on storytelling, comics history in general, and the Superman mythos in particular.[1] The clichés of the superhero genre were frequently used without Moore's characteristic deconstruction and sense of irony.[1] He stated in later interviews that it [Moore's re-imagining of the character's background and origin] was also something of an apology for his previous works at other publishers, as he had developed a reputation for, and setting a trend in, deconstructing superheroic characters in various dark ways such as in Batman: The Killing Joke, Hellblazer, Swamp Thing and Watchmen.[1]

The Story of the Year[edit]

Given free rein over the Supreme—and, indeed the wider Maximum (later Awesome) universe—Moore plotted one of his fabled dense storylines to revolutionise the Supreme universe. Drawing on the Silver Age Superman and the innovations of Silver Age comic artists such as Julius Schwartz, Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson in particular[3] Moore wrote the "last" Silver Age Superman story (Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?) for Schwartz, with Swan and Anderson, and also referenced Anderson in his 1963. Moore's Supreme both built upon and ignored all the issues that had previously seen print, re-creating the character from his origin(s) up. Although the "Story of the Year" arc was intended to finish with a Silver-Age-evoking 80-Page Giant special issue, it was ultimately split into two parts: 52a and 52b. Nevertheless, the action (which included multiple flashbacks to "earlier" Supreme stories/adventures, as well as pastiches of and references to a number of comicbook staples) tied together by #52 in a manner which saw the seeds sown in Moore's earliest issues addressed several issues later. This is a common factor in much of his work, but especially seen in his later ABC titles Tom Strong and Promethea. Liefeld felt that Tom Strong owed a considerable debt to Supreme.[4][5]

Summary[edit]

This new version of Supreme had a secret identity as Ethan Crane, a mild-mannered artist for Dazzle Comics, who received his powers as a result of a childhood exposure to a meteorite composed of pure Supremium, a meta-element that can alter reality. When not saving the world as the archetypal superhero, Crane illustrated the adventures of Omniman, a Supreme-like character undergoing a re-launch with a change of writers.

Moore did not simply ignore the events of the previous issues; he turned them into a central part of his Supreme storyline. In Moore's first issue, Supreme returned to Earth from space and discovered that not only was he living in the most recent "revision" of reality, as it is an ever-changing story, but that there had been many previous versions of himself. Retired Supremes lived in another reality, dubbed the "Supremacy" by its inhabitants, an afterlife for characters whose stories had come to an end. Supreme first suffered from amnesia, but quickly learned that his returning memories were "backstory" that was gradually being filled in. As Supreme himself mused while visiting the site where he first gained his powers: "Maybe I really did just pop into existence a few weeks ago [...] but standing in that hole I felt something. I felt a long, peculiar life well up around me, and even if my life is a tale the Universe wrote only yesterday, it started right there, in that ditch." As Supreme's memories "returned," the flashback sequences to Supreme's childhood and previous adventures were told in the style of different periods from comics history.

The Supreme story also contained references to characters from the Superman stories, a sister with identical powers (Suprema, a reference to Supergirl) and a superpowered dog (Radar the Hound Supreme, a reference to Krypto).

Darius Dax was also introduced in this storyline. He was a Lex Luthor-styled evil genius who begrudged Supreme. Dax died twice in the series. The first time, he died in prison of lymphatic cancer caused by exposure to Supremium. Before he died, Dax transferred a copy of his consciousness to "micro-machines, no bigger than dust mites" which he concealed in a book. He mailed this book to Judy Jordan (a Lana Lang analog) just before his death. When she opened the book, Judy inhaled the dust and the copy of Dax's consciousness was transferred into her brain after her own personality was erased. Dax used Judy's body to trick Supreme and trap him in his own prison. Dax went on to abandon Judy's body in favor of a superpowered android body. Still unable to beat Supreme, he merged the android body with Supremium, causing him to fall backwards in time not once but twice, appearing first as the Supremium Man in an earlier story and, after absorbing still more Supremium, as the very lump which landed as a meteor and gave Supreme his powers in the first place, creating a predestination paradox.

The Return[edit]

Supreme: The Return #5
The original Supremium Man.
Art by Ian Churchill.

Moore's work on the book continued until Supreme #56, at which point the series was re-launched as/followed by a mini-series entitled Supreme: The Return. This ran for six issues before being abruptly cancelled amidst Awesome Entertainment's collapse. Moore had written an additional one-two issues which were never published, a point referenced by artist Rick Veitch, when talking about the Checker TPB collection. He notes that Supreme: The Return's "biggest failing is that the final issue of the story was never produced. This volume takes care of that little problem by ignoring it completely and just tacking 'The End' on the last story."[1]

Summary[edit]

Following the defeat of Darius Dax, Supreme finds an ember of Judy Jordan's consciousness still in her body, which he transfers to a Suprematon android. Her new artificial body is endowed with superpowers, but Judy has trouble adjusting to another body and having missed the last 20 years of her life. S-1, the only other sentient Suprematon, confesses his love for Judy. S-1 changes his name to Talos, and the two are married by Supreme in the Flying Citadel. The new couple leaves Earth and finds an uninhabited planet to live.

Ethan Crane's growing romance with Diana Dane (a Lois Lane analog) starts to falter after she becomes annoyed with the way he "gets all weird and runs away." He tries to reconnect with her as Supreme (after arranging a meeting as Ethan). Supreme gives her a tour of the Citadel to give her ideas for Omniman. After a trip to the Supremacy Diana discovers Ethan's secret identity, and appears willing to try and continue the relationship in the full knowledge of what she is getting into.

After Darius Dax becomes the Supremium meteorite at the end of The Story of the Year,[6] he is sent to a place similar to the Supremacy, called Daxia. Every version of Dax before him lives in Daxia, including Darius Duck, Daxor, Daxian, Doomsdax, Mad Nazi Scientist Dax, and "Grim" Serial-Killer Transvestite '80s Dax. The combined intellect of the Daxes lets him cheat death once more and return to the land of the living. He immediately sets about trying to destroy Supreme once again, and sets in motion another circular chain of events, this time involving Billy Friday (a Jimmy Olsen analog) and Master Meteor (see below).

Announced Finish with Alan Moore scripts[edit]

At New York Comic Con 2011, Rob Liefeld and Erik Larsen announced that the last unpublished Supreme stories will be published and drawn by Erik Larsen.[7][8] Supreme #63 was published in 2012 by Image Comics, featuring Moore's final completed Supreme script.

Erik Larsen's Supreme[edit]

Erik Larsen would ultimately take over Supreme as artist and writer, for five issues (#64−68). Larsen's run would ultimately see the wholesale purging of Alan Moore's work on the title and the restoration of the Liefield's early '90s version of the character. In the letter page for his first issue, Larsen wrote "My thought was to marry the two and take what Alan had done and what came before and try to find something in the middle which might appeal to both audiences.".[9]

Larsen opened his run with a resurrected Darius Dax and his own various counterparts laying siege to the Supremacy, killing countless Supreme counterparts with weapons they stole from the Supremacy's armory, which was where they entered the lair. Supreme The Fifth (the ruler of the Supremacy and the Supreme SUPREME), Radar, the hound Supreme, 90% of the past Supremes, and all of the supporting cast members of Supremacy (Billy Friday and Judy Jordan in particular)are destroyed. To stop the killing spree, the surviving Supremes ( "Moore's" Supreme, '50s Supreme (with a lions head), Squeak (mouse Supreme), '70s Lady "Sister" Supreme, and "original" supreme) are forced to free Rob Liefield's original Supreme from his imprisonment. Dubbed "mean" SUPREME in the comic, who's violent, bigoted, and psychotic behavior led to him being placed in numerous chains in the subarea of the Supremacy so that he could not hurt anyone ever again. Freed by "modern" SUPREME and "original" SUPREME "mean" Supreme with ridiculous ease murders all of the Darius Daxes and then, with the realization that he is not unique as he originally thought and in retribution for being held captive for two decades, turns against the heroic Supremes and permanently removes their powers via Silver Supremium and carries the Supremacy to the moon.

Returning to a now "rebooted" earth, the "mean" Supreme goes on a killing spree, murdering criminals in order to force the world to fear him and to re-establish his dominance as the most powerful superhero on Earth. Diane Dane and "modern" SUPREME notice the reboot and Diane Dane actually has a new life that involves someone other than SUPREME. The Supremes try to adjust with a world with no powers and are helpless to see "mean" SUPREME's rampage. Ethan Crane(Alan Moore Supreme's alter ego) leans that his alter ego's life is gone and can not get a new job as a comic book artist because all his talent was due to his powers SUPREME.

When "mean" SUPREME is confronted by Suprema ( "modern" SUPREME's sister), "mean" Supreme says he does not know her and warns her to leave him alone. Suprema attacks again citing his behaviors as unheroic to which he brutally assaults her and only through the intervention of Omni-Man (father of the hero Invincible), is Suprema not killed and rescued by the now powerless Squeaks. Omni-Man and SUPREME engage in an epic battle as he points out to the "mean" Supreme the hypocrisy of his actions and tries to reason with him to stop acting like a villain. Ultimately, Omni-Man and his battle ends with them both exhausted and knocked out when Khromium (son of Supreme villain Khrome) captures his long lost nemesis and takes him to his home world for execution.

Larsen's run (which was not well received and subjected to much criticism for its treatment of the Moore run) ends with the Alan Moore Supreme and his allies discussing that maybe their powered selves still exist in the Supremacy saying how could it have been "really" destroyed and though access to it is near impossible due to the location of the entrance point (the Citadel Supreme) is on the moon. Maybe the reborn Supremacy SUPREMEs can stop "mean" SUPREME. Meanwhile, the "mean" Supreme kills Khromium and commits wholesale genocide quoting "scorched earth", destroying the villain's homeworld, killing billions all in the name of wiping out Khrome's family from future fights. The last issue was not penciled by Larsen and lacked any depth, we were promised that a new artist and writer were taking over. The last page is Dianna Dane telling the comatose and hospitalized Suprema that she knows her relationship with "modern" SUPREME existed because she is pregnant.

Maybe due to the poor storytelling, the direction of "mean" SUPREME being like Superboy-Prime (i.e.-invincible, sooo over powered, and talks like an idiot),Larsen leaving, or the lack of Moore's pastiche (each of his comics would have flashbacks in the style and artistic license of the era discussed) Supreme left in a cliffhanger plot-line was cancelled.

Villains[edit]

  • Darius Dax, Supreme's arch-enemy who, like Supreme, has been through numerous incarnations, including a generic gangster, a Nazi, several mad scientists, and a brilliant but manipulative business tycoon.
  • Emerpus, the Reverse Supreme from The Backwards Zone where time runs opposite to our own, unaverts disasters, like releasing the captives of his "Ledatic", or punching a meteor back together.[10]
  • Gorrl, the living galaxy, held Suprema in captivity for thirty years.[11]
  • Korgo (first name: Brinn) is a warlord from space. He challenges Bill Clinton under the formal rules of the Cosmic Dictators Guild and wins. He fakes defeat against Supreme to escape Hillary Clinton and return to the Hell of Mirrors.[12]
  • Master Meteor first appears in Littlehaven in search of the Supremium isotope and he fights Kid Supreme. When he reappears he is the second character to call himself the Supremium Man.[13] In his Littlehaven appearance he claims to have some future enmity with Supreme; he appears to time travel directly from this encounter to Darius Dax's laboratory in the present, and in a freak accident subsequently merges with Billy Friday. The confused composite entity blames Supreme for his condition and travels back in time to Littlehaven, where he fights Kid Supreme. This appears to be an ontological paradox.
  • Optilux was a religious alien who became a being of pure light with an ever-growing messiah complex. He converted cities, such as Amalynth, into coherent light in captivity, much like Brainiac shrunk Kandor.[12][14]
  • Televillain was originally a television repair man named Reuben Tube until an accident gave him the ability to teleport using televisions and actually enter the fictional worlds of television programmes. On one occasion he transported into an episode of Friends and executed Monica Geller (without any harm to Courteney Cox). He was then pummeled by a group of angry people who recognized him as "the guy who shot Monica" in the real world.[12][14]
  • The End is a powerful villain whom the other captives in the Hell of Mirrors cede to.[10] He is never seen except in shadow. When offered the chance to escape the Hell of Mirrors his reaction is one of indifference.
  • Shadow Supreme is an evil version of Supreme created by Darius Dax's negative energy ray. As his name implies, he physically resembles Supreme, albeit his body and costume are entirely black. He is completely obedient to Dax, whom he has even referred to as his "God".[12][14]
  • Slaver Ant is a female humanoid ant-like creature who secretes behavior altering chemicals.[12][14] Upon escaping Supreme's mirror prison, she kidnaps several infants and tries to persuade them to build a new ant-lair.
  • Vor-Em is a humanoid lion warrior.[12][14]

Supremium[edit]

Supremium is the source of Supreme's power. As a child, Ethan Crane found a meteorite composed of pure Supremium, which turned his hair white and gave him many super-powers, such as flight, invulnerability, super-strength, super-intelligence, super-speed and more.

Supremium is known to come in different colours, each with a different effect; white Supremium is fatal to Supreme, amber Supremium warps time, onyx Supremium erases time, sapphire Supremium affects probabilities, ruby Supremium transmutes matter, and violet Supremium has random effects.

Supremium existed in a complex timeframe; From Supreme's perspective it existed from 1925, when the Supremium meteorite fell to Earth, until some point in the 1950s when the Supremium Man fused with it and disappeared. The second time Supremium existed was when Supreme synthesized it from trace elements in his blood in the 1960s. The synthetic Supremium existed until the 1990s, when Supreme's arch-enemy Darius Dax merged with it and became the Supremium Man.

Supreme realised that the Supremium Man from the '90s had fallen back in time to the 1950s, and then, upon merging with the remaining Supremium, fallen further back in time, becoming the original meteor.

Supremium is an homage to kryptonite.

Supreme Sacrifice[edit]

In 2006, Arcade Comics published Supreme's return by Robert Kirkman, Jon Malin and Rob Liefeld.[15]

Alternative versions of Supreme[edit]

Kid Supreme[edit]

During World War II, Charles Flanders[16] discovered he could tap into Supreme's power, and he became Supreme's sidekick, the first Kid Supreme. The second Kid Supreme was Danny Fuller[17] after he received super powers during a fight between Supreme and Union. Alan Moore's Kid Supreme is merely a younger version of Supreme as an homage to Superboy.[18] He was also Supreme-Mite when he first received his powers as a toddler.

Probe[edit]

The biological future daughter of Glory and Supreme, named Probe and later called Lady Supreme, although she once believed that she was a test tube baby until Glory told her the truth. This character was removed from reality after the Supreme continuity was rebooted by Alan Moore, though she still exists in the Supremacy.

Suprema[edit]

Suprema and Radar. Designs and art by Alex Ross

In her place, Supreme's sister Sally Crane became Suprema. When Darius Dax merged with the Supremium, he became "too heavy for the space-time continuum" and he fell through a crack in reality. He emerged in the past, specifically, on Sally's birthday. Dax fell to Earth in front of the Cranes' residence. Sally's proximity to the incident gave her white hair, and later, she learned she had similar powers as well.

When Supreme left Earth, Suprema took over duties in his absence. Gorrl, the Living Galaxy, came looking for revenge against Supreme. Since he couldn't find him, he threatened to absorb the Milky Way Galaxy unless he was given a "suitable human companion." Suprema volunteered if Gorrl would spare the star system. Grorrl brought her to the edge of a black hole where time passes differently from in normal space. As a result, Suprema spent 30 years there in the blink of an eye. After those 30 years, Supreme finally came to rescue Suprema. They were able to convince Gorrl that a human companion was unsuitable and he should be with his own kind. Gorrl allowed her to leave and she was able to return home. When not undertaking solo adventures, she partnered with Supreme and Radar and also joined the independent incarnation of Youngblood, alongside her best friend, Twilight, the Girl Marvel, where her prim moralising and high-handed, supercilious (as well as out of date) attitude rubbed most of her teammates, save for Twilight, the wrong way, earning her the derisive nickname "The Flying Nun."

Collected editions[edit]

US[edit]

Supreme #23 was reprinted in the Extreme Sacrifice trade paperback (ISBN 1-887279-06-7) in August 1995.

Supreme: The Story of the Year and The Return are available digitally exclusively through Devil's Due Digital.

France[edit]

Under licence from Checker, using the same layout, images, etc., with French translation.

Spain[edit]

Under licence from Checker, using the same layout, images, etc., with Spanish translation.

  • Supreme, Tomo 1: La Historia del Año (Random House Mondadori, 2011)
  • Supreme, Tomo 2: El Retorno (Random House Mondadori, 2011)

Germany[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Maçek III, J.C. (2013-06-20). "Supremium: Image Comic's Less "Awesome" Superman". PopMatters. 
  2. ^ "1997 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominees and Winners". Hahn Library Comic Book Awards Almanac. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  3. ^ Mediafire.com
  4. ^ Web.archive.org
  5. ^ Comicsbulletin.com
  6. ^ Supreme #52 (1998)
  7. ^ "Black Swan Screenwriter To Relaunch Youngblood, Alan Moore’s Supreme To Be Concluded With Erik Larsen, In Extreme Relaunch". October 14, 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  8. ^ Burlingame, Russ. "Liefeld’s Extreme Studios Returns With a New Alan Moore Supreme Story". Comicbook.com. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  9. ^ "Supreme #64". Image Comics. May 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Supreme #51 (1997)
  11. ^ Supreme #46 (1996)
  12. ^ a b c d e f Supreme: The Return #1 (1998)
  13. ^ Supreme: The Return #5 (1998)
  14. ^ a b c d e Supreme #56 (1998)
  15. ^ "Jon Malin". Wizard World. 
  16. ^ Supreme vol. 2, #9 (1993)
  17. ^ Supreme vol. 2, #19 (1994)
  18. ^ Supreme vol. 2, #42 (1996)

External links[edit]