Supreme Superhero Comic

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F*** super-heroes. There, I said it, not because I hate superheroes, but because we live in a post-superhero age.

Let’s face it, superheroes are no longer possible. The world is too complex. Nothing is strictly Good vs. Evil anymore. We don’t really believe that there’s anything out there that a superhero could save us from. And if such a superior form of ourselves appeared, would we really leave him or her alone to go about the work of a superhero? Or would we turn them into a weapon, or a celebrity, or destroy them eventually as a threat to our way of life? No wonder the notion of “the superhero” has as much an air of nostalgia around it as the century that gave birth to it. And no comic currently produced closes the door on the 20th century notion of the superhero more dramatically than SUPREME POWER.

Post-humans, Über-sapiens—call the main players in Marvel’s best title whatever you like, but they can’t be thought of as superheroes at all. They’re certainly not your father’s Justice League. And remember that hip, older cousin whose collection you envied? They’re not even his Squadron Supreme. Much more than super and nowhere near being heroes, for the cast of SUPREME POWER that great battle between Good and Evil, light and dark, life and death, doesn’t take place on the streets, but on another plane—within the murky confines of the heart, human or otherwise.

This is why not much has “happened” in the series over the course of more than a dozen issues, but also the reason why the story works so well. To achieve this, J. M. Straczynski made two radical moves for a super-team book: 1) privileging character over plot development; and 2) letting us know his characters but making us uncomfortable about every one of them. And for good reason. Hyperion is a walking, talking nuclear bomb who may or may not be on our side. Doctor Spectrum is possessed by an alien force as unknowable as it is powerful. The Power Princess is either a lunatic with great power and no shame or the harbinger of a new age over which she rule as queen. The Blur is a billboard moving at 300 m.p.h. Nighthawk’s neuroses and obsessions make Batman look like Dr. Phil. The Amphibian has yet to say a word we can understand and we have no idea what she even is yet. And who even knows how many others have been inadvertently let loose by the army experimenters who failed to contain Hyperion?

Taken together, it is not at all clear whether these beings are humanity’s salvation or its doom.
But isn’t that exactly the way it would be if we woke up tomorrow and discovered that there were such beings? Nothing about the way we live now convinces me otherwise, and that’s why SUPREME POWER makes me say: F*** superheroes.

- Dexter K. Flowers

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