Marvel’s Squadron Supreme have always been analogues of DC’s Justice League. But the new series, written by James Robinson with art by Leonard Kirk, has done something new and interesting with them: they are now a team of the lost, of heroes whose Earths have been destroyed. And each is dealing with that in their own, sometimes very violent, way.
Spoilers for Squadron Supreme Issues #1 and #2.
In the previous run of Avengers by Jonathan Hickman, the superhero Hyperion was found to have survived one of the Incursions, even while his Earth was destroyed. He became a member of the Avengers and eventually went into the Multiverse to search for a way to stop the Beyonders. But currently, after Secret Wars, Hyperion is leading a team made up of characters each of whom lost their world during the Incursions:
Nighthawk was from the Supreme Power-world (a previous Squadron Supreme series written by J. Michael Straczynski); Power Princess was from the original Squadron Supreme Earth that last appeared in Exiles; Blur was from the New Universe and was a member of DP-7; and Doctor Spectrum was from the Earth with the Great Society, another Justice League-analogue, who fought the Illuminati in the buildup to Secret Wars. In fact, Doctor Spectrum saw exactly who destroyed her world: Namor the Sub-Mariner was the one who activated the anti-matter bombs that blew up her world. And so, in their first mission to protect their new home, the Squadron Supreme decide that Namor must die.
The first issue ends with a climactic battle wherein Hyperion decapitates Namor with his heat vision. As the media and people become divided over what the Squadron Supreme did — after all, Namor did attack the surface world many times and was considered a supervillain and lead the Cabal in destroying many, many alternate Earths — the original Human Torch goes to Steve Rogers and asks the Avengers Unity Squad to intervene.
But that’s not what the second issue is about. The second issue, interestingly enough, takes a look at what each member of the Squadron does on their day off. I actually think this makes the series much better — for all of the big fight scenes in the first issue, we never really got to see what any of the characters were like, aside from one or two lines. Issue #2, however, quickly shows us exactly how lost these people are:
Nighthawk has changed his name from Kyle Richmond to Raymond Kane in order to re-acquire his wealth, but is also investigating alien threats by himself (the Supreme Power Nighthawk was never really a team player and, in fact, quite paranoid about his teammates). We don’t really get much from him except for the fact that he runs across some sort of Kree/Skrull/Badoon/Kymellian alliance on Earth.
Hyperion doesn’t exactly know what to do with himself, so he is eating at a diner and talking to a trucker, who tells him if he wants to know America, he should drive a big rig. (I’m not sure if Robinson knew at the time he wrote this that Superman had also become a trucker, but if not, this sure is a big coincidence.)
Power Princess has just consumed a person’s life essence in order to keep herself young (something the original Power Princess never showed, but the one in Supreme Power did) and starts to regret it.
Doctor Spectrum has a nightmare about the destruction of her Earth and who exactly saved her — Black Bolt, who trapped her on 616 before her Earth was destroyed. When she wakes up, she goes to Blur and together they talk about how different this Earth is from theirs - Spectrum misses her Earth because it was so much better, but Blur came from the New Universe, which was much like our Earth, so he thinks 616 is pretty fantastic, but also feels guilty for liking this Earth more than his own.
The entire issue is pretty low key, aside from Nighthawk’s investigation and the ending, but it’s necessary for us to see these characters not as heroes or villains (whether or not you agree with them executing Namor and destroying Atlantis), but rather as people who have lost everything and are simply trying to hold onto what they have left.
Top image is the Hip-Hop Variant Cover for Issue #1 by Mike del Mundo.