The Long Descent of Comics: Squadron Supreme (2015)


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What a terrible issue! There is nothing redeemable about this waste of paper that is  Squadron Supreme#1. This thing is garbage. Deface it like they’ve defaced Marvel Comics.

 

I’m usually positive on my reviews. I love my hobby and tend to view it through rose-colored glasses, but this transgression goes too far. I’ve put up with a lot of ridiculous plot devices and half-baked stories, but they’ve crossed a line when they drag their first superhero through the mud (and a few weeks before Sub-Mariner Masterworks Volume 7 comes out during the character’s 76th year).

 

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The Masterworks volume was such an awesome tribute. Little did we know that editorial fiat would sully Marvel’s first hero. What an inglorious ending for such a previously noble, iconic character.

I’ve never been as mad at Marvel as I am right now. I’ve been a huge fan of Marvel since I could first read, but they’ve finally pushed me too far.

Squadron Supreme was the end of the road for me. Few comics in Marvel’s long history have been this bad.

I was looking forward to this title when it was announced. Even though I was already tired of “Marvel Now” and had low expectations for the “All-New, All-Different”, I was still looking forward to a couple of titles in the hopes that they would “get back to the root of what made Marvel special” from the 60s to the 80s; what they partially recaptured with the Ultimate Universe.

Oh, how did we get in this mess?

I would use *Spoiler Alert* tags, but spoiler would imply that there’s something worth anticipating. Marvel and James Robinson have already done that with the launch of this title.

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Hyperion holding Namor’s head like a bowling ball. Why would Alex Ross even agree to such a cover??

I can’t believe they would defile Marvel’s heritage like this.

I’ve always liked the Squadron. When I was very young and first started reading comics with my uncles, I liked DC and Marvel about the same. As I got older, I realized that Marvel spoke to me more. Their characters were all flawed and somehow imperfect. They had limits to their powers without having far-fetched weaknesses (well, okay, Thor losing his hammer for 60 seconds and going from God to 60-lb weakling was a major weakness compounded by his never-ending desire to throw his hammer *away* from him.)

The first time we saw Hyperion, Doctor Spectrum and the Whizzer (never liked his name), my uncle and I  realized that they were a parody of the Justice League. Because it was Marvel, we knew that they would be done in the Marvel manner – flawed and complex with real personalities and problems.

So this was one of the titles I added to my pull list automatically along with 20+ other Marvel titles (more than half of my monthly list.)

Comic companies are always bemoaning “the state of the industry”, the decline of readership. Just as with the Ultimate Universe, here was an opportunity to start fresh and bring on new readers without burdening them with all the twists and turns of 50+ years of canon and crossovers.

This first issue opens with a discussion about Secret Wars and the end of Hickman’s Avengers run, neither of which I read, tiring of Hickman’s run after the first year and not being seduced by Secret Wars in the slightest. Way to bring on new readers, Marvel!

Next we meet our cast, with a panel of introduction each, their name and what Earth they came from, and a little dialog from each. Okay, this might be interesting. They could reveal how each character’s alternate universe shaped their character differently. Nope. Instead we get the same monotonous anger from each. We could swap the word balloons throughout this issue and you’d never tell the difference.

Very little backstory, no intrigue, no character development, no world-building, just flatlined rage.

Ah this must be one of the “…amazing story opportunities which will evolve in the future” that Namor’s death opens up, according to James Robinson.

Here’s an example of the scintillating dialog from Power Princess tangling with Attuma: “Unfortunately, you loud blue idiot… that would require your fighting skills to be remotely adequate.”

Attuma has been around since Fantastic Four #33 (1964) and has taken on the Avengers, the Fantastic Four and Alpha Flight. He’s a barbarian warlord who’s led whole armies. I think he has some fighting skills.

Wait, maybe this is one of those “…amazing story opportunities”?

I can’t believe how little actually happened in this issue. Hyperion picks up Atlantis and throws it. Namor charges and, with a quick flash of atomic vision, Namor is beheaded.

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I can’t believe I bought this book. As soon as I saw this last page, I fired off an email to take this title off my pull list.

Here we have Marvel’s parody of Superman, first hero of DC, decapitating Namor, the Avenging Son, first hero of Marvel all easy-peasy, not breaking a sweat.

The Sub-Mariner, who went toe-to-toe with the Silver Surfer, Thor, the Hulk, the Thing, Dr. Doom, the first Avengers roster, and the Fantastic Four.

Killed by the Hyperion that fought alongside the Avengers?? These aren’t anti-heroes, they’re villains. And quite despicable ones at that. Doc Spectrum kicks his head? Which character is the reader supposed to gravitate to?

When do we get those “…amazing story opportunities…”

What a waste of an iconic character. Sure, he hasn’t really been done well for a few years, but on that standard, we should kill off nearly every Marvel character in existence.

I’ve waited four months to see if there was any curveball being thrown here. I refused to buy any of the issues, but I waited to talk to other readers and browsed through the issue on the shelf before flinging any invectives.

No explanation was forthcoming. No “…amazing story opportunities…” have been revealed. No additional characterization of the “main” characters. They are just as loathsome as they were in the first issue. I don’t think Kirk’s heart is really into this storyline either, for this is far from his best work.

James Robinson, I will not read another book you write. Of course, I can’t fully blame Robinson for this travesty. Jonathan Hickman started us on this long descent by having the ludicrous colliding universes storyline and having Namor destroy a planet.

Editors Chris Robinson, Mark Paniccia, Katie Kubert, and Tom Breevoort, you should be embarrassed to allow this plot to pass through. What’s next? Do we “mix things up” and find out Captain America was secretly a Nazi vampire war criminal all these years? Is nothing sacred? Do these people even care about the fantastic lore they’ve inherited?

On the 76th anniversary of the first issue of Marvel Comics, debuting the Sub-Mariner, you decide to behead your first character. The first hero to fly, the first mutant, the first biracial character. Is this another case of Perlmutter’s personal war against licensing studios and Namor’s rights?

Yes, Marvel has a ton of market share, but that’s only because DC has screwed up their line even more. Hopefully they learned their lesson with their Rebirth. From the relaunch sales numbers, most Marvel titles seem to have actually regressed from where they were prior to All-New, All-Different.

CBR’s thread on this topic has more people against it than for it.

Marvel, how many fans will you lose over this power play to try to devalue whatever rights Universal still retains? How many fans will you lose over this poor attempt to prop up your latest collection of cardboard characters that you vainly and arrogantly try to push on the fanbase as your next “it” group?

The “All-New, All Different” Marvel has the same stench as the cash-grab 90s. We’ll look back years from now on yet another period where the focus on perceived short-term dollar gain eroded long-term growth and still the talking heads will wonder why readership continues to decline.

How low Marvel has sunk.

Imperius Rex Forever!

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