Supreme: The Return

Written by Alan Moore
Penciled by Chris Sprouse and Rick Veitch, with Gil Kane, Jim Starlin, Matt Smith, Jim Baikie, Ian Churchill, and Rob Liefeld
Inked by Al Gordon and Rick Veitch, with Jim Starlin, Rob Liefeld, Matt Smith, and Norm Rapmund
260 pages, color
Published by Checker Book Publishing Group

The sales of one of your comic books—a thinly disguised incarnation of Superman—are lackluster. General interest in the book is down pretty low. What do you do? In the case of Rob Liefeld and the comic book Supreme, the answer was to hire Alan Moore to come on board as writer and completely revamp the series. No one seemed to really believe that Alan Moore was going to write Supreme, but it worked. In many ways a precursor to Moore’s various America’s Best Comics titles, his run on Supreme is now collected into two volumes for those wondering just what they missed the first time around…

Ethan Crane is the penciler on the comic book Omniman at Dazzle Comics. He’s a pretty ordinary guy, or at least that’s what everyone thinks. In reality he’s Supreme, the most powerful superhero on the planet. With his adoptive sister Suprema and the hound supreme Radar at his side, Supreme’s here to defend the world against any and everything that dares to menace it.

Moore’s stories collected in Supreme: The Return could best be described as just plain fun. While his first year’s worth of stories (collected in Supreme: The Story of the Year) concentrated more on setting up Supreme’s new background and world that Moore had devised for him, The Return moves forward, unleashing the army of rogues that Moore had brought into the picture, as well as developing new relationships for his characters. When you’ve got stories about the Televillain jumping into an episode of “Friends” and killing Courtney Cox’s character, or the super-dog Radar fathering super-puppies all over the globe in a burst of super-speed, well, you know that you shouldn’t be taking this too seriously. That’s not to say that it’s all fun and games, of course. There’s something wonderfully depressing about a story where Supreme’s time-travelling friends have to doom one of their own teammates in order to restore the timestream to its proper flow, for example, and Moore manages to pull a great deal of emotion out of just a few short pages.

While Moore’s writing remains very consistent, Supreme: The Return is plagued with shifting artists in the second half of the collection. The first half, with Chris Sprouse penciling the main narrative and Rick Veitch drawing the flashback stories, are easily the strongest contributions to the book. Sprouse’s pencils (along with Al Gordon’s inks) provide a gorgeous iconic look for Supreme, with strong jawlines and regal expressions on faces. Sprouse has always shown a good eye for page composition, and it’s easy to see why Sprouse’s “modern classic” style made him Moore’s choice as the primary artist for Tom Strong. Likewise, Veitch’s art for the flashbacks has a great retro quality, keeping in mind the earlier time period that these stories were supposed to be from. Using a basic six-panel grid on his pages, Veitch’s page layouts harken back to those earlier times. The rest of the art is a mixed bag; after the strong art on display up until now, some artists like Matt Smith and Ian Churchill provide perfectly competent work that feels out of place in this book. Fortunately Veitch’s contributions with flashbacks continue until the end of the book, so there’s always at least one thing to look forward to in each issue collected.

From romances to infinite time-travel loops, Supreme: The Return is a lot of fun. The perfect companion to Supreme: The Story of the Year, these two books mix old-style adventure with modern ideas and sensibilities. While Moore’s work on Supreme will ultimately only merit a footnote in the greater canon of his work, it’s still thoroughly entertaining. If you’re looking for a book to put a smile on your face, you can’t go wrong with Supreme.

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