Below Zero: Squadron Supreme Volume 5

Squadron Supreme

Warning: Contains spoilers

I’m a fan of the original Squadron Supreme. I know, I know, they were nothing more than blatant rip-offs of DC’s Justice League, but the twelve-issue limited series from the 1980s, written by one of my favorite writers, the late great Mark Gruenwald, was a great story.

Needless to say, I was happy to see them getting more attention lately, even the villainous version of them that we saw during Secret Wars. So, when I saw there was going to be a new ongoing series, I was very interested–at least, until I started reading it.

First off, this is not the original Squadron, it’s a collection of several different versions of the characters. Which is still not that bad of an idea. To mix it up even more, they put in some other characters from other worlds that were never part of any previous version of the Squadron Supreme. Still, I don’t necessarily object to that, as long as it’s done well.

So here’s the rub: this book is a bunch of sound and fury, and so far, not a lot of substance. You have some very interesting characters, and some very powerful characters, and they come together to do what, save the world? Nope, to seek out vengeance on anyone that they see as a possible threat. This could work too, if handled properly, but it isn’t.

You can sum up how bad this series is with the events of issue #2. In issue #2 they not only kill Namor, but destroy all of Atlantis, all in one issue–in just a couple of pages, in fact. Really, an event that monumental, and it’s over in a couple of pages? It just goes to show how bad things have gotten in the pages of Marvel (not to mention DC) when film rights are held by an outside studio, or if they think the character lacks big-screen potential.

I sure hope that’s the case here; an anticlimax of that magnitude has to have been a decision handed down from the top. If it wasn’t, how the hell did that get past editorial and into a printed book? Namor used to be a major player at Marvel, at turns a hero and a villain. Heck, he’s one of the first superheroes ever, seeing his debut in 1939, hot on the heels of Superman. This is not some Johnny-come-lately character to the comic scene. The elimination of Namor and his entire homeland surely deserved a storyline of several issues. Here it feels like an afterthought, one footnote among many in a hastily thrown-together book.

The other big problem I have is that the characters are bent to fit the story. Neither their motivations nor their actions feel organic or even make sense in the context of the book itself. Sure, some of these characters are supervillain versions of the originals, but really, they are worried about keeping the world safe by taking out people they already know are not the same person they are familiar with? And they are villains, let’s not forget–since when do they care so much? Not to mention we have one-time heroes completely okay with committing full blown genocide?

Don’t waste your time on this book, it’s going to be gone soon, and then we will have to wait and see how they cook up the newest reincarnation of a decapitated Namor.

William Henry Dvorak
About William Henry Dvorak (87 Articles)
William Henry Dvorak has grown up around comics his whole life. He's worked in a comic book shop, owned a comic book shop and has been writing off and on his whole life. Over the years William has tried his hand at a number of different careers, from acting, to being a private detective, but always came back to his first love, comic books and writing. Starting in 2011 William got serious with his writing and founded Wicked Studios LLC, a sequential art and entertainment company and began work on his stories and novels.

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