Wednesday, March 25, 2009

SUPREME: THE RETURN by Alan Moore et al.

Supreme: The Return (2003) collects Supreme #53-56 and Supreme: The Return #1-6, which were originally published from 1997 to 2000 by Awesome Entertainment. With Supreme: The Story of the Year, this volume collects Alan Moore’s entire run on Supreme. Moore continues his homage to/send-up of Silver Age comics in general and Superman in particular.

Moore’s writing here is hit-and-miss. In general, there are fewer flashbacks than in previous issues, and Moore focuses on stories set in the present. And either Moore has toned down his alliteration supreme a little bit or I’ve become numb to it. There are some genuinely funny moments here, most of them involving Hillary Clinton. Moore tries to take the fun, fifties style he’s done a fairly good job with so far and mix it with some grittier, more modern stories. It doesn’t work – it makes the grit seem almost horrific – and at this point, nobody is reading Supreme for “horrific.” It feels like Moore is using Supreme as his personal lab in which to conduct experiments, to see which genre hybrids work and which don’t. And some of the stories feel rushed, crammed into limited space so they’ll only run one issue. Others feel overlong.

Extensive rehashing of what has gone before makes this book tedious. Almost every issue, whole pages are devoted to recapitulating what has already happened, whether it was at the beginning of Moore’s run or last issue. And this is doubly tedious given that plots are getting rehashed. For example, in his first issue of Supreme, Moore presented the world of the Supremacy, where every version of Supreme went when they were revised out of continuity. Now we have a whole issue for a world of Lex Luthor-analogue Darius Daxes.

Metafiction is through the roof here. Moore tosses in layer after layer of it seemingly because he can. There’s all the metafiction from The Story of the Year, plus now Ethan Crane and his comic book coworkers are themselves doing with their superhero, Omniman, exactly what Moore has done with Supreme.

The text is riddled with typos and grammar and syntax errors. This isn’t necessarily Moore’s fault, but who’s editing this two-bit operation? It takes more than a few Alex Ross sketches to make a professional publisher.

Awesome Entertainment went under before the last two issues of Supreme: The Return could be published. Here, in the last published issue, they tack “The End” onto the last panel and call it a day; while it hardly ends on a cliffhanger, this is no ending to speak of.

The art here is a disaster. Rick Veitch’s Silver Age-style flashback scenes are the highlight, as before, but now he’s also doing the present in some issues, and his modern style is less remarkable. As in The Story of the Year, there are a lot of different artists here (so that rarely does the same artist draw two consecutive issues), many of which aren’t very good. Unlike that volume, however, here the style of the art changes significantly from issue to issue, which makes the whole thing feel sloppy.

A combination of factors makes Supreme: The Return feel thrown together, and it will have less of an appeal to fans of Silver Age comics than The Story of the Year did.