…Squadron Supreme after Supreme Power?


This year’s inaugural fix comes from Chris Nuttall, who when not reading comics such as The Planetary, Watchmen, Supreme Power (The good version), the Authority and the Green Lantern, writes science-fiction, alternate history and fantasy novels.  You can check out free samples of his work at his site The Chris Hanger and download his books from Amazon Kindle.  Chris kindly takes to fixing the continuation of his fave series Supreme Power which, after getting moved out of the MAX line, began going off the rails even more than the subject of my last post One More Day. Yes Virginia there is a storyline worse than OMD.  Over to you Chris…

There are relatively few comic book stories that have any real staying power.  We had Watchmen, of course, and Planetary, but few others continue to resonate down the years since their first publication.  Supreme Power/ Squadron should have been one of those hallowed tales.

It wasn’t. Quite what happened between J. Michael Straczynski (JMS) and Marvel is a mystery, at least to me, but Supreme Power was handed a bum rap that made One More Day/ Brand New Day look almost reasonable by comparison.  The series sank badly and will probably never make a proper comeback, even though JMS could have been replaced by another capable writer (as opposed to the person who got the job.)  To summarise, the original series of Supreme Power finished on one hell of a cliff-hanger, which the follow-up series never attempted to conclude.

(Yes, I’m bitter.  I bought all of the JMS books on the series.)

The basic idea was relatively simple.  Hyperion (Superman, in all apart from name) was not found by a farming couple, but by the US government.  Named Mark Milton, he was raised to be a good
little American soldier, taking a decisive role in the Gulf War and numerous other affairs.  Over the years, a handful of other superhumans crawled out of the woodwork, including Doctor Spectrum(Green Lantern), Blur (the Flash) and Nighthawk (Batman).  The series neatly mingled the superhuman with the mundane.

Unsurprisingly, things started to go off the rails for Hyperion.  He discovered that he’d been lied to by the government, which forced him into questioning his own origins – and, eventually, into a partnership with Blur and Nighthawk in hunting down a rogue superhuman, the serious killer Redstone.  By the end of the first series, Hyperion had warned the government to leave him alone, or else.

Things didn’t stay that way.  In the first Supreme Power miniseries, four other superhumans were hired to hunt down Hyperion and return him to government control.  During their encounter, all five of them were dumped into a future world where Hyperion was the planet’s ruler – and Nighthawk was almost alone in trying to fight back.  Although most of them concluded that the whole affair was actually an alternate world, Hyperion and Dr Burbank (a version of Lex Luthor, but smarter) knew that it was their future.  Both of them started making their own preparations.

Taking up service with the government again, Hyperion led the Squadron Supreme into battle against America’s enemies.  Their first mission was an embarrassing disaster; their second, against Iran, was a great success.  Unfortunately, this didn’t please the bigger powers, who gathered some superhumans of their own – led by Redstone, who had escaped from government control. Redstone confronted Hyperion, only to be challenged by Blur and Nighthawk.  And there the series ended.

A few years later, there was another series, which was basically crap.  And stupid.

To be honest, I wouldn’t change much of the original series.  Nighthawk picks up the Idiot Ball once or twice; Blur is way too trusting; the Government is way too stupid.  I’d start making changes to Squadron Supreme.

Our revised version starts just after where JMS abandoned the series, with Hyperion, Nighthawk and Blur confronting Redstone.  This isn’t actually a hard point to overcome; Redstone has lost his nuke and Hyperion can fly him up into low orbit, where he can suffocate.  The real importance of the event comes later, as Redstone claimed on camera to have been working for the government, spreading terror through the Middle East. I think that Hyperion would have a lot of angry questions for the military, as would the media.  The end result would be Hyperion more disenchanted with the government and thinking hard about the future.

One aspect of Mark Milton’s character that shines through is that he wants to help people, even if he doesn’t entirely know how.  I think he’d spend more time helping, although his help might not be as useful as he thinks.  At this time, I’d put the Hyperion V. Nighthawk miniseries, where Hyperion is exposed to the fact that humanity does so many awful things to itself.  How can he ignore them?

Doctor Burbank was charged, as of Squadron Supreme #6, with building weapons for use against superhumans.  As the sole person who knows the truth about the jump forward in time, Burbank will probably find himself forced to confide in other, more trustworthy superhumans.  In the meantime, worried about Hyperion’s instability, Nighthawk will ask Blur to keep an eye on his friend.

Hyperion’s resolution to take control of the world himself will have crystallised as a result of the encounter in Sudan.  As shown in the Supreme Power miniseries, Hyperion discovers the second alien ship at the South Pole and eventually starts using it to brainwash other superhumans.  By the time Blur stumbles across his activities and is captured, Hyperion has a small army under his control.  He uses it to take power in America and crush anyone who stands in his way.

We could spread this out a little, with Doctor Spectrum trying to stop Hyperion, only to discover – too late – the true source of his powers.  The Power Crystal has a mind of its own and it is loyal to Hyperion.  Eventually, Joe loses control and Hyperion has a new ally.  Doctor Burbank and a handful of other superhumans – and Nighthawk – go underground, trying to organise resistance to Hyperion.

What would Hyperion’s world look like?  My guess is that he would seek to take the rest of the planet as well, either directly or because they keep attacking him.  Can Hyperion make the trains run on time?  He wouldn’t be the first dictator to wield vast power – and he’s effectively indestructible.  I’d expect him to expand his control rapidly.

That leaves the resistance.  Nighthawk is a normal human, but he isn’t going to give up – and Doctor Burbank is a genius.  He can produce devices that can even the odds, to some extent, even though Hyperion seems invincible.  (They will also attempt to warn the time travellers from the past, but that failed in the miniseries.)  Eventually, the resistance might storm the base at the South Pole, discovering that Hyperion’s second ship is actually producing a new population for Earth.  Hyperion almost kills Nighthawk before Blur confronts him, convincing the alien superhuman that he’s just made the human condition worse.  In anger, Hyperion destroys the ship and the alien eggs, before vanishing into space.