Squadron Supreme Death of a Universe TP Gruenwald


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SQUADRON SUPREME: DEATH OF A UNIVERSE GN – (Mark Gruenwald, Kurt Busiek & Len Kaminski/Paul Ryan, George Pérez, Carlos Pacheco & Anthony Williams) The late Mark Gruenwald’s final Squadron Supreme saga sees the super heroes save their universe, only to be ejected from it in response. In the mainstream Marvel Universe, mind control and manipulation put them both against and alongside the Avengers. Collects Squadron Supreme: Death Of Universe, Thor #280, Avengers #5-6, Avengers/Squadron Supreme Annual and Squadron Supreme: New World Order. 248 pgs. Once upon a time, there was a superhero team that decided fighting crime wasn’t enough. They finally realized that, if they really wanted to make a difference, they’d have to combat the ills of society, things like war, poverty, famine and disease. So they took over and started going about rebuilding society from the ground up, trying to turn their world into a utopia. So this hero resigns from the team and starts planning a way to show the Squadron Supreme the error of their ways. And that hero is Batman. Well, actually it’s Nighthawk, but it might as well be Batman. It is well-documented that writer Mark Gruenwald was a huge fan of the Justice League and that, when he created the Squadron Supreme at Marvel, he was openly aping the DC team so he could play with the other company’s toys in his own backyard. Even reading the names of some of these heroes you can see obvious parallels. Hyperion, Power Princess, Amphibian, Whizzer, Dr. Spectrum-the list goes on and on. But Gruenwald takes the characters and makes them his own, drawing on the archetypes we’re familiar with and taking their personalities to the inevitable conclusion. Each character stands out from the creation they were originally carbon-copied from. Golden Archer’s obsessive love for Lady Lark stretches into darker corners than Ollie and Dinah’s relationship ever did, and Nuke’s youthful impetuousness is at times incredibly destructive, a far cry from Firestorm over in the JLA. Apart from making the characters his own, Gruenwald similarly pulled no punches with the plot and showed that even the actions of superheroes have very real consequences. This story is mired in tragedy and heartbreak; as the story unfolds over the course of a year in this utopia, members of the Squadron Supreme quit the team, are forced out, and even die. The inevitable conclusion to the story is very much a predecessor to the widescreen action style we see in comics of today, yet its violence is not sensationalized or especially bloody. Characters are killed in horrific ways in this melee, not just for a cool fight scene but for a logical purpose, to drive the theme of the story home for the reader. Dozens of stories since 1985 have taken this idea and run with it, and I freely admit that those books, books like Kingdom Come or The Authority, did the concept a bit better than Squadron Supreme does. But still this work is groundbreaking and many stories of today owe Squadron Supreme a great debt of gratitude. For this reason, and for many others, this book is worth your attention. Gruenwald’s original 12-issue Squadron Supreme series featured Marvel’s thinly-veiled Justice League of America attempting to build a Utopian society on the Earth of their native 712-Universe. In short, the results were disastrous, resulting in a super-powered bodycount rarely seen in comics. But man, what an exceptional story that was. It realized the true potential of the team (both the good and the bad), and it was completely worthy of being collected. This second trade, DEATH OF A UNIVERSE, collects various stories that returned the Squadron to their prior status. The first story, from Gruenwald’s 1989 graphic novel Squadron Supreme: Death of a Universe, concludes with the team being banished back to Marvel’s regular 616-Universe. This is followed by ignominious guest appearances in Thor #280, Avengers #5-6, and the Avengers/Squadron Supreme Annual ’98. The trade ends with Squadron Supreme: New World Order. NWO is a very good story that leaps back to yet ANOTHER parallel universe and amps up the DC Comics references, introducing many new characters and situations that I’d love to see expanded upon. NWO shows what happens to the Squadron Supreme after they return to their universe from the main Marvel Universe, and find it horribly changed. The Squadron Supreme returns to the Earth but almost nearly dying from crashing their spaceship which left Skylark and Shape badly injured and needing medical attention. Dr. Spectrum takes the wounded Squadron members to the nearest hospital while Hyperion and Power Princess goes to Squadron City and determine the Utopia Program and Whizzer and Arcanna see to their long missed families. However, the Squadron came to quickly realize how their world had become completely different than they had left it. The people of Earth had grown weary of the constant natural, political, and social upheavals that had plagued the world in recent years, largely because of the presence of the Squadron. Instead, they elected leaders into a “Global Directorate” with far-reaching and invasive political powers. The Directorate used the devices of the Utopia Program for themselves, creating a totalitarian government. Dr. Spectrum is forced to abandoned Shape and Skylark after his confrontation with a secret police force known as the Blue Eagles, named after their deceased namesake of the Squadron. Arcanna returned home but was ordered to stay there by Lightner, who now calls himself Mysterium. Whizzer returns to his home and find his family being taken hostage by the Blue Eagles who demands his surrender; fortunately, the Blue Eagles are quickly and thoroughly dispatched by the resistance group, the Nighthawks, who takes the Whizzer’s family under their protection and are highly distrustful of the Squadron. The Squadron regather together and are met by Mysterium, who implore the Squadron to fix what had begun by their Utopia efforts, charging them with contacting other members of their team. The Squadron recruited Amphibian, the Skrullian Skymaster (now, Skymax), and Neal Richmond, the son of Kyle Richmond, who had since taken his father’s role of Nighthawk and leader of the Nighthawks. Believing that their nemesis Emil Burbank is the mastermind behind the Global Directorate, the Squadron battle their way to Burbank’s location and only to discover to be a pawn to the Directorate. The Squadron rescue Burbank and return him to their new headquarters on Utopia Isle, which was left abandoned by Power Princess’ people. There Nighthawk reunited Whizzer with his family and the Squadron dedicated themselves to their new role, that of freedom fighters and champions of the oppressed.

Collects Squadron Supreme: Death Of Universe, Thor #280, Avengers #5-6, Avengers/Squadron Supreme Annual and Squadron Supreme: New World Order. Near mint, 1st print.