From the first page to the final panel, Squadron Supreme #1 is the superb start to a series sure to be steeped in history. It begins with the opening narration: “Lo, and there came an end of days, when realities crashed and worlds fell,” a clear callback to the preface of plentitude Avengers issues which spoke of that day unlike any other. The art accompanying such alludes to an image among the first ever to appear in a comic book: the explosive destruction of a planet of superman; Krypton in all but name.
From there, the repeated references get only more frequent and explicit. In a scene emblematic of Robinson’s usual excessive exposition, the various members of the current incarnation of the Squadron Supreme (Marvel’s trademark-skirting doppelgängers of the Justice League) reiterate to one another their secret origins, known to readers through such classics as Supreme Power #1 and Hickman’s seminal Avenger’s run, including one of 2014’s best single issue’s, New Avengers #21, which cemented Namor a place in the pantheon of the vilest villains the Marvel multiverse had ever seen.
His decision to unilaterally murder a parallel Earth and its billions of inhabitants with the press of a button (an atrocity he’d repeat dozens of more times over the span of a few months, surpassing Hitler and every other genocidal dictator throughout history combined by several orders of magnitude), is the impetus for the events of this issue.
In the first Avengers movie, Tony Stark famously quipped, “If we can’t save the world, we’re damn sure going to avenge it.” Yet despite the team’s name, rarely is such their course of action. Squadron Supreme here prove themselves to be avengers in the literal sense. None of them could save their own worlds, of which each is the sole survivor. Now, they’re damn sure going to avenge them, starting with the megalomaniac monarch who turned Doctor Spectrum’s world into a veritable Alderaan.
Such a confrontation I’d have guessed would have been built towards over the course of the first arc of six to twelve issues, but less than midway through the issue submariner Atlanteans are exchanging explosive blows with translunar deities, in one of the most exciting and consequential fight scenes this year. Considering such, I fully expected the issue to conclude with the end of the hostilities, but it continues on, covering the fallout of the fatal fisticuffs. Herein sets the stage for the series to come, and per the pattern established throughout, it’s replete with yet more references to comics’ proud past, including Marvel Comics #1 and the Golden Age to which it belonged, marked by such icons of that era as the Human Torch and Captain America, Namor’s fellow Invaders.
Robinson’s reverence for the Golden Age and his appropriation of its elements should come as no surprise to those familiar with his body of work, particularly Justice Society of America and Earth-2. While he’s still playing with DC’s archetypes, such are set within Marvel’s multiverse, and if he can replicate for the House of Ideas the success he had at the Distinguished Competition, Squadron Supreme should prove among the best books to come out of All-New Marvel Now.