"U.S.Avengers": A Guide to Marvel's New Patriotic Superhero Team
Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the comics posted so far!
Today we take a look at Mark Gruenwald’s Squadron Supreme maxi-series, which was drawn by a variety of artists, most notably Bob Hall (who penciled half of the series), Paul Ryan (who penciled the last four issues), John Beatty and Sam De La Rosa…
The basic concept behind Squadron Supreme is “What would happen if the world’s greatest heroes decided to cure all of society’s problems?”
To show his take on how this would happen, Mark Gruenwald decided to use the Justice League analogues from the pages of the Avengers, the Squadron Supreme.
The series opens up with the team reeling from the effects of a recent storyline where a bad guy took control of the Squadron’s world. The key here is that Gruenwald decides to ask, “What would REALLY happen after something like that?” as we have seen plenty of occasions where bad guys take control of the world through brainwashing in the Marvel Universe (Doom has done it at least twice) and when it is over everything goes back to normal. Gruenwald takes a different approach…
Ultimately, Hyperion is convinced that they must use their powers to cure society and make it a utopia!
Nighthawk and Amphibian vote against it, but only Nighthawk seems to have a strong stance against the idea…
Ultimately, Nighthawk resigns his Presidency and then plans to kill Hyperion with a bullet that works like Kryptonite to Superman for Hyperion.
He cannot do it.
The art for that issue was done by Bob Hall and John Beatty. Beatty has a really nice, dark edge to it.
As the series goes on, we basically get treated to the perfect examples for “power corrupts,” as the Squadron decides to use “behavior modification” machines to make their enemies into members of the Squadron. Golden Archer, however, uses the device to keep his girlfriend, Lady Lark, from breaking up with him…
Amphibian destroys the machines in disgust (he had voted against using them) and quits the team…
Nighthawk’s plan to stop the Squadron makes up most of the major plot of the last half of the series, culminating in an absolutely brutal final issue.
These types of stories can be pretty rough, but when you’re dealing with characters who weren’t really being used much ANYways, I don’t have a problem with Gruenwald using them to tell his dark story. It’s a well-told tale, fully using its 12 issues-worth of story.
It’s interesting to note that this series began BEFORE Watchmen, so Gruenwald was really working in some uncharted waters with this series. As you might know already, Gruenwald was so pleased with this series that when he died, he asked that his ashes be mixed with the first printing of the trade paperback collection of the series.
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