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Supreme is possibly one of Image Comics’ most famous and well-respected comics. Though, to be honest, the only reason why people still hold fond memories of the title is due to the magnificently done Alan Moore run on the series, which was basically a love letter to Curt Swan and silver-age Superman stories. It received a short, and rather awful, continuation run by Erik Larsen 2-3 years back before finally being shelved for what seemed to be for good. Well, Warren Ellis and Tula Lotay have brought the “man of majesty” back in their new series: Supreme: Blue Rose.
This is a series that has had a lot of eyes cast upon it since it was first announced and solicited. After the disastrous Larsen run, Supreme fans were wary of yet another relaunch that might not fare too well. The initial solicit calmed no fears either, with a pseudo-science fiction tone in the modern veins of Hickman or Morrison. The primary worry was pretty much that the new series would take Supreme away from Alan Moore’s foundation and into something that would not be “Supreme” enough. Ellis, while no doubt a great writer when he’s on his game, would not be the first choice to write a Superman pastiche of this caliber. Needless to say, as a Supreme fan myself, Supreme: Blue Rose #1 was an introductory issue that blew me away.
The very first pages show that while Ellis is not writing the Superman homage of old, he is one hundred percent committed to writing a Supreme book the best that he can. Within the first five pages he not only sets up the new Supremacy but also hints at long time Supreme side-character Zayla Zarn. There is, in fact, a lot of small references like this in this first issue. Some perhaps even a bit obscure and hidden. It is not so much that Ellis is just doing some fan pandering either, but rather that he is weaving a whole new tapestry for Supreme and the mythos.
These small references are exactly that, small and even vague in places. They’re not just ornaments to say “Hey this is Supreme guys!” but rather tokens of respect. Things there to show “we know they exists and they might play a part”, which is a great way to play it. It hints at Supreme’s overall mythology but keeps it understated because it’s not exactly the story that it wants to tell. This can pretty much sum up the issue as a whole, to be completely clear. It’s a Diana Dane (the pastiche of Lois Lane) story, not a Supreme story. The series, at first, is about the search for Supreme on her part.
It’s a large departure but the world that Ellis and Lotay set up makes it work. It’s not the colorful pseudo-reality that Moore set up, nor is it the mainstream Invincible/Image universe that Larsen adhered to. It’s us, it’s our world, or close to it. Lotay shines in breathing creaky, desperate, life into the urban landscapes, hammering in that Supreme is missing, even when he’s not on the page, the absence of him is felt. It makes up for the sparse nature of the issue’s content which is solely to introduce Diana and set her on her mission. It’s definitely “part one” of her journey and for that it introduces things beautifully if not much else.
Tula’s arts is spectacularly on form for the most part, but the one thing that I would take notice of (and which has already garnered some ire) would be the eclectic swirls of blue lines that pervade every sing page. Nominally it’s there to produce some sort of effect but it might just annoy unsuspecting readers. As for the script itself, while the references to earlier Supreme stories might show that Ellis has his head in the right place – they may only come off as nonsensical and confusing to those who are using this as their diving point for Supreme, that and a lack of Dax not being on every other page. Overall though I can only say one: if one had to create a modern, realistic, reboot of Supreme this is how it should be done.