Plucked from the remnants of the former Marvel multiverse, this pseudo all-star lineup gives new meaning to the team’s moniker in James Robinson and Leonard Kirk’s “Squadron Supreme #1. Robinson harkens back to the pre-“Secret Wars” apocalyptic events that Jonathan Hickman laid out in his “Avengers” titles, which ultimately spelled the end of these characters’ worlds — and then he curiously singles out one of the former Avengers, who the Squadron feels is responsible. The outcome of the battle and the catastrophic occurrences within give fair indication that things may not be what they seem, although Robinson’s script doubles down on the Squadron’s aggressive tactics and sets the stage for an even bigger confrontation.
Robinson and Kirk lead off the issue with a nice recap of exactly which members are from which Squadron, with clear and detailed vignettes of the different incarnations of the various teams for those who don’t know Earth-13034 from Earth-4290001. The sequence also clearly lays out the Squadron’s motives for vengeance, although it’s a rather one-dimensional and mildly contrived excuse, as “Avengers” readers will recall there were several individuals who made the reluctant call to destroy other worlds in order to save their own. Robinson’s script never really moves away from that vector, as nearly every line of dialogue is in regard to the loss of the various worlds; it’s understandable but makes for rather stale reading after awhile.
Despite it being a rather single-minded battle, Kirk lays out quite a skirmish; the Squadron members fight both as a team and individually when necessary, and the lengthy confrontation is just plain fun to watch. Kirk carries the fight just fine on his own, and Paul Neary’s inks delineate the combatants so there’s no confusion as to which characters are scuffling with whom. Frank Martin’s colors go a long way towards separating foregrounds from backgrounds and good guy from bad guy, although Robinson keeps who’s actually in the right and who’s not cleverly ambiguous.
When the Squadron commits a pair of unthinkable acts, Robinson plays down the gravity of their significance, and in doing so lessens their impact. These moments — while admittedly still shocking — immediately give way to the aftermath without ever really stopping to examine their significance. This is what makes the whole issue seem like something is amiss, like the seriousness of the moment isn’t meant to be taken as such.
Robinson and Kirk assemble a strong and diverse multiversal roster that is capable of carrying a series in “Squadron Supreme” #1. Despite the wavering tone, it’s a strong enough debut to bellwether the upcoming issues of the series.