“Supreme: Blue Rose” #2 is a comic which might very well work better in a collected format. Judging it strictly as its own, separate entity, it’s a comic where the main attraction is Tula Lotay’s art, not Warren Ellis’s script.
As a single issue, there’s not a lot to recommend in “Supreme: Blue Rose” #2’s writing. A lot of it is setting mood, or planting seeds for things to come down the line. When surrounded by lots and lots of other pages that pull all of this into focus, that can actually work rather well. Ellis is, after all, someone who’s never been afraid to write for the graphic novel rather than the single issue. But judged on its own, “Supreme: Blue Rose” #2 feels rather vacant. Foreshadowing looms all over the book, and Diana Dane goes for a limousine ride. If you’re looking for plot, this issue is not going to be your cup of tea.
Lotay’s art is a different story, though. It’s beautiful and dreamlike, almost drifting off of the page and into your eyes. The first four pages are a prime example, with Storybook Smith talking to a ghostly woman. Smith’s drawn in hard lines, anchored with greys and browns for the color palette. Then you look at the woman as she appears, with her vibrant red hair, and ghost images dancing around her form in a way that makes her seem both solid and ethereal. It’s an amazing effect, one that brings home a lot of the book’s mood.
Lotay continues that careful, different, deliberate look throughout the book. The blue and black highlights on Diana and Linda are intriguing, in part because you so rarely see anyone do something like that. It stands out to see those blue highlights on the jackets, the car, even Diana’s blonde hair. The end result are strong ink lines that somehow feel faded and half-present; there’s nothing else quite like this on the market.
It all comes to a head in the sequence with Chelsea, working on the whiteboard even as a message from the future starts to burn through. Lotay’s able to make her art look like overlapping realities, with the ghost image of Chelsea hovering behind her as she asks how it ends, or the strange burn-in upside down triangle hovering within Chelsea’s chest. What’s going on? Well, if it looks this great, do you really need to worry?
In the end, “Supreme: Blue Rose” #2 is a book that you’re going to buy in the immediate time frame for the art; Lotay’s pages are just amazing and I want lots of comics drawn by her. As for the story? Once some more issues are released I suspect that this one will read a lot better. Until then, though, just keep reminding yourself how fantastic the art is.