My rating is 4 out of 5 stars.
Marvel’s one hundred (100) percent ripoff of DC’s Justice League of America. I mean, it was obvious Hyperion was Superman, Doctor Spectrum was Green Lantern, Power Princess was Wonder Woman, et cetera. No one ever tried to make a secret of it. So why in 1986 did I feel a need to buy a Justice League copycat when I could have just read the DC original?
Simple answer: Mark Gruenwald.
Say what you will of Gruenwald, but he was one of the best comic writers of the time imo. He was that rare writer who could take something absolutely not cool (Prime example is Quasar) and make it readable. Gruenwald could go even further, crafting a relevant, thought-provoking storyline without having to turn his comic into a mature, adult-only book. This is exactly what he did with this mid-80s mini-series.
We pick up the Squadron Supreme of Earth-712 dealing with the aftermath of their paramount failure: becoming mind-controlled pawns of two super villains who used them to rule over and destroy Earth-712. With the aid of the Defenders, the Squadron has previously regained their freewill, defeated the villains but is left with a post-apocalyptic earth to rebuild. That leads them to the ultimate question every team of super-heroes contemplates: why don’t we just take control of the earth and make it into utopia instead of dealing with all these idiotic politicians and governments? (Honestly, if you were Hyperion/Superman or Power Princess/Wonder Woman, can’t you envision that question bouncing around in your heads 100 times a day?) This series explored exactly what would happen if a team of super-heroes answered that question by saying: “Hell yes, lets take over.”
The story that follows has its up and downs, but it generally stays true to this initial premise. We see the team splinter over their decision; friends become enemies instantaneously over ethical questions. Moral issues of a person’s inherent right to freedom of thought are explored, and we have – in the comic book sense of that time – terrible consequences rain down upon the heads of our enlightened despots. Numerous deaths directly and indirectly result from this conflict of ideals, which at the time was somewhat surprising of this type of comic. In the end, our remaining heroes show us exactly what can occur when power is not used wisely.
Now, before anyone mentions this, I am not saying this series compares to the Watchmen. Squadron Supreme is not the same “type” of mature comic as Watchmen, so a side by side comparison is not fair. However, Squadron Supreme was very forward thinking in its exploration of the interplay of power, responsibility and inherent freedoms of others in the decisions of super-heroes, and it showed the writing ability of Mark Gruenwald. For those reasons, it was well worth the read.