Why should you, discerning reader of high quality comic books, consider picking up the sixty-third issue of long dormant Rob Liefeld Image book Supreme? The answer lies in the name just above the title: Alan Moore. To those strange, twisted souls for whom that name is not enough to part them with two dollars and ninety-nine cents American, I offer up the only other reason you really need to buy this book: Erik Larsen.
In an alternate reality where Before Watchmen is a collection of laughable fan fiction and Action Comics is nearing its thousandth issue, I could by rights just end this review of Supreme #63 by telling you “Moore and Larsen; Go buy.” In the world in which we live, however, that is sadly not enough. Somewhere out there in Earth Prime Internetland there exists a deranged freak who thinks that perhaps Alan Moore’s best writing took place during the Reagan Administration. This same jaded wretch is probably also thinking Erik Larsen did his best work mopping up after Todd McFarlane on Amazing Spider-Man. I will spare you the tedium of listing all the excellent comic work both Moore and Larsen have been producing throughout this new century, and assure you that if you have ever enjoyed anything by either of these creators, you are going to want Supreme #63 in your grubby little hands.
So what is this random return of Supreme all about? What’s all the fuss? Well, for one it marks Alan Moore doing what he was seemingly born to do– writing a comic that absolutely revels in its comic-ness. Moore’s story is fiction and meta fiction, super heroes and dastardly villains, multiple dimensions and infinite possibilities, a living world made from the stuff of dreams. It’s also a little melodramatic, a little cheesy, a little fun, and a little campy. To sum it up: It’s a comic book, and Moore’s script is nothing less than the work of a maestro juicing the medium for all its pulpy best.
Never read an issue of Supreme? Don’t sweat it. You’re a smart cookie, you’ll figure it out. Moore’s from that generation of writers who knew that any given issue of a comic book was somebody’s first. Maybe the original run of Supreme is just a foggy memory for you. Maybe you’ve never read the series at all, delegating the unimpressive Image fodder of the book’s early days to “junk” status while flipping through stacks of back issues at a yard sale. Fret not; you will still enjoy this book. The reader is given everything needed to understand the many characters showcased. Moore simply knows how to work the serial art form, giving us a book that feels like it could have come off the spinner rack in the Bronze Age without ever abandoning intelligence, wit, and imagination. This is as good as funnybook writing gets, kids.
Erik Larsen and Cory Hamscher bring Moore’s panels to life, filling the pages with vivid art that is clear and measured, but at the same time still has that Image punch. This is some of the best non-Savage Dragon art Larsen has put out in years, greatly assisted by Cory Hamscher’s finishes. Just as Moore’s writing exemplifies what comic books are all about, Larsen’s art does the same. Supreme #63 has fantastic opening and closing pages, and the content in between is expertly put together. It is a comic that looks like a comic should, matching Moore’s style perfectly.
So that’s it, go buy Supreme #63. I can’t say for sure if I’ll be back for the next issue, when Erik Larsen takes over both writing and art roles. I can’t even say if I really care all that much about the fate of Supreme at all. What I can say with some certainty is that this single issue of a throwaway character might just end up being my favorite superhero comic story that sees release this year. It’s only April, but the gauntlet has been thrown.
Moore never got a chance to write a proper last issue for his run on Supreme, and according to Image publisher Eric Stephenson, the author has “moved on.” If Moore ever does get the bug to revisit Supreme, we would be in for a collective treat. While Moore may have moved on from the world of capes and rocket packs, his mastery of that realm remains undisputed.