And now for something completely different.
Supreme Blue Rose is an entirely new take on the world of Supreme, the Superman proxy created by Rob Liefeld and helmed for years by Alan Moore. In Blue Rose #1, writer Warren Ellis steps in to apply his own unique take on the Supreme world, and combined with wonderfully engaging art by Tula Lotay the team produces a vision that bears little resemblance to anything we’ve seen before with the characters.
Similar to the approach used by Brandon Graham and company on Prophet (another Liefeld creation) and James Robinson on Starman, Supreme Blue Rose takes stock of the existing history of the title and reconstructs the elements in a way that’s both pleasing to longtime readers and completely accessible to those who’ve never heard of Supreme, let alone read an issue. It’s Image by way of ‘90s Vertigo, with an energy that feels entirely of the present.
The book centers on Diana Dane, the Lois Lane of the Supreme universe. In a lovely bit of reality, Dane is presented as an unemployed investigative journalist (perhaps a redundant statement). She’s good at her job, but the world has changed. Cat pics and click bait produce more revenue than Dane’s investigative pieces ever can, and we meet her in the midst of a kind of personal and professional crisis all too familiar in the post-Great Recession Western world.
Ellis takes Dane into a neo-Dashiell Hammett plot laced with firecracker dialogue and moody, provocative scenes ranging from sci-fi hallucinations to mundane musings on city balconies. In true noir style, there’s a wealthy patron in the form of Darius Dax, who puts Dane on a “blue rose” case—an investigation into a truth so rare that he’s willing to drop six figures just for her to look into it. Throughout the intriguing plot beats, Ellis subtly mines the existing history of the Supreme universe, managing to do something completely new with the tools at his disposal. One could easily drop the Supreme from this title altogether.
Supreme Blue Rose feels like a Saturday afternoon dream, one that’s hard to wake up from and lingers long after the eye-grit has been wiped away. Tula Lotay’s art does much to carry the dreamy vibe, but also infuses heavy doses of expressive humanity and realism to ground things. Psychedelic noir is the balance struck, and it’s wild, pulpy, and gorgeous to behold. The color work and sketchy energy of Lotay’s figures makes for a perfect fit with Ellis’ spacey-meets-hardboiled story.
Supreme Blue Rose is a potent psychedelic noir that repurposes over 20 years of Supreme lore into a modern comic experience. Ellis taps the rich field of characters produced in those old Image comics and delivers a home run of a new take. Tula Lotay’s art is incredible and she’s sure to win over a bevy of new fans with this outing. Blue roses are rare, and comics as good as Supreme Blue Rose are rarer still. It’s tough to want anything from these creators except more.