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Super Supreme with Extra Toppings

by Steve Johnson

If only they'd let Alan Moore redesign the DC Universe after Crisis on Infinite Earths, the result would have been ... well, a lot like the new Awesome Universe he's designing. And just as Superman is the cornerstone of DC Comics, the hub of the Awesome Universe is Moore's version of Supreme.

Supreme was conceived as the "biggest gun" in the Image Universe, back when Rob Liefeld created him. He was huge, strong and very aware of his superiority; sort of what Guy Gardner would be like if he had Superman's powers. He fought some villains and generally went nowhere for about forty issues; about halfway through, he started quoting Bible verses a lot and ruthlessly punishing sinners.

All that changed with issue 41, though. Alan Moore, widely known as the best writer in comics, took over Supreme and got rid of all the old stuff without getting rid of it. He postulated that periodically, the world gets "revised", and old characters are written out of existence. They go to a sort of Limbo, where thousands of versions of Supreme coexist side by side. So sure, the Egotist Supreme and the Zealot Supreme still exist, but they're stuck in that same never-never land as Bizarro, or all the other Fifties and Sixties Superman characters.

Moore asserted that, like Superman, Supreme had a history going back to the 1930s. Back in the Thirties he fought corrupt mine owners and wife-beaters; the Fifties were a continual series of monthly duels with criminal scientist Darius Dax and alien light-being Optilux; and in the Seventies, Supreme, like a lot of comic book heroes, got a little bit weird.

Over the course of Moore's first year, he filled in Supreme's "Sixty-Year History" out of whole cloth. Supreme acquired a secret identity, as Ethan Crane, mild-mannered artist for a major comics company. His co-workers were hyperactive redheaded writer Billy Friday and intelligent, sensitive writer Diana Dane. Billy Friday touched some Supremium (the radioactive reality-bending element that gave Supreme his powers) and became Elaborate Lad, constantly brachiating into new shapes and forms, until Supreme banished him to the dimension of living light.

As for Diana, she's interested in Ethan and fascinated by Supreme. But he hasn't made any moves in her direction, because he feels guilty about deceiving her with his double identity.

Supreme has quite the Rogue's Gallery by now; in addition to Darius Dax and Optilux, he's fought the Shadow Supreme, an evil duplicate created by Dax; the Televillain, who can transmit himself across TV waves; Emerpus, (Supreme spelled backwards) a sort of mirror-image imperfect duplicate of Supreme; and many others still to be revealed.

He's got a complete set of 1960s allies, the Allied Supermen of America, and a few Nineties fellow-heroes as well, as seen in Judgment Day. Best of all, Moore brought all the "Sixties Characters" he made up back into the mainstream Awesome Universe in a two-part battle with Optilux and Hulver Damik, the Soul Slaver; apparently, Optilux kidnapped the entire superhero population of the Earth in the early 1970s and held them in stasis until the remaining Allies got together and freed them in 1997. So all these old characters are running around, still young and powerful, alongside the heroes of the Nineties.

By issue 53, the thirteenth Moore issue, the flashbacks will come to an end, with Supreme's history now firmly established. Once he has a firm foundation, we're going to see Supreme hit the ground flying as the supreme superhero of the Nineties.

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