Though the deconstruction of the superhero mythos has been around for a long time — Stan Lee started doing it from the first issue of Fantastic Four in 1961 — the boom in tights-and-cape analysis really started with Alan Moore's seminal Watchmen in 1986. Ever since, it's seemed like the only superhero comics worth reading are the ones that dared to take a closer look at their often flawed and disturbing protagonists. The Supremacy, the new five-issue mini-series from Atomic Pop Art Entertainment, doesn't exactly break new ground, but it's got some intriguing ideas.
Pulsar seems like your typical superhero. He's more ripped than humanly possible, wears a ridiculous red-and-blue get-up, and has a seemingly clear-cut view of truth, justice, and the American way. But things aren't always as they seem, especially not in books like this. A nefarious purple-robed mastermind by the name of Creutzfeldt has stripped Pulsar of a secret identity, pulling strings to have him declared legally dead. Trapped, Pulsar now lives for nothing more than to beat up bad guys, thugs who often turn out to have been engineered by Creutzfeldt for publicity.
The publicity's not always there. People have become weary of superheroes, disrespectful of their achievements. Thus Pulsar has become something of a glorified whore, going out, smashing some jaws for a cheap thrill, met only with an uncaring populace, all for the satisfaction of his "boss." It's a bad situation. What's most striking about The Supremacy is that writer Peter G. makes sure we realize that Pulsar still cares about humanity. He may enjoy the violence, but he's no sadist; he wants to save people. But no matter how hard Pulsar tries, he's still serving as the means to an end for Creutzfeldt's elaborate scheme of world domination.
The mystery of Creutzfeldt's plan is an intriguing one, and the titular superhero organization he runs is probably the biggest reason to come back for the next issue. The Supremacy isn't a great book; Dwayne Biddix's pencils are indistinguishable amidst the reams of superhero comics on the stands at any given time, and Peter G.'s dialogue can often seem forced or uninspired. As a storyteller, though, he's largely serviceable. Still, there's not enough here that seems new or fresh, nothing that truly stands out. Pulsar's station in life could lead to a lot of rich emotional anguish, but, apart from a staged teaming-up with his old childhood hero Frontliner, that doesn't go entirely as planned; there's not a lot here to hook you.
But this is only the first of five issues, and you can't always expect excellence right out of the gate. Though it's got its flaws, The Supremacy has enough interesting ideas to warrant further exploration. I can't recommend you add this to your pull list right away, but you might want to keep an eye out.Powered by Sidelines