The Secret Wars boys take a quick break from their coverage of all things Beyonder to review and discuss the seminal Squadron Supreme mini-series by Mark Gruenwald and Bob Hall. Often referred to as "Watchmen before Watchmen", this comic takes a hard look at what would happen if superheroes stopped fighting villains and tried to actually save the world...almost destroying it in the process.
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Great episode. Keep up the good work 👍ReplyDelete
This was a really great discussion. David brought a lot to the table, as Sean's "conversion" attests. I neglected to offer some comments on the previous podcast, but the things I wanted to write then as just as pertinent now.ReplyDelete
First, I love how this story, the whole series I mean, deals with comic book/superhero tropes. To be sure, a lot comes from silver age DC stories, but not exclusively. The idea of the B-Mod machine was often used, always benevolently. Usually as a way of "re-setting" the status quo. Both Superman and Mr. Fantastic would frequently be able to find/make a device to restore/erase memories of individuals or large populations. Things like providing a community what is needed, building supplies, food,etc. would be done in a couple of panels and the reader knew that all would be well. Here, though, Gruenwald takes care to show us that things like redistribution of resources requires an organized bureaucracy to be efficient. A traditional comic book superhero traditionally makes wise decisions, and ancillary consequences are not explored. With Squadron Supreme, we are exploring what happens when one of our protagonists starts to utilize all the levers of power they are entitled to. Is Arcana wrong to ask her physician to keep her medical condition secret? Is it wrong that her physician has no choice? Does Arcana have any choice about who her physician is given her status as one of the "rulers" of the nation? Obviously, Golden Arrow has committed a heinous act, and Tom Thumb is complicit, but I appreciate that Gruenwald takes a few panels to explore the more subtle implications. This is reflected in Nighthawk's decisions. Is Nighthawk compromising his beliefs/morals if he is willing to work with known criminals? Is that any better, or worse, than the motivations of the Squadron? Each of the Squadron members, including the former one, are having to find out what they are willing to do, what their individual and group goals are, what the limits of their powers are and should be.
The parallels to any elected official in this country are easy to see. Compromise is necessary, but must one compromise with those who are morally different from you? Does one stick with one's personal beliefs, even if it means that one's goals can never be achieved?
Even though issue 8 is essentially a standard super-powered punch-up, there will be repercussions. That almost never happened in Marvel and DC comics. Hell, even death is a curable condition. Each action and decision every Squadder makes in this story has repercussions and consequences, and Gruenwald is showing it.
Keep up the great work, Sean and Greg!
a/k/a Ward Hill Terry
Sean's journey of discovery is a joy to hear, and Greg and David were excellent guides for these issues. I had a lot of thoughts when listening, but it's been a LONG week and I'm senile, so they're mostly gone. Just mostly, so you're not off the hook.ReplyDelete
I haven't read the "Panic In The Sky" story David mentioned, but that sound on the money for issue #7. I also felt there was a big Bizarro vibe to Sinist-Hype at the end of issue #8. Bob Hall gives him some distinct cracks on his skin as he's dying as a visual parallel. And I looked it up. Byrne's Bizarro issue of Man of Steel came out one month after SS #12, and in that story, Bizarro disintegrates into dandruff. Coincidence?!
As an aside: the Marvel Unlimited app is letting me dive into reference material too easily! Issue #7 mentions Sinist-Hype's other appearances. I check the app. Yay, those issues are there, lemme go read those as well. Oh wait, these are continued from some other comic, is THAT on the app, too? Yes it is, well lemme read HEY this picks up from another comic, is THAT ALSO on the HELP I'M FALLING DOWN A RABBIT HOLE OF COMIC STORIES! But it's also incredible because following a trail like this is so difficult with print editions if not impossible before the collections. Digital libraries have changed how I can read like I never expected.
Till next time, Supremacists!