Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Tula Lotay
Release Date: July 23, 2014
Supreme: Blue Rose #1 doesn’t look like a superhero comic book. In fact, it doesn’t read like one either. But this head trip of a first issue is steeped in super-powered nostalgia, and that’s why this comic is an astonishing achievement.
As the title suggests, Supreme: Blue Rose resurrects one of Rob Liefeld’s OG characters, Supreme, but in a completely different way. Although the character’s been penned by star-studded talent like Keith Giffen and Alan Moore, the original source material doesn’t exactly break original ground. The premise features Ethan Crane (Supreme’s docile alter ego), Diana Dane (a journalist/love interest) and the hated ultra-rich enemy, Darius Dax. Sound familiar? Of course it does: Superman, Lois Lane and Lex Luthor are all obvious inspirations for these intentional analogues, which sometimes made Supreme titles feel like Battle Beyond the Stars more than Star Wars.
But writer Warren Ellis and artist Tula Lotay take an alternate approach; absolutely nothing in this book holds any trace of Liefeld comic-booking. The story begins in the middle of one of Dane’s particularly trippy dreams. Ellis’ ethereal, poetic prose and Lotay’s otherworldly style only create a more convincing realm of the subconscious. Once Dane returns to the land of the living, having met a macabre cast a characters and receiving a cryptic warning about one Darius Dax, Ellis’ writing returns to a more natural cadence while Lotay continues onward with endlessly creative illustrations.
Soon Dax and Dane’s paths meet, but Dane shows no sense of foreboding or even recollection of her dream’s previous warning. We quickly learn that Dax is a wealthy man with many secrets and Dane is a struggling journalist looking for work. Dax offers Dane a handsome sum to investigate a man named Ethan Crane and his involvement in a supernatural occurrence in the small town of Littlehaven. After a heart-to-heart with a close friend, she reluctantly accepts.
In Supreme: Blue Rose #1, Ellis populates his chess board for the narrative ahead. The creative team does an astounding job of channeling modern comic storytelling, in both scripts and pencils, yet also provides little moments of fan service for Supreme fans with brief introductions to familiar friends and foes. In typical Warren Ellis style, this first issue presents us with many, many questions, but like a great first issue, it makes us want to stick around for the answers.
Darren Orf is a freelancer comic writer and tech journalist. He also spends his day-to-day as a staff writer at Gizmodo.