Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artists: Gary Frank (p), Jon Sibal (i), Chris Sotomayor (colors)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: Redstone does a fantastic job of beating the living snot out of Hyperion. The stakes are raised when Redstone reveals that he has a nuclear weapon standing by to detonate if he so chooses. Power Princess takes care of the bomb, and Hyperion receives some back up in the form of Nighthawk and Blur.
Commentary: I have to admit that I was a little put off that this title is so late until I began reading it. As silly and maybe even childish as it may sound, a good prolonged fight scene will go a long way toward winning me over.
Actually, there was lot more to this story than a fight scene. The fight scene was the window dressing, really. The crux of this issue was Mark having to fight someone who is every bit as powerful as he is and much more ruthless in using that ability. The concept of the massively strong, Superman like character having to go up against someone who can go toe-to-toe with him is pretty standard. You almost have to do it in this genre because if you have a character that is not only able to change the course of mighty rivers and bend steel in his or her bare hands but also is virtually invulnerable than there is a dramatic need to challenge that. Otherwise, it becomes Superman using the most overly complicated method possible to prove that he and Clark Kent are not one and the same issue after issue after issue.
It was the violence that made this fight work and Redstone's willingness to use it so casually. I like the fact that Straczynski is willing to go that far because it shows that the Squadron is really, really different than the Justice League. I don't think DC would do something this outrageous with their premiere super-hero team because the consequences couldn't be fully explored when a litany of issues though licensing is pretty high on that list. If you are going to say that this is a real world or realistic or whatever description that involves the word realistic version of the League then you have to go that extra step. Mark Gruenwald did it in his version of the Squadron Supreme, and I like the fact that Straczynski is doing it his own way in this iteration.
There's also something to be said for the drama inherent in watching the strongest man on the team get beaten like an asthmatic third grader. He may not be the hero like Superman is, but he is a sympathetic character so I felt for him having to deal with this kind of attack.
In The End: That last page made everything worthwhile. I have always been behind the Batman character (in this case the ever awesome Nighthawk) looking at the guy who could literally tear him apart and say, "I'm going to kick your ass." On a rational level, I know it doesn't make much sense, but it works for me nonetheless. Even if there is another two month gap between issues, I think that the wait will all be worth it if Straczynski and crew deliver on the promise of what that last page made. It could go well or it could go badly; as long as it is good and works within the confines of the narrative, I'll be satisfied.
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