Marvel Comics’ Version Of The Justice League Just Killed A Major Character

Marvel Comics’ Version Of The Justice League Just Killed A Major Character

There exists in the Marvel Universe a team of characters made up of analogues to Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the other mainstays of DC Comics’ A-list. They have almost always been written as more abrasive than the heroes that they’re copies of. But the newest version of the Squadron Supreme crosses a line that the Justice League would never step over.

For about four decades, various iterations of Hyperion, Nighthawk, Power Princess and Dr. Spectrum have been stand-ins for Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern. Along with analogues for the Flash, the Atom, Firestorm and others, they have assembled into a conglomerate called the Squadron Supreme, usually acting as allies or enemies for the Avengers.

Spoilers follow.

Past versions of the Squadron Supreme were used as vehicles for creators to explore some of the existential bugbears that hover around the concept of superheroes. You know, the “why doesn’t Superman solve all the world’s problems” kinds of questions. The 1985 maxiseries by late Marvel editor Mark Gruenwald, Paul Neary and others tackled the idea of how metahumans could impact the real world head on, showing the Squadron doing things like curing cancer, ending world hunger and stopping crime on a psychological level. That series ended in one big tragedy. The newest Squadron Supreme is spawned from several tragedies on a much bigger scales, as the team is made up of characters who are the only ones left from their native dimensional planes.

In the months before the publisher’s big Secret Wars event, entire realities have been dying across Marvel Comics’ multiverse. Hundreds of Earths were crashing into each other as a result of the machinations of the ultra-powerful Beyonders and, as chronicled in the New Avengers series, a consortium of elite superheroes tried to save the mainline Marvel reality from suffering the same fate. But their methods became increasingly desperate and morally questionable, culminating in the death of Earth-4290001 at the hands of Namor the Submariner. Then all of existence seemingly ended, only to be saved in the 11th hour by Doctor Doom.

The ongoing Secret Wars series showed that Doom snatched the Beyonders’ power and cobbled together a patchwork planet from various realities. Marvel’s current publishing initiative is unspooling the omniverse that comes after Secret Wars. But Squadron Supreme #1 — written by James Robinson, with art from Leonard Kirk, Paul Neary, Frank Martin and Travis Lanham — is very much concerned with events from before the reconfiguration of everything. This Squadron has vowed to protect the Earth by any means necessary and counts amongst its number the Spectrum from Earth-4290001. The entire team agrees that Namor needs to pay the murder of her home planet.

What follows is an attack on Atlantis…

… which Hyperion lifts from under the sea and smashes into a desert.

Some Atlanteans escaped the carnage but that’s not the punishment that the Squadron has in mind for Namor. What they do is much more severe.

This act of vengeance sparks reactions all over the world, with people praising or condemning the Squadron for their actions. Killing a major superhero puts them on SHIELD’s radar, too, with at least one former superpowered teammate of Namor’s vowing to shut the Squadron down.

Even with superhero death pretty much being a revolving door, it’s not a small thing for Marvel to kill the Sub-Mariner. He’s the oldest character in the publisher’s stable and encapsulates much of the appeal in Marvel’s approach to superhero construction. As either a hero or a villain, Namor was brash and imperious, doing seemingly whatever he wanted to serve the ends of his royal station. He was consistently transgressive throughout his publishing history — saltier in language and affect, more cocky and pompous in combat — when compared to Superman or his other chronological peers. Namor was edgy even before edgy was a thing. And now the character’s come against the business end of the notional blade he helped sharpen, getting beheaded by a team designed to be even more transgressive in attitude than him. The stakes are likely going to get even higher as this series goes on and it will be interesting to see when it all starts to feel like too much.


    • The first line of the article –

      There exists in the Marvel Universe a team of characters made up of analogues to Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the other mainstays of DC Comics’ A-list.

      • He was solo before Squadron Supreme… I also wasn’t having a crack at the article, I just recently had an argument with a mate that tried to make the point of DC only ever copying Marvel (ignoring the most obvious evidence to the contrary).

        • They copy from each other ALOT. Marvel copied the most back in the day as far as characters. DC is copying from Marvel in more storylines and ideas in modern times when DC kinda went off the rails.
          So youre both correct.

        • They’re deliberate pastiches more than copies, per se. A better example would be Deadpool in his original incarnation, who was basically an expy of Deathstroke. Obviously he became more…unique…. As time went on.

  • I thought I’d be happy Namor could spend some time dead until someone who could do him justice resurrected him, but this was just a really poorly written comic book.

    • Agreed.

      Hyperion was written extremely out of character, especially when he destroyed Atlantis and killed all those inhabitants, not to mention killing Namor.

      What I liked about this Hyperion was that he was different from the previous incarnations of the character. Now he’s no different to the rest. Not a great way to start off a series, especially since he’s also got a solo book beginning early next year.

      This book just reeks of Marvel’s desire to be rid of Namor, given the fact that Universal still have movie and game distribution rights for the character.

      • Haven’t read the comic book as yet but based upon the snippets provided, it does seem quite out of character from how Hickman was writing Hyperion. I very much enjoyed his inclusion in the Avengers and now it looks like Marvel not only has a Superman but also took it from Man of Steel.

    • The thing is that Namor will probably be right back after this Secret Wars stuff is done with. It’s essentially a universe reboot, only resetting back to what occurred before while dragging over a couple of characters from the Ultimate universe that were popular. I wouldn’t be surprised to see pretty much every writer ignore this plot point.

      • Secret Wars is already done with prior to this first issue of Squadron Supreme.

        Also, it wasn’t a universe reboot at all. It’s the same universe as before Secret Wars. Everything that happened prior to the event still happened. Secret Wars was just an event a-la Age of Apocalypse.

        All-New All-Different is just a rebranding, like Marvel NOW and All-New Marvel NOW before it.

        • Sorry, I was super tired when I posted that. Said universe reboot, meant to say return to the status quo. I don’t even understand my logic there either.

  • This article makes me even more sadabout the current state of comic books. Just like wrestling & Dr Who, they are merely nowadays disposable entertainment, each one bigger and more emotional and with bigger shocks and twists than the last(!) but with a good story, characterisation and connecting all the plot elements together being things of the past.

  • WTH? They focus only on Namor, not the rest of the Illuminati? All Namor did was push the Big Red Button. The doomsday device that destoryed that world was made by the others. Why do they get a free pass?

    Isn’t Ultimate Reed Richards kicking around the 616 at the moment? He destroyed hundreds of worlds before Secret Wars. Are they going after him next?

    And why is it that Atlantis is always the whipping boy? It was destoryed in the Civil War aftermath, held responsible for Namor’s actions during Avengers vs Xmen, conquered by Thanos’s Black Order, and now transported to a desert? FOR WHAT? Being ruled by Namor? By that logic the citizens of Latveria should be next against the wall.

  • They will bring him back if they want, they have done it multiple times in the past with other marvel characters, although seems more common with mutant heros then others.

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