Summary: It all starts here! Hyperion, Nighthawk, Blur, Power Princess, Doctor Spectrum and the rest of the deadliest super-team around are joined by a new group of super heroes, as only J. Michael Straczynski and Gary Frank can imagine! As the U.S. government plots to create two teams of super-powered agents to crush enemies both domestic and foreign, Mark Milton — a.k.a. Hyperion — has plans of his own. Plans that could uproot the government’s control over its super-powered population and force them to contend with the ever-growing threat of Mark’s constant insubordination.
Squadron Supreme: The Pre-War Years, by J. Michael Straczynski and Gary Frank 7.75
Well, I can safely say that I’m a fan of Straczynski’s Squadron Supreme/Supreme Power books.
Although, it stumbled out of the gate for the last set, the ‘Supreme Power: Hyperion’ books, it got back on track this time around with a more politically charged series of books and a much-improved artistic touch, given the return of penciler Gary Frank to the fold (I have mixed feelings about his work, but it’s a MASSIVE improvement over Dan Jurgens)
Now coerced into working together as a group by the U.S. government, Squadron Supreme is split into two: one for public activity, and one for covert operations – usually abroad. But Hyperion throws a wrench into the government’s plans by leaking the information to a trusted journalist, thus forcing them to have both teams work together. It’s an uncomfortable fit, and tensions rise in the ranks.
This collection provided a good mix of action and socio-political elements. It’s not nearly as intellectual as the first set of books were, but I suspect that the intention was to balance it more, after the slower first volume and then the utterly mindless ‘Hyperion’ books. While I prefer the former model, this middle ground is certainly palatable and enjoyable, and is a fitting continuation of the series.
I have to dock the book a few points for closing with a cliffhanger, however, as it was a huge disappointment to me. Not only did they not complete the story in this volume, but they filled the damned tome with a text-based recap of the series thus far – at the tail end, where it’s of no use to readers (after all, if you’ve read through it, either you already knew the story or you’ve been brought up to speed prior).
Perhaps indicating its existence at the start (ex: “Previously on Squadron Supreme: see page XX”) would have been a smarter move: this recap is too large to be a prologue, but at least people would have been aware of it. To make matters worse, the series actually ended two issues later, so they easily could have included them here. Instead, one has to dig for back issues to finish the tale. !@#$
But, all in all, it’s a good read, all caveats accounted for, and I’d recommend it to fans of the earlier Straczynski/Frank books. I would have preferred to see the whole set collected here, and I docked the rating accordingly, but it’s still a good read. Still, some readers will no doubt express much dismay at being ripped off, so I’d suggest they avoid this set unless they can borrow it or until they can get all the single issues at once.