watchmen redefined superhero comics and the industry as a whole in the 1980s, ushering in a wave of dark, deconstructive stories that peeled away the veneer of superheroes. The story completely upended the “kiddy” nature of superhero comics, showing what the genre and industry could offer in terms of entertainment. There were many potential contenders for his throne, but a potential Marvel counterpart was released simultaneously.
The Squadron Supreme is a thinly veiled Marvel equivalent of DC’s Justice League, though their stories take their characters in shocking directions. The most obvious example of this was the 1985 miniseries, which featured many of the same themes as watchmen. Unfortunately, Marvel didn’t champion the book as much as DC did with the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons series. However, if the Squadron Supreme is brought back, it could definitely show watchmen themes in a different light.
Squadron Supreme portrayed a realistic Justice League
Number 12 Supreme Squadron Mark Gruenwald’s miniseries has his titular team of superheroes aiming to turn Earth into a veritable paradise. As mentioned, said team is made up of intentional pastiches of DC’s stable of heroes. For example, Hyperion and Power Princess were obvious allegories for Superman and Wonder Woman. The book would even foreshadow George Perez’s reboot of Wonder Woman by having Steve Trevor’s replacement look visibly older.
Several powerful heroes compete to make the world a better place, whatever the cost. Just as Batman would come to antagonize different versions of Superman, Nighthawk and several other heroes would grow disgusted with the squadron’s tactics. This is especially the case after they begin using advanced technology to mentally reprogram reluctant villains, forcing them to work alongside them for the greater good. This only makes Nighthawk’s team even more vigilant in returning America to the people, a goal that results in several deaths.
Other stories and series would spin off from the 12-issue miniseries, but perhaps none were so timeless and classic. It was incredibly unique, at least at the time, to see “DC’s stable of heroes” engage in morally questionable behavior. Thus, it’s impossible to talk about the story, with its deconstructive take on superheroes, without finding some key similarities to DC’s dark influence. watchmen.
Supreme Squadron and watchmen both look at the concept of superheroes and their place in the world from a rather cynical but utterly realistic perspective. After all, why wouldn’t beings with immense power somehow try to train themselves or try to instill their morality and mindset into the whole population? This goes for heroes, villains, and everyone in between, with Hyperion’s mentality towards humanity being no different from Ozymandias in watchmen. Likewise, it shows how those with incredible power can detach themselves from humanity, similar to how Doctor Manhattan begins to feel throughout the events of watchmen. Even though Supreme Squadron ultimately has a somewhat more optimistic ending, only after the sometimes violent realization of its concepts has been explored around the world.
A major difference is how these two books approach the concept of superheroes. watchmen is mostly a very realistic series, and beyond the nuclear-powered Doctor Manhattan, most of the characters are helpless street-level vigilantes. This makes the dark, gritty tone even darker, as the supposedly larger-than-life “heroes” are incredibly fallible, sometimes awful individuals. Supreme Squadron wears its superhero roots on its sleeves and capes, which perhaps makes the material even more powerful.
By resembling a “generic” superhero tale, the story and themes stand out all the more, showing how, beneath the costumes, the Supreme Squadron is made up of people who, even with the best of intentions, will end up making incredibly terrible decisions. The friends turn and even die in battle with each other, and the picture painted is of a group that could easily destroy the planet due to their internal disagreements. Thus, it explores the idea of Doctor Manhattan, albeit through several equally powerful creatures. The helpless members of the team are incredibly depraved at times, namely the “forced romance” of people like The Comedian and Green Arrow standing in for Golden Archer.
Another big difference between Gruenwald Supreme Squadron and watchmen implies their availability. While DC has always had watchmen on the shelves like an evergreen publication, the Supreme Squadron The miniseries has been out of print for some time. It made the book and the team itself less than traditional, even though they should be. After all, not only does it operate as a Marvel-owned property watchmen companion piece, but it’s also a cool concept that’s outside of the normal Marvel Universe. This makes it an easily marketable title that will appeal to those scared of Marvel’s many long-running series.
Marvel would be wise to reprint the classic miniseries, and maybe even promote it as their watchmen. After all, what better marketing technique is there than claiming to have a version of perhaps the greatest comic book franchise of all time. Likewise, it would be just as well to have characters that are only in their own universe and don’t interact with the mainstream Marvel Universe. This would help keep them succinct and unique, while preventing Marvel from exploiting them as some believe DC has done with them. watchmen.
Supreme Squadron being expanded into a larger franchise would also feel more natural, as these characters are more “mainstream” superheroes. It may not be as well known as watchmen now but Supreme Squadron is still a classic in its own right and could easily become a mainstream hit if Marvel gives readers the chance to enjoy it.