Friday, July 21, 2017

Squadron Supreme #7 (March 1986)

Welcome back to Earth-712!

Previously on Squadron Supreme: The Squadron Supreme work on their new base of operations: Squadron City. A group of villains flee Earth-712 in an attempt to escape the Squadron's increasing tyranny. Golden Archer's B-Modding of Lady Lark is discovered and he is expelled from the Squadron. The Squadron gains new members in the B-Modded Institute of Evil. Amphibian, fed up with being not listened to anymore, destroys the B-Mod machines and returns to the ocean permanently. After several months in hiding, Nighthawk appears at a mysterious tower, having a plan to stop the Squadron...

The cover is actually pretty neat. We see Hyperion, crazed and ranting, about to drop a heavy object/piece of technology on someone, screaming that he's doing it to win Zarda over. It's a clever cover, because it does hint about these things happening in the comic. Read on to see what I mean.

"Love and Death"
Writer: Mark Gruenwald
Artists: John Buscema (Breakdowns), Jackson Guice (Finishes)
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorist: Michael Higgins
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The story begins with Nighthawk rappelling down from Remnant's flying carpet.

The narration also provides us with a bit of exposition of Nighthawk's origins. When he was 18, his father, a billionaire who made his fortune in pharmaceutical manufacturing, passed away of a heart attack. It was discovered not long afterwards that he made his fortune through rather unethical means. This drove Nighthawk to become a superhero to not only atone for his father's sins, but to avenge the evil acts like his father committed.

The Batman-analogue rappels down into what appears to be an ordinary observatory, but it turns out to be the secret lair of Master Menace, one of Earth-712's greatest villains. Menace demands to know how Nighthawk found him, and he explains it was thanks to the villains that Menace helped take to another Earth. Nighthawk then recaps Captain America #314 (Basically, the three villains ended up in the Marvel Universe's Earth, and Nighthawk is able to convince them to return and help fight the Squadron). Nighthawk wants Menace's help to fight the Squadron. Menace basically says no to that. If anyone's going to stop the Squadron, it will be him and him alone.

After Nighthawk leaves, Menace gets to work on a project of his own. You see, he has been scanning the Multiverse, looking for a powerful underling he can use for his own plans against the Squadron. And luck is with him this day. He finds...

...another Hyperion. Yeah, there have been several Hyperions in Marvel's history. As a result, keeping track of them can be rather...complicated. You can find info on the four Hyperions here.

This Hyperion's memory is rather...hazy at first, but it slowly comes back. He remembers a being called the Grandmaster recruiting him as part of a great galactic game, claiming that this Hyperion was rescued from a destroyed micro-world. It is certainly plausible. In the Marvel Universe, it is possible to go to other universes by shrinking. Just ask the Micronauts...well, the ones Marvel owns. After that, this Hyperion bummed around for a while, until he ended up on Earth-712. He battled his counterpart, got locked up, but got rescued and returned to Earth-616 by Nth Command. They wanted him to go after a character called Thundra because she had a gadget they wanted. He ended up growing fond of Thundra, and decided to help her go back to her homeworld instead. He leapt in after her and got lost in some purple fog. These events all happened in Avengers #70, Thor #280, and Marvel Two-in-One #67.

His thinking of Thundra was able to keep him sane in that foggy place. Master Menace makes him a deal. This Hyperion helps him fight the native Hyperion and the Squadron, and Menace will help him find Thundra. I love that panel. The clouds forming Thundra's head really help illustrate what was going through 616-Hyperion's mind.

A few days later, the native Hyperion is flying Foxfire to a prison, Foxfire trying to flirt with our resident Superman-analogue. They're visiting Warden Yates, a warden who refuses to let the criminals in his prison get B-Modded. Foxfire is there to help convince the warden.

Honestly, I really find it hard to believe that Mark Gruenwald was not inspired by Grace Jones to create Foxfire. Seriously. Look at her. Jones was big in the 80s, and yeah, she did wear the flattop back in the day. Heck, Foxfire looks like she and Simon Phoenix from Demolition Man hooked up.

Look at him! He's totally her dad!

Yates is still unsure, and one of the guards whispers in amazement that the Squadron would let in someone like Foxfire, calling her a "bimbo". Don't insult the superhuman ex-criminal, dude. Hyperion tries to convince him further by saying that the Squadron has implemented a special program to help the B-Modded criminals find work after the procedure. He then spots a large meteorite heading for the Earth...even though a meteor is called a meteorite when it lands.

Hyperion flies up to give it a Mighty Punch, but something odd happens.

The whole thing is a ruse, set up by Master Menace to replace the native Hyperion with the false Hyperion so he can sow a little discord in the Squadron and get the B-Mod machine. With the switch done, Menace detonates the false meteor. Foxfire borrows a helicopter to find Hyperion, and she does, lying in the desert. The 616 Hyperion, playing unconscious, can't help but gawk over Foxfire while he does.

Dr. Decibel checks him over, and remarks that he has a concussion. How did the 616-Hyperion fake that? Foxfire and Power Princess are surprised by this, as they thought that he was invulnerable. Decibel remarks his instruments are meant for examining humans, and there may have been something in the meteor that weakened him. 616-Hyperion "comes to" and fakes total amnesia.

Power Princess calls a meeting of the Squadron, and tells them the news. Tom Thumb and Quagmire volunteer to go to the landing site of the meteorite and collect samples of it for analysis. Foxfire offers to nursemaid Hyperion through his "amnesia", but Power Princess says she'll handle that. Whizzer suggests that Hyperion's injuries be kept under wraps, fearing it would erode people's confidence in the Squadron. Doctor Spectrum offers to return to combat duty despite his still not being over his trauma regarding Nuke.

Zarda goes to visit 616-Hype, and asks him to squeeze an artificial diamond to test his strength. He manages to crush the diamond easily. She then asks him if he's up for a flight. He agrees and takes her for a flight around Squadron City. During this, Zarda thinks that seeing Hyperion is rather appealing, and 616-Hyperion notes she reminds him of Thundra in some odd way. Basically, they start to get attracted to each other.

As Zarda heads home, 616-Hype thinks about how he's so quickly interested in Zarda, despite his thoughts of Thundra keeping him sane during his time lost between dimensions. He surmises that Zarda may share Thundra's height (616-Hype likes his women tall), strength, and beauty...but Zarda has a softer, sweeter aspect to herself that Thundra didn't. He sees a light come on in her house, and peeks in.

616-Hype is shocked to see Zarda with this strange old man he's never seen before, and flies off. A few minutes later, he sees Dr. Decibel, who was making his rounds. 616-Hype asks him about the old man, and Decibel reveals that that's her husband, Howard Shelton. They've been common-law married for about 40 years (Keep in mind, this comic originally was published in the 80s. WWII was only four decades past at that point). They were both younger then, but Shelton aged normally and Zarda hasn't due to her Utopian nature. 616-Hype is disgusted by this.

The next morning, 616-Hype is woken by a scream.

Decibel and his medical team try to save the elderly war veteran, but despite their efforts and the advanced medical tech of Squadron City, Howard Shelton has shed the mortal coil. 616-Hyperion gives Zarda some comfort.

Look at the expression on Hyperion's face. Foreshadowing... That night Whizzer and Arcanna hang out with their spouses, and discuss the news about Hype's "amnesia" and Shelton's death. Madeline Stewart, Whizzer's wife, remarks that Zarda's been spending a lot of time trying to help deal with 616-Hype's "amnesia", and she remarks that she always thought they'd make a cute couple...

616-Hype walks Zarda home, maintaining his amnesiac act. When she gets home, 616-Hype thinks over his conflicting feelings regarding Zarda and Thundra. He decides to take a flight to clear his head. While flying, he recalls how he killed Howard Shelton by sucking all the air out of his lungs and letting his heart go out. I'm not sure how that works, but comics. 616-Hype is a jackwagon. He struggles over his new feelings for Zarda, and puzzles over what to do: Go with his deal with Emil Burbank/Master Menace for a shot at getting with Thundra, or betray him for a shot at Zarda. He makes his decision and flies back to Burbank.

Yup, 616-Hyperion has decided to take a more sure shot at winning over Zarda. He beats the holy tar out of Master Menace, but the supervillain is able to flee. Despite this, 616-Hype is satisfied with what he's done, and flies back to Squadron City. The Squadron holds a funeral for Shelton, a simple little ceremony. He is buried on a hill that Arcanna proposes be named for him. The comic also revels that Dr. Decibel did do an autopsy on him, and determined that Shelton died of "natural causes", unable to detect any sign that 616-Hype murdered him.

The final panels show that 616-Hype is able to make a successful public appearance, and the final panel is of the two...letting out their feelings.

I can't help but wonder if this is where people started getting the idea of shipping Superman and Wonder Woman.

This comic was really good. It was neat to see an old fashioned supervillain plot in this story. It was also awesome to see Master Menace's scheme blow up in his face. I did think that Hyperion got into Zarda a bit too quickly. Despite this, I enjoyed the issue. The art was fantastic (Then again, it's John Buscema and Jackson "Butch" Guice), but it does illustrate one of the few things about this mini that really drove me crazy: This mini could not keep a consistent artist. Seriously, this mini has several artists. Good artists, don't get me wrong, but it would've been nice to keep one for consistency's sake. Next time, we're going to look at an adventure of the Incredible Hulk...

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