WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Avengers #50, on sale now from Marvel Comics.
Both Marvel and DC have been increasingly featuring copies of their rival superhero publisher’s characters. In DC, this has come in the form of Earth-8 — a clear pastiche of the Marvel Universe within their multiverse. By contrast, the Avengers have been confronting a uniquely dark version of the Squadron Supreme, who are just as clear stand-ins for the Justice League.
This current Squadron Supreme has been a very engaging version of the characters. The Squadron Supreme’s appearance in Avengers #50 (by Jason Aaron, Aaron Kuder, Carlos Pacheco, Ed McGuinness, Javier Garron, Rafael Fonteriz, Alex Sinclair, David Curiel, Matt Hollingsworth, Rachelle Rosenberg and VC’s Cory Petit), however, reduced the villainous group to a more overtly evil team, as opposed to the more complex and compelling versions that appeared in Heroes Reborn.
There have been multiple iterations of the Squadron Supreme over the year, with the most recent being a villainous band of “heroes” created by Phil Coulson and Mephisto as possible replacements for the Avengers. Deliberately patterned after DC’s most iconic heroes, the group of Hyperion, Nighthawk, Power Princess, Blur, and Doctor Spectrum were at the center of the recent crossover Heroes Reborn. Having replaced the Marvel heroes in a twisted reality created by Mephisto, the Squadron Supreme ended up being surprisingly compelling, despite their fairly obvious nature.
Hyperion, Nighthawk and Blur were all granted surprising likability in terms of their places in the universe, while Power Princess and Doctor Spectrum were given interesting underlining beats to their villainy. Power Princess is a variant of characters like Wonder Woman who take their love of battle too far, while Doctor Spectrum was quietly a perfect subversion of the standard American hero archetype that Hal Jordan has always filled as Green Lantern. Blur and Hyperion genuinely wanted to be heroes in their own right, and had lost the major loves of their lives. Nighthawk was a cold and brutal vigilante, but one that recognized his place in the world and his limits.
It presented them as uniquely human antagonists for the Avengers to be concerned about, creating interestingly dark mirrors to the classc DC heroes that contrasted well against the Avengers. Since the events of Heroes Reborn, most of the team has been in custody while Hyperion traveled the world and Nighthawk endeavored to restore the Heroes Reborn reality. It’s given Nighthawk an interesting place in the current Marvel Universe as a rival to Nick Fury and Black Cat. But the reappearance of his former teammates ends up being surprisingly straightforward.
After it’s discovered that Red Widow (on the run following her thwarted attack on Atlantis) is trying to deprogram Hyperion’s conditioning by Mephisto and Coulson. She’s interrupted by Doctor Spectrum, Power Princess, and Blur. Spectrum goes to arrest Red Widow, but he’s suddenly murdered from behind by Power Princess, who decides it’s time for someone like her to wield the Power Prism. Meanwhile, Blur has devolved from the somewhat likable Wally West stand-in he’d be in Heroes Reborn, becoming a gleeful and sadistic killer who doesn’t even notice when he murders people anymore.
It’s a fairly basic restructuring of Hyperion and Blur into more villainous versions of themselves and seems to remove Doctor Spectrum from the board completely. And honestly, that’s a shame. There have been plenty of wholly evil Squadron Supremes over the years, but the current version fo the team had enough unique elements to make them an interesting group of antagonists for the Avengers to be contrasted against.
Their own weird morality — and their apathy towards the aftermath of their fights — provided a compelling counterpoint to the Avengers and their own faults. But by being reduced to simple antagonists, this Squadron Supreme is on the path to becoming more like the other evil versions of the group, and an inherently less interesting group as a result.
from Ultimate Comic Blog