Thursday, 24 July 2014

Supreme: Blue Rose #1 Review (Warren Ellis, Tula Lotay)

Warren Ellis’ latest Image series is a new story arc for Rob Liefeld’s ‘90s creation, Supreme. Diana Dane is a troubled young woman with strange dreams that seemingly bleed over into reality. But then it’s not her fault - she can’t afford all her meds as she’s an out of work investigative journalist. Out of the blue, she’s hired by the mysterious and wealthy Darius Dax (what is it with DD names in this series?) to look into an airplane crash - except it wasn’t an airplane. It looked like a man caused the damage: Supreme? 

I’m not a huge fan of Liefeld reboots though I know Prophet and Glory were both critically acclaimed. That said, Supreme: Blue Rose is an intriguing start to the series as Ellis approaches the fantastical via the mundane. The issue’s story mostly focuses on Diana’s problems paying the rent, and not knowing what she’s going to do next given that her career is made obsolete by the current trend for click bait articles in lieu of comprehensive and thoughtful content. 

Dancing around the edges of normality are hints of a much more colourful - and dangerous - world with the issue opening in a dream-world where Diana talks to a man wearing a helmet but doesn’t know he’s wearing a helmet. Dax’s office is full of futuristic technology and later Diana encounters a man whose blurry face is one big “birth defect” only she can see. 

Tula Lotay’s incredible artwork enhances the feeling of magical realism in the comic. Every page contains colourful lines zig-zagging across it like someone’s gone through the comic with a box of crayons and scribbled on each page - the zig-zags appearing in both the dream sequences and her waking life, underlining Diana’s increasing inability to tell the difference between what’s real and what isn’t. Or is that someone trying to communicate with Diana? Besides the snazzy effects though, the artwork is out-and-out gorgeous. The character models, the landscapes, both real and imagined, and the exquisite colours are all amazing. 

Ellis’ recent work on Moon Knight has downplayed the superhero angle and focused on the more street level aspects of the character and the kinds of stories he’s in; Ellis’ other Image series, Trees, is a sci-fi story that ignores the aliens and their invasion, and instead looks at how human society adapts in the aliens’ wake; with his Supreme series, Ellis continues to shift aside the more dramatic elements - in this case the superhero himself - to look at the everyday characters and, once again, it works. Also, if you’re unfamiliar with the series, you can still pick up this series and follow what’s happening. 

Fans of Supreme might be disappointed with the lack of the character in this issue- there are a couple of glimpses and nothing else - but there’s plenty of other material to appreciate as well as some extraordinary artwork to enjoy. Supreme: Blue Rose #1 kicks off what looks to be an exciting journey that tackles the superhero story from an unusual but interesting angle.

Supreme: Blue Rose #1

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