"UBI DUBIUM, IBI LIBERTAS (LATIN) WHERE THERE IS DOUBT, THERE IS FREEDOM."
Okay, stop us if you've heard this one before: On a quiet night, a Midwestern couple drives through a corn field. Suddenly, from up in the sky, a rocket falls to earth and crashes. Inside is a lone child. The couple takes it home to raise him as their own. Then a team of government operatives show up to take the child. Guess you haven't heard this one. Siegel, Shuster, take a break, J. Michael Straczynski's calling the shots here.So begins Supreme Power, Marvel's Ultimate Universe version of the Avengers foes, the Squadron Sinister and their later heroic counterparts the Squadron Supreme, themselves originally an Alternate Company Equivalent's of Justice League of America from the DC Universe. It's better than it sounds, as it's pretty much one giant What If? story, with the premise of "What if The Government raised Superman?"Mark Milton (alias Hyperion) is sent to Earth by an unknown race and is taken into custody by the United States government. Mark is raised in a controlled environment, and every stimulus and lesson is fabricated to teach Mark to be the ultimate patriot. However, the conditioning is surface deep at best.At the same time he is growing up, Kyle Richmond (Nighthawk), Stanley Stewart (The Blur), Joseph Ledger (Doc Spectrum), Princess Zarda and the Amphibian begin to enter the world stage as Superheroes all of which are less than ideal versions of their DC counterparts, and range from sellouts, to certifiably insane, to downright racist in their actions.The stories are printed on Marvel's Max imprint (basically the R-rated segment of Marvel Comics) and do not shy away from gore, destruction and violence. At the height of its publication, it was considered one of Marvel's better comic book lines (being released during the same era as the mainstream love affair with Crisis Crossovers and the infamous One More Day, many saw it as Marvel returning to its spiritual roots of being an answer to DC's use of comic book tropes.).Executive Meddling would later have Straczynski off the book and forced a new creative team to relaunch the series with a new storyline and new characters that look a lot like properties already owned by Marvel. After this incarnation, the franchise appeared ruined. But a brief mini was released in 2011 that appeared to try to take a back-to-basics approach, harkening to the original run of Supreme Power (returning to the MAX imprint, a return to being Bloodier and Gorier and more realistic story)but with the initial story focusing mainly on Hyperion and Doc Spectrum.
Almost Lethal Weapons: Whiteface's poison has since killed everyone that's been exposed to it, and has no antidote. When exposed to it Nighthawk, despite being a Bad Ass Normal just gets sick and falls unconscious. Even Whiteface is surprised by him being still alive.
Inverted in the Crisis CrossoverUltimate Power, where Alternate Universe Reed Richards is Wanted for Crimes Against Humanity. The Supreme invade the Ultimate Marvel-verse to arrest Ultimate Reed Richards, because one of his inter-dimensional experiments ended up accidentally killing millions in the Supreme-verse. Turns out he was innocent.
Ass Shove: Tom Thumb was placed in a capsule and inserted in the Shape's rectum during the Squad's mission in Africa. He needed counseling afterwards
Badass Normal: Nighthawk, of course. He's the only superhero without powers. The government doesn't consider him for Squadron Supreme, considering his talents "irrelevant", though. For his part, he's never shown even the slightest bit of envy towards those with powers.
Beware the Superman: Hyperion is a very legitimate threat when he stops taking orders from the army. Yet they still prod him. Of course, after both Hyperion's meltdown and the discovery and detainment of Redstone, they've got ample reason to be afraid.
Angry Black Man: Nighthawk. Averted with Blur, who is the nicest guy in the series.
Captain Ethnic: Nighthawk only beats up people who are committing hate crimes and is portrayed as out-and-out prejudiced against whites. Blur averts this.
Does Not Like Men: Inertia. There are some men she's comfortable around or friendly with, like the Blur and Doc Spectrum, but she's largely disgusted by the male sex due to experiences in her adolescence and childhood. Unlike many examples, she has a permanent sour disposition, is very quick to violence, and is an open lesbian.
Dumb Muscle: Shape is strong, but has the mind of a child.
Evil-Detecting Dog: Poor Spot. This later gets a Lampshade Hanging by some girls who explain an experiment where a monkey was made to look like a different species and released among that species, only to be avoided cause they know something is wrong; they say they get that feeling with Mark.
Eye Scream: To show you what this series is like: Nighthawk, the Batman equivalent uses this way more than this universe's version of the Joker.
Even Evil Has Standards: Well, actually, that would be averted. Super crime is very violent and graphic as is normal crime. Where it comes into play is with Nighthawk, who, while only preying on white on black crimes, will stop black drug dealers.
Flying Brick: Hyperion and Zarda. And they don't hold back. Redstone is one of these except without flight.
Got The Whole World In My Hand: After flying into orbit as a boy, Hyperion holds his arm up to shield his eyes from the sun and in so doing inadvertently "grasps" the Earth in his hand. This proves to be one of the major formative experiences of his childhood.
Heel Face Door Slam: At the end of the most recent mini, Hyperion (whose location has been revealed) is offered a chance at becoming the premier US superhero in order to stop a genocidal super villain in another country. He accepts, kills the villain, and tries to pick up where he left off. But the President rejects the deal, fires the general that made it, and has a restored Doctor Spectrum capture and detain Hyperion.
I Just Want to Be Normal: At the start of the latest series, after all the events of the previous one, Hyperion has settled deep out in the woods in a cabin with a random woman who does not recognize or know of him. This doesn't last.
Life or Limb Decision: The most recent mini deals with Ledger, having become the America's main Government-sponsored hero, slowly lose control of the Power Crystal which begins to act out in deadly outbursts and take over his body. He's eventually forced to cut off the hand fused with it. This had previously been mentioned as the only way to get the crystal off him.
Loyal Phlebotinum: The sentient Power Crystal that powered Hyperion's ship. Despite being bonded to Doctor Spectrum, it is loyal only to Hyperion and urges him to conquer the planet, as he was sent to do.
MacGuffin Delivery Service: Nighthawk calls Hyperion and the Blur to take down Redstone, a superhuman serial killer who rips the left arms off hookers For the Evulz. As soon as the smoke clears, there's an unscathed Doc Spectrum to take him into custody. And then they confiscate the security footage and blackmail the few living witnesses into shutting up, indirectly framing him for the murders.
And once they have him, they air-drop him into an unfriendly country as a pro-bono terrorist. When that country becomes more "cooperative" to US interests, they simply retrieve him and send him to the next country on the list. It's a very long list.
Mad Scientist: Emil Burbank, though hardly ever do "mad" and "scientist" intersect with him — he's a smart man who enjoys murder and sometimes even rape, but goes about those crimes in fairly mundane ways.
Monster Clown: Whiteface, aka Steven Binst. A Joker analogue who poisons the crack going into the city and later everyone in attendance at the birthday party of the mayor's 8 year old son. All while barely talking and wearing a perpetual scarred frown.
Morality Pet: Kingsley is this to Doc Spectrum. She's the only person he ever cared about, and he can't imagine what he'd do without her.
The Napoleon: Tom Thumb, an angry little man who stands about an inch tall. He'll kick your ass.
Nigh Invulnerable: Hyperion, Zarda, Redstone, Shape, and Inertia all have this power. Redstone in particular revels in it; he doesn't care about covering up his crimes, because since he can't be hurt, he figures there'd be nothing anybody could do about it even if he got found out. He eventually learns that he CAN be hurt or even killed in a number of different ways. Even superhumans have to breathe...
The Shape has malleable skin that can't be penetrated — bullets just fall out of him, knives bounce off, and even a punch from Hyperion simply sinks into his belly harmlessly.
N-Word Privileges: Averted. Blur is deeply offended when Nighthawk calls him a "House Negro". As Stanley puts it, he grew up in The Deep South... but Nighthawk is the only person to ever use that kind of language with him or identify him mainly by race.
Doctor Steadman: You see, your problem is that you don't really understand how powerful these individuals are, or what they are capable of doing. I sent Joe out wearing a radio tuned to the National Geological Foundation's tectonic imaging laboratory in White Springs, Colorado. You see, when Hyperion finds his target, we will not have to wait to hear about it on CNN, General. We will hear about it on the Richter Scale.
Puberty Superpower: Averted. Spot lives up to his name because Hyperion gets his "Flash Vision" at an early age.
Race Lift: Nighthawk and Blur were both white in the source material, and Redstone was Native American. You can debatably count Nick Fury. Inertia was also white, but is here Ambiguously Brown with no reference made to her ethnicity. There's also the Black Archer, a black version of the formerly white Golden Archer.
Screw The Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers!: "Where does a five-hundred pound gorilla sit? Answer: Anywhere it wants to." This is everything the government is scared Hyperion will become, and everything Redstone already is.
Serial Killer: Michael Redstone, though note that he bucks most of the conventions. He doesn't care if he gets caught, because, realistically, what could they to do to him? As mentioned, he ends up regretting this attitude.
Shooting Superman: Hyperion actually shoots himself, in the eye to prove a point about how much threat The Government has over him. In a crowded strip club in broad daylight.
Earlier than that, Hyperion was shot many times as he stormed the base that housed his ship. It would later come to light that he didn't actually directly cause any deaths or injuries in the attack — most of the casualties were the result of bullets ricocheting off his body.
Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: One of the more cynical Superhero comics, the best example can be the flashback montage that accompanies Bill Clinton's introduction of Mark to the world. Every point Clinton gives of why Mark is a model citizen and human are subverted by a relevant flashback, including Mark's parents telling them that they love him.
Stout Strength: Shape is absolutely massive, but super-strong. His arms are visibly muscular despite his obesity.
The Deep South: Averted with the Blur who is himself from the south and comments that the first blatant racist he has ever encountered was Nighthawk, a fellow black man from Chicago. Granted, they're from different generations.
GeneralCasey: You're not human. You know that now. You look like us. But you're not one of us. So what difference does it make? You don't have any rights, we don't have any obligation to treat you one way or another.
Straczynski gets mega bonus points for having this speech be delivered by a blackGeneral Ripper.