Squadron Supreme: The Pre-War Years – J. Michael Straczynski (Redux)

This was the first story I read but it is chronologically one of the last ones written so I thought I would revisit it. One of my issues with Squadron Supreme is that with such a large ensemble cast the individual characters don’t get a chance to shine or just come across as stereotypes. There are whole characters that could just disappear unnoticed. As a scriptwriter Straczynski should know the less is more. If this was an X-Men title that would run for 40 years it wouldn’t be a problem but for a 7 issue run this is disappointing.

This is the first instalment not to be under the Marvel MAX imprint for mature readers but there is Parental Advisory warning on the back. There are some reasonably adult storylines but most of them consist of white people are bad (which may or may not be true) the West is bad (which may or may not be true) or violence against women. Heroines have abusive parents, innocent civilians are raped by soldiers, poor people are forced into prostitution and so on. On each occasion the perpetrating male is soundly and usually fatally punished. It reminds me of an old western where the bad guy always got his comeuppance. Is Straczynski taking a strong moral stance against misogyny or playing to readers’ baser instincts.

Why is it all women gaining super powers suddenly feel the need to dress like strippers? All the male costumes are long sleeved, long trouser jumpsuits and the female ones are a cat’s cradle of dental floss. Maybe it’s a shock and awe tactic to distract your male opponents or maybe you suddenly feel liberated by the fact no one will wolf whistle a girl who can rip things out of their sockets. I appreciate that all super heroines have dressed this way since time immemorial but if anyone was going to break the mould then Straczynski could have.

On my first reading I was very impressed but comparing it with Contact and the other stories it does not seem to shine as bright. I really wish there were more as it would have been interesting to see where it was heading.


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