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UBI DUBIUM, IBI LIBERTAS (LATIN) WHERE THERE IS DOUBT, THERE IS FREEDOM.
Okay, stop me 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 Black Ops shows 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 Supreme, themselves originally a Alternate Company Equivalents 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 an 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 whom 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. Afterward this incarnation of the franchise appeared Ruined FOREVER. But a brief mini was released in 2011 that appeared to try to take a back to basics approach harking back 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 Badass Normal just gets sick and falls unconscious. Even Whiteface is surprised by him being still alive.
- Alternate Company Equivalent: In spades. Including Captains Ersatz of other Marvel characters.
- Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome: As a "take" on DC heroes, has the resident genius use his Super Intelligence to bring about great change... until it's Double Subverted and Reed Richards Is Useless.
- Badass Abnormal: Colonel Joe Ledger was already one of their best soldiers when The Government choose him to become their second superpowered operative.
- Badass Normal: Nighthawk, of course.
- Bad Future: The ultimate result of The Government's cruelty, explored furtively in the "Hyperion" mini-series.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy / Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: Zarda's muddled recount of her past implies that ancient mythical heroes with superhuman abilities were the result of her own landing pod giving rise to superhumans, just as Hyperion's does.
- 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.
- Chekhov's Gun: Supreme Power #8 shows the exact results of Hyperion going-all out against any other superhuman. He wins hands down, but their battlefield ends up looking like a nuclear test site. It's acknowledged in every super-battle afterwards, and Hyperion never goes that far again.
- Clark Kenting: Lampshaded: Mark attempts to try this with glasses. His bosses tell him its a bad idea.
- Confessional: "You have the strangest sun burn."
- 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.
- Executive Meddling: They are adding analogues of Marvel characters for what reason again?
- 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: Hyperion holds his arm up to shield his eyes from the sun as he viewed Earth after flying into orbit as a boy and in so doing inadvertently "grasps" the earth in his hand. This proves to be one of the major formative experiences of his childhood.
- Grasp the Sun: See above.
- Deadly Change-of-Heart: 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.
- Heroic Sociopath: Zarda.
- 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.
- 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 of 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.
- If Hyperion had put up a fight, the results would have been even worse, and Hyperion would have been directly responsible.
- 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.
- If Hyperion had put up a fight, the results would have been even worse, and Hyperion would have been directly responsible.
- Meta Origin: The ship which launched Hyperion and Zarda's Escape Pods, which not only brought them to Earth, but an alien-engineered retrovirus that transformed a number of the population into lesser superhumans. Doctor Spectrum made good use of the ship's Power Crystal, too. Zarda's arrived in Ancient Rome, resulting in Roman Mythology. Zarda went to sleep under a mountain at the end of that era, waiting for Hyperion to arrive.
- In modern times, The Government discovers the retrovirus and starts playing with it. They soon discover that "introducing foreign genetic material into a body can result in fatal stress" and it "could not be tested on animals since it was designed specifically to interface with the human genome". So they began testing it on "individuals serving life sentences in military prisons for murder or related charges".
- 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.
- Multiple Choice Past: Zarda gives three different pasts to the same person within the same scene.
- My Country, Right or Wrong: Joseph Ledger aka Doctor Spectrum.
- Nigh Invulnerable: Redstone doesn't care about covering up his crimes even a little after getting his powers, 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...
- 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.
- Person of Mass Destruction: Ultimate Marvel named it, but Supreme Power codified it.
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.
- Madden Into Misanthropy: The Bad Future is the direct result of The Government's efforts to dominate Hyperion.
- Scary Black Man: Who would you rather meet: Batman or Nighthawk?
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- Stepford Smiler: One of the guards actually compares Mark's surrogate family to The Stepford Wives.
- The Deep South: Refreshingly averted with the Blur who is himself from the south and comments that the first blatant racist he has ever encountered was Nighthawk (they're from different generations.)
- To the Pain: How General Alexander re-conscripts Hyperion in "The Deconstruction of Mark Milton".
- Transplant: Zarda and Nick Fury switch places in the Ultimate Power Crossover.
- Ultimate Universe: Though not the Ultimate Universe. However both worlds do meet in Ultimate Power.
- Upbringing Makes the Hero: What The Government attempts and 'mostly succeeds at.
- Wild Child: Amphibian AKA Kingsley Rice.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Pretty much the Trope Codifier. Children, you get superpowers, go work at the supermarket.