Really. “Kinda” is about as far as I can get with this one, but let me back up.
The Squadron Supreme are a strange franchise. Much like The Inhumans, the Squadron has had many attempts at being brought into the spotlight by Marvel, but only a few have really been met with more than passing interest. But while I could write out a whole history lesson on the Squadron Supreme (and the Squadron Sinister), it’s not really relevant to this book – Hyperion #1 by Chuck Wendig and Nik Virella.
All you need to know is this Hyperion used to be an Avenger, and he watched his universe die. He’s formed a team of other lost souls from extinct universe dedicated himself to protect this one by any means necessary. Violence and collateral damage were sacrifices he was willing to allow (and did) in the name of protecting Earth, but now he’s not so sure.
Similar to Superman’s “Grounded” arc from a few years ago… actually, wow, like MORE than a few years ago. I’m OLD!
Ahem, yes. Similar to Superman’s “Grounded” arc, Hyperion is trying to get more connected with his new home and the people in it, and he’s taken a job as a truck driver in order to do it. And so we start our story with a young girl seeking out Marcus Milton – Hyperion – whom she somehow knows is driving big rig trucks. How she knows, we aren’t told just yet, but she’s obviously looking for him specifically. She’s a runaway. She’s in trouble and she’s scared.
It’s a compelling start. She knows more than she’s telling, and he’s reluctant to help her since he’s doing his own thing. It’s the sort of thing most heroes in the Marvel Universe don’t have to deal with. They are mostly born mortal, with their lives before being what spurs them on to become the heroes we know and love. Hyperion was raised on another version of Earth, and it was something of a socialist utopia. So he’s having to re-learn everything about this world from scratch. As powerful as he is, as much as he can do, he needs a stronger connection to this world in order to know if what he’s doing is right. And he can’t really do that with Doll in his truck.
The book, from there, gets going. It hits some interesting beats revealing Doll as having stuff going on she’s not telling us about. We get some action scenes and our big reveal and the issue comes to an end promising more next issue, and I dig it. I really do. But…
It just doesn’t quite hang together. I spent a while trying to work out what it is and while it’d be easy to say “it’s the art” or “Hyperion is boring” or “Chuck Wendig has ruined Star Wars now he’s ruining Marvel!” that’s not it at all. I just feel like the various parts of the book don’t quite gel, if that makes sense.
It’d be easy to point to Nik Virella’s art and blame it for everything because, sure, there’s some panels that, for me, just don’t quite work. There’s a short of Marc carrying Doll where she seems weightless, or rather lifeless. Like a solid piece of wood perched atop his outstretched arms. Sure, she weighs nothing in comparison to his lifting capacity, but she still needs weight as an object. And when Hyperion steps out in all his glory towards the end of the book, he feels, somehow, smaller than Marcus felt when he was a truck driver at the start. The story doesn’t make “being Hyperion” something bad, it makes it something Marcus is trying to avoid. Something that will overshadow the other elements of his life. But this Hyperion is just a little skinny and just a little stiff. He’s not quite the heroic figure he’s made out to be via Doll’s expectations.
And what sucks for Virella is the cover to the book, by Emanuela Lupacchino, is glorious! Hyperion is bold and powerful and shiny and standing amidst strewn wreckage… This is Hyperion! And for Virella’s cool art to just lack this punch with this image served to us first is a tough one-two punch that leaves the ending feel a little bit less than what I’d hoped for.
But I could equally point to the writing by Chuck Wendig, and mention that throughout the story we don’t really get to spend time with Marc OR Hyperion in a way we might in another character’s solo series. Especially one spinning off from a team book. Who is he? What is he thinking? Everything is parsed through Doll’s point of view, and we only see Hyperion from the outside. We swing through the air with Spider-Man and we feel the weight of responsibility with… well, I was going to say Thor but equally with Spider-Man. But with Hyperion we’re sitting in the passenger seat as he drives the truck, wondering if he’s the real deal. It’s obviously a conscious decision; he’s the outsider, a virtual god in our midst who we can know but never truly understand, but as the first issue of a solo book it feels a little impersonal.
And when Hyperion’s last solo outing was Al Ewing’s Avengers one-shot, which held us constantly within Hyperion’s mindset and through which we experienced what it was like to truly BE a God among Men, yeah, it’s a little tough for Wendig.
I’m interested in the story Chuck is telling us, though. This Man of Tomorrow is in a world utterly alien to his own, and both he and Virella do a great job of setting the book in a very specific place. Marcus is questioning the use of violence, at least his own, but the world around him is fiery and bleak with people shooting guns for recreation as well as for intimidation. It’s very unlike his previous home, in which socialist ideals were held above others.
I’ll be reading issue 2, but I am not as pumped for it as I was for issue 1. Is it a victim of expectations being too high? Probably, but at the same time it might just not be doing what I want, so in the mean time, all I can do is “kinda” like it, and we’ll go on from there.
As always Hyperion is available at your Local Comic Book Shop, or digitally via Comixology or Marvel.com
I love Hyperion - really any Superman analog - but even I can see the seams on this one. Probably gonna work best for you if you already like the big guy.