Jab’s Deep Dive on Image Comics – The LAST Liefeld Chapter!

The snarling, grim, intense-looking Prophet was Rob Liefeld’s other attempt at a solo hero in his Image franchise, and is a weird combination of Rob Tropes- he has long hair and a weird cloth “boxing helmet” on, just like X-Force ‘s Shatterstar, but he’s also a roided behemoth in an extremely plain costume, so he’s a male power fantasy in addition to being easier to draw. The funny thing is, he was apparently supposed to be used in X-Force , but as Rob had quit Marvel, he saved the guy for his creator-owned stuff.

Prophet was a poor hobo during World War II, and was given super-powers by a time-travelling scientist out to make the perfect super-soldier. He was initially going to be made evil, but the scientist decided instead to give him a strong faith in God and make him a good guy! He was meant to be placed in stasis and awakened in the far future to fight the evil “Disciples”, but was instead revived in Youngblood’s second issue, as Rob was BIG on starting his franchises good and early. Mistaking Youngblood for the Disciples, he attacks and looks super-tough in the meantime, as this was clearly a “Poorly Disguised Pilot” for Prophet , which came out in 1992 and lasted only eleven issues. Chuck Dixon would write a revived book in 1995, only lasting eight- Rob’s history with Image proved controversial and the book went through the wringer as a result.

2011 would see the character revived, with a much different art style and concept. Now set 10,000 years in the future, the book features Prophet as a futuristic “Conan” in a deliberate attempt by the writers to “Out-Conan” the Barbarian himself. Despite me never hearing of this book, ever, it was fairly successful, lasting for 45 issues and ending in 2014.

Supreme- “What If Superman Was a Douche?” Before The Sentry Did It:
Of all of Image’s characters, the one with the most unexpected run is probably SUPREME. As much as “Supermanalogue” characters have permeated the entire industry like COVID in Florida, Supreme #1 hit in 1992, when such characters were still RARE! Initially, he was… well, what you’d expect Rob Liefeld would create if he wanted to rip off Superman- a violent, egotistical, aggressive asshole who hit first and ignored asking questions entirely. But then all of a sudden Rob gets the best “get” possible in Alan Moore, and Moore rewrites the character as this wonderful homage to the Silver Age Superman he inadvertently helped destroy in the 1980s. Unfortunately, of course, once you get ALAN MOORE rewriting a character, nobody can possibly follow that shit, so Supreme peaked just to die.

Supreme debuted in Youngblood #3 and rapidly spun off into his own series, as Rob was the first of the Image guys to “franchise” off into multiple books (to the detriment of all of them; Rob was lazy at the best of times. Writing this many books actually made him halve an extra ass out of his usual half-assed production values). All I remember is the comics of the day boasting “Image’s most powerful hero!” in the blurbs for his series- this is back when Power-Geeking became more and more potent in the industry. Supreme was intially an arrogant jerk, quoting the Bible and thinking he was an Angel of Vengeance, then fancying himself a God and such. Despite that, he was killed off in two different storylines- Deathmate Black (the Image/Valiant crossover series) and Extreme Sacrifice . Like Glory, Spartan and some others, he had a history in World War II, and was an established hero.

Supreme Remake #1:
The character was remade by Keith Giffen & Robert Loren Fleming in The Legend of Supreme , which said that he was a man who was imprisoned for killing two men who raped a 15-year old girl. He agreed to be part of a “human-improvement” experiment by the government, but died like all the previous guinea pigs… until rising from the grave with super-powers. He fought in World War II, but left Earth after accidentally killing a friend. He spend decades fighting in space, then returned to Earth in 1992 to find a changed society, with superhumans like Youngblood around.

Supreme Remake #2- Alan Moore’s Run:
And then we come to Alan Moore’s run- Alan bluntly asked Rob if he could reinvent the character since he felt that the comic was “not very good”, and with Supreme #41 , we essentially had a whole different comic- now reimagined as a love letter to Silver Age Superman comics. Because it’s Alan Moore, it also contained metatextual commentary on storytelling, comics history, etc., with cliches of the superhero genre appearing frequently. I only read an issue or two, but I saw right away why people liked it- the late ’90s was a time of homage and appreciation for the “goofiness” of the Silver Age, as Grant Morrison’s JLA and Kurt Busiek’s Avengers both hit big in playing with old-school characters and turning their backs on the extremes of the grim ‘n’ gritty ’90s. Moore himself declared it an “apology” for his own contributions, by adding so much darkness to mainstream comics via Swamp Thing , Watchmen and The Killing Joke .

In the reimagined Supreme , Ethan Crane was now a mild-mannered artist who gained powers from a childhood exposure to a meteorite composed of “Supremium”, a reality-warping element. He was opposed by Darius Dax, an obvious Lex Luthor riff, and discovered that there were multiple realities, and he’d arrived in the most recent one- retired Supremes lived in another reality, called “The Supremacy”. The book eventually ended when Rob’s Awesome Comics line closed in 1999, apparently leaving two Moore stories unpublished until 2012.

Supreme Remake #3:
Erik Larsen inexplicably purged Moore’s version and wrote his own for five issues, saying he wanted to “marry the two” concepts. Darius Dax, who had died, was resurrected and allied with many alternated Daxes, killing many Supremes in The Supremacy, with a few remainders fighting back. They unlocked the Liefeld original, “mean” Supreme from imprisonment and sent him against the Daxes, and he killed most of them. However, he then turns on the other Supremes, murders tons of criminals, and goes on a killing spree to re-establish him as the most powerful superhero around. This was largely the end of the comic until 2015, with Warren Ellis telling different stories and only slightly referencing Larsen’s story.

ALL RIGHT! That has been… a LOT of Liefeld talk! Join us next time as we discuss an Image Creator with a significantly smaller body of work for the company!

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