By Ben Morse
Editor John Barber thought he had earned a pretty sweet gig two years ago when he took the reins of SQUADRON SUPREME, one of Marvel's most acclaimed and celebrated titles. Unfortunately for him, he couldn't foresee the separate and amicable departures of series co-creators J. Michael Straczynski and Gary Frank which led to the series being placed on indefinite hiatus.
"It wasn't the best position to be in," admits Barber. "I talked to [Editor-In-Chief] Joe Quesada about what we wanted to do, what kind of direction we wanted to go in. [Quesada] made the point that So there was no reason to rush out a book if it wasn't right."
Well, luckily for fans the right time has finally arrived and SQUADRON SUPREME will return under the stewardship of acclaimed veteran writer Howard Chaykin and exciting artistic newcomer Marco Turini later this year.
Quesada handpicked Chaykin, best known for his politically-charged and paradigm-challenging writing and art on classic works like American Flagg!, to pen the ongoing adventures of Hyperion and the rest of the Squadron, a group of tremendously powerful and significantly flawed individuals fighting to find their place in a morally murky world that makes the Marvel Universe look like Candyland. Barber quickly got onboard the idea of bringing in Chaykin.
"Howard [is] one of my favorite writers as well as artists," touts the editor. "I told him about some of the stuff Joe and I had discussed [for SQUADRON SUPREME] and he ran with it and came back with something really exciting."
On the other end of the spectrum, while Turini, a recent product of C.B. Cebulski's world-wide "Chesterquest" talent search, may lack Chaykin's experience, he has already impressed his creative cohorts with his powerful pencils.
"Marco's got a cool style that fit into the real-world heroics of SQUADRON SUPREME," says Barber. "Like Howard, his basic sensibilities were in-tune with the idea of the series, without ever aping what JMS and Gary were doing."
The last issue of SQUADRON SUPREME to see print before the hiatus ended on a major cliffhanger, as Hyperion, the Blur and Nighthawk confronted the homicidal superhuman known as Redstone while Zarda attempted to dispose of a nuclear device and seemed to perish in the explosion. However, the ULTIMATE POWER limited series, which took place later and brought the Squadron in contact with denizens of the Ultimate Universe following the near destruction of their planet, all four heroes survived, though the "how" has yet to be revealed.
"That [cliffhanger] does get resolved, but probably not in the way you're expecting," promises Barber. "Let's just say that as bad as the fallout of the fight between Redstone and the Squadron was, it paled into insignificance next to what we all saw
happen in ULTIMATE POWER. And the effects of both of those events will probably be felt in the 'Supreme Power' universe forever."
Another after effect of ULTIMATE POWER will the relocation of Nick Fury from THE ULTIMATES into the world of SQUADRON SUPREME as a regular cast member, the first of many new faces who will be appearing according to Barber.
"He's not the kind of guy to take any failure lying down," notes the editor of Fury. "He's definitely a power player in this series."
For all the Marvel news spinning out of Wizard World L.A., visit our news hub. And for a great way to kill time in between announcements, check out Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited!