Supreme: Blue Rose #1
Warren Ellis – Writer (@warrenellis)
Tula Lotay – Artist (@tulalotay)
Ricahrd Starkings – Lettering (@comicraft)
John Roshell – Design (@jgroshell)
Review by Joey Braccino
“And then it all changed.”
Supreme: Blue Rose #1 is a gorgeous, intelligent, gritty, penetrating mind-f@#k of a comic book. While I expect no less from comics guru Warren Ellis, Supreme: Blue Rose features an uncanny blend of surrealism, high concept science fiction, and philosophy. It’s an engaging, riveting read, accented by some of the most spectacular art I’ve seen in a comic book (or ever for that matter) from Tula Lotay.
Based on characters and concepts developed by Rob Liefeld and Alan Moore back in the ‘90s, Supreme: Blue Rose #1 follows down-on-her-luck investigative reporter Diana Dane as she struggles to navigate her life in New York City and her flailing journalistic career in the Digital Age. She receives a strange mission from eccentric bazillionaire businessman, Darius Dax, to investigate a strange conspiracy surrounding a mysterious figure called Ethan Crane. In Liefeld and Moore’s work, Crane is a superpowered character named Supreme. See the corrolaries? Reporter, businessman, superman? Yeah.
But this is Warren Ellis, so Supreme: Blue Rose takes those characters and imbues the book surreal dreamscapes and the driest of wit. We open with Diana’s dream (nightmare?) that discusses—vaguely and cryptically—the falseness of reality, the coming of a new world, and interplanetary travel. Two haunting figures—a masked Enigma and a beautiful Saturn princess—appear in the dream, but they seem to follow Diana back into the dullness of her real world in New York. The rest of the first issue introduces Diana to Darius Dax and the mission is made. There is a brief, unsettling book-within-a-book meta-interlude with “Professor Night,” a distinctly Moore-esque adventure serial that Diana watches on her cellphone—and bit of surrealist character work when Diana meets Reuben, her shadow.
Tonally, Ellis’ wit is ever-apparent, but it never becomes grating or cynical. His handling of the realities of the journalism industry and Diana’s anxiousness as she approaches her late ‘20s is incredibly truthful, which in turn makes his perfect integration of his surreal sci-fi elements all the more impressive. During Diana’s conversation with Darius, Ellis bounces back and forth between Diana’s failing career and Darius’ “terms of art” exposition, all the while walking his two characters through a massive, underground kaleidoscope of bright colors and hyper expensive paraphernalia. Brilliant.
Tula Lotay’s artwork is, simply, the best stuff I’ve seen in a very long time. Equal parts Allred, Eisma, Aja, and Rios, Lotay’s aesthetic is a fantasmagoric blend of naturalistic figurework and layouts with a perpetual, peripheral throughline of pop-fantasy. The opening dreamscape is absolutely stunning, the brief glimpse of Enigma in NYC is terrifying, and Reuben’s “birth defect” is unnerving. To add to the already enthralling visual experience, it looks as though a child took a blue crayon to the pages and scribbled all over the place. It’s subtle, but it plays into Ellis’ deconstruction of reality.
Check it out. If you want to experience the limitless, boundless possibilities of comics storytelling, pick up Supreme: Blue Rose #1 and experience something absolutely stunning. #mindblown