I have never been more proud to be a superhero comics reader. I’ve been a lot of other things as a comic reader, a vicious back issue hoarder looking for the slickest deals on ebay, bidding at the final moment. I’ve also been a flippant dilletante, laying cosmic and compelling covers across my coffee table, reading none but the biggest of captions, dipping my head into a comic as a child does water into a pool, holding breath for a couple seconds, kicking far, but accomplishing very little and coming up for breaths often.

Now, though, I’m proud to read these things. And, along with this pride, comes with a desire to talk about what I spend so much goddamn money on, every week.

Supreme 63 had me wary. Billed as the “Last Alan Moore Supreme Story”, I picked up the comic to find no finality given to its characters, but instead a throat chilling cliffhanger of a thousand parallel supervillains descending on our single heroes. Heh, if a prima donna writer is gonna leave one of his most successful runs down a river and without a paddle, Alan Moore did it to whoever was going to try and follow his last issue. It would take a deus ex machina to wrangle a satisfying story conclusion out of that final page.

It was too much for any of the heroes to handle, and promised ultimate destruction. Although I couldn’t make it to Trinity to scan, this early commissioned piece of Supreme should do just fine in describing the hopelessness of that final page.

I can imagine Alan Moore scripting unstoppable doom, and laughing at how he managed to run yet another incredible concept and complex character into the ground. No, the mass genocide Marvelman committed wasn’t enough, because Neil Gaiman could just write about a false utopia. Turning Swamp Thing from a humanoid bigfoot with elemental powers into a spirit possessing vegetation whose shape was only limited by imagination wasn’t enough, because after years of no one else being able to write the character, Grant Morrison and Mark Millar could write stories of Swamp Thing as Zeus waiting for the final narrative stroke to reveal his involvement. Watchmen’s deconstruction of the superhero’s psyche went pretty far, making any reader suspicious of what power can do to even the most noble minds. The rape and crippling of teenage optimist Barbara Gordon in A Killing Joke wasn’t even enough, because other writers could write her rehabilitation and make her one of the strongest, fiercest, and most helpful heroes in the DC Universe. And so he went off to independently published comics where he could fuck up the histories of all of his characters with indulgence, and settled back to write Supreme, which held the last parry of Moore’s grim and gritty storytelling before conducting the comics line “America’s Best Comics”, and his work sought to amuse and humor as well as unsettle and dazzle. It is also unfinished.

And here we see another writer picking up after the pieces of a legendary writer leaving a character in a huff over undue editorial interference. HIs last script that he wanted to write another one for, but, alas, Supreme was a corporate owned character, and not Alan Moore’s own.

As Erik Larsen states in the afterword of 64, there were some pretty big shoes to fill. As anyone familiar with his twelve page silent Hulk story ending his and Busiek excellent run on Defenders, Erik Larsen knocks it out the park with 64. Accessing Supreme’s own legion of parallel selves, they unchain out the big superman, I mean supreme, analogue. The bloody and gory hero with every superpower you can think of and none of the intelligence or goodwill to restrain it.

And, as this cover to a later issue ably demonstrates, we see Supreme violently dismember his enemies. Moreover, he even strips all other Supremes of their own power, leaving him as the sole sentinel guarding humanity. The next issue, coming out the first wednesday in May, looks to keep up this trend, with Supreme battling Superpatriot in oh-so mod hues. Rian Hughes would not be disappointed if he saw this cover resting on his workspace.

It’s not just Supreme that has me all excited, though. Sure, another writer proving themselves as able to follow in the magician’s wake has never happened. At least, directly. Grant Morrison and Mark Millar got pretty close with Swamp Thing, and Rick Veitch may have succeeded if DC wasn’t too scared to publish his masterpiece, but, until now, Moore’s work has been unapproachable. At least, until now.

And it’s not just masters like Moore who are finding their work ably succeeded. Other image comics have seen their universes blossoming, too. Rob Liefield’s other creations, Prophet and Glory, have been reworked as well as Supreme. Prophet, a space cadet sent to scout different planets, realizes that he is but one clone among many, and that his genes provide the code for an unknown corporation to colonize indiscriminately. Glory, on the other hand, has her superheroic identity repressed. A small girl has found this alien god calmly sitting in a town, and is told that when she truly awakens, humanity may face apocalypse. From the former becoming an emissary of humanity to foreign planets to the latter’s combat cheesecake inducing prophesy turned into planetary doom, comics are becoming that rare delicacy that no other medium has really offered yet: a coherent, breathing universe. One that changes every week, mostly because you demand it.

Daredevil 11 from the other month saw Mike Allred writing a fan letter into the lettercolumns asking if he could guest on an issue and provide art. Mike frickin Allred, and Mark Waid is just fannishly asking for reader’s approval there. Adventure Time and Spongebob both have comic mags at least as entertaining as their own shows, and with daring short stories drawn by indie cartoonists, not to mention the consistent excellence of the Simpson’s comics (especially Treehouse of Horrors).

If you add in the rennaissance Conan is having, especially with Becky Cloonan providing ink-stained parchments, and the Dark horse Presents and MOME anthologies always filled with hungry talent, new and old, one doesn’t have to look hard to find fantasy that treats its audience as if its smart, humorous, and eager to see what imagination unbound can illustrate. They’re all comics I don’t mind pulling out in public, ones whose plotlines I’m not embarrassed to repeat, and whose art I’m proud to exhibit.

Stay tuned for more ramblings and scannings from these comics.