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Hyperion vs. Nighthawk: Squadron Supreme    by Marc Guggenheim & Paul Gulacy order for
Hyperion vs. Nighthawk
by Marc Guggenheim
Order:  USA  Can
Marvel Comics, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

When Squadron Supreme first appeared in the mid-1980s, it brought an Orwellian agenda to superheroes that both shocked readers and represented the coming more deliberate use of political theory and post-modern ideology that has helped made the industry successful. When Marvel decided to recreate the Squadron Supreme universe under their adult line of comics, Max, they continued the hard edge that first made the series popular.

This book, Squadron Supreme: Hyperion vs. Nighthawk brings politics, superheroes and genocide into one slim but intense volume. While Nighthawk and Hyperion have had their differences, they both essentially fight the good fight. But when Nighthawk infiltrates a government base, he must go toe-to-toe with the nearly invincible Hyperion. Nigthhawk survives (only barely) but, unbeknownst to all, he has accomplished his mission. Several months later, Hyperion is called to deal with Nighthawk who is in Darfur attacking the government and killing the Janjaweed. When Hyperion confronts Nighthawk, he discovers that he has somehow been weakened by Nighthawk and has no choice but to follow his orders. But are two superheroes enough to save the people of Darfur from genocide?

Unlike in so many comics, Guggenheim and Gulacy take on a serious real-world issue. This is an interesting approach because it's very rare in the history of comics for superheroes to be called upon to act on real world events. The reasoning - like the superheroes and their problems - is generally simple. World War II or 9/11 are things that super-people could quite easily stop. Superman could have diverted the planes; Captain America could have destroyed Hitler instead of just knocking him out on a cover. However, since their actions in comics cannot produce results in the real world, to create such stories seems more than a flight of fancy, it can be an act of irony or cruelty.

Guggenheim and Gulacy's point isn't to actually save Darfur through their heroes, but rather to inform the public. In addition to explaining the politics of the Darfur genocide, they include information and resources for further investigation at the close of the book. The art and coloring remains consistent with other volumes in the series. Action abounds through the entire book and blood almost seeps through the pages.

Comic books are meant to entertain and engage the reader. Yet a great many comics of late have been encouraging wider understanding of the world as well as more politically aware readers. While they may still yield to the medium's and genre's traditions, they also strike new chords of intrigue among readers.

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