The Daily Comic Book Coffee, number 28: Superpatriot #4, penciled & inked by Dave Johnson, plotted by Keith Giffen, scripted by Erik Larsen, lettered by Chris Eliopolis, and colored by Digital Chameleon, published by Image Comics with a December 1993 cover date.

Today’s entry is from another part of Erik Larsen’s corner of Image Comics, what fans refer to as the “Dragonverse.” Superpatriot was introduced by Larsen in the original Savage Dragon miniseries.

Johnny Armstrong was an American soldier in World War II. Captured by the Nazis, he was used as a guinea pig for scientific experiments. Johnny gained superhuman abilities and escaped. Assuming the guise of Superpatriot, he spent decades fighting crime. By the early 1990s age was finally catching up to him, and he was brutally crippled by members of Chicago’s super-powered mob the Vicious Circle.

Superpatriot was rebuilt as a cyborg by the corrupt Cyberdata. He was then captured by the high tech terrorist organization the Covenant of the Sword, who brainwashed him and sent him to attack the Pentagon. Youngblood agent Die-Hard confronted him and was able to break through this mind control, and for the first time in months Superpatriot was in control of his own will.

In the final scene of the miniseries we see a brooding, contemplative Johnny having a cup of coffee at a Chicago diner. The current incarnation of his old teammate Mighty Man arrives to provide a sympathetic shoulder, and to offer him a spot on the newly-formed Freak Force team.

I was a fan of Superpatriot from the moment Larsen introduced him in Savage Dragon. I thought the design of the character was really striking and dynamic. I was definitely thrilled that the character received his own miniseries and then joined Freak Force.

Dave Johnson is one of the top cover artists in the comic book biz. He’s drawn covers for numerous series, among them 100 Bullets, Deadpool, Detective Comics, James Bond, Punisher Max and Unknown Soldier. Early on in his career he did do some interior work, including the first two Superpatriot miniseries. Johnson’s work on these was incredible, containing a tremendous amount of detail. Apparently he decided he wasn’t fast enough to draw monthly comic books, and so transitioned to working as a cover artist in the mid 1990s.

Keith Giffen’s is credited on Superpatriot as both plotter and storyteller. He probably provided some kind of layouts for Johnson to work from, although I have no idea how detailed they were. Whatever the case, the storytelling on the miniseries was well done.

I like how this quiet epilogue is laid out, with the first page dialogue-free until the final panel. Then on the next page the perspective shifts from one panel to the next, including a shot of Superpatriot’s face reflected in the coffee cup. I don’t know who was responsible for planning out this two page scene, Giffen or Johnson, but it’s very effective.

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The Daily Comic Book Coffee, number 28: Superpatriot #4, penciled & inked by Dave Johnson, plotted by Keith Giffen, scripted by Erik Larsen, lettered by Chris Eliopolis, and colored by Digital Chameleon, published by Image Comics with a December 1993 cover date. Today’s entry is from another part of Erik...