Generally a comic book series needs to tell its first story arc before readers can get their bearings. So often readers will reach issue #6 and realize the entire point of the comic is punching things. Of course, there are high expectations with DC Comics newly minted Superman series, Unchained, with the likes of Jim Lee and Scott Snyder at the helm. High expectations, meet the ultimate question: is it good?
Superman Unchained (2013-) #2 (DC Comics)
Check out our review of Superman Unchained #1 here.
Last issue opened with the reveal that Nagasaki wasn’t blown up by a conventional bomb but a blue glowing super man. This super man has been used by the U.S. government for years and now Superman knows of its existence. Aside from that, the last issue reintroduced the supporting cast and did a decent job connecting Superman to his upbringing, giving him human roots. This issue opens and closes with Lex Luthor, which should get fans giddy and excited for what’s to come.
Superman vs. Saudi construction machine. Who ya got?
I was reminded of Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman more than once in this issue, for better or worse. Opening with Lex and a creation that his superiors—in this case the government—are unaware will become a weapon is something Morrison used at the beginning of All-Star. The warden of the prison has allowed him to build a replica of Metropolis, which in hindsight is a pretty stupid thing for anyone to let him do. Don’t they know he can build cities from paper?! Either way, this is simply a setup for the following issue and serves only to introduce readers to Lex and his plan.
Another reminder was Superman using his thinking skills to tackle a problem. This is how Superman should be used. As a building topples in Dubai, Superman runs through all the ways he could potentially stop the falling building, but quickly nixes them when most of his powers will kill the people inside. His ultimate solution shows how Superman can be used in fun and interesting ways. It’s a good sign writer Scott Snyder knows what he’s doing with the character.
It’s a tad surprising to see so much Batman in a Superman book when we’re only two issues in. Supes goes to Batman for advice, which makes sense, but the time given to this interaction and the subsequent backup completely focusing on Batman might surprise diehard Superman fans. There’s a long line of Batman books…can’t Superman get the spotlight?
Jim Lee does an impeccable job with the opening battle and he seems to have outdone himself with the Batman bits which further brings attention to Bats and not Superman. I’m sure Lee loves drawing the Batcave, but does he really need to use nearly two full pages to draw it again? Didn’t he already get his Batcave rocks off in All-Star Batman and Robin with that insane foldout?
Lee continues to impress with his customary use of full pages and large panels to cap off dramatic moments. At one point he draws an subdued Superman incredibly well, which helps convey his fearlessness of human weapons. Of course, when his ears start bleeding I’m sure he’ll think twice next time.
It seems Snyder is going to be playing up General Lane’s hatred of Superman. I’ve never been sold by this hate and always felt it replicated Hulk’s issue with his general too much. I suppose he’ll be representing the human side of not trusting Superman in this series, but so far his characterization is flat and simple.
This seems familiar.
- Pretty art with dramatic flourishes
- Exciting inner monologue of Supes figuring out how to save lives
- Too much Batman, however cool he is
- Flat villains
I have high hopes for this book and so far it hasn’t disappointed…much. Obviously we’re only two issues in and it’s hard to say what Snyder’s ultimate vision is for the character. As it stands today however, the villains are flat at face value with little to no motivation shown. This issue also oddly spends a ton of time with Batman, and while it’s pretty cool, I had to ask myself if this was a team up book and not a solo Superman title.
Is It Good?
Yes. My complaints may seem nitpicky, but down the road they could mean a so-so book that should be amazing. So far so good, but not great.