Superman is a tricky hero, especially because he’s so powerful. Writer Scott Snyder has been adding some new blips to his powers—one of which helped save some astronauts a few issues back—but for the most part Snyder has been touching on Supes’ frailty in this new series. That spells good in my book, but how does the latest issue fare? Is it good?

Superman Unchained #5 (DC Comics)

Last issue Superman and Wraith took out giant robots that were attacking Tokyo. In that battle, Wraith gave Superman advice on how to use his powers more efficiently in battle. You see, Wraith has been working for the military for long enough to know a thing or two about tactics. It’s a neat way to bring Superman down a notch, but also a way to build camaraderie between the characters. Lois Lane was then captured by Ascension and her vitals went dark, which is no bueno for the Man of Steel. This issue kicks us right where we left off.

Flashbacks in watercolor. Rad!

Snyder utilizes a flashback sequence that cuts back and forth between the current timeline. This sequence shows Clark as a young boy, before he knew he had powers, and gives us a taste of him learning that he has them. It also shows us a moment where he may have faced violence for the first time. That rings pretty poignant as far as the ever peaceful Superman goes. The sequence doesn’t seem to have that much to do with the current timeline, save for the violence part, but adds an element of whimsy and introspection the main book can’t capture, at least as far as Superman’s growth. Overall this is a strong addition to the story.

“…with your father’s face on.” That’s not sick, that’s just weird. Right?

The current timeline cuts between Lois and Ascension at one location and Wraith and Superman at the Fortress of Solitude. The Superman sequence is quite interesting, as Wraith questions Superman’s alternate “human” ego. There’s a very satisfying sequence showing Superman imagine what it’s going to be like at the Daily Planet with Lois and others growing old and how he’d have to wear makeup just to pretend he was aging too. It’s not clear if this gets under Superman’s skin, but it’s interesting to see Wraith attempt to upset him. The intentions can’t be good.

The Lois sequence isn’t as strong, mostly because the bad guys give us the customary speech explaining all their intentions and such. Now, they do let Lois live so she can write it all down, but then later suggest burning her eyes out. Dude, this is totally going to ruin her reporting ability! I’m not 100% sold on their plan either as they do seem nuts just for the sake of the plot. Their intentions make some sense to a degree, but how this benefits them remains to be seen.

The flashback art by Dustin Nguyen is quite pretty done in a watercolor that makes the scenes seem whimsical and fleeting like any memory should. It’s very dramatic and suits the story. Jim Lee does an okay job this issue, nothing too grand considering it’s mostly dialogue scenes and scant on action. There is a dramatic two page spread showing off the Fortress of Solitude, but it’s nowhere near as detailed as what he’s done with the Batcave. One page, showcasing Batman and Wonder Woman, is quite good, particularly the technology on the page.

Human counterpart meaning Clark. Odd way to phrase it there dude.


  • Strong art even without the giant action sequences Lee so loves
  • Good balance of Superman’s back story and real fears of being super amongst regular humans
  • The Ascension stuff is laughably over the top and schlocky
  • While the flashback is good I’m not sure how it fits into the overall story, but I have an idea it will bring it all together…or I’m hoping

Is It Good?

Not a bad issue by any means, with some bad guy banter that’ll make you cringe, but plenty of Superman frailty to chew on. Wraith’s story seems to be coming to a head and should be satisfying considering the stakes that were raised in the final pages. There’s some gems in here as far as Superman and the real problem of not aging as quickly as his human friends too.

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