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Is It Good? Superman Unchained #1 Review

Jim Lee, Scott Snyder, the Man of Steel movie…man, Superman is coming up roses this week huh? Lee and Snyder take on a whole new series entitled Superman Unchained and a lot of people are hoping it’s something like Hush, but don’t hold your breath, because we’re here to answer the questions, is it good?

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Superman Unchained (2013-) #1 (DC Comics)

Some of the best Superman comics tie the character to the American Dream and the mythos that surrounds it. Consider that the character is an alien and embodies what it means to be an immigrant in America and you can see even early on the themes were right there on the page. For the longest time America was the melting pot of the world and Superman is their hero. On top of this he’s constantly described as a boy scout and while DC has attempted to make him a global character in years past, one can’t argue the red, white and blue costume visually solidifies him as American.

Always interesting to see Superman portrayed with those evil looking eyes.

Which is why it’s seems incredibly risky writer Scott Snyder opens this issue in Nagasaki in 1945. It’s a sore point in American history for sure, the nuclear bombing of innocent people, and while it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with Superman it might upset some folks. That said, by opening the book with this event Snyder is separating Superman from that event. It separates the character from those events, which is helpful particularly because the comic was being published at the time of that event. In a way it’s Snyder pointing out this New 52 Superman is younger and separated from that horrible act much like the majority of the audience reading this book.

Lex is always good for a laugh.

For anyone unfamiliar with the character, this is a decent jumping on point although without any background of the New 52 additions to the character, some might be a tad confused. Snyder introduces all the characters and their dynamics very well. We see Lex Luthor and his cocky attitude and the whole Clark-at-work dynamic at play too. The issue opens with Superman dealing with some satellites that are flinging themselves at the Earth. Before any of those superheroics take place, Snyder delivers some touching narration from Superman connecting him to his very human boyhood. It’s a visually stimulating concept of children taking a leap into a hay silo and how it compares to flying into Earth’s orbit. It’s a cool perspective I hope he gives us more of in issues to come.

That isn’t to say the hunters bit is a complete wash however, as it ends with a very climactic and exciting twist. That’s about five pages where I was scratching my head or wondering why I should care. I suppose it doesn’t help they’re just standing around and not explaining themselves. Thankfully though it certainly ends on a note that’ll make readers want to come back next month for more.

Sweet helicopter.

Jim Lee does a pretty stellar job as always. It’s remarkable to me how cool and interesting artists can make Superman by just handling planes and wreckage. I’d wager scenes like this, which is the only meat of action in this issue, are much more interesting than seeing him punch bad guys in the face. Having read this digitally I didn’t get to see just how big the fold out pages were—and I might add it’s a bit crazy digital copies are the same price as paper when we don’t get that fold out—but the digital version does give you different sizes in order to read the narration clearly.

Hmmm, is that new?


  • Daring concept introduced
  • Killer Lee art as always
  • Good intro of characters
  • Steep price for what you get

This is a promising first issue in what will most likely be a strong first story arc. The twist at the end is made stronger by the gravitas in the first scene and sets up a story that might put Superman at odds with his country. I’m sure a lot of fans could use more Clark in their Superman comics than what is delivered here, but I’m okay with it. This is the big blockbuster Superman book that goes along with the movie and gives the reader everything they’d want after seeing that flick. It’s not just big and dumb though, and has introduced a promising story everyone should enjoy.

Is It Good?

Yes. Strong first issue.

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