Written by Scott Snyder
Drawn by Jim Lee
Inked by Scott Williams
Published by DC Comics
For the past three months I’ve been enjoying the regular Superman title by Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr., and I’m glad that it has so far remained self-contained so that I don’t need to also buy any other titles just to get the full story. But as I wait in-between issues I have craved more Superman, so I figured I check out this series. Superman Unchained is a 9 issue series that is also self-contained. It’s drawn by Jim Lee, whose artwork I like even more than John Romita Jr., but I avoided this title because Lee has a reputation for slowness, so I knew this series would have major delays (& I was right, the first issue came out in June of last year and now #8 is just coming out today, do the math) and i just didn’t want to bother. But now temptation got to me so, thanks to Comixology I was able to get all 7 current issues at once and read them back to back. I originally planned to write a mega-review of all 7 issues before I did this one, but just haven’t had time. And plenty of other reviews are already out there, check out comicbookresources’s reviews if you need to catch up. Now here we go.
MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD
This majority of this double-sized issue is a fight. It’s Superman vs. Wraith in a battle across the Earth that takes them from the desert to the arctic to outer space to underwater to the molten bowels of the Earth itself. So as such the majority of the execution here falls on Jim Lee’s shoulders, and believe me he rises to the occasion. We’re treated to many exciting visual images of Superman finally being able to let fully let loose against an opponent who is even more powerful than he is. The page of Superman smashing a battle-ship into Wraith is practically worth the price of the issue alone (not to mention when he smashes Wraith into the moon).
But don’t get the impression that this sequence is all just one massive slug-fest, throughout the battle Synder writes a running commentary of Superman’s thoughts, showing what’s going through the Man of Steel’s mind as he ponders how he is going to defeat this adversary once and for all, including his own internal doubts about whether that is possible. At one point he compares his methods to those of Batman and Wonder Woman, pondering how they would handle a situation like this. But even during spots where Superman is losing and it looks hopeless he never gives up. It all flows very naturally and reads like a real person’s actual dialog.
This all culminates in a cliffhanger where Superman learns that an even bigger threat than Wraith is heading his way, one that threatens the entire human race. And only one man can help Superman save the day…LEX LUTHOR?!?
I almost felt physically exhausted (in a good way) after reading this issue, it’s one of the most exciting books I’ve read in years. Again, I have to praise Jim Lee. If, like me, you’re a fan of his artwork then you are going to be very happy with the attention to detail he puts here in every panel, making it feel like the action is leaping off the page. But it’s not just the action sequences which impress me. When we first see Luthor in this issue he looks perfectly sinster and smug, as he should. And, in my opinion, Lee also draws the sexiest Lois Lane ever. And kudos to Synder for his story-pacing and dialog, everyone from Superman and Wraith to Lois, Jimmy, and Luthor, sounds in-character. This is just a great collaboration all around.