Written by Scott Snyder
Drawn by Jim Lee and Dustin Nguyen (cover by Bryan Hitch)
Inked by Scott Williams
Published by DC Comics
PREVIOUSLY: Superman Unchained #8
Well, this is it, the big finale. As we left off last issue, Wraith has seemingly been defeated, only for Superman to discover that a massive armada of alien spaceships from Wraith’s home-world have amassed behind the sun and are preparing a full-scale assault on Earth. This was apparently their plan all along, ever since they first sent Wraith to Earth 70 years ago (although it is unclear if Wraith himself was actually aware of this). Lex Luthor has arrived with a solution to help Superman defeat the armada and save the world, although this will likely cost Superman his own life. Without hesitation (after a final goodbye to Lois that hints at deeper feelings between them, even though they’re not romantically involved – yet – in this continuity) Superman leaps into space. I don’t want to give away the ending except that…
Superman doesn’t die in the end.
Yeah, I know, that’s not really a spoiler, is it? Of course Superman isn’t going to die, he’ll find a way to save the day and survive. The spoiler is HOW he survives. That’s what I won’t reveal here.
I will say that before we get to that ending we’re treated to 11 beautifully drawn pages of Superman in space facing the armada. This really is some of Jim Lee’s most gorgeous artwork ever, in my opinion. Spliced throughout this main story is a flashback sequence, drawn by Dustin Nguyen, to a time when Superman was still a child back in Smallville. The Kents had a paranoid old neighbor, a man named Mr. Colder, who managed to see Clark using his powers and became convinced he was either an alien or a demon and one day he cornered Clark in a barn and threatened to kill him with a shotgun. Martha was there too and tried to convince Mr. Colder that Clark was just a normal boy but when Mr. Colder attempted to shoot her Clark lashed out and…well, let’s just say things get dangerous and Clark is forced to face the prospect that he’s capable of accidentally killing people with his powers. This is a very interesting sequence that gives us some insight into Superman’s moral character.
The only reason I’m not giving this a perfect score is that several pages feature a monologue/narration by Lex Luthor about what he feels is Superman’s true nature that just doesn’t come off as compelling as I believe Snyder intended it too. It just fell flat to me. I won’t say it dragged the story down, but it just didn’t quite work as well as it should have. Otherwise Snyder gets the voices of the characters correctly, especially in a sequence at the Daily Planet with Perry White and Jimmy Olsen making appearances.
Overall this issue is a good ending to what I think was one of the best Superman story-arcs I’ve read in a long time. I hope to see Scott Snyder and Jim Lee collaborate on another Superman project in the future.