Superman Unchained #1 (DC)

superman unchained

Rating: 3/5 – An action heavy opening issue by Snyder and Lee

A new number one issue of Superman brings together two of the industries best talents, Scott Snyder and Jim Lee.  Although the talents on the book are top notch, I was expecting a bit more.  This first issue is a nice set up issue for what’s to come, but is a bit heavy on action and too quick in its pacing.

After a few prologue pages that hint at the mysterious future villain, we get a big action scene where Superman has to stop an enormous satellite from falling from the sky.  This is how a Superman book should open.  Over the top action with dangerous threats.  The opening scene isn’t just big with action, it’s even bigger with the art.  The opening scene with Superman includes a 4 page, pull-out vertical splash that shows Superman up close and in action.  If you’re familiar with Jim Lee’s work on All-Star Batman and Robin, then you’ll know this is not something new to his work.  The only difference is that the 4-page spread is pulled upwards, opening vertically, which is of course fitting for Superman.

The action continues throughout the book as we jump from that opening scene right into another involving a plummeting helicopter with Lex Luthor as a passenger.  Superman’s interaction with Lex is well written, and we get to see just how smart and calculating Lex can be in such a limited interaction.  I felt as though Scott’s writing of the character moments with Lex, Jimmy and Lois read much better than the big action sequences that dominate the book.  Superman’s interactions with Lois and Jimmy in particular were the highlights of the book.  Lois is written exactly how you’d imagine her, in-charge, opinionated and driven, while Clark’s interactions with Jimmy Olsen add a needed touch of humor and lightness to the story.  It’s within the interaction with Lois that leads Superman to investigate another fallen satellite, the eighth satellite to fall from the sky.  Why these satellites keep falling and who or what is behind their destruction is what Superman’s investigating in the main storyline.

With all the action that takes place in the book, I felt as though the pacing seemed to be a bit off.  The opening scene with the falling satellite, to the second scene with a falling helicopter, to a later action scene in the ocean all felt a bit rushed.  For example, there was no pause or break in the action between the opening scene with the falling satellite and the second scene with the falling helicopter.  And later when Superman investigates the eighth satellite to fall, it seems as though he rushes in and the action picks up a bit too quickly.  It feels weird to say that there’s too much action in a Superman book, but that’s how it felt.  It’s a very clear setup issue and it looks as though all the pieces are in place for this opening storyline.  It just felt as though the quieter parts could have been spread out a bit more as I felt that it was the quieter parts that stole the show.  Also, much like in Snyder’s current Batman series, there is a two page epilogue in the back that’s written by Snyder and drawn by Dustin Nguyen.  It’s a nice two page story that ties into the main storyline of the book, but Nguyen’s art is so different from Lee’s that it looks out of place.

I felt the book was…good, but with the two talents involved and Scott and Jim’s proven track record, I was expecting great.  I’ll be back for the remainder of this first storyline and believe that Snyder’s story will come together nicely, it’s just that for this first issue I’m not as excited as I thought I would be when the book was first announced.  The timing is perfect for this book’s release with the Man of Steel movie out this past weekend and this year’s celebration of 75 years of Superman.  I have no doubt that this creative team will deliver a great Superman story given time, I just hope they slow down a bit to do so.

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas – Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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3 Responses to Superman Unchained #1 (DC)

  1. Garrison Burk says:

    I wonder, with the endless reboots of Superman lately in the theatre, if the team here wanted to try to match that action on paper to give a more compelling reason to read instead of watch.

  2. Tommy says:

    My heart still belongs to Christopher Reeves, but I am intrigued to see what the Man of Steal is up to these day. I enjoyed the Jim Lee run of Batman and I always enjoy a reboot because they usallly stick to the kind of stories that made the character classic.

  3. Azwan says:

    I think the first 2 issues are trying to introduces a lot of things to the readers. Not a bad idea but it will make new readers confuse, don’t you think?

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