June 29, 2013

REVIEW: Superman Unchained #1

At last year's New York Comic Con, DC Comics announced that Scott Snyder and Jim Lee were taking on a new Superman book, Superman Unchained, to coincide with Man of Steel's theatrical release. With Grant Morrison's departure from Action Comics it immediately became the prime Superman book to read. And with such a stellar creative force, it was silly not to expect anything but greatness. Yes, Unchained is a fun book but it's hardly the force we all wanted. Spoiler-free review ahead.

Although Jim Lee's art is top-notch, Scott Snyder's script is a bit of a letdown. Its probably unfair to compare this to Snyder's already legendary work on Batman, but those stories were that much more epic that Unchained seems to fall short. This being his first Superman story, I expected a lot more. In Batman we got a fresh but familiar version of the Bat-verse, with chilling revelations and the almost uncertainty that Batman had finally met his match. Unchained doesn't have that same epicness despite all the hype behind it. Snyder has already reinvented Batman and Swamp Thing but there's too much familiarity here, despite the 'New 52' badge in the corner. Yes, it's ONLY ONE issue, but Snyder has shown time and time again he can accomplish so much more with just that ONE issue that its just that much more disappointing. The reveal at issue's end also seems all too familiar. It's not the typical plot twist we're used to with Snyder, but hopefully he differentiates it in the next issue and the pace picks up.

Still, Unchained does have its merits. The story still has the familiar Snyder-style sense of mystery that we've grown to love in Batman and American Vampire. The issue does leave you wanting more once its over. The back-up story by Snyder (with art by Dustin Nguyen) was also a nice welcome addition. Also, Snyder's characterizations of Superman's supporting cast are spot-on. I enjoyed the panels starring Lois, Jimmy, and of course Lex Luthor. And as usual, the art of Jim Lee/Scott Williams/Alex Sinclair is as epic as ever. Superman's New 52 suit was designed by Jim Lee and rightfully so I don't think any other artist draws it as well as him. Lastly, the highly anticipated four page fold-out, double-sided spread is breathtakingly gorgeous. Its the first of its kind in comics and I'm considering buying another copy so I can hang it on my wall! If you buy this issue in digital, YOU ARE MISSING OUT.


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