In Review: Superman Unchained #2

The covers: There are several variant covers, but I’m going to focus on the primary cover by Jim Lee, Scott Williams & Alex Sinclair. Kal is holding up a tank with one hand and a tattered Old Glory in the other, as yet another tank bears down on him. Powerful image with great coloring. The yellow sky and the orange smoke provide a great contrast to Supe’s blues. Overall grade: A

The story: Written by Scott Snyder, “The Fall” opens with Lex Luthor in the M.A.W. (Metropolis Armory Ward, a high security prison) filming himself amid a gigantic miniature city he’s built, quoting Quintus Smyrnaeus. Then we go to Dubai where Superman has his hands full with the Apollodorus–which sounds like it’s got something to do with Apokolips, but, sadly, does not. We then go to Gotham City where an uneasy ally provides intel on last issue’s satellite fall. Then off to the Midwest where a character from last issue confronts our hero, antagonizes him and unintentionally starts some physical chaos. This leads to a reveal on Page 20. The issue ends with Lex going Sigorney from Aliens. The two page epilogue has a Gotham Knight reaching an unsurprising conclusion and the fisherman, from last month’s epilogue, uncovering an important artifact. The Luthor scenes are silly: he can procure all that stuff on Page 1, while in prison? His final page makes him look hilariously manic. I can do without all the internal narration for Superman on Pages 2 – 8. I felt like I was drowning in his thoughts, like Dubai. I would have preferred choppy, shorter sentences to highlight the action, rather than the overkill of his thought process. Pages 10 – 12 illustrate why I’m avoiding this Gothamite’s titles–the paranoid avenger that’s been carrying Frank Miller’s angst for 27 years. So much for the “new” 52 motto applying to this guy. Lois doesn’t do much except provide a means to move Kal to a new location. I’m interesting in the character on page 20, but this story suffers from the get-to-it syndrome. Can we just get to this character and avoid the fluff? Pages 2 – 8 do nothing but show the character’s strength and thought process. Unnecessary. And, again, the “Epilogue” is unworthy of being called one as it wraps nothing up; it only creates future story opportunities. I was woefully unimpressed with this tale. Overall grade: C-

The art: It’s pretty work from penciller Jim Lee and inker Scott Williams, but the double-pages spreads on pages 2 and 3 & 4 and 5 are too much. One would have sufficed, but two is overkill back-to-back and lessens both. I realize the first is to provide scale, while the second is for the hero’s reveal, but a single splash for each would have been better. The double-page splash on 10 and 11 looks good, but my focus should be on the characters, not their surroundings. Now the double-page spread (Can you see how ridiculous all of these are for one issue?) fit the story and importance of the issue perfectly–this was deserved. Page 23 is just funny looking. Did anyone at DC notice Luthor’s got a light-up crotch? I guess my eyes would be bulging as well if I had designed by suit’s power source/light to be between my legs. The individual panels look good, but the splash pages need to be kept to a minimum. Dustin Nguyen illustrates the Epilogue, and I’m not liking it. The style is jarring when compared to the previous 23 pages. It would probably have been better if it had been in black and white. Overall grade: B

The colors: I was happy with Alex Sinclair on this book who excels in the exterior shots, making Superman bright against the normal world. I especially like the pages in the final outside location. Just gorgeous. The Epilogue is colored by John Kalisz, who uses blue, red and yellows to good effect, but I can’t help but think this would have been better uncolored. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Sal Cipriano also rates highly with me for this book. He does the expected good job on dialogue and narration, but he flies high with his sound effects. This is a book that needs big sounds for its big action, and Cipriano shines. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Issue #1 was $4.99. This issue was $3.99. I feel like I was swindled. This is how I felt after seeing Avatar: the experience was too expensive for pretty visuals and a padded story. I don’t want to pay for pretty. I’m done buying this series. Overall grade: C+


Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyers Guide for a few years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” He had to give that up to teach 8th graders English for 19 years, and only recently has been teaching 9th graders English. He reads everything as often as he can when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars or Indiana Jones items online.

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