Book Review: Superman Unchained
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Jim Lee
Release Date: June 12, 2013
‘Superman Unchained #1’ by Scott Snyder and Jim Lee is the latest blockbuster in the Superman franchise in printed format. The prologue takes us to the infamous Nagasaki bombing in 1945. But with a twist! A single bomber plane hovers over Nagasaki and when it unleashes its payload, it’s not a nuclear warhead but a blue life-form that is unleashed on the city. Yes, it’s the WIkiLeaks of the comic world. The Nagasaki we knew was destroyed by this mysterious energy creature.
With the release of ‘Man of Steel’, the comic launch has been a little subdued. What we are not aware of is that DC Comics has revamped its characters. When DC Comics decided to go under the knife in 2011 to sport a new look, it was a landmark event. As the revamped series started to roll out, DC Comics started to reconnect to me as an audience. Yes, my favourite superheroes were now changing with time. Among these larger-than-life demigods, Superman holds a cult following. The Justice League formation is told over twelve series. DC has wiped the slate clean. We are taken through the journey on how superheroes met each other and formed a league of their own and how Batman, despite his lack of any super power, was a perfect fit to the group. (Every other superhero from the Green Lantern to Flash thought he was a myth or his super power was that he was a Vampire.)
So, what are the notable differences in Superman in this new era? Clark Kent no longer works at The Daily Planet but is a blog writer. His marriage to Lois Lane never happened. Superman’s love interest remains in the Daily Planet with the same no-nonsense work ethics. Jonathan and Martha Kent are dead. You can almost strike a chord with Superman’s loneliness. The mighty alien with all his superhero powers is human after all. He’s emotional, vulnerable and has a stack of enemies as high as Luthor’s hundred floor-origami solar tower plans for the Metropolis that he shows to Superman. Eight satellites are hurling towards the Earth. Superman has already thwarted six satellites. One, however, takes the plunge to Earth as it heads for an uninhabited corner of the planet. We see him save two astronauts and stop the falling debris of the satellite with one hand. Yeah, he’s Superman alright! You are on the edge of your seat as Snyder’s monologue takes you into the mind of Superman as things unravel at break-neck free-fall in low-orbit of the Earth. The pace is set and Jim Lee’s amazing artwork keeps you from blinking as you quickly turn its pages.
Is this evil plan the undoing of cyber terrorist group Ascension or maybe, it is the imprisoned Lex Luthor back to being his menacing best. Both Lois and Superman feel that it’s above the pay-grade of Ascension. But the regular mention gives you the notion that the cyber terrorists would get more coverage in the next issue. It is upon reading Clark’s blog that Lois corrects that Superman destroyed not just seven but all the eight satellites. So, who destroyed the eighth falling satellite and who is the nefarious mastermind behind this attack? This time around, even the U.S army is against the Man of Steel as they have their own superhero who has been secretly working for them since decades. It all sets an interesting prologue to the soon-to-be-out Superman Unchained #2.
While the artwork in the comics is top-notch, the story leaves you wanting for more. The mystery blue-being character that will be pipped against Supes in the next issue hasn’t had any development time. So, who is it? What is it capable of? We will have to wait and hope he’s a brute force to Superman’s steel. Also, there is a passing reference of Bruce, Dian and Hal in the comics. ‘Superman Unchained #1′ is nothing short of spectacular. It is a page-turner and seeing your favourite Kryptonian at work is an awesome way to brighten up your day.
It is certainly one of the best Superman comics I have read in a long, long time.