the jman sayeth: Superman Unchained issues 1 – 3

I’m not sure if you know this about your friendly neighborhood jman, but I’m a lifelong Superman fan.  Yea.  That’s right.  I’m not afraid to admit it, either!  I’m talking […]

I’m not sure if you know this about your friendly neighborhood jman, but I’m a lifelong Superman fan.  Yea.  That’s right.  I’m not afraid to admit it, either!  I’m talking a Superman long before Man of Steel, before Superman Returns.  Even before John Bryne’s 1986 reboot, also titled (oddly enough) Man of Steel.  I’m talking seeing Superman:  The Motion Picture in the theaters circa 1978 as a 7 year old (don’t bother doing the math.  Take it from me, I’m old.)

Superman Unchained #1

Over the years I’ve seen a few incarnation of Superman.  Of all the changes/reboots the one I like the least has been this current one in DC’s new52.  You can get a pretty good idea of my thoughts on the subject in the article, Discussion: Action Comics 1 – 18.

Superman Unchained #2

I dislike the handling of the character so much, that I still don’t read Action, even though Morrison’s run has long since ended.  I don’t read Adventures of Superman, either.  I do “read” Superman, though.  It’s more out of some sort of obligation to the character and the art (Rocafort’s art on Superman is flippin superb.), then because the stories have been any good.

Superman Unchained #3

Now there’s Superman Unchained by DC’s superstars, Jim Lee and Scott Snyder.  We’re three issues into the series and probably a good point to step back and take a look a closer look. There are a couple things about the book I like so far.

from #1 "the director's cut"

from #1 “the director’s cut”

The art.  The art is phenomenal.  Jim Lee at his best.  If DC hasn’t insured his hands yet, they better.



Storywise, there a few things I liked.  In issue one, the first few pages, were great.  Superman thinking his way through the situation was very cool.  It was cool to see that he didn’t just “know” how to deal with the situation instinctively.  He actually had to talk himself, through.

ahhhh...Lex!  you scamp!

ahhhh…Lex! you scamp!

Then there’s Lex?!?  Classic.  I don’t want to give too much away.  Let’s just say the dude really is the smartest guy on earth.

I know.  I know.  I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking:  My friendly neighborhood jman, you obviously didn’t like something about the book.  Why else would you start this off with the positives?  Look.  If that’s what you’re thinking, then nuts to you well, you’re right.  There are a bunch of things that leave me wondering about the book.



General Lane, for instance.  What a wanker.  Now, I know I said in my article about the book Lazarus, that I know a story is good when characters are pissing me off.  And General Lane is definitely pissing me off.  I’m not in the military, nor have I ever been.  And it wouldn’t surprise me that Lane’s personality, is based off of actual military behaviors.  But, I don’t like it.  I don’t like the confrontational nature of the government/military against Superman.

Yes.  It is very naïve of me to be like that.  And, sure, it’s way more “realistic”, but it’s a comic book for mercy’s sake!  And I have more than enough “realism” in my day to day existence, already, thank you very much.  Can’t Superman live in a world where he’s trusted?  God!  I miss those days.  I miss the days when the public liked Superman and only the bad guys had a grudge against him.  Man!  Am I getting old!

Although, I did think it was pretty funny when Lane called Superman a “cream and sugar” guy.  That was funny.



The problem with Superman, these days, stems from the fact that DC/WB rolled back a little too much time on him.  As a single ongoing series (a year zero series, if you will), it’s probably not a bad idea seeing all the mistakes Superman made along the way.  But, as a character as a whole?!?!?  I think they’ve done Superman a huge disservice rolling back so much time.  He lacks a certain amount of confidence Superman should have.  The way he carries himself against General Lane isn’t very…Superman-ish.  He comes off…juvenile?!?

oh boy!  here comes the heat!

oh boy! here comes the heat!

Then there’s the Wraith character.  Not too much has been revealed about his backstory as of yet.  He was downright “terrifying” the first two issues.  But, with this third issue?  All the sudden he’s become Lane’s lapdog.  Now, it could be that something else has yet to be revealed, which I’m really hoping is the case.  But, if there isn’t…

or...maybe not.

or…maybe not.

Scott Snyder continues to do a great job writing Batman.  “Death of the Family” and now “Zero Year”, all quality stuff.  Not to mention the Wake.  It’s part of the reason I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt here.  Plus, I don’t think what’s wrong with Superman is Snyder’s fault as much as it’s how this “non-reboot” of DC/WB’s has been handled.

Jim Lee’s artwork is phenomenal, which should come as no surprise to anyone.  And if I’m really honest with everyone here, it’s probably the only reason why I’m still reading the Superman Unchained (sorry Scott.  I know I just said I was giving you the benefit of the doubt.  And I am…courtesy of Jim Lee’s art.).  Jim’s art is truly in a class of it’s own.  Have I gushed enough yet?  Or should my ode to his art continue onto another paragraph?!?!

okokok.  one more penciled interior shot.

okokok. one more penciled interior shot.

I’m still cautiously optimistic, here.  I’m hoping this is just a lull.  The series started off strong.  Here’s hoping it picks back up in the next few issues.


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