It’s been a long time coming for the Man of Steel.
A long time since he’s had a series that anyone could be overly excited about. Something that rattled the shelves and made people want to know what was coming in the next installment. I am very pleased to say that the wait is over and not a day too soon.
“Superman: Unchained” is the best Superman book I’ve read in the last few years. Bar none. This is perfect, since tomorrow (or tonight at midnight, depending on your level of commitment to the Man) the “Man of Steel” is released to the masses.
“Superman: Unchained” is the product of DC Comics’ two biggest stars: Writer Scott Snyder and Artist/DC Co-Publisher/All-Around-Mega-Star Jim Lee. From them, they craft a Superman story that gets you caught up on who he is, jumps from character to action to character, and never misses a beat.
One thing that has been missing from Superman in his comics of late is his stature. No, I’m not talking about his size. (Though, there is an actual POSTER inside the comic that helps illustrate an important sequence of the story. It’s beautiful. It really is.) I’m talking about what he’s capable of. That no other hero is.
Within the beginning pages, we witness Superman catch a satellite ship falling at cataclysmic speeds out of orbit. While this could be treated as a day to day Superman act (I’ve seen him do variations on this before), author Snyder uses it to reflect on how reentering space and leaving Earth is similar to a silo jump he and his friends used to do back on the farm. This grounds him in our reality.
From there, it’s an exciting rush as we see Superman dismantle the satellite, rescue the workers, think a thousand thoughts a second to try and think of a way from it breaking apart, attempt to save himself, and, finally, pull it off.
Snyder, in the midst of all the chaos, gives us a solid frame of reference for Clark’s mind. He calls himself “Clark”. I think that sometimes people forget that. It’s not a secret identity. It’s his name. I found that a wonderful touch to this otherworldly sequence. After that, Snyder takes us on a tour through the world of Superman as he tries to figure out what caused not just that one satellite to crash, but seven others as well. We meet Lex Luthor, who’s as brilliant as always. Lois Lane, the ever go-getting overachiever. Jimmy Olsen, who’s finally found his niche as not only Clark Kent’s friend, but also his partner.
Each of these introductions is so simple, that it proves a super point. That not every character needs to be completely reinvented to suit a current audience. No, the lesson is that sometimes, they just need to be refreshed.
As stated before, like last week, Lee’s works suits him best in the action and adventure sequences. In the opening pages, though, there’s a moment that takes place in Nagasaki, Japan in 1945, where a young boy looks out his binoculars. It’s these bits that remind us why Lee is so much more than most people attune him for. He’s an artist.
Snyder and Lee set up a grand storyline with mystery and intrigue abound, one worthy of Superman. With that, I hope you went out yesterday and got your copy at Heroes and Villains Comic Store in time for the charity auction. If not, still, this is the best place to get your Superman fix if you got a hankerin’ after “Man of Steel”.
Next Week: We take a look at one last Superman story to wrap up our weeks of Superman books. This time, another great intro into the world of Superman. One a bit more modern. This time we’re looking at Superman: For All Seasons. Should be a blast.
In addition to writing for the column “Comic Matters” for the Citizen, Bobby Acosta is also a 5th Grade Elementary school teacher, employee and frequenter of Heroes & Villains Comics/Game Store, and of the importance of comics. He recommends each and every comic he writes about.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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