Saturday, June 15, 2013

Superman Unchained #1 – Not Quite a Review, More of an Impression

It took me two tries to get through this book.  When I finally did finish it, I still wasn’t hooked into the new series.  This is the biggest launch since the New 52 and that’s the whole problem (for me) – It’s still IN the New 52 and I don’t like that universe much anymore.  Of course I knew that going in; I mean how can you NOT notice that ridiculous collar on Superman’s costume.  Let me go on record to say that I HATE IT!!!  There were a plethora of really awesome (and expensive) variant covers for this book and it was a perfect example of why the iconic costume that was virtually the same for over 70 years is still the best.  (The Dan Jurgens and Jose Garcia-Lopez covers were things of beauty.)  Star Trek: The Next Generation’s third season collar add-on was much needed, but that’s because it changed pajamas into a military uniform. Superman’s new neck-piece just doesn’t go well with the cape.  And don’t get me started on those lines all over the suit.  Jim Lee’s a talented artist, but I don’t like his designs here.

I also don’t like the young-ish Clark Kent.  I followed Superman and Action Comics for a good half-a-year or more before bailing on both titles.  Knowing that’s he’s been making time with Wonder Woman certainly makes things worse.  I love Superman, just not this one.  So, keep that in mind as you read my impressions on the inaugural issue as I’ve definitely got a bias going in.

SPOILERS May Follow (I really don’t plan on going to deep into the book).

Superman Unchained #1
Writer: Scott Synder
Penciller: Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Sal Cippiano
Publisher: DC
Price: $5.99 Combo Edition (which I sold the code for $5.00 on eBay)

For a Five Dollar book, it seemed awfully short.  Maybe that’s because eight pages were devoted to the front-and-back fold-out image.  I liked the size of the drawings.  I didn’t like being afraid my book was going to tear when I tried to open it.  You can’t even appreciate the back image, because you don’t want it to bend the wrong way.  They would have been much better off making the whole issue tabloid size.  The four page interview was filler too.  Then they have the gall to advertise the Director’s cut, which will contain the full script and pencils.  I would love to see how Scott scripts, because then you can get all the nuances in his story spelled out for you.

I don’t need another Superman.  Oops, I guess that was sort of a spoiler, but you see that on the second page.  Remember Busiek’s 52-week Trinity series (which I just sold on eBay for only $1 per issue – sad I know)?  Well, in that book, Supes, Bats, and WW all turned into almost godlike versions of themselves, and Big Blue was all blue with smoldering red eyes.  I’m sure this is in homage to that character design, but I don’t want another lets-add-this-character-into-the-past type of thing again.  You know, like the Court of Owls!  It this alien another Kryptonian – could he be Zod in the New 52?  I don’t know and I’m not sure I care. I also don’t like the evil military using the poor alien plot – reminds me too much of Super 8.

The art is pretty though.  I liked the scene of the astronauts’ rescue with Superman taking the reentry friction on his back.  Lex Luthor’s attitude was cool.   There really isn’t much more to say – not much happened. 
I know both creators can deliver the goods.  This is a Dream Team Supreme, but I’m going to have to cautiously wait to see if the story gets more engrossing.  If I can only get past that (“S. T. bad word”) collar!
On the other hand, if you want to read something really, really great check out Batman Lil’ Gotham #3. Dustin Nguyen who did the two-page epilogue in Superman Unchained does that art and it’s spectacular -- like a wonderful watercolor.  It’s fun too!

I hope to get a good night’s sleep so I can enjoy Man of Steel in the morning (that’s yesterday morning for you Saturday readers).  Man, it better be good…

GRADE B-:  The story is mostly set-up in a universe that I don’t relate to anymore.  Plus, the wardrobe malfunction is joined by an ambitious but flawed centerfold innovation.

Wait to see the reviews for issue #2.  There will be PLENTY of copies of this book around for a LONG time.


  1. Batman Li'l Gotham left me cold after trying 2 issues. I liked Superman Unchained. I have a lot of the same gripes you do, hate the new DCU, over designed costume sucks, Clark too young, but is was a good story and the first new DCU Superman comic I have enjoyed. Heck outside of some Johns/Frank stuff and All Star Superman, first time I have liked any Superman comic in years.

  2. Sorry you didn't like Lil'Gotham! Hope you liked the Daredevil issue better. I'm sure this story will get more interesting for me, I just need to give it some more time.

  3. Just read the Daredevil issue by Lee Weeks, very good book. Excellent recommendation.

  4. Well good, I'm 1 for 1. I did buy two copies and gave one to a comic friend and need to find a non-comic friend give a copy to.