A Question of Faith
I've been meaning to read this story for quite a while now, but it was a few things coming at the same time that pushed me to finally get it. The main thing was probably the upcoming Superman: Unchained series which will be drawn by the artist of this story, Jim Lee. I'm also a huge fan of his artwork, with him being my favourite comic book artist, and I also recently read, and reviewed Batman: Hush which is also drawn by Lee. With them three things all at once, plus the incling to try more of Brian Azzarello's work (got Joker, and Luthor to read, and I've also read, and reviewed Batman: Broken City), I decided to finally get this book.
A year has passed since the sudden, and unexplained disappearance of millions of people. In his quest to find answers Superman visits Father Daniel Leone to confess his sins. Throughout Superman begins to question his faith, and whether he was responsible for the vanishings.
This was a brilliant story, and Brian Azzarello did a fabulous job of giving a unique, and meaningful Superman story. To be honest I wasn't too sure what I'd make of this story as it got a lot of people upset, which made me wary. I however loved it. Although it wasn't phenomenal all the way through the story was generally very well thought out, and always interesting. The only small complaint I had about the story was that it was a little bit confusing at times, but I think that was meant to help make the story more mysterious. Anyway as I read through more the confusing parts became very clear, and set ups some surprises I wasn't expecting. There was however some things in the story that I did expect. What I also liked about Azzarello's writing was how he took Superman on a moral journey, but I'll talk a bit more about that later.
As some of you may know, Jim Lee is my favourite artist, and that is the reason I've been wanting to read this book for so long. As usual he does a brilliant job, and I seriously think that he could take anything and make it look amazing. I first saw his art on Batman: Hush, and have loved it ever since. Talking about Hush, Superman also featured in that story, and Lee stated that he wasn't satisfied with the way he drew him. Although I loved the way he's drew Superman in Hush I do think that he's done so much more with the character in this story. I love that he's taken Azzarello's story, which is darker than most Superman stories, and has incorporated that in Superman's look, which is much darker than usual. I did however prefer Lee's art on Superman during his run on Justice League, but that was much after this story, plus with the task of reinventing Superman's look he'd have more room to play around with designs, as to make it his own. I also loved the way he drew all the other characters throughout this story, and the detail throughout if phenomenal. The action sequences are also great, and Lee makes them look amazing. The inks from long time Lee inker Scott Williams, and the colours from Alex Sinclair were also brilliant, and helped make Lee's already fabulous artwork look even better than it already does. I could continue talking about the art for a lot longer time, but I'll move on to more topics.
The main theme of the story centers around Superman's faith. Superman blames himself for the vanishings of over a million people, and he feels that his main sin is saving the world. As I said parts of this story confused me, but it revealed it's true meaning later in the story, and made for nice surprises. I did however think that Azzarello using the faith theme was very bold, and unique. It's also very fitting for a Superman story, as when your someone that everyone believes will save them, it must be hard when you disappoint. Especially when you've got the morels of someone like Superman.
When he's questioning himself Superman visits Father Daniel Leone to confess his sins. The sin that Superman apparently committed was saving the world. Again this confused me to start of with, but made sense later on in the story. Anyway the character of Father Daniel was very interesting, and suited this story perfectly. Father Daniel is in no great shape, as he's dying from cancer, and this is what makes him a fitting character. Don't get me wrong, it's not the fact he has cancer, as that's not a funny thing to have. The thing that makes him a fitting character is that due to his cancer he himself is questioning his faith, much like Superman, and you can't get anything bigger in that category that a man of god. Besides that I think that Father Daniel was a brilliant character, and Superman's conversations with him made for the perfect flashback set-ups.
Another interesting character that featured in this story was Mr. Orr. Mr. Orr is a mercenary that is working for a business man to retrieve the machine that caused the vanishing. Throughout the story Mr. Orr is very mysterious, and although his goals are very plain, his methods aren't. Although I liked the character to a certain extent, he wasn't as necessary as Father Daniel, but still helped to shape the story. What I especially liked about his appearance in this story was that he gave Father Daniel some hope, all be it in a weird manor. I also liked that Mr. Orr had his foot in everything, making everything to do with the vanishings his business, and especially when it was connected to Superman.
The Justice League of America also featured in this story. After being linked to a second lot of vanishings the JLA question Superman's actions, as he's taking the thing very personally. I really liked the addition of the JLA in this story, as like with Superman's appearance in Hush it adds a different view point, and it shows how much Superman has changed. I say this as the JLA have been the closest allies that Superman has had, and that if they notice a change in him then it means that it's big. I especially liked Batman's take on the events, as he's happy that Superman's taking it personally, as it shows that he's human, or at least human natured. It was also nice that certain League members, including Batman, and Wonder Woman made more extended appearances later in the story.
Later in the story there is a big fight between Superman, and Wonder Woman. Batman and Wonder Woman realize that Superman is about to make drastic actions, so Wonder Woman goes in an attempt to stop him. The fight was phenomenal, and although it wasn't quite as good as the fight between Batman, and Superman in Hush, it was still brilliant, and very entertaining. What I liked about the fight the most was that you could really see the emotions from the two characters, as Superman is fighting for something he believes in, and Wonder Woman is fighting to prevent Superman doing something she sees as stupid. What I think made this fight special was that it happened in Superman's Fortress of Solitude. Now this isn't the first time a fight has broken out in the Fortress, and it would't be the last, but the setting always makes a fight look more thrilling, especially when it's between two powerhouses like Superman, and Wonder Woman. Another thing that I liked was that Wonder Woman didn't come unprepared, as she had a magic dagger.
There was also an even bigger fight between Superman, and Zod (highlight to reveal name) near the end of the story. My thoughts on the fight will probably be smaller than the Superman/Wonder Woman fight, but that's only to avoid spoilers. The fight was epic, and I always love seeing these two characters fight each other. Although at the same time this wasn't their best fight it was still phenomenal, and a brilliant way to close a fantastic story. I loved the artwork in the fight between Superman, and Wonder Woman, but again I felt the art was also better this time round. I also loved the verbal conflict between the two characters during the fight, as sometimes a visually stunning fight can be spoiled through dialogue, but this wasn't.
Overall this was a brilliant story, and I was glad to finally read it. The mysterious nature of the story made the story interesting, and also unique. It also had some phenomenal fight sequences, and an emotional theme. I would easily recommend this to anyone, as although it may not be to everyone's liking it is worth the read, and visually stunning.