lvenger's Superman Unchained #1 - The Leap review

At least one Snyder can get Superman right

With Andy Diggle having left Action Comics and Scott Lobdell on Superman, I’m not the most thrilled with Superman’s status in the New 52. Thankfully, superstar creative team Scott Snyder and Jim Lee seem to have answered my wish with Superman Unchained. Yes I know I’m late to the party reviewing this but my comics arrive a month later so this is the first chance I’ve had to read it. My thoughts on it are as follows. There will be SPOILERS by the way

In the beginning, Snyder does set up a tantalising mystery via his introduction set in Nagaski on the date of its bombing. I liked that he gave the event a more personal inspection by focusing on a family worrying over the threat of war and the weapons possessed by America. And the boy’s childlike curiosity giving rise to him being the only one to see what was really in the bomb sets up Snyder’s story nicely for what’s to come. From there, Snyder brings us an awesome spectacle of action as Superman deals with a space station falling from the sky with a nuclear core whilst saving two astronauts. Immediately, Snyder sets Superman against a disaster worthy of his attention and manages to get inside the character’s head properly too. At times, Snyder can overload the reader with exposition and thought boxes but here, they’re balanced just right with the fast paced events of the story whilst also giving us Snyder’s interpretation of Superman. The action flows in the right direction and events are not rushed. Snyder devotes enough time to each part of the action so the end result is a sweet one indeed.

I have to say that I’m liking Snyder’s portrayal of the Man of Steel. There are more traits of the modern Superman that I know and love in Snyder’s depiction of Superman. He comes across as more charming and friendly yet serious and concerned about people as well. These are qualities that have been lacking in most New 52 appearances of Superman so far. What’s more, Snyder’s style of writing works well in guiding the reader through how Clark deals with the threat he faces. This is one of the strongest things about Snyder’s writing for me. He makes sure he focuses on the man behind the costume above all else so in costume, the character themselves comes shining through. And Clark is not given

Another benefit of Snyder’s writing is his characterisation of the rest of the Superman universe. His Lex is written with suitable delusions of grandeur coupled with the genuine sense that what he’s doing is benefitting the world more. Jimmy Olsen is written as possessing a healthy respect towards Clark and being inspired by recent events in Lobdell’s Superman title. Here, Snyder gives a nod towards current events going on in the Superman universe whilst using that nod to further the plot in his own tale. It’s a nice touch. And Lois gets some great moments in challenging Clark and his story whilst staving off Perry’s interference with the paper and giving Clark directions towards the next part of the story. Snyder writes Lois as a worthy equal to Clark which is exactly how she should be portrayed. His fondness for Lois as a character adds to the quality of her appearance and I’m glad Lois is not getting the short shrift like she has been in other Superman titles. It’s a good thing to see Lois as a prominent influence on Clark Kent’s life even though they aren’t working together.

Snyder does balance various events, developments and interactions in a cohesive manner. This really exemplified my enjoyment of the story being told. I was always engaged with what was going on and most of all, I really enjoyed it. Snyder has crafted an entertaining opening to his Superman run and I’m intrigued to what will happen. One area of concern does crop up in the story though. For one, how does Superman catch the Lighthouse and not crush the hundreds of people said to be below? That event was a bit bemusing. And another issue I may have with the story is this mysterious so called ‘Real Superman.’ Many times in comics, we’ve seen the so called ‘real Superman,’ a faux parallel to the Superman we do know as a means to challenge him physically and psychologically. This is what Snyder has promised to deliver in this story yet we’ve seen it before or seen it falter. I do hope Snyder doesn’t drop the ball in making a worthy addition Superman’s rogues gallery.

As for the art, my all time favourite comic book artist, Jim Lee, lends his pencils to the task. But his first 3 pages are not his best. Maybe that’s due to the inking but it detracted from the quality of the opening. It looked murky and not really emotive. Still, after those pages, Lee knocks it out of the park. His stoic, iconic renditions of Superman, Lois Lane, Clark Kent and more of Superman’s supporting cast have been sorely missed by me. He captures every facet of detail on the page, from the towering skyscrapers of Metropolis to the smallest bit of satellite debris. There’s a sense of order and attention to the art that I adore in Lee’s art style. And Williams paints the pages with a wave of bright colours. Superman’s costume is attention grabbing and focuses the reader’s attention on him, the explosions light up with an orange tint and the faces of the characters look all the more real thanks to his colouring.

The back up, if two pages can be called a back up, was decent. I liked Perry’s portrayal and the addition of his grandfather creating a humanitarian journalistic organisation. Perry and Jimmy’s interaction played well off each other. But the body in the fisherman’s net scene was a bit of a reach for connecting with the main plot IMO. Rafael Albuquerque delivers some good artwork. Their pairing works well together as Albuquerque translates Snyder’s story onto the page well. A credit to their partnership on American Vampire for certain.

Overall, I was very impressed with this debut issue. The story was incredibly entertaining and engaging whilst building upon itself for the future. The art was, for the most part, jaw dropping. So I’m feeling very hopeful about the future of Superman thanks to this series!

Story: 9/10

Art: 9/10

Overall: 9/10

22 Comments
Posted by TheAcidSkull

Nice review man :), i'm a very Glad you liked it. and with Greg Pak Taking over action comics, we have a bright future for supes :)

As for Myself, i did enjoy it more than i expected it too, but other than the problems you mentioned, there was another big issue i had with Unchained . Why would superman Not MAKE SURE and save the last satellite? i get that the AREA was Uninhabited and all but i don't understand why supes would really Take that chance you know?

other than that it was a solid issue. 7/10 for me :)

Posted by johnkmccubbin91

Great review. I also loved this issue and can't wait for more.

Posted by Lvenger

@theacidskull: I admit, that is a concern I hadn't thought of til now (and you say you're not that good at reviews :P) But the way I see it is that the Lighthouse posed the much bigger threat what with its size, two astronauts that needed saving and the nuclear core. It was the biggest threat of the bunch and Superman needed to take care of it along with saving the astronauts. Lee said that a good way to challenge Superman is "by having things happen very, very quickly in different places and then asking, "Who does he save first? What powers must he use to save each person or stop each disaster?" That's one of the ways you make him interesting beyond the thematic and moral issues that make Superman."

@johnkmccubbin91: I agree, I also can't wait to see what happens next with this series!

Edited by TheIncredibleSuperHulk8642

Great review glad you liked it. I don't know why but the title of you're review make's me chuckle every time I see it :)

Posted by johnkmccubbin91

@lvenger: Out of curiosity what do you think of Pak taking over Action after Lobdell's short run?

Posted by Lvenger

@theincrediblesuperhulk8642: Heh it's in part a rip on another Snyder associated with Superman. I'm known on here for not being totally impressed with Man of Steel.

Posted by Lvenger

@johnkmccubbin91: I'm very pleased about it. His Batman/Superman issue has potential and I liked the start of the issue. His interviews sound like he knows what he wants to do with the title and make sure he stays true to the characters. Then again, I do know a certain expert and massive Pak fan on here :P

Edited by TheIncredibleSuperHulk8642
Posted by TheIncredibleSuperHulk8642

@lvenger: Although I loved the movie a lot more than you it seems it did have it's faults especially with that particular scene but anyway's this book was great and I can't wait till Pak take's over Action although I do like what Lobdell is doing on Superman(it's vastly imporved after H'EL on Earth) not every writer is a winner

Posted by johnkmccubbin91

@lvenger: Yeah he certainly seems to know the character. I think I know who you're talking about. I too have loved Pak's work over the years, and actually prefer his lesser rated work like Hercules, but he has also did brilliant work on Hulk, and I'm sure this will be said about Superman.

Edited by TheAcidSkull

@lvenger: It's just something that had accrued to me. but superman trying and failing is different and forgivable. but Not checking the last falling satellite at all kinda annoyed me :P

Posted by Lvenger

@theincrediblesuperhulk8642: True. It's all about interpretation I guess on both regards

@johnkmccubbin91: I'm looking to get Planet Hulk and some of Pak's Hulk run in the future. It's considered to be quintessential Hulk reading and was when I started to get interested in Hulk after playing Ultimate Destruction as well.

Edited by Lvenger

@theacidskull: Fair enough. It is a flaw I hadn't thought of before.

Posted by TheAcidSkull

@lvenger said:

@theacidskull: Fair enough. It is a flaw I hadn't thought of before.

Overall though it;s good.

Edited by TheIncredibleSuperHulk8642

@lvenger: Pak's run is amazing but Planet Hulk and WWHulk are essential reading to his run it's great stuff equal to PAD's run if not better. Ultimate Destruction was an amazing game and so was Radical's first Hulk game simply called Hulk which was also amazing(even though it was based off that terrible 2003 movie).

Posted by johnkmccubbin91

@lvenger: I'd certainly recommend his run which in my opinion is the best Hulk run (though I've not read as much as some). I also consider Planet Hulk to be the best Hulk story ever, and the follow-up World War Hulk was also good. I'd also however recommend Pak's Hercules run (especially after World War Hulk) as it was also brilliant, and did a great job with him, getting his characterisation spot on.

Posted by Lvenger
Posted by johnkmccubbin91

@lvenger: Gary Frank is an amazing artist, and his work on Planet Hulk was great, though it didn't go too well with the other artwork in my opinion, was still good though.

Posted by TheIncredibleSuperHulk8642

@lvenger: well Gary Frank only did part of 1 issue the majority of the art was split up by Carlo Pagulayan and Aaron Lopresti Planet Hulk and WWHulk are perfect examples of why Hulk is called the strongest one there is.

Posted by Lvenger
Posted by TheIncredibleSuperHulk8642

@lvenger: Yeah Gary Frank doesn't do much but his style for Hulk wasn't as good as it used to be. His old style was very reminiscent of Dale Keown and it was great for Hulk but his new style doesn't fit the Hulk but it does fit Superman and Shazam. but yeah Aaron Lopresti and Carlo Pagulayan are the main artists but don't worry they did a great job.

Posted by TDK_1997

I am glad that you liked the issue and I did like it also but not as much as you.Great review and I can't wait to see what's next.

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