lvenger's Superman Unchained #2 - The Fall review

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  • lvenger has written a total of 49 reviews. The last one was for Out of Time
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A Damn Fox and a Half

After the phenomenal first issue of Superman Unchained, I've finally managed to read the second issue today. Late I know but I get my comics a month later. Anyway, given the success of the first issue, I hoped the second issue could live up to the bar set for it by Snyder and Lee’s awesome collaboration. SPOILERS WILL FOLLOW IN THIS REVIEW.

Admittedly, the first page is a bit pointless. It’s just Lex quoting from the Illiad and is Snyder’s vain attempt at foreshadowing. Lex doesn’t have a prominent role until the last two pages so this first page was a waste of the story. Nonetheless, with that gripe out the way, the next pages were a gripping read. Superman has to deal with the Burji Khalifa, the tallest building in the world located in Dubai, falling to the ground along with a prototype construction robot aptly named after a famous Roman architect called Apollodorus which has been hacked by cyber terrorist group Ascension. Here Snyder shows off his writing chops once again by presenting Superman with a gripping challenge of stopping a falling building in less than 20 seconds (he does it in 17 to be precise) along with getting past the out of control robot. Snyder’s narrative plays out exceptionally well here as Superman frantically considers options on how to stop the building. This is a manifesto Snyder and Lee have made clear in interviews. They’ve challenged Superman by not nerfing him but instead giving him complex problems that require a precise application of his powers to deal with the situation. To see Superman grasping at straws and not knowing how to deal with the challenge makes for entertaining viewing as you’re not sure how the situation will play out. Though there is one moment where Superman considers blowing the building back which may kill people. It didn’t jive with me for a moment but I guess it would have been better than letting the building fall. Snyder resolves this challenge neatly in a way that shows off Superman’s experience with his powers in its full glory. To me, these sorts of challenges are exactly how to write entertaining Superman stories.

Moving on, we see Superman meet up with Batman to discuss Ascension. These two icons are played off well and it’s pleasant to see Snyder handle both of them. But there’s this one moment of ultimate Batwanking from Snyder where he has Bruce show Clark a suit he made that can distort his super vision. First off, this is a PIS event as it is far beyond Bruce’s abilities to make a suit of that kind. Secondly, it doesn’t account for Clark’s superhearing or super smell so the suit is essentially pointless really. There was no reason for it to be included in the issue and I’m not a fan of writers who play up Batman’s capabilities unnecessarily to let him stand against Superman. But it’s to be expected given Snyder’s fondness for the character along with him being the Batman writer now that Morrison’s Inc run has ended. In any case, Batman’s appearance allows for some classic interactions between these stalwart friends and helps to further the plot in terms of Ascension’s plans and the mysterious handprint. I liked that Superman turns to Batman for this kind of stuff as not only is Batman one of the most qualified people to find such information out, it speaks of the trust these characters have forged. Batman is given a meaningful guest star appearance in this issue.

But an interaction that dwarfed this scene, despite its brevity, was Superman and Lois’ short talk. We get to see Lois showing how feisty, snarky and determined she can be in this scene and it’s a joy to see a writer like Snyder understand Lois’ importance to Superman mythology. She’s supposed to have a big role in the story and given the situation she’s in at the end of the issue, I’ll be very interested to see how Snyder shows off why Lois is a dependable, capable woman on her own without needing Superman for help.

Then we’re treated to some real story development as Superman tracks down the handprint’s location to the Salt Flats in Utah where he’s confronted by General Lane. I loved his return in the New Krypton storyline and Lane being set up as a tense antagonist for Superman with motives that are honestly understandable from a certain point of view. Fortunately, we get to see this continue in Unchained with Lane revealing a plethora of black hole related weaponry to deal with Superman. Now, if you’re wondering why I’m not mad about the black hole weaponry harming Superman or the construction robot posing an annoyance to him but am mad about the Batsuit, the first two have had money pooled into it by wealthy people. Superman has been up against Earth based criminals with weapons that can stagger him so the US Government having an arsenal of weapons to counter him makes perfect sense as to why they can hurt him. I mean they’re based on black hole technology! Batman’s suit on the other hand is another example of writers flaunting Batman’s capabilities for him to compete with Superman. Anyway, the black hole scene gives Superman another threat to face. And finally Wraith appears on the scene. I’ll admit, his presence is somewhat short and sudden but given the dramatic appearance he made, I’m sure Snyder has plans to flesh him out in the next issue as a physical and psychological threat to Superman.

Although Jim Lee’s art was brilliant in the last issue, this time he and Scott Williams are back on form with a fantastic display of art prowess. Lee’s pencils are full of captivating detail and grandeur. He brings a gravitas to the falling Burji Khalifa and renders the Salt Falls of Utah with an unusual amount of realism that pops off the page. But the best thing about Lee’s art is his knack for personal renditions of characters. Superman is portrayed in several awesome poses in this issue with a great use of slight of hand facial expressions. This is helped by Williams’ focus on primary colours which makes Superman the centre of the panel all the time. Not to mention his other inking is amazing and the colours ostentatious indeed.

Once again though, the back up is disappointing. It goes through Batman’s conflicting desires on Superman measures (which was covered in Justice League by Johns) and forces in some arbitrary development with the eyeless man from the first issue having a crystal on him. These back ups are too short and aren’t fleshed out enough. This means they don’t add to the issue. And I found Albuquerque’s art to be messier this time around.

All in all, there are more pitfalls in this issue. But the creative team still deliver on a great issue that uses clever story telling, pitch perfect characterisation and engaging plot mysteries that draw the reader’s attention in along with stunning artwork. This is shaping up to be an incredibly worthwhile Superman story with plenty of potential behind it

Final Scores

  • · Story: 8/10
  • · Art: 10/10
  • · Overall: 8/10
Edited by TheAcidSkull

Amazing review mate, it got all of the points across and anyone who reads this will realize how good of a superman story it really is.

Much better than the first issue IMO

Posted by Lvenger
Posted by johnkmccubbin91

Great review, and this is certainly looking to be a great series.

Edited by TheIncredibleSuperHulk8642

Great review glad you liked it I totally agree about Batman's suit. it was pointless wanking on Snyder's part. And I don't know why people are complaining about the Black Hole weapons not only has Superman been hurt by man made weapons even in the previous era's (Post Crisis) but it's well established that this Superman is not nearly as durable as he used to be so it makes sense. Loved this issue anyway.

Posted by Lvenger

@johnkmccubbin91: I hope it will be. Snyder does have a record of going off the deep end towards the end of stories.

@theincrediblesuperhulk8642: Thanks and I couldn't agree more. This Superman doesn't have nearly the durability feats of Pre Flashpoint Superman so it's fine for him to be harmed this way.

Posted by TheIncredibleSuperHulk8642

@lvenger: No problem. Exactly it's kind of annoying when people start complaining about it and start saying Snyder nerfed his durability and powers when it was well established especially by Morrison that this Superman is no where near as durable or as powerful as he used to be but it could just be because he is around 12-13 years younger than the Post Crisis Superman.

Edited by SlimJ87D

I'm going to check this out thank you.

Posted by johnkmccubbin91

@lvenger: Yeah he does, though I expect he'll continue to do good.

Edited by Lvenger
Posted by johnkmccubbin91

@lvenger: So do I as whenever Superman has looked to do good recently it never lasts long, and I want that to change.

Posted by Lvenger
Posted by 2cool4fun

Nice review, agreed an almost every thing, and i agree about batman suit, and what makes even less sence is that when they meat up superman says, "but now you don`t need the suit right?", but in the backup story batman talks as if superman is the one who would stop him from destroying it. Well to be fair, superman probably would be more like that, but those 2 moments when put together, don`t make much sense.

Posted by TheIncredibleSuperHulk8642

@lvenger: Of course people really should just sit back and enjoy this while it lasts this is really the first time a Superman book has been #1 in quite some time.

Posted by Lvenger

@theincrediblesuperhulk8642: I guess so. Though there are some really underrated Superman runs.

@2cool4fun: Yeah they don't do they? It's established that Superman asked Batman to have contingencies prepared for him but those sentences don't compute with one another.

Posted by TheIncredibleSuperHulk8642

@lvenger: Agreed I think Jeph Loeb and Joe Kelly's runs on Superman and Action Comics respectively were both amazing yet underrated. And so was James Robinson's Superman stuff which he co wrote some of it with Greg Rucka and Sterling Gates were very good but mostly over looked because of Geoff Johns and Kurt Busiek's run on the character prior to Robinson jumping on.

Posted by Lvenger

@theincrediblesuperhulk8642: Joe Kelly's run is one of my favourite Superman runs. I only liked World of New Krypton from Robinson when he had Rucka on hand too. The two of them wrote an awesome Superman series showing why Superman is still unique on a planet of people with his powers.

Posted by TheIncredibleSuperHulk8642

@lvenger: I personally preferred Loeb's run but Kelly did a fantastic run. Well I read most of what Robinson did although none of the Mon El stuff I liked most of what he did.

Posted by Lvenger

@theincrediblesuperhulk8642: I read all of Robinson's Superman stuff and aside from World of New Krypton, I wish I hadn't read it. He's a good writer but this work wasn't executed well.

Posted by TheIncredibleSuperHulk8642

@lvenger: Well I liked most of it although his work in the Superman title was okay I really enjoyed World of New Krypton Last Stand of New Krypton and War of the Supermen. Didn't touch his Mon El work. so I don't know if it was bad. I just found it to be good. but Busiek and Jonh's runs were far superior.

Edited by Lvenger

@theincrediblesuperhulk8642: Johns' run I liked a lot but Busiek's not so much. He butchered Arion IMO and Camelot Falls was poorly written. Not to mention the Insect Queen was a lame Silver Age throwback executed poorly.

Posted by TheIncredibleSuperHulk8642

@lvenger: I loved Busiek's run although Johns run was far superior. did you ever read Loeb's run I know Loeb isn't the best writer now but back when he was doing stuff at DC he was amazing his Batman stuff is some of the best Batman stuff period and his Superman run is widely under rated it's amazing. plus Ed McGuinness draws the majority of his run which is good since Ed is an amazing artist.

Posted by Lvenger

@theincrediblesuperhulk8642: I haven't read Loed's Superman run actually. Just Hush and some of his Superman/Batman run. Maybe I should read it?

Posted by TheIncredibleSuperHulk8642

@lvenger: You really should read his run as good as Joe Kelly's if not better. If you read Superman/Batman issues 1-6 that's pretty much the finale of his Superman run. so it might give you an idea of what to expect.

Posted by Lvenger
Posted by TheIncredibleSuperHulk8642

@lvenger: Great also if you read For All Season's then that will also give you an idea on what to expect.

Posted by Squalleon

@lvenger: what do you think of the faces of Clark and Bruce when they talk.
Jim Lee seems to draw a Clark that looks like how Bruce should and the opposite.

Posted by Lvenger

@squalleon: I won't lie, they did look sort of similar but there was enough distinction in the hair, body shape and facial expressions for me to overlook it. And thanks for the recommendation! :)

Posted by Squalleon

@lvenger: You deserve it!
It bugged me a little....and I wanted to discuss it with you because you gave the art a 10/10.
even the clothes looked more like something Bruce would wear, that's what made me feel weird.

Anyway for some unexplained reason I have a good feeling about the direction of this title :-)

Posted by Lvenger

@squalleon: The thing is that I'm a big fan of Lee's artwork so unless the inking is off and his pencils aren't up to scratch, I tend to dosh out generous scores. But if the story is bad, like in Justice League, then the overall rating might be lower despite the statistical score due to my feelings on the issue.

Other reviews for Superman Unchained #2 - The Fall

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    This was a series that I was much looking forward to, as with Jim Lee being my favourite artist, and Scott Snyder being one of my favourite writers of recent times I wanted to see how they'd handle the Man of Steel. The first issue didn't disappoint, and I hope that the series continues to amaze me.PlotAfter Superman stops a terrorist attack in Dubai he goes to Batman for help with one of the broken satellites.ReviewThis was a brilliant issue, but not quite as good as the first issue. Scott Snyd...

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