Review: Superman Unchained #3 by Scott Snyder and Jim Lee

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Review:  Superman Unchained #3

“Answered Prayers”

Published by DC Comics

Written by Scott Snyder

Art by Jim Lee (Scott Williams and Dustin Nguyen)

Coloured by Alex Sinclair and Jeromy Cox

The Plot

There is a flashback to November, 1938, where the United States Army has just sent a “prayer” into space in order to deal with the upcoming disasters.  Flash forward to the present and General Lane has Superman temporarily subdued with the prayer looking on (who eventually reveals himself as Wraith).  General Lane is not being cooperative and seems to be enjoying the predicament that Superman is currently in.  Superman tries to stop General Lane, but is intercepted by Wraith and receives a really big boot.  Wraith explains that he doesn’t want to fight and wonders if Superman would like to see his home.  Meanwhile in Nova Scotia, Lois is attempting to save their plane from going down, but their troubles continue.  Back to the past and more is revealed about the arrival of Wraith and then we are able to see his home in the present.  Superman learns about what General Lane refers to as the Machine.  He also learns about what role Wraith has played throughout history since 1938.  Much to the disapproval of Wraith, General Lane proceeds to verbally bash Superman and he does have an interesting perspective on his effectiveness in comparison to Wraith.  However, a crisis comes up so Superman and Wraith rush off to handle it.  Over in Metropolis, Lex is making his escape while looking kind of cracked out (he is in a coma I guess so he could be looking worse).  Lois continues to struggle in the plane, but sees something unexpected.  Over in Tokyo, Superman and Wraith arrive to deal with the threat while Wraith reveals some disturbing information.  The Epilogue has Lex approaching Jimmy to be his friend…that’s pretty much it as it is only two pages.

The Breakdown

I do like how Superman is written in this title, I enjoy hearing (figuratively speaking) what he’s thinking in different situations.  Any attempts to humanize and make him more relatable are much appreciated (that was one thing I really liked about Man of Steel).  This issue also just had a teaser of a fight between Superman and Wraith and it was successful in continuing to build the anticipation.  No matter what universe or reality they’re in, General Lane is pretty much a dink.  His assessment of Superman was interesting though because in the mind of a military man that loves his country, it did make perfect sense.  He also really enjoyed having some measure of control over Superman and his words really backed that up.  His dislike for Superman was also somewhat understandable (some of the dialogue in Man of Steel also helped me to see what his position is even though it’s not directly related, but still comparable).  Lex continuing to make his escape was kind of badass because he managed to outsmart people despite being incapacitated.  It was interesting to see the impact that Wraith had in the history of the DCU.  I also liked the means used by the scientists to contact Wraith…that was an inventive method.  Lois was portrayed in a strong manner and I always like it when female characters do not fall into ‘damsel in distress’ mode.  She took control during a crisis and did not stop trying to find a way out the entire time.  In other words, Lois was well-written in this issue.  The back-up story was very short, but very effective in setting up another subplot and being kind of creepy.  To no surprise the art team did a very solid job in this issue.  However, I really enjoyed the colours provided by Sinclair and Cox.  The colours shifted from scene to scene.  The ones with Superman were brighter and more vibrant while Lois’ were dimmed down a bit.  It’s that attention to detail that I like to see.  In some comics the skin colour remains the same regardless if the characters are in the daylight or in a cave.  Overall it was a good issue.

BUT…

I’m not too crazy about the screen on Lex’s suit.  It’s almost too campy for my liking.  It would look more menacing if he was silent to everyone, but only we could hear what his thoughts were instead.  If someone as powerful as Wraith was so involved in world events I’m pretty sure the landscape would look pretty different in the present day.  In fact, I’d bet that the world would look more like having the United States as a modern-day empire.  I didn’t care for how General Lane looked in some panels (especially in Wraith’s home) as he looked a bit rushed.  Also, I think that he doesn’t look old enough.  Everyone else is younger, but he looks as though he’s been de-aged about 15-20 years.  Also, I know I have to get over this at some point, but I still really dislike the title of this book.

Buy It, Borrow It, Shelf Read It, or Ignore It?

…Buy It.  I can’t give it the highest recommendation because I wasn’t totally enthralled by the story.  It was solid, but it felt like it lagged in a couple parts.  I did think that it was good, but it also read like a third chapter in a story arc.  However, I’m glad that there was a lot of attention given to the story and that there weren’t as many pin-ups to showcase the art.  I think one of the things that didn’t wow me as much was Wraith.  There were some things I liked about him, but there were some generic things as well.  Having said that, this is still early in his development and I’m willing to see where it goes.  This comic is still head and shoulders above the other Superman titles being offered right now (I’m not including Batman/Superman because he’s a co-lead in it).  I am looking forward to seeing where the story is going and I do like what all three issues have done so far as a whole.  This isn’t related to the actual story, but that page showing how the 3-d covers were constructed made me want to buy them.  I’m actually looking forward to checking them out.  Oh yeah, that probably won’t be happening.  Read one of Mathan’s recent Wednesday Comments articles to see why.

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