Since DC rebooted their universe in 2011, Superman’s titles have been severely lacking. The self-titled, Superman series was tired and rehashed from the start and Grant Morrison’s Action Comics was often convoluted and ill-paced. In essence, DC Comics was missing out on one of its tentpole characters. However, DC’s other premier characters, Batman and Wonder Woman, have had solid start and numerous highs since their original story arcs. Batman has received numerous accolades and attention due to in large part to Scott Snyder’s writing and Wonder Woman’s creative team has explored new and interesting avenues yet untapped.
Unfortunately, Superman was not included in the aforementioned characters’ success stories. A team with the gumption and intuition had not come to the forefront until recently. This past June, Scott Snyder and Jim Lee paired up to create a new Superman comic titled, Superman Unchained, which centers upon the man of steel and his post-Justice League exploits.
The issue starts off with Superman rocketing towards a space station, plowing through the metal like a bullet. Jim Lee’s art is in fine form here, and represents the scale of the scene impressively. Readers can see the breadth of space as well as Superman’s raw power in only a couple of panels. The rest of the issue follows Superman as he follows lead after lead into an unraveling mystery that will hopefully unfold in the coming issues.
Due to the amount of material introduced, the plot became a bit jumbled. Characters, backstories, and situations were left unexplained. This created a confusing first issue, but will most-likely be developed into a larger plot that will springboard the series into something grander than its humble beginnings. It is to be hoped that this will work itself out in future issues, which will in turn unwind the plot of the first issue.
DC Comics also decided to try something a little different with the first issue of Superman Unchained by including a large foldout page that can be removed as a ‘poster,’ but it also serves as an ad-hoc splash page and directly continues from the panels before it and segues into the panels after it. However, this inevitably raised the cost of the comic by a dollar.
I found this to be highly ineffective, because if the page is removed (to be framed) the comic book doesn’t read properly and if the page is kept in the book it has a tendency to fallout because it is designed to be removed. Either way, it is cumbersome to the reader.
Overall, I found the issue to better than the prior Superman titles that DC has offered, but the execution of the plot is muddled and the gimmick page was distracting more than anything. That being said, Jim Lee’s art is stellar and the scope of the issue was impressive and iconic. Ultimately, Superman Unchained #1 gets three-and-a-half stars out of five.