Hello all! Happy September! Are you ready for fall? I know I am, especially with it being Villains month (more on that later) I’m getting excited for Halloween. But I’m not here to talk about fall and Halloween. I’m here to talk about DC Comics. And more specifically about Superman Unchained today.
Superman Unchained is a new book (we are on issue 3 currently) with story by Scott Snyder and art by Jim Lee (and inks by Scott Williams – who really is providing art in creating the details and dimension that bring the work to life), plus epilogue stories with story by Scott Snyder and art by Dustin Nguyen. The book is classic Superman in that he remains a larger than life character; an icon of heroism and selflessness. But the big question to unravel over time is about whether Superman is doing enough.
The first book included a four-page pullout spread which took some creativity to actually implement (and provides a nice reason to pick up the hard copy as opposed to the digital version). The book begins with a bang, literally. The opening pages are set in Nagasaki and reveal that it wasn’t’t a bomb that fell, but a blue man. We are also introduced to Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Lex Luthor over the course of the book with different threads that presumably will come together as the stories develop.
The current issue (#3), introduces us more formally to that blue man, otherwise known as Wraith. We discover his back story and the fact that he has been working with the government to assist in various political outcomes since his arrival in 1938. General Lane explains that Wraith is a hero for his assistance in changing the world and reducing the ’danger spots’. And the crux of General Lane’s revelations, Superman is a coward.
Reading issue three was entertaining and not just because of the story revelations. I recalled the fact the Scott Snyder excitedly spoiled the almost the entire issue at Comic Con in July. His enthusiasm over writing Superman and writing Superman in this way led to him explaining how Superman gets drop-kicked across the state of Utah and how General Lane feels Superman needs applause and the public approval to do anything. He explained the view that Superman doesn’t do enough to change the world. And Wraith does. The question then becomes what would the world look like if Superman took a more active role in changing political relations.
At Comic Con, Snyder also describes the importance of Lois Lane in this title saying she is a “major protagonist.” This issue you start to see that as she takes control of a crashing airplane. We see Lois’s courage, intelligence, and strength and are assured there is more of that to come. For me this is an exciting aspect to the story. To date in the New 52, Lois has taken a backseat. Her relationship with Superman is non-existent (mostly due to that with another superhero and the forthcoming Superman-Wonder Woman book). The recent Man of Steel movie, for all its faults, did seem to get Lois right. And I’m looking forward to seeing her character develop more in both Superman Unchained and the upcoming DC films.
For me, Superman Unchained is book willing to explore issue of morality and power in a visible way. Obviously, many superhero tropes deal with those in some way or another, but few are willing to really to come out and explore specific questions about roles in regime shifts. Considering recent events worldwide, this is not just a question relevant to superheroes at the moment, but really a question posed to countries considered superpowers. To tackle this with an iconic character known as fighting for “truth, justice, and the American way” is rather interesting, to say the least. I’ll be looking to see how much more they say about this aspect of the story.
Speaking of relevant news items, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the latest hub-bub going around about DC now. Have you heard? Batwoman writers JH Williams III and WH Blackman are leaving their book. JH Williams site appears to be down now, but Topless Robot indicated the following was posted:
Unfortunately, in recent months, DC has asked us to alter or completely discard many long-standing storylines in ways that we feel compromise the character and the series. We were told to ditch plans for Killer Croc’s origins; forced to drastically alter the original ending of our current arc, which would have defined Batwoman’s heroic future in bold new ways; and, most crushingly, prohibited from ever showing Kate and Maggie actually getting married. All of these editorial decisions came at the last minute, and always after a year or more of planning and plotting on our end.
What say you Iggles?
That’s it for now. Come back and see me again next month to talk with me about all the titles that were taken over by villains and the new books Forever Evil, which are all part of Villain’s month and in some ways lead up to the release of a new documentary. We’ll talk villains, gimics, and more. Happy reading!