Superman Unchained #1 Review

Scott Snyder is certainly hot property at the moment. With his run on Batman wowing fanboys and critics alike, it's not surprising that he's become one of the most sought after commodities in the comic book world. Put the words "written by Scott Snyder" on just about any project and it's almost guaranteed to be a commercial success. Throw in the artistic talents of the venerable Jim Lee and you know you are in for something special.

Enter Superman Unchained: what could be seen from a cynical light as DC's desperate attempt to return Superman to his former glory. And who better to do it than Scott Snyder and Jim Lee, right? Well, yes and no.

First up, Jim Lee's art is almost reason enough to by this book (well, that's if you can get past the hefty $4.99 US price tag). His style may not be for everyone but damn can he draw a splash page. The fold out poster which comprises of pages 5 and 6 is nothing short of spectacular and features Superman crashing through a giant space station. It's epic in scale and like all of the art in this book, has obviously been drawn by a veteran of the industry.

The more I thumb through Superman Unchained #1 the more I am convinced Jim Lee is the iconic Superman artist of this generation.

On the flip side, artistically this book is no game changer. Yes, the art is great but it's your standard Jim Lee fare so all the usual artistic criticisms apply. The men are all square jawed with their chests about to burst through their shirts, the women are all well endowed and although he captures the awe and power of superman you can't help but feel like Clark Kent is lost somewhere along the way.

And that's the primary problem with this book. If DC wants us to love Superman again then they need to give us a chance to get to know the man underneath the costume. Scott Snyder certainly has a red hot go at it. Explosive action is heavily punctuated with conversation. Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane are both represented well and Superman's boy scout morality is displayed time and time again, but for some reason it just didn't feel like Superman.

This is probably because aside from the previously mentioned display of boy scout morality, Synder writes Superman almost identical to how he writes Batman. The book features heavy inner monologue and although this works for Batman it certainly doesn't work for a character as transparent as Supes.

After witnessing Synder absolutely ace his Batman run this made for a little bit of a let down. Although his writing is technically brilliant, he is still very much at the top of his game, direction wise this series leaves much to be desired.

With Lee and Snyder at the reigns there was never any doubt that Superman Unchained was going to be good, and indeed it is. It's just not living up to the insane amount of hype and pressure the publisher and fans have placed on it. What has been built up as the next big thing is merely a decent Superman comic. By no means revolutionary but still well worth your time.

- Christof


  1. I disagree, I think Ed McGuiness draws the definitive Supes of our generation...

  2. Almost like a religious icon, we all have our own mental image of how Supes should look. I personally love the Jim Lee Superman and Superman: For Tomorrow was the series that brought me back to the boy in blue after years off my radar. However, my ideal Superman is and always will be by Dan Jurgens. I think I'm showing my age...


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