I’ve never been much of a Superman fan. Nothing against the guy, but I’ve always preferred the heroes with the less spectacular powers. The way it seemed to me, Superman was more super than man. Cliched, I know. But, that didn’t stop me from picking up Superman Unchained #1 on Wednesday. Well, it was less to do with Superman, and more to do with Scott Snyder and Jim Lee.
After reading the issue, I’ve got to say… Let’s get to the summary first.
WARNING: This post will contain SPOILERS that no amount of lead can keep your from seeing.
The issue begins in Hiroshima, Japan on April 9, 1945. We see a Japanese family planning to leave the city. In the street, there is a young man using his binoculars to look at a single bomber. The older man talking thinks it’s just a recon plane, but it soon drops a bomb out of it’s bomb bay that opens to reveal a man. We can surmise what happens next.
Cut to the present day, and Superman is trying to stop falling space debris. There was a malware attack (believed to have come form the cyber terrorists Ascension) on the satellites that caused them to fall from their orbits, threatening untold numbers of people on land. The final piece of debris he must stop is that of a disabled space station called The Lighthouse that still had astronauts inside. Although it crashed to earth, Superman was able to prevent casualties.
Back in his office, Clark Kent writes up the story for his blog. He’s recently quit working at the Daily Planet in hopes of pursuing a purer path of journalism in the internet age. While writing that he, I mean Superman successfully stopped 7 of the 8 falling pieces, the last crashing into an uninhabited area that was occupied by an abandoned military base, Clark would be in for a shock when Lois Lane calls.
Lois tells Clark that all 8 pieces of debris were stopped by Superman. She sends him photos of the last piece, showing that it didn’t hit the base, but was pushed away from it and into the water. Lois tells Clark that she spent many days there as a child with her father, who she has been trying to get a hold of recently. So, Clark goes to the Andaman Sea to investigate.
When he stumbles upon the wreckage, Superman sees a hand print in the side of the metal. And, just as he tries the examine the wreck further, two torpedoes hit him. Turns out, the torpedoes were meant for the debris. Lois Lane’s father, General Lane, was trying to destroy the wreckage before Superman got there. Although his subordinates were worried about retaliation from Superman, General Lane was not. He says that Superman wouldn’t be able to find them, and if he did, they have the greatest weapon of all…
The real Superman. And, he’s been working for the U.S. Government for 75 years. Oh. Shit.
I’ve been a Scott Snyder fan for sometime now, but admittedly less than I pretend to be. His creation of the Court of the Owls was great, adding a new set of characters to the Batman universe for writers to play with again somewhere down the road. But, his recent run of Death of the Family left me bored, and it pains me to write that. Granted, having to follow up on an awesome story arc like Night of the Owls is pretty tough. But, given my love for his early Batman work, I have to say that I believe this Superman story will be his best work yet. I think he’s going to knock it out of the park.
One thing I’ve noticed while trying to make my own way in the world of writing is that voice is everything. When a writer takes on a character, whether it be one that is already well-established or of his own creation, he must give that character a voice that the reader can recognize. Recently, I’ve been finding that Snyder, although he has a great understanding of a character’s history, isn’t always on with the voice. But, in this issue, I think he’s found that voice.
Superman is always seen as this creature that is unharmable for the most part. Sometimes he is seen, especially by myself, as this hulk of sorts, mainly there to stop heavy things from hurting little people. He is like a god, doing things that we mere mortals could only dream of doing. But, underneath all the super, there’s a man; a man raised on mid-western principles of honesty, morality, and a great sense of doing the right thing, no matter the personal cost. And, before reading this issue, I skipped past that. I let the heat vision and the super strength get in the way. Now, however, that great sense of right is what makes him a super man, and I am sorry I snubbed that part of his personality before.
It’s Snyder’s understanding of the history and character of Superman that’s going to make this series great. Because of his love of comics, he is able to dig deep into the 75 years of lore and pull out the best parts of this character that we thought we knew well, and add a few more aspects that we didn’t know at all. Snyder said that this Superman story would be the story he’d write if he had only one chance to write Superman, and I’d believe it already. With a great respect for the character and an excitement that leaks into the ink he writes with, Scott Snyder has made me a believer in Superman yet again.