This week’s issue of Superman Unchained brings a serious case of Superman 4: The Quest for Peace flashbacks. For the most part that’s not actually a bad thing, but Unchained 6 isn’t without problems. I apologize in advance, because while I did enjoy this comic, this review will come off as a bit of a rant.
The last issue ended with the technology hating Ascension terrorists hacking and launching every single high-alert nuclear missile on Earth, with the intention of them exploding high enough to EMP every single electronic device without causing too much damage. They don’t seem to realizing the environmental impact this will have. Superman and Wraith briefly argue exactly how to deal with it (Wraith being very much like Superman, but stronger and working for the US military). The story is very compelling, and Scott Snyder’s take on Superman’s character is solid. His take on Lois Lane is pretty much perfect, and makes me long for the days she and Superman were a couple. The issue also ends with quite the cliffhanger as Sanctuary is under attack. Unfortunately, the plot has to be resolved by several deus ex machinas.
The first comes with a technological crystal that Lois Lane takes from Ascension. A larger version of the crystal was used to hack the missiles, but after the computer is destroyed, Superman has nothing but one crystal left. Because it works like his own computer crystals he’s able to use it to disable every single nuclear missile. It’s quite the stretch for someone who’s been holding the crystal for a couple minutes at most. I wouldn’t complain if it was Lois who disabled the nukes, considering she’s had the crystal for a while now. Another problem with the scene is that he’s holding Lois the whole time, and it appears he even leaves the Earth’s atmosphere. That’s where both Superman 4 flashbacks come in. Not only was that movie about nuclear missiles, but there’s a scene where a human is somehow perfectly able to breathe in space. YOU CAN’T BREATH IN SPACE! “This is kindergarten science” – Nostalgia Critic’s Superman 4 review.
The second deus ex machina shows up after Wraith attacks Superman. This one isn’t as bad as it was teased in previous issues, but he brings out a synthetic material built by Batman that acts as Kryptonite to Wraith. The fight ends quickly, robbing us of the climactic battle between the two that we could have had, and of course the “Batman” writer had Batman solve a major plot point in a “Superman” book. Don’t we have Superman/Batman for that? The panel with batman whistling was awesome though.
While the story is problematic, the art is fantastic. Jim Lee’s handle on everything works. Wraith’s black body with red glowing lines looks threatening. The Ascension thugs have a great look with their liquid masks. There’s an impressive amount of debris when Superman crashes through Ascension’s hideout. There is so much environmental detail on every page. Everything about the art works.
This comic has problems, but the good still outweighs the bad. Superman Unchained is likely the best Superman comic right now, and I’ll still recommend this to Superman fans. It’s just a shame that the most delayed issue yet also happens to be the most problematic.