A very enormous Superman movie is opening in America today, and the Man of Steel publisher DC Comics is availing itself of the occasion to launch Superman Unchained, a brand new ongoing series by Scott Snyder and Jim Lee. Staffed by two of DC Comics’ current superstars, Superman Unchained is designed not just to entertain its existing readership and to welcome Man of Steel viewers intrigued by what they’ve seen on screen (an eminently sensible plan), but the pairing of Lee and Snyder has also drawn some lapsed Superman readers back to see what’s become of Earth’s greatest hero since his New 52 makeover.
It is mainly from the perspective of that New 52 n00b that we contemplated this auspicious new issue and noted the following Very Important Things.
1. In the New 52, the Americans dropped not a nuclear bomb on Nagasaki in 1945, but rather a naked blue man.
2. Scott Snyder is very good at beginning stories with folksy anecdotes.
3. Jim Lee and Scott Williams really are amazing at drawing Superman destroying things.
4. Jim Lee and Scott Williams have drawn the biggest ever picture of Superman. Currently there is no technological solution by which this image could have been contained on fewer than four fold-out pages at a cost of five American dollars.
5. If America dropped a naked blue man on Nagasaki because nuclear power wasn’t yet available, it definitely was about 75 years later.
6. Colorist Alex Sinclair seems to be experimenting with lighting effects meant to simulate images seen through a camera lens.
7. This is the first instance of the logo-style comic book caption box containing only hesitation elipses.
8. In the New 52, Lex Luthor is a convicted criminal on his way to a prison called the M.A.W., which is presumably the Blackgate of Metropolis.
9. In the New 52, Lex Luthor is a master of origami.
10. Jim Lee and Scott Williams did that cool Superman silhouette thing Dan Jurgens used to do back in the day — this is one of the top three best possible ways to draw Superman.
11. Superman hates doors.
12. In the New 52, Jimmy Olsen is a lame fedora bro 🙁
13. In the New 52, Clark Kent is a chill hoodie bro 🙂
14. In the New 52, Lois Lane edits The Daily Planet from inside The Matrix, and dresses accordingly.
15. In the New 52, Lois Lane remains a deliverer of sick burns.
16. Superman uses his heat vision as underwater headlights — that is awesome.
17. In the New 52, Lois Lane’s dad is kind of a dick about Superman.
18. In the New 52, the US government has had a superpowered being working for them in secret for decades, which longtime Jim Lee fans may recognize as a very WildStormy state of affairs.
19. This Dean Motter-esque skyline in the Superman Unchained epilogue by Dustin Nguyen, Scott Williams and John Kalisz is awesome.
20. At no point in this comic is Superman literally chained or bound in any way, but the title may represent the freeing of DC Comics’ flagship character from the initial aesthetic parameters of his New 52 re-characterization, whereby Superman has been depicted somewhat inconsistently — in both Grant Morrison’s recently concluded and decidedly unorthodox run on Action Comics and the four-writer, five-penciller Superman title — as a younger, angrier, inexperienced, unsure and occasionally menacing hero — qualities unfamiliar to the Man of Steel but presumably applied to revitalize Superman for a new era — because the Superman presented by Snyder and Lee in Unchained #1 is not that strange young man at all, but rather a competent, kind, brave and altruistic hero recognizable in voice and deed to anyone with a passing familiarity with the Man of Steel myth.