Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
Yesterday brought several first issues, new storylines and creative teams to the various comics that came out, so I figured instead of doing one Chain Reaction thsi week, I’d do several over the next few days. A chain of Chain Reactions, if you will. Or maybe more appropriately for this first post, Unchained Reactions. Because yes, we’re talking about Superman: Unchained #1.
Written by Scott Snyder (Batman, Swamp Thing) and drawn by co-publisher Jim Lee (heck, what hasn’t he drawn?), Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair and, in a back-up, Dustin Nguyen, this new comic arrives not coincidentally the same week that Man of Steel opens in theater and once again pivots into the minds of the mainstream.
So while Superman is popping up everywhere right now, how is the actual comic? Here are a few reactions from around the web:
Jim Johnson, Comic Book Resources: “With the same kind of gosh-wow, cinematic synergy that Lee and writer Jeph Loeb mustered for ‘Hush’ in Batman a decade ago, Lee, Snyder and inker Scott Williams (who was also around for ‘Hush’) once again make Superman the larger-than-life, iconic figure that he was always intended to be. Nowhere is that more true in this issue than in an awe-inspiring, four-page fold-out spread that is likely the largest rendering of the Man of Steel ever seen within the pages of a comic book. But centerfold aside, the character’s selfless and heroic deeds early on serve as just an important a reminder of how great Superman is.” (4/5)
Cody Ferrell, Comic Book Therapy: “Snyder absolutely nails the characters. There’s a brief chat between Superman and Lex Luthor. It’s brief but it’s fantastic. Snyder gives us the most frightening Lex Luthor of all, one who isn’t doing anything. Lex is off to a super max prison. He tells Superman he isn’t up to anything, in fact he’s planning on building a huge tower that will produce clean energy. Lex is never more threating, to me at least, than when he’s saying he’s working on something to help people. Lois is smart, witty, and multitasking the whole time she talks to Clark. Jimmy Olson is slightly refreshed and made to feel like his old self, yet cooler. We also get as close to the square-jawed Boy Scout Superman we’ve had in the New 52. He’s a do-gooder, but the New 52 has scaled back on that aspect of Superman. Snyder injects just a little of that back and adds a little more awe to the Man of Steel. Lee’s art is top notch. Lee, Williams, and Sinclair make everything look great and feel very bright and lively. This is about as close to old school Superman as you’ll get in the New 52.” (5/5)
George Marston, Newsarama: “Jim Lee is, by now, one of the most thoroughly known commodities in comics. At this point, he offers very little in the way of new tricks or an evolved visual language. There are pages and panels that could easily go down as some of the most iconic Superman images of the New 52, but they are hemmed in by panel after panel of indistinguishable characters and brittle, inelegant lines. Fortunately, Alex Sinclair does manage to bring some mood into his colors, and when he, Lee, and inker Scott Williams manage to synergize, there is an atmospheric element to the art that does transcend much of DC’s typical fare. But, too often, these high-flying moments come crashing down, pulled down by Lee and Williams’s stylistic lack of depth or weight in their line work.” (4/10)
Iann Robinson, CraveOnline: “Jim Lee’s art is, as always, on point. Remember, this is the guy who made All Star Batman, Frank Miller’s ode to child abuse, look good. Nobody does bigger than life, heavy action like Lee. Besides his strong lines and natural ability to convey movement, Lee also knows how to draw faces. He can get emotion across without relegating everyone to having an open mouth or wide eyes. If you question just how good Jim Lee is, check out the opening spread of the falling space station. It’s incredible.” (9/10)
Don MacPherson, Eye on Comics: “I’d read and was informed by my comics retailer this issue included a fold-out posted that was glued into the comic rather than stapled, but after only a couple of pages, I quickly discovered it wasn’t a poster but instead a super-sized, detached page on which the story continued to unfold (literally) on both sides. As I eased the “page” off the cardboard insert to which it was adhered, I thought the creators must have reserved a particularly novel, inventive and pain-in-the-ass bit of comics storytelling for a powerful moment in the story. But no, instead, I found a jumbled scene, which at first looks like Superman doing harm rather than saving lives. There’s nothing iconic about the splash page or the visuals, and since the art is adorned by a lot of lettering, it doesn’t even really work as a poster.” (3/10)
Zach Wilkerson, Multiversity Comics: “Now that Snyder has a hand in both of DC’s biggest cookie jars, it’s going to be hard not to compare his work here to his critically acclaimed Batman. While this debut isn’t the grand slam that was Batman #1, Superman Unchained, pays homage to the character’s long history and successfully captures several key ingredients necessary for a good, and potentially great, Superman story, something that has become a rarity of late.” (8/10)