Superman Unchained #6: Bump of Speed
After five straight issues of greatness, Superman Unchained was bound to hit a speed bump. Issue #6 is that bump. It doesn’t send the SU train off the rails, it just falls short of what I’ve come to expect. Most of the reason is the ease by which Superman manages to get himself out of each situation, when put against the amount of impending destruction. There’s also the General Lane issue, which seems to be edging closer to nonsensical.
Up until now, the bulk of Superman Unchained has been theoretical. What happens if the Ascension is successful? What is General Lane’s ultimate goal? How does a confrontation between Superman and Wraith end? Writer Scott Snyder seemed to be looking at multiple aspects of this story in the early stages, and that kept readers guessing. In issue #6 we get resolution to those answers, at least partly, and the answers are a little too simple.
Take the Ascension. Lois Lane is attempting to stop them from using their Crystal Technology to launch every nuclear missile in the world. The idea is to bring nuclear winter, which will end the era of technology. Superman shows up and knocks out the Ascension, then attempts to use his knowledge of crystal technology to thwart the bad guys.
Having Superman use his brain to save the world before the missiles launched would have been a nice switch, an interesting turn to the usual Superman style of fixing a problem. Instead, the Ascension destroys the crystal console and the missiles do launch. Right before they explode, Superman manages to channel his own energy through the remaining crystal and destroy the warheads just seconds before they land.
First off, with EVERY missile launched, it stretches believability that Superman would destroy all of them. It’s also never really explained how Superman controls them through the crystal. I’m sure this technology is some bastardization of Kryptonian tech, but it’s a little much that Superman figures out how to use his “Krypton vibes” to destroy the missiles.
Wraith tries to take the shard, which Superman refuses to give him. Wraith attacks, but hey, it’s cool, Batman managed to find out all about this top secret government project nobody knew about for three quarters of a century, steal the anti-Wraith tech, give it to Superman, who can synthesize an energy that attacks Wraith like Kryptonite does Superman. Wow. How lucky!
Finally comes General Lane’s all out attack on the Fortress of Solitude. Superman just saved the world – exactly why would the Government attempt an attack that could anger the most powerful man on the planet? It just doesn’t make sense. I’m sure Snyder will work these kinks out in upcoming issues, but issue #6 had too many moments of “oh come ON” to let slide.
Jim Lee’s art is another lesson on how to pencil a big fight book. Heavy inks, thick lines, details, an amazing ability with anatomy and action, Lee makes it look easy. There are a few artists out there who have achieved this iconic status but don’t allow their work to become easy, or repetitive. Jim Lee is at the top of that list. You can feel his passion for the work in each panel.
(3 Story, 4 Art)