Comic book review: ‘Superman Unchained’ #3

This review contains SPOILERS

What’s this issue about?

In “Prayers”, Superman comes face to face with the creature known as Wraith who is as powerful as Krypton’s Last Son – will he be friend or foe?

In review

Writer Scott Snyder and penciller Jim Lee continue to carve out their area of the Superman comic book universe with the slightly delayed (just as this review is a little late – sorry folks!) third issue of Superman Unchained.

Not quite as spectacular as the first two issues, this month’s edition is still an enjoyable read that’s quite heavy on exposition as we’re formally introduced to the mysterious super-being known as ‘Wraith’ who we learn had arrived on Earth in 1938 (an apt tip of the hat to Superman’s 75th Anniversary) and has been utilised as the U.S. government’s secret weapon since.

As I mention there’s a lot of exposition (there is a story to be told after all but it’s a shame that Superman’s inner monologues are largely absent this issue) and General Lane takes centre stage as he explains his reasons for disliking our Man of Steel, through which Snyder nails his understanding of Superman – a beacon who serves to guide humanity, leading by example via his positive actions whereas Lane believes that a ‘hero’ more like Wraith is needed, solving Earth’s problems by forceful intervention.

All that being said this is a Superman title and there’s still a smattering of action with this issue opening with the tense and weighty standoff with Wraith who proves a REAL physical challenge to Kal-El and there’s trouble for Lois as she finds that Ascension have sabotaged her plane.

With the shipping delay of this issue Jim Lee’s pencils, although still generally great, seem a little more rough and hurried (maybe it’s just me but there seems to be a lot more hatching than usual) – hopefully the book can get settled back into schedule with subsequent issues.  I quite like the design of Wraith, a sort of cross between Darkseid and Doomsday with the fiery Phoenix-esque symbol blazoned across his chest.  We also get to see Wraith’s very own Fortress of Solitude(?), decorated with warplanes, missiles and tanks – all displayed like trophies.

“Prayers” reaches its dénouement with Wraith and Superman teaming up to save Tokyo from drones hijacked by Ascension, and Wraith’s regret that he will soon have to kill his new ally.

This issues draws to a close with the (very short) continuation of the Jimmy Olsen focused back-up strip (with art from Dustin Nguyen) with an unexpected entrance from Lex Luthor…

The bottom line:  Superman Unchained continues on with a dialogue heavy issue that non–the-less lays more of the foundations for the currently unfolding storyline.

Superman Unchained #3 is out now in print and digital formats from DC Comics.

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