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Superman Unchained #4

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By Scott Snyder, Jim Lee & Dustin Nguyen

Scott Snyder is showing some solid character work on Superman Unchained. Like Batman, he seems to understand these characters on an intimate level. This makes for compelling reading for characters that already have wonderful traits baked right in. He just needs to apply his craft to more characters, particularly that main guy with the blue and red suit.

First off, let’s talk about Lex Luthor. He’s one of the greatest villains in comics. Whatever, everybody knows that. Snyder writes him on a whole other level that is deranged and exciting. He has Jimmy Olsen captured and is planning some pretty cruel stuff. Throughout the issue, he foreshadows his plan in the demeanor of a sociopathic serial killer. A well-written Lex is hard to beat and Snyder writes him brilliantly.

This Wraith guy that Superman has been hanging out with has got to go. He’s bland and boring, with nothing for the reader to latch onto. He’s part of some vast conspiracy involving Supes, but the character should be going through some sort of progression, which he’s not. He’s just there to look like Darkseid and make vague threats to Superman.

Superman doesn’t seem to have much of a character arc. There’s nothing here to make you care. We all care because it’s Superman, but if this was a new character, what would be the reason to continue reading. Why should we care about what happens to Superman in Unchained? We need more than just Superman flying around and punching robots, no matter how beautifully Jim Lee draws it.

Oh, Jim Lee. I want this entire issue plastered on my walls. After years of being in the industry, Jim Lee still manages to improve and blow you away with some truly exquisite visuals. Nobody can draw Superman like this guy. Seeing Big Blue in action, blowing through robots and shooting red lasers out of his eyes has never looked so gorgeous. Even if the story was completely terrible, I would still be telling people to buy Superman Unchained because of Mr. Lee. Dustin Nguyen once again draws the backup.  His art has a very chilling and is appropriate for the scene.

Superman Unchained has a special “something,” it just needs more of it. Snyder knows how to write Superman well, he just needs to apply some proper character work to make this title unique. He’s killing it with Luthor, though.

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