The force of nature that killed the Last Son of Krypton takes the limelight as Villains Month marches to a close. Check out the DCN Review!
A long time ago, monthly comic sales were not measured in thousands, but millions of copies per issue. Artists were kings that fed readers a steady dose of pouches and the “x-treme.” I am of course talking about the early 1990s.
One of the landmark stories of this period would be the popular Death of Superman, in which the Man of Steel met his demise. It would not be one of Superman’s traditional rogues that would cause Big Blue’s ultimate defeat, but a literal force of nature created for the story called Doomsday. Culminating in 1992’s Superman #75, Superman and Doomsday would trade blows until they had literally punched each other to death. While Superman’s demise would go on to inspire new heroes such as Steel, the original superhero would eventually return.
Why am I recounting comics’ history in a review for a recent comic? Because writer Greg Pak and artist Brett Booth allude heavily to The Death of Superman remaining a part of continuity in the rebooted DC Universe. Pak, who will be taking over writing duties on Action Comics in addition to his duties on Batman/Superman, gives us one of the most anticipated Villains’ Month issues. Does this issue answer our Doomsday questions that were brought to light back during Grant Morrison’s Action run? Let’s find out.
While Villains’ Month was undoubtedly a mixed bag, DC’s Superman Group took the month as an opportunity to build a solid and consistent continuity across all of its titles. Batman/Superman #3.1 is no exception, as the seeds from Action Comics #23.2 (aka Zod #1) continue here.
That issue, also written by Greg Pak, gave us a firm idea of who General Zod is in the New 52. What we have here is not necessarily a story about Doomsday as it is a prophecy of what is to come. Pak frames the narrative through what is essentially a bedtime story told to a young Kara Zor-El (Supergirl) before Krypton’s destruction. Without giving too much away, the story is filled with plenty of Easter eggs for longtime readers while being acceptably accessible for new readers.
Brett Booth lends his talents here, and it is certainly some of his stronger work in the DCU. I was sad to see him roll off Nightwing (no offense to current series artist Will Conrad), but seeing him step into a sci-fi heavy story allowed him to flex his creative muscles and give us some very strong visuals. I particularly was fond of his artwork in the “Last Knight of Krypton” sequence, which gave off a Kirby-esque vibe. Overall, great work from Booth.
We still don’t know who Doomsday is in the New 52, or what Morrison was referring to in his Action Comics run (some would say even Morrison didn’t know what he was referring to). If you were looking for some really firm answers as to who Doomsday is, you’re bound to be dissatisfied. Moreover, he isn’t even featured prominently here. Rather, he is an ominous presence that impacts the tone of the story… and that’s pretty much it. This is much more Zod’s book than Doomsday’s, which wouldn’t be a problem if we didn’t already have a Zod story this month.
Greg Pak’s issues during Villains’ Month, both this and Action Comics #23.1 have given readers plenty of reasons to check out his upcoming run on Action Comics. “Doomsday #1” is an enjoyable entry point for new readers, while teasing the canonical status of one of the most popular stories of all time. Pak’s use of a bedtime story to frame the narrative makes for a solid read. And the artwork by Brett Booth helps elevate this issue above the letdown of unanswered questions.