THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Superman Unchained #4 may be late, but it comes out swinging. Jimmy Olsen is in Lex Luthor’s clutches, Superman and Wraith are under attack, while Lois Lane is under the heel of the terrorist group, Ascension. Scott Snyder and Jim Lee make an electric issue that hints at bigger things to come.
Snyder writes a brilliant, almost poetic Luthor who cryptically talks about the death of superheroes, the beauty of paper dolls, and his plan to kill the Man of Steel. Supes continues to be forward-thinking in his focus, always searching for a solution. Wraith is fleshed out as a character, and we come to understand what his threat directed at Superman meant. The plethora of character moments, a great Luthor monologue, and some much needed exposition make Superman Unchained #4 a strong issue.
Jim Lee’s art is generally fantastic, but he goes above and beyond this issue. There are many moments of explosions and action that feel weighty and look wonderful. Yet there are also small moments of silence and mourning, which are expressed well enough in the artwork that the dialogue almost becomes unnecessary.
Snyder hints that Ascension is much more than an anti-technology terrorist organization, though their exact purpose is yet to be revealed. One thing is for sure, however; they hate Superman, and they don’t seem so keen on General Sam Lane, Lois’ father. Until now, Ascension has felt like a bit of a side-show, but their direct inclusion into the main story this issue will hopefully make for a more complex narrative.
Wraith’s story becomes clearer, and we learn that he simply wants Superman to become a part of the federal government. Hints are made about Wraith’s origin, which heavily imply that his powers are very similar to Superman’s, and Wraith may himself be Kryptonian. Hopefully it’s not as simple as that, but ‘Big Blue Ver. 2’ is becoming a more interesting character every issue.
There is quite a bit of large-scale action this issue, which is becoming a series staple that needs to stay. It also just so happens that Lex Luthor’s plan to kill Superman is fittingly evil. Not much is revealed about the mechanics of the plan, but if this issue’s foreshadowing means anything, readers are in for an interesting issue five.
Lee draws Jimmy Olsen a bit weird, but that’s really nitpicking a stellar issue.
Scott Snyder reveals enough this issue to keep readers going, and entertains with a delightfully written Luthor, along with some explosive action. The expert writing and artwork dazzle, and the breadcrumb trail left in this issue is leading to what should be a great climax.