Doomsday is back, and as usual, he’s more powerful than he’s ever been before. This time he’s using the Phantom Zone to teleport around the globe, stealing life force in horrific quantities. Superman, Steel and Wonder Woman all try fighting him off, but Doomsday swats them away. Superman grapples with the dilemma of whether he could kill another living thing, before deciding to rip Doomsday in half.
Well…that was a lot to process. It’s impressive how the writers try to bring in characters and threads from every ongoing title Superman is involved in. SUPERMAN, ACTION COMICS, SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN…heck, even the cast of JUSTICE LEAGUE gets a sizable appearance. The spectacle of so many different supporting casts finally coming together gives this issue an epic feel, as if something big is about to go down.
There are a few great moments here. Superman’s rescue of the fighter jet pilots is my personal favorite. It’s good to see him so concerned with civilian causalities here. Even as he’s mentally preparing himself to kill Doomsday his first thought is the people who might be killed if he fails. Superman’s heartfelt goodbye to Wonder Woman and Batman in case he doesn’t come back is also touching. Where has this Superman been most of the reboot?
It was a small touch, but I appreciated that most of Doomsday’s causalities were animals. It was a neat way of showing how dangerous he was without relying on the “thousands of civilian deaths that are never shown or brought up again” cliche. (Yes, I’m aware that thousands of Bahama’s residents are killed off-screen at the comic’s beginning, but they weigh heavily on Superman’s mind.)
The entire issue is build-up to the gargantuan menace Doomsday provides to the planet. Nearly every single character is freaked-out on some level about how horrifying Doomsday is. So to see Doomsday defeated in barely a minute is baffling. They could be foreshadowing the threat Superman would be as a Doomsday hybrid, but he’s already a potential apocalypse. And besides, can you really imagine Superman wreaking havoc on the scale Doomsday does here?
The art can also be confusing at times. I had to study the splash page where Superman rips Doomsday apart for several minutes before I could figure out what was going on. It’s still baffling after you’ve figured out what happens. The big splash panel appears to be Superman ripping off Doomsday’s arm, but in the next panel he seems to be split vertically in two.
There’s also the matter of impossible coincidences. Steel just happening to be in Zambia only a few miles away from a Doomsday incursion is probably the biggest. Then there’s the fact that he’s able to identify a distant plume of smoke as a “null field” as opposed to say, a bushfire.
Also, I know this is a really minor point, but the quarantine outfits used in the comic reminded me too much of the A.I.M. uniforms. I found it really distracting how I kept expecting them to start fighting the Indestructible Hulk.
BONUS UNPLEASANT THOUGHT: If the Doomsday virus can turn someone else into another Doomsday, was the original Doomsday an ordinary Kryptonian once?
SUPERMAN: DOOMED #1 is most certainly the meatiest Superman story we’ll read all year. I’m not sure any subsequent issue will be able to measure up.