SUPERMAN UNCHAINED #7 (Scott Snyder, Jim Lee, Scott Williams) is the best place I could have come in halfway.
This isn’t to say that it’s a jumping on point I recommend. Far from it – I have absolutely no idea what is going on in this issue. Who is Wraith? Why is General Lane trying to kill Superman this time? What’s this whole “Earthstone” deal? I should probably have done the reading. If you’re just getting into this series, start from #1 – we’re only 7 issues into a limited series of 9. But as ways to pique my interest go, this issue has it all – two glorious, completely contextless fight scenes that make up essentially the entire issue. I can’t remember the last time I’ve had so much fun being confused.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way here – the Batman vs. Wraith fight is amazing. I’m as sick as anyone of the endless retreads of Batman vs. Kryptonian fights, but this particular slugout has more than enough to breathe some life into that tired old concept. No Kryptonite shortcuts, just a decades-old armored Kryptonian and all of Batman’s wonderful toys. You can tell that Snyder really enjoys setting fights in the Batcave, and I have to say, he does a fine job of sharing that enthusiasm with the readers.
Superman vs. General Lane, by contrast, is much more subdued – the fight itself doesn’t even start until nearly halfway through – but the issue more than makes up for it with what it does with Lois. Lois and Clark in this issue are everything I have been missing about these two since the reboot ended their marriage and haphazardly shoved Superman and Wonder Woman into an awkward romantic relationship. Lois is Lois, and all is right with the world. If you ignore the New 52 costumes, it’s just like old times.
Finally, I can hardly review a Jim Lee comic without taking a moment to drool over the art. Lee’s one of the best in the business, and between Batman’s defenses and cloaking technology, the Fortress of Solitude in full defense mode, and General Lane’s high-tech forces, he has more than enough room to stretch his wings here.
I’ll be honest – I fully hate half the dialogue in this issue. There are a few good lines here and there, to be sure, including a surprising amount of dry wit from Batman himself. But most of the dramatic lines fall utterly flat. Between General Lane’s line about cocks – no, really – and Batman’s “It stands for ‘you’re about to have your ass kicked,'” there are plenty of exchanges that completely jar the reader out of the otherwise masterful flow of this issue. Snyder is an amazing writer. But lines like “It appears my version of the fable is about to become writ as history” just do not work.
Despite my jokes above, SUPERMAN UNCHAINED #7 is not by any means a starting point for a new reader. But it is a great issue, start to finish. I highly recommend tracking down #1 and starting from the beginning – after this issue, I definitely plan to.