Another Wednesday, another review. And similar to last week, I’m probably the last person who should be doing so for this book. Don’t let the issue number fool you. Superman Doomed #2 is not the second issue of a two-part story. If it had been, I’d have had no problem going back and reading issue 1. No, the two issues act as book-ends to a crossover event that spans nearly 20 issues between various titles. So why didn’t I keep up with it in the first place? One reason: Scott Lobdell. Even though his contributions were minor, his name is enough to chase me away from any book. And having popped in and out of various threads and reviews along the way, it seems that perhaps staying away may have been for the best. Although Greg Pak and Charles Soule were the primary anchors to the story, it appears that editorial interference and unnecessary padding turned what may have been a neat story into a bit of a headache. But I can’t say for sure as I didn’t read it outside of this double-sized finale. But what I did read was… perplexing.
From what I’ve gathered, the crux of the story deals with Superman turning into Doomsday and Lois Lane turning into Brainiac… I think. The opening page interestingly enough tries to summarize what has happened thus far, in the guise of a front-page Daily Planet website report written by Lois Lane. It details Superman’s battle with Doomsday, which upon defeating the creature, left our hero infected with a virus that turns him into another Doomsday. Meanwhile, Brainiac shows up in a new ship and blots out the Sun while siphoning power off the brains of every human on Earth. A Few heroes remain to help fight the fight. Sound confusing? Yeah, it is.
Once we’re caught up to speed, we jump into the main plot, which is basically Superman, while under the influence of this Doomsday virus, needing to get to Brainiac’s ship and destroy it, without killing everyone on Earth… because they’re all still hooked up to it, if you recall. With the help of half-Brainiac Lois, Lana Lang, Batman, Steel and Martian Manhunter at ground level, they telepathically hook into Superdoom’s brain and try to keep whatever is left of Clark focused and on his path. Wonder Woman is off beating on Mongul in the Phantom Zone, trying to obtain control of Warworld, while Supergirl fights Cyborg Superman… who apparently is her dad. As I said, I’ve missed a lot. All the while, Brainiac is also hooking into Clark’s mind and playing the role of serpent, tempting him with images of a potential Utopia that could be achieved on Earth if he’s given the chance to complete what he’s set out to do. We’re not dumb, and thankfully Supes isn’t either, despite his current physical predicament.
Last year, during Villains Month, Tony Bedard wrote what I thought was the best issue of the entire event, that being the Brainiac one-shot. He did a great job of mixing all my favorite elements of the character from his various iterations into one solid story with some nice pathos. We return to that a bit here, reminding us of the tragic back-story our fiendish foe has. Our hero and villain have their final confrontation, some nuttiness inside a black-hole ensues, and before you know it, the issue is over.
LIKES AND DISLIKES:
I have difficulty making these separate sections, and since the few likes I have are marred by my dislikes, it seems easier to just combine them for this review. Now this Doomsday flu idea; it’s not original. Grant Morrison dedicated an issue of his masterpiece All-Star Superman to showing Jimmy Olsen going through the same process.
It was a great done-in-one. It’s nice to see them pull from such strong source material, but prolonging that plot over endless amounts of issues just didn’t seem to work. There are, no joke, ten artists on this one book. Thankfully, they’re all pretty good and the flow isn’t too jerky. The writing is fine, but confusing at times, and the struggles of our titular hero seem to have been done to death at this point. I mean turning into a literal monster may be new, but there’s not much else outside of that. The internal vs. external bits, having to deal with whether to kill or not kill to save the world, doing what’s right vs. taking the easy way out etc. Nothing feels groundbreaking or particularly fresh.
But we can’t not talk about the final teaser page. Yes, whether you wished it or not, this was spoiled all over the internet this morning before anyone would’ve had a chance to even read the book. Brainiac appears to be saved by Brother Eye and winds up in this pocket somewhere in space and time surrounded by shards of scenes from DC’s vast multiversal history:
Seems vaguely familiar:
So what does it all mean? Does it tie into the upcoming “band-aid” event dubbed Blood Moon, which is supposed to occur during the DC offices moving from the East to the West coast? Perhaps it has to do with a 30th Anniversary Crisis event. Maybe it just plays into the ongoing Futures End weekly (the page has a little disclaimer saying the story continues in FE issue 22, as well as a Doomed: Aftermath story in Action issue 35). Maybe it’s a reference to Multiversity. Who knows? But it’s certainly a promising tease for old-school DC fans.
I have a soft-spot for Doomsday. The Death of Superman was my first real exposure to the comics at the age of 7. It had great impact on me and gives me a nice nostalgic memory upon reflection, despite it’s flaws and dated quality in some areas. He’s been brought back time and time again, and more often than not, fails to make the impact he initially did. The pitch of “What if Superman BECAME Doomsday” has a lot of potential to it. But it appears that the execution just couldn’t live up to premise. Perhaps I will read the entire opus in a collected edition down the road, but for now, my brief exposure has been enough to keep me away for the time being. I do look forward to Pak’s upcoming arcs on Batman/Superman and Action Comics, as well as Peter Tomasi and Doug Mahnke taking over Superman/Wonder Woman next month. And I’ve been enjoying Geoff Johns’ first few issues of Superman thus far. I may very well be reading every book featuring Supes in the near future. So hopefully this marks the end of this unevenness in his line of books that has plagued it a bit from the start of the New 52.