Scott Snyder and Jim Lee’s take on Superman continues to develop nicely, as this third issue contains a healthy dose of action, along with some interesting plot developments and take on Superman’s morality that I’m sure will provoke some discussion.
Superman is deep underground, and faced with the US Government’s ‘other Superman’, who we learn is called Wraith, which is a pretty clichéd name, but I did like the reasoning for it here. Wraith is an acronym for ‘William Rudolph’s Ace In The Hole’, Rudolph being the Army general who first utilised him back in 1938. In this issue, we find out a lot more about Wraith’s back-story, and also about the branch of government both he and General Lane are working for, ‘The Machine’, who are some kind of shadowy operation that has secretly policed the world for the last century or so. It’s pretty fascinating to see this secret side of the DC Universe, and to see what other real world events Wraith got involved with. Wraith looks like being an interesting character, he’s not really a villain, because he’s been working for the US Government to save the world, and he clearly likes and respects Superman. But that last page, where he says he’s going to have to kill him is very telling, he’s not a free agent like Superman, he follows orders. And if the fight he and Supes have in this issue, he’s a credible threat.
That fight was very well-done, Jim Lee’s art really shone here, I’m not the biggest fan of his stuff, but nobody does big, superhero action like he does, you feel every punch, and of course, there’s lots of rubble.
The part of this issue that will probably cause the most interest is when General Lane takes Superman to task and calls him a coward and a murderer. Lane says that because Superman isn’t proactive and doesn’t get involved in invading other countries and taking out evil dictators and things like that, he’s culpable for all of those deaths. That by keeping things simple and just stopping disasters as they come along, he’s not really helping the world like Wraith and The Machine are. This is an interesting take on the character, and one that makes sense coming from a soldier, but I don’t really buy it, not least because I feel superhero comics are best staying away from solving real world issues, to have Superman just fly in and save the DCU Sudan is disrespectful to the real Sudan. It’s interesting, and I’d be interested to hear what everyone else thinks, especially in the wake of Man Of Steel.
Snyder also keeps us up to date with his various subplots, including a gloriously insane escape from Lex Luthor, and the threat of ‘The Ascension’ and Lois Lane’s plane crashing. I really enjoyed these scenes with Lois, as she managed to mostly save the day herself, not with Superman’s help. But what’s the deal with that weird dude who rescued her from the lake? There’s a lot going on in this story and it’s going to be interesting to see how Snyder ties The Ascension, Wraith and now this dude into one another.
It’s just so refreshing to have a good Superman book on the shelves, those few months in between the end of Morrison’s run and this book’s launch were bleak times man. Throw in an epilogue that sets up Jimmy Olsen for an important role, and I’m a happy bunny.