The celebration of the 75th anniversary of Superman is in full swing this week as the new Superman movie Man of Steel opens in theaters across the country today. DC Comics has coordinated with comic book stores with the release of a monthly Superman titles and a new monthly this week from some of DC Comics’ top creators. Superman Unchained #1 is in comic book stores this week, bringing together writer Scott Snyder (Batman, Swamp Thing, The Wake) and artists Jim Lee (Justice League, Batman: Hush) and Scott Williams (Batman: The Dark Knight). Snyder subtly and not so subtly ties in technologies and feats of our own world in his initial chapter of the exploits of the last son of Krypton. Fans of Lee’s art will appreciate a two-sided, quad-fold pullout poster featuring key moments of the new story.
Satellites circling Earth begin plummeting to the ground. We encounter Superman as he plunges into a circling international space station, and he must quickly figure out a way to save the astronauts inside and the town below the station is barreling toward. Superman references Guinness Book free-fall records once he drops off the astronauts. If you track the actual International Space Station astronauts on Twitter or otherwise, you might find that what was once a passing destructive event in a quick read now carries a greater emotional impact. Likewise, Snyder includes a prologue from Nagasaki in April of 1945 that reveals the creation of the new series’ ultimate villain–and what the “unchained” in Superman Unchained may be all about.
More than the standard monthly first issue, keep an eye out for a variety of alternate covers (see above and below), released by DC Comics as part of the 75th anniversary. Look for a 1930s variant by Bruce Timm, a Golden Age variant by Dave Johnson, a Silver Age variant by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, a Bronze Age variant by Neal Adams, a Modern Age variant by Jerry Ordway, a Superman Reborn variant by Dan Jurgens, a Superman vs. Lex Luthor variant by Lee Bermejo a New 52 variant by Brett Booth. The standard edition features a Lee/Williams cover, complete with DC Comics’ new 75 Years Superman logo. Compare these re-creations of classic looks of Superman with our previous take on Superman with “The Many Faces of the Man of Steel.”
If the glut of New 52 Superman titles since September 2011 left you walking away empty-handed from not knowing what to start with, and if All Star Superman isn’t your thing, Superman Unchained looks to be a Superman story with more classic elements and non-stop action. The brief villain reveal indicates we may have an interesting new character and we get to revisit Superman’s relationship with Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, and The Daily Planet.
Rounding out the month of June and the Summer of Superman, look for the new Batman/Superman series featuring writer Greg Pak and artist Jae Lee in comic book stores next week. Look for a “Director’s Cut” of Superman Unchained to be released in July–it will have more original Jim Lee art as we found in the re-issue of his Batman: Hush called Batman: Hush Unwrapped, reviewed here at borg.com earlier, as well as Snyder’s script.