Thursday, July 11, 2013
Superman Unchained 2: "The Fall"
There's a scene early in the second issue of Superman Unchained that perfectly encapsulates my problems with the book, and Scott Snyder's scripts in general:
Superman walks down into the Batcave, so Batman can deliver a large chunk of exposition to him. Batman is testing a new piece of equipment that hides him from Superman's vision, and when Superman admits he can't find him Batman pops out right behind him. Batman goes on to explain that this new suit "automatically detects how it's being looked at from anywhere on the electromagnetic spectrum, and automatically adjust-- in essence it's a personal Superman proof cloaking device.
Great! How does that stop Superman from hearing you move? Or your heartbeat? Or your voice? Or smelling you? Or stop Superman from noticing a Batman shaped null spot when he uses his X-Ray vision? In the effort to make Batman look really cool, they have totally forgotten the basic abilities of the main character. Now, I could forgive you if you felt like this is nitpicking, but it strikes me as indicative of the basic problem-- this book is just lazy. It's lazy writing to have Superman farm out his investigative work to Batman, it makes him look dull and unimaginative. He's an investigative journalist for crying out loud! Let him think! Does Batman call up Wonder Woman every time he wants someone to punch Killer Croc's face?
The Burj Dubai scene is definitely an improvement over the space station rescue from Issue 1, in that, even though Snyder continues to use the device of explicitly showing Superman's inner monologue when he should be allowing the reader to focus on the epic action beat he's constructed, he at least uses this action beat to show how Superman's sense of time is different from ours. A slight improvement, and a great visual, but nothing truly groundbreaking or emotionally investing.
Ascension is being handled extremely poorly, which is shocking because they were created for this book one issue ago, so you would think that there'd be no way to create weird inconsistencies. You'd be wrong. In the first issue Ascension are rejected as suspects in the satellite sabotage, because it's "above their pay grade." Two days later, Batman matter of factly states that they've demonstrated the ability to weaponize any advanced technology in the world. No one brings up that this is odd.
The Luthor stuff is totally incomprehensible to me: He's wearing Matrix shades in prison, quoting the Iliad (in translation, ugh) into a camera and standing in front of a model of Metropolis. You can only tell it IS Luthor if you remembered that he was reading the Iliad last issue, because his look is way off model. Then in the final scene, w learn he's built his model out of Gundam parts and has it on remote control to "save the world." Nothing about those scenes makes any sense to me.
For a series that promised a return to the traditional Lois/Clark dynamic, they've sure done their level best to make Lois as visually and intellectually boring as possible.
The finale with Gen. Sam Lane is a collection of cliches that I consider personally insulting. Superman lets himself be drawn into an enemy position, that's shielded from his vision, listens to Gen. Lane butcher one of Aesop's fables, lets them unload a black hole powered artillery division, lets himself be attacked by it, and is saved by the Army Superman who actually declares (bless him) "He's mine!" The next issue promises a big ole fight. Joy.