Warning: This review contains spoilers.
Despite suffering from crippling delays, Superman Unchained has been an engaging story birthed from the creative team of Scott Snyder and Jim Lee. The penultimate issue of the limited series allows Lee to cut loose with a knock-down, drag-out battle between Superman and Wraith. From the Earth to the moon, and back again, Superman Unchained #8 delivers all the high-octane action one could hope for while setting the series up for a bombastic finale.
By virtue of the character’s power, the action in any Superman title should never feel small-scale, and Superman Unchained #8 is anything but small-scale. Using the guidelines of Snyder’s script, Lee delivers beautiful splash pages and cinematic action worthy of a comic aptly titled Unchained. Metaphorical restraints are not only removed from the titular character, but the art team as well. Though the series had delivered its share of action previously, there was always a sense that the art team was holding back.
Regardless of the speed that he works, Jim Lee’s artwork is undeniably worth the wait. Each blow delivered feels powerful. The speed of Superman and Wraith exists without a doubt. Their brawl is well choreographed and easy to follow. Though clearly not his best work, subpar for Jim Lee remains at a level above most others in the industry. This is largely due to his attention to detail, accentuated by efforts of Lee’s longtime collaborators Scott Williams (inks) and Alex Sinclair (colors).
Though the issue is largely comprised of action, Scott Snyder’s writing continues to be solid, if not quite reaching the heights of his Batman work. One might expect an action heavy issue to contain a lot of Snyder’s signature internal monologuing. Though the characters’ interior thoughts are on display, Snyder’s restraint keeps them to short bursts of five to seven words per text box. As a result, the pacing of this issue is remarkably quick, but never does it come off as rushed.
The epilogue brings one of the series’ major subplots to the forefront, setting the stage for a showdown in the final issue. Unfortunately, the delays this series has endured will lessen the moment’s impact for readers unless they re-read the previous issues before picking this up. Regardless, the promise of a classic Superman finale in his 75th anniversary series (even if it has run into his 76th year) is reason alone to be excited. If the quality is anything like this issue, readers should be plenty satisfied.