Superman: Doomed #1 – Friday Flash Review
Shadowhawk and Bane of Kings take a look at the first issue of Superman: Doomed as Superman takes on Doomsday in a reimagining of sorts of the classic, epic story Death of Superman.
“Rushed story, rushed art, rushed ending. This was, quite frankly, a mess.” ~Shadowhawk, The Founding Fields
“If you want to see a fight between Superman and Doomsday, then you’ve come to the right place.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
When Superman first went up against the menace known as Doomsday, in the classic storyline The Death of Superman, it was a brave new world that resulted. The story felt epic since it was told across multiple issues, and there was a particular style and simplicity as to how the story was told visually too. The Doomed event-arc that is running through some of the Superman comics at the moment is pretty much a reimagining of that moment, or a sequel even, depending on how you look at it, and from this issue alone, Doomed has absolutely nothing on The Death of Superman. And the biggest part of that is that the story and artwork are both incredibly rushed, as if the writers and artists involved had to cram in as much as they could for this issue, to go from Superman fighting Doomsday to kind of losing against the alien bio-construct or whatever else Doomsday is supposed to be in the New 52.
The villain made his New 52 entry in Superman/Wonder Woman #1 last year and it was a rather lackluster appearance. He later showed up in the Batman/Superman: Doomsday #1 Villain’s Month issue I think, albeit he was a distant character in that and it was just a cameo at best. As I gave up on both Batman/Superman and Superman/Wonder Woman very early into those runs, I don’t know how things have panned out since and to be honest, this is my first Superman comic in almost eight months. I was intrigued by the event, and I decided to get this issue, and right now I am wishing that I didn’t because this was a total waste of both money and time, just as I had feared.
The story in this issue is by Scott Lobdell, Greg Pak and Charles Soule, who are writers of various Superman comics right now, with Lobdell being on either Action Comics or Superman, Charles Soule on Superman/Wonder Woman and Greg Pak on Batman/Superman. As it happens, I generally detest Lobdell’s writing, and am rather indifferent to Pak and Soule’s writing as well. There is very little by either of these three writers that I’ve liked, and that coloured my perceptions a bit, though I was willing to give this issue a chance. Sadly, it turned out that all my fears were realised by the writing in this issue because this is incredibly rushed. We move through events very, very quickly and we never take a pause to see just what is happening, to consider what might happen, and to let the emotional impact of everything just sink in. The second half of the issue is the worst in this regard and I really don’t like how all the characters are portrayed here, whether we talk the entire Justice League or Lois Lane or Lana Lang or even Lex Luthor.
For such a big-banner comic, this one fell incredibly flat for me and I’m really disappointed that something like The Death of Superman is being succeeded by tripe like this. The beauty of that original story was that the creators took the time to let everything unfold, to let all the emotional hooks sink in good and proper before they finally killed of the Man of Steel. With this story/issue though, all of that pretty much went out the window.
And this was a problem with the art as well. Ken Lashley is the artist here with Sunny Gho doing the colours and Carlos M. Mangual doing the letters. Lashley, Alex Sinclair, Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding provide the cover here. Just like the story, the artwork is a mess. It is nice to see the artwork so detailed, but Lashley packs in so many things together that it all ends up being a jumble and it is hard to actually differentiate what is happening in the different scenes a lot of times, especially when we are talking about a series of consecutive panels. The colours are a little better, but not by much and they can’t really correct any of the faults of the pencils themselves, so it all ends up being worse actually.
For something so celebrated and vaunted, Superman: Doomed #1 ended up being one of the most disappointing reads of this year.
Bane of Kings:
Superman: Doomed #1 is a standalone $4.99 oneshot that kicks off one of the biggest Superman events in the New 52, and as no surprise to anybody it has Scott Lobdell’s name attached to this book. As regular Founding Fields reviewers will know I don’t always have the most positive experience with Lobdell’s work, but I was hoping that given that both Pak and Soule are capable of putting out some stellar runs in the form of Action Comics and Swamp Thing (and in Soule’s case, also Superman/Wonder Woman and Red Lanterns), we’d see more involvement from the latter two writers than the former.
First off, the artwork looks pretty good. Ken Lashley is an artist who I have little experience with but he has very much impressed over the course of this book, delivering some stunning pages and there are some great splash pages here and there. Sunny Gho contributes with the colours as well, making this book look great. There are a few panels where the book doesn’t always quite hit the right marks, for example there’s a panel where Wonder Woman’s face looks a bit too odd, but the positives far outweigh the negatives.
Doomsday is definitely a whole new beast here. I haven’t read Death of the Family but have encountered the character in the Injustice: Gods Among Us video game among other places, and he’s certainly unlike anything that you’ll be familiar with, which prevents the book from feeling weak, with him more than living up to the hype. If you want Doomsday, you get Doomsday – and whilst Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, Flash, Aquaman and Batman all show up as well – the main bulk of the book is focused on a Superman/Doomsday conflict that works. It may not be the best written book ever, but for what it’s worth, it’s pretty entertaining.
The dialogue isn’t always perfect, however. There were several instances where it doesn’t feel right, and unfortunately the Justice Leaguers and Lex feel shoe-horned in, leading to an underwhelming script. There’s also a rather neat subplot between Lois Lane and Lana Lang, but whilst not being bad per say, does detract from the main storyline.
It’s also worth noting that both Action Comics #31 and Superman/Wonder Woman #8 have hit shelves this week and they continue the Superman: Doomed storyline. So if you’re a Superman fan who’s been reading both series like myself then you’re going to have to fork out the $4.99 in order to understand what’s going on, but it could be an interesting teaser if you’re not reading any of the Superman books.
In short, if you just want a Doomsday/Superman showdown and nothing more then you’re going to be satisfied, even if the fight’s conclusion may feel underwhelming. This book delivers that in spades, with some stunning fights that will no doubt be hailed as one of the better orchestrated battles in the New 52 so far. However, there are plenty of problems, and asking the reader to invest in three comics in one week if you want to read the full event depending on your pull-list may be a bit much. But it’s by no means a bad book, and can be cautiously recommended.