Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artists: Gleb Melnikov, Dan Jurgens, Norm Rapmund & Edwin Galmon
Colorists: Alejandro Sanchez & Edwin Galmon
Cover Artist: Jamal Campbell
Publisher: DC Comics
Superman is in both the best and worst time of his life. One the one hand, he’s got his wife Lois Lan, his son John Kent, and the rest of his Super Family all working together to protect Metropolis, the world, etc. On the other hand, Lex Luthor wants to work with him, two villains from Lex’s past have been attacking him, and now a new threat that Lex kept secret under lock and key has been unwittingly freed by Superman. Read Superman #7/Superman #850 to see how the Man of Steel and his allies confront the Unchained.
I’m going to be real with everyone, this comic is a mixed bag. Obviously, Jamal Campbell is not coming back as far as I can tell as the interior artist for this Superman run, but Gleb Melnikov isn’t so bad and his art works well with Superman and his supporting cast and antagonists. Even other artists pop in during this issue here and there to illustrate some pages and double-page spreads for the comic. Granted, only one of the double-page spreads done by the guest artists is good while the other is just okay. As far as being an oversized issue that celebrates Superman. Well, it is but not entirely. There will be SPOILERS in this review.
Anyway, the comic starts off with the surprise reveal that Perry White, former chief editor of the Daily Planet, is running for Mayor and he even delivers a cool speech about the wholesome and inspiring nature of both Metropolis and Superman himself and the influence he’s had on its people for the better. It’s pretty cool, though the idea does come out of nowhere to be honest. And in true superhero fashion, this warm event is interrupted by a supervillain, in this case the Unchained as he travels through Metropolis looking for Lex Luthor to kill, but the Super Family is here to stop him. And speaking of Luthor, he’s not out of the woods yet as he’s got his own trouble to deal with.
One thing this comic does well is the art, action, and characterization as each character feels distinguished and there are plenty of them in this one issue alone. Joshua Williamson demonstrates his skill at writing multiple characters with distinct voices and personalities to them, and the art from Gleb Melnikov really compliments the larger-than-life characters and action that we get for at least the first half of the comic. When you see the Super Family battle the Unchained it’s good, especially when you see Superman fly in and deliver a mean left hook to the Unchained, but the fight with the Unchained is far from over.
Now, there are several downsides to this comic. The first is that this comic seems more focused on delivering unnecessary big “reveals”, the first of which was Perry running for city mayor which there was no foreshadowing or hints of in prior issues. After that we get a solid interaction between Lex and Lois that was bound to happen, she thinks he will never change and is just scheming a new plan, while Lex actually is changing but she can’t see it, etcetera, etcetera. But the big reveal comes when Lex’s mother, Leticia Luthor, shows up alive and well and she brought his daughter, Lena Luthor. Yes, you heard that right, Lex has a daughter now, and I had the same reaction as Lois did when she showed up. And let’s not even get started on the Brainiac portion of the comic, because of course he’s in this issue. It’s just a bunch of big reveals with little to no explanation that are meant to be big shocking moments.
The second is how this comic serves more like setup for future story arcs instead of focusing on resolving the current arc with the Unchained. Mind you, the Unchained hasn’t really done anything too impressive yet and we still don’t know his story yet. While you’d think the focus of this comic should be on Superman and his allies defeating the Unchained, but instead it takes a break for the big reveals with Lex Luthor and later on with Brainiac. And with Brainiac, it couldn’t be more obvious that Joshua Williamson is setting up the future story arc with him when he has Brainiac enlist the services of deadly Czarnians, members of the same species as the alien bounty hunter and Superman on-and-off again villain Lobo. Why is that a big reveal? Because Lobo killed off his entire species and that’s been a staple of his backstory for some time, until his “daughter” was made and now we’ve got more Czarnians who are working for Brainiac now.
Now, I would’ve said that part of the problem with Superman #7 is that it doesn’t really celebrate Superman despite being an anniversary issue. In some ways it is, and in others it’s not. The problem is that Joshua Williamson tries to fulfill that role by exploring the impact and influence of Superman through other characters in the comic who have had long histories with him. Specifically, Perry White, Lex Luthor, and Brainiac. Out of the three, it’s not hard to guess that the first two give glowing praise or an interesting view of Superman while Brainiac’s perspective of Superman is well within his character but the least interesting. This would be okay if this were say an anthology anniversary issue or something, but this comic is still in the middle of an ongoing story arc that has yet finish. So, whatever the impact of these characters’ views on Superman are supposed to have, they’re left without too much weight because the comic’s focus is divided between their points of views and the current fight with the Unchained.
Superman #7 continues the story of the Unchained who rampages through Metropolis seeking Lex Luthor only to be confronted by Superman and his Super Family. Now, the comic does what it can to celebrate Superman in its own way, but it’s juggling that with continuing the current story arc with the Unchained. On top of that, the comic is a little too focused with making some big reveals with certain characters that are definitely setup for future story arcs, but they somewhat distract from the main plot. However, the comic is still good when it comes to the art, character writing, and the action when Superman faces the new villain. It will be up to readers whether they get this issue on its own or with the rest of the story arc when it’s finished.