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Not a Poster (and where are the chains?)

supermanunchained001variant001While I was quite impressed by Man of Steel, I found myself rather disappointed (to say the least) in Superman Unchained #1. I think THE primary problem for me with Superman Unchained was the issue of the extra $1 to the cover price (already going to be $3.99, the poster’s inclusion bumped the price an entire $1 to $4.99!)

And yet…the poster is not at all what I personally would consider an actual poster. To me, a poster is a stand-alone image, where the art speaks for itself. It might be an oversized (or same-sized) cover image, or reproduced from interior art–a panel or splash-page.  It might be a wholly original image, perhaps an artist’s work not usually associated with a character. And if it is captioned, it’s intended as a stand-alone.

What we got with this issue is simply a detachable fold-out to allow for two panels at 4 times the usual page-size (or double the size of a 2-page splash).


The first side is simply a falling satellite with Superman smashing through…but just looking at the image, I can’t even tell what it’s supposed to be. Some sort of spaceship exploding or otherwise breaking apart…but no CONTEXT. Can’t even tell that it’s Superman there…and it’s certainly no poster-worthy Superman depiction–no heroic pose, nothing that truly “says” Superman here.


On the reverse side, we do get a MUCH closer-up view of Superman…you can tell that it’s Superman, that he’s punching…something, so we’re a little closer to expectation. But the image is spoiled by the awkward, off-center pose, and all those text boxes. They may not be overly noticeable at first glance from a distance…but while that MIGHT be a slight strength at first, it leads into another problem: you have to get up close to the poster to read anything on it, and it’s hard to un-notice the text once you notice it.

supermanunchained001variant002And since this comes from within the issue itself, is a part of the story, this does not at all stand alone–you lose the context of that story that ties to the text boxes. It also means that you’re missing these details from any later re-read of the issue itself if you’ve removed and hung the poster, rather than tucking it back into the issue where it–obviously–is intended to belong.

Basically, the reader is asked to pay extra so that the artist can have art shown off at an abnormally over-sized perspective for no real gain to the story itself (to say nothing of losing all flow of story by having to take the time and hassle to remove the thing from the issue in the first place! Why not a clear polybag? DC already uses those for the “combo pack” editions, I believe!)

Then, the issue is swamped with variants–many actually appealing for their nostalgia factor AS a comic book. Rather than simply having a different image under the company logo, title logo, and UPC box…the entire trade dress of the cover is redone in the classic styles, with the classic company logos and so on.

Granted, the visual style would evoke different periods of the comics. But going with the different logos and trade dress, you truly wind up with an entirely different comic by the cover alone–whether something that looks like it came out of my grandpa’s cabinet, or from the midst of the era of Superman I most enjoy.

supermanthemanofsteel050But the variants aren’t stopping with the “celebration” of this first issue–nope, they’re continuing with the next issue at minimum, if not beyond. And while I’d thought to “give in” and give the issue a “pass” for being a #1…keeping this up–especially with RATIOED variants–is absolutely not gonna keep me around (in fact, it’s soured me entirely!)

Add to all of the above that I didn’t pick up on anything within the first issue to really warrant the title Unchained, vs. the long-rumored Man of Steel or something else. Depending even on where the story goes based on the first issue’s cliffhanger, I don’t see Unchained coming from that–perhaps if we actually saw a Superman breaking free of SOME sort of imprisonment (chains or otherwise)–or being imprisoned (and so having something to break free from) it would make sense.

The standard cover at least has debris and sorta looks like chains on it at a glance…but unless that’s a requirement for every standard cover to justify the title, even that sort of gimmick will likely wear thin its welcome in quite a hurry.

In the end, I suppose all of this is simply further indication that I’m not the target audience. And since I’m not enjoying what’s being done at present–I’ll stick to my back issues.

One Response

  1. […] issue I pulled from the quarter-bins not too long ago: it caught my attention because of having revisited the issue’s cover when complaining about the newest DC Superman title, Superman Unch… and lack of explanation to the “unchained” part. But seeing the issue handy for only […]

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