Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of his favourite one, with potential minor spoilers.
Actually fairly full spoilers because I rambled.
This week I picked up the finale of the recent Superman crossover, Superman: Doomed #2, from DC comics. This is a storyline that has been running since April/May, crossing over into Action Comics, Superman/Wonder Woman, Superman and Supergirl. The story was written by Greg Pak and Charles Soule, with art from Ken Lashley, Szymon Kudranski, Cory Smith, Dave Bullock, Jack Herbert, Ian Churchill, Aaron Kuder, Vicente Cifuentes and Norm Rapmund (that is a lot of artists!), colours from Wil Quintana and letters by Taylor Esposito.
Briefly, the plot of Doomed started the rampaging villain Doomsday turning up. After various attempts to stop him, Superman decides that the only course of action is to kill him, as violently as possible apparently by fully ripping him in half. Superman somehow becomes infected with a Doomsday virus, and constantly battles with a primal Doomsday version of himself in his psyche that wants to destroy everything, eventually transforming into a fully formed creature himself. As he succumbs to the virus, he becomes an enemy of the state and leaves the planet to avoid hurting anyone else. It turns out this was all an elaborate (and circuitous) plan from Brainiac to get rid of Supes, allowing him to come and steal the mind energy from everyone on the planet. Using a mind controlled Lois Lane, with psychic powers that he also gave her, he paralyses anyone without adequate shielding as energy erupts out of their eyes and into his giant mothership nearby.
In this final part, Superman has finally given over to the ‘Superdoom’ personality (actual name used) and goes to destroy the ship and free the 7 billion captured minds that Brainiac has stolen. As Brainiac invades his mind, he uses the opportunity to convince Clark that his plan to remake the universe can give him and all his friends exactly what they want. Superman doesn’t bite though, and with some help from Lois (now free from Brainiac but having retained all the powers he gave her) and Wonder Woman (still in the phantom zone, this part seems fairly important but little attention is given) defeats him and saves the world, seemingly sacrificing himself to dispose of Brainiac through a black hole. The final page has been commented on a fair bit online already, with a confused Brainiac seeing images many of which seem to be of a pre-new 52 DC universe.
That wasn’t at all brief. I stuck with the Doomed storyline because I liked the concept and have largely enjoyed the plot, and I wanted to read a bit more Superman. And this finale is good, Pak and Soule have given a decent and well written action comic. A few parts of the narrative didn’t make total sense, in particular as I mentioned before I felt that given the importance of Clark and Diana’s relationship throughout this crossover, her appearance in this issue was minimal and inconclusive (though I assume this will be followed up in Action Comics or Superman/Wonder Woman). Considering how infrequently I read Superman comics too, Brainiac seems to turn up way more often than he should, which lessens the impact of any big reveal of when he is behind the curtain.This isn’t even unique to Superman titles, as it happened in Futures End too. I feel like there must be other villains that can be used, or new ones can be invented, before reverting back to the same big bads. And considering this was a crossover largely themed around Doomsday and the infected Superman, it felt odd that the Brainiac storyline was there at all rather than as the main story in Action Comics. Which leads me probably onto a point that has been made by most people already, that this crossover has gone on far longer than it should have really. The quality has stayed pretty high throughout, but around 15 issues across various titles (not including the prologues) over 5 months has led to the plot dragging a great deal, with Superman beating and succumbing to the Doomsday virus at least 3 times.
Mostly minor complaints though, and I did enjoy this issue and the arc in general. I might just be bitter because I was really enjoying Superman/Wonder Woman as a series, and it seemed to get entirely derailed and sucked up into this plot. Regardless, well written story and dialogue. The art was a little bit all over the place at times, mainly because there were 9 pencillers and inkers which gave the art a fairly disjointed feeling. However, none of the art was bad by any means and I would have been happy for any of them to have done the whole issue. The tease of the existence somewhere, somehow of the pre-new 52 universe will certainly be tantalising for many of the new 52’s detractors. Personally, I don’t hate the current DC universe on the whole, in fact I like a lot of it, but I understand a lot of the yearning for the way things were. It will be interesting to see if that goes anywhere, and how messy continuity will get if it does!
Overall I did enjoy Superman: Doomed. It probably isn’t for everyone, but it kept my interest going and I made me want to keep up with Action Comics to see where things go next. If you like Superman, but wish he looked like he was covered in sharp rocks and growled a lot, then this will be your bag. Check it out in your local comic shop or digital comics platform.
Score: 7 Crises out of 10