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Superman Unchained 2015 Wall Calendar
12 full-color images. Includes 4 extra planning grids for September through December of 2014, plus full pages for January through December of 2015.
Cover date: October 22, 2008
Main Story: "Moment of Truth"
Main Story Writer: Kurt Busiek
Main Story Penciller: Mark Bagley
Main Story Inker: Art Thibert
Back-Up Story: "Clear and Present"
Back-Up Writers: Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza
Back-Up Pencillers: Scott McDaniel
Back-Up Inker: Andy Owens
Morgan recalls how Uther cheated his way into power, and the way she swore vengeance against his trickery, to the point of forsaking Camelot.
Enigma recalls being a good guy on the opposite Earth, of the way Ultraman fried half of his face. He recalls his family being slaughtered, and creating his sphere to contain the essence (or body, not sure) of his daughter.
Morgan realizes something is wrong when she and Enigma emerge as near deities, but Despero doesn't. She rips off Despero's skin to reveal Kanjar Ro.
To be continued...
John Stewart fights a Qwardian entity in his bloodstream, now reverted to a family man in Coast City with the Trinity wave.
At work, the Qwardian entity overwhelms him just as Firestorm comes to look for him. John Stewart snaps free of the false Earth with Firestorm's aid, and takes off into space, promising his family he'll return.
As he leaves, he accidentally reverts Firestorm to his constituent two people inside him just as the Justice Society International arrives.
To be continued...
Main Story - 3: I'm leaning between two and three, but I'm gonna go high just for the sake of going high. This issue actually took a step forward, or a step backward to the first issue, if you will, in that it actually tried (GASP!) to characterize the people inhabiting the story instead of having random things happen to them. In this, it was half a success.
I say half because though there are some great sympathy points here, Enigma's tragedy, for instance, and the novelty of the little known escapades of that horndog Uther, there are also elements of said characterization that are rather typical in their execution. Morgan as the Mary Sue perfect sorceress, for instance, and the whole women in refrigerators thing. Don't get me wrong, I don't think there's a diabolical conspiracy to kill females or children to motivate male characters, I don't abide by that. I just think it is (rightly) viewed as an overused device. The reason I think it doesn't work here is because we don't know the family, at all, so it's just like throwing any random kid in a fridge. Uh, yeah, okay, why do we care?
It's also bookended with crap, given that somehow Kanjar Ro has been... wearing a flawless Despero suit? Huh? And this fools a magic user? Then why would the spell even half work? If they needed all those components, wouldn't it have failed, given its delicate nature? But no, we have two gods now, and... Kanjar Ro. Lame.
But at VERY least, applause for attempting to characterize beyond TRINITY! Trinity triiiiiinity!
Main Art - 5: Bagley's still rocking it. No rough hewn stuff this week, and there were several truly great panels, like the pages of the history that would otherwise have been quite boring.
Back-Up Story - 3: Not horrible, nothing to write home about. It moves the plot forward, but there's little to care for or root for here. John's odd subplot is another one of those odd Qwardian things I could care less about, Firestorm is a character I know very little about, and it seems just an excuse to put Firestorm in more peril and exploit the strange factor of the universe.
Kids named Hal and Guy was cute, I'll give it that. But there's still little here to root for or care about as much.
Back-Up Art - 5: I still like Owens and McDaniel very much. They made Stewart a very human figure here, and despite having the Qwardian odd machine thing to work with, they managed to make it compelling.
Cover Art - 4: Wonder Woman under a Wonder Woman logo? Compelling illustration of a missing leg chunk as opposed to random potshots? Novelty of missing lasso? Heck, despite depicting a scene that isn't in the issue, I'll be nice to this one. What the heck.
Main Story - 2: Backstory on Enigma and Morgaine. So, almost halfway through the series, we have their motivations. Neither is particularly compelling or original, but they're there. I don't really care one way or another about them as characters, but at least it was finally covered.
No real forward motion, though, except that Morgaine and Enigma are now... gods? By replacing the Trinity with themselves? Or something? Completely unclear. And if they needed an "evil Trinity" to make it work, and Despero was not Despero, then... how did it work? If Morgaine could become a god without Enigma or Despero, wouldn't she have just done it without them? I thought it only worked if they had all three of them? And they don't have all three of them, so... it shouldn't have worked.
I need to stop thinking about this book, it just hurts my head.
Main Art - 3: Still as middle-of-the-road as it's ever been, though to be fair I think I might enjoy it a lot better if there was a more compelling story for the artist to convey.
I just don't care about Morgaine or Enigma. At all.
Back-Up Story - 2: It's the Green Lantern-Firestorm Variety Hour! GL absorbed something with his ring? When did that happen? I don't remember that at all. Was that in some other comic I never read or just a deus ex machina? And if it was in another comic, how about a note from editorial referencing where that was? But... if it was in another comic, how is it that "Trinity" is outside continuity?
How did the JSI just split Firestorm apart?
Why am I asking so many questions when I know I'll likely never get the answers?
I must be a masochist.
Back-Up Art - 3: I don't care about GL John Stewart or Firestorm, either!
How about we just change the title of the book to "Everyone but the Trinity"?
Cover Art - 3: Hey, another broken statue.
Main Story - 3: Finally some explanations. Eddie Nashton's memories alone are worth the price of admission. He's becoming a fascinating take on the Riddler. Now that we know he's Eddie Nashton and not Harvey "Two-Face" Dent, it'd be interesting to see the antimatter Dent show up with one face.
I still don't particularly care for Morgaine le Fey or her background. But I do love how Despero is revealed to be Kanjar Ro. It puts a lot in perspective. Like Konvikt. Clearly his brutal power is where le Fey and Nashton are going to look next to complete the spell. While far from perfect, this story contains tons of revelations and twists - far more story than one is used to seeing in one issue of a modern DC comic let alone in a half-issue story. Either Busiek is learning how to tell a story or DC has stepped in to amp up this failing series. Either way would be fine with me.
Main Art - 5: The splash page is psychedelically beautiful. It may be the prettiest page in the lead story but that which follows is pretty darn good too. I like how the shards of memory are depicted as just that - shard-shaped panels with their own shades of color. And that image of Ultraman burning half of Eddie Nashton's face? Intense.
Back-Up Story - 3: This is the wrong back-up story. I would have much preferred - and it would have been much more appropriate - to use the back-up this issue to explain how Kanjar Ro managed to substitute himself for Despero. Instead, we get a story that could have waited till at least next issue or been told in one or two pages - the story of John Stewart and the life he has in the realigned reality. His promise to return - while the readers know his family probably won't exist anymore when reality is righted - reminds me of the famed Alan Moore Superman story "For the Man Who Has Everything". For stealing from the best - and only for that reason - I give Busiek a three out of five this time out.
And the stuffed "Trinity" dolls bit would have worked a lot better if the last panel showed a little kid picking up one of the dolls - say, Superman for instance - and, with a big smile on his face, saying "It's Superman". Or better yet, having a child look up to see the Superman dolls floating in the air and shouting "Look, up in the sky!".
Back-Up Art - 2: I really dislike the art this time out - it's just a lot of explosions, bright lights, and lots of metal surrounding John Stewart (then again, I could be influenced by how confused I am by Stewart's role in this story).
Cover Art - 3: This is still a great triptych. I find it interesting that Wonder Woman's the only statue that has a big enough piece missing that she only touches the base with one foot. She's the one of the Big Three that's most difficult to get a handle on - as is evident by the number of grand new beginnings that Diana's had over the years that end with a whimper instead of a bang (take the current Wonder Woman comic scribe Gail Simone for instance, a great female character writer who was expected to rock Diana's world and, well, hasn't).
Of course, feminists could read sexism into Diana's depiction vis a vis Superman's and Batman's, but I think comic book creators and readers have evolved past that. In any event, no matter what the artist meant, it's still a cool cover and a cooler triptych.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2008.