This week Superman encounters a brand new Doomsday, and the Royals take us through an alternate World War 2!
Superman: Doomed #1 (DC Comics)
The big Superman event of the summer starts off with this week’s Superman: Doomed. Written by Charles Soule, Scott Lobdell, and Greg Pak (aka the guys writing Superman/Wonder Woman, Superman, and Action Comics respectively) with art by Ken Lashley, this one-shot finds Superman going to battle with a new and improved version of Doomsday, the creature that killed him years ago.
Or did he? This issue never gives us a clear “yes” or “no” as to if the “Death of Superman” storyline happened in the “New 52” DC universe. They do mention that Superman has met Doomsday before and show the Doomsday we’re all used to, but never come out and say if Superman was killed or not in the new rebooted universe. Despite this, I found this issue to be pretty cool, and I love this new take on Doomsday. No longer just a really strong monster, this new Doomsday is a true embodiment of death that literally sucks the life out of everything around him. When he first appears in the Bahamas at the beginning of this issue, he’s surrounded by burning grass and forests, and has already killed thousands of people.
Naturally, with this kind of catastrophic damage, Superman decides to take action, which leads to a great internal debate: can he actually kill the creature to ensure that Earth is protected? While it does seem like a response to Man of Steel’s “neck snap heard round the world”, Doomed does an extremely good job of making you understand the circumstances Superman is in, and makes you actually hope that he does kill Doomsday before he completely wipes out the Earth.
With three writers credited, you’d be right in being concerned if this book makes sense or not. Thankfully Soule, Pak, and Lobdell have crafted a book that is not only readable, but doesn’t seem like three different people wrote it. It may be the case that all three of them came up with the story and one scripted it, but unfortunately the books’ credits don’t make any delineation, so we have to guess. Regardless of who wrote what, Doomed is surprisingly easy to read , but there are some moments that are a little hard to follow. However, the blame for that can fall on Forever Evil for taking so long to come out.
I’ve never been aware of Ken Lashley’s art before, but he does an awesome job in this issue. The new Doomsday is truly something to be frightened of, and Lashley’s Superman strikes the sense of power and grace one expects from the Man of Steel. There are some awkward poses during the book’s quieter exposition moments, but the action scenes, specifically when Supes finally throws down with Doomsday, are awesome. The Man of Steel literally fights Doomsday on other PLANETS, and it rules so much.
I didn’t really know what to expect from Superman: Doomed, but I ended up enjoying it quite a bit. The next two chapters of the story (in Action Comics and Superman/Wonder Woman) also came out this week, so if you enjoyed this issue and want more, you won’t have to wait too long to see how the rest of this story plays out. Those looking for a pretty solid action book that has a cool twist on a 90’s villain would be wise to pick up Superman: Doomed.
The Royals: Masters of War #4 (of 6) (Vertigo Comics)
I’m a sucker for alternate takes on historical events, so Royals: Masters of War had my interest from the first issue. I wasn’t expecting it to be so damn awesome though. Rob Williams and Simon Coleby’s historical “what if” has such a great premise that I’m amazed it hasn’t been done before: all members of different royal families have different superhuman abilities, but they choose to stay out of regular human’s conflicts. However, that changes when Adolf Hitler decides to start World War 2, and Superman-like British Prince Henry decides to start defending his home, which causes other countries’ royalty to start taking sides in the Great War.
The fourth issue of Royals: Masters of War finds Henry, along with his telepathic sister Rose, being tasked with trying to locate a fellow royal who’s locked in the stand off at Stalingrad. While there, Henry and Rose try to keep their feelings for each other in check (yep, they’ve got the hots for each other, even through they’re brother and sister), and encounter The Tsar, the crazed Russian super being who was imprisoned by Lenin and Stalin, but released when the Germans started bombing the city. What follows is a pretty brutal battle between Henry and the Tsar, which of course left me desperately wanting more by the issues’ end.
Rob Williams’ script deftly works actual World War 2 events with awesome, realistic takes on super powers. Rose’s telepathy is starting to make her go crazy, and it’s a blast seeing the different powers that the other countries monarchs possess. Their powers manifest themselves in different ways, and the further away you become from the Royal Blood, the weaker your powers are. Simon Coleby’s art strikes a cool, Ultimates-style tone, and features tons of absolutely jaw dropping moments. Scenes where Henry is flying alongside WW2 bombers or the full reveal of the Tsar are so awesome that you have to pause to take it all in.
The Royals: Masters of War is an incredibly underrated book that needs more people checking it out. It’s got a very unique premise and is chock full of insane super power action. Not only that, but it’s also one of the top books that Vertigo is publishing right now. There’s only two issues left, so there’s still time to get caught up before it ends!