Sunday, 30 November 2014

Death of Superman Review (Dan Jurgens, Louise Simonson)

Now that you’ve read the title you can say you’ve read the book because that’s all this comic is: the title. Superman dies. The end. 

If you do decide to read this you’ll be introduced to the most one-dimensional and worst villain of all time, Doomsday. Forget that post-Death of Superman we learn more about his “character”; in this book we know nothing about him besides the fact that he’s a monster who’s been imprisoned beneath the Earth for some reason, is now free for some reason and causing havoc because that’s what he does. 

Doomsday is just a terrible “character”. His name is idiotic - I mean why not Evil Villain or Mister Bad Guy? - but then Dan Jurgens’ awful creation Booster Gold christened him that so that’s unsurprising. We’re introduced to him as this guy with one hand tied behind his back who smashes stuff with his free hand and laughs. He destroys a forest of trees by punching, laughing. He punches a giant truck and laughs, etc. 

Who is he? Why was he imprisoned? How is he so powerful? Why is he so angry and full of hate? Why is he headed directly to Metropolis? None of these questions are even acknowledged in the book. He’s as bland as possible, a character there for one reason: to kill Superman. 

After fighting the JLA (and if you thought the JLA of today is bad, back in 1992 they had characters like Maxima, Bloodwynd, Fire and Ice, who were so terrible even they don’t have New 52 titles!), Doomsday fights Superman. This is how every encounter between Superman and Doomsday goes: they punch each other, really hard. That’s it. Punch, punch, punch, punch, punch, etc. until the final punch when they kill each other. I’m not sure Jurgens could’ve written a more tedious “storyline” if he’d tried. 

That said, Superman and Doomsday smash their way through a lot of buildings and property so if you enjoyed the final third of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, this might be the book for you as it’s nothing but smashy smashy all the way through! 

I’ll give the “creative” team this: in the last four issues, they structured it so that the fourth issue from last had four panels per page, the third issue from last had three panels, and so forth until the final issue was just giant single panels per page. The idea being that the action and tension were increasing the closer it got to the finale, which is a great idea actually and would’ve been inspired if there was any narrative tension, but there wasn’t because this “story” was so repetitive and flat.

And that’s the real problem with Death of Superman, is the lack of feeling when Superman does die. You know it going in, you’re expecting it as you read, and yet when the moment finally comes, there’s no emotion to it - it just happens and then Lois is bawling. And I guess we’re supposed to as well? I certainly wasn’t and I LOVE Superman! I was relieved I didn’t have to read any more of Jurgens’ awful writing more than anything! Lazy non-writing that did nothing to make the story stand out doesn’t make for an emotional read; instead this whole enterprise came off as completely contrived and cynical more than anything. 

Death of Superman stands out not because it’s a great Superman book or a classic Event comic - it’s neither - but because it sold a ton of comics and put DC in the news. That’s the real legacy of this comic: Marvel and DC learned that to make headlines and money they had to kill off their characters. They’d bring them back in a year or two but the act itself would be worth it for them, financially. 

It’s a legacy we’re feeling to this day where big name characters get the chop (this year’s death was Wolverine, last year’s was Damian Wayne, year before that was Professor X, and so on), only for Marvel/DC to bring them back shortly after. It’s hardly a noble legacy to have but that’s Death of Superman for you: a cold cash grab.

As I said, if you already know Doomsday kills Superman in Death of Superman, you really don’t need to read the actual book itself as doing so doesn’t add anything further to that knowledge. Seeing him die is unimpressive and reading it is a complete bore. Superman deserved better than Dan Jurgens and co.

Death of Superman


  1. Have you seen the tumblr "better book titles"? They give books new titles that are more reflective of their plots. This one was changed to "Superman Takes a Nap".

    1. I haven't seen that Tumblr but that is a WAY more accurate title!