Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 21, 2023
Cover date: January 2024
“The Chained” – Part Three
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artists: Gleb Melnikov, Norm Rapmund, David Baldeón and Jamal Campbell
Cover: Jamal Campbell
Variant Covers: Lee Bermejo and John Giang
1:25 Variant Cover: Edwin Galmon
1:50 Variant Cover: Alex Saviuk & Laura Martin
Artist Spotlight Variant Cover: Mike Deodata Jr. & Marcelo Maiolo
Reviewed by: Adam Dechanel
In a glimpse into the past, Sammy Stryker, as a child, embraces the powers given to him by Luthor but is far more inquisitive as to how far his powers go. Lex and Stryker had only ever thought tactile telekinesis meant to physically touch something on a basic level, but Sammy reveals that he can push physical contact to the molecular level so matter and reality are also his to control.
Back to today, high above the destruction in Metropolis, Pharm and Graft propose a partnership and show The Chained everything Lex has done since meeting him. The dark horrors of Lex Luthor’s past villainy enrage The Chained and he rushes to find Luthor.
At the same time, on street level, Conner reveals that The Chained and he have identical tactile telekinesis powers and somehow bonded for a few moments. Superman realizes that Lex is the connection and leaves Kenan, Natasha and Kara to clean up the city while they confront Luthor.
Upon the hero’s arrival Lex is mildly perturbed that Superman ignored his pleas when he was stabbed and he confirms suspicions that he gave Sammy Stryker/The Chained his powers and that Cadmus replicated his process when creating Superboy, but that Conner had never reached the same potential.
Suddenly Lena is pulled skyward and The Chained reveals himself crushing Stryker’s island security into balls of broken bones. Lex begs The Chained to release Lena as Superman and Superboy use their combined speed and strength to fly Sammy far away from the island.
Lex reveals to Superman that when Sammy grew too powerful and murdered his own father they had him locked away in Stryker’s Island’s secret cell because they simply couldn’t deal with him and that Conner may one day face the same fate.
Superman is horrified that they didn’t try to rehabilitate the child and instead locked him away for decades, and demands to know how they were able to beat Sammy. Lex reveals that he had implanted a genetic weakness to kryptonite in him and that there was a suit at Supercorps waiting for him. At superspeed he returns in a containment suit with kryptonite gauntlets.
What ensues is a victory to some and a horrible loss to others, leaving Superman at death’s door succumbing to kryptonite poisoning.
To Be Continued…
Story – 3: The main plot was a disappointing end to “The Chained” but the character moments propelled it beyond expectation. Lena despising her father (and still bearing Brainiac’s tri scar) was interesting. Was she the reason for his turning a new leaf? Also the prologue with Sammy and the revelations and implications for Conner Kent were brilliant. I love Conner getting a bit of development. I hope it’s explored further! Disappointing that Kara, Kenan and Natasha were relegated to ‘cleaning crew’ with Kenan and Natasha not even appearing.
The core story was a little dull to be honest, but I sincerely hope we see more of the character The Chained, I feel this arc didn’t do him justice.
Art – 3: The art was all over the place this issue. Some panels had the most awkward composition and the jumps between artists did not benefit the story in the strong partnership that we’re used to. All of the art served the story but they just didn’t flow in my opinion. The different styles just led to me flicking back and forth comparing the artists to each other and that is not really fair to them.
Cover Art – 4: Was this meant for last issue? Clark had already beaten the chain prison. I’m beginning to get fatigue of all these variants. This is a fantastic cover, regardless, I love the metallic effect on the links and the color palette accentuates the claustrophobic effect of the prison.
Variant Cover – 4: I’ve always loved sunstones in Superman mythos ever since they were introduced in “Superman: The Movie”. I love this cover and the chromium look of Clark’s suit. The hair is a little bouffant though, maybe it was a little windy in the Fortress.
Variant Cover – 5: Sensational cover. Who doesn’t love Superman soaking in the sun? He looks like a real symbol of hope and joy here.
Variant Cover – 5: If you’re old enough to remember “Superman: Exile”, this brings back fond memories. Intentional or not this cover is loaded with nostalgia and I love it.
Variant Cover – 4: The sentiment gets you right in the feels. I love Jonathan and Martha Kent and feel they don’t get as much page time as they should. Martha’s neck looks a little craned if I’m going to look at this with a critical eye but it doesn’t take away from how wholesome and warm-hearted this cover is.
Variant Cover – 4: A throwback to the dark days of Luthor and this is such iconic imagery. I wish Superman had a smile on his face to opposed to the grim and gritty Lex but this is a superb piece of art that tells a story without trying.
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