Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Superman #6 Review


Written by: Joshua Williamson
Art by: Gleb Melnikov
Colors by: Alejandro Sánchez
Letters by: Ariana Maher
Cover art by: Jamal Campbell
Cover price: $4.99
Release date: September 19, 2023

Superman #6 finds Superman using the Supercorp resources to learn the truth behind Project: Chained, and let's just say Lex kept it a secret for a good reason.
Is Superman #6 Good?

Well, okay. Playtime is over. Up to this point, Joshua Williamson set the foundation for an energetic and hopeful Superman dealing with difficult but manageable threats to Metropolis in the form of amped-up villains, courtesy of Pharm and Graft. In Superman #6, we learn the big secret Pharm and Graft manipulated Superman to uncover, and it's a humdinger.

When we last left Superman, we discovered Pharm and Graft were boosting typical Superman villains to methodically create a scenario where Lex Luthor would be hidden from Superman's protective senses. With Superman temporarily hobbled, including hearing, Lex met the lethal end of a shanking in prison. Now, Superman searches for the meaning behind Pharm and Graft's only message to him, "Project: Chained," and learns Lex created a specialized, solitary confinement prison cell under Stryker's Prison to contain someone too dangerous to be set free. Superman can't allow Lex to be judge and jury, so he finds the prototype prison cell and releases its sole occupant. But it's not what you think...

"Huh? What do you mean it's not what I think?" you may puzzle. The prisoner Superman unleashes is new, extremely powerful, and strong enough to put Superman back on his heels while he vows to take revenge on Lex and all of Metropolis. The name's not given (although calling this arc "The Chained" may have a double meaning), but Williamson presents a foe that makes the previous villains look like the appetizer before the main course.

What's great about Superman #6? This issue highlights the building sense of anticipation as Superman follows the trail through Project: Chained's conception to the ultimate release of its only prisoner. Mercy keeps telling Superman that releasing the prisoner is a bad idea, and in practical terms, it is. Still, Superman's moral code (take note, future Superman writers) won't let him ignore the possibility of unjust suffering. This issue is a good example of setting up a moral conflict that builds tension.

What's not so great about Superman #6? Without more information, the concept of an uber-powerful being in a specially designed prison seems like the kind of thing somebody would have heard of or had a record of besides just Lex. Williamson does a good job keeping the reveal a mystery until the last second. Still, the more you think about it, the more it seems unlikely.

How's the art? I've praised Jamal Campbell's work on the title up to now, with good reason. Campbell's style captures the bright sunny, hopeful glow of Metropolis, like a city washed clean as it sparkles in the first rays of dawn. Sure, that's a flowery explanation, but you get the idea. Campbell made Metropolis a character in Superman's story.

Conversely, Melnikov (on guest art duties) is good. Excellent, in fact, but the "city in the glow of dawn" feel is missing. That said, Melnikov's particular style makes the villain a creepy, unsettling character, so what the issue lacks, it makes up for in other areas.

About The Reviewer: Gabriel Hernandez is the Publisher & EIC of, a comics review site dedicated to indie, small, and mid-sized publishers.

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Bits and Pieces:

Superman #6 pulls back on the sunny, hopeful tone of adventure when the Pharm/Graft duo leads Superman to uncover Lex's secret project. Williamson creates a building atmosphere of tension that suits the story's direction, and Melnikov's style works to make the new villain as creepy as possible.


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