By: Paul Cornell (writer), Kenneth Rocafort & Jesus Merino (artists), Brad Anderson (colorist)
The Story: To kill five Super-people, of course you need five Doomsdays, right?
The Review: In my review of Superboy #6, I described Doomsday as a shallow character who no one cared (or at least, I didn’t) much to see again, a statement worth elaborating on given how this issue plays out. Doomsday, for all the hype surrounding him, simply exists as a means to endanger Superman, that’s all. D-day has little thought or depth to his character, and almost no potential to be anything more than a convenient way to threaten Superman.
Small wonder then Cornell’s previously excellent writing on this series has devolved along with the class of villain featured in this storyline. Mind-boggling as it is to believe, the script comes off generic—at best!—and confusing, a big step down from the thoughtful, elaborate, and witty material we’ve been used to getting when Lex Luthor ran this title. Cornell even descends to moments of melodrama: “Lois, I will find my way back to you!”
It’s hard to tell whether the confusion of this issue comes more from the almost absolute lack of direction (the Super-family literally don’t know how to get out of the starship) or from the puzzling motivations of the characters, like Superman choosing to drag Doomsday along with them because he’s “worried the other Doomsdays might harm it.” Why exactly would they harm essentially the source of their creation? And how can the original Doomsday get harmed by his lesser-powered clones anyway?
There’s a lot of chattiness in this issue, yet without much purpose to the chatter except to kill time before we can claw our way to getting this storyline over with. It really shows how the characters have no idea what to do with themselves. Eradicator: “—this looks like a language… If we could start to translate it…” Superman: “Yes, that should be part of our long-term plans.” The implication they could be staying here for much longer is enough to make you wince.
We’ve also got an entirely separate set of problems when the Doom-ship (as I like to call it) accelerates on a bullet course for Earth. Putting aside the fact this idea sounds poached from Astonishing X-Men, it introduces Doomslayer, a completely new villain who makes the Doom-clones even more redundant. It’s strange how there’s so much going on, and yet you come away feeling as if nothing is going on.
Merino has the stronger art, by virtue of his cleaner lines, but his cartoony expressions (the bulging eyes of the military officer at USAF Space Command) can ruin any sense of drama you might have. Rocafort’s art just looks messy and thoughtless; at the sight of Eradicator being torn apart into pure energy, the looks on the characters’ faces brings to mind how I may have looked when I heard Billy Mays—the Oxy-Clean guy—died: mildly shocked.
Conclusion: Reign of the Doomsdays may not be the worst crossover storyline DC has ever produced (e.g., Amazons Attack!), but it’s a strong contender. I can’t wait until Cornell can use his chops for something worthwhile again. Unfortunately, that’s still at least three issues away.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – “Hey, you’ve fought one Doomsday, you’ve fought them all.” Obviously not, as the Doom-clones prove.