By: Greg Pak (story), Aaron Kuder & Cameron Stewart (art), Rafa Sandoval (pencils), Vicente Cifuentes (inks), Wil Quintana (colors)

The Story: Looks like someone’s gonna have to start the Cure Doomsday Disease Foundation—and fast.

The Review: If you’ve read my reviews of Action Comics and Superman/Wonder Woman
from the last couple months, you’ll know that I haven’t exactly been looking forward to the Doomed arc; been actively dreading it, really. Despite many assurances from Pak and other writers involved that this will be a Doomsday story unlike other Doomsday stories, Doomsday itself is just so flat an antagonist that no story in which it features seems likely to be that compelling.

If there’s any success to be had from this storyline, then, it’ll be by removing Doomsday from the picture altogether. You don’t even really get to see him in this issue at all, his appearance apparently limited to Doomed #1, an issue which I never picked up. That’s one of the more irritating hazards of a crossover event, but fortunately, Pak helps us out using a tool from his Marvel days: a recap page, in the form of a Daily Planet printing, which tells us that after a Herculean effort, Superman defeated Doomsday in Smallville for the second time,* though he may have inhaled a bit of the monster’s spore-like remains in the process.

Doomsday thus doesn’t actually participate in the plot, but merely jumpstarts it, though it’s a fairly thin plot regardless. The idea that Superman might potentially go crazy and the disaster that would entail has been kicked around a lot, in many different forms. Earth Two has featured exactly that premise for the last six months, and it’s doubtful (not to mention repetitive) that the Superman of the DCU proper will ever descend to such genocidal depths. The covers alone tell you exactly how Doomed will play out: an infected Superman turning into Doomsday, and the threat he poses until he’s inevitably turned back.

Unoriginal and predictable as the arc may be, it still has an inherent tension because with Superman, even one death, accidental or not, puts a crack in his infallible standing in the DCU. Involuntarily killing Dr. Light because he had a psychotic villain from another universe in his brain may be overlooked—indeed, no one’s really talked about that awkward incident since it happened—but if anyone else dies by his hand, that’ll be a situation no one can paint over just by restoring him to his normal form.

You have to wonder if Pak or anyone else will have the guts to go that far, but at the same time, how can they not? Doomed is supposed to go on for at least five or six more issues, and it’d be pretty darn boring if the whole thing consisted of Clark rampaging in Doomsday form yet somehow not killing anyone. Although he only initially fantasizes about bashing Luthor’s face in, those instincts escalate to action later in the issue when, irritated at the sight of hunters shooting from a helicopter, he rockets into them, just managing to grab them out of the exploding aircraft before they perish. “And God help me,” he muses, “it feels good.” At this rate, it seems impossible to avoid serious consequences from Clark’s transformation, and if that’s the case, we might have an interesting story on our hands.

I was a bit worried by the number of artists credited on the issue, but thankfully, Kuder takes care of most of the work. The material, straightforward and vacuous as it is, doesn’t let him show off his daring imagination the way a sojourn into Subterranea did, but his bombastic style still makes the issue more visually exciting than either Steward or Sandoval’s more straightforward support. Both Sandoval and Stewart tend to mellow out the emotional tension in scenes, but Kuder pushes the expressions broader, just before they carry over into melodrama, and it makes for a gripping issue.

Conclusion: Only slightly more substantial than you feared a Doomsday story would end up, but not so much so to declare this a hit-in-the-making.

Grade: B-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: * I’m still kind of interested how they’re going to fit in Clark’s first bout with Doomsday into his newer, shorter timeline.

– Cyborg can fly now, you know. It’s about time. If Adam Strange can just pick up a rocket pack, no reason why Cyborg can’t have a personal propulsion system.

– After being ordered by government officials to leave the site of Doomsday’s defeat alone to preserve the evidence, Batman immediately detonates a bomb. Oh, Batman—never change.