You can always tell that a series is in the hands of not only a great writer, but a great writer with the editorial freedom to pursue his vision of the character he is writing, when each new issue of the character's series is better than the proceeding. This is the case with nearly every single book that Scott Snyder writes for DC Comics. Superman Unchained is no different. Smart, taunt, realistic, and multi-layered, Snyder's take on Superman is nothing short of everything that we Superman fans have been looking for in a New 52 Superman book.
Superman, still pursuing anarchist cyber/live action terrorist group Ascension (a sort of fictional, and much more dangerous and morally dubious, Anonymous), has to save the world's tallest building, located in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, from crumbling to the ground under the assault of an advanced techno, human piloted, heavy construction robot controlled remotely by Ascension. The many subtextual thematic layers at play here are subtle yet brilliant. Superman, an iconic American superhero saving a Muslim nation's tallest skyscraper from a 9/11 like attack is priceless. Even more brilliant is how Snyder takes us through Superman's thought processes during his mental and physical race against the clock to save the tower...and all this happens in only the first few pages of Superman Unchained #2.
Later on, Clark Kent/Superman meets up with Bruce Wayne/Batman in the Bat Cave to discuss, amongst other things (like Batman's Kryptonian super senses proof attack suit-made to take Superman out in the case he "goes bad"), the recent clues possibly left behind by the mysterious attacker of the manned satellite that Superman had to rescue the astronauts from last issue. At first it appeared that Ascension was behind the attack, but the information that Bruce Wayne digs up leads Superman to a secret US military base, General Sam Lane, and a whole host of super science based war-tech designed specifically to kill Superman...So just who is really behind the recent terrorist attacks and just who is the real threat here?
Intricate, densely layered, and powerfully written superhero tales are what we expect from Snyder at this point, and he continues to keep astounding this reader with the reach of his imaginative tales (often grounded in real life historical events) and his ability to put it all together in a smart and sharply written story. With Superman Unchained, Snyder has proven that not only is he on top of his game career wise...he is the top writer in mainstream comics right now, and is the guy to beat...or better yet: the guy to strive to be as good as. The same can be said once again for Jim Lee after many years where his artwork was either missing from the comics world due to other commitments (he is much more than just one of DC Comics' top artists these days) or was no where near as appealing visually as it was back during his stint on Uncanny X-Men and X-Men. He is the only artist (with the exception of Kenneth Rocafort) who can draw The New 52 Superman's costume and not have him look completely silly. He also is showing us here, once again, why his art was so revolutionary 20 years ago, and is so once again.
While the artists and writers on Superman and Action Comics are highly talented individuals, they just can't seem to get me invested in this new Superman or keep me interested in buying his books. Granted this is most likely the case because of the horrible editorial decisions by DC Comics that ruined Superman's longstanding mythos (i.e. the one built up in the Post-Crisis years) and not because of their writing ability. Snyder and Lee though have not only got me interested and invested in their version of The New 52 Superman, they have almost completely sold me on it.