Review: Superman: Reign of Doomsday

Superman: Reign of Doomsday
Superman: Reign of Doomsday by Paul Cornell

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

When it comes right down to it, there just isn’t any way to make Superman actually interesting, is there? As a character he’s sadly two-dimensional, and his supporting ‘family’– Steel, Superboy, The Eradicator and Supergirl– are unutterably lightweight, both as personalities and as heroic characters. Nobody really believes they stand a chance against an antagonist of genuine power, and the problem with Superman is always that he is so damned powerful himself that his antagonists have to be consistently ramped up beyond believability to present any feasible threat. And in that regard, doomsday is a one-note drum: if he didn’t have the notoriety of the ‘Death of Superman’ story behind him he’d be no more noteworthy than Parasite, or Atlas, or any of the other characters who only serve to provide one or two punches before the inevitable victory.

So what we end up with is another in the never-ending parade of world-killer strength bad guys, trashing all of Supes’ second-rate imitators until the big guy can defeat him. And because Superman simply punching someone out has become a giant cliche, we end up with the mirror-side cliche: Supes can’t beat the protagonist physically, so has to outsmart him, using some arbitrarily introduced random element that doesn’t belong. In this case its a spaceship that exists as a tesseract, a four-dimensional object in three-dimensional space, with the result that all of its corridors are never-ending. But really, who cares?

It’s all paint by numbers, and not even Paul Cornell can give it life.

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