Review: Superman: Sacrifice trade paperback (DC Comics)

Friday, May 04, 2007

The OMAC Project trade just doesn't do Superman: Sacrifice justice. This is to say, in all the hubbub going on in The OMAC Project (and, additionally, some of the fits and starts of the trade to accommodate its crossovers), a lot of the real emotional impact of Sacrifice gets lost; additionally, whereas Wonder Woman's actions might seem overzealous in OMAC Project, in Sacrifice we get more insight into her motivations, to the point where even her startling choice begins to make sense.

Superman, reeling from a tragedy near his Amazon Fortress of Solitude, brutally battles the villain Blackrock. At the Daily Planet, he believes he sees Brainiac seducing Lois, and nearly kills Brainiac in their fight. Superman wakes in the Fortress and learns from the Justice League that he's instead been fighting Batman. The League deduces that Maxwell Lord is mind-controlling Superman, and Wonder Woman goes to confront him; Lord forces Superman to attack Wonder Woman, and ultimately Wonder Woman kills Lord to stop Superman. As worldwide catastrophes interrupt, Superman and Wonder Woman ponder the implications of their actions.

Certainly, Sacrifice brings home the brutality of Maxwell Lord's attack on Superman, which OMAC Project can only hint at. The writers, lead by Greg Rucka, do well to show Superman witnessing Lois Lane's brutal death not once, but twice, bringing home to the reader the horror that Superman witnesses off-screen when he fights Wonder Woman, believing her to be Doomsday. Superman and Wonder Woman's fight, shown in the midst of all this violence, becomes all the more startling. I can understand DC's reasoning for not placing Sacrifice within the OMAC Project trade -- after reading Sacrifice, I can grant they're two separate stories -- but certainly the short text page in OMAC Project is no substitute for Sacrifice.

It's stuck with me since OMAC Project one simple fact: Wonder Woman asks Max Lord how to stop him, and Max says, "Kill me." Superman would argue that there must have been another way, but if we take Wonder Woman's legend as gospel, that the Lasso of Truth forces anyone inside it to tell the truth, then, in fact, Wonder Woman took the only action she could. And, given the destruction Superman created while Lord controlled him, one might think Wonder Woman made the right choice.

Diana, after all, has killed before, but what I think Greg Rucka has set up in his Wonder Woman run comes to fruition in what Jonah McCarthy says to Diana: "Medousa had snakes for hair, it was easy to see she was a monster" -- this is the conflict of Wonder Woman's Amazon values, where a supernatural beast can be beheaded without a second thought, with modern society, where killing the head of Checkmate, even justly, could condemn Diana in the court of public opinion. It is Greg Rucka's two epilogue chapters -- one told from Wonder Woman's perspective, one from Superman's, and both ending in a meeting with Batman -- that truly make the Sacrifice trade special, showing all the emotional angles of this rocky ground. Superman's final conversation with Lois is the perfect lead-in to Infinite Crisis.

[Contains full covers, "Previously ..." page]

Now to look at this from the Wonder Woman side with Wonder Woman: Mission's End, and then on to Superman: Infinite Crisis and more. See you then!
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2 comments:

  1. I really appreciate this review. I have almost all the trades related to Infinite Crisis (except this one) and have been debating whether I should own this one as well. Most reviews just condem this trade outright because they can't stand superman being controlled by max lord and/or seeing wonder woman kill max... I've been looking for a more honest and objective review. Now I'm sold.

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  2. If I may, I think you'll appreciate reading my review of Wonder Woman: Mission's End; the post is really a retrospective on Greg Rucka's entire Wonder Woman run, and puts Superman: Sacrifice in some additional context. I just couldn't believe that a writer as skilled as Rucka would write Diana killing Max just "off the cuff"; I think it deeply relates to the thematic clash between Amazon and modern values that's inherit in all of Rucka's Wonder Woman trades.

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