It’s Steel versus Doomsday as “Reign of Doomsday” kicks off. This issue is pretty much one long fight scene and you’ve probably already guessed who won.
When I saw this one-shot announced, I expected this issue to do one thing–highlight what we love about the character while providing him with a new reason for being, like his story in 52. When I saw that this kicked off a story that’s intended to run through multiple titles, I expected it to do another thing–set the stage and show us a little of who Doomsday is and what his motives are. Sadly, this issue only partially succeeds in the first aspect and not at all in the second.
This is, to my knowledge, the first comic I’ve read by Steve Lyons and my biggest complaint is that he has trouble showing instead of telling. The panel are cluttered with unnecessary exposition as John Henry essentially narrates what’s happening on the panel. This throwaway dialogue does nothing to advance the plot or even give us an idea of who Steel is as a character. When Lyons does provide the reader with moments of characterization, they’re extremely heavy handed. There’s a page where a cop is talking with a little boy and the dialogue is almost cringe worthy.
Without a doubt, the redeeming qualities of this issue come almost entirely from the art of Ed Benes. Benes has been a pretty hit-or-miss artist for me and this was definitely more towards the hit side. While his work here is not quite as detailed as it was back when he was on Justice League of America, he’s toned down the cheesecake in his drawing of women, which has been distracting in the past. Under Benes’ pencil, Steel’s poses are almost iconic, and all of the action shots have an energetic, dynamic feel to them.
Best of all, however, is his redesign of Doomsday. The unstoppable killing machine finally loses that ridiculous ponytail, and his new armor is an excellent update of the old look. A sleeker redesign for an era of comics that’s less gritty than the ‘90s were.
All in all, I’m afraid even Benes’ above average art couldn’t save this issues paper-thin plot. To be honest, I’m not even sure if a certain character was supposed to be alive or not at the end of the issue. I’m sure this story will pick up steam as it progresses, but as an opening act this was a disappointment.