Written by: Grant Morrison
Art by: Jim Lee
Following in the footsteps or recent issues of The Multiversity, Mastermen is an issue that doesn’t advance the main plot too far, however remains an incredibly strong stand-alone comic in its own right. Despite feeling criminally short, this issue offers a great deal to love including an interesting concept of a nazi Superman and an examination of what makes the character great.
Now, let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way. I know many of you may think the concept of Superman landing in Germany 1938 may sound very similar to Superman: Red Son, but with Nazis instead of Communists, however the concept of Overman long pre-dates Red Son, so no this is not a rip off. With that out of the way we can look at the story for what is, and it’s pretty damn good. Your mind can pretty much put the pieces together of what happens with a Nazi Superman, thankfully Morrison skips over most of the “Nazi’s win the war” clichés and focuses most of the story sixty years after the war in a full blown Nazi empire (Justice League and all). A group of terrorists known as the Freedom Fighters have been launching attacks to bring down the regime, bringing Overman’s morality into question. The real strength of this issue comes from the examination of Superman as a hero; this should be no surprise given how Morrison already wrote the perfect examination of him in All-Star Superman, but he manages to hit on some new material here. Rather than making him fully on-board with the Nazi regime ( a la Red Son) Morrison presents us with a very remorseful figure, who understands that society is the best it can be right now, but often worries about the path it took to get there. Other interesting questions are raised such as his immortality; this is a much more distant Superman than we’re used to, showing us what could happen if he were to grow up without love and care.
The art by Jim Lee is pretty good overall, much stronger than some of his more modern stuff though it’s still a little rough in areas which is disappointing. It starts quite well with Hitler on the toilet (just read the comic…) and no I’m not going to describe this scene in depth or my career will be finished (and I’m not making a “down the toilet” joke either) and indeed at times the art looks really nicely framed in a cinematic manner that looks impressive and oppressive, suiting for the Nazi regime. At times however his drawings of Overman almost seem to be ripped straight from other Superman poses. I’m not sure if was intentional in order to shock us with traditional images of the All-American hero transformed into something else but it can’t help but strike me as a little lazy. Is overuse of linework in other areas also give the book a bit of a rough feel which I’m not a fan of. Like I said, it’s still some of his stronger work recently, probably due to it being a one-shot rather than a monthly, but it still looks a little bit rushed.
Speaking of rushed, I can’t help but feel this issue ends a little too quickly. Like most of the other issues, this is a series I definitely would read a mini-series of and I’m disappointed how quick the book ends given how good it is. It feels that when everything starts coming to an end and even more interesting ideas are raised that the book just abruptly ends. I suppose if it had been any longer it may have started to re-tread familiar ground covered in other books like the aforementioned Red Son but I still feel like there’s more Morrison could’ve squeezed out of this book.
Overall though, I still highly recommend this comic as I would every issue of The Multiversity. This whole series has been Morrison at his best and is worth a look if you’ve ever considered yourself a DC fan.