This month’s featured crossover is Superman: Sacrifice. I’ve selected this crossover because it is a good example of how poor execution can derail what would have otherwise been a well written story. While the collected trade has 8 issues in total, we’ll be dealing with the main four issues that were initially titled “Sacrifice.” The other four issues in the collection deal with a little setup, but mostly reaction to the “Sacrifice” story.
Issues: Superman #219, Action Comics #829, Adventures of Superman # 642, Wonder Woman #219
Writers: Greg Rucka, Mark Verheiden, Gail Simone
Always mindful of spoilers, the summary and review are after the break.
The story takes place between issues 3 and 4 of the mini-series The O.M.A.C Project, and there lies the first problem. While issue 3 of The OMAC project does tell you to read “Sacrifice,” and gives you the issues to read, it claims to all be building up to the fourth issue of the mini-series. This is a bit of a lie, in that the crossover isn’t actually building to OMAC #4. Instead, it is building to Wonder Woman #219. The beginning of OMAC #4 is merely a recap of what had happened in the crossover. As this was being released, I didn’t buy the “Sacrifice” issues, so I was pretty frustrated when I picked up OMAC #4 to see that the story had progressed quite a bit in between issues. But I digress. Let me get to the summary of the story so you can understand my frustrations.
The first two issues of the story follow the same basic formulas. In the first issue, Clark Kent sees Lois Lane talking to Brainiac in her office, but when he goes in there, Brainiac is gone. He then flies Lois to a safe location, and hunts for Brainiac. Superman is able to find Brainiac, but while they are fighting, Superman finds that he’s captured Lois, Perry White, Lana Lang, and Jimmy Olsen. Superman is unable to save any of them, and viciously attack Brainiac again. A flash of light reveals to Superman that he’s back in the Fortress of Solitude, and there is human blood on his hands. The JLA is there to confront him.
The second issue has the JLA confronting Superman with a bit of a hostile tone. He tries to explain the blood on his hands and remember what happened, but this time, he remembers the threat being Darkseid. They have their battle on Apokolips, and Superman is again unable to save Lois from dying. At the end of this fight, Superman is surprised to hear Darkseid call him Clark, and ask him to stop. The JLA reveal to Superman that in reality, he was beating up Batman.
In the third issue, the JLA use the Watchtower’s security cameras to show Superman exactly what happened. Martian Manhunter uses his telepathic ability to discover that Max Lord is controlling Superman’s mind. (Max taking control of Superman’s mind is how OMAC #3 ended.) Unable to break the link telepathically, the JLA devise a plan to keep Superman out of commission while they deal with Max. Superman initially agrees to go along with until he worries that Max has taken over the rest of the JLA. So, Superman fights off the JLA and flies off to find Max. Wonder Woman follows him.
In the fourth and final issue, Wonder Woman confronts Max, but Superman restrains her. This time, Max makes Superman believe that Wonder Woman is actually Doomsday who is threatening Lois, so Superman now fights Wonder Woman. After a long battle, Wonder Woman decides that she can’t keep fighting Superman because he isn’t going to stop until she’s dead. So, she heads back to Max. He tells that that the only way to break the connection is to kill him. So, she snaps Max Lord’s neck.
And that’s where OMAC #4 begins. With Wonder Woman snapping Max’s neck. Can you see my frustration? Important events in the mini-series should not happen within tie-ins in the ongoing titles. The purpose of tie-ins should be to expand upon the story. Explain the finer details that the main series can only gloss over because it’s not important for the main story. The death of Max Lord was was not unimportant. He’s the villain that started the Countdown to Infinite Crisis by killing Ted Kord. His death should have been the culmination of something bigger. The result of someone trying to get justice, or vengeance for Ted, and not because Max was controlling Superman.
However, if you read the trade collection on its own, and forget about The OMAC Project, it is a pretty good story. The writing is solid, and the story is pretty good, when viewed as a separate story and not a tie-in.