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Hunter/Prey is the inevitable sequel and second show-down between the creature known as Doomsday and The Man From Krypton whom comic fans know better as Superman. This graphic novel collects the three-part series in which this was originally published under one cover and was greatly anticipated upon release because it was reputed to finally reveal Doomsday's origins!
The story is a simple one; Doomsday, whom we last saw being thrown into space strapped to an asteroid by the cyborg imposter Superman, is picked up by a freight vessel headed towards Apokolips. Doomsday breaks loose and all hell ensues.....
Meanwhile Superman is haunted by memories of the battle that killed him shortly before he returned to life and begins obsessing over Doomsday. When he realises that the monster is once more on the rampage, he sets out despite the protests of girlfriend, Lois Lane to finish things once and for all! But Doomsday is bigger, stronger, harder and this time Superman will have to use everything he's got just to stay alive......because if he dies this time, he's not coming back!
Wonderfully illustrated and colourful from beginning to end, this has all the makings of a classic Superman story though there are moments when the story feels a bit stretched out to extend over the three installments! It is a nice opportunity to see arch-villan Darkseid again and to see him bested by the very same creature that once thwarted Kal-El but it is a shame he could not be better and more fully incorporated into the storyline. Another weak point is the reintroduction of the Superman cyborg, one of four imposters who aimed to fill Superman's role during his untimely demise! He was never one of my favourite characters, always emerged as weak and his presence here is nothing short but tiresome too!
Overall this is a neat little story but not compulsive reading by any means and is probably best enjoyed only by die-hard Superman fans.
If you have not read Death Of A Superman or World Without A Superman then you should probs read these first. This graphic novel brings those events to a final close and brings some form of closure to the overall storyline!
Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey is a 1995 graphic novel by Dan Jurgens. This is yet another addition to the big Death of Superman and Return of Superman arcs that ran through the comics in the early nineties. To recap, Superman was killed by an indestructible and mysterious creature/monster known as Doomsday after a mighty battle that ended up on the streets of Metropolis. Doomsday was left inert and his body was flung into space on an asteroid by a Cyborg claiming to be Superman (it's a long story) while Superman himself was eventually resurrected (an even longer story) and returned to being Clark Kent/Superman.
In Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey, Superman is, unusually for him, waking up in a cold sweat and having nightmares about Doomsday and the brutal battle he fought with the creature. He decides to confront his fears and set off into the far reaches of space to find Doomsday's body and make sure there is no sign of life. Meanwhile, a cargo ship on the way to Apokolips (home of Superman baddie Darkseid) has picked up the asteroid with Doomsday's body and discovers - much to their cost - that Doomsday is very much alive...
Although I suspected going in that Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey might be an unnecessary attempt to glean more money from the famous Death of Superman arc it is actually a decent book in its own and a good deal of fun. It does have a point too as here we finally learn about the origins of Doomsday, who created him and why he's apparently indestructible etc. This is done in a satisfying way (with a suprising place of origin) and makes for an entertaining story within the story. Doomsday is the ultimate genetic super weapon but simply couldn't be controlled or contained without miraculous thought and power. These backstory origins are very enjoyable and could have make a good graphic novel in their own right.
One thing I did notice about Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey which works quite well I think, is that this book is much more gruesome than anything in the individual issues for the Death/Return of Superman storyline. When a space salvage crew finds Doomsday's body on an asteroid and reels it in to see if there is anything of value he slaughters them in grisly fashion. Obviously, there were a few less restrictions with this one.
It's quite novel too to see Superman scared and having nightmares. He's generally projected as an impossibly powerful Earthbound God in the comics but here he wakes up covered in sweat and can't stop thinking about Doomsday beating him into unconsciousness in their Metropolis battle. The art is just a little more glossy and colourful than usual I found in Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey compared to individual DC issues of the era and works relatively well. It isn't the most detailed but it has a slightly old-fashioned feel that is a decent fit for the stark orange backdrops of Apokolips where the characters move towards some sort of final showdown and resolution.
The drawings of Darkseid are very good and Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey is worth reading alone for the showdown between him the indestructible Doomsday before Superman even arrives on the scene. Doomsday - who essentially looks like a cross between The Incredible Hulk and a Rhino like Dinosaur - is also drawn and brought to life again effectively with various sharp bones protruding from his arms and knuckles like knives. Doomsday is certainly one of the more memorable Superman baddies/monsters.
Doomsday is supposed to be a terrifying unstoppable force and I think he probably is scarier here than he's ever been - especially when he withstands Darkseid's deadly Omega Beams. 'Impossible!' declares Darkseid in disbelief, realising that he might now be up a certain creek without a paddle. 'You're hurt!' says Superman to a woozy Darkseid. 'I never thought it possible but Doomsday hurt you bad!' It's certainly a modest twist to have all powerful characters like Darkseid confronting unheard of situations where just for once they may be out of their depth. A big part of the story is Superman now knowing that he isn't invulnerable and that if he tangled with Doomsday again he could easily die.
The fact that Superman of all people must confront his greatest fear in Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey adds some welcome depth to what is essentially a colourful, violent graphic novel that moves towards another inevitable showdown between the hulking creature and The Man of Steel. There are some key guest appearances too in the story from DC characters of the era which are interesting and integral to the story.
This isn't the longest or most complex graphic novel I've ever read but you certainly won't be bored if you've followed this story arc from its beginnings. The most important and likeable thing about the book is that it finally answers a lot of questions that have been lingering around Doomsday ever since he appeared in the comics. Where did he come from? Why is he so powerful? Did someone create him? How did he end up on Earth? All of these questions are answered in an entertaining backstory flashback that is quite inventive in its own way and a good deal of fun. In many ways, this is more focussed than The Return of Superman arc (which got absolutely ridiculous at times) but perhaps lacks that epic throw the kitchen sink at the page approach which gave Return more lows but also more highs and more of a grander and complex overall feel.
Despite a few quibbles here and there I enjoyed Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey quite a bit as an entertaining offshot to the Death/Return of Superman chapters. If you've enjoyed any of the previous volumes in this arc then Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey is a book that you'll certainly want to read. It doesn't quite feel like a part of that famous storyline but it is an interesting and fun additional Doomsday related graphic novel that ties up some loose ends and sees The Man of Steel meet his most implacable and powerful enemy once again.