Stew Reviews: Hunter/Prey

Not BAMF

I just signed up for the DC Universe Streaming Service!

I put this off for a while, but eventually my desire to see if the Young Justice cartoon is as good as I had always heard won out. And when I went to the site to see what all was offered and spied all the comics free to stream? Well, that was the decisive blow. There are so many!

Now, as a comic reader device, DC Universe kind of stinks. It’s not broken or anything, but it’s unwieldy and, at least in Safari, there is no “Next/Previous Page” buttons I have found. So you just have to click off to the side of the page, and, like, 20% of the time? That doesn’t work. It just brings up the screen options instead of going onward. There’s a “Show Me All The Pages” button, and you can manually choose the page you want from there which IS a nice feature overall after you have finished a book, but… not for regular reading.

Still, everything else has been good. I’ve watched a few animated movies, gotten about half-a-dozen episodes into YJ (and as of this months-later update, watched Titans and Doom Patrol). Good service. It’s just got to fix the reader interface.

TITLE: Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey

Writer and Artist: Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding

Publisher: DC

Protagonists: Superman

Antagonists: Doomsday

Volume 39, Volume 51, and 63. That’s the trilogy I am completing here of reviewing Death of Superman, Return of Superman, and now Hunter/Prey, each twelve volumes apart. No Funeral For A Friend because… eh. I just don’t want to. Maybe later.

Hunter-Prey is the second ever Doomsday storyline, and in the wake of Death of Superman, it gives the infamous killer monster his origin story. Doomsday, it turns out, was cultivated by an alien genius named Bertron. Killed over and over—millions of times over the course of many decades—until he gained incredible power and resistance, Doomsday was created to be The Ultimate, a lifestyle capable of overcoming anything. On a pre-civilization Krypton, Doomsday’s original self faced relentless monstrosities and an inhospitable environment and atmosphere until all that was left was the hate-filled beast we saw battle the Man of Steel. Belying his intellect, Bertron’s hubris kept him from realizing that once his creation was unstoppable, he would kill his master first.

From there, Doomsday eventually found his way to Earth. And after his battle with Superman and launching into space at the hands of Hank Henshaw, Doomsday would arrive on Apokolips where he would kick the absolute snot out of Darkseid and run roughshod over the hellscape world. Around this time, Superman gets the feeling his foe is not as finished as everyone believes and finds him on Darkseid’s planet. Their renewed battle rages on as Henshaw’s plan is revealed (he survived by planting Doomsday with a bit of his own tech and then forges a new body on Apokolips), giving the Man of Tomorrow two great enemies to contend with.

The confrontation between Superman and Doomsday spans worlds as the monster is more unstoppable than ever and has new tricks at hand, and the only way to stop the behemoth is to send him to the very end of time.

Man, The Death of Superman was the gift that just kept on giving. After the Death story itself, which was a fun pure action tale, we had the Return, and that gave us all the great ongoing characters that came out of it. And then it all leads to this, which… I ain’t going to lie: I love this book.

It’s not an easy book to love, as it is pretty much just another dedicated actionfest, but there is a lot going on to enjoy here. The biggest part thereof, and what has always stuck with me about this title, is opening scene. Superman—SUPERMAN!—opens this story in the midst of a nightmare, he is a small boy, terrified of his parents’ basement back on the Smallville farm. He eventually makes his way into it, aging into the grown hero he truly is as he overcomes his terror… until he sees the monster there: Doomsday. The sight of Doomsday turns him back into a trembling child, and before the beast can strike, he wakes up in a panic. That’s how you establish a villain! These few pages displaying that even the Metropolis Marvel can know fear now that he has encountered Doomsday are rich and powerful.

This dream carries throughout the rest of the series with the idea that Clark is legitimately dreadful of Doomsday, and he keeps picturing himself as that helpless child in the monster’s presence. And that is what Doomsday should always have been: an unstoppable force of nature in whose presence even the most powerful heroes are petrified. Every time he shows up, death should be on the menu, and the heroes should have no real answer for him.

Instead, DC decided to never handle Doomsday right again after Hunter/Prey. He basically became Kalibak after this. He got paid a lot of lip service, but was never again a relevant threat or challenge. Mostly everyone just punches him to oblivion nowadays.

Oh well.

In addition to the building of Supes’ fear, the origin of Doomsday is interesting, too, seeing this poor baby massacred over and over at the hands of an unfeeling creator. Decades pass in just a few panels, and the once vulnerable child becomes a monstrosity before the readers’ eyes. As origins go, it’s powerful, and it gives you just the tiniest notion of sympathy for a character that is little more than a mindless engine of death.

Then there is Doomsday crushing Darkseid with little resistance offered. Superman getting manhandled by the newly evolved beast. The brilliant resolution of sending the enemy to the end of time. Yeah, I just dig a lot of what happens in this one.

Talking Point: So despite DC’s best efforts since this book came out to turn him into a jobber, I still love Doomsday. But there is a huge discrepancy between how Jurgens wrote him to start and where he is now. What other characters may have burst out the gate with a huge push only to be badly toned down in later years?

OVERALL

Jurgens and Breeding’s art is on point here, delivering the definitive Doomsday and a horror-stricken Superman. The story has depth and a lot of creativity behind all of its punchin’.

8.5/10

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