It's two pages of story that fold out of the comic, each four times the size of a regular page. You're thrown out of the story as you try to figure out how it works. Which direction do you pull it from to avoid destroying the thing? Is that actual glue?
Finally, you gingerly unfold the images, expecting something awesome for the $4.99 this comic has cost you ...
... can you say 'underwhelming'? The first page has Superman smashing through a plummeting space station and you have to squint to see the Man of Steel. On the other side, there's an oddly contorted Superman, bashing something, with narration panels obscured by the cardboard the page is stuck to. Literally, every other page in this comic is more engaging. None of them, though, deserves to be seen at four times the regular size. Heck, none of them deserves to be on the extra-thick stock this series gets. I'll take 20 pages for $2.99, or 30pp for $3.99 (which is how many we'd get without eight of them being used for two images). I don't want 24 pages including a gimmick that not only adds nothing, it detracts from the story.
And it's a good story from Scott Snyder and Jim Lee. It doesn't need any kind of gimmick to sell big - even without their reputations, this issue would move units because it's a first-class Superman book, and DC has printed too few of them over the last few years.
Snyder's story ranges from Nagasaki in 1945 to Earth's outer atmosphere today. A human bomb that may have been the true cause of the city's destruction looks to have descendants today. Something, anyway, is knocking objects out of the sky, including the new Lighthouse international space station. One, though, has wound up in the sea. And it's asking for one of Superman's friends ...
'The Leap' also sees Lex Luthor outline his plans for a futuristic power source in Metropolis, Jimmy Olsen discover a new bagel palace and Lois Lane demonstrate that she may be an excellent news gatherer, but she can't write to length.
Or perhaps she's so in love with her own prose that she won't, as implied in an unbelievable scene that sees Lois moving a paid-for advertisement around the Daily Planet's pageplan to make more room for her story. It's unbelievable not because the Planet's 'book' is manipulated via Minority Report-style floating holograms, but because no reporter has advertising department privileges. Honestly, I can suspend my belief only so far.
Never mind, I like Snyder's Lois - sharp, non-bitchy, helping Clark with his newsblog start-up. I like his Perry, who knows enough to remind Lois that advertisers actually pay for certain positions. And I like his eager beaver, yet not stupid, Jimmy (though Snyder insists on folk calling him Jim as if there's something wrong with Dick ... er, Jimmy - for a second I thought Superman was being radioed by Commissioner Gordon)
My favourite aspect of this book is Clark's narration, which speaks to his intelligence; I often baulk at folksy Smallville reminiscences, but there's one here that tries to explain what it means to have the power or a god and still remain human. And away from his inner life, Snyder presents a Superman not feared and hated, as in many of his recent appearances, but trusted by the world - just as it should be.
Luthor is obnoxiously up himself, which is how I like him, quietly delighted that Metropolis city chiefs are allowing him to, no doubt, literally plant a weapon among them in the shape of his Golden Tree project. I might rail at their stupidity, trusting a man who has proven dangerously unstable, but it's not as if city councillors aren't known for hubris - they obviously believe that if they keep him on a short leash, he'll perform.
(I just hope this isn't the start of Snyder importing the widespread stupidity that allows Gotham's Arkham Asylum to serve as a revolving-door-respite-home for psychotic criminals.)
Intriguing plot seeds for the future include a terrorist group named Ascension, and new Metropolis supermax, The Maw - Luthor's latest home. There's also an evolution of one of Superman's powers, at least in terms of description.
The supporting cast look good generally, especially Jimmy, who gains an old-fashioned reporter's trilby. Lois, though, should be depicted wearing actual clothes, rather than, it appears, body paint. Silly fold-outs apart, the action scenes impress, while the new character who debuts at the end of the issue has a memorable design.
Dustin Nguyen draws a two-page epilogue, presumably due to some deadline crunch, as it's indisputably part of the main story. He does bring a doomier, darker style to proceedings, which works for the sequence ... this is partly due to a different colourist, as John Kalisz takes over from Alex Sinclair. Both artists help the pages look good. Sal Cipriano letters throughout.
All in all, a solidly entertaining debut with some fine stylistic flourishes and hints of big things to come. As I said, this isn't a comic that needs to hide behind a gimmick. One thing we learn this issue is that even handcuffed, Lex Luthor is an ace at origami - if only the master paper cutter had been put in charge of Superman Unchained's opening gimmick.