Saturday, May 29, 2010

Episode #128: Superman: The World Of New Krypton: The Review!

This week, with the publication of Superman: War Of The Supermen #4 (of 4), the year long New Krypton storyline comes to an end in the Superman family of comic book titles. This storyline began at the end of the five issue Brainiac story with Action Comics #870. December 2008, published on October 8, 2008. Pa Kent passed away at the end of that issue, and the Kryptonian city of Kandor was rescued from Brainiac's ship and restored to normal size.

The plot unfolded in a number of storylines that brought back the "triangle numbers", familiar to readers of the Superman titles in the 1990's, like myself. New Krypton was told in the pages of New Krypton Special #1, Superman #'s 681-683, Action Comics 871-873, Supergirl 35-36. World Without Superman occurred in Superman: World Of New Krypton issues 1-5, Action Comics 875-880, Supergirl 39-44 and Superman 686-690. Codename Patriot occurred in Superman: Secret Files 2009 #1 (of 1), Superman: World Of New Krypton #6, Action Comics 890, Supergirl 44 and Superman 691. World Against Superman was told in Superman: World Of New Krypton #s 7-12, Action Comics 881-889, Supergirl 45-50 and Superman 692-699. Last Stand Of New Krypton ran for issue #'s 0-4 as well as Superman: War Of The Supermen.

Superman faced the grief over the death of Pa Kent and the elation overthe dicovery of a city filled with surviors from Krypton.

Once Kandor was enlarged, they ran into conflict with the citizens of Earth almost immediately. They treated humanity much like the Western World has treated the Third World. Relations came to a head when Kandorians rounded up all of Superman's villains, in a preemptive strike to eliminate threats to themselves. In the process they killed a Science Policeman. In retaliation, a strike team is sent to New Krypton, resulting in the death of a number of Kryptonians, including Supergirl's father Zor-El. We discover that General Lane, who was supposedly killed during the Our World At War story some years ago, is still alive and heading the secret Project 7734 (Hell written upside down). He had been spending the subsequent years developing weapons and tactics against Kryptonians in general and Superman in particular. As a result, the city of Kandor launched into space and created another planet on the other side of the sun in Earth orbit.

When he discovered that General Zod and the other Phantom Zone criminals had been freed in order to live on New Krypton as well, Superman began to be unsure about his native people. When he learned that Gen. Zod had been named head of the military guild, Superman was faced with a difficult choice. He decided to leave Earth, for the immediate future, in order to live on New Krypton. The Man of Steel wanted to keep an eye on Zod, and hopefully influence his people on the use of their new super powers.

Superman left Earth, and Metropolis in particular, in the hands of a number of superheroes. Mon-El, also rescued from the Phantom Zone, and the new Guardian, protected the city. Chris Kent' also rescued from the Phantom Zone, operated as Nightwing (of Kryptonian legend), with Thara Ak-Var, who was Flamebird. They had their own mision, to hunt for Zod's sleeper agents on Earth. Action Comics followed their mission, while Superman told the story of Mon-El and the Guardian's protection of Metropolis.

There were quite a few plot threads that ran through this year long story. Gen. Lane manipulated events to frame Kryptonians in a bad light on Earth. Early in the story, Supergirl had a very straigned relationship with her childhood friend, Thara. Kara blamed her for the death of her father, since Thara was the head of security. Lucy Lane was not only serving in the U. S. Army, she was also Superwoman, working for her father, Gen. Lane. Chris Kent and Thara quickly developed a romantic relationship. Jimmy Olsen began to develop into his own as an investigative reporter as he dug into the secrets of Project 7734, at great personal risk.

In World Of New Krypton, Kal-El became a member of the Military Guild, with the rank of General and leader of Red Shard, a special forces unit. Kal and Zod quickly began to clash, which resulted in Kal's court-martial. Surprisingly Zod had Kal-El pardoned on the eve of a Kryptonian holiday. Kal-El showed how proficient he was with his powers, and how far Kryptonians had to go to learn how to use theirs. After assassination attempts against Zod and other members of the Science Council, Kal-El became head of the Military Guild and investigated the muder plots. It would eventually be discovered that a group of Kryptonian traitors were working with Gen. Lane, just before an escaped Brainiac attacked New Krypton.

Last Stand Of New Krypton told the tale of this battle, the presence of the Legion Espionage Squad from the 30th Century would be revealed. They played a key role in the battle and the aftermath. They took the cities Brainiac had captured and established colonies on various worlds, ensuring their future would exist. These transplanted and restored bottle cities would be the ancestral homes of many members of the Legion of Super-Heroes in one thousand years.

War Of The Supermen tells the climatic battle between New Krypton and Earth. Unfortunately, I won't be able to read the final issue until next week, after payday.

Overall, I did enjoy the story. First of all, I liked how past versions of Krypton, and their unique fashions, were combined into one, serving as various Kryptonian guilds. This has been one of Geoff John's strengths, taking past continuities, which often conflict, and combining them into one in a way that makes sense, and then building his own continuity with the results. The Kryptonians' attitude to humanity was much like the Western World's attitude toward the Third World for centuries.

It was great to see Jimmy Olsen maturing into an adventurous investigative reporter. Since Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis it seemed as if Jimmy had been de-aged. I had already seen Jimmy mature as both a person and a reporter in the 1990's, but then there have been a lot of new Superman readers since then (I would hope). Chris Kent's and Thara's hunt for the Kryptonian sleeper agents on Earth was the best part of the Action Comics storyline. The storyline of Mon-El and the Guardian protecting Metropolis, and clashing with General Lane, kept my interest in Superman. The skullduggery and machinations of General Lane also was intriguing. Over in Action Comics I enjoyed the developing relationship between Chris Kent and Thara. Superman's conflict with General Zod was the best part of World Of New Krypton. The final (for now) battle against Brainiac by New Krypton was an epic struggle, as is the War of the Supermen.

My favorite part of this storyline has been the involvement of the Legion of Super-Heroes. With the cancellation of their last monthly series, the Legion seemed to flounder, having to share Adventure Comics. They are too big to share a title with another character, even if it is the modern Superboy. Between the Legion Of 3 Worlds mini-series and the upcoming new Legion Of Super-Heroes #1, Geoff Johns has placed the Legion on a firm foundation. And with one of the most popular Legion writers in Paul Levitz returning to his most well known title, the Legion seems to be in good hands.

There were a few things I didn't care about this extended storyline. I wasn't as interested in Chris Kent and Thara as the embodiment of the spirits of Nightwing and Flamebird of Kryptonian myth. It's not that I don''t like stories involving religious or non-Christian themes. I just didn't like it as much as the development of their romance.

I also didn't like that, ultimately, Action Comics and Superman were secondary to the main story. It's become a common practice for both Marvel and DC. They give comic book readers too many choices not to read comic books. Readers can follow the main event mini-series, not follow a character's regular title(s), and then ignore them when the event series is over. These events don't seem to increase the readership of monthly titles once they are over. Yet the Big 2 seem to continuously dip in that well.

The murder mystery that ended World Of New Krypton did not interest me as much as the conflict between Kal-El and Zod, which filled the first six to eight issues. Also, ending the mini-series as a lead-in to another mini-series, Last Stand Of New Krypton, did not sit well with me. The ending of one mini-series should not be the beginning of another. Having Brainiac's ship appear on the last page of the last issue of Last Stand Of New Krypton was not an ending at all. It was the climax leading into the next issue of the story. Either New Krypton should have been extended a few more issues, or the story tightened somehow to fit in twelve issues.

One thing this whole storyline has succeeded in doing, if the new Superman creative teams follow up on it, is alter the status quo for the Man of Steel. With the introduction of anti-Kryptonian weapons, by both New Krypton and Earth ironically, superman is not as invulnerable as he was before. He is no less powerful, but now there are some weapons that can injure or kill him. They aren't all involving kryptonite, but exposing Kryptonians to red solar radioation. It will be interesting to see how superman outsmarts this new threat.

Also, I will be looking forward to seeing what happens to Chris Kent, if he survives War Of The Supermen #4. Will he be adopted by Clark and Lois? If so, will Superman's descendants come from Chris, so that DC can avoid the situation of having Clark and Lois having children?

Finally, I will be looking forward to a break from event mini-series. I will be picking up DC Universe: Legacies, but after that, I'll be content to read the regular Superman titles, and use the extra money left over to expand into other titles, like Fables, Jack Of Fables and Elephantmen.

With the end of the New Krypton storyline, new creative teams will be coming on board the Superman titles. Beginning with Superman #701, writer J. Michael Straczinski, cover artist John Cassaday and story artists Eddy Barrows and J. P. Mayer will be crafting those stories. Over in Action Comics #890, writer Paul Cornell replaces Marc Guggenheim, who was originally scheduled to be the new writer, but has gone on to another project for DC. The art team will be cover artist David Finch and story artist Pete Woods.

Next Episode : George Perez On Action Comics!

Also, check out Kaman Stowell's Superman video podcast at his website: or on youtube at .

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Thanks for listening to the Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

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