By: Kryptonian Detective
It’s been far too long since I’ve given my two cents on what’s happening in the pages of the comic books that feature Superman and Batman. Truth be told, I fell behind on my reading, and it’s taken me this long to catch up. When we last left Superman, Braniac had attacked Metropolis, Pa Kent died, and the bottle city of Kandor had been restored, thereby releasing a fragment of the planet Krypton and 100, 000 Kryptonians on earth. While most Kryptonians were making an effort to assimilate to Earth, one of General Zod’s soldiers kills several cops. Earth authorities demanded that the guilty party be turned over for justice. The Kryptonian’s refused, and were exiled from Earth, and warned that any appearance by a Kryptonian other then Superman would be met as a direct violation of this edict, resulting in conflict. General Lane is appointed the head of a special taskforce to monitor the kryptonians, and begins to put into action a plan to eradicate all the kryptonians. Meanwhile the Kryptonians move their landmass and its inhabitants to the opposite side of the sun from earth. In an agonizing decision Superman decided to leave earth for New Krypton, in the hopes of bridging the gap between the two worlds, and therefore preventing an all out war. These events set up the status quo for the Superman books over the past year and a half.
World of New Krypton follows Superman and the Kryptonians on their newly formed planet. Action Comics follows Thara and Chris Kent, who assume the guise of Flamebird and Nightwing, Kryptonian legendary heroes. Supergirl follows its titular character, as she struggles to cope with her father’s death, her loyalties to her mother, and her quest for revenge. Superman follows Mon – El, the man handpicked by the man of steel himself, to protect Metropolis, as he finds his way and becomes a hero in his own right. When it was first announced that Superman wouldn’t be appearing in his own monthly titles, I scoffed and immediately thought that these books would be terrible for the next year and a half. Now, they weren’t the best comic books I’ve read, but they weren’t as bad as I’d thought. Each title had moments to shine, as well as lulls in between. However, each title was really part of a larger story, and that being the case; this trend is to be expected. From this point forward I will be commenting on this story as a whole, rather than going title by title. One of the strongest aspects of this “New Krypton” storyline is that it defines Kryptonian culture and way of life. This was something that has been a mystery to comics continuity and fans alike, due to the constant reworking of Superman’s origin over the years. Krypton’s society is split up into guilds. These guilds determine your standing in the community, and are directly tied to an individual’s occupation. These guilds vary from a science guild, artist guild, military guild, and the labour guild. The guilds are a major plot device in the World of New Krypton maxi-series. So much so that the book is very much a political drama. For the majority of this New Krypton saga, prior to the third act, this was the most entertaining of the titles.
Action Comics was one of the most boring, monotonous titles I’ve read in all of my years of comic book reading. There was too much focus on the religious mythology of Krypton. Having a storyline that is steeped in kryptonian religion is fine, except when it becomes so forced and convoluted. As I read it, I found myself confused, and it seemed as though the writers themselves couldn’t keep track of it all. The other plot thread that made Action Comic for the most part, unreadable for me, was the forced love story between Thara and Chris Kent. Yes Chris Kent, the boy who sacrifices himself to save Superman and Metropolis by wilfully entering the Phantom Zone with Zod and the others. That boy comes back as a teenager! Ok, so who though turning Action Comics into The Young and the Restless with religious undertones was a good idea? Fire this individual immediately. Action Comics is a historic title, and to have to watch as it descended to one of the worst books for that length of time was painful.
Superman was a solid title for me, and Supergirl was more hit and miss. In Superman, Mon –El goes from a handpicked hero, to a bona fide hero who stands in no one else’s shadow. The story really stressed the journey that Mon – El goes through to get from point A to point B. Some of the best moments were seeing Mon – El turn to Superboy and Martha Kent for advice on how to be a better hero and ultimately deciding that instead of trying to just to imitate Superman he would pay homage to him, and do things his own way. I also appreciate that Mon – El chooses to be a hero in his civilian identity, as a member of the Science Police. This is a very unique idea in superhero comic books as typically the hero assumes a timid occupation for their civilian alter ego. This coupled with the fact that Mon – El knew he was dying, wanted to experience life to its fullest, and had to balance being a superhero made his story very compelling. The strength of the Supergirl book was its focus on the Girl of Steel’s struggle with her loyalties to her mother, and to her adoptive home earth. Admirably Supergirl decides to alternate and try to do what she can for New Krypton and Earth, despite Earth’s negative view of Kryptonians. The writers put Kara on an emotional roller coaster and the way she handles her father’s murder, and her strained familial bond with Lana Lang, highlights the fact that Kara has grown as a character from that self absorbed teenager from issue one, to someone who understands heroism, selflessness, and the need to sometimes put others needs. My problem with this book during the New Krypton saga stems from two areas. First the crossover of the characters of Chris Kent and Thara, which often relegated Kara to a supporting role in her own book. Also there was a multi-part story involving the Silver Banshee that came out of nowhere, and had nothing to do with the New Krypton storyline.
The two mini –series Last Stand on New Krypton and War of the Supermen represent the final act of New Krypton, and for me, was the highlight of the year and a half long story. These mini-series featured an attack by Braniac on New Krypton, the arrival of the Legion of Superheroes into the fray, Lex Luthor double-crossing Braniac, secretly aiding General Sam Lane and Reactron in the destruction of New Krypton, and a war between Krypton and earth that nearly annihilates both sides. This should have been the focus of the New Krypton saga much sooner. These elements had everything, the emotional impact that was present at various points throughout parts of the larger story, and the b@ll$ to the wall action that was sorely lacking for the majority of the story. Te pacing and focus are the main reasons why New Krypton saga ultimately fails. This story was far too long and spilled over into too many titles. This story would have been better served as a 12 issue limited series in my opinion. Not to mention that the writers seemingly couldn’t decide if they wanted to tell a political drama, sci-fi action piece, or a soap opera. Despite some of the positive points I listed throughout this review, when the story reached its finale, reading this year and a half long story proved to be a colossal waste of time. Why? Everything that was done, from having 100, 000 Kryptonians on earth, bringing back General Sam Lane from apparent death, and releasing a now teenaged Chris Kent from the phantom zone was all undone. Even before the last page is turned over, all the kryptonians are dead. New Krypton is gone, and General Zod, Ursa, and Non are back in the phantom zone, leaving Supergirl and Superman as the sole survivor. General Lane was dead, for real this time, and Chris Kent was six again and back in the phantom zone too. So essentially, if you haven’t picked this story up yet, but we’re considering it, don’t. Treat it as though it never existed, because that’s what DC Comics seems to be doing.
I thoroughly enjoyed the artwork in this series. In fact it was the only aspect of this series that I have no problems with. There were various artist that contributed to this story and each one brought their own style to the series What’s funny is that all these contrasting art styles meshed together well, and was the most consistent aspect of New Krypton. There is some epic imagery to be seen here. Some highlights include Braniac’s skull ship hovering over new Krypton on the last page of issue 12, Superman impaled during the Last Stand on New Krypton mini series. Other stand outs include Superman’s first confrontation with Zod during the War of the Superman, and the powerful image of Superman and Supergirl in a mournful embrace with tears in their eyes, as they realize their entire civilization is gone, and they are the last of their kind. Powerful imagery to be sure. The 4 standard edition covers by Eddy Barrows for the War of the Supermen were simply spectacular. If DC Comics decided to release this entire New Krypton story as an oversized hard cover picture book featuring only the art with no story, then, and only then would I recommending buying this series.