Action Comics #872 was released yesterday, part 7 of the New Krypton story arc. We are entering the last third of this story and, as usual, a lot happened this issue. The players have been introduced, the mysteries have deepened, the lines have been drawn before this issue.
I think this issue represented the tipping point. This was an issue of ... well ... of Action! All the pieces which have been placed on the proverbial chess board were brought to attack. How much happened in this issue? So much that I won't even have a scanned panel of the Creature Commandos who were reintroduced here.
But before we get into the meat of the story, I'd like to show the 1:10 variant cover by Chris Sprouse showcasing the new versions of Metallo and new Supergirl rogue Reactron. I am pretty sure that I read somewhere that Gary Frank was behind the re-design of Reactron. I like the fact that there are small reminders of the original Reactron design from way back in the '80s, specifically the triple red bands around the wrist.
Any time Supergirl is prominently featured on a Superman title is fine with me, even if she is unconscious with Superman at the feet of the enemy.
But on to the story.
Last issue, the Kryptonians rounded up some of Superman's villains and sent them to the Phantom Zone. In doing so they fought with several super-heroes and killed several science police officers. Superman was upset by this lack of recognition of the sanctity of human life and had confronted Alura, who seems to be the true leader of Kandor, about it.
Alura states that she does not think that Earth is ready to embrace the Kryptonian presence and so she did what she thought needed to be done for her citizens' safety.
Here we see Kara voicing her opinions against her mother's ideas only to be told to change her tone. But even Zor-El seems shocked by the cavalier attitude Alura has for the murders.
Interestingly enough, Alura has a noble goal in mind ... to 'rebuild the universe', that is find suitable new worlds for all the displaced cities that are on Brainiac's ship. They have found cities from Braal (Cosmic Boy's homeworld), Winath (Lightning Lad's homeworld), and Tharr (Polar Boy's home world). If we assume Brainiac destroyed the home worlds, and if we assume that they somehow survive to the 30th century (since we have met the Legionnaires) then we have to assume that Alura and the Kryptonians will be successful. The cities cannot be grown now because Brainiac has turned on some self-destruct apparatus if further cities are removed.
Mentuioning these specific home planets is a nice little nugget in this vast story. This arc actually will effect the future of the DCU.
Also in Brainiac's ships are Earth individuals Brainiac has encountered including the Creature Commandos and Ultra the Multi-Alien. They are in suspended animation in individual 'caskets'.
This is a noble goal but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Supergirl and Superman cannot get past the murders of the SP officers and continue to call Alura on it.
In a nice nod to her prior problems, Supergirl tells her parents that she knows how people react when Kryptonians cross the line. Alura remains steadfast in her opinions though. She watched Kandor get taken. She watched Krypton explode. She watched Argo get overrun. She has lived in a bottle. She will do whatever it takes to keep Kandor safe ... no limits involved. And in a nice jab at Superman she questions why he is not celebrating the return of his home planet more than he is, distracted so by the death of his 'human father'.
It is clear that Alura is becoming the villain of the story. She is well-intentioned but her methods are off. The ends justify the means ... and if that means getting loyalty from Zod's soldiers by promising them access to the Phantom Zone projector (as is hinted at in this issue) , so be it.
I still hope it is a case of paranoid schizophrenia as brought on by Kryptonite poisoning, but I am beginning to doubt that such feelings can be so easily brought out or 'cured'.
General Lane's side isn't getting over the murders either. Their plan of attack and retaliation comes to fruition. First they send out Metallo and Reactron on a destructive rampage to attract the Kryptonians. The two villains quickly 'surrender' so they can be brought to Kandor.
This is a great scene showcasing the two personalities of Superman's prime villains. One is Brainiac at his unemotional best discussing how no one will have access to his knowledge, how humans are below him. The other is Luthor so slickly aggrandizing and understatedly smart. He call himself a 'god of progress', such a wonderful statement on how Lex views himself, above the common man and reaching for Olympus. This is the Luthor I grew up with and I love it.
First look at Zor-El's dialogue. He understands his wife's concerns about Earth's assimilating with Krypton (and not the other way around). He might not be as overt about his Kryptonian superiority as Alura but it is there. His is a more quiet form of misanthropy. I prefer my villains out in the open where I can see them.
Then Alura decides to show all her cards telling Superman and Supergirl she authorized lethal force if it was necessary to achieve her goals. Everyone is shocked. I suppose 3 decades in a bottle would drive anyone mad.
Before that revelation can be dealt with, Luthor reactivates Brainiac's ship. One effect is to revive the Creature Commandos and Ultra from their suspended animation. The other is to start defense programs. Suddenly the ship is crawling with Brainiac drones.
While those in the ship fight off the drones, the real heavy hitters on the anti-Kryptonian side begin their assault.
First Metallo starts out with some good old fashioned green Kryptonite.
Now in the Silver Age, Gold K was the rarest of the rare and could permanently depower a Kryptonian. In this new incarnation it can depower a Kryptonian for 15 seconds. Enough time to have your head vaporized by a super-villain it seems.
I think I will need to hear a bit more about the 15 second rule. What if you perpetually bathe a Kryptonian in its rays? Can a Kryptonian be re-exposed? How much time is needed between exposures to have them de-power again?
In many ways that exposition does not need to happen now. All we need to know is that Reactron is a very powerful agent in this 'war'. Of course, nothing a little focused heat vision from a distance can't handle.
Reactron already has a history with Kara; if this death stays permanent he becomes her primary rogue, someone with a significant place in her backstory.
In many ways I feel bad for Zor-El. He was just cleansed of the 'Kill Kal-El, crystal hell' false past and actually appears to be a loving father. Now, a mere 3 months into his return, he is perforated!
What an unbelievable turn of events for the story! This will clearly further fuel Alura's flames. How will it impact Kara?
First we see the new Nightwing and Flamebird patrolling in Gotham! And just to further the Conner argument, we have an immediate shot of the Superboy statue being rebuilt just as Flamebird says 'we both have a secret to keep'.
If it isn't Conner ... well then ... they are just playing with us. No new news on Flamebird. So she still could be Linda.
Agent Liberty is seen talking to Tellus over in Cadmus to dig up more info on the Doomsday protocol.
And the Guardian takes the most logical next step in response to the Science Police murders. He goes to the JLA and JSA and asks them to step up to the plate.
I have said it all along, New Krypton has sped along at break-neck speed. There is so much going on in each issue. I love the pace. I don't feel the 'get on with already' sensation I get when arcs are carried on too long. Nor do I feel as if things are being rushed. It is unfolding at a perfect tempo.
So still nothing concrete about Nightwing and Flamebird. And no Superwoman sighting here either. But Alura as the main villain? Zor-El dead? A deadlier Reactron? An egotistical conniving Luthor?
This was about as close to a perfect issue as you can get.
Overall grade: A+