Monday, December 1, 2008

Review: Superman #682


It feels almost like old news to be reviewing Superman #682, the 6th part of New Krypton, which was released almost a week ago. But family trips kept me away from my scanner and I think showing key panels is ... well ... key to my reviews. As a lot happened here, the review is long so bear with me.

We are now officially 2/3 of the way through the story and the pacing of this issue is the same breakneck speed as the others. One thing that I am appreciating here is the rate the plot is progressing here. How many of us have read 6 issue arcs that could have been told in 3 but were clearly stretched out for a neater trade release? These first 6 issues could easily have been spread out over a couple more issues making New Krypton a 12-issue arc, aching for a 2 trade treatment. Instead, the creative teams have decided to have the story unfold more naturally rather than meet some tidy number. For this, I thank them.


The issue starts off with a nice moment at Pa Kent's grave site. I think this was an important moment for the story. Much of the gravitas of this arc is the Clark weighing his human and Kryptonian upbringings. While this is a quiet moment in an otherwise action filled issue, it again cements Clark's feelings and pride of his Kansas upbringing.

Clark and Martha are going to pay their respects when they meet someone unexpectedly grieving. Bizarro says in his backwards speak 'me am happy' while mourning.

Bizarro is usually treated like a joke. To show a more personal side to him, to make me feel sympathy for the 'imperfect duplicate' ... that's just good writing on the part of Robinson. This was touching.

Bizarro flies off leaving Clark and Martha alone. Clark finally tells Ma that he is worried for her safety. The events of New Krypton are unfolding faster and faster. The labs Jimmy has found, the appearance of Doomsday ... it all doesn't bode well for Superman or Kryptonians. He sent Krypto to Martha to protect her, just in case anyone tries to get to Superman through her.

Hmmmm ... does anyone else foresee Krypto mauling a Zod follower sometime soon?

The Kryptonians haven't forgotten the Doomsday event either. Zor-El and Alura have mobilized some of the Kandorians and Supergirl to go out as a pro-active force. They have their targets, Superman villains, who they will eliminate before they attack New Krypton as a path to their revenge against Kal-El.

One thing I like here is Kara's dialogue. Zor-El asks her if she will do what he asks as a Kryptonian. She responds that she will do it because she is his daughter. Supergirl is growing, becoming her own person, and starting to feel as attached to Earth as she was to her home planet. It is a quick line but important characterization for Supergirl.
The Kryptonians split up and begin rounding up some major Superman villains.

First off, a crew of Zod followers go to Science Police headquarters and capture the Parasite while he is being hauled in by Officer DuBarry and his squad. When the Science Police refuse to hand over the villain, a skirmish breaks out. Zod's soldiers attack Dubarry and his men and kill them! Suddenly, the frightening reality of many Supermen on Earth becomes real.

Now it is true that the 'first shot' was fired by the humans ... but the Science Police could have been incapacitated rather than killed.
And a nice touch that Commander Gor, the Zod follower defeated by Flamebird in Action, now sports a facial burn scar. These nice small touches of continuity really make stories feel more complete to me.

The beat goes on around the world albeit without the tragic ending. Supergirl and Zor-El lead a group against the Silver Banshee, capturing her fairly easily.

As I have said before, I like the inclusion of the bike shorts under the skirt of Supergirl. Isn't this a much easier panel for the artist to draw without having to have the skirt whip between her legs for modesty or show us the briefs? That said, I always imagined the shorts to be blue like the skirt. I hope this is simply a coloring error.

More Kryptonians go to Arkham and apprehend the Toyman. But first, they apply a beatdown to some of the Batman Family.


And they get the Prankster, but not without applying a beatdown to Black Lightning.


And Thara Ak-Var leads a group that give the still weeping Bizarro an old-fashioned beatdown. Are we seeing a pattern yet?


Of course, for the people of Earth this is pretty scary. Sure, the Kryptonians are gathering up some known super-villains. But like the beginning of any fascist movement, you always wonder if you are in the next group to be rounded up. Add to that the murder of the Science Police and it is all-out panic. And as the pieces of the story break, we hear someone say "Supergirl was with them". Suddenly Kara has become part of the problem rather than the solution. We saw Cat Grant's story in Supergirl where she claims Kara is leading a Kryptonian take-over. This can't help.

Sigh. Just when we thought life might be getting easier for Supergirl.

But the real beauty of this piece is the layout of the page. By going with vertical panels, there is a claustrophobic feel to the action, a bit of unease which works with this plot development. It also allows the writer to put in a lot of pieces of dialogue which denotes all that the people of Earth are feeling ... words like 'madness', 'slaughter', 'doesn't make sense', and 'where will they attack next?' While these words unfold, we get the super speed action of Clark running through the office changing into Superman. And again, the vertical layout allows the last panels .. Superman flying off. That my friends is a nice marriage of words, panel layout and art!

When an angry Superman confronts Zor-El and Alura, Zor-El is stunned to hear about the killings. This, of course, was not his intent.

Alura seems to take the whole thing in stride though. She did not think the death of a few police officers was worth bothering Zor-El about. She seems so cold here. We did see her rather dispassionately clubbing Doomsday to death, so it did not shock me completely to see her this way.

In fact, she calls the murder of the Science Police collateral damage, bad luck. Superman pretty heatedly again explains that the Kandorians need to respect and follow the laws of Earth. He asks for the names of those involved in the deaths so they can answer for it. Alura says she won't turn in her own people.

Supergirl is as upset about all this as Superman ... moreso I think because of the frankly evil rhetoric coming from her mother's lips. Is this the 'real' Alura? Or is this because she is pumped full of K-poisoning (as seen in Supergirl #35) thus making her unhinged?

Alura tells Superman that the Kryptonians have not killed the super-villains but instead have imprisoned them somewhere where they cannot escape, the Phantom Zone.

And here they all are, surrounding a suddenly not-so-lonely Mon-El.

Also in this issue, we see some advancement of the storylines of those players on the periphery of the conflict. The Guardian gets hired by the Science Police once news of the Kryptonian attacks comes around. Agent Liberty leaves his duty as Presidential body guard so he can investigate all the governmental black ops surrounding the Doomsday hit. And Atlas is seen in a new 'secret identity' just biding his time.Whew, as usual there was a lot going on in this issue.

We all were expecting some event with the Kandorians that was going to be the tipping point that leads to confilict rather than co-existence. I think murder of law enforcement certainly fits the bill. One thing I don't quite understand is why Luthor was not on the Kryptonian hit list. I mean The Prankster? Really? Of course, maybe Lex was on the list and they just couldn't find him. I also am surprised that Brainiac wasn't on their list or hasn't been mentioned by the Kryptonians. Wouldn't they want to try him in their court of law? Put him in the Phantom Zone? Execute him? Now I hope that there is a response from the Earth super-hero community about these kidnappings and killings. We saw early on a contingent of the JLA and JSA warn Superman about this. My guess is they also may have been anticipating this eventuality.And I do find it interesting that after finally FINALLY having rid ourselves of the 'kill Kal-El' mad Zor-El, we instead have a calculating and malevolent Alura. Can't Supergirl have normal parents? My hope is her behavior is explained away by K-poisoning just like Kara's was.

My one complaint? Well ... there are lots of threads that aren't touched on here. No Luthor/Brainiac. No Flamebird/Nightwing. No Superwoman. I realize that each title has their own focus, but to have several brewing mysteries going on without any new clues?

So, plot movement, pacing, and dialogue were spot on. The art here was great. I continue to like Guedes take on Supergirl.

Overall grade: A

3 comments:

TalOs said...

First, truly hope you and your family had a blast on that trip, anj! :)

Hmmmm ... does anyone else foresee Krypto mauling a Zod follower sometime soon?
Oh for sure. I mean after all, his a "good boy" remember. :P

One thing I like here is Kara's dialogue. Zor-El asks her if she will do what he asks as a Kryptonian. She responds that she will do it because she is his daughter. Supergirl is growing, becoming her own person, and starting to feel as attached to Earth as she was to her home planet. It is a quick line but important characterization for Supergirl.
Oh agreed 100% here!

And a nice touch that Commander Gor, the Zod follower defeated by Flamebird in Action, now sports a facial burn scar. These nice small touches of continuity really make stories feel more complete to me.
Actually, (and with all due respect here, anj) that doesn't make an iota of sense at all. Unless the flames themselves fired were either that of Kryptonian based tech or that of magic just how could a Kryptonian be left with a permanent scar while being powered under Earth's yellow sun thus becoming invulnerable to anything short then their own tech used against them, magic or Kryptonite?

I think this might be even more of a clue as to exactly who is under that Flamebird guise. (Linda Danvers anyone? ;))

When an angry Superman confronts Zor-El and Alura, Zor-El is stunned to hear about the killings. This, of course, was not his intent.

Alura seems to take the whole thing in stride though. She did not think the death of a few police officers was worth bothering Zor-El about. She seems so cold here. We did see her rather dispassionately clubbing Doomsday to death, so it did not shock me completely to see her this way.

In fact, she calls the murder of the Science Police collateral damage, bad luck. Superman pretty heatedly again explains that the Kandorians need to respect and follow the laws of Earth. he asks for the names of those involved in the deaths so they can answer for it. Alura says she won't turn in her own people.

Supergirl is as upset about all this as Superman ... moreso I think because of the frankly evil rhetoric coming from her mother's lips. Is this the 'real' Alura? Or is this because she is pumped full of K-poisoning (as seen in Supergirl #35) thus making her unhinged?

You have to remember that Alura has been portrayed like this BEFORE she was exposed to that bolt of Kryptonite radiation striking her come Supergirl #35 too. So the question is is she under the influence of K radiation poisoning or is she still acting as her old self would regardless here eh?

I do find it interesting that after finally FINALLY having rid ourselves of the 'kill Kal-El' mad Zor-El, we instead have a calculating and malevolent Alura. Can't Supergirl have normal parents? My hope is her behavior is explained away by K-poisoning just like Kara's was.
Hmmm, some fans are actually speculating as of late that our Alura-El might in fact be an actual blood relation to that of General Zod himself! And that she shares his "evil" genes which explains as to why she's acting in the manner she has this whole time. (Again, BEFORE she was exposed to that bolt of Kryptonite radiation striking her come Supergirl #35 at that come willingly having a hand in killing Doomsday)

Unfortunately just as Clark has lost Pa Kent as will Zor-El and Kara now be loosing their Alura in turn I think too. (I truly hope not but at this stage Alura is a alien criminal by Earth standards)

My one complaint? Well ... there are lots of threads that aren't touched on here. No Luthor/Brainiac. No Flamebird/Nightwing. No Superwoman. I realize that each title has their own focus, but to have several brewing mysteries going on without any new clues?
I know exactly how you feel for I too share your frustration over this.

Anonymous said...

More and more, Alura sounds like a colonialist, "who CARES what the natives think!"....a mindset akin to General Zod IMHO.

I predict a nasty show down between mother and daughter.

John Feer

Jason said...

Yeah...I also think its a very interesting turn of events to get this seemingly cold, aggressive, and potentially-murderous Alura right on the heels of getting rid of the crazy "Kill Kal-El" Zor-El. I'm glad I wasn't the only one thinking that.

I also have to go w/ Talos here in that I do believe she was shown acting this way before being exposed to the K-poisoning. I think this is her true nature. Boy...wouldn't that turn out to be something if she is related to Zod?

I'm glad to see Kara feeling a connection to Earth by making the distinction to her father that she was following him not because she's Kryptonian, but only because she's his daughter and also being very upset about the fact that someone was murdered and that her own mother had such a callous attitude about it. We may well just see a showdown between mother and daugther.

And just when I was starting to join the Alura-as-Superwoman ranks...how can someone who kills (or at least seems to have a callous attitude toward killing) be "a friend to the house of El"?