Thursday, January 15, 2009

Review: Action Comics #873

Action Comics #873 was the last official chapter of the 'New Krypton' story arc but the truth is it is hardly an ending. Seeds have been sown for at least the next year of stories. And while there was some closure to the main storyline, it is a tenuous closure ... combustible.

It is closure more in the sense of a band-aid closing a bullet wound. A lot more damage is going to happen. A lot more healing needs to happen.

On to the review.

The issue opens with General Lane and Lex Luthor talking over the body of Doomsday. One thing to note, emphasized in several panels in this scene, is the green blood or fluid leaking from Doomsday. Lane says it best ... "what kills you makes you stronger. That's true in Doomsday's case." Remember Doomsday resurrects in a form where he is invulnerable to the last fatal attack he suffered. Maybe after being pummeled by Kryptonians, he has evolved Kryptonite blood?

What is interesting about this scene is the personality and composure that each man shows. Luthor, who is usually a block of ice, is very vocally alarmed here about the fight currently happening over Kandor. If Kryptonians have declared war on Earth, Luthor feels he should be free with access to everything he can bring to bear against the alien threat. For once, you could get the sense of fear that Luthor has of the Kryptonians. Maybe fear is too strong a word, maybe 'healthy respect for the threat to humanity' is a better phrase.

Lane, however, is as cool as a cucumber. It seems that events have unfolded exactly as he anticipated. And he tells Luthor the right way to kill Superman is slowly. Brrrrr ....

The battle in the Arctic continues to boil over. One thing that is apparent is that Superman is clearly on the side of Earth, punching any Kryptonian that comes near him.

I did like the above panel. One thing that has always concerned me about this story arc has been the effect on Superman's legacy. No longer is he the 'Last Son of Krypton'. He is one of 100,000 Kryptonians. He isn't nearly as unique ... as special as he once was. And who voices that idea? Zod flunkie Commander Gor! Look at what he says: "we invalidate your role on Earth."

I wonder if Johns put that line in as a tiny shot at the nay-sayers of this arc? One thing is for sure, Superman doesn't like it. He takes out Gor with a left uppercut.


Where is Kara in all this? The last time we saw her she was crying as she punched Superman in the face. I never have been someone who likes the 'hero fights hero' plot device and it seems that this minor blip on the Kal/Kara relationship gets quickly swept under the rug.

Kara immediately apologizes for doing it. Kal accepts her apology telling her that Alura cannot make Zor's death change her into a monster. Of course, Superman is someone who recently did lose someone he loved in Pa Kent. Rather than wallow in hate and pain, Superman has chosen to honor what Pa stood for instead.

It is clear that the Earth heroes are still outnumbered, outmatched, and about to be overwhelmed when the magicians from last issue unleash their attack. A ring of magicians is formed around Captain Marvel who says 'Mazahs' . This backwards magic depowers the closest 10,000 Kryptonians.

There were a couple of things I liked about this attack. One, looking at the panel it is pretty clear that this is not an easy spell requiring a circle of sorcerors to concentrate and focus on Freddy. In other words, it isn't an easy thing to do to de-power a Kryptonian. It shouldn't be. Remember that last issue some C-rate heroes had ways of engaging Kryptonians that I felt were too easy. Second, there was some internal logic to me that if 'Shazam' powers up Freddy, that 'Mazahs' would be depowering magic word.
The battle in the sky slows down a bit while Alura initiates her master plan. She activates her Brainiac tech and has the remaining 90,000 Kandorians core the city out from Earth. They then fly it into space. This reminded me of the ending of the Superman Returns movie climax where that Superman flies the expanding Kryptonian land mass away from the planet.


Alura tells Superman he is not welcome on their new planet. Remembering her father's last words to 'watch out for her mother', Supergirl tells Superman she needs to go and flies to Kandor. Looks like Supergirl is not going to stay on Earth. More on this later.


Once in space, the Brainiac device completes its task, creating a completely new planet, a New Krypton which is in geosynchronous orbit with Earth on the other side of the sun. The Kryptonians have left Earth for their new planet, one dangerously close to Earth. In fact, any of the 100,000 Kryptonians could easily fly back here.

This is unsettling to population of Earth who is suddenly wary of any Kryptonian not named Kal-El. The governments of Earth feel that New Krypton is a planet of super-terrorists and a little too close for comfort. Anti-Kryptonian laws are being ramrodded through.

This solution, this endpoint ... a literal New Krypton being created from space dust ... somehow seemed anti-climactic to me. Disappointed is too strong a word. I just didn't get a big 'wow' in my mind from this.

As for the rest of the plots?

Well Lois, Ma, and Lana hope Superman can bring peace between the two worlds.

They also think that Kara may have gone to New Krypton to be an emissary for Earth. That said, she was last seen slugging Superman and now she runs off. It doesn't look good for Supergirl. Cat Grant is going to have a field day.

Superman's villains are still in the Phantom Zone. The Bizarro world does not seem pleased with that.

Flamebird and Nightwing are patrolling in Midway City.

Brainiac seems a bit more active than we thought.

And Doomsday seems dangerously close to reawakening.

As for Superwoman?

Agent Liberty is seen prowling through Cadmus and overhears Lane and Luthor talking. Some of the things we hear are intriguing as ways they might bring the fight to New Krypton. Doomsday is mentioned as are the Creature Commandos. They talk about how the original Krypton exploded. They talk about killing Superman slowly. It almost sounds like they are planning an offensive strike on a planet full of invulnerable beings. Wow ... gutsy.

Agent Liberty is discovered by Superwoman who quickly kills him with the old-fashioned JLU heat vision lobotomy. Kills him in cold blood! I guess she does merit a 'Faces of Evil' cover. Now I really hope she isn't Linda!
At least the evil part of my guess of 'evil clone' is right. Hee hee.
We then cut to New Krypton where Alura is thrilled that Kara has joined her and will bring honor back to the House of El.

Look at Kara's expression. I don't think she is there to be a good little daughter. I think she is there to keep a close eye on her mother. As I said before 'watch out for your mother' could be an expression meaning that Kara needs to care for Alura. Or it could mean 'watch out ... she is dangerous'. I think Supergirl now thinks the latter. Kara is no one's fool.
And she should watch out for Alura who has released and thrown in with the likes of Zod, Non, and Ursa. Like most final chapters of long arcs, a lot was covered here. But in many ways it felt like a middle chapter. The Kryptonians might be off Earth-proper, but their threat is close by. That story is hardly done.

And the other smaller threads ... the mysterious Nightwing, Flamebird, and Superwoman; the imprisonment of Brainiac; the Lane/Luthor alliance ... these are all still ongoing.

As for Supergirl, I am sort of conflicted about how this story ended for her.

On one hand, I think that she has positioned herself on New Krypton not as a kowtowing daughter ready to walk Alura's party line. I think she has put herself there to try to stop whatever Alura is planning or at the very least warn Superman. That is a position of strength befitting Supergirl.

On the other, I was really looking forward to Kara's new direction unfold on Earth. Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle had talked about rehabilitating Supergirl's character. They had just had her adopt the Linda Lang persona. Kara had just been put through the wringer again but had come out of it with a new sense of resolve. Now all of that seems to have been put on the back burner. And frankly, I was pretty excited to read that story.

All that said, one thing I really did appreciate was how Supergirl was portrayed throughout 'New Krypton'. She was written as strong, intelligent, caring.

Overall, this has been a very dense, very quickly paced, very enjoyable 10 issue storyline which has nicely teed up the next year or so of plots in all the Super titles including the Superman:World of New Krypton mini-series.

Overall grade (issue): B+
Overall grade ('New Krypton' arc): A

18 comments:

Jamal Igle said...

Linda Lang hasn't been abandoned..... Trust us.

kwaku said...

Since the next arc deals with Supergirl and Superwoman, I think Supergirl will go back to Earth.

Lana Lang, Cat Grant, Superwoman and Linda Lee all work much better on Earth than on New Krypton.

I wonder how free travel will be between New Krypton and Earth. Like you said any Kryptonian can just hop and skip to Earth but will Supergirl be allowed to go back and forth at her pleasure?

TalOs said...

I know I do 100% mate! :D

Great review overall, Anj! :D

Still have yet to pick this (amongst other Super family titles) up till later on today. (What with it now being Fri, 16th currently over here in Aus. Heh.)

So, "New Krypton" has finally came to be proper it seems eh? Nice! Still wish Alura was sent to the Phantom Zone after all the atrocities she committed that even Zor-El was oblivious to till his wife told him at that!

As for Superwoman, well so much for her being the exception rather then the rule come the whole 'Faces of Evil' theme where she in particular appears on next week's main Supergirl title this month, yeesh! Poor Agent Liberty is all I can say and I truly hope this Kandorian oriented villainous so called 'Superwoman' is brought to justice by the residents of Earth now.

Just what the heck is Alura thinking about releasing the Phantom Zone trio Kryptonian Super Villains? Does she seriously WANT the residents of "New Krypton" as well as that of Earth to be slaughtered? Is she THAT nuts??

Laslty, (and I truly can't believe i'm saying this for I use to really like Pre-COIE E-1 continuity Allura) I truly hope that Supergirl bitch slaps her mother in to the 22nd Century in the end! I truly pray that Kara ends up vanquishing her "mother" (if yo can even call her that) off to the Phantom Zone! For it's the only right thing to do when all is said and done and I hope that where Alura fails Thara Ak-Var becomes the new council member representative of "New Krypton" after witnessing how NOT to abuse such great power like Alura has.

P.S. I too pray now more then ever that Superwoman ISN'T Alura or Thara Ak-Var but "Rachel" of the Science Police here instead.

TalOs said...

P.P.S. that first sentence of my above post was intended for Jamal! ;)

Jason said...

Excellent review Anj!

And wow...Jamal Igle actually reads this and responded!!!! :) That is totally cool!! I'm glad to hear Linda Lang hasn't been abandoned.

I'm definitely interested to see where this new development of the birth of an actual planet New Krypton. I always appreciate a more definite closure on arcs like this, but I can see how the creative teams were planting the seeds for the next year's worth of stories.

I have a feeling Kara will be returning to Earth, but it will also be interesting to see how she interacts with and tries to stop her mother while on New Krypton. Since we now know she's on New Krypton (at least for the moment), does this mean she'll have some kind of involvement in the World of New Krypton maxi-series?

I definitely agree that she has flown to New Krypton to try to stop her mother rather than submit to her. I echo the sentiment that I hope Kara gives Alura the proper bitch slapping that she deserves!

So Superwoman is officially evil and kills. Hmm...then how oh how is this reconciled w/ the remark by Gates that she is "a friend to the house of El?" Those two seemingly irreconcilable factors have me totally unable to even hazard a guess as to whom she may be.

Lisa said...

Great review! Two minor points, though:

1) Freddy Freeman is not Captain Marvel. He's Shazam.

2) New Krypton isn't in any kind of geosynchronous orbit. That would mean staying stationary over one spot on earth.

Mike Z. said...

Was I the only one who reacted to Superwoman's "Intruder alert" with "OMG, robot!" Heh, maybe I spent too much time playing "Berzerk" at arcades back in the day.

I think I said "holy crap" at least 5 times. And that was before the Zod reveal blew my head off (maybe others saw that coming, but I'm easily surprised by comics because I forget the plot between issues).

In Jamal we trust.

Anonymous said...

Generally a good strong finish to a good strong series...I was a bit concerned that a few too many threads had been established to get the story wrapped up in one issue...but new Krypton segues seamlessly to a new storyline...me happy!
My only question is, HOW did Zod and his vile rabble get out of the zone? When were they released?
And more importantly is Zod going to actually take orders from the sister in law of his jailer? Right now Alura "thinks" she has the ultimate Superman deterrent in Zod but he'll turn on her soon enough...wanna bet Alura begs her nephew and daughter for help when push comes to shove?
Turning Kara over to them for training is just sick, I am very much in the "Punish Alura" camp...unless she is slated to be the book's in house "Ming the Merciless" in which I say "Bravo!"
BTW I sorta suspect that Supergirl's "fight" with Superman was staged for Alura's benefit, Kara has an agenda here and needs to demonstrate some bona-fides.
Glad to see that Linda Lang is not being abandoned...the downfall of the original Supergirl was in the plethora of well intentioned changes in setting and cast most of which were never followed up on in any way and abandoned for whimsical and mysterious reasons.
If Mr. Ingle wants I could easily post a dozen or so cast changes from back in the day that almost no one remembers....
:D
Well it's January 2009 and I'm jazzed to be a Supergirl fan, there was a time in my life when I didn't think I'd ever again have that feeling...thanks to everyone who believes now and believed up til now.
:D

John Feer

Anj said...

Linda Lang hasn't been abandoned..... Trust us.

Thanks so much for the post.

I am so looking forward to what you and Sterling Gates have planned, especially around Linda.

Anj said...

I wonder how free travel will be between New Krypton and Earth. Like you said any Kryptonian can just hop and skip to Earth but will Supergirl be allowed to go back and forth at her pleasure?

My guess is the Kryptonians are a bit more isolationist initially not allowing citizens to come and go.

And since it seems Alura wants to brainwash Kara, I doubt she will let Kara out of her sight.

Anj said...

Just what the heck is Alura thinking about releasing the Phantom Zone trio Kryptonian Super Villains? Does she seriously WANT the residents of "New Krypton" as well as that of Earth to be slaughtered? Is she THAT nuts??

I think she is just addled by grief. Add to that 30 years of imprisonment in a bottle, she probably is looking for anyone that she thinks will keep her safe. Zod sort of fits the bill.

I do wonder if Alura will ever 'snap out of it'.

Anj said...

I definitely agree that she has flown to New Krypton to try to stop her mother rather than submit to her. I echo the sentiment that I hope Kara gives Alura the proper bitch slapping that she deserves!

Let the Alura-bashing begin!

I think Kara feels some familial responsibility for everything Alura is doing so she wants to keep her in check.

Anj said...

Was I the only one who reacted to Superwoman's "Intruder alert" with "OMG, robot!" Heh, maybe I spent too much time playing "Berzerk" at arcades back in the day.

A robot huh?

I read on another board that someone guessed the Eradicator. That's an interesting guess too.

Anj said...

Well it's January 2009 and I'm jazzed to be a Supergirl fan, there was a time in my life when I didn't think I'd ever again have that feeling...thanks to everyone who believes now and believed up til now.

I have to say that the last 6 months of 2008 were just great for Supergirl fans. I think that 2009 will continue that trend.

Next up ... 'Who is Superwoman?'

Anonymous said...

If Kara Zor El as "Claire Connor" couldn't hack two weeks of an American High School...how long d'ye think she'll last in General Zod's military academy??
Oh well so much for being the new girl at Kandor High....

Ever notice how as soon as Supergirl shows up everyone starts scheming to brainwash her dainty head? It is a condition of youth that the older generation dream on nothing but manipulating the young...Supergirl is no different.
:D

John Feer

Anj said...

Great review! Two minor points, though:

1) Freddy Freeman is not Captain Marvel. He's Shazam.

2) New Krypton isn't in any kind of geosynchronous orbit. That would mean staying stationary over one spot on earth.


Thanks for the post.

I have to admit I haven't followed the Trials of Shazam so I just assumed Freddy took on the Captain name. Thanks for the info.

Gene said...

I know this is a comic book, but now I am curious about the real life implications of another planet like New Krypton sharing the same orbit as Earth's, but directly on the opposite side of the Sun. How would that affect the orbits of the other planets, and the gravitational stability of Earth? I will have to ask an astronomer..

I cringed when Supergirl punched Superman, because after enduring the recent "kill Kal-El" nonsense, I was afraid that was a step backward in Supergirl's character development. Granted a puch to Superman's chin would be like a tap on the shoulder to us. Hopefully that disturbing scene will serve a higher purpose.

Anonymous said...

Oh and one other thing, that remark General Lane makes about killing Superman from the inside out...perhaps it is a veiled reference to his daughter Lois....whom we haven't seen much of during this arc. Moreover if Superman sojourns on New Krypton, she'll be on Earth all alone...brrrrrrr.

John Feer