Monday, February 2, 2009

Review: Superman #684



Superman #684 is the first Superman issue post-New Krypton. The issue was written by James Robinson but was drawn by fill in artist Jesus Merino. This 'Faces of Evil' cover sports the Parasite on the cover looking mostly like scar tissue. No mouth, no eyes, no ears. It reminded me of the Parasite from the Bruce Timm Superman animated series. I also noted the green diamond '12' on the cover. I thought the diamonds were going to stop with the end of New Krypton. And as far as I know there was no '11' unless it was accidentally left off of Supergirl #37.

The first half of the issue is told from the Parasite's point of view which was somewhat interesting. Robinson does a good job of putting us inside the villain's head as he vividly describes the craving he has for energy. He also points out that some things that the Parasite absorbs (like the ability to speak Portuguese) stay forever while other skills fade away.



The issue opens with the Parasite on the run on the streets of Metropolis. He then recalls his escape.

Superman and the Science Police were using the Phantom Zone projector to retrieve the supervillains exiled there by Alura during her stay on Earth. Superman says that the Parasite was one of the last few when Mon-El shows up and gives the Man of Steel some bad news.

Zod, Ursa, Non, and all Zod's followers aren't there anymore. And neither is Bizarro.



The Parasite, who was nearby when that exchange took place, jumps at the chance for some Daxamite energy and tackles Mon-El. After a quick drain, he allows Superman to 'imprison' him although he quickly uses his new found powers to escape and flee to the big city. The Parasite vows to find a way to get back to Mon-El and simply suck him dry.

This wasn't a bad section of the book as it sort of fleshed out the previously two-dimensional character of the Parasite.



The rest of the book reads more like a primer for the upcoming year of Superman titles.

First we see the Guardian introducing himself to the Science Police as their new boss. He even divulges his identity to them as a Jim Harper clone.


Then we have a quick scene with Nightwing and Flamebird in Keystone city. They are talking to the Jay Garrick Flash who promises them that he will watch out for the things 'they are hunting'. He also agrees not to tell Superman about their mission. It seems like he would not make that promise to 2 people he didn't know so he must know at least one of them.

On the last panel they are seen swinging away on ropes ... but to be honest it looks like the ropes may have been simply added in rather than drawn. Does that mean the artist knows they can fly?

My money is still on Flamebird being Maxima. But I guess we'll see.

But the most ominous scene comes at the end. Upon learning that Zod has escaped, Superman feels that he needs to warn Alura and New Krypton. He flies there and chats with her. After her usual cheap shots (telling him he is an Earth man and surprised he would care about New Krypton, etc.), she brings him to a military parade. Looks almost fascist with the flags flying and the troops and tanks cruising in formation. For Earth, that would be a chilling sight.



He remains calm, warning Alura of Zod's apparent escape from the Phantom Zone. Alura calmly tells Superman that Zod and his followers aren't missing. She freed them and pardoned them.

This is one of the few times I have seen Kal get emotional with Alura. He calls her Aunt Alura and demands to know where Zod is.


Alura points down to the parade grounds. There is Zod, with Non and Ursa, surveying the troops. If the parade itself is chilling, the sight of these megalomaniacs as the leaders of a superhuman army is downright terrifying. Certainly it has to be frightening to Kal-El.

This was a decent issue. As I said above, it seemed more like an issue to introduce the upcoming concepts of the super-titles. We see the main players of all the new directions. Mon-El and The Guardian for Superman. Nightwing and Flamebird for Action. Alura and Zod for World of New Krypton. And the Parasite part was pretty well done.

Merino's art is a bit blotchy and dark for what I consider more of a 'clean line' title. That style certainly worked with the Parasite, giving him a monstrous look. But it was a bit murky for Mon-El and the New Krypton scenes.

Overall grade: B

6 comments:

Heath Edwards said...

mmm, i wasn't too sure what to think, when i finished reading this issue. i quite enjoyed the parasite story, found the nightwing & flamebird pages curious, and a little 'huh' about the new krypton bit.
what i thought most curious about the n&f section was the use of jay garrick, a character not used much, if at all, when it comes to superman... it does make me wonder about who could be behind nightwing's & flamebird's masks...
i think the military scenes would've weirded out most americans, as they'd find it quite a strong scene. but, having watched some of the 4th of july parades you guys have, i'm weirded out by them, too :)... all that nationalism. for the kryptonians, the show probably would've weirded them out not long ago, but having just been released from a bottle, and now having been rejected by earth, they most likely feel the need for a show of strength for themselves...

Anonymous said...

Alura is fast becoming the most interesting antagonist in the DCU. I think her arc may include paranoid ideations about threats from the Earth...so her thing is she wants to steer clear of any involvement with the third planet. But...the Kryptonians are having problems "Kryptoforming" their new planet, which makes it a less than ideal location to stage a renaissance of Kryptonian civilization...soooo how long before Zod starts agitating for an invasion/colonization of the Earth?
And where would Alura stand in that situation?
I wonder if that isn't the endgame here from a storytelling perspective...?

John Feer

TalOs said...

Actually, i'm really surprised no one questioned Alura's now complete change of heart in allowing Superman even stepping foot on "New Krypton" where in last issue out of Supergirl Alura clearly states to Supergirl that her cousin wasn't welcomed on "New Krypton" at all. Could this be the K radiation poisoning starting to really take effect on Alura?

Also what does Mon-El mean that it's just him left in the Zone? What about Lor-Zod/"Chris Kent"? For I don't recall him re appearing upon Alura letting General Zod, Ursa and Non out of the Zone on "New Krypton" in Supergirl?? :/

Lastly that scene with Jay (JSA Flash), Nightwing and Flamebird: so apparently they want to SWING on a rope rather then opt to FLY come this issue it seems. Clever way to get around them not wanting the Superheroic community as a whole to know that they can actually fly I suppose. Very Batman and Batgirl like. Heh.

Apart from those 3 observations I truly loved this issue and really loved seeing even more Mon-El again! :D

Anj said...

for the kryptonians, the show probably would've weirded them out not long ago, but having just been released from a bottle, and now having been rejected by earth, they most likely feel the need for a show of strength for themselves...

Thanks for the post.

This is a great point. I mean ... how damaged is the Kryptonian collective psyche right now after 3 decades in a bottle? Of course they would want to institute changes to prevent anything like that happening again.

Anj said...

soooo how long before Zod starts agitating for an invasion/colonization of the Earth?
And where would Alura stand in that situation?
I wonder if that isn't the endgame here from a storytelling perspective...?


Thanks for the post.

The Alura/Zod eventual confrontation is a pretty good guess for how all of this might wrap up.

But what do you do with the planet?

I wonder how all of this will end.

Anj said...

Actually, i'm really surprised no one questioned Alura's now complete change of heart in allowing Superman even stepping foot on "New Krypton" where in last issue out of Supergirl Alura clearly states to Supergirl that her cousin wasn't welcomed on "New Krypton" at all. Could this be the K radiation poisoning starting to really take effect on Alura?

Thanks for the post.

I wonder if Alura meant he will never be welcomed with open arms but won't actively try to stop him from coming.

Alura's descent into insanity has been a great plot to follow along.