Friday, February 27, 2009

Review: Superman #685

The build-up to Superman:World of New Krypton and another year without Superman in the super-titles finally came to an end with the release of Superman #685 on Wednesday. Written by James Robinson and drawn by Javier Pina, it moves all the pieces into proper position for the new stories to unfold.

The last several issues have basically been prologue to this year's major arcs. Superman will be on New Krypton. Mon-El and the Guardian will be in charge of Metropolis. Flamebird and Nightwing will be hunting whatever they are hunting.

The last issue ended with Mon-El ripped from a collapsing Phantom Zone only to begin dying from the sudden exposure to lead.

With Mon-El turning an unseemly shade of gray, Superman comes up with an idea. Why not go into the future for Brainiac 5's cure serum? Superman knows that Mon-El is safely active 1000 years from now.

But when he tries to use his Legion ring to go to the 31st century, it doesn't work. Superman sums it up pretty ominously. "Something's wrong ... with tomorrow."

My guess is that we haven't quite reached the post-Final Crisis DCU. The problem with tomorrow is that the events of Final Crisis:Legion of Three Worlds are still bubbling to the surface.

But seriously, not to pick at the finaly scabbed over wound of Final Crisis, when will the DCU move to the post-FC reality. The DCU titles have been moving forward without even a glance at the trauma of Final Crisis. And assuming that each title moves ahead with current storylines will there even be a mention of Earth nearly dying, the death of some friends, the restructuring of the orrery? Hawkman and Hawkwoman and Batman all died in Final Crisis and yet all three are in the current Justice League of America issue. Heck, Hawkwoman stars in the 'Origins and Omens' back-up. Is she dead? Did New Krypton get created before Final Crisis? If so, why weren't 100,000 Kryptonians mentioned? Aftewards? Well where does Final Crisis fit in the timeline of the super-titles. I just think that after a major event .... the last Crisis ... there should be a new feel to continuity. As it is, outside of the impact on the Bat titles, I feel like Final Crisis could have been an Elseworlds mini-series.

Yikes, that's a lot of bile to spring forth from one panel in Superman. Sorry for the tangent.

Realizing that an answer from the future won't come easily, Superman rushes to his lab to try to cobble some cure together last minute.

When he arrives he discovers this 'Alice in Wonderland'-like flask, the 'drink me' label festooned with a Legion symbol. Feeling he has no choice, Superman administers the serum to Mon-El who is miraculously cured.

So this save felt a bit too much like a deus ex machina. However, there aren't many people who could have sneaked into the Fortress to leave it there. My guess? Flamebird and Nightwing. There is a theory floating on the web that Nightwing is Cosmic Boy. He could have brought the anti-lead poisoning serum from the future.

If Nightwing is Rokk, then who is Flamebird? What about Officer Schvaughn Erin?

Now that the immediate crisis of Mon-El and the Phantom Zone is over, Superman can go back to worrying about the ongoing crisis of New Krypton. He simply doesn't trust General Zod. Superman feels his people, the Kryptonians, are in danger and he needs to be there to protect them.

One thing I did like was Robinson showing us Superman's reaction to the UN resolution banning Kryptonians (outside himself) from Earth. He looks pretty shocked and he should be. Things aren't going well with the Terran/Kryptonian relationship. More then ever, he probably feels the weight of setting things right, of being a arbitor between the two sides of his life.

Robinson does give a glimpse of the Guardian as well. Harper has been receiving telepathic messages from Tellus in the form of dreams. Tellus keeps telling the Guardian that he is fine and that the Science Police will arrive. But Harper seems to ignore the advice. After seeing visions of battles with Superman villains Riot and The Atomic Skull, Harper says that he is coming to the rescue.

The rest of the issue is actually a nice character study of Clark. He knows he needs to go to New Krypton to watch Zod, save his people, and hopefully bring an end to the animosity between his two cultures.

But he cannot do it without the blessing of the two women in his life, Ma and Lois. He begins to lay out his reasoning to them. One thing I did not like is Clark saying that he felt Kara was under the sway of her mother. While she may be living on New Krypton, Kara has seemed concerned about her mother's actions as much as anyone. She has never fallen in line with Alura's thinking like a good little soldier.
I did like the little split panel theme seen above. He truly is half Clark and half Superman. It is a nice little visualization of that, as both sides of him are in anguish about how things have unfolded.

I love the support that Lois and Ma give him. When Superman states that he doesn't know what to do, they both say 'yes you do'. They both know he needs to leave Earth and go to New Krypton.
The issue's main story ends with a tender goodbye between Lois and Clark. I am happy that Robinson took the time to show this, as well as Lois' tears after this goodbye. Superman is flying into the lion's den. Lois doesn't even know if he will ever return. And yet, she still knows his place is there. She has faith in him, sure, but that still requires bravery in her part.

The issue ends with a nice 'Origins and Omens' story reviewing Mon-El's history succinctly and setting him up for the next year in Superman.

First off, he gets an identity for Metropolis. He will be Jonathan Kent. Nice touch.

And he looks like he will be busy too. Fights with Atlas and Sodam Yat? Tangling with Lex Luthor? And what looks to be a kiss with Natasha Irons?

I have to say that I am most intrigued with Superman:World of New Krypton. Of all the directions of the super-books, Superman starring Mon-El and The Guardian is the one that I am least optimistic about. Hopefully I will be pleasantly surprised.

As for this issue, Robinson does a fine job of aligning the characters so next month will start smoothly. It still felt more like set-up than story progression, but you have to get to the beginning of a story somehow.

I don't know Javier Pina but his work was serviceable. Certainly it is much smoother than the dark stuff we saw by Jesus Merino and Pable Raimondi recently. Raimondi's stuff looked much better in this month's 'Origins and Omens', less blotchy and thick.

Overall grade: B


Heath Edwards said...

nice review, again :)...
true, final crisis, really doesn't seem to have made an impact, but all the dc editors are saying to wait till march before the post-final crisis dcu comes into play, so i guess we'll see... heh, elseworlds, indeed...
loved the 'something's wrong... with tomorrow' line :). yay...
didn't dig the pencils, again. but, i thought raimondi's backup story was well done, and i enjoyed his take on mon-el... love that ma kent gave him pa's name... i thought that was a nice touch...
i'm not too worried about this year without superman in the main books. the super-family books i put at the top of my list before anything else, so they're safe on my pull-list...

Anonymous said...

With Superman playing tourist on New Krypton, that leaves Kara Zor El as the only DCU Kryptonian headlining in her own book.
These are heady times for a Supergirl's just possible that she may finally crack the A-List in 2009...Just sayin'

John Feer

Saranga said...

I also feel your frustration over Final Crisis.
I loved this issue. Mon El's new identity and set up a of a new life was done really nicely. I'm really looking forward to reading more about him.
My only beef with this issue is I can't believe that Lois let Clark go so easily.

Anj said...

nice review, again :)...
true, final crisis, really doesn't seem to have made an impact, but all the dc editors are saying to wait till march before the post-final crisis dcu comes into play, so i guess we'll see... heh, elseworlds, indeed...

Thanks for the post.

I think I just have to let all my Final Crisis angst go and move on. LOL.

Anj said...

My only beef with this issue is I can't believe that Lois let Clark go so easily.

I think she knew that he wanted to go and would be restless if he stayed.

My hope will be that Lois remains a visible character in the Super books and that we see how his departure effects her throughout his stay on New Krypton.

TalOs said...

I second that motion, heh. ;)

It was actually a surprisingly decent issue in the end.