Friday, June 5, 2009

Review: Superman:World Of Krypton #4

Superman: World of New Krypton #4 maintained the title's high quality and breakneck pacing. This series has been a very good read.

There was a lot of plot advancement here as well as the beginnings of some new storylines. More than in the past, this issue clearly linked this series with what is happening in the other super titles. Greg Rucka and James Robinson are creating a tighter continuity here. And Pete Woods art really continues to shine.

Alura and Supergirl weren't in this issue at all. Instead we pick up right where last issue left us, with some of the Green Lantern Corps coming to New Krypton for some fact-finding.

The arrival of the Lanterns does not go unnoticed as General Zod quickly confronts them as well. Zod reminds Hal Jordan that they met before (during the Last Son arc). Both men state that they will fight when their worlds are threatened.

Hal seems to have a short fuse throughout this issue. His defensive body language and terse words are more Guy Gardner-ish than the usually polished exterior of Hal.

Zod has been politically savvy since his return to New Krypton. He has been saying and doing all the right things but always with just a hint of malevolence. He says he has nothing to hide and tells Kal to have Tyr-Van give the Corps a quick tour.

As an old timer, I have been happy to see the slow influx of Silver Age Kryptonian ideas re-envisioned in the current times.

Here we revisit the idea of the 'Island of Valtho'. In the Silver Age, Valtho was where the 'black Kryptonians' lived. Now it is simply another geographically distinct area of Krypton. While it may be the cultural origin of that section of the Kryptonian race, Krypton itself seems like a multi-culturally open society. Kal described it to Tyr as a 'melting pot' similar to Manhatten.

I am curious about this aspect of Kryptonian culture where race doesn't seem to matter at all but guild is of the utmost importance. It seems so open-minded in one area and closed in another.

One of the Lanterns on New Krypton is Ion. Here Sodam Yat talks of his loyalty to Daxam and that way of life. When Superman tells him that Mon-El isn't like that and is currently protecting Metropolis, Ion looks less than thrilled.

I like this acknowledgment of the events in the Superman title. This sets up an interesting conflict between Mon and Yat. We have seen in the 'Origins and Omens' piece in that title that the two will come to blows.

However, this seems to go slightly against the way Ion has been portrayed recently in Green Lantern Corps where he seemed to be rejecting the Daxamite xenophobic approach to life. I thought this was a slight misstep but nothing major.

The tour continues around the planet. It turns out that there is only atmosphere around the Kandor city. That is why the city is still domed. But 'atmosphere generators' are being dotted over the planet.

Despite the claims in other issues that the terra-forming is not going well, Tyr takes the group to a jungle-like area teeming with life. Maybe things are moving ahead slowly. I thought that the lack of terra-forming on the planet might be used as an excuse by Zod to invade other worlds. Suddenly that cannot be used as a rationalization for conquest.

The tour is cut short for Kal and Lieutenant Nar as they are called back to the military compound. General Zod has a mission for the military. It seems that when the Phantom Zone was destroyed that 13 of its most heinous captives escaped and have been running free since.

Hmmmm ... who could have freed them? We saw in Superman that Kal needed to help Mon-El escape otherwise he would have been destroyed along with the Zone. Unless these criminals found a bolt hole, someone must have released them. I don't see what Zod could have gained by freeing them only to then have his troops hunt them down. Unless, that is, he released them hoping they would follow him and when they refused, the criminals became a liability.

And here is another link to the current continuity. Kal notices that most of these criminals worked with Zod in the past when he tried to invade Earth.

That is, these are 'most' of them. I am assuming that the ones missing are Zod's sleeper agents being hunted down by Flamebird and Nightwing in Action Comics.

Unfortunately Zod does not have the Red Shard, Kal's unit, join in the hunt. Instead the Red Shard group is to set up a perimeter and maintain a support role. While Zod makes it seem that he is doing this because Kal's group needs discipline, I wonder if it is to deny Kal a chance to ask these criminals any questions like 'who freed you?'.

Kal and Nar rejoin the Lantern group only to have Hal drop this bombshell. The Green Lanterns have come across an armada of interstellar battleships being built. And Kal is just as surprised. He didn't know this was happening. I am sure that this makes the Corps uneasy even if Tyr says the ships are being made for 'defensive readiness'. It should make them uneasy. Why would a super-powered planet need war ships for defense? Why would god need a starship (hee hee)?

I think I have said it before but I think Tyr is the head of some labor guild underground. I think he led the Lanterns to the fleet to upset the current balance of power.

Luckily for Kal, before he needs to face the music about the spaceships, an explosion rocks the city.

One of the escaped convicts Val-Ty has suddenly shown up and tried to flee the planet. It turns out that the Oans have been after this murderer as well. The Red Shard group and the Corps members decide to flank Val-Ty.

Just before they corner Val-Ty, Lieutenant Nar is contacted by General Zod and told to kill Val rather than apprehend him.

I think this also feels like Zod trying to hide something. 'Dead men tell no tales', right? Kal tells Nar to ignore that order. It looks like a power struggle is occuring within the ranks.

Nar actually ignores Zod's orders! It is impressive that already her trust in Kal's way supercedes her loyalty to Zod.

Using the red sun rifles, they strip Val of his powers and arrest him. Already you can sense just what presence Kal has, the respect he has already earned. It might feel a little early to see some cracks in the blind loyalty the troops have for Zod but the truth is after all Kal has done in the prior issues (especially the peaceful resolution to the Labor Guild kidnapping), it felt like a natural progression. It was a very cool moment.

When the Lanterns try to bring Val-Ty to Oa to stand trial for his crimes, Zod intercedes saying the Guardians have no juristiction. Hal's temper again flares a bit. Jon Stewart steps in as the voice of reason saying that Zod is right. He reminds Hal that this was a fact finding mission and nothing more. Again, it seemed just a little bit odd for Hal to show his emotions so openly.

Zod tells the Corps that he will not harm Val-Ty and we see the criminal thrown into a jail cell.

But Kal's orders and Nar's disobedience are not forgotten by the General. The issue ends with Kal and Nar arrested for treason. This is another great cliff-hanger!

Of course, Kal could just fly back to Earth rather than stand before a military tribunal. But his whole reason to be on New Krypton is to watch Zod and try to change the attitude of the Kryptonian culture. I am intrigued to see how Kal will defend himself. I also want to see if there is public support for him within the city.

This is another fine issue in an overall excellent series.

From the beginning, I think we all knew that a Zod/Kal confrontation was going to happen in this title. What I have really enjoyed is seeing Kal slowly grow into a prominent role on New Krypton. That growth as an important figure has led to a slight erosion in the dominance of Zod's will. We have seen Kal act as a role model for Alura, labor guild members, and now military troops. Just as we have seen Kal be that model to strive for on Earth, we now see it here. This really is a wonderful story about Superman and the impact he has on people.

Overall grade: B+


TalOs said...

Man for a suppose 'wise General' Zod comes off as being pretty dumb in not only wanting to publicly go a head and charge Kal for 'treason' but also kick him all together out of his unit at that! Kal's like the ONLY ace up Zod's sleeve and had Zod played his cards right it could've resulted in New Krypton claiming Earth and it's in habitants through the trust of their beloved "Superman".

Anj said...

Kal's like the ONLY ace up Zod's sleeve and had Zod played his cards right it could've resulted in New Krypton claiming Earth and it's in habitants through the trust of their beloved "Superman"..

Thanks for the post.

I think Zod may have felt that support for Kal's way of thinking was growing so fast that he needed to do something about it.

The easiest way to do that was to throw him in prison.

But I agree, invasion feels inevitable.