Friday, October 9, 2009

Review: Superman:World of New Krypton #8

Superman:World of New Krypton #8 was released this week, continuing the conflict with Thanagar which began abruptly last month. While the Kryptonian military was moving the Saturn moon Callisto into orbit around New Krypton, the Thanagarian fleet suddenly appeared. During the attack, the Kryptonian ship guiding Callisto was destroyed sending the moon careening towards New Krypton.

It is hard to believe that this series is 2/3 of the way done. While the issue moves the saga of New Krypton forward there is no inclination that this series is advancing towards some total resolution of its plot threads come issue #12. I had assumed going into this series that by last issue, the ultimate fate of New Krypton (which clearly cannot remain long term) would be known. Now I think I am wrong. I think this series is going to end with Kal and Kara back on Earth for good AND with New Krypton still in orbit around our sun. That will then lead into next summer's event - the eventual war against Krypton. This way Superman is back as the star in his own titles and the next mega-event is already set up.

I think the purpose of World of New Krypton is to see the friction between Clark and standard Kryptonian ideals. Can Kal change a world? Or will the world change him?

One thing that I do think is interesting is that despite their relative insular history so far, New Krypton continues to rack up 'enemies', or at least people who don't like them much. Earth clearly wants nothing to do with New Krypton, practically declaring war. We have seen the Green Lantern Corps looking on closely. And now the Thanagarians join the fray.

Another thing that I like is the immediate sense of the Thangarian mindset just from their dialogue. It is clear that they are not only fierce warriors but that they revel in battle. Throughout the combat with the Kryptonians, their leader says the events are grand.

It still puzzles me how the Thanagarian fleet is even slowing down the Kryptonians though. Aren't the Kryptonians invulnerable? How could Hawk-rifles effect them?

And here is another look at that Thanagarian military outlook, that loyalty to superiors. When the main battleship's engine overheats and an explosion is imminent, the Thanagarian captain orders her crew to abandon ship. She will stay as a captain should. Her crew, loyal and battle-tested, will not let her die alone. They all decide to die in glory with her.

That is three panels of dialogue that just speak volumes about this race. And when you have an economy of words like that, it is a sign of excellent writing.

Surprisingly, the engine suddenly cools down. The ship does not explode. The captain and her first officer are called to engineering.

When they arrive, they see Kal and the Red Shard unit standing there, hands behind their head as if they were prisoners. They flew in and cooled off the engines, saving the ship and its crew from destruction. I like how Kal forgets his rank and needs to be reminded he is now General.

The captain, Vetalla Dae, seems confused. Why would the Kryptonians save their enemies?

But why are the Kryptonians being attacked? Why do the Thanagarians feel the Kryptonians are their enemy? The first officer says the Kryptonians started this conflict, something which seems to confuse Superman.

Ever the diplomat, Kal knows just how to defuse the situation. First he saves the Thangarian ship. Then he orders the Kryptonian troops to withdraw from any combat with the Thanagarian army. Lastly, he truthfully says that he has no idea what the Kryptonians could have done that could be perceived as a threat to Thanagar but whatever it was it was unintentional.

It is classic Superman. Frankly, there is a more pressing issue to deal with ... a moon is heading towards his world. So why waste time in a senseless fight. My guess is not all theKryptonians would do this. At the very least they would let the ship explode as they flew off.

The Thanagarians let the Red Shard and the rest of the Kryptonians leave. At first Dae thinks it won't matter that much, that Callisto will crash into New Krypton doing more damage than the Thanagarian fleet could ever do. She feels that way, that is, until she is reminded that it was the Thanagrians who destroyed the mooring ship for the moon.

Next we see a funny little Silver Age-y moment as the Kryptonian troops try to stop the moon from striking New Krypton by flying into it with their super-strength. Remember when Superman alone could move moons? Fortunately those power levels don't exist now in comics. Unfortunately, that means the moon continues to hurdle towards the planet.

But we see that sense of Thanagarian military honor come through. Superman saved Dae's life. She should do her best to help him. And so the Thanagarian fleet uses their Nth metal technology to slow the moon down significantly. She could have done more but it would have left her fleet defenseless. And she is too much of a warrior to go that far. But she did what she could. It is again a reminder that Superman's good will and actions can affect others, change them.

With the moon slowed down, super-powers suddenly can be a factor. But Kal realizes he needs more than just the Kryptonian army. He needs everyone.

I love this scene. We don't see how Kal rallies everyone on the planet to join him. It is enough for us to see that everyone ... everyone ... listens to him. The planet's population is able to put their super-strength to good use, stopping the moon and placing it in appropriate orbit.

Again, this shows just what an effective leader Superman is.

With the moon in the right place, Kal talks to Alura about the Thanagarian crisis.

Hmmm ... he has a good idea how the conflict started? What does he know that we don't? There is a history between Krypton and Thanagar. Could Kal think that Zod has somehow secretly struck at the Hawk world? That is interesting.

Kal brings Dae before the council for a diplomatic meeting. Dae reminds the council about Krypton's past empire. Still, enough good will has been spread today to have her leaders allow her to open up diplomatic discussions.

In one of my favorite moments, Alura says that they are not Krypton ... they are New Krypton, a planet hoping to not repeat prior mistakes. It is nearly the same speech Kal gave her earlier in the series when he pleaded for a Labor Guild seat on the council. This is a new world; they should not be bound by old laws and memories. It is a repetitive but tremendous theme ... Superman can change more than the course of mighty rivers. He can change people's outlook. He is the ultimate hero.

The council meeting is interrupted by Jemm of Saturn. He looks appropriately angry. After all, New Krypton just took a large chunk of Saturnian real estate without asking. So after holding out an olive branch to one race, suddenly New Krypton has another angry at it.

I initially felt this issue was sort of a rest issue with no major movement in the overall plot. But that was when I had the idea that New Krypton would be gone by issue #12.

Instead, I realized that this is a great showcase issue for the character of Kal-El. Using both brains, brawn, and leadership, he was able to solve every crisis that he faced. And that is what he should be, the person that anyone ... kinsmen, alien, enemy ... should strive to be like. Many of the problems he faced could have been solved with a clenched fist. Instead, Kal finds a way to find the peaceful way out.

Greg Rucka and James Robinson were strong this issue, especially with their characterization of the Thanagarian troops. With limited lines, they felt like fully realized characters and not cardboard villains with no depth.

For some reason, Pete Woods art felt a little rushed this issue. It was not as smooth as I have seen it in the past. Woods is still a notch above the usual artist, even when rushed.

Three more issues. I wonder how far this story gets before the series ends.

Overall grade: B+/A-


Saranga said...

I loved this issue. so much good stuff!

Anonymous said...

Bit by bit, Kal El is pushing aside Allura and Zod and all the old timey Kryptonian leadership...He is building up props with the populace.

John Feer

Anonymous said...

I also liked this issue. As for the effectiveness of Thanagarian weapons against Kryptonians, I have seen in certain stories and on the Justice League cartoon the suggestion that part of the Nth metal that the ancient weapons are made out of is magical in nature, and therefore, could be effective against kryptonians. That still doesn't explain the rifles, so I will be curious how that is explained unless Zod traded or the Thanagarians stole the red K tech that was then somehow incorporated into the weaponry.


Anj said...

Bit by bit, Kal El is pushing aside Allura and Zod and all the old timey Kryptonian leadership...He is building up props with the populace.

It will be interesting to see what happens once Zod becomes active again.

mathematicscore said...

Insightful review. I've been pissed at Robinson in other places lately, (and I guess this could be more Rucka's book) but this is still for the most part enjoyed every issue. I assume Kal was referring to Commander Gor's shoot first ask questions never attitude as the cause of the fighting. He's been the typical bully type that Kal has deal with, where as Zod has been cast in a less despotic light, and is more political opponent than villian.

Anonymous said...

Imagine the conniptions Alura will throw when she discovers that her proud Kryptonian Princess daughter has a teenaged crush on an Earthboy(Freddy Freeman aka Captain Marvel).
Oh tis a consummation devoutly to be wished!!


TalOs said...

Heh, man how I'd love to be a fly on that wall, JLG! ;)

Question: does anyone think that maybe Kal and Kara might be having a positive effect on Alura as of late? :/

Anj said...

Question: does anyone think that maybe Kal and Kara might be having a positive effect on Alura as of late? :/

I think Alura has been through a lot in the last year. And this was after many years trapped in a bottle.

I think time is healing some of her mental wounds and the presence of family (especially rock solid Kal) has to help.