Superman: World of New Krypton #10 came out this week and seemed to regain the momentum that I felt the series lost last issue. We are two issues away from this series' finale and I feel like the pieces are being moved in place for there to be a satisfactory ending.
I don't think that the entire New Krypton saga is going to end in two months. But I do think that this chapter, with Superman as a resident on the planet and all the political machinations going on in the background, will come to some sort of conclusion.
There were some very interesting revelations in this issue and it even had me coming up with my own guesses. Any time I am interested enough in a plot to speculate how it will end, it means that the comic is a quality comic.
James Robinson and Greg Rucka must realize that time is running short as several subplots that have been put on the back burner are brought back.
The issue picks up right where last issue ended with Adam Strange being found on New Krypton, the dead body of Mar-Li at his feet.
The Military Guild immediately jumps to the conclusion that he has murdered the council member. More importantly, they begin to stomp around the room with no intention of treating it as a crime scene. Apparently there aren't standard police protocols on New Krypton. I find that interesting.
Superman calls the killing New Krypton's first murder and first mystery, takes Adam Strange into custody, and seals the room for further investigation.
So a couple of things about this opening scene. The first thing is Adam Strange's appearance in the room via the Zeta beam felt a little bit too deus ex machina from me, an all too convenient way to stir up some conflict.
The second thing is I don't know if we could call this murder New Krypton's first mystery. At least initially we did not know who shot General Zod. That was a mystery. What about the illness the Labor Guild members are suffering with? What about the mystery of Kryn Kel-Ur, the missing Kryptonian whose apartment Lucy Lang lived in?
But this could be nitpicking.
Adam Strange is brought before the Council in states that he simply found himself in that room. The Zeta beam is an inexact teleportation science and he just happened to be in a room with dead body. As I said, a little convenient.
He had come to New Krypton with a purpose. He wanted to protest the New Krypton/Thanagar charter since Thanagar had recently destroyed Rann. He feels that fascists like the Thanagarians don't deserve a treaty with New Krypton. I think charter is a strong word for the uneasy nonaggression agreement the New Krypton and Thanagar have.
Superman feels that Adam Strange is innocent given he had neither the method nor the motive to kill Mar-Li. Kal convinces the Council to allow Strange to work with the Military Guild to solve the mystery and clear himself.
I understand that a lot of story needed to be covered here so I did not mind that the Council agreed with Superman so quickly.
The investigation won't be easy. It is clear that New Krypton is ill-equipped to solve a murder mystery. They don't seem to understand just what they should be looking for.
A scan of Mar-Li's apartment does not provide any clues.
But the autopsy does reveal how Council member died.
He was shot with a terraforming tool. It seems that the yellow sun has accelerated much of the Kryptonian vegetation's growth requiring constant pruning with the red sun energy. Only Labor Guild members would have easy access to such a tool.
The mystery has taken an intriguing turn.
Superman and Adam Strange fly off to one of the Labor camps to talk to Tam-Or, the Labor Guild leader who organized their protest in issue #2. We see the Guild members using these tools to cut down large red vines.
When they arrive, we see Tyr Van helping another laborer named Sura. She has come down with the illness that has been afflicting the Labor Guild members. The laborers become quite upset at the arrival of Superman. They are dying in and they have not been given a voice in the government as was promised them.
And just like that, two smoldering subplots are brought into the foreground again.
Superman tries to help the ill worker but also states that he is there to question Tam-Or about the murder of Mar-Li.
When Tam-Or sees Superman and Strange, he flees. While it may make him look guilty, Tam-Or seems more fearful than guilt-ridden.
Before Superman or Strange can catch up with him, the multiple Laborers present run interference and begin a brawl, allowing their leader to escape. The rest of the Red Shard unit enters and suddenly a brawl erupts.
As usual, Kal-El remains level headed. A fight with Labor Guild members accomplishes nothing. He actually orders his unit to break off the skirmish and fall back. He then goes back to Sura and takes her away for medical care. That is pure Superman ... not fighting when it us unnecessary, helping others. It again hammers home the difference between him and his fellow Kryptonians.
Surprisingly, despite a thorough search of the planet, Tam-Or is nowhere to be found.
Who knows where he could have gone. Anyone have any guesses.
But just like with Strange, Superman realizes that Tam-Or would have little motive to kill the Council member. All Tam-Or wants is a voice on the Council. It is doubtful that murdering one of the members would get him any sympathy. He seems an unlikely candidate to be a killer.
Maybe this was a politically motivated killing. Maybe there was nothing personal about it at all.
And political killings are also called assassinations.
The book ends with another great cliffhanger. We see Alura lined up in the crosshairs of one of these red sun tools apparently the next target of the assassin.
The first thing to say about this issue is that it really moved forward some of the older plot threads of this miniseries, something I think last issue failed at doing.
The question is who would gain anything from these assassinations. I hate to keep going back to General Zod ... but wouldn't political murders like this allow him to institute martial law. Wouldn't this help him consolidate his power. And he would seem clean in that there are such easy suspects to deflect attention to ... the Laborers. I agree with Superman that the Labor Guild would almost be taking a step backwards in their causes if they were responsible for this assassination.
But it has to be more than Zod and some members of the Military Guild. This conspiracy must be bigger than that.
As for the mystery illness, I couldn't help but notice that the Kryptonian plants were red in color. It reminded me of the classic Alan Moore story 'The Jungle Line' in DC Comics Presents #85. In that story, Superman gets infected with a Kryptonian fungus from Krypton's Scarlet Jungle and nearly dies from it. Only Swamp Thing is able to cure him.
Given the amount of plants being vaporized and the lack of apparent protective gear on the Labor Guild, I can only imagine how much super-plant matter the workers have inhaled. Could it be that they have been infected by some of these plants they have been burning away?
I really thought this was a good issue in that it finally made me feel like the writers realized they were nearing the series conclusion. It felt like a number of plot lines were suddenly coming together into one overarching story.
The combined art of Pete Woods and Ron Randall was solid as usual.
There are two more issues. And then I assume there will be a year with Superman back in his own books but with New Krypton looming in the background.
Overall grade: B+