As a last ditch escape effort, Strange activates the Zeta beam technology, bouncing the groups away from New Krypton and then blipping them back somewhere else on the planet.
I thought the art here did a good job conveying that transient back-and-forth trip as the background panel transitions from Zod's secret military installation to the Starro conquered Kalanor to a New Krypton jungle. I especially liked the Starro panel as it sets this story in some feeling of current continuity. But kudos to Pete Woods/Ron Randall for this use of the double splash page.Unfortunately, the teleportation trick was a bit too slow. Labor Guild Tam-Or has been shot in the chest and dies.
Commander Gor is able to track down Kal and his group and prepares to open fire, to execute the 'traitors'.
I liked the following moment. It might be empty rhetoric but I liked how Kal stood up to Gor, telling him that he is more dangerous without his powers. Gor seems like something of a bully, someone who would back down to intimidation like this. It really felt like Superman talking there.
Before Gor can pull the trigger, General Zod arrives and takes command. He immediately demotes Gor and dismisses Adam Strange. One thing I have appreciated about this book has been the characterization of Zod. Zod has never been portrayed as a outright evil, a mustache-twirling caricature of a villain. He has been someone willing to do anything to protect his people, even if the ethics behind his acts are blurry. He's complex.
Back at military headquarters, Zod and Kal start to break down the case.
Unfortunately, the details of the secret military base, the skinning of the silver skinned aliens, all that gets glossed over. Zod defends his keeping the base secret because he is preparing New Krypton for an upcoming war with Earth. It is clear that Lane and Zod both feel the other is the aggressor here. Both are arming themselves for a war that both seem to be racing each other to start. Unfortunately, Kal's time on the planet hasn't stopped this march to war from happening.
I assume the mystery of this installation will be handled elsewhere.
Again though, at least the way Zod talks here, he sounds more like the hero of New Krypton, the defender of his people rather than an expansionist.
But most of the talk about Zod's secrets is pushed to the side. Instead the discussion turns to the murders that are happening and the link between the victims.
In what is a nice deductive leap, Kal realizes that Alura may not have been the target. Maybe Lyra Kam-Par was always the intended victim. Maybe Ral-Dar and Tam-Or and Lyra were all part of a secret group, all being manipulated to undermine New Krypton rather than strengthen it.
The only link to all the victims, the only person who could also be part of such a cabal is Councilor Wri-Qin, the physician head of the Science Guild.
So this is an interesting twist. For one, Zod seems to have nothing to do with any of the events which have shaken New Krypton. I thought he would eventually be revealed as a co-conspirator as a way to force him into absolute power. But also, I thought that much of what was happening, while initially weakening New Krypton, would be by a pro-New Krypton group to spur the planet to action. Instead it is shown to be a group of traitors to the planet. And Lyra Kam-Par, always someone who has looked guilty of something, is part of them. She is privy to Alura's actions of course and probably has Alura's ear.
That said, Wri-Qin has been someone so tucked in the background his reveal doesn't resonate. It's like a mystery novel revealing the secret killer and it's someone who hasn't been seen before.
When confronted by Kal, Wri-Qin decides to tell all.
It turns out that Superwoman had approached a number of influential New Kryptonians and persuaded them to weaken New Krypton from within. So much of the events of this mini-series: the Labor Guild revolt, the Laborers mystery illness, the assassination attempt of Zod - they were all orchestrated by this group to undermine New Krypton.
I was glad to see Superwoman play an important role here. For one, there had to be more to her plans than simply antagonizing Supergirl. This also explains how she could have hidden on New Krypton so easily; she had inside help. It is enough of a reveal to make me want to reread all of the scenes between General Lane and Lucy again. And now she's back! Now I am really looking forward to the return of Superwoman.
And Lyra Kam-Par as a traitor and saboteur. Nice! Is it just me or was Lyra drawn in a way that just looked like she was hiding something. It makes me think that the teams on the super-titles have internal continuity.
But what could Superwoman have offered them that could entice the group to mutiny?
She convinced them that war was happening and New Krypton was going to lose. If this Kryptonian cabal helped hasten the New Krypton loss, they would have places of power in the new government ruled by Earth.
A loss to Earth in a war? A place in a Vichy style government? A bit of a stretch.
But it is clear that Lane picked the right people to approach, people who wanted power beyond what they had and would betray their own people to get it. I can understand how Lyra and Tam-Or might buy into that. And Wri-Qin? He clearly wants more.
Another thing to this scene worth mentioning. Wri-Qin is able to overpower Kal by bombarding him with sunstone crystal beams, the equivalent of synthesized Gold Kryptonite. So another weapon exists that can easily incapacitate Kryptonians! No wonder Earth seems like a threat ... everyone has a weapon that can kill a Kryptonian these days.
Before Wri-Qin can do anything significant to Kal, the Red Shard unit shows up and takes the Councilor into custody.
Poor Lieutenant Nar. She is one of those ancillary characters that has some depth. I like how she has slowly turned to see things from Kal's point of view, how she has become more fair in her assessment of things. But I think it is clear from this panel she has more to say to Kal. It has been hinted that she has developed feelings for him. And that look of some emotional pain as she flies away seems to say that as well.
It is small moments like this, one extra panel to flesh out a background character, that make me love comics. No words, just that expression as she flies away, Kal not even looking at her ... that is great comic art.
But Kal is not happy. Despite the big news that the Labor Guild will now have a place on the Council (with Tyr-Van being the representative), Kal thinks that he hasn't made any difference on the planet, that his time here was wasted.
I love Zod's response. Adding the Labor Guild to the Council is a major change. If Kal can't see that, he has a bigger ego than the General. That rings true.
Still, for any of the New Kryptonians to betray there people ... Kal can't understand it.
And he won't have much time to contemplate it. Brainiac's ship arrives!
So this mini-series is over. And a new mini-series will begin.
There were some very good moments in this issue, mostly the conversations between Zod and Kal. And the Superwoman reveal was nice.
But the big reveal about the traitors felt a bit rushed. I would have liked a few more details about the events they manipulated. Did Tam-Or really agree to sicken his own people? Was this group behind the purported attack on the Thanagarians? I would have liked to see more of this and let's say less of some of the guest stars that walked through this mini-series. Were Jemm or Adam Strange really necessary to tell this story?
I think I will need to reread this mini-series in its entirety and in one or two sittings to get a better sense of whether or not clues were sprinkled through.
Overall grade (issue): B+/B
Overall grade (series): B+/B