Saturday, March 6, 2010
Review: Adventure Comics #8
The other big book out this week was Adventure Comics #8, a prologue of The Last Stand of New Krypton. Comprised of three short stories written by Sterling Gates, James Robinson and Eric Trautmann, the issue does a good job of aligning some of the disparate parts we have seen floating through the super-titles, getting the pieces in the right place for this arc.
One thing that I have harped on in my reviews of Superman and the other super-titles has been the lack of follow-up on what seemed to be innumerable plot lines. I wondered if someone was keeping track of all of them. This issue made me think that the big picture has always been there. The events have finally made some of these threads of plots start to weave together. All this was wrapped in what is basically a Legion of Super-Heroes book. Put plot progression together with the Legion and you have a winner.
And it was all wrapped up in an Aaron Lopresti cover. I am going to miss Lopresti on Wonder Woman. His art is so slick. Everything about that Lightning Lass is perfect ... the hair, the face, the body language. That is Ayla Ranzz.
The first part of the book, written by Sterling Gates and drawn by Travis Moore, takes place in the future as the LSH deals with some chronal rifts ripped into space.
Some back story of Brainiac 5 is given, including the history around the title 'Brainiac'. Seem Brainiac was vilified even among the Coluans. The term Brainiac became one associated with evil. The Dox family began to use the term Brainiac again as a way to reclaim it, make it associated with good instead. It is a nice little nugget of history that fleshes out Brainiac 5.
I liked this shot of a young Dox researching his ancestor. Look at the list of planets Brainiac destroyed in the past! Imsk (Shrinking Violet)! Rimbor (Ultra Boy)! Lexor (the planet Luthor ruled over in the Silver Age)! I assumed that some cities Kal freed from Brainiac's ship would end up being replanted on a planet, recreating them. I guess this seals that deal.
But Lexor! Does that mean sometime in the future Lexor comes back into continuity only to be destroyed by Brainiac??
The chronal rifts are continuing to grow and the Legion can't contain them. Things look grim. Soon the rifts will swallow the whole universe.
The origin of these anomalies seems to be from the past.
Somehow Brainiac, while in our time, is trying to change history by killing Superman. If the Legion doesn't stop this plot, the universe is doomed.
It's a nice panel with Brainiac looming over an impaled Superman.
So, at least now we know the threat which has brought so many Legionnaires to the past. It also looks like we are going to get a Brainiac vs. Brainiac 5 encounter.
I am really looking forward to seeing Brainy meet Supergirl.
The next story picks up the Superboy/Mon-El conversation from last week's Superman title. Superboy brings Mon-El to Smallville to meet all the Espionage Squad members and hear their plea to join the fight.
The Legionnaires talk about how they were each sent back in time by RJ Brande to stop the temporal threat the future Legionnaires are fighting. In hopes of not upsetting the timeline that much, Brande told each of them their small part of the plan but did not share the grand plan with all of them. So Cham alone knew that he had to go to Metropolis and help Mon-El. Element Lad knew to go to Smallville but none of the others did.
But it is clear that there is a threat to the future. Specifically this threat emperils the Legion. Something in the past might stop the Legion from ever being formed.
Mon-El and Superboy eagerly agree to help out. After all, what superhero doesn't want to save the future? The threat is shown to be on New Krypton.
I enjoyed this part of the story as well. The opening scene of this piece is Element Lad revealing himself to Superboy and was executed well. James Robinson showed a good feel for each character with their dialogue. Javier Lopez' art fits right in with the current look of the Superman titles. And, of course, we finally see all the time-displaced Legionnaires in the open.
But my favorite part of the issue was the last story which took a close look at both sleeper agent Car-Vex as well as General Lane. So it gets covered the closest.
I had initially been confused when Car-Vex was revealed to be a sleeper agent in the Science Police as to where her true loyalties lied. That is cleared up immediately when she declares her loyalty to General Zod and her role of chaos bringer on Earth.
And while being in the Science Police would be beneficial to Zod, being in Lane's army would be better. Car-Vex asks Lane if she can join his troops.
We learn of her origins. She is shown in the phantom zone, lamenting her crime of accidentally killing children. Interestingly enough, she is also said to be part of the Labor Guild and had been on stimulants at the time to remain awake. It sounds more like it was her lot in life that was responsible for that tragedy, not malice.
She is brought to General Zod by Jax-Ur and brought into the fold. Throughout the story, you can just feel her loyalty to Zod in her words, how she is proud to help him and how he would be proud to see how far she has come on Earth. I can understand her fidelity to the man. She went from disrespected, underappreciated, and imprisoned slave to suddenly having a purpose in life, having a sense of self, feeling important and proud. After a life of hard labor, those feelings must be intoxicating. Zod knows all the right buttons to push, doesn't he.
She needs a hook to get Lane to accept her. And so she gives up information on Quex-Ul, one of the remaining sleeper agents on Earth.
She is unbelievably cool and calculating as she basically condemns a fellow Kryptonian, a fellow Zod acolyte. Soldiers have to make sacrifices in war. If Quex-Ul's capture or death puts Car-Vex in deeper that helps the cause. It is that simple for her.
She explains her motivation for joining Lane as a hatred for Kryptonians who have killed SciPo officers. She then asks Lane what his motivations are ... why he hates them.
We haven't heard Lane explain things so plainly. I thought this was a nice personal look at the man, making him less of a 2-dimensional war monger.
Lane talks about how he worried about Superman since his first appearance. It was clear Superman had been living among the people for some time. So, in essence, he was hiding ... hiding something.
Then Lane talks about how he worried about Lois' attachment to Superman, how he had an easy media presence.
But the most telling part was the warped view Lane took on Superman's actions during Invasion! Lane recalls how his regiment was in a firefight with some Khunds soldiers when Superman swooped down and removed the alien army. Rather than being thankful for this rescue, Lane seems to dwell on the fact that as Superman continued on, the infantry lay dying from their wounds. Those men were 'next to nothing' to Superman. In reality, Superman gave these men a chance at life and was probably flying off to give other soldiers the same chance.
That scene really shows just how twisted Lane's mind thinks.
It looks like Car-Vex' little scheme works as she is welcomed by Lane into Project 7734.
She remains as cold a soldier as she can be. But I wonder if Lane isn't on to her.
This close and personal look at two villains, giving them an interesting background and fleshing out their stories, is just the depth I am looking for in comics these days. These are well-rounded characters with motivations and dreams.
Eric Trautmann does a great job here switching emphasis back and forth from the two. And Pier Gallo's art is moody and thick, just what this story needs. His art reminds me a bit of Pete Woods' art and that's a high compliment.
The pieces are on the playing field. Let's get this started!
Overall grade: A