With Superman:Last Stand of New Krypton #2, we have reached the halfway point in the Last Stand storyline. It is hard to believe that the last couple of years of plots in the super-titles will careen to their endings at the end of next month.
While the earlier issues of Last Stand have chugged along at breakneck speed, this issue seems to pause and let the audience take a breath. There is a bit of exposition here, reviewing what has been going on in the future and why that is impacting now.
And just when you think this issue is going to maybe slow things down too much, it ends with a couple of huge cliffhangers.
As I said before, so far Last Stand has really been entertaining. While Superman: World of New Krypton seemed to wheeze across the finish line, this arc has been nonstop action and revelations. That doesn't mean some of the mysteries of WONK have been forgotten (like that military installation with the silver pelts), just put on the back burner.
And how great is that George Perez cover? No one does a 'busy' cover like Perez. All the main characters are here, engaged in this frenetic battle with the Brainiac drones.
In the last chapter, Supergirl finally called upon her mother to wrest control of the planet from General Zod and allow the Legion to complete their mission. Spurred on by Kara, Alura does just that.
I really have come to love the swirling tempest of emotions that is Alura. Originally, she seemed like a one-note character, vindictive to a fault. But since those early issues, we have seen her depressed, nervous, angry, nasty, and eerily calm. It is hard to get a good read on her because she has been all over the emotional map. (Hmmm ... maybe the GL corps should have used her in Blackest Night.) So it isn't out of the ordinary to see her stand up to Zod and demand to know his plans.
And I also have come to understand that she really does love Kara, even if she doesn't always show it the right way. Here she describes Supergirl as 'very smart and not prone to misjudgments' ... that is light years away from what she calls Kara to her face (usually 'a disappointment').
The old angry Alura does rear its head again when she tells Zod that she'll kill the Legion if anything happens to Kara. Alura has to be one of the most intriguing and compelling characters in comics.
Unfortunately, the Legion initially can't seem to get into Brainiac's ship no matter what they do. Even Quislet's powers prove useless.
Finally, an answer comes from the future. Brainiac 5 arrives.
While the Legion tries to get in, Superman and Mon-El continue to try to free the trapped cities and break out.
Back on his ship and re-energized, Brainiac is suddenly the brawny Coluan we saw way back in the Johns/Frank Brainiac storyline. In fact he is so muscle-bound, he actually engages in fisticuffs with Superman. It seems a little off for Brainiac ... to sully himself when he has a ship full of weapons and drones he can send in for the wetworks instead. Maybe this emotional response, the way that Superman has got under his skin, will prove to be his downfall.
During their brawl, Superman is able to get hold of the city of the telepathic Lanothians. Brainiac teleports away with all the others.
I'll say it again - the Lanothians become the race of telepaths on Saturn's moon that will eventually lead to Saturn Girl
Brainiac 5 is able to use his skills to get the Legion into Brainiac's ship and they decide to split up to cover more ground. Sensor Girl, Tellus, and Quislet run into Superman. There is a fair amount of exposition in this scene as the Legionniare catch Superman up about the trouble in the future and their mission in the past. It has all been covered elsewhere, but if some readers are only getting Last Stand, it probably was valuable info.
A couple of other things. One, I like how Sensor Girl, Tellus, and Quislet seem to naturally work together. They were inducted into Legion together and might feel some added affinity to each other.
The other is my continued rant against the new-look for Sensor Girl. The overall look just doesn't work for me. But even worse is the fact that she wears an actual mask and blonde wig. She has illusion powers! Would she really use a wig instead of just weaving an illusion? I don't know ... maybe I just have to let this go.
One thing I did like was that the telepathic Lanothians did not become a deus ex machina to help turn the fight. Tellus had initially thought that he and the Lanothians could use their powers to get the Kryptonians to drop their guild prejudices and fight together.
It turns out when Tellus tries that it doesn't work. The Kryptonians are filled with such fear that the telepathic link can't get through. Given their time in the bottle and the control that Brainiac had over them, that degree of fear makes perfect sense.
And let's face it, this sets up Superman to be the missing leader ... the person to cut through the fear and unite his people.
And you can understand why the Kryptonians are so afraid.
Despite having super-powers, they still end up losing the battle to Brainiac. They get put back into the bottle. In fact, this is an upgrade with red-sun force field walls which will incinerate any Kryptonian foolish enough to fly into it.
I am pretty sure that I guessed that Kandor would be shrunk, New Krypton would explode, and the bad guys would be put back into the Phantom Zone. So far I am one-third right.
I have to say, I didn't expect the city to be re-bottled this quickly. So this was a surprise to me.
Added to that surprise, we see Superman pummeled by Brainiac's weapons systems as he tries to re-save the city. It isn't even a fight. Superman is simply taken out.
So we have two excellent cliff-hangers ... two tremendous turns in the story.
Superman is declared dead.
Kandor is back on Brainiac's ship.
So at the halfway point, it looks like the villains are winning.
So why does Zod calmly state that Brainiac bottling them means that the Coluan has lost?
I have no idea. What the heck could Zod have up his sleeves in his diminutive state? Why would he be pleased with being captured?
I have to say that 2/3 of the way through this issue I felt a bit let down. It didn't seem to continue the speed of the earlier chapters. And the Sensor Girl wearing a wig ... brrrr.
But then the Kandor gets shrunk! It was like I got lulled a bit before the knockout punch. These endings of the issue pulled up the grade.
So kudos to Sterling Gates and James Robinson. Last Stand continues to be very entertaining, picking up some of the momentum I felt at the beginning of New Krypton so long ago. It really isn't just a Superman story ... it's a Superman/Supergirl/Mon-El/Legion story. And everyone seems to be having their moment in the sun.
Pete Woods continues to shine here and Travis Moore pitched in on some pages. While their styles are different, it wasn't glaring enough to distract.
Given that we know the War of the Supermen is coming, I doubt the Kryptonians remain shrunk for long.
Overall grade: B/B+
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