War of the Supermen #0 comes out in a couple of hours, one of the offerings at Free Comic Book Day. That means the Last Stand of New Krypton storyline needs to be wrapped up and pretty quickly.
Superman #699 is the penultimate chapter of the Last Stand arc and also represented the end of the Mon-El era in the book. The action comes fast and furious here, the whole issue taking place in the catacombs of Brainiac's ship. Like much of the Last Stand story, an effort is made to differentiate Superman from Zod. In World of New Krypton, you got the sense that the two men were trying to work together. Now, under the stress of the Brainiac attack, their true natures are exposed.
As seen at the end of Supergirl #52, Zod and a cadre of his soldiers were able to enlarge and are gunning for Brainiac.
When Superman joins the battle, he questions Zod's priorities. Shouldn't the 'Brainiac Revenge Squad' have grabbed Kandor and removed it from the ship? Shouldn't the safety of the citizens of Kandor be paramount? Zod dismisses the thought. The city is safe on the ship. He is out for revenge.
I don't know. Couldn't one of the soldiers grabbed the city and left? Couldn't the soldiers just rip through the ship's framework forcing it to land? Is this room by room exploration looking for Brainiac the most expedient way of fighting this war?
Again, it shows the different approaches to a problem that Superman and Zod have. One thinks of others first. The other thinks with his fist.
Rather than get bogged down fighting robots, Superman flies off to do the right thing and rescue Kandor. As he flies off, Brainiac arrives and Zod and the Coluan square off.
In the meantime, Mon-El remains captured and trussed up. While under, he recalls some of his conversations with General Lane's goons when he was captured before.
Now some interesting information is implied here. Most of the scenes show that Project 7734 knew a lot about Daxamites despite Mon-El supposedly being the only one on Earth. It also seems that Mon-El being a male Daxamite is exciting to them. I guess the implication is that Project 7734 has a female Daxamite they have been experimenting on. Is she working with them? Or a captive like Mon was? Did he want his rocket so that he could send whoever this Daxamite is back home?
Who is this female Daxamite? Now that is an interesting wrinkle.
I guess we'll find out in the next issue of Adventure Comics.
The Legion shows up trying to complete their mission and rescue Mon-El and the bottled cities.
But why would Element Lad have to ask Projectra where she learned her martial arts skills? He was at her wedding. He has worked with her as Sensor Girl. Of course he would know that she learned it from her husband Karate Kid (although she says she learned some new moves from The Guardian). So why would he ask that? I can understand Robinson wanting to pass along that information to readers who don't know it ... but there has to be a more natural way to get that across.
During the fight, Mon-El is able to shake off his shackles. He's back.
Nice splash page.
Superman meanwhile has found Kandor and meets up with Supergirl.
In a nice moment, Superman turns over the city to Supergirl, trusting that she will protect it and re-enlarge it. It shows just how much respect and confidence he has in her these days. He knows she can do it, freeing him up to stay on the ship and battle Brainiac.
It also sounds like he is saying goodbye to her a little ... like Kandor is her home, not his. Interesting.
I don't know if he would have trusted her like this 2 years ago. I love how close the super-cousins have grown recently.
Despite the battles rocking the ship, the Legion advises Mon-El not to join the fray.
His destiny is to save the cities and save the future. He has to leave Superman behind.
I wish more time could be spent showing Mon-El being conflicted about this. Wouldn't he feel that he could do both. Don't the Legion look tough enough to save the cities themselves? Why should he trust them so implicitly? And yet, they come from the future with that information; surely they must know what they are talking about.
You sense that Mon-El has issues with it ... he wants to help Superman and the Legion. I just wish a little more time was spent showing it.
Supergirl and Brainy head back to New Krypton's surface to try to re-enlarge Kandor.
In another great character moment, Brainy admits to Kara that he cannot guarantee that he can enlarge the city safely. I can't imagine Vril Dox admitting something like that. Nor can I imagine Querl admitting that to everyone. I think it shows his love and trust of Supergirl too.
I really like that these two are together in a comic again. It just sort of feels right.
And luckily, Brainy is able to re-size the city safely. Kandor is big once more.
So it seems like everyone who guessed on the recent poll here that Kandor would stay shrunk (I was one of them) were wrong.
With Kandor safe, Superman joins Zod in fighting Brainiac. I really liked this kinetic panel by Bernard Chang.
I still don't know if I like Brainiac wading in like a bruiser here. He should be cerebral and not want to sully his hands.
And with Mon-El leaving Earth and Superman, he decides he isn't worthy of the S-shield any more. He opts to go back to his original costume. He also decides to return to his shag haircut rather than the spiky style he had before.
I'm glad ... this is Mon-El. That other look didn't feel right.
But in the biggest turn of events, Luthor decides to expand the bottled city he grabbed in Supergirl #52 inside Brainiac's ship! With a city expanding inside, buildings bursting from the roof, Brainiac's ship starts to fall.
You have to love Luthor. He is on his own side. He has been 'teaming up' with Brainiac for some time now. There is no reason to do this if you are working with Brainiac. I guess there is no honor among super-villains.
One thing I have to say about Last Stand of New Krypton ... you barely have time to catch your breath. One of my bigger complaints about this 'Year Without Superman' was that at time things seemed to slow down to a crawl. Not here. Kandor was shrunk and re-enlarged over a couple of weeks. Mon-El is fighting then captured then fighting again within 2 weeks. Last Stand has felt like a summer blockbuster movie.
This issue continues that trend. There is a lot of action here. But not brainless brawling. The action drives the plot. And Robinson even sneaks in a new plot thread ... the female Daxamite.
That said, while I have enjoyed Last Stand, I still can't help but go back to the numerous subplots started here in Superman as well as in World of New Krypton over the last 14 months that I think might simply go unanswered. Once Superman returns, will we see The Guardian anywhere? What about his niece? His romance with Dr. Light? Prince Ra-Man? The power source of the multi-colored laser satellite? What about those silver pelts in WONK? And those are just the ones I can remember off the top of my head.
But that is all background noise. This was another good issue. After seeing Bernard Chang's work on this title and Wonder Woman, I was glad to finally see his take on Supergirl. Unlike Ivan Rodriguez' recent take, Chang really seems to draw her as a teenage girl. His work on these battle-filled issues really shines.
Overall grade: B+/A