Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Review: Superman Family Adventures #8

Superman Family Adventures #8 came out last week and had, perhaps, the best surprise ending I have seen in a long long time. If you don't want to know, abandon this post. Unbelievable. It is why I have waited a week to post this review.

Now, all along, I have talked about just how fun this comic has been, a satisfying book for my girls at home and for me. There is action. There is a running plot. There is humor. And, for us older fans, there are nods to DC history and pokes at current New 52 stories. Do you want the definition of All Ages? It's this, entertaining girls of 9, 11, and 14 as well as their 42 year old dad.

Take this issue for example. There is no denying that the villains on the cover (a flame being, an ice woman, a lizard creature) are direct corollaries to the villains in the George Perez arc over in the New 52 Superman. Some might remember just how befuddled I was with that story. And yet here they are, now as emissaries of a bigger bad guy than alien nanobots gone wrong.

The big bad shouldn't come as a big surprise to people who have been reading this book closely and noticed a recurring symbol popping up here and there.

Creators Franco and Art Baltazar have kicked things up a notch from Tiny Titans. This is more straightforward super-heroics. And, unlike the H'El-bound supers, this Superman Family enjoy each others' company and fight to defend each other.

The book starts with Superboy and Supergirl attending their lessons so they can learn more about their history and about the Earth. Now this whole page is hysterical for different reasons. From a Donner perspective we have Jor-El reading Joyce Kilmer's Trees and Superman teaching about the San Andreas fault. It is all so Superman: The Movie.

But this nod to the 'Unknown Superman', a nod to All-Star Superman, was what needed to be shared. Fantastic!

The appearance of the Brainiac bug interrupts the lessons. It is hard to know if the bug is an evil henchman or a reluctant good guy.

Superman notes the 'purple and green' bad guy color wheel. Yep - Lex, Mesmero, Skrulls. But this is pink and green, more old school Brainiac. And he does smack Krypto at one point (getting some comeuppance from Streaky later on).

But I do like that Kon and Kara want to immediately keep him.

The bug leads the family into space where they find a super-satellite which they weren't aware of. It is Kryptonian technology.

And then the bad guys show up and state that Brainiac technology is synonymous with Kryptonian tech. And Jor-El created Brainiac.

So far, this is in line with DC history.

Here Brainiac goes rogue and destroys Krypton!

So not an unstable planetary core. Not an unstable sun. Not even self-preservation leading to Brainiac leaving (like in the Animated Series). This Brainiac destroys Krypton. In some ways, Jor-El is responsible for Krypton's destruction.

Interesting. The satellite has intact transmissions/recordings of Kryptonian history.

And the bad guys are agents of Brainiac. They are here as vanguards. Brainiac is coming and he will own the supers and destroy Earth.

The fight between the bad guys is the simplest part of the book with the younger supers figuring out which power will work best against which villain.

How great to see them all working together!

Meanwhile, Superman discovers more transmissions. He sees himself as a baby and Krypto as a puppy put into the rocket and sent to Earth.

It is a touching scene played once more, the brave parents sending their only son to Earth while the linger on the dying planet.

But now Superman knows about the Phantom Zone and its projector.

With no other real choice, Superman decides to use the projector on the Brainiac vanguards.

This is another interesting turn of events. I guess Superman feels he can be judge and jury here, condemning the villains to the wraith-like existence in the Zone.

I don't think there is any other easy solution though. These guys seemed more Kryptonian than anything else.

And then to keep with the New 52, the Super-suits are self-repairing sort of 'unstable molecules'.

Pretty slick.

But the most unbelievable, incredible, and jaw-dropping surprise was waiting at the end of the book. Superman turns on the Phantom Zone projector one more time and out pops ... Lara!

That's right, in Superman Family Adventures, Lara survived the destruction of Krypton by being spirited away into the Zone. And here she is, still young despite the years, hugging her boy.

That is an amazing turn of events and sort of reminiscent of Alura (and Zor-El) emerging from the Safety Zone so many years ago. If this happened in the mainstream book I would probably be ranting. But somehow, in this book, with these characters, this seemed perfect.

Now watch it turn out to be Ursa in disguise!

As I usually say with this book, no complaints here. This was a great mix of silliness and super-heroics, with a healthy dash of Supergirl!

Overall grade: A


collectededitions said...

Really cool development and right in line with Franco and Baltazar's aesthetic on these titles. In the main DC Universe, there'd be much hang-wringing about how this affects Superman and whether it lessens his character, etc. etc.; here, the Super-Family welcomes Auntie Lara and it's adventures as usual. Well done.

Martin Gray said...

Aw yeah, this was my my favourite issue to date, the perfect blend of action, whimsy and heart, in story and art.

pat mcmullen said...

Another excellent issue. I love this series. The scene with Baby Kal-El and Puppy Krypto in the rocket together is adorable awesomeness.