Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Review: Action Comics #20 Back-Up Feature

With the end of Grant Morrison's run on Action Comics, so did Sholly Fisch's run on back-up features end.

In Action Comics #20, a new back-up feature started up plotted by Scott Lobdell, written by Frank Hannah, and drawn by Philip Tan. It is a flashback story of The World of Krypton, similar to those old-timers saw in Superman Family and as a back-up in Superman in the early 80's.

Now there are lots of things that weren't covered in Morrison's trippy mega-story and Krypton is one of them. We saw some of it in the Gene Ha section of Action Comics #3. But otherwise, I don't know if I have great idea about the society of Krypton in the New 52. So I think a World of Krypton back-up for a short time is interesting, especially if it concentrates on Jor-El and Lara, as it does here.

I do find it just a bit odd that Scott Lobdell is doing the plotting here though. That means in 2 months, Lobdell will be writing Action Comics, Superman, and the Action back-up feature. Unreal. Frank Hannah's dialogue flows nicely in the story.

And Philip Tan's art is really stunning.

This is a story of a young Jor-El. He seems young and pretty excitable, going on what seems to be an archaelogical exploration underwater instead of being present at an emergency meeting of the Science Council.

I am used to seeing a more staid Jor-El, square-jawed and standing before the Science Council talking of Krypton's doom. So to see this young guy, wide-eyed and smiling at the discovery of the Sunken City of Xan felt fresh.

But there is more than just the city. There also seems to be an ancient and thought-extinct underwater race called Teklons. Odd that you can only see there heads. It is hard to know if they are fish-like or anthropomorphic.

I haven't heard of Teklons, nor did I find them in any entry of my The Essential Superman Encyclopedia, so they must be new.

Meanwhile, at the Science Council meeting, we meet a young a rather fetching Lara Lor-Van, Superman's mother!

I have read a lot of stories about Jor-El. Not too many about Lara. So I like that she seems to have a big role in this story. And I especially like that she appears to be in the Military Guild. (I am assuming the New 52 Krypton will still have Guilds.) It is a different take on her character.

And even more crazy is that she seems to be in a romantic relationship with Jax-Ur! Even Jax-Ur can tell that she feels some attraction to Jor-El.

We have seen lots of versions of Jax-Ur but my go-to image is the bald portly guy from the Silver Age. That guy blew up one of Krypton's moons. This Jax-Ur, in his brief couple of panels, seems like a loveable lummox sort of guy, not a Phantom Zone criminal.

The emergency meeting of the council has been called because of some fears of a coup. And then, it is interrupted by someone from the Military Guild who comes in brandishing energy gauntlets of some sort. Is this the first appearance of the New 52 General Zod? Nice energy signature there by Tan, a sort of smudgy version of Kirby crackle.

This was a nice little story, if only to see the very young Jor-El and Lara, early on in the adult life. I like seeing a giddy Jor and a stern Lara. And how will their 2 stories - underwater adventure and Science Council coup - link up?

So congratulations to Lobdell, Hannah, and Tan. This was a great little story opening up some new characterization and giving us a deeper look at the New 52 Krypton.

Overall grade: A


colton said...

I kind of wish Lobdell's arc on action would be a krypton story. His zero issue was a lot of fun. Also Lara being part of the military lines up with what Lobdell established in the zero issue with how Lara studied medicine at Krypton's military academy.

Martin Gray said...

Blimey, Lara and Jax-Ur. I wonder if he'll blow up a moon in some jealous hissy fit! Just so long as they don't have Lara marry him, I've still not gotten over post-Crisis Martha Kent having a husband before Jonathan.

Martin Gray said...

Oh, PS-wise, I see Lar Gand was in there - just so long as Lobdell doesn't somehow make him H'el.

Anj said...

Colton - thanks for reminding me about Morrison's brief look at Lara. I am glad that hasn't been forgotten already.

Still, here she looks more like muscle than medic!

Anj said...

Thanks for comments Mart.

I also hope that Lara doesn't have long term issues with Jax-Ur.

And I saw a Lar there. I am pretending it isn't Lar Gand, but some Kryptonian Lar. I don't want Lobdell touching Mon-El.

Martin Gray said...

I don't mind him being there, as a call-back to the Silver Age, just so long as, well, you know.

Mind, it could be Lara's heretofore unrevealed twin brother Lar, who has a crush on Jor-El, which leads him to ingest Bizarro dust, leading to a kind of hell ... oh, he's H'el!

Anj said...

Agreed Mart.

If it is Lar Gand, it is a nice nod to his prior history being intact here. Since Legion history seems unchanged in the New 52, we have to assume he was there at some point.

That said, if he is Lar-WhoKnows from Krypton, then nothing stupid can be done to Mon-El.

colton said...

The zero issue I was talking about was actually written by Lobdell. Morrison's zero issue was the story where a boy steals superman's cape.

Anj said...

Ack ... thanks for the correction Colton. This does work well with the Lobdell zero issue Lara we saw.

Nice pick-up.

Anonymous said...

I think they should just cancel the superman comic and just stick to superman unchained and action comic
I loooooooooove Superman but his comic is terrĂ­vel! Looking at this Lara je reminds me of WW when she was Wars best student I mean