You know that feeling when a movie or book starts out great and then fizzles? That feeling that something wonderful was there, right in the grasp of the creators but sadly slipped away? That has been my feeling of the World Of Krypton Back-up feature which has run through Action Comics and the recent Superman Annual.
Action Comics #23 ended the story by writer Frank Hannah with art by Tom Derenick. And what started out as an interesting look at a young Jor-El and Lara decayed to a straightforward action book with some questionable ethics by our two protagonists. A Jor-El willing to mind control the planet. A Lara Lor-Van with a sadistic and murderous streak. That seems miles away from the curious elated scientist and strong young soldier we saw in the first chapters.
Something was there. And then it wasn't.
The loud violent second half of the tale does seem in line with the New 52. And I don't mean that in a good way.
As anticipated last issue, Jor-El is able to stymie the plans of Colonel Ekar but simply refusing to work the 'harmonic resonator'. While I don't like hearing that Jor-El made this thing at least he still has the ethics to not use it to enslave the populace. He is willing to sacrifice himself, or subject himself to torture, before he will cross that line.
Although by creating this thing, maybe he crossed that line already, albeit with his 'nudging' rather than Ekar's edicts. It just feels wrong for Jor-El to have done this.
Before the beating can get too severe, the loyal members of the Kryptonian military break in. Ekar is slaughtered before Jor-El's eyes.
Just like that the threat of the Eradicator cult is over.
Lara meanwhile takes out some frustration on Jax-Ur, giving him a good thrashing. And she continues to protest too much calling Jor-El a fool.
And yet, after Jor-El destroys his creation, immolating the harmonic resonator, there is that look of hidden love in her eyes.
So maybe the point of this story is to show us a young brash Jor-El and Lara, too young to know what's right but learning. I feel better about both in this one panel than I did in the three chapters before.
And it ends with a nice 'first appearance' of General Zod. He is the trooper who killed Ekar. And he is old friends with Jor-El.
I suppose there is some grist for the mill here. They are friends. It would be an interesting story to see how these two drift apart, eventually becoming enemies.
Still, this ending fell flat and I don't know if I liked my protagonists too much in the middle. And it is too bad that Philip Tan couldn't stay on art.