Superboy #25 was released this week, the second part of Krypton Returns, the sequel to H'El on Earth. It is a sort of strange crossover mostly because we know much of the ending. Krypton has to explode. And Superboy, our titular character, is going to die.
The book is plotted by Scott Lobdell but scripted by regular Superboy writer Justin Jordan, ex-Supergirl scribe Michael Alan Nelson, and Lobdell. I can't help to believe that the mix of talent here has smoothed out some of my expected dialogue woes.
And I found the format a little interesting as well. I assumed that with each Super having their own 'mission' in the past, that each issue would be dedicated to the title character. But instead of this whole issue being Superboy's mission, we look in on all the characters, keeping the entire story moving forward. I suppose this makes a little more sense, keeping readers engaged in the entire story. It also means that Superboy is only in a small portion of his own book.
Ed Benes is on art and I will admit I haven't seen his art in a while. His style seems just a bit rougher than I am remember. He inks his own pencils here which might explain things. The books I bought with him on art (Supergirl, Birds of Prey) had Alex Lei on inks.
I have lots of worries about this overall story. I will admit this issue was better than I expected although there were a couple of things that struck me as wrong.
As in H'El on Earth, Superboy actually gets some of the better bits of the story, acting like a hero. His mission is to go back in time so Kara gets sent to Earth so that the timeline where she stabs H'El with Kryptonite plays out.
He thinks what I am thinking.
I am not really clear on exactly what the point of this is.
What timeline is Superboy in? Is it the timeline where H'El saves Krypton? Because if H'El has saved Krypton, Zor-El wouldn't be making a rocket to begin with. We are told this scene takes place a week before Krypton explodes ... so we know it isn't the re-written H'El timeline.So already I am a little confused.
The only explanation is that the H'El/Jor-El save is a last second thing. Thus, everything would be proceeding as before ... including the Zor-El rocket. But if Jor-El saved the planet before 'a week before' than we are on the other timeline.
I don't even know if I understand what I am writing.
So I am hoping for some more explanation here.
And then there is this new wrinkle. This is one of those things that on first blush seems a little off.
The new Eradicator in the New 52 is a living embodiment of Entropy. But he was born in the heart of Krypton and is hell-bent on making sure that Krypton explodes. And for some reason, he decides to attack Kara. Luckily, Kon is there to protect her.
All right, now I have a lot of questions.
Is this some Kryptonian that has been transformed and is insane? Or is there really a physical embodiment of Krypton's destruction?
Is he the embodiment of Entropy (like the Time Trapper)? Or just Krypton's entropy?
Is he made of Kryptonite?
And why attack Kara? Unless he wants to kill Kara to stop her from going back in time to stop her from stabbing H'El so that he can't go back in time and save the planet? Whew. Why not attack H'El instead?
I hope Lobdell explains this (although he often doesn't do that, asking the readers to simply 'go with the flow). Because whenever I have this many questions, the story won't work unless I get some answers. At least I know why Kon was sent back a week before the planetary destruction (assuming we are on the non-H'El-saving timeline); the Eradicator was going to kill her.
I actually liked the old idea of the Eradicator.
I also wanted to point out that there is a lot of indicia these days, tagging all the supers as created or based on Siegel and Shuster. I wonder if Siegel would want to be associated with this Superboy.
Lobdell has always treated Supergirl poorly in his stories and this doesn't change here. I am trying read the Supergirl parts with a less jaundiced eye but it is hard. I am expecting the worst so even small slights seem to stand out.
Kara is sent back to the Clone Rebellion to try to stop some portion of a battle called Sky Core which would make Krypton explode earlier than anticipated. The Oracle plops her into the middle of a group of clones. We have read how Kara (and I assume most Kryptonians) considers the clones as abominations. Here they are shown to be crude, almost sub-human beings. Laden down with weapons, speaking in broken phrases, they immediately try to kill her.
Supergirl has always wanted to 'go home' so here, trying to assure Krypton eventually blows up, she considers herself a destroyer. More Supergirl angst.
I do think the way the clones are shown is a decent wrinkle. Maybe they are unstable, violent creatures. I assumed the point of this mission was to show Kara her prejudice. Instead, it might verify her feelings.
Maybe I am old-fashioned. I like to think of my Krypton as a bit more Utopian, a nice place to live.
As Kara engages the pack of clones, she thinks back to battle training she got from her Aunt Lara. Here Lara intends to strand Kara in the middle of nowhere with a broken vehicle unless Kara can get the spare power cables in Lara's backpack. It is obviously an exercise. But do I really need Lara to hand Kara a knife and say 'get them from me'. Do I need Lara to say 'Kryptonians are always at war'?
It really is just another example of the dark nature of the DCU. Here, an aunt gives her niece a weapon and asks tells the niece to attack her. And that is because the world they live on is such a dangerous place.
No wonder this Supergirl is so angry and isolated.
And then we get to the Superman mission. Now he has been sent back in time to months before Krypton's destruction. Remember his mission is to stop H'El at H'El's 'moment of success'. So I guess if Kal is successful then Kon is in the normal timeline where the planet dies. Wha ..?
Kal ends up in his father's lab and gets smacked around by his mother. Luckily his armor morphs to reveal the El crest halting the brawl.
In another decent wrinkle, Superman is weakened by radiation poisoning. Maybe his cells are being effected by the Kryptonite simmering in the planet core as it nears destruction?
We head back to Kon's mission. Of all the supers, he is the least effected by the change in environment. His telekinesis isn't effected by a red sun. He uses his powers to perforate the Eradicator. I have to assume the 'spirit of Entropy' isn't bound to one body. But for the time being this form is down for the count.
The one moment that I really liked was this one. As Kara notes the quakes are worsening, Kon knowingly just says 'yeah.' He knows what those quakes mean.
The panel works well. It is dark evoking the funereal mood. Kon is looking down sadly. But best of all, the bottom of the panel seems to just fade away, adding a sense of loss or that things are ending. I know it is smoke from the Eradicator ... but it works. Art and words complementing each other.
Meanwhile, back in Kara's mission, she wakes up to find that she, even without powers, was able to battle all the clones and defeat them. She is a bit battered but she is victorious.
Did she kill them? I hope not.
But she doesn't get far before you-know-who shows up.
That's right, we finally see H'El.
Remember, he has time travel abilities. So going back in time centuries before Krypton's explosion is child's play. So how will a powerless Supergirl fight him?
Time travel stories are always dizzying. And moving the three characters into three different times makes it more confusing. And wondering which timeline is the 'true' timeline versus any of the myriad of ones altered by H'El makes it even more befuddling.
And I still don't quite know why the Oracle didn't just send the Supers back together to fight H'El when he arrives on Krypton, before Jor-El can even save him. Isn't there an easier solution?
Despite all the questions, I suppose this was an okay issue, moving this story forward on all threads, and with only a couple of odd moments. The Benes art is pretty slick. I don't know if this story will end well ... or will even be comprehensible. But if I can look past the 'why' questions and the 'when' questions, I can appreciate this as a middle chapter. It does what it is supposed to do.