Monday, January 10, 2022

Review: World Of Krypton #2

 World of Krypton #2 came out last week, written by Robert Venditti with art by Michael Avon Oeming. This is the latest version of Kryptonian history leading up to the planet's destruction and so far I have to say this book has been well worth reading.

Venditti is already hitting a home run over on Superman '78. Here he is doing a deep dive in to the El family in the years leading up to Kal and Kara being rocketed off. He seems to have a good grasp of the characters voices. Jor is a well-intentioned, highly moral scientist, steering us away from the haughty, quasi-evil one we saw in the Mr. Oz arcs recently. Zor seems to be his brother's best friend and scientific partner, not the angry rival we have seen recently. And Zod is a scheming, power-hungry soldier ... pretty much the Zod we always see. These feel like classic and because of recent renditions fresh. 

Add to the family storylines important events like the discovery and utilization of the Phantom Zone and the idea of escaping the planet's doom, and you have a solid and rich tale. With climate control and pandemics impacting our world, there are reverberations here of Krypton being a cautionary tale.

Oeming's art has a unique style but seems perfect here. Specifically, the anguish seen on those in the Phantom Zone, the actual shunting of someone into that dimension, and the consternation on everyone's faces, and the art complements the plot very well. Oeming also has brought us his take on Kryptonian architecture and fashion, clearly modeled after prior takes but all his own. Mico Suayan brings detail and depth to the more realistic covers. 

I do wonder if this is going to be "the" history moving forward. If so, it will be interesting to see how Kara's history and timing jibes with the mishmash of history Tom King has given us recently.

On to the book.

The issue takes place 2 years after issue one. 

Nira-Ur has continued to notice major ecological issues threatening the planet. Species are going extinct. That will impact the world's environment and ultimately food supplies. And yet, here the news is just an overhead in a jam-packed restaurant where the food seems to be abundant. 

Hmm ... perhaps these folks aren't taking these warnings seriously enough. This definitely hit a little too close to home. 

But the other big news is Kru-El is finely heading to trial. 

Meanwhile, we see Jor-El in aginy in a nearly whited out page of 9 panels. Oeming conveys this wonderfully as we slowly see Jor's body bit by bit ending in his tormented face. Very nice effect.

Pulled out of this dimension, we learn that he was investigating the Phantom Zone thinking it as more of a Survival Zone, a place to send people if Krypton's demise is imminent. But 18 seconds in there was more like months of agony. Oeming spells it out perfectly on the wide-eyed frantic Jor's expression. 

This is definitely a new take on the pain of the Phantom Zone. The Silver Age always had it as a painless wraith-like experience. That alone would be maddening. But hearing it is mental torture such that seconds equals months makes this a scarier fate. No wonder the people there are monsters when freed. 

Zod, now retired but looking for a new 'career move' happens to show up and hear about it all. 

I trust Zod about as far as I can throw a fictional character and bathing him in shadows like this doesn't help matters. Is he being two-faced here?

I do like how Jor keeps calling it a potential Survival Zone. The idea of a Survival Zone isn't new to old timers like me. A Survival Zone is the Phantom Zone adjacent dimension Zor and Alura tucked themselves in during the Silver Age. So fun riff on that.

Regardless, the experience was too horrifying for Jor-El to think the Zone is viable for any use.

This experiment is taking place while Kru's court case is happening. Zod wonders why Jor and Zor aren't there to try and protect the family name. The two brothers think they would only add to the circus event atmosphere of the case. 

You can sense that while Zod and Jor are friends, they don't agree always agree on things. That gets amplified soon enough. 

Two months later at the sentencing, Kru is found guilty and given the maximum penalty the law can give.

And out steps Zod as the one to mete out the sentence. He has absconded the Phantom Zone projector and sends Kru there as a prison. 

The Els had no idea Zod was going to do this. Knowing what we know now, you can see how death almost might be a better fate.

Nice use of backgrounds by Oeming. The zigzags behind the Els in the last panel add to the 'shocked' feel. 

Also, given that Kru-El isn't protesting his innocence, I guess he was guilty. So much for my 'Zod set the whole thing up' idea from last issue.

Now I have to give Venditti some serious respect with happens next. 

He gives us three pages of Jor confronting Zod over the use of the projector. 

You really feel the friction between these two and perhaps how it has been simmering below the surface for a while.

Jor comes off almost arrogant as he implies scientists are of higher moral fiber than soldiers. And Zod throws it back in his face saying Jor's science has been converted to weaponry often. Jor talks about the mental pain of any time in the Zone and how terrible that will be for Kru-El. Zod says this man was a traitor and an attempted murderer. He deserves mental pain. 

It ends with a ka-pow, Zod wondering why Jor has never said thank you for leading the life Zod's protection has granted him.

This was powerful storytelling. And Oeming whipping the point of view around, pulling in and out, was brilliant. 

Just a powerful scene.

Feeling defeated, Jor-El sort of limps home. 

He is forced to give a statement which insinuates he agrees with Zod's decision. But he wonders where Krypton is going if the biosphere is being destroyed and people like Zod can assume power.  What can one man do? (Again, this hit all too close to home.)

It is Lara who gives the right answer.

The answer isn't escape. 

The answer is to save the world. 

I like that. I like that a lot. We know how it plays out. But we'll see if that direction ultimately leads to more conflicts with Zod.

And I like how this echoes some real life stuff without shoving it in my face. This is allegory. This isn't a sermon. Huzzah for that.

Just a solid issue all around. I hope Superman fans are buying this. I hope everyone is enjoying it as much as I am.

Overall grade: A


H said...

I know I gave Zod the benefit of a doubt in being innocent last time but maybe Kru actually was acting on Zod's orders. I could see Zod sending him to the Phantom Zone as a way to get rid of the only man that could squeal on him, like some Bond villian. Who knows- it's an interesting tale at least.

Martin Gray said...

It’s great to see a book honouring classic continuity while giving us fresh angles. Ok, the bees analogy was heavy handed, but it’s an important message.

Top review!

Anonymous said...

There is a right way and wrong way to revisit certain dogeared tropes and stories, and this mini so far, is doing it the right way. Some new angles on old seemingly discarded characters...but all done in a way that "sounds right"


Anonymous said...

Hello from a french fan of supergirl,

The passage that marked me is the remark of Jor-El : "raising my daughter in a world without moon frogs or song beees, or worse ..."

Is it me or do i have the impression that is a brain in the armyr of ghost zone ?

Martin Gray said...

I thought it was a brain, I mentioned it in my own review.

Anonymous said...

Something just occurred to me, if a pun driven SA character like "Kru-El" can be revived with confidence and skill what about "Dar-Lin" Linda Danvers improbable Kandorian doppelganger? See Action Comics #315 "The Menace of Supergirl's Mother" for all the details...
Nowhere to go, but up!