Monday, October 27, 2008

Review: Superman:New Krypton Special #1

The Superman: New Krypton Special was released last week and did a great job of kicking off this cross-over event, showing all the players and problems that have suddenly arisen with the restoration of Kandor on Earth.

The issue was co-written by the super-titles authors Geoff Johns, James Robinson, and Sterling Gates. Art was provided by Gary Frank, Renato Guedes, and Pete Woods.

I would be remiss if I didn’t include a shot of Renato Guedes’ variant cover. This cover reminds me of old fashioned movie posters where a variety of characters are all showcased. As I have said before, I really like Guedes’ take on Supergirl. The variant cost $4.99 at my local comic book store, only a buck more than cover. So it might be worth picking up.

Of course, the big story here revolves around the sudden appearance of 100,000 Kryptonians on Earth and how that will impact the planet. But there was an underlying theme of upbringing and culture specifically for Superman. While Superman may be biologically Kryptonian, he is an American, a Terran. This was emphasized in the last Action Comics when Brainiac derisively calls him Earthman as opposed to Kryptonian. So how will a sudden influx of Krypton affect Clark … especially now that his father has died?

The book solemnly opens with Pa’s funeral. The first few pages have no words at all, instead silently showing Clark’s eulogy, people consoling Clark, him hugging Ma Kent, etc. It takes a powerful artist to pull these scenes off … someone who can evoke as much emotion and understanding of people’s thoughts without spelling them out. Gary Frank does great here. The forlorn funeral scene suddenly switches gears as we get into Clark’s head where he is thinking of bludgeoning Brainiac to death.

Lois comforts Clark who simply can’t get past the fact that Brainiac lives while Pa has died. Lois reminds him that he must honor Pa’s memory by never forgetting all Pa taught him.
Those Kansas values are not Kryptonian values as we learn later on.

While Clark mourns, we are shown where Brainiac has ended up. While Superman has Brainiac’s ship in the Fortress, the military has scooped up Brainiac’s body and attempt to hack into it with some slighty disastrous results.

It is clear, as we have seen from the Atlas storyline in Superman, that there is at least a subset of the military that views Superman as a threat. That threat has obviously dramatically increased with Kandor.

Ma gives Clark a heart to heart. She tells him that he needs to go to Kandor and that she will be fine. She tells him he knows what he needs to do and so Superman flies off to the arctic.

And so we finally see Kandor, and I have to say that these were the best scenes in the book for me. There is no doubt that Superman is going to have his hands full here.

Here Superman meets Zor-El and Alura. They tell him he has grown up to be a fine young man. When he says it is because of his father, they retort ‘yes … Jor-El’s tapes’. They just don’t seem to understand that Supes considers himself a citizen of Earth. But even here you get that sense that Superman is flummoxed about this internal cultural struggle. He doesn’t immediately say ‘no, I meant Pa Kent’. He just stammers and remains silent.

Throughout this conversation we get the sense that the Kandorians, represented by multiple Kryptonian sects (including some troops of Zod) are already feeling some superiority. They don’t seem interested in learning about Terran cultures wondering why they would want to learn to be ‘less Kryptonian’, that Earth people have the ‘potential’ to be good. I worry about Alura’s motives more than Zor-El’s for some reason. She is the one who is already calling Earth by the name New Krypton.

Finally we see Supergirl in the issue as she is re-united with her parents. For her it feels like about a year since she has seen them. Who knows how long it feels to her parents, as we have learned that time passed differently in the Brainiac bottle (thus explaining her parents youth despite Krypton’s destruction over 3 decades earlier). But instead of being a teary-eyed joyous reunion, it felt sort of cold.

Did anyone else find this panel to be somewhat chilling? What does it mean ‘it’s really her’? And why such an understated response from both Zor-El and Alura?

Now maybe I am reading waayyyy too deep into this, but they don’t seem surprised to see her, don’t act like people who haven’t seen their daughter for a long time. And so here comes my guess ... it is because they have seen their daughter recently, or a least a facsimile. Given Krypton’s history with cloning, my guess is Kara’s parents cloned her! Thus when they say it is ‘really her’ it is opposed to the ‘fake her clone’. And that clone turns out to be Superwoman!

So, I am officially rescinding my ‘Lelsa Lar’ guess for Superwoman and instead going with ‘Kara clone’. It has some beats with the Galatea storyline from the JLU cartoon and makes some internal sense with Kryptonian culture.

Of course, with Power Girl out there, it means there would be 3 Kara Zor-Els on Earth.

Superman’s concerns for the impact the Kandorians will have on Earth become manifest all too soon. They all begin to develop powers and one kills a blue whale. When Superman says that was wrong, Zor-El seems to shrug and say they will try to teach the Kandorians what is right and wrong.

But then the political clime of the city is discussed. Zor-El states that since the last Kryptonian government failed by not listening to Jor-El’s warnings, New Krypton will have very little government. Zor-El is in charge of the city, but he does not control the people. It looks like Crowley was right ‘Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law’.

While Supergirl feels comfortable that her father will keep everything right, Kal looks out as the Kandorians all fly off to the corners of the Earth. This doesn’t look good for the average man.

Of course, the military has already been planning against Superman. We find out they have a cache of Kryptonite and magic-based weapons. And the general from earlier is revealed to be none other than the presumed dead Sam Lane, Lois’ dad. And if you want Kryptonians dead there is one person to go to. General Lane drafts Lex Luthor!

This special did just what it was supposed to do: introduce all the major players and themes for the upcoming storyline so that the individual titles can hit the ground running.

We know that there will be physical confrontations between the Kryptonians and Superman and the military. But I have to say, the more personal and emotional sidebars are what intrigue me the most. How does Superman separate his Earth loyalties and his Kryptonian loyalties?

And Supergirl has the same issues. How does she decide Earth or Kandor? What exactly is up with her parents? And what about her various origins, which we know are going to be explained? There is so much potential for great stories here!

I have said it before and I will say it again … it is a very good time to be a Supergirl fan.

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

a cloned Supergirl?
That could actually work!

Mauricio said...

I got two words for you:

Lesla Lar

Anonymous said...

Naaww to much akin to the Spider Clone mishaugas....I'm hoping it's either Alura or Lesla Lar. As for the coldness of the reunion it may well be there was no love lost between parents and the super-teen in Argo City....adolescence is a time of rebellion after all. Maybe Kara isnt so glad to see her parents after all?

Anyway I'm intrigued.

John Feer

Anj said...

a cloned Supergirl?
That could actually work!

Thanks for the post.

The more I think about it, the more I like it.

Either way, I think there is going to be some connection between Superwoman and Zor-El/Alura.

Anj said...

I got two words for you: Lesla Lar

I think I wrote somewhere on here that Lesla was my original guess, and I would be fine with that. At the very least it would add another rogue to Kara's gallery.

If it is Lesla, I hope that they keep her as a near duplicate of Kara, and I would love for her to have been raised by Zor-El/Alura. Would make for some interesting stories.

Anj said...

Naaww to much akin to the Spider Clone mishaugas....I'm hoping it's either Alura or Lesla Lar. As for the coldness of the reunion it may well be there was no love lost between parents and the super-teen in Argo City....adolescence is a time of rebellion after all. Maybe Kara isnt so glad to see her parents after all?

Spider clones? (shivers)

I hope it is not Alura.

Anonymous said...

My other theory is that they have adopted a new daughter out of the orphaned children left over from when Argo was "overwritten" by Kandor. This new foster daughter would be waa-ay more dutiful than was the original Kara and has all but made Zor and Alura forget about their original offspring.
So now they feel guilty and Supergirl has a "goody two shoes" rival to bedevil her.
This is in keeping with the ongoing silver age themes of parental loss and recovery via adoption as well as the sundering of identity in early life.

Anyway I'm intrigued....still.

John Feer

The Fortress Keeper said...

I like John's idea ...and twin or not she could still be called Lesla-Lar to keep the old rivalry alive.

But yeah ... I thought the Supergirl/Parent reunion was pretty unemotional.

TalOs said...

Same here. But I seriously pray that Johns, Robinson and Gates don't reveal that our Sup/Bat: Supergirl re introduced Kryptonian/Argonian Kara Zor-El Supergirl is in reality that of a Kryptonian clone of the real one. For that would seriously piss me off to no end!

Although, have you guys read the JSA Annual as well as the recent Tangent Superman's reign title issue out as of late too, if so you'd be gob smacked to find out that both are officially referring to Power Girl as being "Kara Zor-El" of New Earth and NOT "Kara Zor-L" of E-2 now ah! The hell is up with that?!? Is Power Girl the real Kara Zor-El Supergirl now??

As to the supposed 100,000 Kryptonians here, i honestly think that Mr. Johns will be showing exactly WHY both Superman AND Power Girl/Supergirl (who ever is the true Kara Zor-El) are the exception to the rest and why they deserve to be called Superman and Power Girl/Supergirl and welcomed residents of Earth at that!