Sunday, July 12, 2009

Review: Superman World Of New Krypton #5

Superman:World of New Krypton #5 was released last week and like most issues in this series it pushed the plot forward dramatically. It is clear that there is a finish line to reach in here and Greg Rucka and James Robinson are in sprint mode.

That said, this title isn't nonstop action. Character-driven scenes add dimension to the players here as well as nudge the plot in the direction it needs to go. I have been consistently pleased with this title.

To catch up, Kal-El and Asha Del-Nar have been brought up on charges of treason by General Zod for insubordination. Zod ordered that criminal Val-Ty be killed. Kal overrode that order and instead Val-Ty was captured and arrested by the Green Lantern Corps. Angry at this mutinous act, Zod charged them with treason, the penalty being death.

The ancillary characters in the book have not been stock characters but seem to have individual voices and some depth. Here is Kal's defense lawyer Dyn-Xe. He does not seem to be a Zod sycophant and clearly has Kal's best interests in mind.

While Zod would normally sit on the judicating council, he recused himself to personally prosecute Kal and Nar. Given the problems Zod has had with the House of El, he isn't the most logical person to fairly prosecute the two defendants. Dyn-Xe thinks that could be an angle to exploit in the trial.

I liked this panel.

For one it defines the make-up of the council. The two leading members of the Science, Military, and Artist guilds sit on the council as a 6 person panel. It is worth noting that both the Labor and Religious guilds do not have representation.

But I also liked how this mirrored the visuals of the council in the Donner movies. I still find it interesting that those visuals from the films have permeated the comics so much.

Dyn-Xe's plan works .... sort of. Zod decides that he won't try Kal-El and Del-Nar together. Instead they will be tried seperately with Zod prosecuting Lt. Nar and some other member of the military guild eventually prosecuting Kal-El.

When Zod questions Lt. Nar about her decision not to fire on Val-Ty, she states it was her decision alone. Surprisingly, Kal speaks up saying that it was his decision to spare Val-Ty; he commanded Lt. Nar to stand down.

With that, Nar charges are removed and she is released. Zod claims that by handing Val-Ty over to Hal Jordan, who was Parallax at one point, that Kal endangered all of New Krypton. Kal freely admitted that he countermanded Zod's order in full court. He essentially admitted to treason. Zod rests his case.

I really thought this was an interesting scene. Throughout the series we have seen how Superman has been a role model for the Kryptonians, how he has a new way of looking at things and thinking about things. We have seen how his troops have followed his orders. And here, Nar was even willing to risk her life to protect him. It just reinforces how much of a presence Kal is.

That sentiment is echoed here where Superman says he is willing to die for his priniciples. That it is in the toughest moments that people need to hold on to their beliefs. I thought this cut to the core of who Superman is and what he represents.

His friend Tyr-Van from the Labor Guild doesn't necessarily buy into this philosophy and rigs a device to blow the door.

Turns out Tyr-Van is a spy working for Ursa and Zod. They asked him to plant the device so Kal could run. My assumption is that would give them free rein to shoot him.

I always thought there was going to be more to Tyr-Van than met the eye. Unfortunately I guessed he was the head of the Labor Guild 5th column to gain freedom. Turns out I was on the wrong end of the spectrum.

Despite his traitorous ways, I think Tyr has been moved by Superman. He responds tersely to Ursa's jab about Kal.

Not surprisingly, Superman isn't taking the bait. He does not run despite there being no field to hold him in his cell. This, of course, means he is willingly staying to be executed the following day.

Ursa asks if Kal is making a martyr of himself. But Zod seems more contemplative in his assessment. He asks to be left alone.

It is true that if Superman was executed that could spur a revolt against Zod. Enough people have been moved by Kal to make his death more trouble than it's worth.

But moreover, I think that Zod realizes the power that a martyred figure can wield.
As the trial starts anew, Zod asks that Kal be spared the death penalty by the Religious Guild who on this holy day of rebirth can absolve someone of their crimes.

It is a bit of a plot parlor trick ... having the trial end on the high holy day of rebirth ... and felt somewhat contrived. But I didn't think it was so cringe-worthy as to ruin the book.

The Religious Guild does its part and forgives Kal thus setting him free. It's a bit of a turn-around for Zod but you can sense the political motivation about it. Kal can only do so much from the field. As a legend, he can be more of a thorn in Zod's side. Plus, this makes Zod seem merciful. In many ways, it is win-win.

Kal is released and celebrates the holy day of rebirth with the rest of New Krypton. And there is Kara to say how happy she is he's free. I'm a big fan of Pete Woods' art and I think he renders Supergirl very nicely. It looks like he made the trial scenes a bit muddier with inking as opposed to this fine-lined scene outside. That style in the trial evoked some feelings of dread and suspense.

As part of the holiday celebration and since atmosphere has been stabilized on New Krypton, the dome is lifted off the city. The citizens cheer Zods name exuberantly.

That is until someone dressed in Military Guild garb shoots Zod through the chest.

The issue ends here so it is hard to tell if Zod survives this or if he is 'dead'. Either way, with the crowd whipped into an adoring frenzy, this attack on him should further cement his hold ... either as victim or martyr.

At the very least, I guessed it would be Zod who would be shot when Codename:Patriot was announced. This attack on him could be used as a rationalization to lash out at any presumed enemies including Earth. But in the end, I think it will turn out that Zod arranged it himself to further his political agenda.

I have to say that so far I have been really enjoying this series.

Overall grade: B+


Gene said...

Its nice to see how the Superman movies have influenced the Superman comics today, like the use of the containment rings in the trial scenes. OT, does anybody know how those actually work when they filmed the movie 30 years ago?

TalOs said...

Man I wish. I'd also love to know how they ended up achieving that effect in the movie. :)

The latest issue out shocked me to the core upon the last page which reveals it's the actual assassination of General Dru-Zod that will be officially kicking off the next Superfamily mega crossover event being titled 'Codename Patriot' and I have to wonder if DC are really going to let him die only to come back as a Black Lantern? :/

Anj said...

The latest issue out shocked me to the core upon the last page which reveals it's the actual assassination of General Dru-Zod that will be officially kicking off the next Superfamily mega crossover event being titled 'Codename Patriot'

Thanks for the post.

I am just happy I guessed something right! I called it would be Zod getting shot. My guess is he doesn't die ... or if he is shown dead it is a fake-out.