Friday, November 6, 2009

Review: Superman:World Of New Krypton #9

Superman:World of New Krypton #9 came out last week and I have to say it was the first issue of the mini-series that I was pretty underwhelmed with. This issue seemed like a filler isue. And with only 3 issues, I don't want filler. I want progress.

Some of the conflicts established over the past couple of issues simply disappear. Some plot threads not seen in a while are re-introduced but without much movement. And some new threads are shown. But again, this issue just seemed to be treading water.

I keep having to remind myself that the story of New Krypton isn't going to be over by issue #12. But we must be heading towards some ending ... right?

The issue begins with Jemm, Son of Saturn and his troops storming into the Kryptonian council, angry over New Krypton's aggression, their taking one of Saturn's moons. A skirmish ensues and the Saturnian warriors seem to be holding their own.

Kal squares off against Jemm. The two know each other from prior adventures. It is Jemm's respect for Superman that ends the fighting. Kal tells him that this was no time for fighting and Jemm agrees. Jemm orders his men to stand down.

And just like that, the conflict with Saturn ends. Jemm says that New Krypton is lucky that the full fury of Saturn has not been brought to bear. But Saturn will be watching. Oh yes ... they will be watching.

With that statement and a quick acknowledgment to Rao, Jemm and his men fly off.

Doesn't that seem a bit too easy? Too fast? Especially given the Jemm's ire when he bursts in initially. I mean one page earlier he starts a brawl with a Kryptonian military contingent. It just felt off for him to stand down so quickly.

And any good will made with the Thanagarians in last month's issue (which I felt was a very strong issue) evaporates as we learn that the Hawk people will also be watching New Krypton. Oh yes ... they will be watching. But it also means that this potential conflict has also suddenly ended.

Too bad this happens because it was that mutual respect between Kal and the Thangarian captain that was one of the better parts of WONK #8.

I can understand what Greg Rucka and James Robinson might be trying to do here. With Earth, Thanagar, and Saturn 'watching' New Krypton, the whole planet might feel threatened. And that, of course, may be just what Zod wants to spur the planet into conquest. For all we know, Zod may have been behind the 'attack on Thanagar'.

Kal seems a bit perplexed by the religious representation on the Kryptonian Council. The 'voice of Rao' has been silent the whole series.

It is true. The Religious Guild is a major player on the Council but we haven't heard anything from them the whole series. I have assumed all along that it is the Military Guild that has been pulling the strings, that are manipulating events to a certain end. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it is the Religious Guild who are conspiring to bring New Krypton to war.

Whether there is a conspiracy or not, there is unrest on New Krypton. The Council is in-fighting. The Artist Guild understands that with only 100,000 Kryptonians alive that any death is a step closer to extinction.

The Military Guild feel that New Krypton needs to respond to this sudden number of enemies aligning against the planet. Kal does his part saying that New Krypton needs to make friends of these potential enemies. But it feels like he is speaking to the air.

It is this sort of unrest that jeopardizes a government's ability to lead. It would be easy for someone like Zod to simply declare martial law to 'stabilize' the planet.

All of these events are building to something explosive ... most likely the Earth/New Krypton war.

After that scene, we break away to check in on some of the supporting cast.

First we catch up with the Red Shard unit. In what is something of a new plot, it is revealed that Del-Nar is harboring some romantic feelings for Kal. The other troops even compare her feelings to those that Ursa has for Zod.

I think it would be interesting to explore this a bit. I understand that Clark's love for Lois is absolute. But he is off earth and among his people. How would he react to this?

And we also catch up with Tyr-Van and the Labor Guild. This is a subplot that has been really put on the backburner. I was glad to see that the writers haven't forgotten about it. Unfortunately, this scene is more a reminder of the thread rather than much movement.

It was in the earliest issues that Kal and Alura talked about establishing a Labor Guild seat on the council. Kal hasn't really followed through on that. With everything else he is doing, the fall out with Tyr may be keeping the Labor Guild from being in the front of Kal's mind.

We also hear that more of the Laborers, specifically the farm workers, are coming down ill. I had forgotten about this plot as well. Why is it only effecting the farmers? Is this a natural illness? Or is it more terrorism to weaken the framework of the planet. Much like the water shortage intensified everything in Metropolis, a food shortage might make things more combustible on New Krypton.

And General Zod seems to be healing quite well. I guess his 'cellular degeneration' has been slowed to the point that he is up and walking around.

There is a tense conversation between Kal and Zod about the politics on the planet. The first question Zod asks is if New Krypton is ready to go to war. He asks as if it is a foregone conclusion. Kal counters that he feels there has been too much war talk recently but that the military is ready to do whatever it is called upon to do.

I still think that Zod put Kal-El in charge to try to show Superman just how difficult the position of military leader is. At some point Kal may have to declare war on an imminent threat. And wouldn't Zod love to see that? Wouldn't that be a victory in Zod's mind ... to see the peace-loving Kal-El turned to his way of thinking?

Unfortunately, the conversation is cut short when Ursa tells the two soldiers that an alarm is ringing from the home of Mar-Li, the Artist Guild council member seen earlier. Another issue, another cliff-hanger. This time we see Adam Strange standing over Mar-Li's dead body.

Looks like you can add Rann (or is it Earth) to New Krypton's enemies.

My guess is that Strange acts surprised, says he had nothing to do with the murder and instead that 'somehow he was Zeta beamed' there. It certainly looks suspicious. Someone has to be behind these events as they all seem to be leading the planet to a more militaristic and less altruistic galactic outlook.

This issue read quickly. Some plots that I felt deserved a bit more time seemed to end abruptly. Others seemed to given more screen time than they deserved. It just seemed odd that the Saturn plot was started and finished in a handful of pages. The look into Red Shard training and a discussion about Non's loyalty to Kal were given as much time. The issue just felt uneven.

That said, there is an uneasy feeling on New Krypton right now. It seems like a lot is happening and none of it is good. I definitely have that 'this isn't going to end well' feeling, that need to see how bad it is like when you approach a car accident on the road and have to peek as you pass.

The art chores are split between Pete Woods and Ron Randall (who did fill in issues of Supergirl during Kelley Puckett's run) and there wasn't a major difference in style. I did not think that took away from the issue.

Overall grade: C+


mathematicscore said...

Well said. J'emm Should have had more. They acknowledge this powerful race is in the Solar System and then sweep them off screen almost immediately.

And now Rann is shoe horned in? Don't get me wrong, I love Adam Strange. But My understanding is Rann is on the other side of the galaxy. Just feels like bad editing more than anything.

TalOs said...

*shakes head in utter disgust* PTB up at DC may as well have printed "FILLER" in big bold capital letters right on the cover for that's all this sadly felt like upon 1st and then 2nd read soon after. *sighs*

Pete and Ron's art were the only thing that really did it for me come this issue.

Man how I truly feel sorry for poor Pete who recently injured one of his hands (as divulged on his Facebook page) which has sadly resulted in slowing his work some thing chronic and possibly having to need another hand (no pun intended) by fell ow co-artist Ron to achieve in completing the remanding issues for this here maxi.

Diabolu Frank said...

Well, Jemm was a completely different character here from the one previously published. Right there, his appearance is pretty grating. Then, you figure he was the recipient of a "super whisper" or somesuch in that one panel, meaning he'll be back later as a deus ex machina at Kal's hour of greatest need, probably one amongst many. So, compound filler with cliche and a healthy dose of mischaracterization. Yeah, I'm really glad James Robinson returned to comics for this...

Unknown said...

NOt reading this.. but

Here's something very neat from Jamal to share:


Gene said...

That is a great sketch of Kara. I love th look on her face. Thanks for the heads up Mauricio.

Anj said...

And now Rann is shoe horned in? Don't get me wrong, I love Adam Strange. But My understanding is Rann is on the other side of the galaxy. Just feels like bad editing more than anything.

Agreed. The Zeta Beam makes his appearance plausible but I don't know if we need more guest stars now.

Anj said...

Man how I truly feel sorry for poor Pete who recently injured one of his hands (as divulged on his Facebook page) which has sadly resulted in slowing his work some thing chronic

Wow ... that is bad news.

Anj said...

So, compound filler with cliche and a healthy dose of mischaracterization. Yeah, I'm really glad James Robinson returned to comics for this...

This was the first issue of the series that I just felt wasn't great. It felt off ...

Martin Gray said...

Yup, we've had about three issues of Thanagarians and Saturnians going Grrrrr and then, nothing.

I know the the J'emm, Son of Saturn maxi series (what happened to that phrase?) was conceived as a J'onn book, but when I read it the first thing I thought of was Adventure Comics #411:

As for WoNK, I thought it has been upped to 15 issues.