Friday, January 8, 2010

Review: Superman World Of New Krypton #11

Superman: World of New Krypton #11 came out yesterday. While Rucka, Robinson, Woods, and Randal continue to do move the "assassination plot" forward, several other subplots were not mentioned. Furthermore, some new plots were added to the overall story. This just didn't feel like a penultimate issue.

And frankly it isn't.

This series ends in March. Superman:Last Stand of Krypton starts in April. And that after that 3 issue miniseries, we will jump right into War of the Supermen.

I have to stop thinking that there is an 'ending' coming in #12. I have to realize that this is the eleventh issue of two year huge story. But it is hard for me to do so. As I read this issue I kept wondering, how will everything be wrapped up next month?

It is that problem of expectations as a reader. I have enjoyed this series but know I feel a bit let down that it looks like many of the things started here are not going to end here.

Let's move on to the issue.

The issue starts a the exact moment that last issue ended, with an assassin training his weapon onto Alura. The opening conversation between her and her assistant Lyra Kam-Par again shows how complicated a character Alura is. While Lyra is dealing with the emotions of Mar-Li's murder, Alura is somewhat coldly already planning how they will replace him on the council.

At times we have seen Alura being completely dispassionate almost emotionless and at times we've seen her overwhelmed by her feelings. She's so complex that I really look forward to seeing her in these titles. At first I hoped she would simply go away because of the cruelty that she showed Supergirl. But she's far too compelling now.

But before the conversation can go any further, the assassin strikes. Unfortunately he misses his target shooting Lyra through the chest.

It's too bad. I thought that Lyra could be an interesting character in Kara's future. She could have become an adversary or rival given that she seems to have more of a relationship with Alura than Kara did. I guess we'll never see those stories I had in my head. I thought she might end up as the next Lesla Lar.

The Military Guild investigates the crime scene. Unlike the first murder where the weapon was an exfoliation device specific to the Labor Guild, the weapon here appears to be a military style rifle. Lieut.Nar finds the weapon quickly and that there is genetic residue consistent with Labor Guild leader Tam-Or.

It seems out of character for him to become an assassin. But that said, Kal feel somewhat responsible for the two victims. Remember, Kal was the one who convinced Alura to free Tam-Or despite his kidnapping attempt earlier in the series.

I do like that this feeling crops up early in Kal's mind. It is classic Superman... an utter respect for life and a sense of responsibility for your actions.

The ruling council on New Krypton is in taking these assassination attempts lying down. They want to be proactive. But they are definitely conflicted. While they are convinced that Tam-Or is responsible for the shootings, they aren't sure if he's acting alone or in conjunction with allies from Earth. As a result, they feel that the Labor Guild should be squeezed for information about Tam-Or's whereabouts. It makes sense that they would respond like that given it were representatives from their guilds that were attacked.

Surprisingly, Alura is a voice of reason here. Understanding that the Labor Guild is responsible for the day-to-day running of New Krypton, she realizes that they cannot be held accountable for the actions of one man. After all, the Military Guild were not judged in their entirety due to the actions of Ral-Dar in Codename:Patriot. And once again, Alura fascinates me. You would think she would be more enraged since she was one of the targets. And she has talked to about laborers poorly in the past. And yet here, she is defending them as a group.

Councilor Zo, the Military Guild representative, shows his prejudice against the Laborers during this argument. He even insinuates that Superman might be aiding or abetting Tam-Or since Lara was a laborer. After all, how could Tam-Or be evading the Military for as long as he has?

This tension about the Labor Guild and its place in Kryptonian society has been one of the better elements in this miniseries.

With Adam Strange at his side, Kal flies to the medical facility to talk to Tyr-Van again.

While there, Kal notices that In General Zod is almost completely recovered. In fact, news of the murders have reached him. Initially I thought that Zod would champion the idea of putting the Labor Guild under the thumb of the military. But much like Alura, he surprises me. He doesn't think that Tam-Or is capable of these assassinations. Moreover, Zod finds it strange that Tam-Or would be so meticulous in the first murder and so sloppy in the second leaving behind a incriminating weapon. It doesn't make any sense.

This entire time, I have felt that Zod was in the background pulling all the strings. But this conversation puzzles me. There is no advantage for him in saying this if he is behind the framing of Tam-Or.

So who else could be behind all of this? I wonder if it is Commander Gor - he would have a beef with both General Zod (for not choosing him to command the army in Zod's absence) and with Commander El (for running the Army in Zod's absence).

But Kal is there to talk to Tyr-Van to see if the Labor Guild member might know a place where Tam-Or could elude detection.

The conversation is short and bitter. It is also powerful. Tyr talks about how people trusted Kal to make things better for the people of New Krypton ... but things seem worse with him around. That is the last thing Superman would ever want to hear. But it is true that the overall tone of this book has swung from optimism to pessimism, from joy hope to sorrow and anger.

Still, Tyr knows a place and decides that he must continue to have faith in Superman.

I was glad to see some continuity here especially since it plugs R.E.B.E.L.S.

Tyr flies Kal and Strange to a hidden military facility which is lead-lined and soundproofed.

In this laboratory-appearing building, the Labor Guild members herd capture silver-skinned alien beasts. Some get sent to the Science Guild alive for evaluation and experimentation. Most simply get flayed of their skin. Their are hundreds of 'pelts' hanging here.

Kal knows nothing of the place. And Tyr wonders why the commander of the army doesn't know about a military facility.

I wonder what the pelts are capable of. Cloaking? Enhanced invulnerability? Since this is military, their must be a use for them in battle. This has to be the work of Zod ... maybe he is pulling the strings.

Still, the addition of a whole new wrinkle to this story with just one issue left seemed off. Then again, this isn't the second to last issue of this large story arc ... just the second to last issue of this mini-series.

Tyr was right though. Tam-Or was hiding out here given the buildings defenses against super-senses.

Initially, Tam-Or comes out threatening Kal. He says 'he warned me you'd be coming'. Who is he? Zod? Gor? Someone else?

Kal tells Tam-Or that he believes the Labor leader is innocent and they should work together. Despite the recent events, Tam shows faith in Kal and lowers his weapon. It is clear Tam is not a soldier.

So who is behind these killings? I still think it could be Zod who hopes all this instability gives him the opportunity to declare martial law, dissolve the Council, and invade Earth. But could he have set all these gears in motion before his assassination attempt? Or, as I conjectured a while back, could he have set up his own murder attempt to stay 'behind the scenes' and beyond reporach while he worked his evil?

But time seems to be running out on the investigation. Before Tam can say anything about who tipped him off, Councilor Zo, Commander Gor, and squad of troops breaks into the building.

Zod has resumed command and demands that all traitors be killed.

And that starts with Kal and this group.

I am really of two minds here. I thought this was a good issue in that it progressed this assassination and conspiracy plot forward nicely. And I am still guessing as to who is behind the whole thing. As a long time reader, I crave surprises and mysteries ... so this is all good.

Still I feel as though I have been sold something of a bill of goods here since all the storylines brought up in these first 11 issues (make up of the council, mysterious illnesses, Zod's background maneuvers, the role of the Religious Guild to name a few) can't all be resolved next month. And if they all are then the whole thing will feel like a rushed ending. On top of that, we know that the subsequent miniseries - Last Stand - will involve a fight with Brainiac, so a whole new major plot will be added to the mix.

Should this have been named a 15 issue mini-series so I wouldn't be so wrapped up in it ending too soon? Will the renumbering bring in new readers and prop up the lagging sales on this title and interest in the Superman titles? Will we ever learn all the things we want to? I hope so.

So as an individual issue, I would grade this a B+/B. As a penultimate issue, I would grade it a C/C-. So, I'll combine.

Overall grade: B


Heath Edwards said...

good review, anj. it'll be interesting to see how the gang gets out of this one. i'm quite interested, too, in the silver skins... will the aliens be back to avenge their slain kin? what are the qualities zod wants them for? how will he use the skins?

a thought popped into my head soon after hearing about the upcoming 'last stand' storyline with brainiac.
we haven't heard too much from the religious guild. what if they're not even the religious guild, but actually brainiac robots in disguise? the religious guild members have been so quiet, and have made no move in anything that has been going on on new krypton, it makes sense to me that they cold be brainiac's robots...
just a theory.

Anj said...

what if they're not even the religious guild, but actually brainiac robots in disguise? the religious guild members have been so quiet, and have made no move in anything that has been going on on new krypton, it makes sense to me that they cold be brainiac's robots...

Thanks for the post!

That is a great idea! And would totally fit!

Anonymous said...

Honestly, New Krypton is an object lesson in the sheer futility of being a superhuman immortal. Instead of building a new and better civilization the Kryptonians squabble and bicker and put their fate in the hands of the passive aggressive Alura and her right hand fascist General Zod.
I mean New Krypton is like the worst run condo association in the world...Invariably the wrong decision is made, then excused when things go wrong then they hunt you down when you speak out...Useless the lot of them!
NO WONDER half the galaxy wants to take them out!
It is a planet of whiny nebbishes why Kara and Kal El waste their time with this dubious rabble is beyond me.
I say Kal and Kara should quietly fling New Krypton into a far off orbit around some nice cozy red sun and forget this mishaugas ever happened.
Bring on War of the Supermen, Alura's bunch have it coming to them!

John Feer

Jason said...

Haven't read the review yet, but wanted to let everyone know Lena Luthor officially makes her New Earth current-DC Universe debut in Action Comics #6 next week. The preview of it is up on The Source blog.

Jason said...

Excellent review! Alura is indeed an interesting character now. I remember a year ago all of us were saying how much of an ice queen she was with the way she acted so callously and coldly to Supergirl. I am intrigued by the acts of reason and compassion she has exhibited lately. Maybe she is a redeemable soul after all.

I don't know how I feel about this story not being resolved with the conclusion of this series with next issue. On one side, I understand the rationale for building up storylines over a period of years. On the other hand, I personally start growing tired of a storyline not wrapping up, especially when I'm originally led to believe it has a definite beginning and end (i.e. a limited series). The whole Infinite Crisis storyline, counting it's lead-in miniseries, seemed to last about two or more years. Batman RIP, if you count Morrison's entire Batman run as a lead-in to that, lasted a year or two. The Color Wars, if you include Green Lantern Rebirth, Sinestro Corps Wars, and Blackest NIght, all together has gone on for a whopping four years or so now. Now I'll give you Blackest Night has been getting rave reviews. My point is that at some point I want the story to definitively end, with a fresh new story starting after it. I can't say I've been excited about New Krypton as I have been about Blackest Night. New Krypton is a good story, don't get me wrong. But if we count the original New Krypton storyline, the WONK mini series, and now these next War of the Supermen and related series, now we're going on...what...3 years of this storyline now? As good as this storyline has been, I've started finding myself thinking "WHEN is New Krypton gonna end?".

TalOs said...

An ok issue.

I truly have 0 idea though as to where Rucka and Robinson want to take this maxi now for there seems to be more and more sub plots being fleshed out then any real focus on an actual main story. :/

Mart said...

Excellent review, Anj, I agree that an ending to his 12-issue series would be nice in the actual book. I'm bored now, and just hanging in for the sake of it.

Why is Adam always grinning inappropriately?

Love the Brainiac robot idea, Heath, and I'm so jealous of this line, John: 'I mean New Krypton is like the worst run condo association in the world.'

Jason, totally agree. I have had your post tattooed on my arm.

Anonymous said...

BTW, am I the only person in the WONK aud that has noticed that the High Council of New Krypton (guilds electing representation via functionality) closely resembles Mussolini's notion of a fascist corporatist state? I mean no wonder New Krypton is in such diresome straights, remember how well Italy performed in WW2.
Robot priests? I love it!

John Feer

Bubbly Bunny said...

I think (and silently hope) the entire point of war of the supermen is the get rid of all those extra kryptonians and only have supergirl, superman, superboy (who counts halfway), general zod, and last but not least Krytpto.
I mean it's not like i absolutely hate alura or anything its just that it seems like it would be to hard for Alura to NOT go crazy after New Krypton is destroyed (if it is atleast). And then it would just get really complicated and it just wouldn't work.
But still all i know is Brainiac 5 and Supergirl is going to be awesome and that we need to go back to sole survivors not 100,000

Anj said...

I think (and silently hope) the entire point of war of the supermen is the get rid of all those extra kryptonians and only have supergirl, superman, superboy (who counts halfway), general zod, and last but not least Krytpto.
I mean it's not like i absolutely hate alura

I agree we need to get back to fewer Kryptonians to make the super-family more 'special'.

I am interested in seeing what actually comes of all of them.