Thursday, 11 March 2010

Superman and New Krypton: My tuppence worth

There's been a lot of criticism of the recent direction of the Superman titles flying about online. For the past year Metropolis has been guarded by Superman's pal from the planet Daxam, Mon-El, while Superman has been on New Krypton serving in the Kryptonian Army as Commander Kal-El. Superman has had to temporarily abandon Earth in order to keep an eye on his old enemy General Zod, who just so happens to be in charge of the Kryptonian Army. So, for the past year Superman's books Superman and Action Comics have seen very little of their lead character, who has been headlining the twelve part World of New Krypton. Cue moaning aplenty from certain sections of the internet, "Superman's not in his own book! It's a travesty!" "Why does Dan Didio hate Superman?!" "James Robinson must die!" Blah, blah, etc, etc.

Mon-El, Guardian, Nightwing and Flamebird

For the most part I've found the story very enjoyable. The current star of Superman, Mon-El has proved a tremendously interesting character, being both a stranger to our world and a man on borrowed time. Action Comics has featured the Kryptonian heroes Nightwing and Flamebird and while I haven't really warmed to them I've enjoyed both the extra attention Lois Lane has been getting and the appearances of the wonderfully evil Kryptonian scientist, Jax-Ur. World of New Krypton has successfully fleshed out General Zod into an intriguing and sympathetic character. He's single minded and ruthless but it's all driven by his passion for Krypton and the shame of his failiure at the hands of Brainiac. Supergirl has probably been the best of the lot, with Supergirl's clashes with her super bitch mother and Lana Lang's illness providing plenty of soap opera action.

Commander El on the cover of World of New Krypton 2

It has been revealed gradually over the past year throughout the Super-books that several members of the futuristic Legion of Superheroes have been hiding out in the present day. It has been very satisfying to watch this particular plotline unfold. The surprise reveal of Mon-El's pal Mitch as Matter Eater Lad in Superman #694 was one of my favourite moments of the whole New Krypton saga. We've also seen Jimmy Olsen get a plot thread of his own. It was genuinely exciting to see Jimmy investigate the mysterious Project 7734, and his apparent death did have me wondering, and worrying, for a few issues. It would actually have been nice to have seen more focus on Jimmy. Of course the whole arc has also had an excellent baddie in the form of General Sam Lane, Lois Lane's dearest dad.

Mitch chews his way into my heart in Superman 694

I have to admit however that although the storyline has definitely picked up a lot of pace since January, I do feel that around the time of the Codename: Patriot storyline the plot was plodding along a bit and very little seemed to be really happening despite the super-powered assassins and exploding sewers. To be honest, as much as I was enjoying the story I began to miss seeing Kal-El in costume doing his thing in true Superman style. This very week, any frustration I may have felt with the length of the storyline was rendered totally and utterly worth it with the following few panels.

These panels were from Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton #1 and I think they illustrate quite elegantly the sheer punch-the-air-awesomeness of this issue more than anything I could write.

Apparently the next few months of story will lead into War of the Supermen, one final battle between Earth, New Krypton, Brainiac and Luthor and Superman and his buddies. Then in July things get groin-grabbingly good as the super-genius behind Babylon 5, Amazing Spider-Man and Thor, J. Michael Straczynski starts writing Superman regularly! So even if you really hate this whole New Krypton lark, not to worry. When Superman returns to Metropolis he'll have one of the best writers in comics guiding him. But, honestly, how could you hate the New Krypton arc? I mean, look......

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