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Action Comics #873 [Review]

New Krypton part ten: Birth of a Nation

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Pete Woods, Renato Guedes & Wilson Magalhaes
Colorist: Brad Anderson & David Curiel
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Ladronn
Publisher: DC Comics

New Krypton the crossover/mega-arc concludes here, but the story is far from over.

The issue opens with the world reacting to Supergirl’s punch at Superman in the previous chapter, with General Lane and Luthor politicking over Doomsday’s for-now dead body. Some Kandorians are fighting the Justice Society and Green Lanterns (with a few other heroes), before a Superman Returns style solution is implemented that then takes on a Counter-Earth feel. We’re then treated to several prologue scenes to close out the issue.

The art on this issue isn’t bad, but for the most part is not all that appealing to me. It gets across what’s going on visually, but leaves me missing Gary Frank’s art, particularly at the way Superman himself looks.

The story is a definite let-down. While this is supposedly the “conclusion” to this epic, I’m left at the end feeling like we’ve had a whole bunch of filler leading to this issue, just to kick off some outside mini-series. There’s been a lot of potential built up that doesn’t get resolved and seems to fizzle out, and just results in a hearty disappointment. As a Faces of Evil issue, supposedly we get a story from Luthor’s point of view. However, Luthor is really only on the first two pages as a pawn to General Lane. This isn’t the writer’s fault–this issue has no business being included in the Faces of Evil stunt.

All in all, what began as a very interesting premise with loads of potential comes down to this issue and a completely anti-climactic conclusion. Recommended only if you’ve been following the story thus far; otherwise, you’ll be just as well served finding spoilers online and spending your money elsewhere. If you want a story from Luthor’s point of view and how he interacts with Superman, I’ll recommend the Lex Luthor: Man of Steel mini-series from several years back.

Story: 7/10
Art: 6/10
Whole: 6.5/10

Superman #683 [Review]

New Krypton part nine: Hard Times!

Writer: James Robinson
Pencillers: Renato Guedes & Jorge Correa Jr.
Inker: Wilson Magalhares & Jorge Correa Jr.
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: John J. Hill
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Alex Ross (variant by Chris Sprouse, Karl Story & Laura Martin)
Publisher: DC Comics

Superman faces a number of Earth super-heroes in this issue’s opening sequence–asking that they leave and let him attend to locating the Kryptonians who were responsible for a number of police deaths. They in turn give Supes an ultimatum–a half-hour before they’ll go into action. Superman confronts his aunt, and begins to realize things are beyond his control. As the battle is joined, we have Kryptonians vs. super-heroes, and then a moment between Superman and Supergirl that takes me back to a 1992 issue of Action Comics. The issue concludes with a certain “cavalry” arriving.

I’m still not the biggest fan of the art for this title–the style just seems a bit “off” to me; as probably stated before, the visual is shared by the entire art team–sometimes it’s the coloring that seems most “off” to me. I actually think I’d prefer to see Guedes’ linework inked and left uncolored–that might give me a different perception.

The story is decent if lacking complexity. Then again, given that we’re into the ninth chapter of this crossover story, it’s goot to get to action and not be bogged down with overly-complex layering and whatnot. The characters and situations are quite believable and make sense contextually. This certainly isn’t the best issue of this title–nor the “New Krypton” story–but it’s a solid chapter (and didn’t seem like some plot device forced into it for the sake of re-introducing old characters).

Not one to skip if you’re following the story; by this point in the story I assume one’s probably going to pick issues up whatever complaints they have, and doubt my recommendation would do much here. I’d recommend picking up earlier chapters before just grabbing this and wading in, of course.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 6/10
Whole: 6.5/10

Supergirl #36 [Review]

New Krypton part eight: Death in the House of El

Writer: Sterling Gates
Penciller: Jamal Igle
Inker: Keith Champagne
Colorist: Tom Chu
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Joshua Middleton (variant by Chris Sprouse, Karl Story & Laura Martin)
Publisher: DC Comics

After a brief reunion with parents she already thought were dead, Supergirl finds herself facing the death of her father, assassinated during an attach on the Kryptonians by Reactron and Metallo. While the loss is mourned, other more sinister elements build toward fruition, and Supergirl meets a Kryptonian calling herself Superwoman and wearing a mask.

This issue plays nicely within the overarching New Krypton story, while having plenty of space to do its own thing, focusing on its primary character. Given the recent “fixing” of the problems with her earlier appearances half a decade ago, this issue gives us a chance to move forward after those and give some development to Supergirl’s character as she faces the loss of her father–something her cousin is also dealing with in his own life…perhaps a point that’ll help bond the two in whatever’s to come.

The art is a mixed bag for me. Perhaps a personal thing, but something just gets me about the way characters’ ears are drawn that puts me off. Other than that, the art is quite good, and fits the story quite well.

On the whole, this is a solid issue. While Zor’s death could have just been an action point in the overall story, this issue allows for that to be dealt with in greater detail–a strength I’m seeing in this story as elements that most impact someone are dealt with by a creative team that will be playing with them the most. Whether you’re falling just this title, or the New Krypton story, this one’s well worth picking up.

Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8/10

Superman #682 [Review]

New Krypton part six: Invasive Surgery

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Renato Guedes
Inker: Wilson Magalhares
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: John J. Hill
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Alex Ross (variant by Rodolfo Migliari)
Publisher: DC Comics

Including the Jimmy Olsen special, this is the seventh straight week of an ongoing Superman narrative…in that sense, it’s definitely like the good ol’ days of the 90s ongoing story. Being a decade older and more knowledgeable at things like “creative teams” and in general knowing more than “just” the “character” I’m reading, I see a lot more–like while this is an ongoing story overall, we keep shifting focus from one character to another, as each creative team really gets to step up and tell their own story within the larger whole.

In part 6 of New Krypton, we begin with Clark and Martha visiting Jonathan’s grave–a fairly touching scene, though I don’t feel like I’ve seen Clark and Martha interact quite this way before. Martha seems a bit sharper…though given what the characters have been through, it’s still believable. After the two find an extremely unexpected “guest” already visiting the grave, we launch into the meat of the issue, as Kryptonians–led by Zor-El, Alura, and Supergirl–embark on a campaign of ridding the world of Superman’s old foes in a less than polite manor. Whatever their good intentions, they succeed mainly in provoking Superman to anger, and Earth’s populace to fear.

The art still hasn’t captured me–it’s got a style that somehow just doesn’t come across all that well, and I can’t quite tell how much it’s the pencils and how much it’s the colors. The look it gets for Bizarro works very well, though. There’s far, far more talent in the art than I’m capable of–but compared to the likes of Jim Lee, Gary Frank, Dan Jurgens, and others, this art just doesn’t do it for me.

The story makes perfect sense, and gets to deal with the question of how effective Superman really is, as well as the different perspectives held by the Kryptonians. It also continues to show that if Superman can do what he does, and a handful of Kryptonians do what they do, the world has justification for its fear and worry. This issue plays very well within the overall narrative of late, moving the story forward and setting up the next chapter(s) as well.

I like the cover–the image here reminds me of the cover to 1998’s Superman Forever, and it’s that much easier to imagine the motion in the depicted moment and that immediately following.

Overall, perhaps not the best point to start with on jumping in–but definitely worth getting if you’re already following the story or determined to get this title despite the crossover.

Story: 8/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 7.5/10

Supergirl #35 [Review]

New Krypton part five

Writer: Sterling Gates
Penciller: Jamal Igle
Inker: Keith Champagne
Colorist: Nel Ruffino
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Alex Ross (variant by Stephane Roux)
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue largely focuses on Kara and the fact that she suddenly has a family–her parents–back in her life. They want her to give up her human life (including “Linda Lang”), while she argues for her independence, that she’s just begun to make a new life for herself on earth, amidst the humans. During their conversing, Zor-El realizes something horrible about his daughter which explains her mood swings and other issues…Kryptonite Poisoning. While this is being dealt with, Kara regains some memories, and through flashbacks we, the readers, are filled in on her past as well. Sprinkled throughout we also see General Lane and Codename: Assassin reacting to the Kryptonians’ presence, and even a bit of Reactron and his possible future role. The cliffhanger promises more challenge for Kara and begins to raise a question about the place she and her cousin might have in this “New Krypton” world.

The story in this issue is quite believable. It’s a nice touch seeing a sort of “typical” parents/daughter dynamic–it humanizes Zor and Alura, and shows a further range of feelings with their daughter–going beyond simple joy at her being alive & reunited with them. We also get to see that there’s been growth on Kara’s side as well–she has actually invested herself in earth, and we get a feel for that conflict in her as these two parts of her life clash.

Igle’s art comes across a lot better to me this issue than the previous–I get the feeling my enjoyment of the visuals for this series will increase as he gets more familiar with the characters and gets to cut loose. While there is a noticeable difference in style from the Action Comics issue to this, the characters remain visually consistent enough that I have no real issue–artists are not clones with 100% identical styles; as such, there will be that difference in stle.

On the whole, I enjoyed this issue. I did not feel we got much forward advancement on the main New Krypton aspect of the story, but we did get a peek into Kara’s past, and a rather plausible explanation that deals with her personality the last few years since her introduction and a bit of slate-wiping that clears the way for future stories to come.

Well worth getting if you’re following New Kryptong, and if you’re only following this series, you really only need to know that there is an entire city of Kryptonians on Earth right now and go from there.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 7.5/10
Whole: 7.5/10

Action Comics #871 [Review]

New Krypton: Beyond Doomsday

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Pete Woods
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Alex Ross (variant by Stephane Roux)
Publisher: DC Comics

In the most recent issue of Superman (New Krypton “triangle number” 2), we ended with Doomsday arriving to spoil introductions between Kryptonians and the American president. Then we had a one-shot to explore further what Jimmy Olsen discovered on his recent adventure (and presumably set some stuff up for later in this mega-arc). Now we’re back to Doomsday. Except the issue begins with General Sam Lane dealing with Luthor, explaining his place in all this. Finally picking up on that cliffhanger, Superman takes charge, having had the most up-close-and-personal experience with the creature, and directs others to get the people clear, while he races into battle. Though the first time the two fought (sixteen years ago!) Superman’s allies easily fell, leaving him alone to stop the creature, this time his allies have all of his powers, and we have a half-issue Kryptonians-dogpile-Doomsday slugfest. Meanwhile, in Superman’s fortress, some Zod loyalists seek to free their General from the Phantom Zone, discovering something interesting in the process.

The story continues to build on what’s come before, picking up where we’d left off, responding to and progressing from that cliffhanger. We get some small nods to flesh out certain characters and see what the Kryptonians’ view of humans contains. It seems Doomsday’s reputation indeed is widely-known as are his origins. Johns keeps Superman in-character–as we saw years back, Supes faced his fears of Doomsday, overcoming them–he doesn’t freeze or wring his hands or cry or anything when Doomsday shows. He springs into action, confidently taking charge. On the whole, I have no real issue with the story here that isn’t self-defeating.

The art isn’t bad, either. It’s a definite departure from Frank, but in and of itself is not bad. It might just be the angles, but it appears that some bits of continuity are nicely maintained–Doomsday never has regrown the bony protrusion Superman snapped off his knee in their first encounter. The battle with Doomsday has a few panels where it’s not 100% clear what’s what…but I suppose that helps convey the nature of the battle with so many involved, and not much space between combatants. No huge complaint from me on the art.

As a whole, this is another solid issue, that admittedly leaves me waiting for the next chapter to find out more about who was found in the Fortress, what happens given the Doomsday battle, what General Lane has planned, and so on. This is hardly the best point to jump on-board, but it’s still early enough one could go snag the earlier chapters and get in from there.

I’m not blown away, but nor am I disappointed. As much as any comic is worth $3 these days, this one’s not a waste of money.

Story: 8/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 7.5/10

Adventure Comics Special featuring The Guardian #1 [Review]

New Krypton part three: The Worst Night of His Life

Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Pere Perez
Colorist: David Baron
Letterer: John J. Hill
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Aaron Lopresti (variant by Victor Ibanez)
Published by: DC Comics

This issue takes place between-pages of the Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen Special from several weeks ago. In short, it details exactly what the Guardian Jimmy tracked down told him, and brings readers up to speed on further details hinted at or sped through in that special.

First off, I think I’m thrilled to see the return of classic characters to the Superman continuity. Agent Liberty last week, more Guardian this week, the revelation that Cadmus’ impact is still being felt after largely being ignored for so many years…

Robinson seems to be quite good at digging into comics’ past and dredging up old characters, working them into the present, and making the whole thing just simply work. This seems to be no exception. Unfortunately, there’s something to this issue that doesn’t quite ring true, and seems like characters have been dealt with as they have for shock value more than anything else…though there’s definitely potential here. The main drawback is in the ambiguity of elements of Superman since Infinite Crisis, and I honestly do not know if this Guardian is the one I remember reading in the Superman books from the early to mid/late 1990s…or if the identity of that character is being mucked with. As it seems there is a lot of mucking about going on lately I fear the latter, and am thus a bit skeptical here.

The art doesn’t blow me away–but it is quite solid, and serves the story very well. I have no real complaint with it, nor any out of the ordinary praise.

What actually makes this issue stand out–and ups the enjoyment factor–is that it is actually part of the New Krypton story going on in the Superman family of books right now. I’d have to look to see if there are any more of these specials lined up…but for now, this issue marks the FIFTH week in a row with a new comic in the Superman corner of the DC Universe…essentially, the fifth week of an ongoing Superman story that continues from one book into the next. I may not be entirely sure the status of certain characters…but the fact that I’m getting so much of a single, ongoing narrative of Superman and his supporting cast–elements all playing into a single, ongoing story…that takes me back to the 1990s and the sheer enjoyment of a new “episode” in the Superman mythos each and every week.

If you’re following New Krypton, you’ll probably want to pick this up given it’s got the trade dress and “triangle number” making it part 3 of the story. If you read that Jimmy Olsen special, this will flesh it out more for you. And of course…if you’re a fan of The Guardian, again…you’ll probably want to check this out.

Story: 7/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 7.5/10

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