Review: Superman #683

by

Time for everyone to take sides

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If the Sinestro Corps War was the sleeper hit for DC last year, then Superman: New Krypton should be the hit for 2009 (although I think we all know that title will fall to Blackest Night).  Here Superman must decide what is best for is adopted home; stand with his fellow Kryptonians, or fight for what is right.  It seemed like Kal-El would stand with his fellow Kryptonians early in the series, but a single act of aggression has Kal firmly on the side of Earth.  Too bad there are 100,000 Kryptonians ready to fight against Earth’s mightiest heroes.

superman684cover.jpgThe real villain of this series has turned out to be Alura, who following her husband’s death, has become the leader of the Kryptonian city of Kandor.  She has instructed her followers, which is pretty much all of them, to kill and imprison Superman’s foes, has begun the backward engineering of Brainiac’s technology that has fused with the city, and is behind the killing of several Earthlings.

As much as we would like to believe all Kryptonians would be like Superman, the real fact is these are super powered beings that view us as nothing more than ants – something that can be killed at their whim.  Viewing themselves as the superior race on the planet, means humans are merely chattel, something they can use and abuse whenever they want.  The first Kryptonian readers met that had this belief was Zod, and readers saw him as a military despot that needed to be stopped.  Now seeing Alura and the rest of the Kryptonians acting in this same manner, one has to wonder if Krypton really wasn’t the war-mongering race others have portrayed them to be.  It’s a scary thought, and one that could spell doom for Earth Prime, if it weren’t for the heroes of Earth.

The heroes – in this issue the good guys are represented by Hal Jordan, Alan Scott, Power Girl, John Stewart, Black Lightning, Wonder Woman, Steel, Jay Garrick, Hawkman and Harkgirl, Mr. Terrific, Starfire, The Guardian, and about a dozen Science Police.  While it may seem like a lot of power, when pitted against those with the powers of Superman, they are probably nothing more than a flea on the back of a gorilla.

Standing in their way is Superman and (later) Supergirl. Kal pleads with his friends to give him 30 minutes to try and talk Alura into giving herself, and the Kryptonian killers up , but it doesn’t go well, when Alura proves she is just as Qwazy as Zod.  With a mere flick of her hand, 200 Kryptonians appear ready to fight.

And what a fight it is.

This is a battle for the ages, and it is stunning.  While you might think the Kryptonians would win hands down, each of the heroes use their powers to take down villain after villain.  For example, Black Lighting uses his lightning powers to send out bolts of red energy, while Starfire draws the Sun’s energy from the Kryptonians and uses it against them.  Even Steel is able to change his molecular state to bring forth small particles of Kryptonite to give the smack down to his foes.  But it’s not enough, and just when things look their darkest, the magic heroes of the DCU arrive.  Why is magic such a big deal?  It’s long been established that Superman has a weakness to all forms of magic, and if the idea holds for all Kryptonians, then Kandor has met its match.

It’s just too bad Kara flipped sides.  Since the death of her father, Alura has been a bitch and a half when it come to dealing with her daughter.  Everything she has said to Kara has been an attempt to make her choose sides, something she’s been unable to do with Kal.  Unfortunately, Kara sides with her mother when it looks like Kal is going to try and harm Alura.

I really hope DC is using this to change the status quo of Superman and Supergirl in the DCU.  I can really see Earth siding against anything Kryptonian following this series, which makes Superman exiling himself in space the next logical follow-up to the series.  What will this mean for Supergirl?  She’s already found herself in s-creek following Amazon’s Attack, and her siding against Earth isn’t going to sit well with anyone.  Unless she’s the key to ending all the madness, and ultimately redeeming herself, I don’t see how she can go about the business of sticking around following this series.

There is hope that she does redeem herself, as a quick look at the Supergirl solicitations for 2009, find her hunting down some of the Kryptonian killers, and trying to solve the mystery of Superwoman.

For the first couple of pages, I was not interested at all with the art by Renato Guedes and Jorge Correa Jr.  But after the first two pages, the Moebius attention to detail became really evident and continued to hold throughout the issue.  By far the best part of this issue is the layout.  My god, it is beautiful!  I’m a big fan of Apple’s Keynote application, and even more impressed with some of the add on themes one can use to layout images and information in a way that makes a presentation pop.  That same feel is found in this issue, and the artists are able to pack so much information into a single page (and double page, when it comes to the fight sequences) that I am truly blown away.  I don’t think I would want this layout in every issue, but I could get used to seeing it again where appropriate.
James Robinson’s story is moving along at a rapid pace, and while the key beats are timed well, they do seem somewhat predictable.  While I didn’t want Supergirl to pick her mother’s side, the turn has been telegraphed for several issues to the point where the power punch didn’t come as a huge surprise.  While we know the ultimate outcome (I seriously doubt DC will ape Marvel’s Dark Reign with Reign of the Supermen – again), it’s the next chapter of the story that has me eagerly anticipating the next issue.

I can’t wait to see this saga collected in a trade.  It is a real page turner, and having to wait for the next issue to arrive is a real pain.  Superman #683 is so good, I’m giving it Major Spoilers’ highest rating of 5 out of 5 Stars.

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90/90