Comic Book Review: Superman: New Krypton Special #1

The Revolution enjoyed both Johns’ Action Comics as well as Robinson’s Superman. I also found Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen Special #1 to be a thoroughly entertaining read. I have never been a huge fan of big blue, but DC has really cranked up the excitement and intensity surrounding Superman with everything that is going on in his two titles. Superman: New Krypton Special #1 ties in the stories from the three aforementioned titles and presents to the reader the blueprint for DC’s plans for the Superman franchise over the course of the next year. Let’s go ahead and do this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Geoff Johns, James Robinson & Sterling Gates
Pencils: Pete Woods, Gary Frank & Renato Guedes
Inks: Pete Woods, Jon Sibal & Wilson Magalhaes

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Jonathan Kent’s funeral. Clark stands at the podium next to Pa Kent’s casket. Clark is distraught. We see a figure standing at a great distance from the funeral at the gravesite. (I am guessing that this figure is Bruce Wayne.) We see Clark step down from the podium. Lois is holding Ma Kent. Jimmy clasps hands with Clark. Lana is there, but she does not approach Clark. Clark and Ma Kent then hold each other.

We cut to the government prison where Brainiac is being held. Superman rips through the wall to Brainiac’s cell. Superman proceeds to beat Brainiac until Brainiac is a bloody mess. We then snap to Clark sitting in his parents’ house. Lois asks if he is okay. Clark says “No.” Clark is mad that Brainiac is still alive and that his father is dead. Clark says that his father is dead and that there is nothing he can do about it. Lois replies that there is something that Clark can do. That Clark can never forget what his father taught him. Clark then gets up and walks out of the house.

We see Clark in the barn looking through his father’s toolbox of gifts that Clark gave him over the years. Clark looks at a baseball cap that has Interlac on it that Clark got from the future and gave to his dad for Father’s Day. We see the horse shoe that Clark engraved the words “World’s Greatest Dad” with his heat vision.

Clark remembers his father telling Clark that “if there are people that need help, you do what you always do. Don’t let anyone or anything get in your way.” Clark slumps to the ground and takes off his glasses. Clark sits there and holds his head and cries.

We cut to a U.S. general talking to Assassin about how Superman must be the happiest man on the planet now that an entire Kryptonian city has been restored on Earth. The general wonders how long it will before until the Kryptonians in Kandor begin displaying powers like Superman. The general continues that he won’t deny that Superman has done many great things for Earth. The general says that he has a vested interest in Superman and has been forced to accept him as a visitor who has made Earth his home.

However, the appearance of an entire Kryptonian city may make Superman change his priorities. The general and Assassin enter a large laboratory where Brainiac is hooked up to several machines. There are a team of scientists trying to reverse engineer Brainiac’s data ports embedded in his skull and try and access Brainiac’s memories.

The head scientist comments that Superman took Brainiac’s ship to Kandor. The scientist continues that Brainiac’s ship had hundreds of shrunken cities in it, but that all the information from them is stored in Brainiac’s mind.

Suddenly, the machines bring Brainiac’s mind online. Brainiac then wakes up and begins to attack all of the scientists. Brainiac commands that the Earthmen tell him where his ship is and where the Kryptonian is. Assassin quickly destroys the machine that brought Brainiac’s mind back online. Once the machine is destroyed, Brainiac falls unconscious once again. The general tells Assassin that they need to learn everything that Brainiac knows about Kandor.

We slide back to Clark at his parents’ house. Clark tells Ma Kent that he does not have to go and that he can stay here with her. Ma Kent insists that Clark go. That he just found an entire Kryptonian city. That Clark just found his people. And that they need him. Clark responds that Ma needs him, too. Martha points out that they have many friends in Smallville and points to all the food and gifts in the room.

Clark states that Kandor won’t change anything. That it won’t change who Ma and Pa made Clark into. Ma Kent turns her back on Clark and lowers her head and closes her eyes. Clark then says that he is sorry that he couldn’t save Pa. Ma Kent snaps that Clark has nothing to apologize for. Ma orders that Clark leave and go do his job right this second. Clark lowers his head and then rips open his shirt.

We see Superman streaking toward Kandor. When Superman arrives at the Kryptonian city he is absolutely in awe with its beauty. Superman lands at Zor and Alura’s house. Superman’s aunt and uncle greet him warmly with hugs. His aunt and uncle comment that Kal-El has grown into a fine man. Superman responds that it was easy. That he learned it from his father. Zor-El comments that Kal-El was fortunate to have the recordings of Jor-El. Superman stammers “No, I…Yes, I was fortunate.”

Superman asks Zor-El if the inhabitants of Kandor are beginning to experience super powers due to the yellow sun. Zor-El answers that some of the Kryptonians are beginning to exhibit some of Superman’s powers, but not all of them like the power of flight, for example.

Zor-El then points out all the different styles of architecture in Kandor. That each Guild has their own style of architecture. Zor-El points out a building in the style of the Solider Guild. Zor-El reminds Kal-El that Zod is still considered a hero in Kandor for his valiant battle against Brainiac.

Superman points out that Zod recently broke out of the Phantom Zone and attacked the people of Earth. Superman states that the people of Earth are not going to be that trusting of the Kryptonians of Kandor. Superman says that he wants to show Earthlings that they can trust the Kryptonians. Superman says that he wants to bring Earthmen to Kandor. Aurora states that for now it probably will be a good idea for the people of Kandor to keep to themselves for a bit.

Superman comments that there is so much that the people of Kandor can learn about the Earthlings. Earth’s culture and customs. Zor-El replies “Why would we want people to teach us to be less Kryptonian.” (Zing!) Superman retorts that that is not what he meant. Superman says that they can discuss this later. Zor-El against replies “Why would we..” Superman cuts off Zor-El saying that they can talk about it later. Right now, they have a visitor.

Supergirl then appears on the scene. Supergirl is stunned to see her parents alive. Supergirl hugs her parents. Superman smiles as he watches the happy reunion.

We cut to a military graveyard in Washington, DC. (Actually, it looks like Arlington National Cemetery which is located in Virginia and not inside of the District.) Lois Lane is setting flowers at her father’s tombstone. Lois’ sister, Lucy, appears on the scene. Lois asks Lucy if her career in the military is what she always wanted. Lucy responds that their father always wanted a son who could follow him in the military. So, it is what their father would have wanted. Lucy comments that her following Lois to Metropolis was a pathetic attempt to live Lois’ life and not her own.

Lucy says that she did not want to be known as “Lois Lane’s younger sister.” Lois retorts that now Lucy is known as “The late General Sam Lane’s daughter.” Lucy quips that what Lois called her sounds much better. Lois responds that as long as Lucy for herself as much as she is for their father then Lois supports her. Lucy retorts “I’m not.”

Lucy then asks Lois if she misses their father. Lucy snaps that this is the first time that Lois has asked Lucy to meet her here. That this is the first time Lois has talked about their dad since the funeral. Lucy says that Lois did not love their father. Lois cuts in that she did love their dad. Lucy responds that Lois did not love their father more than Lois loves Superman. (Burn.) Lois stands their speechless.

We slide back to Kandor where we see the inhabitants suddenly gaining the ability to fly. Superman comments that it is starting. Zor-El muses that if only they had these wonderful powers when Brainiac attacked them. Zor-El states that Kandor will never be in harm’s way again. (Oh, you shouldn’t have said that. It is now only a matter of time before Kandor gets attacked and devastated.)

A Kryptonian holding a blue whale flies up to Zor-El’s balcony. The Kryptonian says that he found this creature in the water and that it tried to eat him. Therefore, the Kryptonian punched it. Superman comments that the Kryptonian killed the whale. The Kryptonian responds that it threatened him. Superman answers that it is just a whale. Supergirl adds that blue whales are endangered species on Earth. Zor-El says that he understands and promises that the Kandorians will be more careful in the future.

Superman retorts that this is exactly why he wants the Kandorians to meet the people of Earth. So that they can teach the Kandorians the rules. Superman says that he has had a lifetime to learn them. And that Superman in turn taught Kara the rules.

Zor-El comments that he understands Superman’s position, but while Zor-El and Aurora may be in charge of the city, that they do not control the people. Zor-El says that Kandorians are free to do what they please. Zor-El says that it appears that the Kandorians choose to go visit the Earthmen rather than having the Earthmen come to Kandor. We see Kandorians flying from the city. Superman says that the Kandorians must be supervised. Zor-El responds that they will be careful. That the Kandorians will be friends to Earth. Just like Superman.

Zor-El then summons Kal-El and Kara-El into the house. Zor-El says that it is time to have their first El family dinner in years. Supergirl tells Superman to not worry and to trust her father. The El family then enters the house of El for dinner.

We cut to the Kent home in Smallville. It is dark and raining. Ma Kent is at the kitchen table by herself with a plate of food. She just sits there motionless.

We hop over to the Daily Planet where Jimmy is sitting there waiting for Clark. Jimmy tells Lois that he has something important to talk to Clark about. Lois says that Clark is busy helping out his mother so it is best that Jimmy not talk to Clark for a while. Lois notices that Jimmy is extremely bothered. Lois then tells Jimmy that he can trust her and tell her whatever he wanted to talk to Clark about.

Jimmy then recounts the events told in Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen Special #1. Jimmy says that the bottom line is that the military is amassing all sorts of Kryptonite weaponry. Lois comments that the military wants a way to defeat the Kryptonians. Jimmy adds that the military project is designed to defeat just one Kryptonian: Superman. Jimmy thinks that the military doesn’t just want to defeat Superman. That they want Superman dead.

Lois asks who is the officer in charge of the military project. Jimmy responds that he never found out who was in charge of the operation. Jimmy says that whoever it is, he is doing everything he can to make sure no one finds out his identity.

We slide over to Lex Luthor’s jail cell. Lex is drawing a blueprint on the wall for a rocket that will save the world. Suddenly, the cell door opens and a figure enters and says that it is odd that a rocket would save Earth considering that a rocket from Krypton put Earth on its path of destruction.

Lex turns around and is surprised at who he sees. Lex states “You? Aren’t you supposed to be dead, General Lane?” We see General Lane standing in front of Lex. Lane answers that the world is lucky that he is not dead. Lane says that there is a Kryptonian invasion that needs to be stopped. General Lane says that Luthor has just been drafted. Luthor answers “It’s about time.” End of issue.

The Good: Superman: New Krypton Special #1 was a great read. DC hit a home run with this special issue. The purpose of Superman: New Krypton Special #1 is to generate fan interest in what Johns and Robinson have planned for the Superman franchise over the course of the upcoming year.

The writers did a fine job plotting this issue. Superman: New Krypton Special #1 effectively pulls together all of the various plotlines from Action Comics and Superman into one cohesive major story. This issue does its job of laying out a clear direction for both Superman titles and also manages to hook the reader’s interest into picking up both titles to follow this monster story.

The writers did an excellent job handling Pa Kent’s funeral and the scenes at the Kent Farm and how his absence impacted Ma Kent and Clark. The opening scene at Pa Kent’s funeral and the following scene at the Kent farm were absolutely fantastic. This was my favorite part of the issue.

The first three pages had absolutely no dialogue. Franks’ artwork was unbelievably powerful as he conveyed such a range of emotions from Clark’s heart wrenching sorrow, Lana’s feelings of regret and shame to Bruce Wayne’s ever constant distant personality. Most writers would have not had the restraint to allow an artist to tell the story. I appreciated the fact that we were not flooded with narration boxes.

The following two page scene also had no dialogue or narration as Frank’s art carried the scene once again as he showed us the terribly fury and anger that is burning inside of Superman. Having Clark dream about viciously beating Brainiac to death was completely understandable.

The scene at the Kent Farm was also rather poignant and perfectly executed. We only get a minimum of dialogue and narration. All that is given to the reader is what was absolutely necessary. Again, less is more is a rule that always applies to dramatic scenes.

The reader gets a sharp taste of Clark’s feelings of loss. Clark always looked to Pa Kent for advice and inspiration. With his father gone, Clark faces the dark and lonely path that every man fears when he realizes that he no longer has his greatest hero alive that he can turn to in a time of need.

The scene with Clark in the barn looking through the various gifts that he had given his father over the years really got to me. This was a heart wrenching scene as each sweet and tender memory that Clark has about his father is now tinged with sadness and loneliness. This scene effectively conveyed the fact that Pa Kent is the man who shaped the world’s greatest superhero. Clark is Superman because of what Pa Kent taught him. Despite all the amazing powers, alien heritage and a wide array of super powered compatriots, it was a simple farmer from the Midwest that made Superman the man he is.

I loved the scene with Ma Kent and Clark where she emphatically tells her son that he has nothing to be sorry about concerning his father’s death and then orders him to go do his job. I liked how Clark eagerly offers up the statement that the restoration of Kandor will not change him.

The guilt theme in the scene does little to nothing for me. We get that on virtually every title nowadays. However, I did think that the writers did an excellent job playing with the theme of Superman having two families and two cultures. And it is clear that Superman is going to struggle juggling the two of them.

The writers nicely handled Superman’s awe and wonder of seeing the Kryptonian city of Kandor in all of its glory. The writers continued the theme of Superman struggling between his two families and cultures as Zor-El mentions that Kal-El has grown into a fine man prompting Superman to say it was because of his father. Zor-El’s immediate responds that Kal-El was indeed lucky to have Jor-El’s recordings in order to guide him immediately pierces Superman’s grieving heart.

The fact that Superman does not dispute Zor-El’s statement or try and explain that he was talking about Pa Kent was very interesting. Superman clearly is hesitant to be open about the fact that even though he is biologically a Kryptonian, he thinks and acts like an Earthman.

The theme of family continues as Superman fresh off the loss of one of his parents watches Kara’s emotional family reunion with her parents. Even though Superman is clearly happy about Kara being reunited with her parents, there is probably a tinge of jealousy that he not only does not have his biological parents, but now he is missing his adoptive father.

The theme of family is really driven home sharply as Zor-El joyously ushers Kal-El and Kara into their home for the first family of El dinner in a very long time. This was wonderfully contrasted with the scene with Ma Kent sitting at her dinner table all alone with an untouched plate of food in front. The reader gets the terrible feeling that Clark may get so enamored and moved by the fact that his Kryptonian family have returned that his adoptive mother may get pushed to the side.

The writers do a fine job handling the debate between Superman and Jor-El concerning the debate about the newly super powered Kryptonians from Kandor. This is obviously going to become a serious problem. Superman handles his incredible powers well because of his Earthling father and Pa Kent’s humble and solid middle-American values. The teachings of Pa Kent and how they have impacted Superman are well contrasted with the fact that Jor-El seems horrified at the suggestion that the Kryptonians learn from the Earthlings. Jor-El’s comment of why the Kandorians would allow the Earthlings to teach them to be less Kryptonian was perfect.

The writers do a fine job seeing both sides of the issue. Superman is correct that it is incumbent upon the Kryptonians to learn the rules from Earthmen since the Kryptonians are guests on Earth. However, the reader also perfectly understands why Jor-El would be horrified about having his Kryptonian heritage and culture diluted by Earth customs and practices. I don’t blame Jor-El at all and completely understand his pride and loyalty to his own culture.

It is obvious that the writers are setting Superman up for a serious crisis in terms of his identity. It is clear that the Kryptonians from Kandor and the people of Earth are on a collision course. Jor-El makes a point in saying that since the Kandorians now have super powers that they will never be threatened again shows that they are going to react with hostility when General Lane leads his troops against Kandor.

It is totally unbelievable to think that all of the Kandorians are going to handle their awesome new powers like Superman has. The fact is that your average person, or Kryptonian, when blessed with such incredible powers would probably trend toward being a villain rather than a selfless and idealistic hero.

And on top of that, Superman will face a much more personal decision to make on whether he identifies more with his Earthling upbringing and his Earthling adoptive mother or more with his Kryptonian heritage and his Kryptonian family. The fact is that deep down inside, Clark is more a typical mid-west farm boy than he is a Kryptonian.

I enjoyed the scene with Lois and Lucy. This sets the stage for the tension that exists between Lois and her father. Since General Lane makes his dramatic re-appearance in this issue, it was important for the writers to bring newer readers quickly up to speed concerning the drama between Lois and her father. This scene hammers home the difficult situation that Lois is placed since her father and her husband are on a collision course with each other.

The writers did a fine job re-introducing General Lane. The writers clearly set out General Lane’s plan to use Brainiac’s knowledge of Kandor so that the military may be better equipped to properly battle the Kryptonians. Even though General Lane and Assassin are being cast as the villains in this story, I found it understandable that an entire city of Superman-class aliens would be of a great concern to the military.

The writers give us a fine hook ending as it is revealed that General Sam Lane is still alive and that he is now enlisting Lex Luthor to help him in his war against the Kryptonian invasion.” Even though it appears that DC has been in a rush to return a good portion of the pre-Crisis continuity back into the modern DCU that certainly is not the case with the return of General Sam Lane. General Lane is a post-Crisis character and I am glad that the writers decided to bring his character back.

The artwork by committee was nicely done. Yes, it creates an inconsistent look to this issue, but that is offset by the fact that Woods, Frank and Guedes are all three great artists. Frank’s artwork was my favorite of the three due to his amazing ability to convey so many emotions and properly move the story along in the absence of any dialogue. Still, all three artists did a fine job with the artwork and they combined to make this a good looking issue.

The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.

Overall: Superman: New Krypton Special #1 does its job of advertising the Superman franchise and its two titles and trying to entice new readers to the two titles. The writers made this issue very new reader friendly. If you have not given either Action Comics or Superman a try then Superman: New Krypton Special #1 is the perfect jumping on point. Even if you are like me and have never been much of a Superman fan, I would still recommend giving this title a try. Johns and Robinson have in store for the reader what appears to be a classic super hero tale that should have mass appeal.

3 thoughts on “Comic Book Review: Superman: New Krypton Special #1

  1. I am completely astonished to say that Geoff Johns is making a Superman one of my monthly must-reads. To top that off, Action Comics and Batman are the only two DC books I read. I am extremely psyched to see where this is headed.

  2. Warped perspective: I can’t help thinking how big a symbolic role Kon-El should be playing here, as a living combination of Earth and Krypton. I’d be happy if I thought his revival may be a twist thrown into this later on, but I doubt it.

    As much as I liked the spunkier Supergirl McKeever wrote when she was in Teen Titans (for a few minutes…) this new arc does put her in an intersting place.

  3. I don’t know if publishing several ‘big’/’crossover’ events simultaneously is the healthiest thing for DC Comics to do right now. It just feels like they are trying to force themselves to the number one spot in the market but selling more ‘must read’ stories than Marvel.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m an avid DC fan, but lately it seems that Dan Didio or someone in a higher position have been making all the wrong choices. And it is killing DC. There is Batman R.I.P., New Krypton, Final Crisis, Trinity and I recently that there will be a lot of ‘One World Under Gog’ tie-ins flooding the market next month. Do they really need this? What happened to just writing good stories on a monthly basis with no schedule delays and cheap attempts to trick the reader into buying more books than he needs so as to enjoy a story.

    Marvel is the poster boy for this. And no one seems to realize that there is total chaos. Between the annual change to Marvel’s status quo and DC’s new obsession with weekly miniseries events, someone has to take a few steps back and really look at what is going on from a bird’s eye view.

    Before I finish, I could refer to a good example of a comic book publishing company that did not rely on excessive crossover events and still managed to be successful. Valiant Comics was founded in 1989. According to my knowledge, the company only published to crossover events. It’s real success was derived from writers putting out comic books on a monthly basis with good, original stories and unique characters that did not fall into the Superman/Batman/Captain America archetypes (I found that to be very prevalent among the new publishers of the 90’s). They third in the market- behind Marvel and DC and they sold over 80 million comic books in their first five years- a great achievement for a new company.

    Anyway, I just wanted to get that off my chest. Great review as always Rokk.

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