Trade Post: A Few Thoughts On New Krypton

new krypton

Superman New Krypton Vol. 1-4, Supergirl: Who Is Superwoman?, Superman: Mon-El Vol. 1 & 2, Superman: Nightwing & Flamebird Vol. 1 & 2, Superman: Codename Patriot, Superman Last Stand Of New Krypton Vol. 1 & 2 and Superman War Of The Supermen.
Written by Geoff Johns, James Robinson, Greg Rucka, Sterling Gates & Eric Trautmann, drawn by a cast of hundreds.

After reading through Geoff Johns’ run on Action Comics (check out the posts here and here if you’re interested) it only made sense to move right into the epic that it spawned called New Krypton. As you can see from the above image, this is a pretty hefty undertaking. I’ve got 13 of the 15 books that encompass the entire thing, I didn’t realize there were two Supergirl volumes I was missing, but I was already three or four books deep by that point and just decided to move forward. I’m not going to go through and write about each individual book because that would take forever and there’s a lot I’ve forgotten. Still, I really enjoyed this story and wanted to talk about it a bit.

Johns’ run ended with the first real look at Brainiac whose ship has a bunch of bottle cities inside, including a Kryptonian one (Kandor mashed up with Argo City). They got that city out and re-enlarged it in the Arctic which of course caused a fair share of trouble because not all Kryptonians are as good as Superman. Eventually, after several run-ins with Earthers, Krypton becomes its own planet in an opposite orbit of Earth. To be with his people, Superman actually leaves Earth but asks Mon-El to stay behind and keep Metropolis safe. At the same time Earth outlaws Kryptonians but that doesn’t stop Nightwing (Chris Kent from Johns’ Last Son arc) and Flamebird from running around trying to find some Kryptonian sleeper agents who are hiding out on Earth.

In addition to all that Supergirl’s dealing with her mother who seems a little crazy, but the real drama running through the entire thing is between General Sam Lane who supposedly died way back during Our Worlds At War and General Zod, neither of whom trust their alien counterparts and have taken measures to keep the other in check and destroy them if need be. As much as the story is about showing how truly GOOD Superman is by comparing him to all of these other far more flawed characters around him, it’s also an intergalactic chess match between Lane and Zod as their machinations play out in subtle and overt ways. I really enjoy how both of those elements play out over this gigantic storyline.

And it is gigantic, you guys, but that’s what I love about it. Just think about how weird of a story this is. Superman leaves Earth and finds himself surrounded by other Kryptonians making him far less special (theoretically) in an all new title called Superman New Krypton. Meanwhile, Mon-El, Nightwing and Flamebird took over Superman and Action Comics respectively. At the same time, the usual cast of characters — Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Lana Land, Perry White, Ma Kent — get to do some new things now that Superman is gone. Jimmy runs around trying to figure out a mystery, Lois actually does the same, but she’s doing it without her Superman safety net. And, hey, SPOILER WARNING, the entire thing ends with nearly an entire planet getting murdered by Lex Luthor and Gen. Lane. I remember sitting at the lunch table at Wizard reading these comics and trying to figure out how this story was going to end with my pals. The general consensus was that they would just send the planet off into space or the Phantom Zone or something. There was a little talk about what actually happened, but none of us thought they’d actually do that because it would be too intense. Nope. Boom. Gone. I was pretty surprised by the ending and how often can you say that about a Big Two epic like this.

I did a little research before diving into this reading experience and came up with a fairly good reading order, but it needed some tweaking, so I’ll lay it down here for others to check out and so I can have a reference point next time I give it a read through. The first seven volumes are pretty solid and can be read thusly.

New Krypton Vol. 1
New Krypron Vol. 2
Supergirl: Who Is Superwoman?
New Krypron Vol. 3
Mon-El Vol. 1
Nightwing & Flamebird Vol. 1
Codename: Patriot

Here’s where it gets a little tricky though because the books intertwine a bit.

Nightwing & Flamebird Vol. 2
Mon-El Vol. 2 (stop at the last issue)
New Krypton Vol. 4
Last Stand Of New Krypton Vol. 1
Last Stand Of New Krypton Vol. 2
War Of The Supermen
Go back and read the rest of Mon-El Vol. 2

I actually read Mon-El Vol. 2 before Nightwing & Flamebird Vol. 2, but I think this way makes more sense, leads to less skipping around and Mon-El flows into the end of the series better than Nightwing & Flamebird. Anyway, I will say that, while I’m glad these books were collected they way they were, there’s a part of my brain that actually likes the idea of this story better as a series of weekly comics coming out. At the time I was just voraciously reading each issue and trying to figure out what was going to happen next in all the different stories. I’m sure I could go back, figure out the release dates and jump from book to book, but that sounds like a TON of work. I want to say there’s some material that’s uncollected, I seem to remember some back-ups that aren’t in these volumes, but might be in the Supergirl ones. Something about Captain Atom in General Lane’s weird alternate dimension. Seems crazy that something like that wouldn’t get included considering how much attention they put into these books, most of which came out in hardcover and feature intros and extra features.

As a longtime Superman fan, I love what this story says about Superman as well as the people he surrounds himself with. At the same time, it’s a sprawling, engrossing story that encompasses pretty much every genre with some huge, over-arcing elements which go through all the books. With all that going on, I felt like the characterizations were pretty consistent across the board and resulted in a story I not only enjoyed the second time around but felt equally invested in.

Kobra Trade Post: Kobra Resurrection & JSA Vs. Kobra

Kobra: Resurrected (DC)
Written by Greg Rucka, Eric Trautmann, Jack Kirby, Steve Sherman, Martin Pasko & Ivan Brandon, drawn by Joe Bennett, Jack Kirby, Mike Nasser & Julian Lopez
Collects Checkmate #23-25, Kobra #1, DC Special Series #1, Faces of Evil: Kobra #1, JLA-Z #2 & Who’s Who #12 & 13,

Back before DC decided to do a complete reboot, it looked like Kobra and the villainous cult he ran was going to become a pretty big deal in the DCU. I have no idea if this actually happened or not, but he did get a rebirth in the pages of Faces of Evil: Kobra #1 a few years back that lead into the series I’ll be reviewing next. But even before that, Greg Rucka and Eric Trautman were doing some really interesting things with Kobra in the pages of the highly underrated Checkmate. I had a whole thing written about how I would be keeping this one trade pretty much just for the Jack Kirby issue, but then I did a little looking around and discovered that this book actually collects the as-yet-uncollected issues of Rucka’s run on the series. I assumed incorrectly they were in Fall of the Wall, but that’s not the case. So, this book now has even more value for me.

For most of my reading of this collection I was thinking it was kind of a bad collection. Tricky. The kind of thing thrown together to get you to buy another book if you liked JSA Vs. Kobra or to get the crazy completists to buy another book for a pertinent issue or two, but I don’t think that’s the case anymore (or at least not to the same degree). See, the Faces of Evil one shot directly leads into JSAVK, so it would make a lot of sense for it to be in that book, but then again the Checkmate stuff leads into both. You throw in the Kirby issue and a Batman story that gets referenced later on and these to actually work as pretty solid companion pieces. Could they all have been put in one book? Sure, but that would have been a pretty thick collection for a miniseries that may or may not have lead to anything or sold well, so I guess I get it.

Content-wise, I like the stuff that leads into JSAVK and love looking at anything Kirby drew, even if the story itself is somewhat plodding and not super interesting. Even if I wasn’t familiar with the history of Kobra, the big reveal of the book is right there on the cover for everyone to see which undercuts what could have been a pretty surprising moment. The Batman/Kobra story wasn’t very interesting, so I mostly skipped it, but overall, I thought this was a pretty good character compilation book that fills in a lot of holes for some people.

JSA Vs. Kobra (DC)
Written by Eric Trautmann, drawn by Don Kramer & Neil Edwards
Collects JSA Vs. Kobra #1-6

Much of my interest in the previous book comes from how much I liked JSA Vs. Kobra both when it first came out and upon a second reading. The idea behind this series is that a new Kobra has taken over the organization and has completely changed up their MO, which puts the Justice Society off their game. At it’s heart, story is a battle of wits between the heroic genius Mister Terrific and the new Kobra. It’s actually one of the few times where alternating thought box writing moving from the one main character to the other works. Jeph Loeb did this with Superman/Batman and it came off super corny in my opinion, but here it works really well and adds another layer to the drama and tension.

I’d say that the book works very well on its own as a taut thriller, the kind of thing you could probably give to non comic readers who are fans of procedurals, thrillers or mysteries and they’d enjoy it. Sure it’s got super heroes and super villains with longstanding relationships, but that’s not much different than jumping in on a long-running detective type series. There is a good amount of history that fans can dig into though–much of which is reprinted in the above trade.

Most of all, though, it’s just a good story that you’re not quite sure how the good guys will get out of. The downside of it being a comic book, especially a miniseries of an ongoing franchise, is that veteran comic fans know that nothing bad is going to happen to the heroes. That would be reserved for a big event or the main series, but not something like this generally speaking. It cuts out some of the tension–much like Kirby’s Kobra cover–but at the end of the day, I think it’s worth a read, even if you’re one of the many people not interested in reading superhero comics about old people.