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.

Books Of Oa: Green Lantern Corps Revolt Of The Alpha Lanterns & The Weaponers

Green Lantern Corps: Revolt Of The Alpha Lanterns (DC Comics)
Written by Tony Bedard & Sterling Gates, drawn by Adrian Syaf & Nelson
Collects Green Lantern Corps #48-52, 21, 22

I actually read these two volumes of Post-Blackest Night, Brightest Day Green Lantern Corps trades at the same time I read their Green Lantern and Emerald Warriors counterparts, but kind of ran out of steam writing about GL books again. Like those books, these have a somewhat new status quo with the Honor Guard’s ranks swelling to include Kyle Rayner, John Stewart, Ganthet (now a Lantern), Stel, Soranik Natu, Boodikka and Hannu after they save the universe from Cyborg Superman…again. I really liked this trick the first time it was pulled back in one of Johns’ earliest arcs on Green Lantern and I get the recurring theme of Cyborg wanting to figure out a way to die and thus using various machines to help him get that (Manhunters earlier, the Alpha Lanterns and Stel’s robotic people here). That’s what the majority of this arc deals with, which I appreciate because it’s not like the other books and so obviously a set up for War of the Green Lanterns, but the more I think about it now, the more original I wish the story was. Bedard does a good job of working with these characters, their relationships and their quirks, but, like I said, I wish it was more on its own and blazing new trails. What I’m saying is, Cyborg Superman needs a long break (does he even exist in the New 52?).

Meanwhile, this collection also brings together the two issue arc by Sterling Gates that chronicled Boodikka, some of her past and her present as an Alpha Lantern. These aren’t the greatest stories to ever be told, but you guys know how much issues getting skipped over bothers me, so I’m glad they’re in here.

I know I sound pretty down on this book, but I like how Bedard handled the characters and Syaf’s art is growing on me. He does good, bold characters, has some solid faces but comes off a little muddy (that might be on the inker or colorist, though). I also dig this team. It might be further away from the previous GLC idea of “NYPD Blue in space,” but I have an affinity for these characters from the old days.

Green Lantern Corps: The Weaponer (DC)
Written by Tony Bedard, drawn by Tyler Kirkham
Collects Green Lantern Corps #53-57

I enjoyed this second volume a lot more than the first. Not only is the team I enjoy already established, but it deals with evolving issues like Kyle’s relationship with Soranik and her father Sinestro as well as a new villain who has the power to wield an aspect of the White Lantern in The Weaponer. See, this guy actually created Sinestro’s first yellow ring on Qward by harnessing the power of their god the Anti-Monitor. Because he was successful, Sinestro returned and essentially enslaved his fellow Qwardians to make enough yellow rings for the burgeoning Sinestro Corps. This eventually made him an outcast to his people which made him go a bit mad. There’s some Brightest Day stuff in here that I don’t really know about (including the very clumsy inclusion of Firestorm for an issue or two) but the important thing is that the Weaponer figured out how to manipulate some of the white lantern energy into all kinds of weapons.

Since he understandably hates Sinestro, the Weaponer takes Soranik captive and tells Kyle that he’ll let her go if Kyle brings Sinestro to Qward. But, Sinestro refuses. Instead he sends his corpsmen into the fray and a war erupts. This is the kind of stuff I dig if you’re going to get away from the space cop idea. Space army works just as well in my book if it’s handled well. There’s an added element here that I also found interesting as the Sinestro Corps members wind up on opposite ends of a battle with some Green Lanterns because all the Corps have a cease fire on the heels of Blackest Night. How the various characters dealt with that bit of business was fun to watch. I also appreciated the ending which I won’t ruin, but showed exactly what kind of character we’re dealing with in the Weaponer.

I really dug Kirkham’s art on this book. I don’t know how many of his comics I’ve actually read, but he’s got a really nice dynamic style that works well with the mix of constructs, muscles and drama found in these pages. Flipping through the book again, I’m hard pressed to find a panel that doesn’t look kinetic and interesting.

KEEP OR DUMP? There’s no real question here, I’ll be keeping both of these books. I’m pretty proud of my Green Lantern trade collection (I’ve got everything post-Rebirth up to but not including War Of The Green Lanterns. I think it’s a solid series that I’ll keep getting the books for, though, as always, I’m curious to see how things transfer over into the New 52. That’s something I’m completely unfamiliar with at this point, but I hear things carry over pretty well. However, if it turns out I don’t like where things go, I’ll go back and evaluate where I want to cut off my involvement with the collections. Wow, I really made that sound a lot more in depth than it is.