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Cover date: November 2009
"World of New Krypton" - Part Seven
Writer: James Robinson and Greg Rucka
Penciller: Pete Woods
Inker: Pete Woods
Reviewed by: Ralph Silver
On New Krypton, Commander Gor is calling for war with the planet Earth. He argues that the weapon that was fired at Zod was apparently from Earth. Gor's words cause spirited discussion on the Kryptonian ruling council. Several members refute Gor's angry rhetoric, and point out that the shooter was Kryptonian, not Terran. Superman arrives, and lands in the middle of this discussion. Superman of course argues passionately for peace. He warns that such a war could lead to genocide, either for New Krypton or Earth. He also points out that even if some on Earth have been acting against New Krypton, it is unfair to punish all for the actions of a few. The Council continues to argue the pros and cons. Concern is expressed that there are spies and saboteurs undercover on New Krypton. There is some squabbling between the different guilds represented on the Council.
General Zod, although extremely weakened from the assassination attempt, arrives to join the spirited conversation; and specifically to make two key points. (1) He promotes Commander El to the temporary rank of General and Commander of the Armies of Krypton; pending the return of Zod after his convalescence. (2) Zod declares that New Krypton must not make war with Earth (at least not yet). Zod passes out and is returned to stasis before he can explain his "not yet" comment.
Over a week has passed, and we see the emblem of the House of El flying over the headquarters of the Military Guild. This is not Kal-El's idea. Rather, it is a Kryptonian tradition for the General who leads the Military Guild to be honored in this way. Since Kal-El is still in charge, we know that Zod's recovery is proceeding slowly.
Lieutenant Nar, Commander Gor, and others leave on an important mission in space. The leaders of New Krypton have determined that their young planet needs a moon. Since creating a moon from scratch is not feasible, the Kryptonians are planning a very ambitious and tricky maneuver; to capture one of Jupiter's moons, transport it, and place it in orbit around New Krypton. Councilor Qin of the Science Guild has done the math himself, and confirmed that gravitational consequences of this maneuver for the surrounding bodies in our solar system will be negligible.
The mission to relocate a moon of Jupiter has a name: Operation Callisto.
General El has summoned Tyr-Van, his friend from the Labor Guild. Tyr-Van was Kal-El's first friend (other than family) when he initially arrived on New Krypton. Kal-El reveals that he knows that Tyr-Van has been a spy for Zod since the beginning (as shown in issue #5). Kal-El explains how he was able to figure this out; and expresses that he feels betrayed by this revelation. Kal-El breaks off the friendship, and requests that Tyr-Van not see him anymore. This is an emotional moment for both of them.
Suddenly, General El is told that Operation Callisto has hit a major snag. The Kryptonians have been attacked while carrying out the mission. Details are sketchy because the enemy is jamming communications. But it appears that the size of the attacking force is quite large and intimidating, that there have likely been casualties, and that Commander Gor was injured in an explosion.
General El gives the command for several military units to leave immediately on a rescue mission. Kal-El joins them as they head out into space. All members wear oxygen masks to allow them to breathe while in the vacuum of space; but as Kryptonians, they need no other protection from extreme temperatures and other conditions as they travel through the solar system towards Mars, the vicinity of the ambush.
Without warning, General El and his soldiers come upon the scene of the attack, and immediately find themselves in the thick of battle. We learn that the attackers are Thanagarian. Superman mops up a few Thanagarians while reconvening with Lieutenant Nar.
She tells Superman that the Thanagarian attack disrupted the guidance system for transporting Callisto; and as a result, the Jovian moon is out of control and hurtling directly towards New Krypton.
Story - 5: I read the story several times while composing this review; and found myself enjoying it a little more each time through.
As with every entry in this series, there are important questions to ask yourself, if you take the time for some analysis as you go along. It is fun to find the clues to the answers; which are often there and can be found if you look carefully.
A major question, for example, is why Zod selects Kal-El, not Gor, as his successor during his medical recovery. I gave this a lot of thought as I was reading.
Gor makes a power grab initially, declaring that he is now in charge of the military. In calling for war with Earth, Gor again shows himself to be arrogant, aggressive, and bloodthirsty. It is very fortunate for New Krypton and for Earth that Zod arrives to appoint Kal-El, not Gor, as the new General and Commander of the New Krypton armies.
When Zod shows up and makes his surprise announcement that Kal-El is in charge, his motivation seems to be revealed in the following key sentence. "The military guild's primary duty... is to defend the lives of New Krypton; something, I fear, that only a handful of us truly understand". His comments seem to cast aspersions on Gor, whose hotheadedness makes him a poor choice to lead New Krypton's army. This key sentence gives some insight into Zod's thought processes.
Zod may have had little or no regard for Kal-El when he initially arrived from Earth. But Zod's appraisal of Kal-El seemed to take a drastic upturn in issue #5. As you recall, Zod sprang a "trap" for Kal-El by covertly providing the means for Kal-el to flee his imprisonment during his trial and impending death sentence. Kal-El bravely stayed behind to face his judgment, ignoring the opportunity to flee. Zod seemed to gain great respect for Kal-El at this point. And it has not escaped Zod's notice that Commander El has consistently carried out his military assignments with great skill. For example, when Kal-El was forced into a duel with Gor (in issue #3), Kal-El's performance was so dominating and overpowering that he really mopped the floor with Gor. Because of Zod's regard for military tactics and prowess, this is also the kind of feat that would of course earn great respect from the general.
Meanwhile, at times Zod has shown disdain for Gor's lack of sound military judgment. Gor's unauthorized assassination attempt on Tam-Or, the leader of the Labor Guild uprising, in issue #3, drew an angry rebuke from Zod. This is but one example; as Gor has shown himself to be ruthless and to lack good judgment, over and over. It seems that Zod does not have a short memory; and despite his many other faults, is a keen judge of character, as anyone in his position would have to be.
I liked the scene between Kal-El and Tyr-Van. I thought the dialogue was very logical and believable in this scene. Kal-El really does not like that Tyr-Van uses his membership in the Labor Guild as an excuse for why he behaved so poorly and declined to stand up to General Zod. Superman has been championing the rights of the Labor Guild members all along; and expects those members to do likewise, rather than hide behind their "victim status".
I really like when the authors make a point to revisit and tie up loose ends in the story. It makes for a more logical narrative. It was a bombshell in issue #5 when we learned that Tyr-Van was really a spy. So it is good to revisit that here and show the consequences. It is logical that Superman would figure out Tyr-Van's role as Zod's spy, using the reasoning that he expressed. It makes sense that Superman would feel betrayed by Tyr-Van's actions, since he trusted him all along.
Here is another thing I wondered about in this story. It is in regard to the battle scene in space. We know that Thanagarians, although strong and tough, are no match for Kryptonians in hand-to-hand combat. Not even close! I must therefore conclude that it is their use of advanced Thanagarian science and weaponry, along with their sheer numerical advantage, that allow the Thanagarians to be even somewhat effective against the Kryptonians in battle. While this is suggested by the pictures, no details are given. Too bad this was never explained.
And I wondered about the audacity of the New Kryptonians to attempt to move one of Jupiter's moons out of that "neighborhood" and into orbit around New Krypton. This is no routine task, like rearranging the furniture in your living room. This is "rearranging the solar system"! I would think that this maneuver likely would not go undetected by astronomers on Earth. And I would think it would cause quite a bit of concern on Earth, especially since the anti-Krypton hysteria on Earth is already at fever pitch.
On a subtle note, I could not help but notice Alura's smug crack when she compared the Council members to "squabbling Labor Guild agitators". This continued expression of prejudice shows that she has not learned her lesson on this topic. This unenlightened view of the hardworking Labor Guild members is unattractive, and may make problems for Alura later.
What does Zod mean by "not yet"?!
Overall, this was another enjoyable installment. Robinson and Rucka continue to weave a tight and interesting narrative. I cannot wait for the next issue!
Art - 5: Anybody who has been reading my WONK reviews all along knows that I am a Pete Woods fan. He puts a lot of care in his drawings; and it shows in the level of detail in his backgrounds and in the amount of emotion he is able to convey when drawing faces.
Certain details add richness, like the ongoing use of giant holographic images showing the faces of the Council members during their deliberations; or the 3-D schematic hologram of the weapon fired at Zod, shown during those same deliberations.
I like the splash page where Superman returns from Earth to the Council chambers carrying the body of Ral-Dar. Superman's expression is very serious and somber as he listens to Gor talk of war and tries to persuade the Council to choose a different path.
Cover Art - 5: In a jarring bit of role reversal, we see General El standing in a position of battle-readiness with Ursa and Non at his side, his weapon drawn and ready. The troops are before him in battle formation. The caption "Kneel before Kal-El!" made me laugh out loud. Gary Frank's drawing style is crisp, clean, and evocative. Great cover!
Cover Art (Variant Edition) - 3: We see Superman flying over Kandor. As with several of the variant covers, this cover by Bryan Talbot is completely generic, and has nothing to do with the specific details of this story inside. This cover could have been used on any issue of this series. This may not be the artists fault; it may be precisely the instructions he was given. I do not know.
But it is the Gary Frank cover that I am drawn to. This variant cover is pleasant, but does not grab me in either direction, up or down. So I must go middle-of-the-road, and give it a 3.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2009.