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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman #668

Superman #668

Scheduled to arrive in stores: October 10, 2007

Cover date: Early December 2007

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Penciller: Rick Leonardi
Inker: Dan Green

"The Third Kryptonian - Part One: The Hunt"

Reviewed by: Adam Dechanel

Click to enlarge

A space cruiser hovers above our planet shielded from view by its technology.

The ship's commander has his crew monitoring Kryptonian activity and he finds it...

The Man of Steel crashes into a Dominator harvesting facility in the South China Sea while doing some monitoring of his own he's come across a chemical spillage, part alien, part human. Superman makes short work of the alien crèche rescuing a number of human prisoners. He then launches the disabled Dominator spacecraft into the depths of space until interstellar authorities can rescue and punish them. An unexpected victory but a victory nonetheless - still it leaves Clark dissatisfied.

Clicking on his bluetooth mike he notifies Batman that it turned out to be a dead end.

Batman tells his friend that though it wasn't the third Kryptonian - it was still the defeat of a deadly menace. Superman though can't be comforted, his ineptitude to find a fellow survivor after week upon week of searching has left him frustrated.

He recalls an encounter almost a year ago, not long after the return of his powers when he was introduced to the Auctioneer, essentially a galactic Ebay seller who had come to earth searching for 'goods' he could turn a profit on. During his browse he lets slip to Superman that there are three Kryptonians residing on Earth, news which shocks them both.

Superman theorized he and Kara were accounted for, he tested Power Girl but she was pre-crisis and did not count according to biological scans. The Kryptonian devil (Superman #666) didn't count either and Krypto was on a quest in space and though alive and Kryptonian he didn't count either as Superman was sure Auctioneer meant New Earth humanoid Kryptonians.

Chris, Zod, Ursa, Non and the countless other Kryptonian survivors trapped in the Phantom Zone were on another physical plane so they didn't count either... who could it be?

Superman had to know. What if they were hurt, lost, alone, or a deadly threat like Zod - they had to find him or her and fast. It was such a huge undertaking, after dealing with the likes of Arion, Prankster, and of course the deadly threats of Redemption, Khyber and Khyrana, Clark just couldn't handle the quest on his own. Bruce came on board and the duo began scanning Earth for suspicious alien activity.

With Batman's help they had discovered thirteen unknown alien presences. Five inert bio-artifacts, seven threats and even an alien barman, good to know but not what Clark was looking for and then something else interrupts his quest...


Chris Kent is sneakily enjoying his newfound superpowers, soaring through the sky yelling out in joy with all his might. This makes him easy to find even with telescopic vision and he's quickly busted by Clark.

Chris tells him that he knows he ought to be fitting in but he found hiding his natural gifts made him clumsy, stupid and unpopular. Empathising, Clark tells his foster son he also had the same problem but had used the Kansas fields as a playground to develop his skills. Giving up when faced with a challenge is not the way.

He zips away at super speed to buy a surprise for Chris, discovering that 'Lexmart' has been sold off to the 'Now' corporation. Lana must be in big financial trouble but she will have to wait; family before friends.

Clark decides he and Lois can't hope to deal with Chris like Martha and Jonathan did with him or how Linda and Wally deal with the twins; he needs an expert in childcare - Batman. Who else!

Clark leads Chris to Gotham City and shows him how, using super speed, he can enter the under-city caves unseen and undetected. As they dash into the Batcave, alarms blaring, Batman and Robin await their arrival.

Batman notes that he had absentmindedly forgotten to recalibrate the cave biometric sensors for Chris. Robin stares wide-eyed. Superman... has... a... kid? Chris however is unimpressed. He coyly comments that Lois had forbid he meet the Batman till he was sixteen!

Clark grins, Chris was brought up in the Phantom Zone by two of the most evil people in existence, it's a miracle he isn't evil too, he doesn't look at things the same way we do, Batman isn't as scary as the Zone!

Batman doesn't take too kindly to the jokey atmosphere and icily cuts the atmosphere with his deepest most gravel voice.

Chills rush through Chris as soon as Bruce utters a sentence and Superman steps in noting the niceties are over. He tells Bruce that he's known for some time that since the kryptonite ring was destroyed that ways to counter him had been part of Batman's long term mission.

Batman whispers to Robin they are to boost the cave security with harmonic lead-lining and then turns to Clark and asks why he should share his research on how to immobilize him. Clark plays on their friendship and Bruce relents, showing all he knows.

He shocks Clark with a discovery: the yellow sun supercharges his cells instantly but exposure to red sun radiation counteracts this 'switch' just like electricity in a lightbulb. It doesn't do anything but temporarily cut the circuit.

Clark doesn't mull over the time he had hidden away for a year 'powerless' and all the loss of life he could have prevented during 52 and WWIII for a second instead he asks Bruce if he could adapt a Captain Carrot watch to emit a red sun aura and they quickly go to work.

Robin and Chris are bored watching the two adults and bond as 'foster cousins'. Chris asks Robin about super powers and Robin reveals he doesn't need them. He easily out manoeuvres Chris using skill alone. Robin teaches him that being human isn't so bad and for an hour they spend time spinning, flipping, jumping and cart wheeling. The two enjoy themselves until the grown ups interrupt. Superman presents the watch to Chris and explains when activated he will be a normal child.

Trying it on Chris finds it hard to be like us, feeling drained and lethargic. Clark explains until he can learn to subdue his powers it's a good training device and will give him an opportunity to live like us. It's clear that he is feeling very down and Robin steps in. He asks Chris for a rematch now they are on equal ground as human and Chris cheerfully agrees.

Superman comments that Bruce has raised Robin well. Batman makes no mention of the mess with Conner and deflects that Clark is a good role model. He leads Clark to the Bat Computer and shows he's been constantly monitoring news feed for alien activity, unfortunately he just can't pinpoint if it is actually Kryptonian behaviour or not.

An alert catches Superman's attention. A collapsing bridge that cannot wait.

Chis takes off the watch and asks if he can join in the mission. Superman agrees only if Chris stays out of sight and out of flight lanes.

Superman and Superkid to the rescue!

All this is Hallmark card happy and lovely, Robin even comments on how 'neat' Chris is however Batman is far from sure. He looks over and his hours and hours of research and manufacturing sits discarded on the cave floor.

Chris left behind the watch... on purpose perhaps?

Onto Virginia and the falling bridge.

Chris conceals himself in cloud cover and Superman races to catch falling cars before they hit the water below. Chris thinks fast and Clark is impressed with the ingenuity, precision and skill to rescue the cars he couldn't. Perhaps he didn't really need the watch... just guidance... Clark offers praise but is quietly glad he and Lois had forced a spectacles clad secret identity on Chris.

Their act of super heroism doesn't go entirely unnoticed. The space ship in orbit has been watching the entire time. They discover their enemy has a son and it makes their plan even more fruitful. One of the crew asks why they haven't struck already decimating their enemy and the commander reveals he paid the Auctioneer a huge fee when the transmission that Superman was on Earth was broadcast.

Yes they were after a Kryptonian, but since they arrived they discovered the planet has a large quantity of them. A man, a boy, a dog, the escapee prisoners, a girl and a mysterious addition.

They decide to monitor Kara and discover her talking to herself in mid air.

The Titans don't need her around, her friends are too busy in school and nobody needs her help. Feeling like a third wheel she reminisces of her days in Kandor and how she left it behind after the Ultra Man/Saturn Queen debacle (curiously it was not a Kryptonian city when she was there - but now it is...)

The mere mention of Kandor enrages the commander.

Krypton is practically here!

If Superman can find this last survivor then revenge on Krypton will be complete.

Krypton and all its children will finally be slayed!

Superman and Chris are still in Virginia when Batman calls them about something the Bat Computer picks up.

Teenagers along Route 101 have been going on a rampage. Exhibiting an erray of superhuman powers. But as quickly as they became Supermen they all collapsed, comatose. On the surface the authorities were at a loss, but toxicology reports revealed they had inhaled some kind of alien compound through smoking.

Superman asks Batman to elaborate further and Bruce promptly reveals the chemical structure. Superman is still at a loss until Batman reveals Superman's long underwear is made of the same substance down to a molecular level.

Superman is astounded to the lengths Batman has studied him and asks if it's definitely Kryptonian. Bruce informs him it could be but they'd have to act quickly. The teens were all comatose and the authorities would be letting the paper trail go cold. If they act quickly they may find the source of the Kryptonian doobies and in turn the third Kryptonian.

While they reel from the revelation that their quest may be at an end, we see the end of the aforementioned trail... a three tier house with a large field next to it... tended to by a stranger by the name of...

K. Wells...

4Story - 4: Hey and welcome to my return to the in continuity books.

Good luck Nick and hope you'll return soon.

I must admit something fresh is good and the revelatory elements that have been a year in the making finally give me the buzz I had been waiting for since January.

The fact that there are actually a great deal of survivors on Earth, in the Zone and on Kandor I can overlook; as long as Miss Wells' story continues at this pace and is handled well. The over reliance on Batman lately in the Super books is worrying but having Robin bond with Chris and seeing the boy develop is great. Maybe more Robin and less Bats? Especially as he's closely associated with Conner and Kara.

The book as a whole is a welcome change from the 321 Action/Camelot Falls arcs - indeed I was happily informed on page two that Camelot Falls will be on permanent hiatus till Annual #13. Seriously though this is a storyline that could have been stretched out to a maxi arc and far more enjoyable to follow than Khyber and Khyrana's introduction. I wont spoil the identity of the third for those that haven't figured it out but I am curious to her role as a suspected drug dealer and hope it isn't the case. This also seemed like it was ripped from the 'Slappers' episode in Batman Beyond (forgot what it's called) the one where venom from Bane is being harvested into nicorette style patches.

Seeing Chris actually go beyond monosyllabic was great and his deviousness at leaving behind the watch (or perhaps it was excitement) shows he is more than meets the eye.

The introduction of the red sun radiation 'power switch' is an innovative one that can work well if it's written in well. It will certainly help Clark be Clark and give him far more control over his human self now he can actually BE human. It's a nod to Clark being the man and the suit being Superman and I can see it being utilised well as it is for Diana Prince.

The three things that I knock off a point are:

Too much Batman. There is nothing he did that Superman couldn't have alone - with the Fortress or as a reporter. Surely his computer in the Fortress could monitor news feeds as it has in the past? Isn't Clark an award-winning reporter? Surely a chat with MPD/SCU or listening to the police band would have alerted him to the teens and the alien compound? I get a kick out of Batman meeting up with Supes but being reliant on Bruce is not a good thing. And what of his wife... remember her? Lois Lane is her name I think but I think she's joined the Birds of Prey - she's had more exposure there than in her own husband's book...

Continuity. There are more than three Kryptonians and no I won't list them but I will be watching the comments boards for all those who can!

Kryptonian Doobies - need I say more?

5Art - 5: Holy cow this is good stuff.

To the point, accentuated gently by the colorist and not over-inking. Rick Leonardi can turn out some of the most beautiful art when the inker gets it just right and Dan Green deserves applause. It's composed with such ease and perspective it's almost good enough to eat. Great job!

4Cover Art - 4: Renato Guedes can do no wrong.

Superman looks awesome. Absolutely.

Batman (I do like him honest! Just in small doses) bashing aside - he looks fat, old and too colorful here so he's half the loss of the point. The other half is the Dominator. He looks great, very evil and bloodthirsty and just like the fact they appear in only two panels he seems squished in just for the sake of covering a blank background.

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Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2007

February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007

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