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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton #1 Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton #1

Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton #1

Scheduled to arrive in stores: March 10, 2010

Cover date: May 2010

Part One: "Invaded"

Writer: James Robinson and Sterling Gates
Artist: Pete Woods

Reviewed by: Ralph Silver

Click to enlarge

As Brainiac's warship flies overhead, we see shock and fear on the faces of Kandorians as they look up in the sky. As we were reminded in World of New Krypton #12, the Kryptonians can be somewhat paranoid; and this paranoia is a leftover symptom from the traumatic memory of Brainiac's attack on old Krypton years ago.

Zod ruminates about that first Brainiac attack, and how the knowledge from that defeat will make him more prepared this time around. He also acknowledges that their yellow-sun-induced powers will make the Kandorians much more formidable than last time. Zod vows to lead his people to victory over Brainiac.

The Kandorians' initial shock turns to determination, as we see citizens rise up and use their powers against Brainiac's robotic "probes".

Commander El takes time out to rescue Lan-Drom, a young teenage boy who is under attack from several of the probe bots. A couple of his Red Shard team members are there to help out.

Zod gives orders for the Red Shard to stay away from Brainiac's ship, so as not to interfere with Zod's plan. Kal-El, watching from a distance using his telescopic vision, is horrified to see Zod giving the order to arm his Global Defense Canons; horrified because so many soldiers in the vicinity will likely be killed if that WMD is fired.

Well Zod does fire the weapon without hesitation, looking very self-satisfied. But when the smoke clears, the soldiers have become the victims of collateral damage, but Brainiac's ship does not even have a scratch.

Zod's reckless behavior sets Kal-El into a bit of a rage. Without hesitation, Kal-El flies to Zod and unleashes a verbal assault, scolding Zod for his recklessness and murderous actions. Kal-El holds nothing back. Zod chides Commander El for his "insubordinate" remarks. But Kal-El, still furious, resigns his military post; tossing his military insignia on the ground. Then, in a dramatic moment, we see him rip off his military uniform in defiance, to reveal a familiar outfit underneath. Gone for good is Commander El, replaced by the hero we know and love, Superman.

As Superman resumes this battle with the Brainiac bots, we shift scenes and see Supergirl engaged in similar activity. Supergirl bravely takes on several of the probe bots single-handedly in order to protect her mother.

Superman explains to Nar his plan to get past the force field on Brainiac's ship, using a technique based on his knowledge from past encounters with Brainiac's technology. Alura speaks to Zod in an attempt to get military protection for the members of the Council that are still alive. Supergirl, wondering why her battle with the bots is not easier, discovers that the probe bots are using red sunlight in battle to weaken the Kryptonians.

Help arrives for Supergirl in the nick of time, in the form of Superboy (Conner Kent), Mon-El, and the Legion of Super-Heroes. But when Zod show's up, he sends Kara off to help elsewhere, and Mon-El tags along. With them out of the way, Zod orders the arrest of Superboy and the Legionnaires, calling them "maniacs".

Meanwhile, Superman has breached Brainiac's ship and is inside doing considerable damage until he gets slowed down by a burst of kryptonite radiation. Superman looks up and gets a very unpleasant surprise in the form of Brainiac standing alongside Lex Luthor, who is holding the smoking kryptonite weapon.

5Story - 5: This is a great story that begins where World of New Krypton left off, yet serves to dramatically change the tone of the ongoing narrative. Where WONK was essentially a political drama, LSONK plays more like an action film. Where WONK was understated and nuanced, LSONK is fast-paced and energetic. We are watching the first salvos in a war against a hated and deadly enemy. The tension level is very high.

And the extreme tension level due to Brainiac's attack causes everybody to show their true colors. It brings out the best in Superman and Supergirl, and the worst in Zod. We see Superman acting in ways that are heroic, compassionate, and very resourceful; attacking Brainiac's ship single-handedly and without hesitation, where other super-powered Kryptonians are unable or unwilling to go. Superman, stopping amid all the chaos to save a young teenage boy is also very much in character. Supergirl shows leadership skills and courage, as she protects her mother in battle and acts with authority and a commanding presence to rally others to fight alongside her. She has really grown up and earned the right to wear that insignia on her chest. Zod shows us again how arrogant and ruthless he can be, putting others in harms way when he fires his Global Defense Canons; sacrificing the lives of his soldiers for no good reason at all.

Zod also feels entitled to speak to Alura with extreme disrespect. "What does the Council want with me now?" "You must make sure the Council stays completely out of my way." This is not how you should speak to the leader of your government.

I liked the scene where Kal-El confronts Zod and tells him off. Kal-El has had a year playing second banana as Zod's subordinate; and that can get pretty tiresome after a while. So here, in this crisis, after Zod's latest display of reckless arrogance, Kal-El decides he has had enough, and really gives Zod the verbal lashing that he richly deserves.

And I loved the dramatic scene where Kal-El abandons his military role, rips off his now-obsolete Commander El uniform, and decides to enter the fray as Superman. This is a defining moment, as Superman decides he needs to be who he really is in this crisis; demonstrating that he will no longer play a role that causes him to appear subservient to General Zod.

I loved the arrival of Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes. Although we kind of knew this was coming, it had dramatic impact nevertheless.

What I did NOT see coming was the appearance of Lex Luthor on the final splash page. He and Brainiac are very dangerous when teamed together.

Another surprise was Zod's reaction to a very reasonable request from Chameleon Boy to slow down the attack on Brainiac's ship until the Legion can rescue the bottled cities held within. Zod's response was to call the Legion members "maniacs", and have them arrested on the spot. As I said, "true colors".

This was a very exciting issue. I am looking forward to what comes next, as the story moves to Supergirl #51 next week.

5Art - 5: Pete Woods' artwork really sizzles in this issue. Some of my favorite panels were the opening splash showing Brainiac's warship in orbit over New Krypton, the final splash showing Brainiac and Lex teaming up, and the splash in between where Kal-El rips open his military suit and reveals his Superman costume underneath. These were all well-drawn images that had dramatic impact. I also liked the use of digital techniques (I presume) to show holographic images that represent advanced computer technology; on display when Zod is speaking to Ursa in his office.

5Cover Art - 5: Much like the story inside, the cover by Andy Kubert just explodes with energy, action, and tension. Superman is tangled up in the tentacles from Brainiac's ship as he lashes out with a blast of heat vision. Superman, for the moment, really has his hands full! Great cover!

4Cover Art (Variant Edition) - 4: The variant cover by Marcos Marz is also well done. This cover captures the split second before Zod and Superman strike the first blow against Brainiac's ship. As such, the action is implicit rather than explicit. I like this cover, but the Kubert cover has more energy, and is definitely my favorite.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2010

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