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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman: War of the Supermen #1 Superman: War of the Supermen #1

Superman: War of the Supermen #1

Scheduled to arrive in stores: May 5, 2010

Cover date: July 2010

"Part One: The Battle For New Krypton"

Writer: Sterling Gates and James Robinson
Penciller: Jamal Igle
Inker: Jon Sibal
Standard Cover Art: Eddy Barrows
Variant Cover Art: Aaron Lopresti

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey with Adam Dechanel, Barry Freiman, and Ralph Silver

Click to enlarge

Zod gloats over his released forces, telling Superman there's no hope. Superman insists there's hope, and tries to escape, fighting Zod and his crew.

Kara comes upon Reactron being tortured by Alura, and sides against her mother. Reactron gloats about how he was always meant to be caught, and begins to detonate. Alura shoves Supergirl into a containment vessel just in time for Reactron to explode, destroying New Krypton.

Jimmy and Lois bring Guardian, Nightwing, Flamebird, Steel, and Conner up to speed on what's been happening with General Lane. Superwoman hears, and smiles.

Superman and Supergirl cry over the lost planet. Supergirl takes up the battle standard and flees.

The New Kryptonian armada approaches Earth as Zod spurs them on.

Neal Bailey's Review:

2Story - 2: As an opening salvo in a series, this is disjointed, lacking cohesion, and somewhat abrupt given the pace of all that has come before, much like the Last Stand series. It feels rushed, to a degree. Major storylines are being slaughtered wholesale, and things are culminating rather rapidly.

There's a lot of Deus Ex to explain away nagging plot threads. On the one hand, I feel aghast at the loss of New Krypton for Superman (and the crying scenes were the best in the book), but on the other hand, we're supposed to believe that Lane had a weapon that could blow up the planet, and he waited this long? What is this weapon, where did it come from, why does it kill everyone, and for that matter, on a world with ten thousand Kryptonians with super-hearing, we're supposed to believe no one heard the shockwave coming and bolted away at superspeed?

For that matter, the idea that any of these people could NOT escape this explosion is beyond me.

I am also strangely baffled as to why a group of people who can, quite literally, fly into the Earth at full speed, bore to its core en masse, and destroy it from within, instead choose to jump into ships and fly slowly to Earth, giving it time to recuperate and/or prepare.

Beyond that even, there's the question of why an entire nation of people would suddenly turn on a world because of one man's desperate actions. That'd be like, if, in response to 9/11, we blew up every nation but our own, because obviously, a human was responsible, so hey! All humans must die! After such a workup of the nuances and character of the Kryptonian people that WONK provided, this is like a literal, childish slap in the face.

There are some true, genuine moments, though. Most of them have to do with Supergirl, or the very real grief that Superman and Supergirl share. The scenes with Zod were hammy, the scene at the end equally so, and the scene with Lois and the crew of characters felt like it had already been done, even though I know it hadn't. The whole revelation that Lane is evil seems a rather ancillary thing to focus on in the story, at least to me, when so much is going on.

3Art - 3: There's some stuff that works well, and some stuff that really clunks. The scene with Superman and Zod fighting, and the opening scene in general, seemed very wooden and forced. The scenes touring the disaster, however, were infused with a lot of humanity and inspired empathy. A mixed bag, in that respect, but the story was told, and in a comprehendible way, and that's average for me.

2Cover Art - 2: Decent enough looking fight, I suppose, but it depicts something that doesn't happen in the issue and now physically can't happen in the story. It's better suited for the previous series. It doesn't help that everyone on the cover looks like they're trying to eliminate waste and/or pop a hernia. That much teeth gritting, I'm surprised this thing doesn't have a label on it that says "This cover officially endorsed by the Rob Liefeld school of dentistry!"

2Cover Art (Variant Cover) - 2: There's nothing graphically wrong with the poses, aside from the fact that they depict a guy who dies in the story up and about. There's nothing much happening here, really, and if it were a page in the issue, it would not enthrall me, much less as a cover here. I'm just wondering what this is supposed to emphasize or draw us into. Zod, being dramatic? Superman, being worried? Reactron, doing something he doesn't do in the issue? It's not crap, it's just kind of irrelevant to what the book has in it.

Adam Dechanel's Review:

2Story - 2: A thinly veiled attempt to hide the fact this is a repackaged rebranded issue of Supergirl. Lets not pretend it's anything else.

Finally - FINALLY Alura Zor-El is dead and thankfully takes out that annoying and below par villain Reactron with her. I'm assuming we were supposed to mourn Alura's 180 degree personality change at the last minute the problem is since Superman #650 we've been made to hate every fiber of her being. She was a dismissive aunt to Clark, a manipulative cow to Kara, a cold hearted surrogate mother to Thara, a racist dictator to her people, and stupid enough to allow Zod to control her every move (even when he was in a coma)... I suppose we'll have a long, drawn out "My last words to my mom were of hate - she died never knowing I loved her" from Kara, but after this I'm hoping Sterling & Jamal will be able to steal her back from this DiDidio/Johns/Idelson crash and move her forward.

Elsewhen New Krypton blew up as a result, along with all residents of the planet and all their guilds... except for Kal & Kara who float in space though the silence is emotive and would carry more weight had the team not decided to go with rules from Superman Returns where Kryptonians seem to be suddenly immune from an ENTIRE planet's worth of Kryptonite radiation... Also let's look at the scene were Alura locks Kara out of the chamber she is enjoy sado masochistic tendencies in - Kara becomes powerless for thirty seconds from the Gold Kryptonite and can't break through glass to get to her mother but Alura retains her powers and welds the door shut. Let's examine that again for a second - she still has her powers - Kara doesn't - the planet blows up - Alura dies (powered up) Kara lives (minus powers).

So who was asleep at the wheel here? Recently there was a pass-the-buck moment when an editor said - other books don't follow the Superman mythos to the letter so fluctuations with powers and levels of immunity to kryptonite happen and that's that.

Well IN the SUPERMAN BOOKS you'd think they'd be able to be constant - last week we had a kryptonite blade slash Clark deep in the chest yet Ursa LICKED the same blade unharmed...

Elsewhere Lois and her trusty Blackberry to the DCU manage to gather Steel fresh out of his cameo a few months back, (anyone notice Steel has been doing nothing before it - or since in the Superbooks?) Superboy, (now without his LOSH teammates abandoning them on Brainy's ship) Flamebird & Nightwing, Captain Boring -- I mean The Guardian, ever faithful and underused Krypto. Jimmy & Lois reveal the entire 2006 - 2010 wafer thin plot to this rag tag band of misfits while none notice directly above them is Lucy/Superwoman. I have to cry foul here... Lois has proven with every issue that she can call ANYONE in the entire DCU to arms with her trusty pda and of all the DCU these are the people she's called... ...ok...

Also they are discussing a multi level monumental government cover up that has been a clandestine operation in the making for several years - so where do they all choose to discuss it - bearing in mind at least five of them are enemies of the state/planet. The Batcave? The Watchtower? No of course not - they do it in an alleyway... floating about, in costume, in public...

In case you weren't sure if this was a cheesefest there is a montage thrown in (insert Team America's Montage song here) of events that happen in the SAME issue... Last week I applauded the pace change of the whole New Krypton debacle - perhaps if this was all a 6-12 issue mini series I would be enjoying it more but it's all a little too little, far too late... especially as it seems the quickening in pace has left this story line open to a mess of continuity and character errors.

Oh yeah, Superman has a blink and you'll miss it cameo in here somewhere...

4Art - 4: Jamal Igle continues to deliver the high standard of art we've grown to enjoy in Supergirl. I liked his rendition of New Krypton going bye bye and that panel of Kara racing through space with New Krypton's flag looked very cool. The only enjoyable part of the book.

3Cover Art - 3: "Smell my armpit Zod!" I'm sure its supposed to be really dramatic and action packed but it doesn't happen inside the book and the super contorting Clark makes me frown a little as to whether he's waiting to pound Zod or recommend his deodorant. FYI the glowing eye thing is very old.

Barry Freiman's Review:

5Story - 5: This story finally has some ba**s.

4Art - 4: The destruction of New Krypton is a beautifully gruesome thing. The artist could have succumbed to the pressure to be obvious and depict radiating dissolving Kryptonians into corpses a la the death of Roy Harper's daughter or Elongated Man's wife to name a few. Instead death in Superman's universe is represented by the permeating emerald glow.

4Cover Art - 4: Enraged or tickled pink? You decide. The Superman family versus Zod, Non, and Ursa. I can even forgive Krypto's absence and the questionable skin tint because the cover is so kick-a**.

Ralph Silver's Review:

5Story - 5: This was a very powerful issue. The big surprise, the destruction of New Krypton, had a rather huge emotional impact. Essentially, Krypton explodes again! This left me with a strong sense of deja-vu.

Most readers of course felt certain that New Krypton was not destined to stay there on the other side of the sun. We just did not know how it would be resolved. We got our answer sooner than I expected.

There were some plot details that were hinted at, but not explicitly stated. I did not mind this; because I enjoy putting the pieces of the puzzle together.

So here are some assumptions I made as I was reading and interpreting this story:

- Lex Luthor (or perhaps another Luthor robot) used a boom tube to sneak in and back out of New Krypton. (It is revealed that the Federal government has boom tube teleportation technology.)

- Luthor planted several very powerful explosive devices at various locations in Kandor, set to detonate simultaneously. He merely planted the detonator on Reactron.

- Luthor re-armed Reactron with a new chunk of gold kryptonite to replace the piece that was destroyed by Flamebird in Supergirl #46. This was designed to prevent anybody from destroying the detonator at the last minute.

- Luthor also laced the bombs with gold kryptonite, causing the resulting genocide. The gold kryptonite radiation was dispersed along with the shock wave emanating from the explosion. As you know, gold kryptonite removes a Kryptonian's powers for 15 seconds, which is more than enough time for the bomb to have fatal consequences to everybody in its path.

- The Radiation Deck is so durable that it is even able to protect Supergirl during the massive explosion.

This last bullet is the hardest one for me to swallow. I would think that an explosion powerful enough to destroy the planet would reduce that Radiation Deck to shreds. But I guess not. It must be a pretty sturdy room, as evidenced by the fact that powerful Supergirl struggled to get out after her mom sealed her inside. And without gold kryptonite exposure, Supergirl could survive the explosion.

By the way, gold kryptonite is never mentioned by the authors. I just made this assumption based on the images, and because gold kryptonite is Reactron's trademark. Somebody else might come up with a different explanation.

We can assume that everybody on the planet (except Kara) died in the explosion. That means Kara is now an orphan, like her cousin. In their scene together, I believe that Supergirl shows Superman a swatch of cloth from Alura's outfit, to confirm that her mom is dead. This scene was very powerful.

I am curious to know what percentage of the population survived the explosion. There were originally 100,000 inhabitants of New Krypton. But I would guess that there are only a few thousand in Zod's army. So that may be the approximate number of survivors.

I was watching to see if Robinson and Gates made the huge error of having the Kryptonians talk in the vacuum of space. But I was pleased that they never committed this major gaffe. I thought those silent scenes in space were quite effective.

5Art - 5: Igle's artwork sizzles.

Pardon the pun, but I was completely blown away by the two-page splash showing the destruction of New Krypton.

2Cover Art - 2: Covers that try to do too much often fail to impress me. Here we have three match-ups crowded together on this cluttered cover; Superman and Zod, Supergirl and Ursa, Superboy and Non. And this does not even happen in the story.

As I look at this cover, my eye wanders all over the place. A good cover usually has a focal point, which draws the reader in for greater impact.

The orange color is kind of cool, though.

4Cover Art (Variant Edition) - 4: Now this is more like it!

We see the raw emotion on the faces of Superman (shock and disbelief) and Zod (anger and determination). And Reactron, who plays a major role in the story, has earned a spot on the cover here.

This is a clean and compelling image, compared to the muddy, cluttered image on the main cover.

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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