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Superman: World of New Krypton #10 Superman: World of New Krypton #10

Superman: World of New Krypton #10

Scheduled to arrive in stores: December 2, 2009

Cover date: February 2010

"World of New Krypton" - Part Ten

Writer: James Robinson and Greg Rucka
Artists: Pete Woods and Ron Randall

Reviewed by: Ralph Silver

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As we begin, council member Mar-Li is lying dead on the floor in his own home while the military bursts in only to find Adam Strange standing over the dead body. Commander Gor has already decided that the intruder is guilty, and is ready to kill him on the spot, when General El orders him to hold on. When Gor protests, wants immediate revenge, and demands justification for restraint, General El reminds Gor that he is obliged to follow orders from his superior officer. No further justification is needed.

Adam Strange proclaims his innocence, which gets one of the soldiers very agitated. The soldier, Lancepe-Sade Vol, gets further irritated when the intruder calls General El by his Earth name, Superman. But General El orders Vol to stand down before he can do bodily harm to Adam. General El orders the military to leave, so that they do not tamper with evidence and taint the crime scene. General El asks Lieutenant Nar to secure the room and get the Science Guild busy scanning for clues to the murder.

General El takes Adam to speak directly to the Council. Adam explains that traveling by Zeta beam is not an exact science. Since Adam cannot control the exact location of his arrival, it was random bad luck that caused him to arrive in the wrong place at the wrong time, making him appear guilty of the murder. When the Council asks his reason for teleporting to New Krypton in the first place, Adam explains that he is there to protest the accord that the Council reached with the Thanagarians. The Rannians have recently been on the losing end in a war with the Thanagarians; and Adam questions the judgment of the Council in reaching this accord.

General El advocates on behalf of his friend, asking the Council to free Adam on the condition that Adam assist in solving the murder mystery. In making this appeal, he refers to Adam's reputation as a "solver of problems". The Council gives its consent.

As the two of them head out, Adam seems rather ungrateful that Superman went to bat for him. Superman earned Adam's freedom, but Adam resents that there were conditions attached, and would prefer to leave immediately for New Rann, his home. But Superman needs Adam's help in solving the crime, and Adam reluctantly agrees to help him.

Superman and Adam Strange make the rounds; heading first to the crime scene, and then to the morgue, to check in with the Science Guild and learn the interim results of their investigation. The inspection of the corpse has yielded some evidence that the murder weapon is a tool used by the Labor Guild to fire red sun energy bursts to help prune and control the thick vegetation of New Krypton.

This leads Superman and Adam to confront the Labor Guild members at work. Kal-El is looking to find and speak to Tam-Or, the unofficial spokesman of the Labor Guild. But General El and Adam get a very chilly reception. Tyr-Van is very verbal about their unhappiness with lack of Labor Guild representation on the Council. As he expresses this, other Labor Guild members shout out their concurrence.

In the meantime, we learn that Labor Guild members are contracting a mysterious illness. General El looks to get medical help for Sura, a young laborer who has been stricken with the disease. We learn that she is a close friend, or perhaps the girlfriend, of Tyr-Van.

Superman's kind gesture does not seem to be appreciated; because in the next instant, things get ugly. When Adam spots Tam-Or, General El attempts to pursue him, but the Labor Guild members assault and restrain him. The military members arrive just in time to watch their general receive a punch to the face. Tempers flare, and it appears that a full-scale riot is imminent. General El takes command of the situation. He directs the Red Shard to pull back. He then uses a combination of persuasive rhetoric and an effective retaliatory strike against his attacker to deter the members of the Labor Guild. Meanwhile, as Adam pursues Tam-Or, he calls out to him, suggesting that perhaps Tam-Or is being framed, and that he wants to help. But Tam-Or does not stick around to hear the details.

Lieutenant Nar initiates the use of orbital scanners to continue the search for Tam-Or. In the meantime, Superman and Adam Strange debate whether Tam-Or fled because he is guilty, or just because he was scared. They consider whether the attack was directed personally at Mar-Li, or whether it was a politically motivated attack against the Council. If so, then instead of calling this a murder, it might be more accurate to label it an assassination.

5Story - 5: As we rapidly close in on our final issue #12, I find the WONK series to be consistently engrossing, thoughtful, and entertaining. Let me be blunt. This series rocks!

I love the way Rucka and Robinson focus extensively on characterization. Commander Gor is again portrayed as rather blood-thirsty. In the first scene, when the military discovers Adam Strange standing over the murder victim, Gor's immediate, knee-jerk reaction is to look at the intruder and shout "Kill him!" This is certainly the Gor that we know! Fortunately, General El is there to keep Gor in check. When Gor continues to be openly rebellious and disrespectful, I really liked that General El is very direct in reminding Gor that when your General gives an order, it is your duty to obey, not question.

I was fascinated by the characterization of Adam Strange. We all know that Adam has a reputation for superior intellect. What I was not aware of is how impatient and disdainful he can be when dealing with others who are not as intelligent as he is. When soldier Lancepe-Sade Vol says to Adam "Silence, murderer! He is General El"; Adam replies rather derisively "Thanks. Now I know how to silently address him. Idiot." I laughed at this. Adam has pointed out the other man's faulty logic. In the same breath, the soldier has essentially told Adam not to talk; but also to call Superman by a different name. Adam has no patience for this, and expresses his disdain rather freely.

When that soldier makes another blunder shortly thereafter, Adam calls him a buffoon. Personally, I think that Adam is being recklessly outspoken, considering that he is dealing with people who are way more powerful than he is. I would think it would be pretty intimidating when your opponent can set you aflame with just a stare. If it were me in Adam's shoes, I would be very polite.

Adam is even a bit irreverent in his dealings with Superman. After Kal-El goes to bat for Adam at the Council meeting, Adam does not seem appreciative. He seems irritated that his freedom comes with conditions. Or so he says. I suppose that the two old friends are just having some fun with each other. Still, when Superman makes it clear that he needs Adam's help, Adam Strange whines that he would prefer to go home to his wife and daughter. Considering how often Superman is there to help other heroes in need in the DCU, I think he deserves better than this. Shame on you Adam. But of course, Superman takes it all in stride.

I thought the dialog was excellent throughout. To give one example, when Adam Strange is rattling off Superman's vision powers, and he says "X-ray vision, microscopic vision, heat vision, I don't know what all else... ice cream vision?" This quip made me laugh; but it also seemed like very natural dialog to me. Adam obviously thinks Superman has every possible vision power imaginable; and was being deliberately cute to make that point.

In the scene where Superman is appealing for Adam's help in solving the mystery, he says "I'm not Bruce or Ralph. I really need your help on this one." And just so nobody has any illusions, the "Ralph" he is referring to is not me :-) Bruce is of course Batman, the "World's Greatest Detective". And Ralph is of course Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man; another highly skilled detective and a former Justice League buddy of the Man of Steel.

The scene with the Labor Guild seemed quite poignant. How unfair and ironic that the Labor Guild members attack Superman when he is the one who has championed their cause from the beginning. When a riot seems imminent, once again Superman shows both superior fighting skills and great leadership abilities in quelling the disturbance and keeping a lid on things.

I was surprised by the behavior of Tyr-Van. He was rather reserved in his manner and moderate in his views when we first met him; but he is now very passionate and outspoken, almost militant in his pleas for fairness for the Labor Guild. Something has changed him; and it may have been his falling out with Kal-El.

Ever since Tyr-Van betrayed Superman by spying on him, as revealed in issue #5, I have been predicting and also hoping that Tyr-Van would find a way to redeem himself. With two issues to go, we will see if that happens.

As I was writing this review, it occurred to me that World of New Krypton would make an excellent movie! What do you think? When you have a planet full of 100,000 people, each one about as powerful as Superman; and when this planet is so close to Earth, the constant sense of menace would, I think, make for a very suspenseful movie.

5Art - 5: The artwork of Pete Woods and Ron Randall shines once again. There is a cinematic quality to this series; and I think the visuals certainly contribute to that.

I liked the opening splash page. With Adam standing over the murder victim, and the military bursting into the room, the shot is just filled with energy and tension. Gor's body language reveals an eagerness to get his hands on the intruder and strangle him. This "kill first, ask questions later" approach is just what we have come to expect from Gor. Superman's body language is much less threatening. He appears truly bewildered and shocked to find his old friend in the room. And Adam looks very startled, as if his Zeta beam just landed him here a second ago, and he is quickly trying to process all that is happening.

I must admit that when I first opened to pages 2 and 3, I initially found it a little tricky to determine what order to read the panels across the two-page spread. It just was not immediately obvious to me. But upon further inspection, the answer was quite clear. I would verbalize it in the following two rules:

(1) If the top panel reads across the two-page spread, then read everything left to right across the two-page spread.

(2) As a qualifying rule to #1, when two horizontal panels on one page match up vertically with a single panel on the opposing page, then read the horizontal panels together, top to bottom.

If you look at pages 2 and 3, and keep the above two rules in mind, the layout does make more sense, at least to me.

The artists have several two-page spreads in this book that work in a similar fashion. Once I formulated the above two rules, I had no more problems. At this point, I started to enjoy these layouts; and hope to see more of them.

4Cover Art - 4: Usually I prefer covers that have a bit of tension or energy. I don't really see a lot of that here. I just see two old friends, flying along together in a rather relaxed fashion. I do see a bit of emotion on Superman's face, as he appears to be quite intent as they carry out their investigation. It is a good image of the two main characters, with lots of Kryptonian crystal in the background. The image is clean and pleasant; but not really eye-catching. I am ambivalent. I go with a 4.

3Cover Art (Variant Edition) - 3: The variant cover by Dustin Nguyen is interesting. I see a theme with recent variant covers. The theme seems to be landmarks from old Krypton, reminiscent of the silver age. Last issue, we had a wonderful image of Superman hovering over the fire falls. I really loved that cover! And here, we seem to have Superman standing in Krypton's scarlet jungle. At least that is my interpretation. I love the bright colors and imaginative backgrounds. But Superman in the foreground looks a little funny; not really like himself. That holds this cover back, so I am giving it a 3.

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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