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Superman: World of New Krypton #11 Superman: World of New Krypton #11

Superman: World of New Krypton #11

Scheduled to arrive in stores: January 6, 2010

Cover date: March 2010

"World of New Krypton" - Part Eleven

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

Reviewed by: Ralph Silver

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Alura is in her office with Lyra, her assistant. They are discussing the recent murder of council member Mar-Li. Each is focused on a different aspect of this disturbing tragedy. Lyra emphasizes the human aspects; expressing horror at New Krypton's first homicide, and decrying the violence. Alura, as the leader of New Krypton, is focused more on logistics, as she considers initiating the formal process of selecting Mar-Li's replacement on the Council. As they talk, we see what turns out to be the crosshairs of an Archer rifle aimed at Alura from afar.

Lyra steps in front of the window just as the glass explodes into tiny pieces which fly everywhere. Lyra inadvertently takes the bullet intended for Alura, who looks on with shock and horror. We learn later that Lyra's injuries are fatal.

General El and Adam Strange are discussing the investigation of this latest shooting with members of the Science Guild. Through ballistic analysis, the location where the weapon was fired is determined conclusively. Lieutenant Nar arrives with the murder weapon, which the Military Guild has found. The weapon has been scanned, revealing genetic residue from Tam-Or, the leader of the Labor Guild. (You will recall that when General El and Adam Strange approached Tam-Or last issue for questioning about the Mar-Li murder, Tam-Or turned and fled.) Although Tam-Or is shaping up as the primary suspect (actually, the only suspect) of Alura's attempted assassination, Adam Strange seems to feel that Tam-Or is possibly being set up; and shares his thoughts with Superman.

Back at the Council chambers, General El arrives as the Council members are arguing about the murders and who caused them. The Council members express fear at being targeted. Tempers and emotions are spiraling out of control. Alura's pleas for calm go unheeded. In their discussions, Council members focus their suspicions on two groups: the Labor Guild, and the people of Earth.

As he enters the chamber, General El notifies the group that the murder weapon has been found, and that it contained genetic residue from Tam-Or. Councilor Zo demands that Tam-Or be arrested, and General El replies that the Military Guild has been unable to find Tam-Or, although orbital scanners have confirmed that Tam-Or did not leave New Krypton. These revelations cause the tension level in the room to rise. Harsh words are exchanged between Kal-El and Councilor Zo, as Zo accuses General El of shielding Tam-Or and secretly favoring the Labor Guild. When Zo makes a comment about Kal-El's mom, things get personal, and the tension level is ratcheted up further. Zo wants to send troops into the Labor Guild sector, while Alura argues that this will inflame the situation. Zo continues to hurl verbal threats at General El.

Superman and Adam Strange head towards the medical facility. As Adam questions him, Superman tries to justify the poor behavior of the Council members by saying they are frightened and believe they are being hunted. Kal-El is headed to see Tyr-Van, but must make another stop first.

Kal-El visits General Zod, to check on Zod's progress as he continues to heal from his own assassination attempt back in issue #5. They discuss the recent murders and the ongoing investigations. Zod speaks with conviction when he declares that Tam-Or is innocent. Zod says that everybody is hunting the wrong man. Kal-El replies that perhaps Tam-Or can help lead him to the real culprit.

Kal-El goes to talk to Tyr-Van, who is despondent about his girlfriend's serious illness. Tyr-Van is also quite bitter. He recounts the recent events that have caused suffering and humiliation for the Labor Guild; and somehow seems to blame Kal-El for most of it. Although this is extremely unfair and undeserved, Superman accepts the criticism.

Kal-El and Adam Strange tell Tyr-Van they suspect Tam-Or may not be guilty. This revelation seems to soften Tyr-Van's harsh mood a little. When Kal-El asks Tyr-Van to take them to Tam-Or, Tyr-Van agrees.

They arrive at a secret military installation that Kal-El is completely unaware of. The Labor Guild has built this facility, which is lead-lined and soundproofed. This explains how Tam-Or could stay hidden on a planet where everybody has x-ray vision. Kal-El receives what sounds like an urgent communication from Lieutenant Nar; but unfortunately, due to the soundproofing and shielding, her message is garbled and unintelligible.

Kal-El and Adam Strange confront Tam-Or. When asked why he fled, Tam-Or indicates that he had believed that Kal-El was going to kill him. Apparently, somebody else has been feeding bad information to Tam-Or.

Suddenly, members of the Military Guild arrive. Councilor Zo and Commander Gor have followed Kal-El because they question his loyalty. Kal-El proclaims that Tam-Or is innocent; but this statement falls on deaf ears. When Zo and Gor openly threaten Kal-El and Tam-Or, Kal-El attempts to assert his military authority as General. However, he is told that Zod has just returned to active duty, and Kal-El has been demoted. This is the message that Lieutenant Nar was trying to send him.

Archer rifles are aimed at Kal-El, Adam Strange, Tam-Or, and Tyr-Van. All four are bathed in red-sun radiation, instantly removing the Kryptonians' powers; and Gor gives the order to "FIRE!"

5Story - 5: I am amazed and delighted that this series continues to live up to the high standards that have been set by the previous issues! This comic book is so good!

This entire series plays like a gripping political drama and murder mystery. I like how tension is built by observing the often heated interactions between the main and supporting characters. I like how Kal-El continues to stand his ground and fight for justice when unscrupulous individuals repeatedly attempt to manipulate events, often in a cruel or underhanded way.

Robinson and Rucka weave a tight narrative. In a well written comic book series (or novel or movie), plot elements revealed early ultimately tie-in directly or lead logically to major plot points revealed later on. Everything is there for a reason. Such is the case here. For example, way back in issue #1, we learned about the poor treatment of the Labor Guild. We saw Superman's adverse reaction when he learned about this. This was a portent of things to come. In issue #2, Tyr-Van tells Superman that some members of the Labor Guild are clamoring for justice; and Tyr-Van expresses concern that this may lead to social unrest. By issue #3, things come to a boil. We have the Labor Guild uprising, with Alura taken hostage. Only Superman's leadership skills, judgment, and compassion avert a bloodbath. As events have continued to unfold, we come to the current situation, where the conflict between the Labor Guild and the other guilds (particularly the Military Guild) is central to everything going on. Conflicts that were under the surface at the beginning are boiling over now.

The evolution of the Labor Guild situation has paralleled the slow transformation of Tyr-Van. When we first meet Tyr-Van in issue #1, he is polite and reserved. His youth and his fast friendship with Superman made me think of him as the "Jimmy Olsen of New Krypton". Things changed drastically for Tyr-Van along the way. In the last two issues, he appears rather militant in his demand for justice for the Labor Guild, and his distrust of others, including Kal-El. What changed him? Well, he was certainly influenced by the growing unrest in the Labor Guild community, the severe illness that only afflicts Labor Guild members, and of course his falling out with Kal-El back in issue #7.

Since we learned back in issue #5 that Tyr-Van had betrayed Kal-El, I have been predicting that Tyr-Van would find a way to redeem himself. With one issue to go, I continue to make that prediction. We will see.

I have been delighted with the very natural and believable dialogue in this series; and that continues with this issue. I especially like the tense dialog between Kal-El and Zo in the Council chambers. Kal-El's comment about "pets" really got to me. When Zo then accuses Kal-El of shielding Tam-Or, and then brings Kal-El's mother into the conversation in a rather disparaging way, Kal-El bristles. You can cut the tension in the room with a knife. This is great stuff!

Another scene that stood out for me is the meeting between Kal-El and General Zod. While other members of the Military Guild are practically ready to lynch Tam-Or, Zod proclaims Tam-Or's innocence with conviction and without hesitation. I actually let out an audible gasp when I read this panel. How ironic that Zod and Adam Strange are in close agreement on this point. Zod continues to surprise me.

Zod is a very complicated guy; and his behavior is often perplexing. Looking back over this entire series, we have seen that Zod is a man of paradox; an enigma. For example, in previous issues, we have observed the following:
- Zod arrested Kal-El for treason, then argued persuasively for Kal-El to be pardoned.
- Zod is often at odds with Kal-El; yet he promoted Kal-El to General in Zod's absence.
- Despite their adversarial relationship, Zod watched with interest and apparent admiration when Kal-El chose to stay and assert his innocence rather than flee from imprisonment and a looming death sentence when charged with treason.
- Zod at times has scolded Gor for his recklessness and trigger-happy behavior; although on the surface they would appear to be natural allies.

But of course this is the same Zod who attempted to conquer Earth; the same Zod who has been secretly building an armada in preparation for war; the same Zod who has declared that New Krypton must not make war with Earth (at least not yet).

Who can figure?

I must admit, I am on the edge of my seat as I wait for issue #12. There are so many unanswered questions. Who in fact is actually responsible for the murders of Mar-Li and Lyra? How could there be a disease that affects only one of the guilds and not the others? Is somebody secretly responsible for the Labor Guild illness? If so, who? (It sounds like something only the Science Guild could achieve.) How will Superman and the others escape death by Archer rifle?

Oh, and one more question - Will all of this be wrapped up next issue? Or will some questions remain unresolved as we segue into LAST STAND OF NEW KRYPTON?

5Art - 5: Pete Woods and Ron Randall do a superlative job.

There is much to admire here. For starters, I loved the two-page spread when Alura looks on while her window explodes and her assistant Lyra is taken down. There is so much energy here, I can almost "hear" the glass shattering.

I liked the artwork in the scene in the Council chamber where Zo and Kal-El argue. Showing variations in emotion through his facial expressions is something that Pete Woods does well. Here, the pictures complement the excellent dialogue to really convey the tension in the room.

And I liked the close-up of Zod, when he declares that Tam-Or is innocent. Zod looks "wily".

3Cover Art - 3: In the Gary Frank cover, Superman and Adam Strange are back-to-back as they prepare to "rumble" with a roomful of Kryptonians; members of the Military Guild. Superman and Adam Strange appear to be having fun; although I am not sure why. Note that Superman has a black eye. I guess that is part of the "fun".

I usually favor the cover by Gary Frank. Although this is well drawn, I find the huge grins on the faces of Superman and Adam Strange, in a situation that should be very serious, rather disquieting. The large text that says "Rumble in Kandor" adds to the "jovial" atmosphere. This is definitely in contrast to the rather serious tone inside the book. I wanted to go higher, but this odd cover earns a 3 from me.

4Cover Art (Variant Edition) - 4: I like the Victor Ibanez cover. Superman, dressed in his military outfit, carries a tattered and blood-stained flag of New Krypton. Superman looks crestfallen. The very somber tone of this cover is more appropriate for the story inside.

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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