Scheduled to arrive in stores: February 26, 2020
Cover date: April 2020
“The Kandor Compromise: Part One”
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Penciller: Nick Derington
Inker: Nick Derington
Cover: Nick Derington
Variant Cover: Andy Kubert
Reviewed by: Keith Samra
We open with General Zod standing in the ruins of the arctic Fortress of Solitude, as he thinks back to the city of Kandor of old, before it was shrunk and bottled by Brainiac. Zod deliberates on Superman’s in-action to helping the citizens of Kandor, and then letting it fall into the hands of Rogol Zar. He flies off with the broken remnants of Kandor clutched in his hands.
We later catch up with Superman and Batman as they visit the gravesite of Clay Ramsay/Kryptonite Man on Stryker’s Island. While there, they’re attacked by an armoured ninja/assassin. Batman recognises the fighting style, and deduces that it’s none-other than Ras Al Ghul.
Ras explains that he came looking for the corpse of Kryptonite Man, so that he could harness what Kryptonite he could from him. When asked why he needed Kryptonite so bad, he explains that he was paid a visit by General Zod, who demanded access to his Lazarus Pit, in order to resurrect the dead citizens of Kandor.
They travel to The Lost Temple of Quetzalcoatl, which houses one of Ras’ Lazarus Pits. Ras explains that it would be an easy target for Zod, as he is a trained General, and would seek out the impossible, when it comes to secret locations that house valuable/important assets to complete his mission.
When they all enter the temple, they discover that Ras’ acolytes in charge of guarding the Pit have all been taken out, though not killed. They find Zod by the Pit, as he explains that he has already done what they feared, and managed to resurrect the Kandorians. He laughs as they arise from the Pit, and swarm toward them.
To be continued…
Story – 5: I said it once, and I’ll keep saying it, this book is the best Superman comic on the market right now. Sure he shares it with Batman, but these are the best Superman stories I’ve read since Jurgens and Tomasi left the Superman titles.
Yet again we have another enjoyable issue, full of action and intrigue. Ras Al Ghul is my favourite Batman villain, so anytime I get to read a story about him, I’m happy. What makes this even better is the fact that Williamson writes Ras so well. He perfectly captures all the best aspects of the character, and has managed to tap into the essence of what makes him such a great character to begin with. I loved the fact that Ras was the one essentially on a grave digging mission, in order to find the one weapon that his invulnerable opponent is prone to. The dialogue from Batman that he was prepared to take on Superman with his synthetic Kryptonite blade, but wasn’t expecting him just gave you the feeling that this could have been an episode of the animated series. Ras’ cockiness, telling Batman that he isn’t the only one with “toys” made me laugh out loud, as they travelled to his South American Temple/Lazarus Pit. The fact that he called it the “Demon Wing” was also a nice little rib on Batman. And let me add, we get a globetrotting tale, which takes us back to the Batman comics of the Bronze Age, another of my favorite Batman eras, as many of the stories were rich and fun, with serious dark undertones. It’s a good departure from the “Bat-God” characterization of Batman, where he can do no wrong.
It never occurred to me until this issue, that when it comes to adversaries, Ras Al Ghul is the equivalent to Batman, as General Zod is to Superman, in terms of hierarchy in their respective rogues galleries. Though Ras has always been a bit more fleshed out as a villain since his debut back in the 70s, the recent “humanization” of Zod, in terms of his motives in the last decade have made him, if not more sympathetic, then at least more understandable in his motivations.
It’s as though our main protagonists have taken a back seat in this issue to their antagonists, Williamson managed to craft a tale that was serving to both sides of the coin equally. When you look at it, each of the four characters is not wrong in their motives in what they want.
Zod is right to feel let down by Kal-El, and wanting to rectify the tragedy of the murder of Kandor by Rogol Zar.
Ras Al Ghul is right in wanting to prevent Zod from using his Lazarus Pits, knowing that the resurrection process can drive those that go through it mad, also having so many Kryprtonians flying around would upset the balance of nature, with so much extra power in the world.
Superman is also right to want to stop Zod from trying to resurrect the fallen Kandorians, knowing the madness they will experience during the resurrection process as well as Zod playing God essentially.
Batman is right in wanting to prevent anyone/everyone from using any source, such as the Lazarus Pits, as it is a crime against creation and nature. And no man should have such power at his disposal, good or evil.
There are so many ways to look into this, and I feel this plotline/arc is one that could spark great discussion amongst fans, and that’s what makes a great story. So again, hats off to Williamson for writing one of the best Superman and also Batman related titles on the market today. Please DC give this man a chance to write a solo Superman book one day soon.
I literally cannot wait for the next issue. I really wish that we could go back to the twice a month format that Rebirth utilized when it was first introduced. A month wait feels too long.
Art – 5: Of course I was a little disappointed that David Marquez hadn’t drawn this issue, and most likely wouldn’t be doing this arc at all, but that is not to take away from Nick Derington’s wonderful rendition of the World’s Finest in this issue.
Derington has a style that is reminiscent of Frank Quitely and Dereck Robertson. It has a very indie vibe to it, and that is not a bad thing at all, it feels like a fresh look departing from the regular. His characters all featured fantastic expressions in their body language and especially their faces. This helped a lot with the depth of many scenes in the book. Ras ferocity during the fight scenes as well as the anger that someone would dare cross him and try and use one of his Lazarus pits was a highlight for me. As I stated, I love the character a lot, and I loved seeing him emote so much on the page. At times there was a very animated feel to the art, which I enjoyed immensely.
Our opening pages with Zod, I found rather powerful also, there was a great sense of wonder and excitement, as Zod remembered Kandor of old, which turned to regret, dread and gloom, as we see the fall of Kandor in this current continuity.
The only thing that I really disliked about the art in this issue was the montage of adventures that Superman and Batman have, as Superman narrates his thoughts on life as a hero. The images in question are the clearly Silver Age inspired shots. Now there is nothing wrong with these panels whatsoever, and I applaud Derington’s use of a six panel grid for the page, I just feel that in the last two decades, there has been far too many call backs to the Silver Age, and that it borderlines comedy at this stage. The panel where there is Bizarro in a lab coat, as Batman is stuck in some goo, and Superman tries to free him, totally disregards the current continuity where Bizarro was a member of Redhood’s Outlaws, and looked totally different to how he is presented here. Also the one with the giant gorillas… Well, nuff said. Nit-picks aside, this was a great issue in both writing and art, and it left , me wanting more, which is a sign of a great comic, highly recommended.
Cover Art – 4: The main cover is good, it conveys the storyline of the issue quite well. I like the pseudo Phantom Zone to the guys being trapped in the bottle city. Has a very Frank Quitely look to it, and a very Silver-Bronze age vibe.
Variant Cover Art – 4: I love this cover by Andy Kubert, because I love Andy’s art. The only reason I didn’t give it a perfect score, as I feel there is too much going on. There is a train in the background, and lasers firing toward Superman and Batman, while Superman is firing his heat vision off panel.
Check out the Mild Mannered Reviews contents page.