A while ago, I decided to give the Superman mega-story, New Krypton, a real go. And then more recently, 15 trade paperbacks later (plus 2 prologues), I have finally completed it. So it’s been quite an investment. Worth it? Eh…it’s hard to say. It’s not terrible by any means, though I can see it might have been a bit much to read it as it came out – and maybe it tries to deal with a few too many threads to really hold together as a solid story, but it’s interesting to see DC undertake such an ambitious arc. So now I’m going to give it a quick re-read, starting with New Krypton vol. 1.
When I first read it, I was coming into this whole story pretty cold. I had heard bits about it, but not read anything. I had read a key prequel, Superman: Brainiac, so I was ready to see the story move forward with Superman dealing with the loss of his foster father and the abrupt gain of a whole city-full of his people.
Unfortunately, the book opens with a sizable story focusing on Jimmy Olsen (in which Superman scarcely appears), and a related story featuring the Guardian. These take up nearly half the page count, and are a bit boring. They seem to have three main story purposes: to develop a government plot against Kryptonians in general and Superman in particular, to set up a new status quo for the Guardian, and to introduce a villain that one assumes will be important later on called “Codename: Assassin” (guess what he does).
“Assassin” (as I guess he is actually called, though they do at times use the more cumbersome epithet) is the most annoying of these as he is built up a lot by getting to dismissively kill off a number of older supporting characters, such as Dubbilex and the original Newsboy Legion, which irked me as a fan. He also gets to retro-actively gun down the original Guardian, which is particularly annoying since the hero is just standing there, fully aware of what is happening, and carrying his shield.
This story (really, they are treated as one) is all right on its own merits, I suppose, but not what I was looking for in an introductory trade called New Krypton.
After that, the remaining pages get down to the New Krypton story itself, including the funeral of Jonathan Kent and the repercussions of that loss for Clark & Martha, Superman’s attempts to integrate the cultures of Krypton and earth together, Supergirl being reunited with her family, and the continued implications of the government conspiracy. Superman comes across as a bit naive about the whole thing, especially in a scene where he casually dismisses the concerns of the JLA and JSA . The story has a wide scope, potentially epic, with lots of business going on. Lex Luthor is involved, Braniac is still around, Lois Lane’s family plays a key role, there are portentous references to General Zod, a new Nightwing & Flamebird make their brief and mysterious debut, and even Doomsday (a greater victim of villain decay than any other I can think of) makes a token appearance. So, the tapestry is broad, but the details are shaky, which is almost inevitable when you remember that this story was published in four concurrent series, not counting one shots and specials.
Overall, the New Krypton story is fine without being exemplary in any way. The characterization and pacing by James Robinson, Geoff Johns and Sterling Gates is a bit bumpy, sometimes engaging me strongly and sometimes striking me as silly and under-written. The art is all fine as well although there’s a bit of a mixture of styles going on (including from artists Pete Woods, Gary Frank, and Renato Guedes). And because of that Jimmy Olsen thing at the beginning, we feel like we’re only just getting started with the proper story when you get to the end of the book.
So you can give this a go if you like Superman and you want a taste of his last major pre-Nu52 epic, but you’ll need to be ready for the long haul if you do.
Superman: New Krypton Index
Last Son • Brainiac • New Krypton vol. 1 • New Krypton vol. 2 • Mon-El • Supergirl: Who is Superwoman? • Nightwing and Flamebird vol. 1 • New Krypton vol. 3 • Codename: Patriot • Supergirl: Friends and Fugitives • Nightwing and Flamebird vol. 2 • Supergirl: Death and the Family • Mon-El – Man of Valor • New Krypton vol. 4 • Last Stand of New Krypton vol. 1 • Last Stand of New Krypton vol. 2 • War of the Supermen