I started off rereading the Nightwing & Flamebird vol. 1, largely written by Greg Rucka, thinking it was one of the better New Krypton books. It had a strong story start, quickly establishing the identities of the mysterious heroes (which has been kept a mystery in the other concurrent books I’d read) and giving them a sense of a mission on earth. We got a clear picture of General Zod and Ursa’s involvement, and the whole thing really came across as a decent follow-up to Last Son, which is one of the books that really set this whole story arc into motion.
Then I read the second chapter in the book, and from there everything just went downhill. For me, a big part of the frustration is just how gruesome and unpleasant it all is. Ursa fights Flamebird and ends up sadistically gashing her over and over again with a Kryptonite knife, leading to some pretty gross artwork. But you can kind of deal with that, as the heroine does survive (thanks to Dr. Light making another semi-abitrary cameo). What’s worse is when we are introduced to two of General Zod’s sleeper agents who have decided to ignore whatever their mission is and just go on a rampage of crime and violence. First, they kill someone in cold blood, then they kill a bunch of police officers, then they kill another person in cold blood (at least this is suggested), and then they kill another bunch of police officers, all while laughing about it. Why? Because they’re eeeeevil, and it’s so gosh-darn important that we know this, feel this experience this. All these events basically happen one right after another, taking about half an issue of story content (albeit spread over what was originally two issues). What’s the point of all this? Because this makes the comic “mature”? Because it’s what makes it exciting? Readable? Because that’s what real crazy Kryptonian villains would do, and I want my superhero comics to be real! Ugh. Obviously not. It makes me feel a bit ill. I just can’t believe I read all this before and then forgot about it. I will be doing my best to do that again.
Incidentally, this “character development” doesn’t really go anywhere. These two fight, fly around, fight some more, and then get captured by someone who works for General Lane – I don’t even know who or how. That person wanders in the story like I’m supposed to know her, but I don’t. I’m sure that all these people will show up again in future volumes, but I’ve been so put off by what I read here that I don’t feel very optimistic about enjoying it.
The book isn’t helped by the fact that it is headlined by the characters we have the least connection with of all of the New Krypton stars. Thara Ak-Var has only been appearing since this storyline began, while Chris Kent was likeable in Last Son, and still is here, but he’s also been subjected to a rapid aging plot device so the writers can make the Nightwing – Flamebird story into a tragic romance. Which is, you know, kind of annoying, but I guess not a big deal in the scheme of things.
The book ends with a big “origin” story that shows how Chris Kent was rescued from the Phantom Zone and how the Flamebird and Nightwing entities picked these two for their avatars, and so on. It was pretty much the most tedious thing in this New Krypton saga since that Jimmy Olsen story that kicked off the whole thing, getting bogged down with Kryptonian mythology and losing my interest in the characters or the story.
So overall, not a personal highlight for me in this process.
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