Exclusive DC Preview: Superman #681
Superman: New Krypton Special100,000 Kryptonians now call earth home. So what does that mean? Superman has a problem. In an attempt to keep a handle on DC’s New Krypton storyline, we’ve started an occasional feature, “The New Krypton Times” to recap, update, and interview the creators of the storyline as the 10 part story unwinds in the DC Universe’s Superman titles. First off, where are we? Part 5 of the storyline hits this week in Action Comics #871, and clearly (from the preview at least) brings Luthor fully into the storyline – as Brainiac’s newest pal. But how did he get there? Let’s take an overview of parts one through three: Part One: Superman: New Krypton Special: It all begins with Pa Kent’s funeral…and Superman having a fantasy of killing Brainiac for being responsible for his father’s death. Speaking of Brainiac, he’s currently being held by the US government, overseen by a mystery General and Codename: Assassin. “Who?” you say? Writer James Robinson brought Codename: Assassin back in Superman’s Pal: Jimmy Olsen, which served to set up the cub reporter on a parallel storyline that involved Project Cadmus, the Guardian, Dubbilex and other remnants of Jack Kirby’s work with the character in the 1970s. More on that to come. As for Brainiac, while it may have looked like he died in Action Comics #870 (his head chimneys did go out, after all), he’s still alive, and being kept in a semi-conscious state, but even in that, he’s still dangerous. Visiting Kandor, now returned to full size in the Arctic (no, they’re not bothered by the cold, and since they are in the Arctic and the sun is shining, it must be Northern Hemisphere summer…although technically, during that period, the high Arctic still receives a fraction of the sunlight that the rest of the earth does…which could be important in regards to fueling up individuals powered by a yellow sun), Superman meets with the leaders of the city, Zor and Alura, who also happen to be Supergirl’s parents (explained over here). The two pull out the foreshadowing card in regards to troops that were loyal to Zod that are still in the city (roughly 600) as well as "fitting in" on earth. The awkward conversation drifts off as Supergirl arrives for a touching mother/father and daughter reunion. Power-wise, the Kandorians are seeing the same powers develop as Superman, including flight and strength. But they don’t “get” earth, and bad things are sure to happen - something that is brought home when a citizen brings a blue whale (either misidentified in the text, or the art, as it looks distinctly like a humpback) to Superman, saying it tried to eat him (er…), so he killed it (yes, we’re betting the Kandorian lied, and killed it either for sport, or accidentally by lifting it up to see what it was). Kandorians have a lot to learn. Along with that, the Special showed that the Krytonians are headed out, eager to experience all that earth has to offer. Be afraid, be very afraid. Why? As we like to point out, all that "Superman was raised by Ma and Pa Kent" stuff aside. we don't really know what Kryptonian culture was like. Readers have only seen snapshots of points in time, mostly selected by Superman's father, Jor-el. Who knows? Maybe their favorite show was some analogue to Running Man, and they had a Logan's Run type view of old folks. Other developments in the Special - the mystery General Codename: Assassin was talking to? General Sam Lane, Lois’ father (thought to be dead). He recruits Luthor (currently in jail) to help stop the “Kryptonian Invasion.” Also, Jimmy tells Lois about Warpath, a city on the Mexican border (as seen in the Superman’s Pal: Jimmy Olsen), and Lucy Lane, Lois’ sister, has joined the military and is, we’re assuming, on track to meet up with her now-alive dad, and join forces with him From there, things went to: Superman #681 Part Two: Superman #681 A reaction issue, by and large, to the Kryptonians arriving on earth. We see the media trying to cover it, and hear that Superman is bringing a Kryptonian delegation to Metropolis to meet with the President. Also in this issue, it turns out that the government isn’t the only organization worried about a whole passel of “supermen” flying around earth. Superman is confronted by Wonder Woman, Alan Scott, Mr. Terrific, Hawkgirl and John Stewart. Mr. Terrific brings the point home – 27 Kryptonians almost destroyed Metropolis not too long ago (that would be in the “Last Son” arc of Action Comics) – and the Justice League and Justice Society are understandably concerned about what 100,000 could do. In a charming show of naiveté that must have had the others rolling their eyes as he flew off (after all, they live in the DCU and know how things always turn out), Superman says that the 100,000 super-powered beings will behave and will cause no problems. Over in Kandor, Supergirl reunites with her childhood friend Thara Ak-Var, who is now Chief of Security for Kandor. Does she look shifty to you? Yeah – she looks shifty.
After having re-introduced him to the Superman books, Robinson brings back Krypto again in this issue, showing the dog paying a visit to the still in-mourning Ma Kent with his big puppy dog eyes.Oh – re-introduction time part two – Agent Liberty makes his return in this issue as well. Who is he? Allow us to repeat ourselves: Agent Liberty was a product of the early ‘90s Superman line. A former CIA operative, Ben Lockwood agreed to become the costumed Agent Liberty and work with the Sons of Liberty group. Sons went bad, Lockwood left, did some heroing for a while, and gave it up. Johns has a soft spot for him, and brought him back to active duty in the pages of Infinite Crisis. “Actually, this was James’ idea so I have to give credit to him,” said Johns, “James has really given him a wonderful voice.” In a nice nod to bringing some of the strings of DC continuity a little closer together, Agent Liberty, in talking with Lois Lane, refers to Amazons Attack, when the massed Amazonian army attacked Washington, D.C. Liberty’s mention clearly underscores the government’s mistrust of a lot of powerful people gathered together - and also places him in the minority, that is, people even wanting to remember Amazons Attack. Speaking of that, this issue closes with the Kryptonian delegation meeting with the President in Metropolis. And of course, it’s not a party until someone brings him, Doomsday (yes, the big guy who killed Superman – and is also from Krypton in a roundabout way) crashes down in the midst of it all. In all the reaction shots, we see Thara and Agent Liberty not reacting. Something is up there. From there, things go to Action Comics #871 for a continuation of the action (Part 5), but technically, there’s a side road for Part Four… Adventure Comics Special Featuring the Guardian Part Four: Adventure Comics Special Featuring the Guardian Put Doomsday’s appearance on pause for a minute or four - this gets dense. Adventure picks up threads from Jimmy Olsen, which followed up on threads from Robinson’s initial arc on Superman, which saw Superman fighting Atlas (who was under the control of some mysterious governmental organization that we’ve since learned about, oh, and the whole fight was being watched by Codename: Assassin). Got that? Good, because you’ll need it. Adventure contains two stories, and plays a little fast and loose with time. Jumping back to that last paragraph, the entire issue takes place between the closing pages of Superman’s Pal: Jimmy Olsen, and the two stories in Adventure take place some months earlier, while the issue's close puts us back in the present. Got that? Wipe the blood from your nose, and let’s keep going. The issue, as the title suggests, features The Guardian, Jim Harper. No, not the Jim Harper Guardian as created by Jack Kirby, but a Jim Harper Guardian. As Jimmy learned back in his own Special, Harper’s DNA takes well (one might say uncannily well, if one were looking for a lawsuit) to cloning, allowing copies of him to be made over and over again by Cadmus through the years. And just to keep that look of a dog who’s heard a high pitched noise on your face, no, this isn’t The Manhattan Guardian from Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers. This Jim Harper was alive, awake and growing in a tube when the older Jim Harper, as The Guardian, found the stash of clones and was killed in front of him by Codename: Assassin. “Born” and given the Guardian designation shortly thereafter, Harper was haunted by the “memories” that were already in his head – those of the older Harper, who he’s come to call his father. Suspecting that Cadmus was up to shenanigans, Harper investigated the Salem Cadmus facility to find out that his suspicions were well based in fact – he found a virtual clone farm holding of all things (a “WTF?” nod to Geoff Johns Legion of Super-Heroes plans, undoubtedly) Tellus, the telepathic/telekinetic fish-like Legionnaire. Tellus was still wearing his Legion flight ring, and told Harper not to worry – the Science Police will come for him. That kind of suggest that Tellus has no idea when he is. Later, with some psychotherapy, Harper finally remembered seeing his “father” killed in front of him, which led him to continue his covert investigation of Cadmus. That led him to investigate the facility in the Twin Cities (Keystone and Central City, presumably) in which he found another clone farm, featuring splices of himself and Paul Kirk (the original Manunhunter, with whom Robinson has played with previously dating back to 1993’s The Golden Age miniseries. Two words – buy it). Kirk too, took to cloning especially well. Horrified and disgusted by what he saw in the facility, Harper lit it on fire, killing all of the clones in their various stages of development. Well – all but one – a young girl whom he took and now is raising as his daughter, Gwendoline. Whew – long story short: While Adventure went a long way in fleshing out a portion of the DCU that will play a role in what Robinson’s doing in Superman, what did it do for New Krypton? Two things: 1) Harper confirmed for Jimmy that there was a government movement afoot to kill Superman, therefore what he saw during the Atlas fight was only the tip of the iceberg, and 2) the end of the issue shows Harper and his daughter driving into Metropolis, which places them on stage for the remainder of the storyline. Oh, and there are dozens of tiny flying Kryptonians to be seen in the sky above the city. We’ll be back after Action Comics #871.
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