Action Comics #872DC’s “New Krypton” storyline hit part 7 this week in Action Comics #872, and if you thought things got bad last time? They got even worse for Superman in this issue.
First off- for those needing a full-on catch-up:
New Krypton Times, 3“Jump cut” was the name of the game this issue, as Geoff Johns and Pete Woods jumped from scene to scene and location to location with a frenetic intensity that would be quick even for a Tarantino movie, but here, clearly gives you the feeling that things are happening very fast – in a “spinning out of control” fast. A “Superman has no hope of controlling any of this” fast, if you will.
So what shook out in part 7?
Superman is on the case of the murdered Science Police officers who were killed by Kryptoninans acting under Alura (Supergirl’s mother)’s instructions to pick up those who represent a threat to Superman and put them into the Phantom Zone. The lines of division are deep between Alura and Superman, with Alura pointing towards self-preservation as the justification for the actions of Kryptonians on earth. Those that seek to harm Kryptonians (retroactively including Superman) cannot be allowed to continue on their ways.
Defelcting Superman’s requests for information, Alura takes Superman on board Brainiac’s ship, which the Kandorians took shortly after it crash-landed back in Action Comics #870. As Alura points out to Superman, the “city gallery” held by Brainiac – contains the only remnants of planets such as “Braal, Winath and Tharr.” Those aren’t just a mess of letters organized into names by Johns – you’re starting to see, if we may speculate, Johns’ larger plan for the Legion of Super-Heroes, and cementing Superman into it, firmly. How? Braal is the home planet of Cosmic Boy, Winath is the home planet of Lightning Lad and Lightning Lass, and Tharr is the home planet of Polar Boy.
While we’re riding down the speculation highway, we humble put the idea out there that this may be a hint at what the upcoming Superman: New Krypton series (Andrew Kreisberg and drawn by Pete Woods), the only upcoming “Superman” series that will feature the titular hero. Combine that with the notion that he’s exiling himself in space for some time, and as it stands, there are no civilizations on Braal, Winath or Tharr to one day produce Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad or Polar Boy – all of whom do exist. In short, someone has to re-start those civilizations…
Anyway – back to what we saw in Action #872 - the long promised return of the Creature Commandos and Ultra, the Multi-Alien. Alura’s history of the Commandos was right on – they were soldiers who were monsters. They were created during the days of World War II by Project M (recently shown to be still active in the present-day DC Universe), and included Lt. Matthew Shrieve (normal), Warren Griffith (werewolf), Sgt. Vincent Velcro (vampire), Pvt. Elliot "Lucky" Taylor (Frankenstein’s monster analogue) and Dr. Myrra Rhodes (medusa) – all are accounted for in Brainiac’s ship. The living (well, undead) heroes were accompanied by J.A.K.E. (Jungle Automatic Killer Experimental) - 2, as noted on his helmet, a “G.I. Robot” – basically a walking gun. Or guns. The commandos rebelled against their leadership – or indicated that they were going to, and were shot into space (although, it’s probable that they were told it was another mission, as their original final story had them boarding a rocket destined for Berlin that went into space – “accidentally”).
As for Ultra, he was an American spaceman named Ace Arn. In the future, mind you, Arn crash landed on an alien world populated by four races of alien. Soldiers of all four races fired identical weapons at him at the same time – guns that would transform him into one of them. Instead of turning him into some half-furry, half-meaty ball of goo, Ace Arn went the other direction from John Carpenter’s vision, and became, literally four aliens in one, with all of the powers of the various aliens. He’s had cameos here and there over the years, and somehow, has traveled back into his past, that is, the present of the DCU. Interesting to note, both James Robinson and Johns (the architects of “New Krypton”) have used either Ultra or pieces of Ultra’s origin at various times in their careers – Robinson had an Ultra appearance in Starman, and Johns had the Laroo (one of the alien races of Ultra) invade earth in Stars and STRIPE, his first series work at DC). Okay – we have openly lauded, and will openly laud any creator in this industry who can plan out the long game as Johns has done with “New Krypton,” but there ain’t now way we’re going to say that Johns was planning “New Kypron” when he put the Laroo in Stars and STRIPE.
Or did he?
Back to the story, Alura continues to refuse to give Superman the names of the Kryptonians who killed the Science Police Officers, for a simple reason – she gave them orders to kill if necessary. That’s a stunner to Superman, Zor-El and Supergirl. Obviously, if you’re a Kryptonian, and an earthling is trying to stop you, you don’t need to kill them in order to do what you wanted.
What else, what else…
- An exploding bus! We need to go back and count, but there was one in Last Son for sure – we’re starting to get a notion that all of Johns’ Superman stories have thrown, exploding or weaponized (buses used to hit others) buses in them as a nod to his mentor (and Superman II) Richard Donner who used them as props in the Superman II battle scene set in Metropolis.
- A retooled Metallo and Reactron appear and quickly surrender. Identified as enemies of Superman, the two are taken to Kandor. Once inside and surrounded by Kryptonians – they give the signal to Luthor, who’s been chatting with Brainiac.
-Brainiac is smaller. As Luthor points out, due to being disconnected from his ship, he’s much less Andre the Giant and much more Steve Buscemi. Okay, maybe not that bad, but he’s roughly human sized now. It’s a taunt that Luthor uses against Brainiac, along with pointing out that Brainiac only assimilates knowledge, whereas Luthor creates new things based on ideas. “I am the god of progress,” Luthor says. Nice touch. Megalomania runs deep.
- Luthor’s been in control of Brainiac’s head, and therefore his technology for a little while now. Once he gets the signal from Metallo and Reactron, he awakens the Brainiac drone robots still in the ship (lots of them), while his two metal soldiers go to work on the Kryptonians. Metallo weakening them and beating on them, while Reactron just kills them with blasts laced with Gold Kryptonite. For Metallo, it’s a bit of a change – the last time he worked with Luthor (Last Son) he had the full spectrum of Kryptonite in his chest to use. We’re in the early stages of the battle here, so maybe Metallo has more to show.
- Something’s up with Doomsday. But of course, you knew that. But Luthor’s in charge of reviving him, or making L’il Doomsdays…or whatever.
- Nightwing and Flamebird appear in Gotham City, looking for Batman, meaning this takes place post “Batman RIP.” Flamebird asks Nightwing to not fly (he’s levitating in the scene). Of course, Johns relentlessly teases readers by shifting from the Nightwing/Flamebird scene to a shot showing repair workers fixing Connor Kent (Superboy)’s statue in Metropolis.
- A few more things…Agent Liberty is asking Telus (last seen as being held by Cadmus in Adventure Comics Special Featuring the Guardian) if he “heard” (he’s telepathic) anything about where Doomsday was being held in Cadmus before he was released; the Guardian is the one uniting the heroes against the Kryptonians – doing so because Superman didn’t come back with the guilty Kryptonians – which also probably signals to the Science Police that Superman has gone over to the side of the Kandorians. Oh, and Reactron kills Zor-el.
Next up - Supergirl #36. We’ll have a preview up on Monday.
So…where do things stand here?
- “New Krypton” has become a story about a persecuted group of people taking the steps they feel necessary to ensure their continued existence, which is where we had an inkling things were going to go. Thing with that – those kinds of stories never, ever end well.
- Superman = powerless. And not in the “Gold Kryptonite/been out of the sun too long” way. As mentioned earlier, things are moving way too fast and on too many fronts from him to even control as they accelerate to the climax. While we’re still reserving judgment on the reasoning behind his whole exile in space, the reasoning behind it now is a little clearer, and will probably continue to clear itself up as the story continues.
That’s what we’ve got. What are your observations?