The capital city of Krypton has appeared on Earth, containing one hundred-thousand men, women and children, each with the powers of Superman! And after having spent decades at the mercy of the villain Brainiac, the Kryptonians decide they aren’t going to take any crap from the Universe. Starting with Earth!
Superman: New Krypton Vol. 2 Review
This collection continues the New Krypton crossover, beginning with a deeper look at Supergirl’s family life and personal history. Written by newcomer Sterling Gates, we are introduced to the Alura we will come to love-to-hate. Obstinate, brass, and a little narrow-minded, Supergirl’s mother is the perfect picture of the Kryptonian superiority complex. Supergirl’s origin is retold as Gates channels his inner “Geoff Johns” by trying to reconcile all versions of Kara Zor-El’s history since her (re)introduction. Now we are told that all the different origins Kara experienced were the result of Kryptonite poisoning hallucinations. And while that might seem a little too convenient, at this point it’s just nice to have a stable history for the character. And Gates handles it well, proving to be a valuable new asset to the Superman Family, and his introduction of the new, mysterious Superwoman sets up her part in Supergirl’s title very well.
The next chapter begins the turning of the Kryptonian people into arguably the most annoying alien race ever. As I mentioned with Alura, there is this air of undeserved superiority to the Kandorians. Maybe it’s the fact that they just got their powers an hour ago, and are already referring to humans as “fragile creatures” despite having the same degree of fragility for the majority of their lives. Maybe it’s the fact that they think they are so impressive, despite having lived in a shoe-box for the last three decades. Or maybe it’s the fact that the most advanced race in the universe has less tact than Conan the Barbarian when he’s drunk.
After the incident with Doomsday, the Kandorians begin the systematic abduction of Superman’s entire Rogues Gallery, tossing them all into the Phantom Zone. Admittedly, this is a very cool idea. But sadly, this thread comes to nothing, either in this volume or in the overall story, when Superman simply lets them out later, off camera.
The only important thing to come of it is that a team of Kandorians kills some human police officers while trying to secure the Parasite. This spark of aggression sets off the wildfire that will result in the eventual war between Earth and New Krypton. And again, Alura is unapologetic, and when the humans later retaliate she still tries to play the part of the innocent alien being picked on by the mean humans.
Superman himself is cast in a bad light, as he tries desperately to cool the rising tension between cultures, without getting anything done. His attempts to find out the identities of the cop-killers amounts to little more than “You better tell me before I count to three! One… two… two and a half…” Indeed, Superman does very little in the story, torn between both sides and not standing with either one, he comes off a little wishy-washy. He’s simply dragged along for the ride as the story goes on.
The climax, a battle between the forces of New Krypton and a smattering of Earth superheroes, feels a little off. For starters, out of the 100,000 Kryptonians present, only 200 engage in the fight. That’s one-fifth of one percent! What are the rest doing? The follow up series, World of New Krypton suggests that not all Kryptonians have an easy time mastering their powers, so perhaps that’s the case here? But even so, one would expect a battle between 200 Kryptonians (even ones inexperienced in super-combat) and a handful of JLA, JSA and Titans members to be a little one-sided. And yet the fight is pretty even, with Earth’s heroes using one strange twist after another. Black Lighting turns his lightning red to mimic red sunlight? Zatanna says “Shazam” backwards to de-power a ton of Kryptonians?
The collection ends on a high note, though, with the Kandorians creating their own world, New Krypton, to escape Earth. Also, the reveals of the last several pages are very intriguing and really get you jazzed up for what’s going to happen next.
All in all, this story was not perfect. Even though they learn their lesson with Superman, and made him very cool and decisive in the follow up, World of New Krypton, his attempts at a peaceful negotiations and defense of New Krypton after the policemen are murdered comes off as fence-straddling. Supergirl gets way more to do, as the actions of her parents really drive home the division between Earth and New Krypton for her in a way that it doesn’t for Superman. And in the end, she makes her decision about were she belongs, while Superman does not, again just standing there while things happen all around him.
At the end of the day, this story is far too important to miss. The ramifications are still reverberating in the Superman monthly titles to this day. And a lot of the short comings are resolved, addressed or explained in the latter comics. But in reviewing just this one volume, they do get pretty frustrating. The Story itself is breathtaking in its scope, but its execution leaves a little something to be desired.