Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics
Superman: The Man of Steel #128Scheduled to arrive in stores: July 24, 2002
Cover date: September 2002
Writer: Mark Shultz
Penciller: Karl Herschl
Inker: Karl Herschl
"Blood and Heresy" (Return to Krypton II - Part 3 of 4)
Reviewed by: Neal Bailey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The book of Rao narrates as Superman is pummeled on the surface of Krypton by zealots of Rao. The book prophesizes that the sun will enlarge, and that armies of the faithless will clash with armies of faith.
The Chronicles of Kal-El tells of how Rao was a warrior God, just and benevolent, who loved Krypton.
He tells about how Xon-Ur and his followers were trying faithfully to preserve Rao, through by condemnable means.
In the middle of the battle, Kru-El swoops in and saves Kal from a particularly bad situation. Kru-El tells Kal that they are now allies, for the time being.
They notice that the sun has gotten much bigger,
Kru-El takes Kal back to Jor-El, who heals him. Kal finds out that he is completely drained of his yellow solar energy.
Here, Jor-El reveals that Kru-El is on his side because Jor-El has promised him cloning technology.
Jor-El, over Kal's objections over allowing Kru-El to resurrect Zod, indicates that the lab he was going to use to save Lara was in ruins, which killed any chance he had of saving her life.
Kru interjects, pointing out that Faora, his mate, found where Xon-Ur had placed the stolen technology they all need. They all agree to go after it, putting all of their hands into a circle, with one paw, Krypto. Woof! (Awwwwww. Couldn't help myself - Neal)
On the way, Kal asks what's happening to the sun.
Outside, Krypto flies alongside the craft. Kal lets him in and they share a moment.
Mundrovian fire eagles attack, sent by the Raoists.
Jor-El goes down, and Kru-El tries to save him. The dragons herd them towards a solar crys-lens array.
"Remember your promise, Jor-El!" Kru-El says, "Zod must live agai-"
And with that, he puts his body in front of Jor-El's, dying in his place.
They cascade down towards a temple, and Kal follows. Inside, they are ambushed by Raoists wielding fire shirukens.
Krypto goes after one of them, and they slash through Krypto with fire shirukens. Kal is suddenly overtaken, and a flash of light knocks all of the people around Kal out of the fight. It is Faora, come to the rescue.
Kal pauses to mourn his dog, Krypto.
Faora tells them that the Raoists are trying to accelerate the coming of the Super man by cloning birth tissue from Lara's unborn child, believing that the baby can save the world from the growing sun. Kal looks at the Heart of Krypton in horror, realizing it to be B13.
Story - 2: I've always just wanted to skip over the part in comics where the narrator turns to his diary or his notes or his journal to tell the story. The only person I've ever been able to tolerate doing that is Jeph Loeb. Biased? Perhaps. But it just seems like a bit of a device to me. I write books, so I know when I'm using something to make the story work because I don't know how to start, and I invariably delete diary/notes/tape recording sections for just that reason. It doesn't work very well here, and it made the comic start off a bit slow. I mean, there's a Chronicles of Kal-El, and a Collected works of Clark Kent, and a Lethargic Legacy of Lois Lane book in every comic these days, it would seem. Or Superman is just in the habit of recounting his own adventures in dialogue to himself. It even ends abruptly, without completion. Bad device.
Kal wonders what's going on with the sun, but doesn't he know?
This series started off amazingly well, and in its own respects, it is a great series of books. They're less oriented around a single villain doing a single battle with the Man of Steel and then disappearing. But still, they lack a kind of internal cohesion. One has good qualities, but then the next goes in a direction not indicated in the first. For instance, the first one ended in a dead Lara on a sword. Wow! What's the next book start with? No mention of Lara on a sword, she's just mortally wounded. Not dead. Well, that was a cheap way to make a book seem monumental and related. And in the last one, the Raoists are introduced, but what are they here? Cannon fodder in the back ground with mysterious, unexplained weapons like the Mundrovian dragons. Now watch, though every indication is that Krypto is dead, he will probably jump up, merely wounded, next issue. My apologies in advance if I am wrong.
Another editorial flub: Faora shoots at the goons attacking Kal and somehow manages to knock out/kill them all, but Kal is unscathed save a bloody lip, despite the fact that he has no super-powers, as of about page five? What is this, guys? This is little stuff that even I can catch, and I've only written a few comic books.
And the end catch...they're cloning a bunch of Kal-Els to make an army? &^$(*(^%^!!!!!!!!!!!! Did no one learn anything from the Spider-Clones? We don't need another Superman lurking around! Two Kryptons, though, it's a distinct chance...but that's pure speculation.
This comic served one purpose. Get Kal-El to the Heart of Krypton, while showing Kru-El and Faora to be an ally of Jor-El. Perhaps, though I doubt it's as cut and dried as it looks on the page, kill Krypto. And if this is the way that they're going to kill Krypto, after bringing him back to such fanfare and to such a good reception by most (myself admittedly not in that number), then why did they bother in the first place? Geeze, anyone can bite a bullet. Kru-El, a fairly minor character, did it this issue. But this is Krypto. I see a disturbing trend to both love and hate the silver age, and to try and bring it back and take it away again and again and again in Superman, of late. So pick, old or new, and stick to it. But Krypto dying to fire shirukens? Lame. Maybe using the last of his powers to stop an advancing army...or even getting all of those goons off of Kal, not in the ridiculous fashion they had Faora do it. No, he's not injured. Sure.
Part one was good. Two was decent. This fell off. Maybe the ending will make things all better. I hope.
Art - 3: The art is fairly average. It's not overly detailed, and focused a lot on the color and an absence of background to provide mood. There is a lot of battle imagery that is interesting, but ultimately just something to look at. In the end, that's what art's supposed to do, but I didn't go, "Ahhhh!" I went, "Oh." It was worth a look, but nothing I'm coming back to. That's about average, and that's about a three. More backgrounds, please, and not just in massive battle sequences. I can't really believe people use and live in the dwellings in the background of most of the issue, and towards the end, no background for effect is used far too much. It might work if Krypto's death (?) was a little more dramatic, or even noted. I mean, when my dog got smacked and darn near killed by a truck, I didn't hug it and leave its body because I had a movie to see (Star Wars 2, at the time, unlucky me), I picked the dog up, took it to a vet, and fixed it. Superman doesn't even seem to attempt to care for the dog, just hug it. Maybe that's more writer than artist. But a splash page with Superman holding his dead dog would have meant more to me than eight panels of techno-babble about clones. CLONES!
Cover Art - 2: Even the cover makes me disappointed this week. We have Kryptonian battlesuit action that is hinted at, but never shown. Instead we get the SCU gear with wings. And the magical inverting Super-chest. And an apt, but still kind of boring empty background. It could have easily fit in with the other two covers, but for some reason...it doesn't.
Other recent reviews:
Mild Mannered Reviews
2002Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.
- Joker: Last Laugh #6
-  Superman #176
-  Adventures of Superman #598
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #120
-  Action Comics #785
- Superman Adventures #63
- JLA #60
- Justice League Adventures #1
- JLA/Haven: Arrival
- Superman/Tarzan: Sons of the Jungle #1
- JLA: Gatekeeper #2
- Superman & Batman: Generations II #4
- Superman #177
- Adventures of Superman #599
- Superman: The Man of Steel #121
- Action Comics #786
- Superman Adventures #64
- JLA #61
- Justice League Adventures #2
- Just Imagine Stan Lee with Jerry Ordway Creating the JLA
- JLA: Gatekeeper #3
- JLA: Incarnations #7
- Adventures of Superman #600
- Superman #178
- Superman: The Man of Steel #122
- Action Comics #787
- Superman Adventures #65
- JLA #62
- Justice League Adventures #3
- Superman/Tarzan: Sons of the Jungle #2
- Superman #179
- Adventures of Superman #601
- Superman: The Man of Steel #123
- Action Comics #788
- Superman Adventures #66 [Final Issue]
- JLA #63
- Justice League Adventures #4
- JLA: Shogun of Steel
- Superman #180
- Adventures of Superman #602
- Superman: The Man of Steel #124
- Action Comics #789
- JLA #64
- Justice League Adventures #5
- Superman #181
- Adventures of Superman #603
- Superman: The Man of Steel #125
- Action Comics #790
- JLA #65
- Superman/Savage Dragon: Chicago
- Justice League Adventures #6
- Superman #182
- Adventures of Superman #604
- Superman: The Man of Steel #126
- Action Comics #791
- JLA #66
- DC1st: Superman/Lobo #1
- DC1st: Flash/Superman #1
- Justice League Adventures #7
- Superman/Aliens II: Godwar #1
- Superman/Tarzan: Sons of the Jungle #3
- Superman #183
- Adventures of Superman #605
- Superman: The Man of Steel #127
- Action Comics #792
- JLA #67
- Justice League Adventures #8
- JLA: Destiny #1
- Superman #184
- Adventures of Superman #606
- Superman: The Man of Steel #128
- Action Comics #793
- JLA #68
- Justice League Adventures #9
- JLA: Destiny #2
- Superman #185
- Adventures of Superman #607
- Superman: The Man of Steel #129
- Action Comics #794
- JLA #69
- JLA #70
- Justice League Adventures #10
- Superman/Aliens II: Godwar #2
- JLA: Destiny #3
- JLA: The Island of Dr Moreau
- Superman #186
- Adventures of Superman #608
- Superman: The Man of Steel #130
- Action Comics #795
- JLA #71
- JLA #72
- Justice League Adventures #11
- JLA: Destiny #4
- Planetary/JLA: Terra Occulta
- JLA/Haven: Anathema
- Superman #187
- Adventures of Superman #609
- Superman: The Man of Steel #131
- Action Comics #796
- JLA #73
- JLA #74
- Justice League Adventures #12
- Smallville: The Comic
- Superman/Aliens II: Godwar #3
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Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2002.