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Superman: World of New Krypton #4 Superman: World of New Krypton #4

Superman: World of New Krypton #4

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 3, 2009

Cover date: August 2009

"World of New Krypton - Part Four"

Writer: James Robinson and Greg Rucka
Penciller: Pete Woods
Inker: Pete Woods

Reviewed by: Ralph Silver

Click to enlarge

The three Green Lanterns (Hal Jordan, John Stewart, and Sodam Yat, the Daxamite) land and greet Kal-El just as he finishes his duel with Gor, as seen last issue. The Green Lanterns are here on a fact-finding mission at the request of the Guardians, who are very concerned. When Hal spots General Zod, he reacts with simmering anger, and Kal-El needs to reassure his friend. But Kal is not really able to offer an explanation while Zod is within earshot; so he asks Hal to trust him. Zod and Hal have a frank and tense verbal exchange; but then Zod decides he has nothing to fear from their arrival. Zod encourages Kal-El to give the Green Lanterns a tour of New Krypton; with Tyr-Van of the Labor Guild as their guide.

Superman, three Green Lanterns, and Tyr-Van head out to tour the city of Kandor and beyond. Along the way, they discuss the demographics of Kandor; describing it as a melting pot because of its ethnic and social diversity. Sodam seems impatient with the tour. The people of Daxam are known to be an intensely xenophobic race, which may explain his lack of enthusiasm. When Kal-El informs him that he has left fellow Daxamite Mon-El in charge of guarding Metropolis in Superman's absence, Sodam Yat seems very unhappy.

As the tour moves beyond the city, we (and the Green Lanterns) learn how the New Kryptonians have been reverse-engineering Brainiac's technology and using it to forge their new planet; slowly building an atmosphere and encouraging new biological growth.

Lieutenant Nar interrupts the tour and tells Commander El that he needs to return to General Zod immediately to address an emergency situation. Kal-El and Nar return, and are told by Zod that thirteen former prisoners of the phantom zone are on the loose. Intelligence is now available on the location of these criminals; and each military unit is given an assignment to assist in the round-up.

Kal-El and Nar are asked to stay behind when the other commanders leave. Kal's military unit, the Red Shard, is being given an assignment that is peripheral and supportive rather than central to the combat mission. They exchange words on this topic. Kal-El charges that these fugitives participated with Zod in the attack on Earth; an assertion that Zod refuses to comment on.

The Green Lanterns continue on their tour. Hal Jordan observes and mentions that New Krypton is in the process of building an armada of battleships. Kal-El is speechless; but Tyr-Van mentions that he has heard that the ships are for defensive purposes. The Green Lanterns are suspicious and concerned; and Kal promises to get answers.

Suddenly there is an explosion, which seems to cause Kryptonian crystals to appear, shift, or expand in a manner that causes several injuries. Because the victims are Kryptonian, the injuries do not appear to be serious. The explosion was caused by one of the fugitives, who ruptured a fuel container in his haste to flee.

Kal-El, three Green Lanterns, and others take off in pursuit of the fugitive Val-Ty, a.k.a. Greyline. The Green Lantern rings announce that Greyline is on Oa's most-wanted list due to past heinous crimes. The Red Shard manages to surround Val-Ty and use blasts of red sun radiation from their Archer rifles to remove his powers and capture the felon. Zod sends an order to kill the fugitive. But Commander El counters that order, and prepares to turn the captive over to the Green Lanterns so they can transport him to OA before his powers return in thirty minutes.

General Zod arrives, and is furious that the Green Lanterns are planning to leave with the prisoner. He argues with Hal, saying that OA has no extradition rights on New Krypton. He calls the attempt to remove the prisoner a violation of New Kryptonian sovereignty. Hal argues back, but John Stewart warns Hal against causing a diplomatic incident. They are at an impasse, so the Green Lanterns leave. Hal, unimpressed with all that he has seen, fires one last sarcastic barb at Kal-El as they head out.

As Val-Ty is put under restraint, Zod places both Kal-El and Nar under arrest, and charges them with treason.

5Story - 5: This is another great installment in a great series.

As I mentioned in a previous review, I am a huge Green Lantern fan. So I was really glad to see Hal Jordan and the other Green Lanterns featured prominently in this issue. I thought their presence worked really well here on many levels: to help reveal more information about Superman's new home; to emphasize and further illuminate the conflicts (internal and external) that Superman is struggling with right now; and to help move the plot forward.

Let's start at the beginning. As soon as Hal and the other Green Lanterns arrive, Kal-El knows he is in a tight spot. Although he may be happy to see some close friends, he knows immediately that the appearance of his two Justice League colleagues may complicate things. Superman is already struggling with feelings of divided loyalty and personal angst; because he is earnestly trying to fit in on New Krypton, while harboring private feelings of loyalty towards Earth. He suffers the indignity of having to take orders from General Zod, while nevertheless being determined to stay true to his core values. When Hal Jordan spies General Zod and the two of them immediately engage in a tense verbal confrontation, Superman truly finds himself caught in the middle! Superman wants to support his close friend and Justice League comrade; but challenging Zod openly is dangerous. Before this chapter ends, all of this will blow up in Kal-El's face!

I want to take a moment to expand on something I have been thinking about for a while; as it is relevant to this first scene with Hal Jordan. On New Krypton, a planet where every single citizen has super-hearing and x-ray vision, there are some very serious privacy issues! Think about it. There can never really be any secrets! No conversation is truly private! Your neighbor can be watching you while in the "privacy" of your own home. And you can be watching your neighbor right back as he watches you. When you think about it, it's all a little bit creepy.

So in the first panel on page 3, when Hal Jordan says "Tell me that's NOT who I think that is", Superman is on the spot. Because Zod has super-hearing, Superman cannot whisper an explanation to his friend. He cannot tell Hal that he is really here to keep and eye on Zod and his followers in order to protect Earth. So he chooses his best option, which is to put his hand on his friend's shoulder and ask Hal to trust him. As it turns out, this is not something that Hal is easily able to do, because of his strong feelings of hatred for Zod.

I liked the scenes where the Green Lanterns take a tour of New Krypton. As a plot device, this was a useful way to fill the reader in on additional information about New Krypton, its people, and the efforts underway to reshape the planet.

There is a chilling tone of understated menace that permeates this series. That tone intensifies when Hal and the others discover the armada under construction. This is clearly a vital piece of information that Hal and John will take back to OA when they give the Guardians their assessment of the threat posed by New Krypton.

For those who appreciate continuity (and everybody does), there are examples and opportunities here. I liked that Zod recognizes Hal Jordan from their encounter during the Last Son saga. Zod says to Hal "I remember you. You fought fiercely against us, with bravery and passion." This is high praise from Zod. But Hal is unimpressed, due to his hatred for Zod.

More continuity is in evidence when Kal-El later mentions to Zod that several of the phantom zone fugitives are missing. This is an obvious reference to the sleeper agents that have been showing up on Earth, in Action Comics.

Here is one more potential example. When Superman mentions that Mon-El is on Earth protecting Metropolis, Sodam Yat's reaction is so adverse that I wonder if he plans to go to Earth and have words with his fellow Daxamite about this. We will watch in the pages of Superman to see if that happens.

Notice how things can change quickly on New Krypton! Superman was a hero last issue, after he defused the hostage crisis with the Labor Guild. Now he is arrested and charged with treason, along with his Lieutenant. I wonder if Alura, the head of state, will step in to pardon Kal-El and Nar. We will see next issue.

5Art - 5: Pete Woods' artwork is very solid here. He shows a flair for minute detail in his backgrounds. One good example of this is the two-page spread where Kal-El and the Green Lanterns observe the construction site for the battleships.

In my opinion, his greatest strength is how well he can convey subtle variations in emotion on his facial expressions. Examples of this abound throughout the book. When Zod asks Kal-El who the visitors are, Kal seems humiliated to have to take orders from Zod in front of his Justice League buddy; and it shows on his face and in his body language. At the bottom of that same page, when Zod proclaims that he has nothing to fear from the Green Lanterns, Kal-El seems annoyed and frustrated by the put-down; although he reluctantly holds his tongue. Hal's expression is different. What I see on his face is uncertainty; as if Hal is pondering the question whether he truly is no threat to the Kryptonians due to their extreme power.

Pete Woods was an excellent choice for this series. His artwork is consistently strong.

5Cover Art - 5: I am a big fan of Gary Frank. This is another really strong cover. He has done an outstanding job on all his covers for this series.

Superman and Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) are grappling as they hover in mid-air. Superman appears to be ready to slug Hal even as Green Lantern's ring is glowing in preparation for an attack. Zod and the other two Green Lanterns watch with interest. The sky behind them is fiery yellow and orange, as if reflecting the heated emotions of the two combatants. This scene does not actually occur in this story; but it is perhaps a metaphor for the intense emotion and underlying conflict between Green Lantern and the military leadership of New Krypton.

1Cover Art (Variant Edition) - 1: I do not wish to offend any fans of Eric Canete, but this cover really did not work for me at all. It is a very surreal cover, with Superman giant-sized and towering over the architecture of Kandor. Superman's body looks wrinkled and distorted. His face looks like somebody else. His expression is morose. His left arm appears to be severely distorted as if it is broken in several places. I usually am receptive to different artistic styles; but I really do not like this cover!

The Gary Frank cover is definitely the way to go.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

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