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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman: World of New Krypton #8 Superman: World of New Krypton #8

Superman: World of New Krypton #8

Scheduled to arrive in stores: October 7, 2009

Cover date: December 2009

"World of New Krypton" - Part Eight

Writer: James Robinson and Greg Rucka
Artists: Pete Woods and Ron Randall

Reviewed by: Ralph Silver

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The skirmish between the Kryptonians and the Thanagarians continues. For the first third of this book, we see things from the point of view of the Thanagarians; specifically, from the command post of Wing-Master Vetalla Dae aboard her ship. A multitude of Thanagarians all speak at once, issuing commands or reporting status as the battle rages on. This produces quite a cacophony until the Wing-Master orders the other voices to be filtered out so that she can be heard.

The reader has to work a bit to decipher all the Thanagarian military jargon. Nevertheless, some things are very clear: The Thanagarians are a very militaristic and aggressive society. In battle, they tend to refer to their adversaries as "meat". They dislike and distrust the Kryptonians. They allege that the Kryptonians were the ones to attack first.

We are reminded that the Thanagarians have disabled the Kryptonian lead ship which was guiding Callisto, the Jovian moon, on its course towards an intended orbit around New Krypton. The moon is now out of control and hurtling towards a collision with New Krypton.

A Kryptonian strike on Dae's ship, the Gryfalcon, initiates a chain reaction in the engine's power core that will soon cause an explosion which will destroy the ship. Out of loyalty and military honor, Dae and her subordinates express their intention to stay put and go down with the ship.

Meanwhile, General El and members of his team have boarded the Thanagarian space craft. Under Kal-El's orders, the Kryptonians have managed to cool the reactor and avert the impending explosion. Wing-Master Dae goes to confront the Kryptonians. Dae asserts that it was foolish military strategy for the Kryptonians to rescue their adversary (and thus forgo an easy victory). However, she takes it for the good will gesture that it is, and orders that the Kryptonians are no longer prisoners.

General El insists that the Kryptonians bear no hostility towards the Thanagarian people. He is told that the Kryptonians attacked first. Superman pledges that the Kryptonians will act peacefully, and negotiates an end to the hostilities. After Kal-El and his team leave, Wing-Master Dae is told that the Kryptonians lost control of Callisto only because the Thanagarians disabled the ship that was controlling the Jovian moon's trajectory and acceleration.

Back out in space, General El and his troops attempt to use their own brute strength to slow Callisto down, but find it to be a monumental task. Suddenly, the moon slows, thanks to some help from the Thanagarians using beams that transmit Nth Metal energy. (FYI: Nth Metal is the Thanagarian anti-gravity metal that allows Hawkman and Hawkgirl to fly.)

Superman heads to New Krypton and returns with perhaps every inhabitant of the planet. The combined might of 100,000 Kryptonians is enough to control Callisto and place it in proper orbit around New Krypton.

Kal-El and Alura talk. She reassures him that updated math calculations again indicate virtually no gravitational consequences from Operation Callisto. When asked, Kal-El says he thinks he knows how the battle with the Thanagarians started; he just has no proof yet.

Wing-Master Dae is invited to speak before the Kryptonian ruling council. Overtures are made toward establishing diplomatic relations between the two planets.

Suddenly, we see the arrival of Jemm, Son of Saturn, and his henchmen. They are members of another super-powered race. They muscle their way into the council chamber and confront the Kryptonians, speaking words that are hostile and arrogant.

5Story - 5: I love the World of New Krypton series, and have found the quality to be consistently excellent. While I admit that this issue was a little off-beat, it worked for me.

I say off-beat, because the authors and artists took the unusual step of presenting the first third of the book from the Thanagarian point of view. This was a creative technique that piqued my interest from the start, and quickly drew me into the story.

The heavy use of Thanagarian jargon initially catches the reader off guard. But it soon became a game for me to try to decipher the Thanagarian slang by considering the words in context. Here are my guesses as to what some of the Thanagarian words mean:

Bulwar = nonsense; baloney; Bulls***

Flat = the absolute truth

Jammy/Jammie = to flee

"Good.Grand." = Awesome!

Meat = a derisive term signifying the enemy

Flash = to strike or pound your opponent hard!

Twerl = an inept or careless person; a fool

Strikeward = in the direction of an incoming attack

Need-to-speaks = those persons authorized to be heard

The Face of Shekkel = overwhelming military force

Hotzone = an area of increased firepower in a battle

The Seven Hells = the afterlife

At times, story details are not shown explicitly, but are left to the reader's imagination. For example, the reader does not see the method that Kal-El and his team use to avert the explosion aboard the Gryfalcon. But it stands to reason that a couple of well-placed blasts of freeze-breath were used to cool the power core and get the job done.

Likewise, we do not see the entire population of New Krypton handling Callisto. We see the Kryptonians heading into outer space; and in the next panel, we see people back on the planet pointing up to their new moon, now in its new spot in the Kryptonian sky. I think it has greater dramatic impact in this case, when some things are left to the reader's imagination.

Because the entire population of New Krypton assisted in the placement of their new moon in its proper orbit, they will always look up in the sky and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.

We also were never shown who initiated the skirmish with the Thanagarians by striking first. Of course General El suspects that Commander Gor is the culprit. This is a logical conclusion based on Gor's track record of being aggressive, reckless, and trigger-happy.

We end the story with the arrival of a new batch of troublemakers, who are amazingly strong enough to push Kryptonians around. General El has certainly been tested early and often since assuming command of the New Kryptonian military.

This issue continues to promote several themes that have been consistent throughout this series: (1) that Superman continues to be a hero on New Krypton despite having the same powers as everyone else; (2) that Superman is a man of peace and compassion, and will only fight as a last resort; (3) that Superman stands by his principles at every turn; and (4) that his use of diplomacy will often produce a superior result compared to violent, aggressive action.

5Art - 5: Pete Woods and Ron Randall do a solid job with the artwork. I appreciate the level of detail in the backgrounds. One good example is our glimpse of the engine room when Wing-Master Dae first confronts Commander El and his troops.

I also really enjoyed the scenes in outer space where Commander El and his unit struggle to slow the advance of Callisto. I especially liked the scene where the inhabitants of New Krypton, including Supergirl and Alura, rise up together (at Kal-El's urging) to tackle their moon problem.

5Cover Art - 5: This is another symbolic cover. The events depicted do not occur within the story inside. Superman is shown dressed in regal-looking garb that suggests he is now a commander of the Thanagarian military or government. He descends a futuristic-looking staircase as two Thanagarian men hover alongside. The two are both dead ringers for the Hawkman that we know.

At first, I didn't quite get the point of this cover. As I was trying to figure this cover out, I realized something interesting. This cover is very reminiscent of the previous cover (WONK #7), but done in a Thanagarian mode. If Superman were the commanding General of the Thanagarian army instead of New Krypton, this is how the cover of WONK #7 might have looked. Here, the two Hawkmen replace Ursa and Non in the picture as his subordinates. They carry primitive weapons (as our Hawkman and Hawkgirl do) in lieu of the Archer rifles from the previous cover. The Hawks flying in the background replace the Kryptonians in military formation in the foreground last issue. This switcheroo technique is jarring and effective; and is similar to the technique inside of telling much of the story from the Thanagarian point of view.

As always, Gary Frank and Brad Anderson produce an image here that is clean, striking, and effective.

3Cover Art (Variant Edition) - 3: The variant cover by Joe Kubert with Pete Carlsson is not really my cup of tea. Commander El and one of the Hawkmen are grappling as several other Hawkmen are quickly arriving, ready to join the fray.

As usual, I tend to prefer the Gary Frank cover. In addition, it is often the cover that is more subtle and understated that catches my interest, as in this case.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2009

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