Sunday, March 15, 2009

Comics Roundup 10/3/2008

Superman: World of New Krypton #1, by James Robinson, Greg Rucka, and Pete Woods

Even if you do not read comics, you probably get the basic idea of Superman – he is the only survivor of the planet Krypton, and he lives on the Earth as reporter Clark Kent and has superpowers. If you know slightly more than that, you may be aware that he was not the only survivor, because his dog, Krypto, and cousin, Kara, both also escaped their homeworld's destruction, making their way to the Earth and also becoming superpowered (the latter as Supergirl). One thing you probably would not know about unless you have ever read Superman comics is that actually an entire city of Kryptonians escaped, because supervillain Brainiac had shrunk down the city of Kaldor to tiny size and stashed it in a bottle, where its inhabitants continued to live their tiny lives. Superman subsequently recovered the bottle city, but was unable to bring the Kaldorians back to normal size.

Until now. One of the odd things about DC these days is that they seem to be intent on running loads of Big Crossover Events simultanaeously. So, together with the dreadful Final Crisis* and possibly overrated Batman R.I.P., they have recently also been doing this New Krypton thing. I missed the start of it, but basically the Kaldorians all seem to have grown back to normal size. Like Superman, our sun's yellow rays have given them astonishing powers. The world is suddenly overrun with supermen, some of whom view humans as little more than monkeys.

I found this idea interesting enough, and started buying DC titles that involved it, but then I registered that it was going to be affecting a zillion different super comics and was going to go on forever. That seemed too much like work, so I gave up. Now, though, DC have launched this title, which looks like it might house all the essential action. Two things seem to have happened. First, that General Zod guy you remember from the Superman 2 film has been busted out of the Phantom Zone, and now seems to have quite a following among the Kryptonians. The other thing is that someone (possibly Superman) has set up a new planet for the Kryptonians, orbiting the sun diametrically opposite from our world. Superman has decided to leave our world and go live with his own people, but is starting to find that maybe life among the Kryptonians is less idyllic than he had hoped.

I must admit, I feel faintly embarrassed to be enjoying this title, given that it does kind of lean towards being the sort of undemanding superhero crap that gives comics a bad name. That said, it is nicely drawn, and the plotting suggests that this story is progressing in a direction that promises thrill power.

The Age of THE SENTRY #6

I think this may prove to be The Sentry's final battle. In it he discovers that he is not real, or something like that. It is nothing we have not seen before (several times by Alan Moore), but it is still pretty well done, with the up-and-at-'em Marvel explosion pastiche contrasting well with the weirder stuff. My one big complaint, though, is that although Watchdog appears on the cover, he is nowhere to be found inside – what's that all about?

Unknown Soldier #5, by Joshua Dysart & Alberto Ponticelli

If you were being mean, you would say that Dysart really just wants to tell people about the recent history of Uganda and is using this comic as a vehicle for didactic exposition. On the other hand, if someone like me is starting to find the local politics in this a bit confusing then you really would have to wonder about how this title is going down with the general Vertigo reader (which might explain its less than prominent positioning in my local comic store). Anyway, as you know this is set a couple of years ago in northern Uganda, and is using the insurgency of the mentalist Lord's Resistance Army as a backdrop. The main character is a Ugandan-American doctor who has suffered facial injuries and who somehow, for reasons yet unexplained, seems to be turning into some kind of super-soldier type. It could be all part of some CIA mind-control experiment, you know what they are like.

I am hovering on the brink of giving this up. I am only so engaged with the story, but it keeps coming across like something that might go somewhere. The Ugandan setting makes for something a bit out of the ordinary, and the art is great, so I will hang on with this for a bit longer.

*the absolute last ever time there will ever be a crossover event with Crisis in the title, 4Real

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