Twelve months later, the year of Superman living on New Krypton is finally winding down. There’s still a crossover event to come (and we’ll touch on that later), but this is the final issue of “Superman: World of New Krypton.” Early on, what I enjoyed about the series was that Greg Rucka, James Robinson, and Pete Woods were making New Krypton seem like an actual world. We met the different castes, saw the political structure, watched as Superman struggled against old traditions, and tried to steer New Krypton into a more enlightened era.
As the series progressed, though, it started becoming less about New Krypton and more about plots by General Lane, and a revolving door of other outer space characters and races from the DC Universe. (Thanagarians, Jemm Son of Saturn, and even Adam Strange stopped by for a visit.) It felt like the series had lost some of its focus, that it was stalling for time until all of the other titles were ready for next month’s event. But as it did so, a new aspect of the series stood out for me more and more, grabbing my interest each month even though it was a part of the series that had a smaller focus in the second half. Namely, General Zod.
I have to give Rucka and Robinson credit, they’ve made General Zod an interesting character. As a scheming villain in “Action Comics” a couple of years ago for Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, and Adam Kubert’s debut story, he was entertaining enough. But here? For the first time ever, I feel like he’s more than a two-dimensional character. A lot of that comes from giving him an actual world and race to care a bout, sure, but it’s a whole different side of General Zod that we’ve never had before. Any future appearances by him will certainly be driven by “Superman: World of New Krypton” and how it portrays him now: a man willing to do absolutely anything for his people to survive. Watching him and Superman gain respect for one another was the most unexpected portion of “Superman: World of New Krypton” and for that alone I think it succeeded.
In some ways it almost overshadows the resolution of the assassin storyline that’s run through the last few issues. I found myself not caring about it when it happened, and now that we’re at its conclusion it’s a bit of a groan. It’s not entirely resolved, and it doesn’t help matters that it’s tied into the least interesting villain the “Superman” books have had post-“Infinite Crisis” and the start of the “One Year Later” jumping-on points. So while General Zod’s scenes may grab the attention, this part of the book fell flatter than a Kryptonian hit by red sun rays.
Woods and Ron Randall (who came on board for #8-12 to presumably help out with deadlines) do their usual job with the art; it’s that smooth, clean look that the “Superman” family of titles has used for the past few years. There are some pages here where the art actually reminds me a bit of Chris Sprouse’s pencils, with square cheekbones and sculpted hair. There’s a moment where the action briefly shifts to another part of the planet and a character comments on how beautiful New Krypton is. That’s what I wish Woods and Randall had gotten to draw some more; they do a good job with the humanoid characters, but their ability to do things like draw alien landscapes should have been used a bit more.
As I said before, this story isn’t really over. In fact, it’s a direct lead-in to the “Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton” mini-series and tie-ins. I think most of us can guess at this point what will happen to New Krypton by the time the dust settles. It’ll be interesting to see down the line how readers looking back on this era of the “Superman” titles view the creative decisions made here. I can see the idea of getting to know New Krypton so anything bad happening to it will carry more weight. But I do think this is something that could have sped up a bit, maybe just six to eight months at most. It was an interesting experiment, certainly. But with still more chapters to come in the crossover, it doesn’t feel as final as a comic with “Final Issue” on its cover should. One more slight stumble for “Superman: World of New Krypton,” alas. It could have been great, but in the end I think it just averages out to good.