Much of the cloak and dagger, double-secret-crossing that's proliferated the relationship between Earth and New Krypton is put on display in this issue, right down to Lois Lane confronting her father, General Sam Lane. Nightwing and Flamebird are still on Earth, looking for the last three of Zod's sleeper agents, two of which are right here through the entire issue. The Science Police, Squad K, Mon-El, and the Guardian also appear, packing this comic full of characters, plots, storylines, and dangling threads of ideas. The biggest reveal, however, happens on the last page, as the next step in those Earth-New Krypton relations gets started with a bang.
Rucka and Trautmann put a lot of story into the main feature of this issue, and are capably accompanied by the art of Pere Perez. Perez's work has moments of pure brilliance, and moments where it becomes quite evident that there is still some room for improvement in his drawing. Not to worry, though, this issue is mostly solid, as Perez clearly defines the characters for us visually. Perez could stand to get a little more of an assist from Javier Mena, whose colors on this issue seem murky and dark. In a story grounded in the streets and alleys of Metropolis, murky and dark works, but in some instances, such as the S.T.A.R. Labs rooftop confrontation, it makes the characters drawn there look like they are floating -- all of them, not just the flyers -- above the roof rather than actually standing on it. Mena's colors are great on the brighter aspects of the story, but a little more color depth would certainly help Perez's art feel more polished.
This issue feels like it is finally delivering some payoff on the story that has been winding its way through the Superman titles for over a year now.
The backup tale featuring Captain Atom is quite enjoyable, as Captain Atom has the requisite superhero tussle with the new (soon-to-be-formed?) Justice League. Although many of the characters present know Captain Atom, they seem intent on pounding the snot out of him, but then are quick to remind him of the hero he truly is. Heavy-handed and resolved a little too easily, but it is superhero comics after all. That's what is supposed to happen, right?
Cafu's art here is as stellar as it has been all the way along. This young artist has a very bright future ahead and DC would be wise to sign Cafu to an exclusive contract and put him on a prominent title soon. His Congorilla is massive, his Hal Jordan heroic, his Captain Atom shiny, and reflective. The reflection of Hal Jordan on the Atom's face is well executed, giving play to the various planes Atom's face has, thus creating multiple reflections. Arcas helps Cafu's story become an over-the-top bombastic blast of nuclear artistry. Good stuff here. My biggest gripe with Cafu's work is that his drawing of Dr. Light doesn't make her look very Japanese, but the other characters are distinct and well-defined.
The two stories make this title worth reading. With word coming down of the upcoming "War of the Supermen" story set to rock the Super-titles this summer, this issue seems like a great place to start. If not here, where? If not now, when?