Some big crossovers have all of the major events in the middle, bookended by a prologue and epilogue to ease you in and out of the story. Others have all the big moments at the start and end of the story, the middle little more than a transition between those points. “The Last Stand of New Krypton” is shaping up to be the latter; there’s a tiny bit of forward motion in regards to Mon-El’s story, but, on the whole, this is nothing more than a big, issue-long fight scene with exposition chunks hurled at the reader.
I’m not against that idea overall; a huge fight scene could end up proving to be quite entertaining. This one, though, has lost a lot of its oomph. Superman being held immobile while Brainiac and Luthor lecture him is hardly riveting material (and, unfortunately, it doesn’t tell us anything new), and Mon-El fighting random aliens and a few robots. . . Well, the idea of collaborators siding with Brainiac in order to buy their freedom isn’t a bad one, but it’s tossed out so off-handedly and with such little panache that it’s a wasted concept.
Javier Pina and Bernard Chang share the art duties this month, with Pina drawing Superman while Chang gets Mon-El. It’s a fun way to split up the art, and for two artists whose styles are diverging more each month, they still work well together. Pina’s art looks the best I’ve seen in a while, with a smooth, polished look that reminds me of some of the classic “Superman” art from back in the day. With a spit-curl and a gentle muscular figure, it’s easy to see those influences from back when Curt Swan reigned supreme over the “Superman” style. On the other hand, Chang’s art continues to grow more angular rough, and I love it. Chang’s art looks fantastic these days, and now that we know that Eddy Barrows will be the main artist for J. Michael Straczynski’s run on the book, I hope DC finds a new assignment for Chang quickly. He’s someone to definitely watch.
With this era of “Superman” coming to a close, it’s a shame that these issues are caught up in a big line-wide crossover. James Robinson’s writing has been up and down over the past couple of years on the title, but when it’s been good it’s a pleasure to read. Writing the middle chapter of a crossover, though, doesn’t play to his strengths. Hopefully “Superman” #700 will give us one last good Robinson story.