Twelve tedious issues of “Superman: World of New Krypton” later, we begin its “Last Stand.” While Kal-El spent the twelve issues of the previous series — by writers James Robinson and Greg Rucka — embroiled in an overlong police procedural, here he breaks out of his Kryptonian formalwear, tearing his shirt open, and up, up, and away, shouting, “This looks like a job for Superman!”
It’s about time.
“Last Stand of New Krypton” will interweave through the Superman Family titles in coming weeks, but this first issue signals that this won’t be the kind of slowly-developing plot machine that has hindered those titles for the past year. This is an action-packed epic, or so it seems, and it’s a refreshing change of pace for the Superman universe, which has been burdened with limp storytelling for far too long — basically, ever since Geoff Johns walked away from “Action Comics” and the new Nightwing and Flamebird stumbled into the world.
In this series, Sterling Gates joins James Robinson, and I don’t know if it’s the combination of their authorial voices, or the chance to finally break free from the staid television pacing of the previous series, but this first issue works in a way that “World of New Krypton” never did. It has a greater threat in the form of Brainiac, who isn’t going to let his former city-in-a-bottle slip away from his grasp forever, a more engaging supporting cast, and a kind of rip-roarin’ pace that enlivens the series from the opening scene onward.
General Zod, full of the hubris that is his trademark, tries to blast the Brainiac ship out of the sky, and heroic Kryptonians lose their lives in the process. So there’s that. And the Legion of Super-Heroes shows up — the Espionage Squad that has infiltrated Mon-El’s life in recent issues of “Superman” — and things get sticky. Zod may or may not be particularly supportive of their arrival. (Hint: He’s not. At all.)
But all of it really hinges around Superman zooming back into action, a blur of red, blue, and yellow. Sure, he’s apparently been wearing his costume and cape beneath his Kryptonian blacks and greys, but if he can wear it under his Clark Kent garb, I suppose he can wear it under his Kal-El uniform. But it’s really all about the big red “S” shining on the page, Pete Woods getting a chance to cut loose with the action scenes, and the “Last Stand of New Krypton” giving us hope that the Superman Family of titles will matter again.