At its heart, it’s hard to ignore the obvious conclusion for “Superman: War of the Supermen.” It’s safe to assume that most everyone from New Krypton is getting wiped off of the map, and sure enough, each issue has served to lower the population of Kryptonians running around in the DC Universe. After all, Superman and Supergirl are hardly unique when there are 80,000 other Kryptonians hanging out in the solar system. So with that in mind, we see another culling of the population, right on schedule.
But here’s the thing: James Robinson and Sterling Gates make it somewhat exciting this issue. Previous issues felt slightly stale and lethargic, but (with admittedly only one more issue to go) things have finally picked up the pace here. Sure, the way they’re doing so starts off with another massacre (and a hideously telegraphed sacrifice of another character) but it’s hard to deny that there’s a little excitement for things actually happening.
Even more interesting is the Kryptonian response to the latest round of deaths. Robinson and Gates actually make their assault on Earth slightly sympathetic. Sure, they don’t know that all of this is through a rogue general rather than an all-out assault on them from Earth as a whole, but you actually feel a bit sorry for them. Their planet is gone, and their population dropped in two hours by more than 90 percent. Of course, any sympathy quickly flies out the window (no pun intended) by the mass casualties inflicted on Earth itself, but for that brief shining moment, the bad guys don’t look quite so bad.
Other than that, though, the predictability is slightly painful. I suspect most people have already guessed which characters will survive, and there doesn’t seem to be much deviation from that path. There’s a moment where we learn that Superman and (once again) Supergirl have somehow survived an attack that no other Kryptonians did, and it’s hard to not wonder how the in-story logic is supposed to work here. Sure, as readers we know that they’re going to survive because they have their own titles and trademarks. But none the less, it’s a little questionable.
Cafu, Bit, and Blond provide the best art of the crossover to date (apparently going by just one name has that power). Cafu has a good eye for the human body, and he’s able to bring a lot of punch and energy to his action sequences. The panels of Ursa zooming across the planet feel alive and fast, and it kept reminding me how good his back-up story in “Action Comics” looked. I think Cafu is even better when he’s inking himself, because that has an extra level of smoothness to the overall look, but Bit does a good enough job to carry the art through.
With the “New Krypton” era of “Superman” almost over, it’s a little sad to see such a thorough dismantling of everything from the past few years. Maybe we’ll get a nice surprise next week and discover that not everything is being completely reset. But right now? It’s hard to not feel like you are seeing that coming around the bend at an increasing speed.