Picking up almost exactly where Robinson’s recent Superman #691 left off, Superman: World of New Krypton deals with the first bits of fall-out from the inferior “Codename: Patriot” story that ran through all the Superman family titles recently. As Kal flies the murdered Ral-Dar back to New Krypton, the planet moves towards war. The military is itching to strike back after the attempted assassination of General Zod, the council is divided, and there is worry as to just how far the infiltration goes, and how it even happened in the first place.
This is all very familiar stuff. Anyone who has ever read, for example, a single X-Men comic published in almost any era will be familiar with the “powerful minority who is hated and misunderstood and wants to fight back” story. But where Superman #691 (and many X-Men comics) fell prey to the absolute worst tropes of that genre, Superman: World of New Krypton smartly avoids cliche by focusing on how things changes Kal’s responsibilities to his home planet. In a brilliant move, to spoil a plot point of the book, Kal is placed in temporary command of the armies of New Krypton by a barely-conscious Zod.
Woods continues to do stellar work in making the Kryptonian technology and fashion look both appealingly retro and utterly alien, and the increased drama that comes from Clark’s sudden promotion brings out a gift for recognizable and diverse facial expressions that I haven’t noticed much in his previous work. Though I was at times unimpressed with him in earlier issues, it is becoming more and more clear that he really does have a handle on the alien feel of New Krypton and the massive design issues the book demands.
The issue does a good job largely ignoring the impending Earth/Krypton war for the issue’s action in favor of a skirmish with some Thanagarians and a tragic accident that happens because of it. Meanwhile, Robinson and Rucka are giving World of New Krypton‘s villains subtlety and grace utterly lacking in the “Codename: Patriot” story, as well as putting Kal through one of the biggest challenges of his career. It will be interesting to see how Superman reacts in the heat of battle as the leader of his fighting force, especially with the knowledge that each Kryptonian death brings his species that much closer to extinction. World of New Krypton remains the strongest Superman title available.
– Cal Cleary