Well consider me back on the train for Mon-El taking over in Superman's absence in the Superman title. I wasn't too keen on the idea coming out of "New Krypton," contemplating only reading World of New Krypton for Supes' adventures, but with the developments in Superman #685 I've quickly warmed up to the idea of Mon-El being Metropolis' new guardian.
This is all because of the back-up origins segment of #685 where it shows Mon-El adjusting to life on planet Earth and having a meeting with his surrogate mom, Mrs. Kent. This one scene, and how it plays out, quickly inserts Mon-El into the current Superman landscape with a fitting tribute to a character recently passed and gives Mon the much needed emotional weight the fans need to cling to since Superman will see a dramatic shift in direction without its title character. For readers unsure if Mon-El will keep their interested piqued, this segment goes a long way to prove Mon-El can be just as interesting as Superman under a good writer. And James Robinson isn't just a good writer, he's a great writer finally coming out of his shell on the Superman books.
But most of the main story in issue #685 deals with selling the concept of Superman abandoning his adoptive home world, his wife, and his mother to go live on New Krypton and prepare for Zod and Alura's fascist regime and war on Earth. I thought the issue did a decent job selling the concept to readers because that's exactly what this issue was--a sales pitch. A "please trust us with the direction of the Super books, because it's all leading somewhere, we just need to move the pawns into place." And while some readers might think Lois and Ma Kent's all-too-easy acceptance of Clark leaving them indefinitely just to watch Zod possibly making a play for New Krypton is a cope out on Robinson's end, simply choosing to look the other way instead of exploring the drama in further detail, I see it as Robinson showing the incredible trust Superman has earned by his family and friends as being the ultimate judge of what's right and wrong.
Moving on to the art. It's unfortunately a mixed bag. We have two artists lending their pencils to issue #865, Javier Pina on the main story and Pablo Raimondi on the Mon-El back-up feature. Pina doesn't hold a candle to Robinson's story. It's overall very bland and sporadic work with some panels using fine details while others use heavy lines and little detail. Now Pablo Raimondi's work on the back-up segment is fantastic. I really enjoyed his take on Mon-El, Krypto, and Ma Kent. Also, most panels included a great attention to detail with backgrounds and great facial expressions to convey the character's dialogue and interaction. Raimondi even made a mohawked Sodam Yat look cool. Which I thought was impossible.
The only other thing worth touching on in this review is the cool use of Alex Ross' classic cover. Once you've read the entire issue you will notice that the image of Superman holding Jonathan Kent while he's dying takes on new meaning with the reveal of Mon-El's new secret identity. Pretty cool little twist on the meaning of the cover if you ask me. Truly a case of a comic using an iconic image to foreshadow the contents of the issue without explicitly showing what happens.
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