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Superman: War of the Supermen #3 & 4

Posted: Monday, May 31, 2010
By: Michael Deeley

James Robinson & Sterling Gates
Cafu (#3 & 4), Eddy Barrows and Eduardo Pansica (#4)
DC Comics
Before this "New Krypton" saga, there were only a handful of Kryptonians in the world. General Zod, Ursa, and Non were trapped in the Phantom Zone. Mon-El was there too, waiting to fulfill his role in the Legion of Superheroes. The Guardian was missing, pushed to the corners of the DCU. And General Lane, Lois Laneís father, was believed killed defending the Earth from an alien invasion.

Nearly 2 years and 100 comics later, all of that is exactly the same. Except weíve got a new evil Superwoman running around.

Zod leads the surviving Kryptonians into all-out war with Earth. Casualties on both sides are staggering, more so for the Kryptonians. Every death they suffer brings them closer to extinction. Superman defends Metropolis, while his allies shut down Laneís bases across the country. There are final confrontations. Some lives change and others just end. And Superman vows to continue being the great hero he was before all this started.

I know itís par for the course when a crossover doesnít really change anything. But after all this time, all this build-up, all these characters, and all these plotlines, Iím disappointed that there werenít more permanent changes. Why doesnít the Guardian stick around to join the new Science Police? And didnít Tellus, the telepathic Legionnaire, give him a special power to help defeat Codename: Assassin? What was it? He never used it! Whatís going to happen to the Human Defense Corps? Will Gen. Lane still be considered a hero even after the truth is told? There are a lot of questions left unanswered. The most important one being: What was the point of all this?

Losing track of your own epic story is a sign of poor writing. Another sign is sudden changes in characterization. Issue #4 has Supergirl fighting Ursa, saying, "the guilty will be punished". Minutes later, sheís threatening to kill Sam Lane. Those actions donít quite fit. Did Supergirl mean sheíd kill Lane herself? Then why not say that to Ursa? That would be an interesting twist! At the warís end, Superman sends Zod and himself into the Phantom Zone, then sets the PZ projector to self-destruct sealing them inside. Um, why does Superman have to be holding the projector to destroy it? Why didnít he just zap Zod, and then destroy the projector? Thereís a difference between heroic sacrifice and suicidal stupidity and I wonder if James Robinson knows it.

The story ends with a short speech from Lois Lane about how terrible people are. The Kryptonians are dead because people canít accept change. And sheís right! People believed the lies spread by Gen. Laneís organization because they are inherently distrustful of the powerful aliens that openly hated humans. OK, the conflict wasnít clear cut, but I have more sympathy for the Kryptonians. They fought out of survival; Earth fought out of fear. And Superman will keep fighting for them. People can accept one alien as long as he spends all his time working for them. Supermanís secret identity should be "Uncle Tom".

For a while there, I was hoping New Krypton would survive in some form or another. Maybe the planet would be moved to a distant part of the galaxy. Maybe a handful of Kryptonains would build an isolated city on Earth or Mars or the moon. Something that would make the DC Earth a little more fantastical than our own. Instead, we get a return to the status quo and a reminder that people are evil.

Thanks James Robinson. Youíve burned up all the goodwill left from your work on Starman.

But I did learn something important. After New Krypton, Codename: Patriot, World Against Superman, Last Stand of New Krypton and War of the Supermen, I did find one positive thing to take away from all this: Supergirl is a pretty good comic. You should give it a look.



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