General Zod is mourning the Bottle City of Kandor, the last remnant of Krypton’s civilisation, recently smashed to smithereens by the extraterrestrial monster Rogol Zaar.
In the Wake of the Batman Who Laughs affair, the World’s Finest heroes are testing a computer algorithm that helps them ‘evaluate potential threats’.
Their new project leads them to the graveyard behind Stryker’s Island prison, where lies the body of Kryptonite Man. The Green K in his corpse could harm Superman if it fell into nefarious hands.
The graveyard ninja is Batman’s old enemy Ra’s al-Ghul, who wants green K not to harm Superman’s but to stave off General Zod. He’s recently been approached by Superman’s former foe, who was last seen overseeing the building of a new Krypton with the blessing of Superman.
Ra’s doesn’t want hundreds of thousands of reborn, likely mad, Kandorians added to a planetary population he already sees as in need of culling. Superman and Batman know Lazarus pits make for bad mojo. So it is we have an uneasy team-up, with the heroes accompanying Ra’s to the site of a hidden resurrection soup.
But are they too late?
After six issues of Batman Who Laughs palava – I jumped ship after the first or second issue – here’s an issue I could enjoy. Hugely. A large part of the fun comes from Nick Derington’s beautiful art, it’s airy elegance a real morale raiser; I particularly like his Batman, with its echoes of David Mazzucchelli, but his simple Superman also has huge appeal.
And while his depiction of Kandor doesn’t fit current canon, who cares, it represents my favourite style for the locale, the gleaming Silver and Bronze Age city of wonders. Besides, DC continuity is in one of its regular states of flux/mess, so who know what the official version is right now. When we get to Zaar’s deliberate destruction of Krypton’s original capital, Derington makes the moment chilling. And a Lazarus pit scene at the climax of this story out-creeps even that, helped by the intelligent colour work of Dave McCaig.
Writer Josh Williamson is keeping up with the back and forth Batman/Superman narration that the World’s Finest fans have enjoyed – or, in my case, not – since the days of Jeph Loeb, but despite adding Zod to the chat mix this time, I liked his script, nicely laid out by letterer John J Hill. Zod is one of those antagonists who is very much the hero of his own story and his scene setting made that very clear indeed. How interesting that in his mind, Krypton was doomed not by the mass murderer Zaar but by the failure of Superman’s father and uncle to prevent its destruction.
While I disagree with Williamson’s Superman that both he and Batman are motivated by loss, I liked the bit in that scene about Batman still smelling his mother’s perfume. And of course, Ra’s keeps tabs on who his grandson Damian is hanging out with.
Is it only me who wants Zod’s plan to succeed? The crushing of Kandor was a rotten example of non-gender specific fridging, wasting huge story potential; I‘d love the likes of Van-zee and Sylvia to be back among the living. Sure, everyone may be a little… off… for a while, but Lazarus pit lunacy never lasts. As for Ra’s resources problem, he wasn’t listening to Zod – the Kryptonian wants to take the people away to a new world, not have them stay on earth.
Derington’s cover isn’t a homage that I can see, but it did evoke a couple of classic DC images for me. The artist may be tapping into some kind of comic fan race memory here…
I’ll be back next issue to find out what happens next. Come on Zod, you can do it!