On the world of Krypton, a scientist is shocked by what she finds in the valley below the Jewel Mountains.
Three weeks later, the extended El family gather to welcome their latest member.
While pushy entrepreneur Kru-El isn’t exactly embraced by Jor and Zor…
… they’re thrilled to see their friend Dru-Zod is there. He announces that he’s stepped down as Krypton’s top general.
Also at the naming ceremony is explorer Nira-Ur, there to consult with Jor on the strange deaths of the Thought Beasts.
Sadly, the serene mood is rudely interrupted.
Longtime readers will be guessing that the terrorists are members of the Black Zero group, who have shown up in various versions of Krypton’s demise. This latest retelling, by writer Robert Venditti and artist Michael Avon Oeming, sticks closely to the basics of Krypton’s history, with plenty of familiar names, while changing a few details. Previously peace-loving, rocket ship-avoiding Krypton is here a star-spanning race who, if not the initial aggressors in a conflict, are certainly harsh in their responses. The El brothers are redesigned slightly, while their wives get bigger makeovers – Lara sports a harsh haircut, while Alura has an Asian look that makes it surprising she’s the mother of that very Caucasian Cabbage Patch Kara. (I realise planet earth terms can’t literally be applied to an extraterrestrial society, but we’re reading translated Kryptonese, so go with it.)
I do like blond Zor, with his Kirbyesque tunic, but am less keen on the older-looking Jor. And Lara reminds me of Ursa from the Superman films… I really don’t get why DC don’t set a model sheet for Superman and Supergirl’s family, it’s wearying not recognising them from one year to the next. With colours by Nick Filardi and letters by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, individual panels are lovely pieces of Pop Art, but I’m not the biggest fan of Oeming’s style, with people looking like piñatas seen through a fish-eye lens. What’s with all the distracting bits of light blue floating around folks’ bodies, holo-jewellery? And the disparity between the cover art style of Mico Suayan and the interiors of Oeming is tantamount to a bait and switch. (And who is the actor being used for Jor here, he looks so familiar?)
I pretty much always enjoy Venditti’s stories, and this is very readable. As a retelling of the Last Days of Krypton, I’m sure it’ll be a satisfying tale. I’m not sure yet whether it’s for me, because while I wasn’t there when the history was first laid down, the Silver Age Krypton is, for me, perfection. So I thank Venditti for including such classic elements as the Jewel Mountains, Kryptonopolis and those most unfortunate Thought Beasts… the notion of them having a mass stroke due to tuning in to Krypton’s upcoming death is really rather brilliant. And surely Nira-Ur is related to old Phantom Zone resident Jax-Ur.
I’ve never been keen on the ‘House of El’ business, with Superman coming from a line of aristocrats – great, sometimes notorious, men and women, yes, but not the uncrowned kings and queens of Krypton, targets for terrorists. Here there seems to be an over-reverence for blood members of the clan over folk who’ve married into the family.
I’ll check in next time, because there’s certainly a vision in place, but on the basis of this opener, I’m not sold on the series. How about you?