The end is nigh. With energy and food in ever more short supply as their world rumbles towards destruction, the people of Kryptonopolis are rioting. Security leader Zod’s teams are responding with deadly force. And, caught in the middle, are Zor-El, Alura and their daughter Kara.
The security troopers are brutal with the panicking citizens because they’re rudderless, Zod having gone dark. He’s detained elsewhere.
Jor-El isn’t a born fighter but Zod’s extreme actions have whittled away the hope he’d been hanging onto as he searched for a way to save Krypton. Outfitted in a warsuit bearing the family crest, he’s a desperate man expressing his frustration with hi-tech fists.
And back at the El home, Jor’s life partner Lara considers the future – might their unborn child have one?
Of course, we know the answer to that. The El family represent Hope and that’s the note on which this six-issue mini series ends, not the more obvious planetary destruction. And I like that – writer Robert Venditti, artist Michael Avon Oeming, colourist Nick Filardi and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou close the book on a glorious final image, noting that this isn’t the end, but ‘The Beginning’.
It’s a shame that Zod and Jor can’t make their peace. Jor tries to be conciliatory.
Anyone even vaguely familiar with the Superman Legend, though, knows where Zod is going. Venditti’s script tweaks details to make this more a story for today, but the big beats remain the same. Jor losing hope, for example, is a passing thing; by story’s end, with Lara’s help, he sees that not all futures are closed to his family line
The switching back and forth between scenes of conflict in the first half of the book as things get ever more intense is handled superbly by artist Michael Avon Oeming. There’s a real urgency to the art, a dynamism that reflects the building panic of the people, the emotions building within Jor. The riot with cute little Kara at the centre, and Zod’s people brutally taking down protesters, is particularly effective. Odd, unexplained details, such as Jor’s sword having a face, add to the sense of wonder.
And the final page image is simply beautiful.
Nick Filardi’s colours also deserve huge credit, they positively sizzle. I don’t know whether the Benday-style dot matrixes that occur throughout are indicated on Oeming’s art, or are all Filardi, but either way, the colourist is more than pulling his weight. The reds for battle, the purples for the quieter moments as Jor enters the Acceptance stage of grief… this is intelligent, effective work.
Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou adds to the drama with his letters, which vary in style and weight to underline the story beats. He’s a new name to me but has done a fine job throughout this series, and I hope to see lots more of his work at DC.
Mico Suayan and Annette Kwok provide another stunning cover – the illustration is slick but full of emotion. Particularly nice is the wee rocketship blasting into the masthead.
Every generation of comic readers needs a full retelling of Superman’s beginnings and this is a terrific one – familiar enough to be satisfying, different enough to feel new. Venditti, Oeming and friends deserve our thanks.