By James Robinson and Greg Rucka (writers), Pete Woods (artist), Brad Anderson (colorist)

Some Thoughts Before the Review: Other than John Byrne’s 1986 classic Man of Steel, I’ve never been much of a follower of Superman.  He’s always been too powerful, and too much of a paragon whose ethical choices never cost him anything.

The Story: Kal-El, a commander in the New Krypton military guild is trying to defuse a potentially fatal stand off between hostage-taking labor guild members and the military.  He’s not in charge and everybody has the same powers as he does. But things change when he decides to take away his powers to try to negotiate the surrender of the labor guild members.

What’s Good: For starters, the art is fantastic in this issue. I especially liked the great hand-to-hand scene between Kal-El and Commander Gor.  As for the writing, the dialogue is crisp and authentic, and the pacing is great.  With that said, the two reasons I had for never following Superman are now gone.

Furthermore, what’s exceptionally good here is how the Kryptonian’s vulnerability is illustrated and told. Everyone on New Krypton is as powerful as he is.  Not only that, they have these new red light rifles that can temporarily make an indestructible Kryptonian defenseless. I wonder if this plot device will become as overused as kryptonite was.  It’s an interesting concept, but now that it’s out there, all Kryptonians are just mortal once these things open fire.

The other great element of this story is that Kal-El is not always in the right. His moral compass, calibrated for truth, justice and the American Way, doesn’t suit the Kryptonians at all. They not only view him as an outsider, but they look at him as downright naive. This is a whole new environment for Superman and you can tell he’s uncomfortable, and this ethical relativity ratchets up the conflict.

What’s Not So Good:
There’s very little to complain about in this issue.  If someone forced me to complain, I would say that despite three issues, I’m not getting a real clear picture of Zod or Gor.  Their motivations and choices occasionally come off as serving the plot, rather than being something true to character.  However, for now I’m going to trust that Robinson and Rucka are slowly developing these villains and that the nuanced greys will become clearer in coming issues.

Conclusion: This could easily be one of my favorite books.  I’ll be back for issue #4.

Grade: A-

-DS Arsenault