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

The Story: Three Green Lanterns (Hal Jordan, John Stewart, and Sodam Yat) come to investigate the appearance of a new planet in Earth’s system, New Krypton. General Zod isn’t impressed, but lets Kal-El and Tyr-Van show them around. Part way through their tour, news comes that a group of dangerous phantom zone criminals have escaped. Zod orders the military to hunt them down. The Green Lanterns find some surprising developments on New Krypton and help Kal-El chase down one of the criminals.

What’s Good: Zod is a cunning villain and a politically slippery mad man, like Norman Osborn. He’s not intimidated by green lanterns, nor should he be. Every issue, he surprises Kal-El with acts of mercy before he clocks him with a blow he didn’t see coming. And worse yet, he’s the legitimate leader of the Kandorian people. Kal-El doesn’t know how to fight that. Rucka and Robinson have given Superman a problem he can’t solve with superior morals or superior strength. Not only is he just one Kryptonian among many here, he is just one citizen too, with one voice, no louder than anyone else’s, bound to his guild.

The tour of New Krypton, shown through the pride of Kal-El and Tyr-Van, was great and it really showcased Pete Woods’ ability to draw on a big scale. In a single two-page spread, he takes us high above the still-hostile surface, then down into pockets of life covered with weird and wondrous red flowers, misty light, trees and fungus and small animals. In another, he carries an accusing Green Lantern high above a sprawling, alien shipyard.

For the writing, the dialogue is really good. It feels real and authentic. So often, writers over/underwrite, or try to jam a lot of explanations into dialogue. Yet, Rucka and Robinson make it feel like this is how the characters really are. That authenticity allows them to take the reader through the weird world and the complex politics and personalities that fill this series.

What’s Not So Good: Unfortunately, all the tension built up from the last issue (the cliffhanger ending with three green lanterns facing Superman) and the cover (Green Lantern in a fist-fight with Kal-El) is dissipated on the first page as Hal and Kal-El smile at each other. The tension never quite picked up again. Zod was menacing and we knew he was up to something, but that was too subtle to bring up a general feeling of dread to really drive the story.

On the art, if layouts worked on an epic scale, then they started faltering on some of the fine details of the faces. They started to look plastic and carried stylized solid lines. Let’s just say I wouldn’t have been able to pick Kal-El out of a police line up. That weakness was a bit off-putting.

Conclusion: I was really pumped up by the first three issues. After the climactic hostage stand-off and the fight between Gor and Kal-El last issue, I was expecting the same pace in this one. It’s a good book, but it doesn’t reach the peak achieved in the last issue.

Grade: B

-DS Arsenault