by James Robinson and Greg Rucka (writers), Pete Woods and Ron Randall (artists), Nei Ruffino (colorist)

The Story: In New Krypton’s council chambers, General Kal-El and Dae, the Thanagarian admiral, face off against Jemm, Son of Saturn and his powerful followers who make punching bags out of the first few Kryptonian red shirts who try to stop them. In the meantime, a mysterious epidemic is striking the members of the dissatisfied workers guild. We get treated to a view of the Spartan militarism of New Kryptonian culture and how most of them seem quite comfortable with a growing thicket of enemies springing up on all sides. And in the middle of this comes Adam Strange, bringing a lethal touch from Rann into this simmering political mix.

What’s Good: I’m really enjoying the artwork of Woods, Randall and Ruffino. The lines and figures are becoming increasingly fluid. In part, this seems to be done with a lot less inking than normal and giving texture through gentle shading of colors. This fluid, organic character work doesn’t take away from the cityscapes or the images of the starkness of the treeless New Krypton. The sequence of the changing phases of Callisto was a cool effect, too.

On the story side, I’m enjoying it on the first pass. Robinson and Rucka keep us guessing, and lots of things are happening. The book feels full and includes a lot of good character moments, including an exploration of Kal-El’s relationship with Ursa, Gor and Non, his former enemies. I enjoyed the interesting look at Kal-El through the eyes of the Red Shard, his personal strike force.

What’s Not So Good: Don’t get me wrong – Superman: World of New Krypton is a fun ride and I think that this is the strongest issue since #3. However, I think that some plotting issues are becoming apparent. It may have to do with the scope of what Robinson and Rucka are trying to do. There are so many balls in the air in this series (for example: the suspicion and hostility from the Green Lantern Corps, Thanagar, Saturn, and Rann, the simmering class conflict, the unresolved political, ethical and possibly even physical conflict between Kal-El and Zod, the potential for romance, the unresolved betrayal of Kal-El’s worker sidekick, Kal-El’s adaptation and acceptance into Kryptonian society, the direction of the terraforming efforts, and finally this mysterious new illness) that while I’m ready to hold off on my judgment, I don’t see how Robinson and Rucka can give each plotline a satisfying conclusion in the last four issues. The very number of simultaneous plot questions and the way the problems burst in and out doesn’t let the reader know what the central thrust of the story is. As I said in a previous review, the writers might be trying to build a saga that won’t fit in 12 issues. I hope that the editors have this all figured out, otherwise issue 12 is going to be a bit inconclusive.

Conclusion: Despite the increasingly episodic nature of the story, this remains a fun, if mildly disorienting ride, well worth including in your pull list.

Grade: B

DS Arsenault