Review: War of the Supermen #1-3

This miniseries should have been called “The Big Giant Status Quo Reset”, or, “Everyone and everything you liked about New Krypton gets destroyed, but Luthor lives.”

I’ve moved past my denial about them killing Alura and the (soon to be) entire population of New Krypton and into a kind of numb acceptance. With that comes a profound disinterest in the disappointing resolution to what promised to be a bold, exciting new chapter in Superman and Supergirl comics. I started buying SUPERGIRL again when Sterling Gates came on board at the same time as New Krypton, and I am depressed at the thought of returning to pre-New Krypton Supergirl after being given a taste of something so much bigger. I even bought a comic starring Superman for a whole year, and the comic version of Superman generally bores me (they then proceeded to make WORLD OF NEW KRYPTON all about Supes and Zod’s manly pissing contest, so look who’s the sucker!).

My guess is that anyone created for New Krypton will be killed or returned to status quo by the end of WAR OF THE SUPERMAN #4. Zod and Ursa will live (Non might die for angst). Luthor not only lives, but will get a starring role in the Superman comics, because that’s something fresh and interesting that people want to see *sarcasm* Brainiac is spirited off to R.E.B.E.L.S. General Lane will live. DC villains are sacred and can never be killed off if they’ve been around since the Silver Age, no matter how overused they’ve become or implausible it is that they’re still around. I doubt Lucy will be killed, but she probably won’t remain Superwoman much longer. Nightwing, it’s hard to say, given that he showed up earlier. If they don’t kill after Thara sacrificed herself, it’ll look bad politically. But if they do, there’s that whole child-killing problem again. Then again, they never addressed the hugely problematic and creepy situation of Thara having a physically romantic relationship with a child so that won’t come up.

In the weekly Newsarama interviews with James Robinson and Sterling Gates (Week 1, Week 2, Week 3) Gates stated that

I’ve heard from people who are really upset that New Krypton was destroyed, that a planet with such potential was blown up, its inhabitants killed. I agree; it’s a traumatizing and polarizing event.

But that’s what we’re saying with it: Death and destruction don’t care about potential.

Comparing the waste of storytelling potential to the wasted potential of human life in actual war is a bit out of proportion. Fans have a legitimate beef here. DC publishes serialized stories that go on forever, generally of uneven quality and at a price not conducive to impulse buying. New Krypton was their meal ticket to years of potentially rich stories to mine and they threw it all away for nothing. That’s the potential of the planet they blew up. After the underwhelming stories that did get told in SUPERMAN, ACTION COMICS, and WoNK, I’m even more angry about wasted potential.

The completely awful waste of Mon-El this past year (I dropped the book after they outright told us *in the book* that his year-long run would be all for naught). The thing with the evil gorilla scientist was completely unnecessary and unwanted. The Flamebird and Nightwing book went places it shouldn’t have with their own run-in with an evil scientist, and they never addressed the child-in-a-man’s body issue. Add to that the resolution of the Project 7734 backup in SUPERMAN (I think?), and there was too much torture going on.

I don’t want to think about the years of great storylines that could have come from New Krypton. I don’t want to think about how grateful I was that Alura was finally a relevant and vital character who had an important, complex relationship with her daughter. I don’t want to think about how happy I was that Alura and Kara appeared to have healed their relationship, and my mistake in thinking that the two of them were about to take charge of the war and turn it all around in a rare example of intergenerational female butt-kicking. I don’t want to think about how Alura’s legacy is using her daughter to get to Reactron to torture him. I don’t want to think about how I won’t get to experience a new era of Supergirl comics where she learns and grows through her relationships on new Kandor, trying to fit into their wacky caste-based society, with her mother as their leader.

The return of Krypton and Kara’s renewed relationship with her mother were the best thing to happen to Supergirl. But I don’t for a second think that most of the men at DC grasp the importance of Alura. They don’t live in a world where adventure stories about fathers and sons just don’t exist. They had to kill off Zor-El to do it, but for a brief time they actually gave us a story where a mother was the powerful leader of an entire goddamned planet of superbeings and her daughter was a superhero. That’s too fucking awesome to be tossed aside for some lame-o story called “War of the SuperMEN”.

“War” seldom makes for an interesting story in superhero comics, which have long since pumped that well dry. Shock and awe aren’t actually all that interesting once the shock wears off, so “crisis” stories are seldom worth revisiting. I won’t be doing individual reviews of these issues because I can’t come up with anything interesting to say about a series of fight scenes beyond, “Lots of people die. I’m sad.”

I’d much rather be able to talk about New Krypton in the future as a backdrop to the super books, one which added to the richness of the mythos without overwhelming it. I never expected New Krypton to remain the focus in all four books, but it gave them something different (if not entirely original) to work with which they really needed. Instead they chose to return to the status quo, again.

I haven’t read WotS #4 yet, so no spoilers in the comments please!

Michelle Bacon

Michelle loves comics and code. A lifelong Superfamily fan, she's been collecting comics for 20 years, and running Supergirl: Maid of Might since 2000.

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