SUPERMAN #698 by James Robinson and Javier Pina
With the New Krypton storylines winding down and evolving, Superman returns to his own title in Superman #698 to team up with Mon-El, who has been keeping watch over Metropolis and Earth in Kal-El’s absence. This is an all-out action issue with tons of evil robots for our two heroes to blast and tear their way through.
I liked seeing the war rage on New Kandor, but it felt a little like a Star Wars movie to me. Lots of action, lots of attrition, lots of people crossing their fingers and hoping that Superman can defeat the Death Star, er, Brainiac’s cool looking skull ship zipping around through space.
James Robinson, the author, throws in Lex Luthor as well, and I couldn’t help being reminded of all those old Superman titles where Superman was reduced in size and kept captive in a birdcage while Luthor and Brainiac looked on and gloated. Robinson does this kind of thing perfectly, creating new while at the same time keeping a running theme that hearkens back to all the old Silver Age stories.
Mon-El really mans up in this one as well. During the course of this series, Robinson has had Lar Gand come into his own, and he feels at the top of his game in this issue. But he isn’t just a Superman clone as he’d first intended to be. He’s very much his own hero dealing with his own agenda and problems.
This is a major slugfest throughout, and seeing Superman break free of the bonds that should have held him (although predictable) is still awe-inspiring. Javier Pina’s art looks a little rough, and some of the details get lost, but it solidly portrays all the action. The page with Superman in full battle mode suddenly getting held up by Luthor pointing a pistol at one of the bottled cities is awesome. Pina really captures the instant tension in the panels.
I liked the full page splash of Mon-El saving the bottled city, but the inking looks too heavy and he’s somewhat lost in the shadows. Still, the torn shirt and the fatigued look are good.
The issue ends with a two-page cliffhanger spread with Superman and Mon-El battling the cybernetic army that’s strong and reminded me a little of Jack Kirby’s stuff. I’m looking forward to seeing how this story eventually wraps up. And the issue really whets the palate for the upcoming Superman #700.