If you caught this past week’s reviews at Multiversity, you should know that the massive New Krypton saga had finally ended and that I was a big fan of it. However, despite DC’s best efforts with their Free Comic Book Day offering, War of the Supermen #0, the final stand for the New Kryptonians was a bit difficult for newer readers to get into (unless they were just looking for some action). This is to be expected, though, when one is reading the climax of almost four years of stories. If you missed out the first time around, follow the jump to enter the strange world of New Krypton.
While there were a few prior stories that had an effect on New Krypton, the true starting point of the massive saga was Superman: Last Son, co-written by Richard Donner and Geoff Johns with pencils by Adam Kubert. If you aren’t too familiar with New Krypton or even with Superman, I would use this as a sort of litmus test: if you love Last Son as I did, you’ll probably love New Krypton; if you don’t like it, you probably won’t enjoy New Krypton. Additionally, if you like Last Son but still aren’t sold on New Krypton as a whole, you’re in luck as Last Son can be read as a stand-alone story. A win-win situation all around!
If you have read Infinite Crisis and/or 52, I would suggest reading Kurt Busiek and Geoff Johns’ Up, Up and Away! before Last Son as a sort of transition into the world of Superman, but it’s hardly mandatory. Similarly you might want to read Busiek’s Camelot Lost and Shadows Linger, both of which are set during the time of Last Son, so you might see some familiar faces. The trade for Shadows Linger in particular contains a story (The Insect Queen) that is later referenced in the New Krypton era. There is also a JLA/JSA crossover entitled The Lightning Saga that reintroduces the original Legion of Superheroes, but the next story involving them does a fine enough job of introducing them. For the most part, each of these stories are optional.
Continuing with Geoff Johns’ work on the character we have Superman and the Legion of Superheroes. While not necessarily leading into New Krypton, the reinvented Legion is very important to The Last Stand of New Krypton. James Robinson’s first arc on the Superman title, The Coming of Atlas, is easily the weakest of his works involving Superman, but it’s referenced a good amount later on. Overall, it’s not quite essential but should be looked at if you have the time/money. Conversely, Geoff Johns’ Legion of Three Worlds is wonderful but not quite related to this list, other than containing further adventures of the Legion and the return of Superboy. Like Up, Up and Away!, read it only if you are familiar with what was going on at the time, otherwise it may give you a bit of a headache. Most important is easily Superman: Brainiac, the true prelude to New Krypton. Written by Johns with art by Gary Frank, Brainiac is a great blend of the superhero genre with that of science fiction, a feel that was echoed throughout the rest of New Krypton.
Finally, we are actually into New Krypton. The first two volumes consist of a crossover between Superman, Action Comics and Supergirl that serves as a set-up of the new status quo. From there on, the Super-books were radically different. While Supergirl continued to go on her adventures under the excellent pen of newcomer Sterling Gates, Clark Kent took up his Kryptonian name Kal-El and served in the New Krypton military as General El in the miniseries World of New Krypton. Taking Superman’s place in his own title was Mon-El the Daxamite, who was (re)introduced in Last Son. Mon-El’s tenure in Metropolis as the Man of Valor was probably my favorite part of the whole shift, and Robinson did an excellent job at making me care for the character. Coming in a close second, though, was Greg Rucka’s Action Comics, starring the new Nightwing and Flamebird. As Rucka is known for his talent of writing both sexes with equal competence, it’s no surprise that he does romance well, even if it involves reincarnation and dubiously pedophiliac affections (ok, not really, but you’ll see what I mean). Also during this time was the relaunch of Adventure Comics by Johns and Francis Manapul, temporarily starring Superboy.Continued below
Originally dealing with their own separate stories, each of the titles briefly crossed over for Codename: Patriot before going their own separate ways once more (other than Action Comics and Supergirl, which briefly crossed over once more). Upon the end of World of New Krypton, Superman, Supergirl and Adventure Comics crossed over with the mini Last Stand of New Krypton, which led directly into the action-packed War of the Supermen. With that four-issue final confrontation between the armies of Zod and Lane, an epic spanning years came to an explosive end. We still have yet to read Robinson’s epilogue in Superman #700, but for the most part all that needed to be said has been said.
The tricky part with this list is that everything post-Codename: Patriot has yet to be collected in trade. This makes it a bit difficult to arrange it chronologically, but for the most part it can be guessed at with little risk. If your local Comic Book shop has a good selection of back issues, I would go ahead and try to pick them all up that way unless you have the money to splurge on hardcovers, because it will be over a year before these are all available in paperback. DC needs to work on that aspect of publishing. As usual, here’s our final list:
- Superman: Up, Up and Away!*
- Superman: Last Son
- Superman: Camelot Falls (two volumes)*
- JLA/JSA: The Lightning Saga*
- Superman: Shadows Linger*
- Superman and the Legion of Superheroes
- Superman: The Coming of Atlas*
- Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds*
- Superman: Brainiac
- Superman: New Krypton vol 1 and 2
- Superman: Mon-El vol 1
- Superman: New Krypton vol 3
- Supergirl: Who is Superwoman?
- Superman: Nightwing and Flamebird vol 1
- Superman: Codename – Patriot
- Superboy: The Boy of Steel
- Supergirl: Friends and Fugitives
- Superman: New Krypton vol 4
- Superman: Mon El – Man of Valor
- Supergirl: Death and the Family
- Superman: Nightwing and Flamebird vol 2
- Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton (two volumes)
- Superman: War of the Supermen