Writers: Geoff Johns and Richard Donner
Artist: Adam Kubert
Publisher: DC Comics
Rise before Zod…
“Last Son: Part Three” finally arrives! Action Comics Annual #10 gave readers the back-story to Jor-EL’s history with Zod, Non and Ursa. It was like Superman II: The REAL Donner Cut. The story featured in the Annual not only syncs up with Superman II fairly well, it also provides new cynicism and hatred in the characters of Zod, Non and Ursa. Lately, as a whole, Superman comics have been rising in stock. Kurt Busiek has an intriguing story happening over in Superman while fans and readers happily wait on Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman. Meanwhile, right here in DC’s flagship Action Comics, one of the biggest Superman stories since “The Death of Superman” is starting to take shape. While this arc is going to be riddled by delays, whether it is Adam Kubert’s art or the perfection of one of the most important Superman stories ever, I for one will happily sit back and wait. This is by far one of the best Superman stories in a long time and has the potential to be one of the greatest ever told.
While I didn’t mind General Zod, ruler of Pokolistan, I knew deep down that the super-powered Russian could never hold a torch to the ruler of Planet Houston. It’s been about 30 years since Terence Stamp famously brought General Zod to life, but the classic incarnation of the character has never made it into comics. Finally, Geoff Johns and Richard Donner have brought him where he truly belongs, but he’s not the same Zod as was portrayed by Stamp.
Rather, Geoff Johns and Richard Donner have done the one thing necessary for these characters to be successful in comics. Johns and Donner have transcended the three Kryptonian villains beyond their desire to rule the galaxy. Here they ultimately wanted to save Krypton, only to be betrayed by Jor-EL. This gives the villains the most believable and logical reason for them to hate Kal-EL, providing more depth to these characters than could be found in the Superman films.
This issue also expands on what was seen in Action Comics Annual #10. The events leading up to Zod’s trial featuring many criminals of Krypton banished to the Phantom Zone including Jax-UR and Quex-UL are revealed to the reader as Zod asks the Jor-EL simulation to talk about him. Zod snaps when Jor-EL refers to him as a criminal, thus adding to Zod’s character, showing that he truly believes that he was and is righteous in his cause. Zod has got one hell of a grudge and has every reason for it.
Superman has battled countless monsters, hundreds of super-powered beings, even annoying imps from the 5th dimension and alternate Earth versions of himself. No character, not even Lex Luthor, has the power to destroy Superman like Zod, Non and Ursa do. Not only do they have the same abilities as Superman, but they managed to get inside the Fortress of Solitude and find the device of their imprisonment. With this development, Johns and Donner only raise the stakes and create a predicament that continues to become more and more dangerous for the Man of Steel.
With all the madness and chaos that ensues in this issue as Supeman battles Non and Zod, Ursa goes after the young boy who started the whole mess, her son. The scene between Ursa, Lois and “Chris Kent” is easily one of my favorites of this issue because while Zod and Non have been given much deeper characterization in their transitions to comics, to me Ursa still remains the calm, dangerous and seductively evil woman that Sarah Douglas portrayed. The way she attacks Lois in this issue clearly reminded me of the Daily Planet scene during Superman II. It was subtle, but just as I have read Zod’s dialogue with Terence Stamp’s voice in mind, I have read Ursa’s with Sarah Douglas’ unmistakable accent. I’d almost be more afraid of Ursa than I would Zod or Non; she seems to be a little more stable and ruthless.
The end of this issue is insane. The end of this issue just hammers home the point that Geoff Johns and Richard Donner have been crafting what may be one of the greatest Superman stories ever. Zod, now in possession of a certain device, has done the unthinkable. But Zod’s actions also prove one thing: that this arc has continued a trend (like it or not) that was started by Superman Returns. After 80 years, there are still Superman stories and ideas that have yet to be explored. I haven’t even thought about spoiling the end of this issue; you have to see it for yourself.
If you are a fan of Superman at all, this is definitely one of the story arcs you have to own. Superman is not just about to face the greatest challenge of his life during this arc, he’s about to face those that are equally as powerful and equally as Kryptonian. Everything just falls perfectly into place with this issue, and everything from the Annual ties in perfectly. My greatest hope is that this run on Action becomes the true and definitive Superman story from which all other will follow.
While the three Kryptonian villains are bringing hell on Earth, there is still a wild card in the deck. The would-be ruler of Australia has yet to show his true intentions during this arc. With more than one Kryptonian running around, opportunity presents itself to Luthor, who is in the possession of every form of Kryptonite. Will he finally fulfill his dreams as savior of the Earth or will he kneel?
Adam Kubert’s art is the best it has been yet. Dave Stewart does a fantastic job on the colors and helps bring out the best in Kubert. In the first issue of the arc, I wasn’t all that impressed with Kubert’s work. I felt it was rushed and sloppy and compared to his brother Andy’s work on Batman, sub-par. However, as Johns stated in a press release, the delays are coming partly because Kubert wants to perfect the art and in this issue, it looks great. I love his Superman. The way in which he draws the character is a great hybrid of the classic comic book look, Christopher Reeve and Brandon Routh. Just give Lois her hair back and I’ll forget she has the “boy cut.”
Unfortunately, the wait for “Last Son: Part Four” begins, but after this issue, it is so worth it. I will have no problem going back and reading this arc over and over. In my opinion, this is shaping up to be the definitive Superman story of our generation. This is one of my two Picks of the Week.
Now… Kneel before Zod…
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