“The Third Kryptonian” (part 2)
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Rick Leonardi
Publisher: DC Comics
Before continuing, if you haven’t read Superman #668, check out my review of that issue for a bit of history regarding “the Third Kryptonian.” – KP
It’s fairly simple to determine the identity of the third Kryptonian. Kurt Busiek revealed the name in an interview, but did say it would not be the same version of a character with the same name. Instead, Kurt Busiek named the “third Kryptonian” as homage to the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths Superwoman, Kristen Wells. In this issue, Superman confronts the new Kristen Wells after he and Batman discover a group of kids got high off of a Kryptonian plant that originated from Wells’ garden. I’ll be completely honest; I half expected a young, sexed-up, modernized version of Superwoman. I did not expect the story Busiek crafted for this issue. At first I wasn’t the biggest fan of the story, but the more I thought about it and it unfolded, the more I enjoyed the story Busiek has written.
My first surprise was that Kristen Wells was not a young, hot and modernized version of the original. Rather, this Kristen Wells is an older woman in her 60s, minding her business and keeping away from her fellow Kryptonians. I absolutely didn’t expect what happens in this early goings of this issue. After she knocks Superman to Tokyo, he returns to her home where she waits for him with a giant gun designed to kill Kryptonians. It was at this point that I realized that Busiek definitely had something interesting at work.
I won’t get too in depth about what transpires because this story is primarily a flashback as Kristen tells a great deal of her story to Superman. When I read the interview where Busiek reveals the name of the third Kryptonian and the history behind that name, I stated that this story would not be about revealing the identity of the new Kristen Wells, but rather revealing her history. That is precisely what happens in this issue. Busiek also does something very important in revealing the history behind Kristen.
The Superman mythos has been gearing up for a “revision” since Superman Returns hit theaters. Some may argue that the Byrne and Giordano Superman or Waid’s Birthright Superman may be the true origin, however I believe 2008 will bring the definitive origin of Man of Steel. Since Superman Returns, Krypton in the comics has adopted the “crystal tech” that has been prominent in all of the films. The Fortress of Solitude in the comics is modeled after the film version, and the “Up, Up and Away” story-arc during “One Year Later” expanded on the crystal tech and the history of Krypton. Busiek plays off of a number of ideas introduced during “Up, Up and Away” when he goes into detail regarding Kristen’s past. Not only does it expand further on some of those ideas, but it also plants seeds for the “definitive” Superman origin that has to be on its way.
For Superman fans, I really recommend checking this issue out if you haven’t already. Busiek begins to expand on a great deal of history surrounding Krypton and Kristen Wells’ role in the action. She’s been around since long before Krypton’s destruction and Busiek really explores all of the elements, including how she’s managed to stay alive for a hundred-plus years. Also for sci-fi fans, this issue is a perfect fit as Kristen describes the past. There are some definite Star Wars references, but overall Busiek crafts a decent sci-fi tale that should definitely play into the unraveling history of Krypton.
There’s another plot at work as well, one that has been looming since the Auctioneer revealed that there was a “third Kryptonian.” The weird bounty hunter-esque character looming in Earth’s orbit through this story-arc makes his appearance known to Superman and Kristen. As learned last issue, his motivations involve killing Kristen and finding the city of Kandor. While this sub-plot isn’t as compelling as the revelation of Kristen’s past, there are some definite questions regarding Kandor’s involvement I am interested to see.
I like Rick Leonardi’s artwork much better than I did last issue. There are some panels that do look great, especially the two-page spread early on, and his representations of Kristen’s past are pretty well done. There are some moments of inconsistency in terms of anatomy but for the most part, I really enjoyed the artwork throughout this issue.
Overall, this is a very important issue not because of the “third Kryptonian” but because of the history surrounding that character and the history of Krypton that comes with her. This is a great read for both Superman and sci-fi fans and I hope that the conclusion rocks the house.
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