Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Nerd Alert!

With Final Crisis just around the corner, written by one of my faves Grant Morrison(even if I have been a little let down with his Batman run), and Geoff Johns doing a pretty spectacular job of reigning in the often convoluted and ungainly DC continuity, I'm finding it a pretty good time to be a DC fan. Especially with the awesome conclusion to The Last Son of Krypton, written by Johns and his former boss, Richard Donner. The story started almost 2 years ago, and the last we've seen of it were the words 'to be concluded in Action Comics Annual #11.' That was 13 issues ago, and the wait has been pretty frustrating. But with this issue, with it's grand cinematic scope(a cliche when talking about comics these days, I know), and incredible Kubert art, almost made the wait worthwhile. I only say 'almost' because a year is too long to ignore such a momentous series of events within the Superman mythos. But wait, there's some things here that don't add up.

The story started way back when, with the arrival of an alien ship containing a young boy who exhibits the exact same power set as Superman, and who speaks Kryptonian. Upset with the governments attempts to isolate and study the child, Superman kidnaps him, and has Batman draw up a paper trail that turns the new Kryptonian into Christopher Kent, a cousin of Clark. Lois and Clark adopt the kid, and all seems fine for about five minutes until Zod, Ursa and Non(of Superman II fame) show up, and it's revealed that Christopher Kent is actually Lor-Zod, General Zod's child with Ursa from their time in the Phantom Zone. Zod and an army of Kryptonian criminals(also from the Phantom Zone), banish Superman to said Phantom Zone, and enslave the Justice League, setting up their own kingdom in Metropolis. It's no spoiler to say the Supes escapes, and seeks Lex Luthor to help him use his expertise to take down some Kryptonians. Cue dramatic music and intriguing 'to be continued.' Flash forward about a year, and it seems that the story is now wrapped up. But wait, what about that year in between?

And here's the problem. For that year, the rest of DC continuity was moving forward, with no mention of the Kryptonian invasion of Earth, and Superman figured prominently in that continuity. Meaning that he was obviously not trapped in the Phantom Zone for all that time. It would make sense to assume that those stories take place after the events of The Last Son of Krypton, and yet it's clear from the final issue that this isn't the case. (SPOILER ALERT) For at the end of the storyline, young Christopher Kent sacrifices himself in order to trap the Kryptonian criminals back in the Phantom Zone, and he along with them.

And now we have a years worth of story lines involving Christopher Kent, adopted son of Lois and Clark. We get to see him learning how to use his powers, moving into a new super-swank apartment with his family, and even meeting and hanging out with Robin(something the last issue paradoxically mentions). What happens to all of these stories now? Did they happen? If so, when? The Last Son of Krypton storyline took place in such a short time frame that there's no room in there for the other adventures to have happened. Do they get retconned out of existence? If so, how do you account for the several references to those adventures that are littered throughout this latest issue.

It's things like this that turn people off of comics, in particular DC. While DC isn't any worse than Marvel at these things, Marvel at least doesn't tie themselves into knots quite so often. DC almost requires a PhD in comic book history to understand everything in their books, and glaring errors like this just confuse and frustrate the fans.

The shame here is that Geoff Johns and Richard Donner have had a pretty splendid run for awhile, and this Last Son Of Krypton storyline had some pretty awesome beats to it(Lex's Superman Revenge Squad, with a trained Bizarro, an upgraded Metallo and Parasite being a highpoint). Johns' encyclopedic Superman knowledge, with Donner's cinematic take on the character, made for some pretty awesome reads. If it weren't for the delays in the title, everything would have been fine.

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