Superman #680 Review
Superman #680 Review by Hugo Bravo
Written by James Robinson
Art by Renato Guedes
Around the middle of the last issue of James Robinson's arc "The Coming of Atlas", I wondered what the point of this story was. Atlas was in itself, an uninteresting character, with an origin that I could not recite back if I tried. The story basically involved Atlas looking for a challenge and coming across Superman. Pretty typical stuff. It was only by the end of the last issue that I knew where Robinson was going with this. This arc was purely a showcase for Krypto the Superdog. I can live with that.
We've seen small bursts of Krypto's powers in the last few years, usually involving him going against Superboy Prime in the Infinite Crisis and the Sinestro Corps war. There is also supposedly an excellent one-shot issue hiding in Kurt Busiek's house about Krypto dealing with the death of Superboy Connor Kent, which may never see the light of day thanks to a messy lawsuit regarding the name Superboy. But here, we see the Dog of Steel in all his lunging, biting glory, bravely picking up the slack while Superman takes a beating he hasn't endured since Doomsday.
Though his Krypto is top-notch, I'm not quite sold on Robinson's interpretation of the Man of Steel. His dialogue seems oddly un-Superman. Throughout this arc, Superman went through a bit of different personalities. He was downright sappy, rudely condescending, and even a bit clueless (In the opening scene of the arc, it is implied he can't tell Green Lanterns apart.) This may be Robinson still finding his own distinct voice on Superman, and it may be unfairly compared to Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison, both of whom are writing some of the best Superman stories in years in other books. Not surprisingly, the scenes where he's the most as the Kal-El we know and love seem to be when he shares them with his dog, like a great flashback where he boyishly defends Krypto's destructive behavior to Lois.
The ending seems to come with one last blow, ultimately putting this story along with the dozens others that involve Superman fighting a being as powerful as him, only to emerge victorious somehow in the end. A guest appearance by young magician Zatara serves little purpose except to remind us that he didn't fall of the face of the earth after the Teen Titans. Without Krypto, this story would be pretty unremarkable to say the least.
So a major thumbs-up to Robinson's Krypto, but only a marginal recommendation to his Superman. Where this issue does succeed, is in a continuing trend to strengthen the Superman family and their supporting cast to the point that they are becoming an actual faction in DC, similar to the Bat family. Action Comics writer Geoff Johns has stated that this is not a coincidence, and to expect further developments into this idea across all Super-books. Jimmie Robinson has certainly done his fair share, giving new life to a beloved character in Superman mythos. I wonder what he could do for Beppo the Supermonkey.
One last note on Krypto. He not only has never looked better, thanks to Renato Guedes, who can draw one heck of an angry dog. He has also never been given a better voice. You won't see Krypto going on and on, breaking down the situation like in his cartoon or his Johnny DC comic book. Instead, he thinks like a dog in a fight probably thinks. Focused, intense, and above all, extremely loyal to his master. Atlas never stood a chance