I probably picked up Superman: The Third Kryptonian at the wrong time. At the moment, Geoff Johns, James Robinson, and Sterling Gates are busy reinventing Superman and his relationship to the world, as well as playing with the problem of Kandor, what was once a bottled city stolen by Brainiac. If I’d read the graphic novel during its initial run, I’d probably have liked it more.
The plot is pretty simple. A bad, powerful alien with a revenge jones against Kryptonians comes to Earth to get rid of said Kryptonians. Of course, he immediately targets Superman and Supergirl, but he learns there’s a mysterious third Kryptonian. And the reader does too. If I hadn’t already had Kandorans whizzing around in the current pages of Superman and Action Comics, I’d probably have been more curious. Now it seems like we have lots of superfolk.
Kurt Busiek does a lot with the story, though, and it goes through a lot of convolutions before we reach the finish line. I like the character of Karsta Wor-Ul. Busiek pens her as an ex-soldier and ex-mercenary, and she measures up in that regard. I also liked the idea that she’d retired to the country and chosen to lead a life of peace after all her adventures.
The story spun out through the second leg of the three-issue story contained within the graphic novel is great space-faring stuff. The idea of a behind the lines strike using never-before-used superpowers was fascinating. A do-or-die mission that felt like covert ops.
I also enjoyed the presence of young Christopher Kent in this story. His presence has split Superman fandom to a degree, but Busiek does a really nice job with him. I especially liked the pages where Christopher and Tim Drake talked and played. Really good touch.