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Graphic Novel Review: Superman: The Third Kryptonian by Kurt Busiek, Fabian Nicieza, Dwayne McDuffie, Rick Leonardi, and Renato Guedes

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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.
superman

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.

Rick Leonardi’s pencils on this section of the graphic novel are fantastic. Superman’s actions were big and bold and properly heroic. I enjoyed the angle changes throughout the panels very much, and flipped back through the story after finishing it just for a second dose of the visual impact.

Two standalone stories round out the graphic novel. Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza join up for “The Best Day,” with pencils by Renato Guedes. This super-family picnic was okay at best, but had some nice character interaction. Dwayne McDuffie wrote “Intermezzo,” which is a nice hat tip to Jonathan and Martha Kent and the worries they go through on a regular basis regarding their son. Superman and Pa Kent’s adventures in outer space were terrific and a lot of fun.

Overall this graphic novel is a mixed bag. Superman fans will probably want to pick this one up.

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