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Superman: Nightwing & Flamebird, Vol. 1 - Come on in, the water ain't fine.
Written: May 14, 2012
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Delivers well enough with action and characterization
Cons:Doesn't stand alone, could have been formatted better
The Bottom Line: Holds up quite well without the Big S. It's worth a read.
After the battle with the combined might of the Justice League and Justice Society, as well as an ambush that left Supergirl's father dead. The Kryptonians now led by Supergirl's mother Alura has fled the Earth to live on the other side of the sun, on a planet they renamed New Krypton. Superman leaves to the world and learns that Alura had freed Zod from the Phantom Zone. Superman returns to Earth to speak with his adopted-mother and Lois Lane on a decision he feels must be made.
Superman: New Krypton Vol. 1
Superman: New Krypton Vol. 2
Superman: Mon - El
Superman: Nightwing and Flamebird Vol. 1:
Superman made the decision to leave the Earth to keep an eye on the Kryptonians now residing on their new planet New Krypton. His worries increased when he learned Zod had been released from the Phantom Zone and he now commands the military. Back on Earth, two mysterious, seemingly powerful superbeings have emerged and they seem to want to fill in Superman's shoes. Who are they and what exactly are they planning? -summary
The New Krypton saga was meant to be Superman's big event, and around this time it had already begun to effect all Kryptonians; Superman is on New Krypton going through his own dilemma trying to learn Zod's ulterior motive, if he has one, as a member of his military with this taking place across the 12 part main series World of New Krypton. Supergirl is on Earth trying to capture her father's killer, as well as learn the identity of Superwoman. In a nutshell, these two are all tied up. However, Superman planned for this by naming a man with Kryptonian powers Mon-El as his successor, and he's been doing a well enough job growing into the role. Two new fighters by the names of Flamebird and Nightwing jump on to the scene, and you soon learn what's driving them.
Written by Greg Rucka, Superman: Nightwing and Flamebird contains Action Comics 875 - 879, Action Comics Annual 12, and Superman: Secret Files 2009. The biggest flaw with this book is that it does not stand on its own at all. Hard followers of Superman will indeed be lost if they haven't been following previous events, so you can only imagine where a casual fan will be in all of this. Once you're brought up to speed though, you will probably think this is a pretty good crossover as it features some good action and characterization.
Rucka doesn't spend much time with the mystery at all, as he reveals the identities and drives for both characters quickly. Flamebird happens to be the former guard of security on Kandor who worked under Supergirls parents Zor-El and Alura, while Nightwing is the son of Zod and Ursa ( 2 of the 3 Kryptonians from the Superman II movie). The two learned that Zod assembled a plan to leave "sleeper" Kryptonians on Earth living as humans; by this time, at least one is the head of his own company, while two others have completely abandoned Zod's mission, and have taken up a murderous Bonnie and Clyde life. They set out to capture all of his followers, and at the same time, keep a low profile as Krytponians by wearing armor with intentions on having people believe that's the source of their power.
There are some side plots here with each one slowly revealing pieces of the story. Ursa is sent to Earth to dispose of Flamebird and Nightwing, and here, you learn of a grudge between the two females dating all the way back to Brainiac capturing the city of Kandor and putting it in a bottle. General Lane, Lois Lane's father who has been revealed to be alive and well, yet his existence is being kept tight lip, is still on the verge of revealing his big plan to wipe out all Kryptonians. The story has several good moments.
I enjoyed the character development here; Flamebird and Nightwing make it no secret that they are cherries in the field of combat. Their enemies are very tough, and even as a dual they wear the wounds of war often. They frequently make mistakes in their fights, and an one occasion, Ursa delivers a savage beating to Flamebird taunting her the entire time, and even comes very close to killing her with a Kryptonite blade. They also find themselves in battle against some of Lane's forces being lead by Codename: Assassin, and here another story element is revealed. They don't hog all of the spotlight, although her moments are brief, Lois Lane is entertaining in her own way. I love how she's not even thinking about Superman being gone, and she puts things together to learn her father is actually alive. It's cool how she learns this with the help of Mon-El who makes a brief appearance here, and also, it's quite entertaining when she reveals to know the whereabouts of anyone by phone no matter how well hidden they think themselves to be.
The story makes an even bigger attempt to add some depth to the lead characters; their names appear to be regarded as mythical figures in Kryptonian lore. There are small pieces put out there on occasion, and after the end of the five part story Sleeper. There's an entire issue explaining their origins, and detailing how the two met through time and space. The story has some slow moments there, and it's indeed a huge change from the slugfest provided earlier, but I enjoyed this part.
The artwork features different authors across the book and it shows, with some character designs being very pretty while others are completely forgettable. Now when the artwork is good it's good, as you will see some nicely done lines and smooth coloring. The action has some highly detailed moments, with Flamebird taking painful blows across the face, with the battle scene between her and Ursa looking the most brutal. There are also some graphic killings that I won't spoil along with blood-soaked moments.
I enjoyed this crossover and it was handled better than Superman: Mon-El, and it's actually an essential crossover so one of the later books, Superman: Codenamed Patriot, could make more sense. However in all honesty, I kind of think this story just might not be for everyone. I've noticed the book coming under fire only because Superman isn't in it at all. But I kind of think it runs deeper than the Man of Steel being on vacation. The story should have been formatted better, and featured the two leads origins first. Maybe this way the fans craving their Supes fix could have at least felt some type of emotional connection. It's hard to feel sorry for a character you don't know being pummeled. I'm guessing Rucka was banking on Nightwing getting the job done alone once you learned who he was, and Flamebird would have just flowed right in. Nice theory and all, but I can see it still not flying.
A thanks to Christal for the quick add.
This is another entry into Elvisdo's 2012 Funny Pages Write Off.
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