Superman: The Last God of Krypton
Walt Simonson, writer,
Greg & Tim Hildebrandt, artists
(DC, 1999)

The story isn't that great.

Superman: The Last God of Krypton tells the tale of a long-forgotten ice goddess of the dead planet Krypton, Superman's homeworld, who awakens to find her planet destroyed and her victory over the ancient gods of light complete -- almost. Sensing the life force of the universe's last remaining Kryptonian, she hurries to Earth in a flurry of anger and snow, planning to snuff out Our Hero and live happily ever after.

Had I heard the storyline without seeing the artwork involved, I probably wouldn't have given Last God a second glance. But anything new from the Brothers Hildebrandt is worth checking out, and they don't disappoint here despite Walt Simonson's somewhat lame script.

Greg and Tim have always had a flair for dramatic, realistic-looking fantasy art. But, while they've done plenty of book covers and posters, and have illustrated numerous stories with scattered paintings, a full book of Hildebrant art is a treat.

Their renditions of the cast -- Superman/Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Lex Luthor -- are immediately recognizable, yet are still slightly different somehow than what we're accustomed to seeing. There's a momentary brain shift as you absorb their appearances and key into the familiar. It's like seeing a movie after reading the book -- you've already imagined the characters in your mind, but once you see the actor on screen, you know instantly who it is.

Perhaps the goddess Cythonna looks just a wee bit much like the popular Chaos Comics anti-heroine Lady Death -- same pale complexion, same white mane of hair, same massive bosom -- but I can forgive them one adolescent indulgence. While the Hildebrandts' artwork has never been known for under-endowed females, they did give us a refreshingly realistic Lois, and even the knock-out blonde who discomposes poor Clark in the beginning is realistically proportioned.

Otherwise, the characters' expressions are believable, the action is kinetic and even the scenery in the background is detailed without being busy. This is good art.

I will give Simonson some credit here; the story, despite the goofy premise, isn't that bad. And it has some very nice touches: Clark Kent's flustered response to a pretty, turned-on intern is classic stuff, as is Lois's suspicion over just where Superman's x-ray eyes are peeking when he dashes without hesitation into a women's restroom to change. The characterization of Lex Luthor, who hopes to ally himself with someone apparently more powerful than Superman and his reluctant change of heart after their meeting, is dead-on. Superman's meeting with Luthor, as well as his parting from Lois, are also excellent forays into their personalities.

But I must question the ethics of Simonson's Superman. He draws the line at killing his foes, a line he has crossed only once, but he doesn't bat an eyelid at imprisoning an immortal (or at least very long-lived) entity in the heart of the sun. Centuries of pain, weakness and boredom ... this is better than death how?

If you like Superman, you'll enjoy some bits of the tale. But you'll love the art, and that's what makes The Last God of Krypton a keeper.

[ by Tom Knapp ]

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