DC Comics

DCEU Comics Review (Part 1): “Man Of Steel Prequel Comic”

Happy Anniversary, my friends!  It’s crazy to believe that this humble site began as a simple review blog a decade ago before growing into a personal domain where I’ve shared my thoughts upon various superhero and non-superhero media on a monthly basis.  To think, it all got its own start at the same time that Warner Bros. was about to launch a media series that would go through its own ups and downs within some wildly unexpected extremes.  As such, it’s time for me to come full circle on that notion.  Welcome one and all to a brand-new review series called…

As far back as 2004 and starting with the scrapped Wolfgang Petersen-directed project “Batman Vs. Superman”, Warner Bros. had been looking for a way to bring DC’s mighty characters together upon the big screen and not just in separate solo movies like they’ve been doing for several decades.  Prior to the DECU’s formation, there were two other attempts at doing just that.  The first one was a George Miller-directed movie called “Justice League Mortal”.  Despite getting as far as casting its core characters, the lack of securing a proper tax break to shoot in Australia and the Writer’s Guild of America Strike from 2007 & 2008 ultimately brought those plans to a permanent halt.  As for the second one, that was originally supposed to start in 2011 with the Martin Campbell-directed and Ryan Reynolds-led feature known as “Green Lantern”.  Unfortunately, it wound up being critically panned while just barely making its production budget back.  As such, any plans to build a cinematic universe from that movie were ultimately thrown out.  After being forced to make a new film that would serve as the new foundational start, we’ve finally reached a movie that did provide just that, though it served as a looming figure over the shaky history that this series would ultimately forge for itself.

Soaring into U.S. theaters on June 14, 2013, this film saw David S. Goyer (who previously penned some notable superhero movies including “The Crow: City Of Angels”, the Blade trilogy and The Dark Knight trilogy) write the screenplay while co-writing the story alongside notable director Christopher Nolan.  As for the man who would actually helm the main director’s chair, that turned out to be Zack Snyder (who previously directed two prior comic book movie adaptations in “300” and “Watchmen”).  Made on a budget of $225 million, it went on to gross over $668 million.  Despite its modest monetary haul, it ended up getting a mixed critical reception.  As for the major tie-in materials that would come from this cinematic endeavor, it would only get a single comic book that will serve as our main review subject.

Released on May 18, 2013, this digital-only comic was originally acquired at Wal-Mart via the purchase of an advanced screening ticket (apparently).  While David S. Goyer, Geoff Johns and Zack Synder came up with the story, Sterling Gates would end up writing the script.  As for the artwork, Jerry Ordway would handle the pencil work while also co-opting his inking duties alongside Bob McLeod, Joe Rubinstein and Bob Wiacek.  As for the comic’s colors, that responsibility would be granted to Hi-Fi.  So, what kind of featured venture went down long before Superman ever came about to ultimately stop General Zod from terraforming Earth via a World Engine?  Let’s take to the stars and find out.

After initially starting with the Kents taking baby Kal-El under their care after his spaceship landed near them, we head in reverse chronological order as we ultimately arrive upon Krypton before we truly begin with a half-dozen young recruits embarking upon a journey to locate three beacons.  Amongst the group is Kal-El’s cousin named Kara Zor-El as she picks up the beacons’ locations on her personal radar scanner.  While Kell-Ur assumes that they’ll complete their objective by nightfall, a fellow teammate (who’s ultimately named Thara) tells him that the explorer’s council wouldn’t have made it that easy of a mission for them and that something dangerous would’ve been included to prevent their mission from being a cake walk.  As they venture their way through the thick foliage, Kell-Ur begins to wonder why the council is making them go through this trek even though they’re all pilots and that they have to do so while wearing some “itchy suits”.  Kara then tells him that this is a simulation of the harsh & unpredictable elements that potential guild members could encounter and that it’s unclear what they’ll come across before or after the terraforming process occurs.  After a lengthy journey through various areas, she manages to lock in on the three beacons’ signals.  From there, she decides to split the group up in order to reach them at a faster rate, starting with having Kell-Ur & Dev-Em head towards one particular spot.  However, Dev-Em doesn’t want to be bossed around by her, to which Kara tells him that she’s kept this group alive for this long, especially since they’re on a timed trial.  From there, she places Nam-Ek and Dora into another pair while she heads out with Thara.  As they each head out, Thara then asks her if it was wise for them to separate like this, since the test will only allow four of them to pass.  Kara replies by mentioning how they’ll only perform better if they all work together and that the council should ultimately recognize that.  Eventually, the two ladies manage to reach one of the beacons.

Suddenly, they hear a desperate plea for help as Kara notices that Kell-Ur is the one uttering the calamitous cry as she runs out towards him.  By the time that she reaches the cliffs, she sees him hanging on for dear life.  After being unable to properly reach him with a decent-sized branch, she yells out to Thara that she needs some rope from her bag.  Unfortunately, a snake-esque creature reaches Kell-Ur and bites his hand, causing him to lose his grip and plummet to his death.  During said horrid event, we have a quick flashback sequence where the two of them were actually a budding couple and that they were supposed to travel out into space by each other’s sides.  Just then, Dev-Em emerges from the brushes and says that he got separated from Kell-Ur while looking for the beacon.  However, Kara is able to tell that he’s lying and that he actually got his partner murdered.  As such, he tries to attack her with a machete, but she’s able to disarm and defeat him.  Just as the rest of their group catches up, she tells them that their test has ended and that she’s contacted the council in order for them to get picked up.

Later, Dev-Em is in front of the Kyptonian Council where after five weeks of deliberation, they find him guilty of assaulting Kara and for also committing the planet’s first murder in over a millennium upon Kell-Ur.  As Dar-Enx is about to sentence him to death, two specific council members named Syra Ten-Ar and Dug-Les decline his decision on the grounds that they’re not barbaric.  As such, he places Dev-Em under their indefinite custody until they’re able to decide upon a more-fitting punishment.  Over at a graduation-esque ceremony, Kara gets awarded with the Star of Rao for her stellar scholastic record and for capturing Dev-Em.  Afterwards, the speaker named Cawl announces that she and her fellow teammates will get assigned to their own scout ships.  Not only that, but they’ll also be departing from Kypton and embarking on their own scouting missions within the next few days.  After the ceremony, Kara is met by her parents Zor-El and Alura as they congratulate her before she offers to take them to the hanger in order to look at the scout ships.  As they arrive, she tells her folks that each spacecraft has its own Growth Codex & that their mission has them venturing out to various planets, activate their Codex and use its created embryos to grow enough of a Kryptonian population before they terraform said planet.  She also mentions that lots of scout ships will be launched as part of their planet’s “Great Age Of Expansion” and that she’s honored to be involved with this process.  Afterwards, Zor-El decides to give his daughter a certain item to help commemorate her special moment.  Kara soon notices it to be an extremely rare mineral called a Sunstone and that it contains an image of her with Kell-Ur, which was supplied by her newly deceased boyfriend.  From there, she then tearfully tells her parents that she loves her new gift.

We then shift to the day of the big launch as Kara begins to take off with her team.  Meanwhile, a pair of guards are heading towards Kell-Ur’s cell in order to retrieve him.  However, they discover that he’s escaped.  As the legion of scout ships blast off, Kara’s parents watch them from afar.  Alura mentions how it’s likely that they’ll never see their daughter again, to which Zor-El tells her that Kara not only carries the House of El’s hope, but the entirety of Krypton’s hopes as well.

As her scout ship proceeds upon its mission, Kara takes another look at her deceased boyfriend via her Sunstone.  Afterwards, she checks up with her crewmates.  Her engineer named Lin tells her that the engines are operating at full capacity, while the navigator named Elsi Ho-Paa informs her that their course has been set and that they’ll arrive at their destination in a decade.  Kara then tells her team to lock everything up and power down all non-essentials before she tells Officer Kex to prep their Cryo-Sleep chambers.  After a passing mention from Elsi that the chamber’s nutrient fluids prevents its occupants from dreaming, they all climb into their own respective chambers and head into their extended slumbers, unaware that someone else is on board.

From there, we transition back to the past event of Kara desperately attempting to save Kell-Ur while he hangs on for dear life from the side of a cliff.  Once he loses his grip and begins to fall, she then proceeds to jump down after him.  Not only does she catch him, but she’s suddenly able to fly as she soars back to the top of the cliff.  He’s then stunned by this turn of events and asks her how she did that before he thanks her for saving his life and gives her a big hug.  As for Kara, she realizes that her newfound flight came from her getting energized by the yellow sunlight.  Just as Kell-Ur tells her that Dev-Em was the one who pushed him, she suddenly wakes up and gets out of her chamber.  As she wonders why none of her crewmates had awoken her, she soon finds out that one of the chambers (most likely hers) has been sabotaged.

From there, she makes her way to the main bridge as she discovers her crewmates suited up and silently sitting at their stations.  When she goes to check up on them however, she finds out that they’re all dead.  Not only that, but a familiar voice calls out to her from the pilot’s seat as she turns around and realizes that it’s a slightly older Dev-Em.  She asks him how he’s still alive since he was supposed to receive the Death Penalty, but it turns out that he was secretly bailed out of his imprisonment by Syra Ten-Ar and Dug-Les before they allowed him to be cast out into space in order to hide “the evidence of their indiscretion”.  As for how her crew got their grisly fate, he explains that after hiding out on her scout ship for only a day, he couldn’t access their on-board food pantry without proper access via a handprint.  He was soon met upon by Officer Kex who tried to fight him, but Dev-Em killed him before he cut the deceased figure’s hand off and kept it with him in order to proper access the whole spaceship.  As Kara realizes how insane he’s grown, she tries to run away.  Unfortunately, he uses Kex’s hand to access a panel and seal the main door before he also mentions that he’s had a whole decade to thoroughly look over the entire scout ship and also how to take complete control over it.  However, he had nearly nothing else to do with his spare time.  As such, he decided to creepily look over her and her whole crew while they slept within their Cryo-Sleep chambers.  Eventually, he got bored and began to wake her entire team up before eventually murdering them.

Kara then responds by hitting him with a helmet and telling him to stay down, but Dev-Em gets furious at the fact that she hurt him and that he wanted them to be together in order for them “to repopulate the entire Sol System with countless Kryptonians”.  As such, he attempts to punch her, but he misses and hits the wall with enough force to shatter his suit’s glove.  Kara retaliates as she mentions that the Sol System was never their original destination, but Dev-Em strikes back while telling her that they’ll go wherever he wants them to go and that she’ll either be alongside him or else she’ll die.  She manages to kick him away, but he ends up smashing into the scout ship’s vital control systems as it begins to plummet towards a nearby planet.

Kara tries to head over to the main controls, but Dev-Em returns and starts to choke her while blaming her for destroying the life they could’ve shared together.  He then says that once they land, he’ll simply activate the onboard Growth Codex and grow his own Kryptonians.  Thankfully, Kara manages to take out her Sunstone and stab his hand as she frees herself from his grasp before the fierce velocity from the intense freefall forces him away.  As the scout ship begins its emergency landing procedure, she manages to regain control and negates its recent action.  With the scout ship rapidly plummeting, she attempts to pull up in order to lessen the impact of its harsh landing.  After it crashes onto the snowy landscape, Kara ultimately emerges from the scout ship before she heads out.

Several years proceed to go by as the scout ship ultimately gets buried under the ice and snow.  Eventually, a white wolf has made its way over to said area before it gets struck down by an Eskimo’s spear.  Eventually, the deceased wolf gets brought back to the tribe’s hut where it gets skinned before getting cooked for food.  As the head Eskimo heads out, it’s soon revealed that the tribe has historically noticed the scout ship falling out of the sky and has even carved it onto the wall of their hut. We then shift ahead to modern times as a worker named Robinson informs his superiors that Earth’s Observational Satellites have recently picked up an unusual signal from Ellesmere Island over in Northern Canada.  While one of his superiors mentions how they recently performed a helicopter expedition a year ago and found nothing, Robinson says that the signal is coming from beneath the ice.  As the superiors wonder what could possibly be lying underneath the ice after several millennia as well as whom or what the signal is trying to reach, the comic ends on a familiar movie scene where Kal-El a.k.a. Clark Kent is working out at sea alongside some fishermen, unaware of the destiny that he’s slowly making his way towards.

Despite the fact that this serves as a piece of tie-in material to a Superman movie and that it ultimately explains how a certain Kryptonian spaceship arrived within the Great White North in order to ultimately provide some exposition via a holographic Jor-El while also giving Kal-El his costume, this is predominantly a Supergirl story that sees her going through a similar parallel that her cousin would ultimately come across within his cinematic tale.  If there’s a similarity that she and Clark have to deal with during their own adventures, then it’s the fact that they each go up against a corrupt figure who managed to avoid their permanent punishment.  Not only that, but said antagonist requires our hero in some way in order to populate a target planet with their own Kryptonian race.  Unlike the movie where Kal-El had the time to grow up in order to properly harness his powers while General Zod & his fellow imprisoned cronies were briefly trapped in the Phantom Zone before Krypton’s explosion freed them and they eventually reached Earth after acquiring a World Engine from an abandoned Kryptonian outpost, it’s our natural leader Kara who’s in suspended sleep for a whole decade while Dev-Em got to familiarize himself with her scout ship.  Not to mention, Dev-Em is similar to General Zod and his fiendish comrades in that they’re able to take advantage of the Kryptonian council’s inability to deliver swift justice upon them, thus allowing them their opportunity to get back at our main character down the line.  As for the main story that’s given here, it presents Kara as a confident, caring and strong-willed woman who’s more than capable of properly guiding her fellow teammates towards their respective goal.  Not only that, but she’s also able to properly fend for herself once the going gets rough, even without any superpowers.  Despite the fact that this doesn’t delve into her backstory in any massively expansive fashion, she’s initially presented with enough good qualities and a nice foundation that could’ve been expanded upon had the initial approach to the DCEU been originally built upon a far-more stable batch of films.  Even though her own solo movie wasn’t in the originally planned slate (as well as an alternate universe version of the character showing up in Flash’s solo movie long after Zack Snyder’s original plans fell apart), it’s still a well-presented proto portrayal that could’ve been built upon had certain events gone differently.  As for Dev-Em, he’s more of a muscular bully who doesn’t like being told what to do by her.  Apparently, this is a character who’s actually from the comics and was originally a Kryptonian prior to the company-wide reboot known as “Crisis On Infinite Earths”.  He also shares a delinquent connection and was also able to avoid Krypton’s inevitable destruction.  Unlike his younger kin who got to work alongside Zod to accomplish his twisted goal of recreating his deeply-flawed version of Krypton, this featured Dev-Em ultimately decides to build his own Kryptonian race from scratch once he finds himself in a better situation due to a pair of rogue Kryptonian council members busting him out.  Not only that, but he becomes incredibly twisted into thinking that Kara will automatically submit herself to his scheme.  His characterization felt pretty basic and two-dimensional at best, especially since certain connections & motivations were absent.  For the two Kryptonian council members who helped him escape, maybe they could’ve been his secret parental guardians and that they’ve spent several years instilling some ill-advised motives & beliefs onto him.  As such, it would’ve been a decent-enough reason for them to help Dev-Em escape, since he could’ve been their secret son and that busting him out of his imprisonment would’ve covered up their personal connection to him.  From there, his personal beliefs that he built from their influence could’ve been fleshed out into why he wants to create his own Kryptonian race.  As it is though, he’s a decent adversary for Kara to go up against and not much else.  If there is a theme with this prequel story, then it’s the potential set-up for a lasting legacy.  With Kara, she represents the best that Kryptonians can be.  She properly guides her assigned group through some rough situations and definitely had the potential to be similarly inspirational like classic comic Superman.  On the other side, Dev-Em comes off as a self-centered figure who wants to do things under his own choice and not under the decision of whoever the main leader actually is.  Because we never see him properly guide his own group, it’s most likely that his own created race would’ve become dysfunctional and collapsed, thus leaving his own legacy as nothing more than shattered remains.  As for the artwork, it’s professionally detailed and contains a good color palette.  The colorful range allows the transpired events to stand out in order for the story to get properly presented.  Finally, the narrative is also backed by some good pacing, allowing the most important details within its own story to be delivered at a natural rate while also providing some expansive background to a part of this Krypton’s past, thus allowing it to partially enhance the movie that it’s based on.  There didn’t seem to be any major examples of the overall story flow that either slowed down unnecessarily or got side-tracked for much longer than needed.  As such, it helped with presenting the narrative within a timely fashion and not overstay its welcome at any notable point.

Overall, this was a neat tale for both our proto Maid of Might and for providing some nice background details towards the eventually doomed world of Krpyton.  The artwork was greatly presented, the narrative was nicely told within a coherent fashion and Kara was wonderfully handled with the characterization that she was given.  While I would’ve preferred some further development in some areas, it still managed to put some attention upon how certain aspects of Krypton functioned while also allowing Kal-El’s cousin to get her chance to shine the most out of the entire series (again, not counting her alt-universe version from Flash’s film).  Despite coming from a different time when the franchise was originally leaning towards Zack Snyder as its initial leader, the comic is still a worthy read and delivers on a pleasant experience.  If it piques your interest, hop online and check it out for a fulfilling fix from this Girl of Steel.

Next Time:  It was the sophomore entry that finally brought the World’s Finest together in a live-action, theatrically released movie, yet ended up becoming an infamous chapter that became a major turning point for the whole franchise.  While the film continues to get talked about by various critics of all kinds, I’ll be delving into the small batch of prequel tales connected to “Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice”.

Supergirl/Kara Zor-El (created by Otto Binder & Al Plastino) and all related characters are owned by DC Comics.

By coolcomix0221

Love Comics, Video Games, and Sports. Aim To Become a Sports Writer.

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