House of El Book One: The Shadow Threat

DC Comics. Jan. 2021. 208p. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781401291129.
Gr 7-10–In comic lore, the planet Krypton self-destructs right after Superman’s parents send the infant to Earth for his survival. This first installment in a new series from Gray explores the downfall of Krypton through a pair of intrepid teens and a few familiar faces. Zahn, a wealthy member of the Re family and a cousin to Lara, who is pregnant with Kal-El (Superman), keeps conveniently bumping into Sera, a lower-caste soldier who’s part of the effort to terraform other planets. Sera and Zahn don’t fit in with their genetically appointed caste systems—Sera questions the effectiveness of her ill-fated missions, while Zahn aligns himself with an underground group attempting to save Krypton. General Zod picks Sera to help the scientists Jor-El and Lara in a secret mission to undo some of the genetic strictness that has formed most Kryptonians. Lara argues that leaders and scientists need creativity and soldiers need humanity and compassion, whereas the current genetic caste structure prohibits both of those from happening. Meanwhile, Krypton is being rocked by extreme earthquakes, which the government denies are happening despite the obvious evidence to the contrary—a plotline that will feel especially relevant given current events. Most characters are white, although Zahn and Sera have friends who are people of color. Zawadzki’s artwork is engaging while propelling the story forward. Sera and Zahn must team up in the end, and the next phase of their adventure promises to be just as exciting.
VERDICT A strong start to this trilogy about the last days of Krypton. Will thrill Superman fans and action fans alike.

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