Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Superman has probably seen most of his ancestors having sex. Take that, Ancestry.com!

SyFy's new show Krypton, a prequel to the life of Superman, is still a couple months away; and while I'd like to be surprised, the stills from it so far I couldn't have identified if they hadn't been labeled as from that show. I also suspect it's not going to be as continuity-smashing insane as Fox's Gotham, nor is it going to have all the crazy crap we've seen in the comics. As in this issue! From 1981, the Krypton Chronicles #1, "The Search for Superman's Roots!" and #3, "The Race to Overtake the Past!" Written by E.Nelson Bridwell, pencils by Curt Swan, inks by Frank Chiarmonte.

Morgan Edge had his own scheme for a TV show about Krypton, but he did have his finger on the pulse of the country's zeitgeist...as of maybe a year or three prior, but still: after the success of mini-series Roots and Shogun; Edge figures a historical dramatization of the "complete, authentic story of Superman's family tree!" would be a smash hit. And that assignment goes to Superman's childhood friend, Clark Kent! Which really seems like setting him up for failure: I don't know how Edge legitimately expects Kent to come through here, but maybe Kent had pulled so many rabbits out of his hat over the years that he only has himself to blame.

Conveniently, Supergirl is at the Fortress of Solitude, since this was the day they could visit the now-in-another-dimension Kandor. The bottle city had seemingly been destroyed when its citizens were enlarged, but enough of it had survived that the Kandorians were doing pretty well at rebuilding it; and of course all their computer records had survived. Including statues of Superman's ancestors, with "mind-tape" memory playback! Those go back eleven generations or so, then Supes is able to see back further with his cousin (and former Nightwing!) Van-Zee's headband memory extractor...thingus.

Even though he had looked back about four millennia, Superman still isn't satisfied, which I think was less than due to curiosity than a brutal Midwestern work ethic. With Supergirl (who knew her parents, so doesn't seem as invested in all this...) Supes goes into space to use a "light-seeker" to look back on Krypton's distant past. They would only be able to see things that happened outside, and would have to read lips since they wouldn't get sound, but they're able to see the lives of an inventor, a religious prophet that wasn't quite Noah, several generations of sovereigns and the occasional tyrant, and the first El who was also basically Samson but looked like Superman.

The prophet one was the weird one for me: Jaf-El proselytized for the god Rao, and was able to predict a freak occurrence that seemingly changed Krypton's red sun to yellow. He also predicted the evil people would die in a flood, but the righteous would be saved by Rao...somehow. Jaf's brother notices the animals have begun preparing for floods, by damming themselves up inside caves or fleeing to higher ground; but the people are caught flat-footed when the floods come. Still, the winged beasts save the people, flying them to one of the higher mountaintops of Krypton: Superman explains, on earth Noah saved the animals, on Krypton the animals saved the people! Jaf also predicted Krypton would still be destroyed someday, but the people would find salvation under a yellow sun, Ariu: the Kryptonian name for our sun! Did he predict Superman's future, and Kandor's? Or were his predictions just vague enough to make sense for whatever? Supergirl also mentions this not only stopped the Kryptonians' slaughter of the winged beasts, but that some still survived in Kandor to this day: I always picture the spires and science of Krypton and forget about the weird wildlife.

It's pretty iffy that Superman, even with his magical light-seeker, would be able to find the exact point to look back at light from eight thousand years or more ago. Actually, I find it more odd that Supes and Supergirl can speak in space here, through "their special radio-like communication, which can travel in the airless void..." Which I'm not sure had been seen before, or since! And Rao, I think I got the later Byrne/Mignola World of Krypton outta the same quarter bin as this! Where the hell did I put that...

1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

I bet the Byrne/Mignola one is better. Art and story-wise.