Friday, January 11, 2013

Action Figure Nexus had a sale going over the weekend, and I ordered a figure I stupidly passed on buying the one time I saw it: a Justice League Unlimited Superman! Wait, not him; his accessory, the Bottle City of Kandor! It's had multiple versions over the years, including the execrable "War of the Superman" New Krypton one; but I prefer the classic. As seen here! "Let My People Grow!" Written by Len Wein (from a suggestion by Marv Wolfman), art by Curt Swan, inks by Frank Chiaramonte. I read it first in Best of DC Digest #59, but also now have the original (and more scannable!) Superman #338.
Superman harvests a rare element from a distant super-nova, that he thinks may be the final item he needs to complete an enlarging ray, to return Kandor to its rightful size. Most of Kandor seems to be jumping at the idea, with the exception of one nay-sayer who points out the last time they tried it didn't go so well. Superman needs to test it, and while there are Kandorian volunteers, Supes plans to do it himself.
As he explains to Supergirl, while he's captured versions of Brainiac's shrinking ray over the years, the original is still on his saucer. Supes creates a "beeper" to bug Brainiac with a high-frequency signal, and he shows up pretty promptly. Brainiac had a number of super-weapons, but Supes eventually tricks him into using the shrink ray, which just confuses Brainiac, but he'll take it. Before he can shrink Supes further, Supergirl arrives with the enlarging ray, reflecting the shrink ray back, seemingly shrinking Brainiac out of this universe. (I'm not sure he would be seen again until his redesign!)
The enlarging ray works, returning Superman to normal size. Rather than settle on earth (with superpowers) the Kandorians elect to live on a distant planet under a red sun, like their homeworld Krypton. With a two-page spread and a "SKWA-WA-WHOOM!" Kandor is enlarged; and Supergirl is reunited with her parents. (Who...moved there, sometime, I guess?) After she tells them she's not ready to move back in with them; they're interrupted by the sudden collapse of the city, as all of Kandor's buildings, vehicles, and stuff disintegrates. (Everyone's clothes and headbands remain!)

Superman is mortified to realize the enlarging ray did fine on "animate objects," but not inanimate ones. Head scientist Van-Zee tells Supes not to sweat it, though: the Kandorians had been living as basically pets for years at that point, and needed to make their own way again. In that vein, they had unbeknownst to Superman and Supergirl, picked a "phase-world" that would shortly rotate out of that universe; because they didn't want the Supes constantly bailing them out of trouble. Van-Zee slugs the powerless Supes, in order for Supergirl to get him out of there; leaving the Kandorians to their future. That I don't think was ever seen again, so maybe it didn't go over so well...

I've probably looked at Kandor any number of times over the years, but man, there seems like a lot of room in that bottle. Like there's more atmosphere than I remember, but that probably makes sense. As much as a shrunken city can, anyway.

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