New Krypton Countdown: When Kryptonians Walk the Earth
by Troy Brownfield and Matt Brady
Date: 18 October 2008 Time: 10:04 AM ET
New Krypton: Kryptonians on Earth
The coming week is a big one for Superman.In the last issue of Action Comics, the bottle city of Kandor expanded to full size in the Arctic. Other, more pressing issues prevented Superman from visiting just then, but that changes this week with Superman: New Krypton Special, the kickoff of the nine-part "New Krypton" story which will run between all three "Super" books (Action, Superman and Supergirl) for the next two and a half months. Newsarama will be taking looks at the storyline, presenting interviews with the creators, and featuring exlcusive art previews in the coming days, but before that, let's dig into a little historywith a look at a few of the memorable visits that Kryptonians have paid to Superman and the earth in the past.
Before we start listing names, let’s take a quick review of Kryptonian Physiology 101: At the cellular level, Kryptonians store the radiation from earth’s yellow sun and this (combined with earth’s reduced gravity - compared to Krypton - and a lot of other hand-waving science) results in them displaying “super” powers, that is, super-strength, vision, hearing, breath, speed, flight, and a couple others here and there, depending on (historically) the need of the story. The take away message? All Kryptonians on earth get super powers. Okay, so who has come to earth from Krypton over the years? This does not pretend to be a comprehensive list, but rather an overview to foster discussion. Also, we are not including Kandor itself on the basis that it will be covered in a separate piece. Let’s begin with . . . Supergirl : The complete, tortured history of Supergirl would give an self-respecting comics history buff a migraine. Let’s boil it down thusly, since this is all you need to know these days: Today, Supergirl is Kara Zor-El, Superman’s cousin. She has similar powers, and she conceals her identity on Earth as Linda Lang, the invented niece of Clark Kent’s longtime friend Lana Lang. Versions of Supergirl have appeared in the 1984 motion picture, the various Timmverse animated series, and TV’s Smallville. Throughout the years, she’s been a staunch ally of Superman, albeit somewhere below him on the power scale, but still, coming in somewhere near Wonder Woman in terms of strength. Krypto: He’s Superman’s dog. What more do you need? All right, fine. Krypto first appeared in 1955, where it was revealed that he was Kal-El’s dog as a baby. Jor-El went all Russian Space Program on him and put him in a test rocket that presaged the launch of Kal-El. The rocket went off course (of course), and arrived on Earth years later after baby Kal had become Superman. Krypto disappeared from continuity due to the first Crisis, and there were other Kryptos or Krypto-like dogs introduced into the Superman mythos in the interim, but the “real” Krypto came back in the recent “Return to Krypton” arc. Since that time, Krypto has been a frequent presence in the Superman titles. Most recently, Krypto helped save Superman from the villain Atlas, and was subsequently introduced to the people of Metropolis by Superman as his dog, and consequently, Metropolis’s dog (which could be Superman's way of saying that everyone in Metropolis is responsible for cleaning up after him). Krypto, for his part, was “Happy.” It should also be noted that Krypto is the only DC super-hero animal sidekick to have his own animated TV series. Phantom Zone Criminals: There are waaaay too many Phantom Zone criminals to list, so we’ll stick with the two most famous groups of three. Pre-Crisis speaking, the most famous trio were General Zod, Jax-Ur, and Faora Hu-Ul. The three frequently plotted against Superman from the Zone over the years, but rarely, if ever, made physical appearances on Earth. Still, this long-running plot served as the basis for the characters of Zod, Ursa and Non as depicted in Superman: The Movie and Superman II. That movie trio informs the current iteration of Zod in the comics. Reintroduced by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner in Action Comics, the three map closely to their film counterparts. In addition to them, the Phantom Zone is filled with hundreds of other criminals. In their recent appearance in “Last Son,” Zod, Ursa and Non proved to be equal to Superman in strength, and more than his equal in cunning. Without help, Superman never could have defeated them and the other Phantom Zone criminals who were released on earth by Zod. Speaking of Phantom Zone criminals, we can’t go without a mention of... Dev-Em: The Pre-Crisis Dev-Em was an ally of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Originally a teenage miscreant on Krypton, Dev-Em was punished by being placed in suspended animation in an orbiting vehicle (man, Kryptonians and their wacky punishments). After a first meeting with Superboy wherein the two were antagonists, Dev-Em later relocated to the 30th century and became the future equivalent of an Interpol agent. Dev-Em helped out the Legion many times, including a brief but memorable turn alongside the Heroes of Lallor during the “Great Darkness” saga. In Post-Crisis continuity, there have been three characters named Dev-Em; the most recent appeared during the Johns/Donner/Kubert run on Action, wherein he was a Phantom Zone-imprisoned mass murderer. Supergirl (Cir-El): Mia was a human girl that, due to the machinations of Brainiac, had Kryptonian DNA grafted to her cellular structure. He also gave her false memories that convinced her she was the daughter of Superman from the future. Cir-El’s presence in the current timeline was erased when she sacrificed herself; the character has appeared since in stories that involve the manipulation of time. Doomsday: The history of Doomsday has begun extremely detailed (and yes, convoluted) over the years. Sufficient to say that he is a biological weapon that was essentially forged in the crucible of Krypton, tempered on that harsh world before it had humanoid life. Eventually, the creature found its way to entombment on Earth. Taking time to break out, Doomsday eventually encountered Superman. The two killed one another in combat, though both were revived. The expanded origin of Doomsday, including his Krypton ties, began to come to light in the 1994 mini-series Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey. Most recently, Doomsday has his jaw handed back to him by the Supermen of New Earth and Earth-2 during Infinite Crisis. Doomsday has also appeared in the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited animated series, the animated Superman: Doomsday DVD, and on the current season of Smallville. Depending upon the creative team, Doomsday is (or can be) more powerful than Superman. Power Girl: Although Troy once documented the heck out of Power Girl’s history for this site, let’s again keep it simple like Supergirl. Power Girl (Kara Zor-L/Karen Starr) is the functional equivalent of Supergirl from Earth-2. Her cousin died during Infinite Crisis. Recently in Justice Society of America, Power Girl was sent to a world that looked much like Earth-2, but as it turns out, already has a Power Girl (which of course once again raises the question of who "our" Power Girl is). Our Power Girl is a Kryptonian in all the ways that count, so she gets a mention. Again, like Supergirl, nearly as powerful as Superman. Superwoman: Many readers often recall the Superwoman introduced by Elliot S. Maggin in the novel Miracle Monday. She was Kristin Wells, and she was actually a visitor from the future. She later debuted in comics in DC Comics Presents, but was apparently swept away by the first Crisis. However, in the recent “Third Kryptonian” story arc (Superman #668-#670), a new version of this character was introduced. This Kristin Wells uses that name as a cover for her Kryptonian identity, Karsta Wor-Ul. She had departed Krypton for Earth before her homeworld’s destruction, and wasn’t the nicest of people, but later did redeem herself. Her current status is somewhat unknown, though if she’s still around, “New Krypton” will most likely smoke her out. Superboy Prime: Let’s hear from the kid himself. He writes, “It doesn’t matter where I first appeared, jerk-face! You stupid . . . stupid people! I’m the only Kryptonian that matters! Me! Me me me! I mean, you even put me after the dog.” Ahem. Despite what the brat says, he first appeared during the original Crisis as the sole survivor of Krypton from the universe of Earth-Prime. He helped the combined heroes of Earths 1, 2, 4, S, and X defeat the Anti-Monitor before going into exile with Earth-2 Superman, Earth-2 Lois, and Earth-3 Alexander Luthor. They returned in Infinite Crisis, wherein Prime and Luthor were revealed to be the villains of the story. Prime even killed Superboy (Kon-El). The villains were eventually defeated, and Prime imprisoned on Oa. Prime later broke out and fought alongside the Sinestro Corps during the eponymous war. The efforts of the Guardians flung the kid into the far future where the little bastard presently bedevils Superman and the Legions of three worlds. So – in short, he counts. Kryptonian form a different dimension, but still Kryptonian, and more powerful than Superman. Wow. So the list is kind of split, but it shows pretty clearly that a) not every Kyrptonian is Superman in terms of morals and altruism, and b) other Kryptonians, when visiting earth, can easily pose a threat to Superman. All of this said, what does the coming influx of 100,000 Kryptonians mean for Superman? We’re still hedging bets, but the safer money is on “nothing good.”