This week kicks off the ten-part “New Krypton” arc in DC Comics’ Superman titles with the 48 page Superman: New Krypton Special by Geoff Johns, James Robinson and Sterling Gates, writers of Action Comics, Superman and Supergirl, respectively. Vast in scope, the story explores the aftermath of Superman’s actions in the recent Action Comics #870, that is, the transplantation of the Kyrptonian city of Kandor in the Arctic, complete with 100,000 Kryptonians.That’s the least you need to know to get what’s going on with the story. Need more? Let’s start this with a look at how a city from the dead world of Krypton winds up on earth in the first place. If I Could Save Cities in a Bottle… Events leading to “New Krypton” began (in DC Comics’ time) 35 years ago when the destruction of Kandor’s lunar colony by Jax-Ur drew Brainiac’s attention. As shown in Action Comics #866 Brainiac invaded Krypton’s system, targeting the city of Kandor itself, in his unending and merciless quest for knowledge. Kryptonian forces (led by General Zod and Ursa, recently of the “Last Son” arc in Action Comics) tried to resist, but Brainiac’ s technology was far superior to that of the Kryptonians. As a result, Kandor was sealed off with a force field, and then, to Kryptonian eyes, it disappeared. In reality though, Kandor was shrunk and transported on to Brainiac’s ship. Brainiac’s game? Assimilating the knowledge of an entire civilization in toto to evolve himself and his technology and then, to increase the value of that knowledge, destroying the civilization. His usual method? Grab a city from a star system, take its dominant city in terms of knowledge and culture (with population intact) and then fire a “solar aggressor” into the system’s sun, artificially inducing the star to go nova, and incinerate the entire system. As Brainiac told Superman, “Knowledge is power.” Superman found in Action #868, Brainiac’s ship loaded with “bottled cities” that the villain had stolen over the centuries. Once miniaturized, the combination of the force field, base and integration with Brainiac’s ship keep the miniaturization process stable. Once removed from Brainiac’s bio-shell (effectively, his ship) the containment fields cannot hold, making the cities (and residents) permanent possessions of the alien. That said, how did Kandor end up in the Arctic? In the “Brainiac” storyline, the true Brainiac (unseen until this arc, though there have been other individuals and creatures that have used the name, and been under the influence of the alien prior to this story) had been hunting for Superman with his robotic probes for decades. After discovering the city of Kandor was being held by Brainiac, Superman sought him out. Once Brainiac encountered Superman, he set his ship on a course to earth. Of course, coming into earth’s solar system also whetted Brainiac’ s appetite, so he shrunk and took Metropolis. In the storyline’s conclusion, Superman took both Metropolis and Kandor from Brainiac’s ship. Superman was able to return Metropolis to its proper spot before its containment field collapsed and it returned to full size (although we bet he’s going to be busy for months repairing the subways and all the underground utilities…) and flew Kandor to the Arctic, near his Fortress of Solitude before its containment field failed. End result? Kandor in the Arctic. Which must be a chilly surprise to the Kryptonians. Not to mention the polar bears. But who are these Kryptonians? Good question. Who Are the People in Your (Kandorian) Neighborhood? Kandorians. You saw that coming, right? Solicitation materials, as well as the creators themselves have said that there are about 100,000 people in Kandor, but there are a couple of important points to be made about the general population. 1) Supergirl’s parents are there. As they revealed to him in Action Comics #869, Zor-El and Alura were “saved” from Argo City, a remnant of Krypton that was preserved due to Zor-El and Alura re-creating Brainiac’s force field over the city, by Brainiac. After the destruction of Krypton, he sensed his technology being used, tracked it down, and integrated it into Kandor, slaughtering anyone whose Kryptonian knowledge was redundant. Zor-El and Alura were the lucky ones. It was while Brainiac was attacking that Zor-El and Alura put Kara (Supergirl) into a rocket headed for earth. Johns said, “I wanted to tie Brainiac closer to both Superman and Supergirl and I felt Argo City’s dome based on Brainiac’s technology was an organic and logical step. I also wanted to create something, a boogieman of sorts, for Supergirl that she could struggle to overcome. James and I knew right away when we teamed-up on these books that Supergirl was going to be a major character in Action Comics and Superman. And with Sterling on Supergirl, I mean the reaction to his first issue was almost universally positive and I think for good reason. I love what he has planned for that book.” And points for those of you remembering the name “Zor-el” – he’s the younger brother of Jor-el, Superman’s father. Yes, one of “New Krypton”’s characters will be Superman’s uncle. Note – yes, what comes here most likely supersedes anything that came before relating to Supergirl, Zor-el and Alura, even (especially) their villainous past and sending Kara to earth to kill Superman. 2) Of slightly less importance in regards to Superman’s heritage, but still definitely noteworthy – in a flashback about Brainiac’ s invasion and the Battle for Kandor in Action #866, General Zod is seen saying of his soldiers, “Another six hundred were trapped behind the field that surrounded Kandor.” Yay. Kryptonian soldiers. Wait – Kryptonian soldiers, loyal to Zod. Why’s this a big deal? As was seen in the “Last Son” arc of Action Comics (by Johns and Richard Donner), Zod inspired (demanded of) his troops to a level of loyalty bordering on fanaticism. After the abduction of Kandor, and incensed by the Council’s refusal to open study in interstellar travel (so he could track Brainiac and regain Kandor) coupled with the refusal to listen to Jor-El’s warnings, Zod led troops to attack the Council chambers, killing several members. Let’s take that again, slowly – his men were that loyal to him, they they willingly committed treason against Krypton. So what does that mean for the 600 in Kandor? Well, they’re loyal to Zod. But - the last time they saw their commander was when he was outside the force field, promising to save them. As a result of being in the field (as Zor-el mentioned) time appears to slow, so for these soldiers, their service under Zod seems to be much more recent than the near four decades since the battle. These are fresh soldiers, loyal to a leader who was tried and convicted as a criminal by Jor-el, whose son just happens to be the champion of the planet on which they now live, and who also recently humiliated and trounced their General (as well as Ursa, his second) in battle, and banished them all back into the Phantom Zone. But hey, we may be barking up the wrong tree here and peace may reign since they don’t know that last part.
Yet.Also, on the whole, the creators have said that the Kryptonians view earth as their new home (“New Krypton” – get it?), which leads to, as the solicitations exist, unrest when the people who live on their “new home” start to push back. As we mentioned earlier, bringing Kryptonians to earth rarely ends well, as not all of them have time to be raised by Ma and Pa (sniff) Kent, as Superman was. The Main Players – and Others - of “New Krypton” Of course, since this is a Superman storyline, Superman and Supergirl (and we hope Krypto) will play major roles in “New Krypton,” but who else will we see?
SupergirlYeah, we mentioned her right there, but something that’s worth considering is that she grew up on Krypton…well, in Argo City. Her views of culture and society are inherently Kryptonian. She’s had massive problems fitting in with the heroes and people of earth. He parents are alive and living in Kandor. If hostilities start up and people are called upon to stand on one side of a line or another…where will she stand? “That’s going to be an issue with Supergirl, obviously,” said Johns, “And Sterling has his work cut out for him. Just as she’s taken on the ‘Linda Lang’ identity and decided to give this human world a go, she no longer has to…but does she still want to?” Lex Luthor Johns has stated that Luthor will be involved in “New Krypton,” thinking that he’s the only one who can save the world, and perhaps being correct in that assertion. When he led the (very effective) resistance against the Kryptonians from the Phantom Zone in “Last Son,” Luthor took the opportunity to figuratively declare open season on Kryptonians. If these Kryptonians go bad, is earth’s last, best hope…Luthor? “Luthor killed his first Kryptonian in ‘Last Son’ and he enjoyed that very much. Like eating a bar of chocolate,” said Johns, “He’s going to want to do that again.” The Metropolis Guardian Just brought fully back this past week by James Robinson in Superman’s Pal: Jimmy Olsen, The Guardian is Jim Harper. Robinson is keeping him on the side of what’s going on in his Superman book, that is, looking into the government conspiracy against Superman, so expect some action as that storyline intertwines with the larger “New Krypton” arc – and of course, “New Krypton” part 3 is told in the pages of November’s Guardian of Metropolis Special by Robinson. “I have to give major props to James,” Johns said. “For a lot of things, beyond being an inspiration and am amazing writer, he has got me hooked on where he’s taking the Guardian and what his plans are. James has brought as much care and love and passion to Jim Harper, and the Science Police for that matter, as he did to the O’Dares and Mikaal in Starman. I’m extremely excited about his plans for them and another character in particular, one whose fans are going to be ecstatic, that will appear in ‘New Krypton’ and will take a major role in the DC Universe in 2009.” Nightwing and Flamebird Johns and company will be reviving two costumed heroes from the Silver Age in “New Krypton,” too. Originally costumed identities the Silver Age Superman and Jimmy Olsen took on a visit to Kandor. The roles were later taken over by Van-Zee and Ak-Var, Kandorian citizens. Since then Superman and Lois have taken the names, as have Supergirl and Power Girl, along with any number of other characters. But you know what? Forget that. Just forget it – too much thinking about it (especially the circularity of how it all relates to Dick Grayson taking the name “Nightwing”) will make your head explode. For “New Krypton” just know this – a new Nightwing and Flamebird were shown on the Alex Ross tryptch that serves as the covers to Superman #681, Action Comics #871 and Supergirl #35 - encompassing parts 2-4 of "New Krypton." Who they are in this newfound Kandor (a male Nightwing and female Flamebird) remains to be seen. “Nightwing and Flamebird were, again, characters James and I discussed at great length. Nightwing in particular. And Flamebird will actually have a direct tie to Supergirl,” said Johns, “so you can look for her to appear in Sterling’s Supergirl in the coming year as well.” Agent Liberty A seemingly odd choice that Johns has mentioned playing a role in the story, Agent Liberty was a product of the early ‘90s Superman line. A former CIA operative, Ben Lockwood agreed to become the costumed Agent Liberty and work with the Sons of Liberty group. Sons went bad, Lockwood left, did some heroing for a while, and gave it up. Johns has a soft spot for him, and brought him back to active duty in the pages of Infinite Crisis. “Actually, this was James’ idea so I have to give credit to him,” said Johns, “James has really given him a wonderful voice.” “The Threat Behind Atlas” As seen in Robinson’s opening Superman arc, Atlas wasn’t a solo operator. Who were the forces in government behind him? The solicitations for Superman promise they’ll be making their moves during “New Krypton” as well. “James has set a lot up,” added Johns, “and it’s going to be clear that he’s said up as much as I have with the ‘Brainiac’ storyline once we get the ball rolling. The intricacies that James has set into motion between his Superman issues and the Jimmy Olsen special are unbelievable. Like Starman, you don’t see some of it until it’s deeper in, but ‘New Krypton’ is just that.” Brainiac’s Body Although Brainiac went down –hard – like a Wellsian Martain when he was dumped out of his “bottle” and into a swamp in Action #870, the solicitations for Action promise that someone has grabbed Brainiac, and will be using him to build an army to stand against the Kryptonians. Later solicitations have revealed that the individual is…Luthor. Sweet. “Brainiac is a major player in the world of Superman from here on out,” teased Johns, “he’s unarguable one of Superman’s greatest enemies and will continue to plague him in the years ahead.” Metallo and Reactron Two Superman villains Johns has been hinting that will see some action in Action during “New Krypton.” “Metallo is going to be reintroduced in the coming months,” Johns said, “Along with the Parasite, he’ll be one of the main characters Gary Frank and I will be working on beyond the ‘New Krypton’ story in 2009. I’m going to be delving into Metallo and Parasite much like I’ve tackled the Rogues in The Flash in Gary’s next huge arc (details on that will be revealed soon, but one of the elements in it is going to be a dream come true). I’ll be reintroducing Reactron after Luthor’s gotten his hands on him in Action Comics #872. He was a minor Supergirl villain and since he was going to be used, I wanted to see him tied closer to Superman mythology. I came up with an idea I’m really psyched about – and Gary’s done an absolutely incredible job on redesigning him.” Added Johns, “He’s going to be a great rogue for Supergirl.” Superwoman What? Again? DC has, over the years and for various reasons, sought to bring a Superwoman character into the fold, and it looks as if “New Krypton” will bring us another. Johns has said virtually nothing about her in appearances, and all we’re going on is that she’s in Ross’ triptych, in a costume reminiscent of the “original” Superwoman from DC Comics Presents Annual #4. “I’ll say something about Superwoman, Matt. When the idea of ‘New Krypton’ was floating around James and I knew we wanted to introduce a mysterious Superwoman. We came up with the idea of who that would be and why, and some specific beats in New Krypton and beyond, and then Sterling’s is going to take that and run with it. I just read a scene in an upcoming issue of Supergirl that he wrote that was…unsettling,” Johns teased. “I like Superwoman quite a bit and I think came up with some great plans for her. You need to read Supergirl if you’re not if I haven’t made that clear.” The Kandorians As we mentioned earlier, the “100,000 Kandorians” includes 600 soldiers loyal to Zod – which will most likely be its own problem. But what about the general population? All will have powers, but, as Johns has mentioned, not all will be disciplined in them, as Superman and even Supergirl have had time to get used to living on earth. “There is obviously going to be some tension among the soldiers. And many of them won’t understand why General Zod was considered a criminal…” said Johns. What else? Given the characters seen in Alex Ross’ triptych , “New Krpton” may be a place for DC to redefine the culture of Krypton. As can be seen in the image (and in Ross’ cover to Superman #682) Kandorians appear in various outfits, from those similar to the Silver Age (“everyone wore spandex”) Kryptonian costumes to the frilly sleeved bodysuits familiar to the sterile science-as-religion Krypton first seen in John Byrne’s Man of Steel restart of Superman. “You’ll see there are different guilds and Houses on Krypton that reflect the different garb,” said Johns. “James has really spearheaded the detailed world of Kandor itself.” Oh, and if we’re using Ross’ covers as fertile ground for clue-mining, the cover to Superman #683 shows Superman flying through an asteroid field in which, are conspicuous glowing chunks of Kryptonite…blue, gold green and red. As we saw in “Last Son,” red “plays hopscotch with a Kryptonian’s DNA…turns ‘em into freaks;” blue is effective against Bizarro; green hurts and can kill Kryptonians; and gold temporarily negates Kryptonian powers. And Luthor knows all of this. Other characters coming out of left field? Ultra the Multi-Alien Who? One of DC’s funkadelic space characters from the ‘60s, Ultra the Multi-Alien was once earthman Ace Arn, who had the four quarters of his body changed into parts form four different alien species (he, it was the ‘60s, okay?), and Johns has shown the character a nod or two over the years, starting way back in Stars and STRIPE and more recently in Infinite Crisis. “He’ll be seen briefly, then play a bigger role late next year,” added Johns, “Matt Idelson actually helped come up with his new name – Ultra the Ultimate Alien…why he’s called that will be clear in the future.” Most recently, in Action #867, Brainiac attacked the planet that was home to all four of the species that make up Ultra (and stole a city), and Superman spotted him (though Superman has no idea who he is) in one of Brainiac’s pods in #868. The Creature Commandos Again, who? A World War II era team made up of a Frankenstein monster, a vampire, a werewolf, a medusa-style creature, a normal human, and GI Robot. Created by the shadowy Project M (recently revived in Post-Infinite Crisis continuity) the team was shot into space due to the fact that the government wanted to wipe the table clean. As Johns revealed at the DC Nation panel in Baltimore,Brainiac found them. “Superman fighting alongside Frankenstein and Dracula in army fatigues is cool. Plus, Dan Didio was constantly talking about these guys. He really likes them and I love them. So if James can work with the Guardian and Agent Liberty, I can work with some obscure characters too,” said Johns. “Like Ultra, they’ll be appearing briefly.” Where Is This Happening? Like last year’s Sinestro Corps War, “New Krypton” is sticking to the Superman titles, plus one special. While DCU characters will appear in the storyline, the storyline itself will not spill from the boundaries of the Super-books. The run down with planned in-store dates: Part 1 – Superman: New Krypton Special (10/22)
Part 2 - Superman #681 (10/29)
Part 3 – Guardian of Metropolis Special (11/05)
Part 4 – Action Comics #871 (11/12)
Part 5 – Supergirl #35 (11/19)
Part 6 – Superman #682 (11/26)
Part 7 – Action Comics #872 (12/10)
Part 8 – Supergirl #36 (12/17)
Part 9 – Superman #683 (12/31)
Part 10 – Action Comics #873 (?)