Happy birthday, Superman! It may be a little early, but what the heck. At 80 years old, you deserve the cake and balloons, you big hunk of red and blue!
Hard to believe it, but DC Comics just released Action Comics #1000 this week, 80 years after the Man of Steel debuted in June, 1938. And, as James Whitbrook notes in his post on 109.com, the writers/artists used the occasion to give Supe’s well-known origin story a few new twists.
You know the tale (and if you don’t, where have you been hiding?): the infant Kal-El is placed aboard an Earth-bound spaceship by his parents to save him from the destruction of his birth planet of Krypton. The spaceship crashes in a cornfield in Kansas, where it is found by Ma and Pa Kent, who raise the Baby Kryptonian as their own darling Clark, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, outrace a speeding bullet, yada, yada.
Up to now, the various depictions of the destruction of Krypton have all pretty much blamed natural causes (geological instability/solar expansion), war, overweening scientific arrogance or some such. But the new prequel TV show Krypton, set in Kal-El’s grandfather’s time, offers another explanation for Krypton’s destruction. A villain familiar to Superman fans—Brainiac—turns up in a much more menacing form here, threatening to swallow the planet whole. The hero of the show, Seg-El (Cameron Cuffe)—Supe’s young grandfather—must find a way to stop the creature (while fending off a barrage of lesser threats).
The show allows Superman fans like me a chance to explore the planet and culture of Krypton in a way we’ve never been able to before. We meet the scientific caste, which at one time included the El family (and will again) and the military caste, which includes the Zod family, villains of the future. We even get an eyeful of the original Fortress of Solitude. And we’re introduced to DC Comics’ time-traveling Adam Strange, who comes to warn Seg of what he must do to protect the future.
By contrast, the comic writers and artists in charge of Action’s Man of Steel have chosen to take the destruction of Krypton in another direction, Their approach gives them leeway to follow dramatic pathways in Supe’s present here on Earth—not a bad thing, really. I won’t spoil it for you in case you want to run out to your nearest comic book store and see for yourself. But Whitbrook is not so constrained in his post, if you just can’t wait to find out.
In the meantime, lift a glass for the original superhero today and Look! Up in the Sky! It’s Superman!
Information for today’s post taken from “Action Comics #1000 Honors 80 Years of Superman with Another Wrinkle in His Origin Story,” by James Whitbrook, io9.com, April 18, 2018. https://io9.gizmodo.com/action-comics-1000-honors-80-years-of-superman-with-an-1825366834