Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Battle of the Super-Origins: Krypton

In today’s post, I will look at the other side of Superman’s heritage: the Kryptonian side. Unlike last time where I only looked at the Kents, I will also look at the world of Krypton as well as the Els. The overall story is pretty much the same in all four incarnations. Krypton is about to blow up, so Jor-El sends his only son into space to a planet where he will be safe. Are there differences? Oh Yes.

Byrne’s Krypton is probably the most alien of the four. It looks cold, logical, and everyone apparently dresses like THIS. Think Vulcan, only more logical and possibly even a-holistic than Vulcan. It sort of has that Donner feel to it as well. Jor-El is set on sending Kal-El away from all of this because of something called “The Green Death”. Basically, something happened on the planet long ago and the planet and its inhabitants are dying. Lara is shocked that Jor wants to send Kal to Earth because she thinks it’s barbaric, But Jor reassures her that this is the best move. He even states that the planet's current culture straight-up sucks. As Krypton begins to unravel, Jor-El sends his son away.  

Birthright’s Krypton is probably the most detailed version art-wise. In the beginning, we see Jor and Lara talk about how they’ll be sending Kal off into space.  We see that they ran previous tests that ended poorly. Jor also talks about how Krypton may be long forgotten after it blows up and how this plan may not work. It’s Lara that reassures him that their son will be safe.  We see that Krypton is pretty lively…for a planet that is about to blow up that is.  Another example of this detail comes from the tablet that came with Clark’s ship. As  Clark and Ma view the tablet, we see that it is layered with Krypton’s history and culture. This is also where I think Lenil Yu’s artwork really shines. There is also the ending to talk about that involves...well, I'll talk about that awesomeness later.

That's a big ship. 

With Secret Origin, we don’t actually see Krypton explode. We do get the whole Jor-El (mostly Jor-El) and Lara speech. We do get a hologram version of the two on Earth , and it looks like Jor-El is a camera-hogger since Lara says nothing. The hologram is activated when Ma and Pa show Clark the ship.  Anyway, we see a couple of images of Krypton and the clothing style which gives Ma Kent an idea about Clark’s suit. The overall style is really Donner-inspired with some Silver Age look. One thing about this version I don’t like is that we don’t get to actually see Krypton. It’s possible that Johns thought it would be redundant to go over Krypton pre-explosion phase since he covered it in other books like Action Comics #850.

Lara: Can I say--
Jor-El: Please wife! Let me do my Marlon Brando impressions. Besides, I'm Jor-El! I'm awesome!

Nu52’s Krypton is as about as lively as Birthright’s. We do get to see a bit of the culture in issue three and it’s highly advanced and technology-driven. The overall style has that Silver-Age feel to it. We actually run into baby Kal and Lara as they’re at some sort of get-together in Kandor. Suddenly, Jor-El contacts her and tells her to leave Kandor. She does as Kandor is taken by the Collector. We then get to issue five where we see the two trying to get off the planet as it’s coming apart. One thing that is changed here is that they considered going into the Phantom Zone. Fortunately, That idea doesn’t work thanks to Krypto. They then go to the rocket that Jor and Lara built. Unfortunately, it’s only made for one person and the Els say their goodbyes.

And that's why one  goes into the Phantom Zone willingly!

So, what is the best one of the bunch? They’re all good in their own way, but this one will not be a draw. I’m going to have to go with the Nu52 version of Krypton. I like that we actually get to see a small bit of the culture before it goes up in smoke. I also like the look of it all. Plus, the idea of using the Phantom Zone as an escape route is something that was never considered anywhere else. I can see why now. Lastly, I like that both Jor-El and Lara were the ones who designed the ship. This wasn’t just Jor-El’s thing. I do notice that Lara’s part is bigger here and in Birthright as well.  The point goes to Nu52. Beside, Krypto is the stuffing, man!!!

Score tally:
Man of Steel (MoS): 1
Superman Birthright : 1
Superman Secret Origin : 0
Superman and the Men of Steel (...Nu52): 2

 Next week, I'm going to get to the supporting characters of these origins and the first one is that guy named Jimmy Olsen.

NEXT TIME: …Jimmy Olsen…meh...

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