Superman, the Prequel

Solar disturbances, tectonic upheaval, massive tidal waves, a threatening comet, and the cancelation of Smallville—it can mean only one thing: the end of Krypton is nigh!

We all know the origin of baby Kal-El. His home planet about to be destroyed (see above), he is stuffed into a rocketship aimed toward Earth. Raised under a yellow sun, the youngster grows up to be Superman. To read the rest of the story, feel free to pick up a copy of Action Comics, No. 1.

The Last Days of Krypton is a prequel to all that Superman stuff. It’s a thick book that attempts to string together all the disparate Kryptonian history running through the comic books and movies. The book is immature and needlessly long. None of the characters rise above their four-color namesakes, and the author is hampered by seventy years of serendipitous Superman scripting.

The novel is a mess, but it does provide some amusement. General Zod, for example, is a crazy vainglorious overachiever. He’s an oaf and a boob, but he’s also a lot of fun. Compared to him, everyone else on Krypton is a wet noodle. “I am anxious to read a draft of your manuscript,” he tells his personal biographer at one point. “But the events themselves haven’t finished unfolding,” replies the historian. “I am merely referring to volume one,” he says with great hubris.

Zod is a clown, but at least he gives the novel a little bit of spark. Jor-El (Superman’s father) is portrayed as an ineffectual scientist; a tool for Krypton’s power players. He’s the smartest man on the planet (we are reminded of this fact over and over again), but he doesn’t wise up until one of his inventions is used to incinerate an entire city. Ultimately he figures out a way to smash a wayward comet, disarm 15 weapons of mass destruction, and imprison Zod and his crafty wife. But so what? His last-minute heroics lack any sort of dramatic release. Krypton is doomed regardless.

[The Last Days of Krypton / By Kevin J. Anderson / First Printing: October 2007 / ISBN: 978-0061340741]

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