One of the things I received for Christmas was Kevin J. Anderson’s The Last Days of Krypton.

(The cover is actually bluer than that, but the shine throws off the coloring in this image.)

Okay, yes, it’s not a comic book. It is definitely comic book-related, though, so I think it still counts.

In any case, the story is about, as it claims, the last days of the planet Krypton. In essence, it is the story before Superman. All the standard players are there. Jor-El, Zor-El, Lara, Zod, Brainiac, the Kryptonian Council, etc. There are also several important figures entirely new to the story (as far as I know, anyway).

Now, the backstory of Krypton has been done before many times. The early Superman serials had a story. Byrne had a story. The current DC universe has been developing a story. There are others, but you get the point. The story of Krypton has been modified several times. A few characters from those past stories are included here, such as Jax-Ur and Lyla Lorrel. Concepts that might previously have been in contradiction between those various tellings are included here together. Some details are changed (such as Krypton having three moons instead of two) and others are added. So, there is a fair amount in the book to appeal to longtime fans of Superman.

It is okay, though, if you are like me and know very little about those previous stories. To truly appreciate the story, all you really need to know is a bit about Superman. That he’s from Krypton, his father is Jor-El (the star of the show here), and that Krypton was lost in some catastrophe. The book especially plays off that last bit, as it introduces a series of calamities that could destroy the planet. It leaves you guessing as to which one will be the final catastrophe. Well, it left me guessing, but I suppose a bigger fan of the character and the past stories of Krypton would know better. …And maybe people with greater memories, too.

Just as a side note that I think is somewhat relevant, there are some plays on Superman comics themselves, with the inclusion of such things as a “Look, up in the sky!” line.

Anyway, although the book starts off slow, I found it to be a compelling read. It has action, romance, politics, and history (it’s the history of a fictional planet, but that has got to count for something). There is a lot to keep your interest. Astonishingly, the various descriptions for the landscape, clothing, architecture, etc. does not get in the way of the story.

This is definitely above-average story, but still a little flawed, especially within some dialogue portions.

I give it a 4 out of 5.