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Taken from Action Comics #873:

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Why? Why?

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.

In the last entry I discussed my problems with Superman. In another entry, I revealed some of my ideas for a great Superman story. In this entry, I’m going to show how I would handle the problems mentioned last issue within that great story.

My first problem is that he lacks limitations. One of the first ideas I had for my story was to enclose Metropolis. If Superman can’t leave Metropolis, his hearing and sight are effectively limited. Also, his speed is constrained by a lack of distance. Of course, his hearing and vision and speed would all be normal. I don’t mean to state otherwise (yet) and you shouldn’t infer as such.

Now, that still leaves him being a really effective protector of Metropolis. Barricading him isn’t enough. He would eventually find a way out. Would he still be as effective if the sun were blocked and he had to face an assortment of crisis in quick succession? Even he would begin to run ragged, I think. Incorporate the fact that the mysterious figure running everything is messing with Supes’s senses every time he tries to learn more about said figure and I think I’ve neutralized just about everything.

The second problem was a lack of variety amongst his villains. My notion is simply to not include two villains that are the same. Intergang, Cyborg Superman, Bloodsport, Bizarro, and various others would be involved. There would be magic and mental tricks, too. Kryptonite would be used twice, at a maximum.

In all the great action, I neglected to introduce new supporting characters. However, I think putting emphasis on other supporting characters makes up for it. I’d bring back Dan Turpin, who would interact with LupĂ© (both of them being SCU agents). The initial plan was to use both Steels and Krypto, though I’m not sure how well I could do that these days. Even Superman’s Justice League allies would appear, attempting to help Superman out of his dilemma. If I took the time to read through a bunch of Superman issues, I’m sure I could find at least a few more characters (like Bibbo Bibowski) that I could include, if only briefly.

That would be my method for dealing with Superman. I just hope Superman fans would like it.

Superman is a favorite of many just as he is. Changing him drastically typically doesn’t go over well with those fans, such as when we had Electric Superman or shortly after he came back to life. But those drastic changes touch on my problem with Superman. He’s too powerful.

The main part of that is that he lacks limitations. This is a hero who can travel halfway across the globe in the shot of a bullet, a hero who fly through light years of space without needing air, a hero who can see and hear practically anything he wanted to on Earth. How does anyone escape him? They can’t outrun him. They can’t flee the planet. You can’t hide. As he is, Superman is the ultimate tracker. If you add in his high invulnerability and immense strength, it’s hard to imagine him finding the person running from him and not winning.

He simply needs limitations. He’s too fast. He’s faster at his norm than the Flash. By all accounts, he should be equal or, preferably, slower.

He shouldn’t be able to hear everything on the planet. I could understand him being able to hear everything in Metropolis or maybe even in suburbs around there, but being able to hear something happening across the planet seems a bit much. It seems to me he’d go crazy from all the noise, that it’d be too hard for him to choose amongst what he hears. No, he needs more localized hearing. Then it might make sense for him to have Justice League monitor duty.

The animated WB TV show gave Superman a space suit. John Byrne made it so that he could only fly as far as his lung capacity would allow. Over time, people just kept writing his lung capacity to be bigger and bigger, to such an extent that he pretty much reverted to his Pre-Crisis form, at least in that respect. Admittedly, the idea of Superman putting on a space suit sounds a little tacky. I mean, he’d have to cover up that well-known attire of his. But perhaps something else could be arranged. In New Earth continuity, he was once a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes and has a flight ring leftover from those adventures. Legionnaires, at least for a while, seem to have had the ability to fly through space with no special suit. It’s quite likely that the Legion flight ring is the reason. Superman could just put on that ring to fly uninhibited through space, though he might still need some kind of air-providing device.

The other problem, which I agree with upon discussing the matter recently, is a lack of variety in his villains. Traditionally, the villains relied on Kryptonite to defeat him, whether it be Luthor, Metallo, or even Conduit. It doesn’t take long for that to get old. He is vulnerably to magic, which is usually only a noticeable problem when he fights alongside the Justice League. And there are those villains that just fight him toe-to-toe. Bizarro, various Zods, Mongul, Darkseid, Doomsday, etc. That, too, becomes repetitive.

Quite simply, he needs a more varied group of enemies. The Silver Banshee can kill him with sound. Prankster defeats him with technology and planning. Parasite can drain his power. Mxyzptlk annoys him using magic. Manchester Black and, sometimes, Brainiac (among others), rely on mental manipulation. Livewire uses electricity. There was a briefly used Japanese foe who had enchanted blades or somesuch that could hurt him. Cyborg Superman could wear him out simply by constantly transferring himself (not that he’s ever tried).

I’m not suggesting he be limited to those. He can still have the traditional villains that show up every so often. He just needs other villains to balance out all the repetition.

Finally, he needs more supporting characters. He lives in an apartment, so he should have some neighbors. Who else works at the Daily Planet besides Lois, Jimmy, and Perry? I know they incorporated Jack Ryder into that office, which I thought was a nice touch, but I’m sure there are others. Where are those supporting characters from prior years? People like Steel, Dan Turpin, and Kat Grant? I know Steel has moved on to a certain extent, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still be a frequent ally or advisor to Supes.

There you have it. That’s my problem with Superman. In actuality, it is probably more like three problems. Hmm…

For quite some time, I’ve had an idea for a Superman arc. It would be ten issues long and involve Superman fighting such rogues as Bizarro, Intergang, Bloodsport, Hank Henshaw, and a few others.

There would be a new occupant of LexCorp Tower, a mysterious figure with a grudge against Superman. His company would have grown rapidly in short span of time. With no one ever having interviewed him, Perry White would send Clark to get the exclusive. And then all kinds of crazy things would happen, the most notable (and earliest) would be it snowing in Metropolis in the middle of July.

The main idea is that this mysterious figure wants to run Superman into the ground, with as many threats as he can release, all while the sun is blocked. The real treats are the clues left for the figure’s origin and Superman fighting in a modified Steel suit.

Unfortunately, due to recent events, the story has changed a bit. Superboy clearly can’t be in the story any more. I don’t know if I can use Natasha (Steel II). That would depend on how she finishes 52. The use of John Henry would depend upon the same. Supergirl wasn’t around when I wrote it, so I might have to explain why she doesn’t show, as I wouldn’t want to use her. (Maybe not.) I’d have to change the dialogue for Bizarro or provide an explanation of his reverting back to backwards-speak. I’m not sure what the state of the hero community is (in regards to whether certain characters would work together), so that might cause a slight change.

The main problem I’ve had is that I want to use Dan Turpin, but his departure from SCU was never explained and I haven’t seen him in years. Also, my initial story had a plot point I never explained adequately. A big problem I thought about later on would be that I didn’t include enough with Lois. I find that her relationship with Supes shouldn’t be excluded from a story that affects him as it does.

I don’t want to give away too many details of the story, so that it can maintain as much of its value as I’d like, despite the fact that it will probably never be made.

In any case, that’s what I’d do if I were writing Superman.