Thursday, September 03, 2009

Superman’s Return to Krypton!

Our next visit on vacation led to a melancholy adventure chronicled in Superman 141, cover-dated November, 1960.

It all began with a famous astronomer and a telescope. Professor Galsworthy has seen a strange object in deep space and asks Superman to investigate. To superman’s amazement, the object turns out to be a gigantic living creature, the size of a planet! But despite its size, it can turn and spin on a dime, as the Man of Steel finds when he tries to corral it.

Suddenly it takes another sharp turn, and suddenly Superman realizes he has pursued too fast! He has sped into the time barrier in his reckless pursuit. He pulls out of his power-dive just in time to emerge back into space and time – at Krypton!

Yes, a strange happenstance has brought him face to face with his doomed world, whose environment immediately saps his super-powers and barely letting him arrive to ground safely.

Now begins an adventure of the Man of Tomorrow, in the past, that is full of irony, joys, heartaches, and strange coincidences.

Immediately, he’s taken for an actor in a Kryptonian "emotion-movie" space epic filming nearby his landing point. He joins the cast and first sets eyes on a beautiful blonde girl, evidently the star of the movie.

After correcting an equipment malfunction of their rocket that nearly causes a crash, Kal-El takes his day pay and walks the streets of Krypton as in a dream. How can he be here? Isn’t this all dead and gone? Yet here he is.

He knows that one day – perhaps very soon – Krypton will explode into a billion fragments, killing all its inhabitants.

And, if he too is on Krypton, does that not mean that his days, also, are numbered?

Such musings are interrupted by the realization that two famous scientists are about to be married – and it’s possible for him to attend!

Yes, Kal-El makes it to the Palace of Marriage in time to actually view his parents’ exchange of vows!

Soon he has found a way to make their acquaintance, and before long has become a research assistant to the great scientist. But fame casts a wide net, as he finds when his employers, Jor-El and Lara, invite home a dinner guest – the blonde bombshell actress Kal-El had seen from afar during filming! And now, with Lyla Lerrol introduced to Kal-El of Krypton, the stage has been set for our great tragedy.

And, to the renowned actress, something is strangely attractive about this odd actor named Kal-El.

[Sorry to ruin the moment, but notice that in the very first mention of the actress’s name, it’s misspelled! Lyla’s last name, of course, is Lerrol. But in this panel it’s spelled, wrongly, as ending in an “R” – Lerror – which is, of course, wrong. This was corrected when the story was reprinted in Superman in the Sixties.]

It’s all too much for Kal-el. He dashes away from the dinner party, tormented by feelings of desire for this woman, who had to have died long ago. But she seems so alive! And attracted .. to him!

Brought together again on the set of the space epic, Kal-El tries to keep his distance from the star. Until – a wild animal breaks loose and bears down upon the helpless actress. Only a little Earth-style ropin’-and-wranglin’ will save her.

And once the beauty has been saved from the beast, what more natural reward for her hero than … love’s first kiss?

The die has been cast by fate. Lyla Lerrol and Kal-El have been thrown together by the very twisting of time and the wrenching distortion of place. So Lyla, swept off her feet, and Kal-El, stoically knowing Krypton’s fate, dash headlong into a love whose thunder out-shouts the flame falls of Krypton.

But time crawls on, and soon Kal-el must pretend to be surprised by Jor-El’s announcement that Krypton is doomed to die. Against hope and against history, he helps Jor-El construct a space-ark to try to ferry at least a few Kryptonians to a safe planet like Earth.

But fate is once again laughing up its sleeve at Superman, for the space-ark has been constructed in Kandor, just in time to disappear into Brainiac’s ship under the alien robot’s shrinking ray.

With the last hope of escape gone, Superman bravely resigns himself to the final months of his life in Lyla’s arms. At least he has found the love of his life, he reckons to himself.

He throws himself into work with Jor-El in the meantime, and after a close call involving an avalanche, decides to take the final step, and he proposes marriage to Lyla, who of course accepts. Why not make the most of what life they have left?

Next day, when shooting on their space movie has recommenced, Kal-El is inside the rocket ship when a freak accident occurs. A strange flame-breathing Kryptonian beast escapes its wranglers, and in its frenzy expels huge amounts of compressed flam into the puny motors of this prop rocket.

Although the craft was only designed for sub-orbital flight, this immense power-boost actually propels the ship out into space, leaving Lyla behind to mourn the loss of her Kal-El.

And once the rocket leaves the red solar system, super-powers return and Superman bursts free. Should he return? He’s already been shown that he can’t escape fate. Krypton is doomed, and he can’t save even the woman he loves.

And so, to Earth, where suddenly this entire life-shattering episode seems almost a dream. This is his reality now, this Earth, with the weaklings called Jimmy, and Lois. At least he has a second home.
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© by Mark Alfred