There are few events in comics that have been retconned as much as Krypton’s final days. At this point we’ve seen multiple iterations of the death of Kal-El’s homeworld. In Superman #13 though, we get an interesting wrinkle added that feels more like deepening the lore and less like a retcon.
Brian Michael Bendis, Brandon Peterson, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Alex Sinclair and Dave Sharpe revisit familiar territory in a new way together this issue.
Jor-El reveals the secret history of Krypton’s last days to Clark- the planet wasn’t as isolated as he’d previously thought in its last hours. Not only was a secret cabal conspiring AGAINST Krypton, as revealed back in the Man of Steel miniseries, but a similar secret cabal was working with Jor-El to share scientific discoveries. However, did any of them step up to try to save Krypton in those last moments…?
Bendis’s script takes advantage of a largely disliked story beat from the Rebirth era- the presence of Jor-El in the modern DCU- and makes it finally count for something. We’ve never had access to his perspective, just the recordings he made, so we get a richer story, not just about Krypton but the universe as a whole. It’s also exciting for fans of the Legion of Superheroes, because we basically see a proto-United Planets here, with several familiar worlds interacting and being involved with one another. It ultimately does boil down to simply a flashback, but it’s an exciting flashback as it deepens the existing Kryptonian lore.
Peterson takes on the bulk of the line work here, and does a very good job. His Jor-El is a dynamic presence, and we see so much of his personality on the page. His worry and desperation is evident on his face. In the issue’s artistic highlight Peterson does several great splash pages and double page spreads, particularly with the revelation of the shadowy council working with Jor-El, which Sinclair adds to with a layer of electric blue that really makes it leap off the page. Sinclair’s color work, combined with Peterson’s great sense of design, also makes Krypton feel fresh and alien, without distancing it from the culture that we’re already familiar with.
The Unity Saga ends next issue, and with everything Bendis, Reis, Peterson and team have set up in the past year plus, I’m excited to see where this story goes next!
Superman #13 is available now from DC Comics.