Thursday, November 18, 2010

Episode #145: Last City Of Krypton: Superman #200!

With the recent publication of the Elseworlds story, Superman: Last Family Of Krypton, I thought this would be a perfenct opportunity to look at an earlier imaginary story about Kryptonians arriving on Earth. Super-Brother Against Super-Brother first appeared in Superman #200, October 1967, published on August 3, 1967. The issue contained 32 pages for 12 cents. Mort Weisinger was the editor, and the cover was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by George Klein. Cary Bates wrote this story, which was drawn by Wayne Boring. I missed this issue when it was originally published, but bought my copy a few years ago from my old comic shop in Tavares, Florida, at its second location.

The story began when Jor-El confirmed that Krypton's unstable radioactive core would explode in a chain reaction any day now. He had built a small rocket which would allow his toddler son, Kal-El, escape his planet's doom.

Before Jor-El could save his son, a stange, alien spaceship approached Krypton and shrunk Kryptonopolis. Of course, this was done by Brainiac, who placed the city in a bottle. to replicate its atmosphere. But he did not do it, at least in this story, to capture the city. In this imaginary story, Brainiac was not evil, but wanted to save the city from Krypton's doom. He also revealed that he was not a humanoid alien, but a living computer.

Jor-El asked Brainiac to save the rest of Krypton's population. Brainiac was willing to try, after building a stronger shrinking ray. The one he used to skrink Kryptonopolis had burned out. Brainiac succeeded, but by the time his ship returned to Krypton, everyone aboard could only watch the planet blow apart. Brainiac promised to find a way to restore Kryptonopolis to its normal size.

Brainiac would sometimes shrink himself in order to visit Kryptonopolis to visit Jor-El and his family. During one such visit, Brainiac informed Jor-El that he would not be able to enlarge the city. He had discovered that the only known source of the rare element used in the shrinking ray had been depleted.

As life continued on Kryptonopolis, Jor-El and Lara had a second son. During a Kryptonian version of a christening, Brainiac was named the godfather, and named the boy Knor-El, after the man who designed Brainiac's brain circuits.

As Kal-El and his brother Knor grew, Brainiac continued his search for a new source of the rare element he needed, to no avail. The two boys worked together one time to save a man and his skycar when he fell out of the vehicle. Kal-El pursued a career in science, while Knor-El trained in law enforcement.

Finally, one day, Brainiac discovered a new source of the rare element he needed on an uninhabited planet. Kryptoniam workers began building holding tanks for the element. A metoer shower approached Brainiac's ship on a collision course. Brainiac's weapons malfuntioned, and were unable to destroy the meteors. Brainiac's ship is heavily damaged by the colliding meteors, and it approached Earth, barely intact. The ship had just enough power for Brainiac to use his Levitator beam to safely place the bottle city of Kryptonopolis on a deserted field, before his death ina collision with a skyscraper.

The people of Kryptonopolis built a memorial in Brainiac's memory. Jor-El used the city's monitor screens to explore their new home of Earth. He found that the planet's citizens suffered from a lot of crime in their society. Later, in a lab where the tanks were built to hold the rare element, Jor-El discovered that enough of the element had been gathered to enlarge one man, but who? Research indicated that a Kryptonian on Earth would have super powers because of its yellow sun and lesser gravity.

A competition was organized among the young men of Metropolis to decide who would serve as a super hero on Earth. During the first competiotion, the contestants were given flying rocket belts and had to dodge flying energy bubbles. Half of the prospects were eliminated. The next competition was a type of giant chess game, where heach man remote-controlled one piece on the board. More contestants were disqualified. The thrid event was a race with moving hurdles. The final two candidates were both sons of Jor-El, Kal-El and Knor-El.

The final contest was that each man would face a fighting robot. Both men used different strategies. Kal-El used his headband to cover the robot's eyes, while Knor-El figured out his robot's vulnerable spots and struck them. Knor-El won the competition and earned the Superman costume. Kal-El congratulated his brother, but was very disappointed.

Knor-El left the bottle city, and used the tiny amount of the rare element to enlarge himself to normal size for the first time in his life. After relishing in his new super powers, Knor-El built a citadel in the ocean floor where he kept his home city safe. While Kal-El wished that he could take his brother's place, Knor-El adopted a secret identity of Kent Clarkson and got a job as a reporter at the Daily Planet newspaper.

After being given the assignment of covering a prison riot, Clarkson (Knor-El) revealed himself as Superman for the first time by capturing the convicts who had kidnapped the warden.

Later, an alien ship landed on Earth near Metropolis, and Superman greeted them. They exposed him to kryptonite, knocking him out. When Jor-El, using the city's monitor screens, could find no trace of Knor-El on Earth, Kal-El feared his brother could be in danger. Using his scientific knowledge, Kal-El had earlier succeeded in synthsizing the rare enlarging element. He used it to enlarge himself after leaving the city's bottle and flew to rescue his borther from the invading aliens. They exposed him to the kryptonite, but a side effect of the synthesized element was that it did not harm him. Kal-El grew to a giant and he attacked the aliens. He was joined by his brother, who had awoken from a kryptonite induced coma. Together they defeated the aliens and banished them from Earth.

Knor-El talked his brother into becoming a second superheo for Earth, Kal-El became Hyperman. He took the secret identity of LeBlanc, a reporter for the Metropolis Star.

At the end of the issue, the editors honored the 100th Anniversary of Canada becoming a united Federation.

Next Episode: It Was 50 Years Ago Today!

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Thanks for listening to the Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

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