It’s taken more than 70 years, but Superman finally has the one thing he’s always wanted: a home. Today sees the release of Superman: War of The Supermen #4, the final part of a massive, four-year-long arc running throughout various DC Comics titles that has seen his homeworld of Krypton come back to life – and the characters’ creators finally creating coherent cultures, class structures, architecture and religion for one of the most famous fictional planets of all time.
Krypton has, understandably, been fairly undeveloped throughout the 72 years since Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created the Man of Steel – Sure, Superman discovered reasons to travel through time to visit his dead homeworld on a fairly regular basis in the Silver Age, but those stories made the planet look more like a slightly-more science fictional version of 1950s America than anything else. It wasn’t until the 1970s that creators started considering the planet as an alien culture, but even those few stories were swept away by 1986’s reboot for the character, which replaced the cosy, colorful Krypton of old with a purposefully “alien” world of unemotional, hairless scientists, clones and crystals that was quickly destroyed and rarely revisited. Since then, different writers and artists had used different versions of Superman’s home planet at different times, leaving the character’s (fictional) history in flux, and his origins in doubt: Was he Superman because of or in spite of the planet he came from?
The roots of this recent definition of what Krypton was, and is, comes from One Year Later, DC’s 2006 line-wide relaunch of its superhero comics in the wake of its popular Infinite Crisis series. As writer (and now DC Chief Creative Officer) Geoff Johns took over Superman’s flagship series Action Comics, he started laying the groundwork for a story that would run over the next few years, including multiple alien invasions, the origins of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and full-scale war between worlds. The fact that Krypton ended up finally making sense in the process was just the greatest kind of imaginary collateral damage.