This article consists of nothing but Krypton spoilers. You’ve been warned.
Krypton is here! I never thought I would be this happy to see a show set on the world Superman came from, 200 years before it exploded, but they really managed to put this one together. Krypton is packed with more love and care for deep (and I mean DEEP) Superman mythology than any version of the legend to make it to the screen. Since I majored in Kryptonian Studies in college (disclaimer: I did not), I am uniquely qualified to over-explain virtually every minute of this show.
But what also helped was a visit to the set of Krypton early in the production of the first season (more details on that here), where I got to see a few details up close and personal thanks to executive producer/showrunner Cameron Welsh and the cast and crew. Even a lifelong Superman fan like me was surprised and amazed by the pieces of lore that the creators are mining. I’ll be updating this every week with new info from each episode.
Keep in mind, the most recent episode will ALWAYS be at the top, followed by the other episodes in chronological order. And click the blue titles to get taken to full episode reviews!
Ready? Let’s go…
Krypton doesn’t waste a single second getting into its Superman lore. From the opening shot, Krypton is surrounded by a ring of debris. While this certainly isn’t explained as anything in particular, I have to wonder if this is the shattered Kryptonian moon of Wegthor, destroyed by a nuclear missile, and one of the reasons that Kryptonians are pretty sour on space travel.
Even if this isn’t actually intended to be Wegthor (but I bet it is, because trust me, the folks behind this show have left no Superman stone unturned in their quest to bring this show to life), having a slight ring around the planet Krypton is a nod to the earliest appearances of Superman’s father, Jor-El, in the comics, where he was often depicted wearing a tunic with a ringed, Saturn-esque planet on it.
In later years that became a stylized depiction of Krypton’s red sun instead.
But you can also see some visual nods to the 2013 Man of Steel movie. The depleted, desert look of Krypton, and that particular color scheme, looks very much like the version we got in that film. David S. Goyer, who wrote that film, is an executive producer and co-showrunner on Krypton, and he co-wrote the pilot, too. I spoke to Goyer last year about the show’s development and he said he had written countless pages of notes on Kryptonian history when he started prepping for Man of Steel, and wished that segment of the movie was even longer.
Here’s a look at the surface of Krypton from Man of Steel for comparison’s sake (and yes, that is Wegthor in the upper left hand corner).
Please note that Krypton is not a Man of Steel prequel, despite these similarities. The producers have been quite clear about that fact. But it’s neat that they’ve gone for a similar aesthetic when it makes sense. By the way, I wrote a ton about all the weird Krypton and DC stuff in Man of Steel right here if you want to read it.
But they’ve also drawn on Richard Donner’s Superman (which we’ll get into in a minute), tons of deep comics lore, and designed this world top to bottom on their own.
A word of warning before we go on, Superman (1978) is my favorite movie of all time. It’s the thing that got me into comics, superheroes, and science fiction in general. I’m not going to be able to shut up about it whenever we’re discussing Superman in general, or this show in particular.
– In our first look at Krypton’s surface, we see the city of Kandor in the foreground. There’s a LOT to unpack here, too. You can also see another city way the hell off in the distance, also under a dome. So, we’ll go in order of…well, we’ll just go in whatever order I feel like rambling about, OK?
This shot also reminds me of the first time we see the surface of Krypton in (you guessed it) the 1978 Superman movie. While that film depicts Krypton as an icy, frozen wasteland, its cities are kind of clustered together. And that movie’s action takes place in one giant mega-city structure, but way off in the distance you can see others like it. That’s what happens here, except with domes.
But more importantly, Kandor being under a dome recalls its comic book fate. In the comics (not to mention other versions of the Superman story, including Smallville), Kandor went bye-bye long before Krypton itself did, usually because Brainiac came along and scooped it up, leaving nothing but a crater in its place. He placed it in a bottle, which isn’t exactly a dome, but you get the idea. Superman eventually rescued Kandor and placed it in his fortress.
On the other hand, the comic version of Argo City, Supergirl’s hometown, had a dome over it, and that’s one of the reasons it initially survived Krypton’s explosion. Although the Supergirl TV series hasn’t taken that route, and anyway, this show isn’t set in that continuity. In any case, there’s a lot of precedent for the whole “city under glass” thing we’re seeing here.
Now, as for the actual IN STORY reasons for why these cities are all under domes. An undetermined amount of time ago, the planet suffered some kind of “great cataclysm” (these are the words executive producer Cameron Welsh used to describe it when I visited the Krypton set last year). As a result, vast swaths of the planet are inhospitable to life, and that’s why all the cities are under domes.
Later in the episode, we hear the commander of Kandor’s military, Primus Jayna Zod (we’ll get to her in a minute), refer to other city-states. There are nine city-states on Krypton, although the show (at least for now) is primarily concerned with Kandor. I do not know if life is like this in those other city-states.
I have to appreciate the Kryptonian architecture, though.
Before Krypton was depicted as a crystalline ice world in Superman: The Movie, one of its key influences was the work of Alex Raymond and the original Flash Gordon comic strip. For decades, alien cities in general defaulted to a kind of art deco “Raymondism,” especially Krypton. This is the first time I’ve really seen this attempted in a modern way in live action, and it’s really cool.
You could totally have shown me this picture and told me “hey, check out a look at Mongo from this new Flash Gordon TV series” and I would have been really excited. But yeah, the fact that early Krypton looks the way it did for nearly the first 50 years of comics is a really nice touch.
– Daron Vex is the chief lawgiver in Kandor, serving under the Voice of Rao. Remember how I said this show draws influences from all the different versions of Krypton of the comics and the screen? Well check out those black robes he wears when passing judgment on people…
…they sure remind me of the ceremonial garb that Jor-El wore when pronouncing sentence on criminals in Superman: The Movie.
So does putting people under a spotlight when they’re being judged.
– Note that Kandor is a theocracy. That’s a long-ass way from the rational, scientifically ruled Krypton we know from movies and TV shows. Something definitely has to change. The scary guy in charge is the Voice of Rao. The giant red sun that Krypton orbits is named Rao. And their monotheistic society is based around a god conveniently named Rao. So yes, Rao is a sun god. Grant Morrison will tell you that Superman is also a sun god. I’m inclined to agree with him.
Anyway, comics and cartoon fans will recognize Superman’s preferred exclamation of frustration, “Great Rao!” He was invoking Krypton’s sun god. Look at it this way, if Superman could still invoke Rao, then maybe Rao isn’t bad as far as gods go, it’s just his teachings that have been corrupted by opportunistic assholes. Gosh, it’s not like that could EVER happen on Earth, right? Nah, this is science fiction and that’s just too far fetched. Right? RIGHT?!?!
One interesting thing about the Voice of Rao and his design is how the multi-faced mask reminds me of the floating blue Science Council heads from the opening of Superman: The Movie that scared the living crap out of me as a kid.
The lettering on his robe is the Kryptonian language. I believe there’s a distinction the show makes between what modern residents speak (which is Kryptonian) and the language of the ancients that is used for ceremonial purposes, which is Kryptonese. For the record, in the comics it was always Kryptonese and not Kryptonian, but I’m not going to get too hung up on this. Unless you want me to. But I don’t think you do.
I’m sure that the significance of the blue bodysuit and red cape that we see on Val-El in the opening shot isn’t lost on anybody, right? Right.
Like most modern interpretations of the Superman legend, “it’s not an ‘S'” it’s a Kryptonian symbol. In this case, it’s the crest of the House of El. Up until 1978, it was most certainly an ‘S’. That changed with Superman: The Movie (told you I would keep bringing this up), when it became a family symbol, and all Kryptonians wore them. The comics didn’t adopt that interpretation for nearly another 30 years, but since then, that’s how it has been.
Note that the show has gone with a more “classic” version of the ‘S’ than what we got in Man of Steel. It’s a little smaller, a little more restrained and traditional.
Anyway, Val-El sure reminds me of another member of the El family…
Right? Anyone want to take bets on how many times I can bring up Superman: The Movie when talking about this show? Because really, I’ll use any excuse to do it.
Anyway, the REASON he reminds me of Jor-El isn’t just because of the fancy ‘S’ logo and the white hair. But Jor-El was also a renegade who defied his planet’s ruling council in the name of science. You’ll recall at the start of Superman that not only does the Science Council not believe his discovery that Krypton is going to explode, they explicitly forbid him from trying to leave the planet, for fear it would cause “an atmosphere of fear and panic.” So yes, space travel is long outlawed on Krypton.
Here, Val-El dares to suggest that Krypton isn’t alone in the universe, and he refused to stop his research (and potential explorations) to the contrary. You can see how his great-grandson Jor-El inherited some of those traits. And you can see how that is passed further down the line, too.
– The platform where they perform executions in Kandor sure reminds me of where General Zod and friends were banished to the Phantom Zone in those sarcophagi that looked like penises in Man of Steel, too.
– I really love that Val-El’s final words to his grandson Seg-El are “keep believing in a better tomorrow.” That is something that is very much in the spirit of Superman, and a wonderful revolutionary slogan now that I think about it.
– OK, we should probably talk about Seg-El since he’s, y’know, the star of the show, right?
Seg-El first appeared in a great comic from 1988 called The World of Krypton, by the powerhouse creative team of Mike Mignola and John Byrne. He was already Jor-El’s father at that point, and certainly not the scrappy potential revolutionary we meet here. Also, in the comics his name was spelled Seyg-El.
The name Seg-El (or Seyg-El) is almost certainly a tribute to Superman’s co-creator Jerry Siegel.
The Seg-El of the screen reminds me a little bit more of Van-L (not a typo), Seyg’s ancestor from hundreds of years earlier, who lost everything when the planet underwent a devastating civil war…triggered in part by the terrorist organization Black Zero. Uh-oh…we hear that name a lot in this pilot. – In World of Krypton, the terrorist organization Black Zero basically empties some kind of nuclear destabilizing agent into Krypton’s core, which helps hasten the planet’s destruction centuries later. Black Zero was also the name of Zod’s gigantic war ship in Man of Steel.
Seg is going to become a member of the Science Guild, which is the first step towards the destiny of his son, Jor-El, who becomes the greatest scientific mind on Krypton.
– Georgina Campbell plays Lyta Zod, and yes, she is you-know-who’s ancestor. Her crest here seems to be different than any Zod crest I’ve ever seen. In any case, those Kryptonian military guild uniforms are sharp. I love that capes are only used for ceremonial occasions, too.
Neither Lyta Zod nor her mother, Jayna, are from the comics…but I’m going to have lots more supplementary info on both of them from my time on the set of Krypton soon enough! Stay tuned!
– Lyta is betrothed to Dev-Em, who is a very different character from his comics counterpart.
The Dev-Em of the comics was banished to the Phantom Zone and became an enemy of Superman down the line. The Dev-Em of the show is a little more complicated than that. I love the fact that we’re getting a TV show with Dev-Em on it. That’s a Phantom Zone villain who has been annoying Superman since like, 1961. He ends up taking an interesting turn, though. Dev was also a background character in Man of Steel.
– As far as I can tell, there is no Nyssa Vex in the comics. There was certainly a Car-Vex in Man of Steel, so I have to imagine this is an ancestor. Wallis Day plays Nyssa with the icy calm of Sarah Douglas’ Ursa in Superman and Superman II, although her character is a lot more complex than that. Here’s a mild spoiler, folks…if you’re looking for an easy villain in this pilot (other than the obvious green guy) you aren’t going to find one.
– Nyssa and Seg’s trip to the Genesis Chamber in Kandor reveals a LOT about Krypton, though. Krypton has moved beyond physical reproduction and childbearing (but not recreational sex, so that’s good). Remember in the opening of Man of Steel where they made a big deal out of the fact that Kal-El was born “the old-fashioned way?”
It’s also worth noting that in the comics of the ’80s/’90s, not only was natural childbirth not a thing on Krypton, neither was the fun part. Babies were made 100% in test tubes (or “birthing matrixes”) and sex was considered primitive and barbaric and love itself was a revolutionary act. I probably have given this point too much thought, though.
There’s a comics connection to this, too. This whole thing where technology tells you who your child will be, what their profession is, and how long they will live is actually right out of the vintage Krypton stories in the Superman comics. There, kids would go, get themselves scanned, and get “sorted” into different fields. The comics version of Krypton wasn’t as strictly classist as the one we see on the show, but you definitely had aptitudes for science, military, politics, etc. This sequence in the Genesis Chamber feels like a nod to that.
– The key to the Fortress is named as a sunstone crystal. Crystal tech wasn’t really a thing in the old Superman comics until it became the key technology in Richard Donner’s Superman movie in 1978 and its sequels. When Geoff Johns took over the Superman comics in 2006 and started incorporating more elements from the Donner films, the Kryptonian crystals came with him, and I am 99% certain that was the first time we ever heard the term “sunstone” applies to them.
Having this crystal as the key to the Fortress is very much a nod to how Clark Kent discovers his true alien heritage in Superman: The Movie.
– I don’t need to explain the Fortress of Solitude to you, right? Of course I don’t. BUT, there are some neat things contained in the Fortress.
– Of course, you all caught the use of John Williams’ famed Superman musical theme at key moments, correct? Yet another way that the greatest Superman movie of all time influenced this movie.
– First of all, you’ll see those two giant statues. In the comics, Superman keeps statues of his parents, Jor-El and Lara, holding up a giant Kryptonian globe. Here, those statues are intended to represent the first of the line of the House of El, and the globe that they’re holding is a representation of Rao, Krypton’s giant red sun.
– The star map that makes up the roof of the Fortress is proof of Val-El’s research and travels. He has mapped the stars, while the rest of Krypton doesn’t believe in life beyond their borders.
– The giant oval windows you see, if you look closely, are covered in luminous Kryptonian lettering. Each of those windows tells the story of a different member of the House of El, each taken from various comics. The only thing is…you can’t read them unless you can read Kryptonian. But this is an actual detail that they put into that set, and it’s pretty amazing.
– But perhaps the coolest thing of all, is you can spot a weird alien plant in a glass case. That is a Black Mercy, familiar to fans of one of the greatest Superman stories ever told, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ “For the Man Who Has Everything.” I wrote about that in much more detail here, but the short version is, if you haven’t read it, you should fix that immediately.
– Adam Strange first appeared in a 1958 issue of Showcase (Barry Allen, The Flash, had arrived two years earlier in the same book). He was created by Julius Schwartz and Murphy Anderson, which is quite a creative pedigree. The Adam of the comics didn’t go to Krypton, but rather the planet Rann, also via Zeta Beam, which also would zap him home at inconvenient moments when its effects wore off.
Adam Strange is a Detroit Tigers fan. Geoff Johns, DC’s Chief Creative Officer and who is a key influence on this show, was born in Detroit. Draw your own conclusions. The idea that Seg thinks the Tigers logo on a baseball cap is a guild logo is pretty hilarious, though.
It’s interesting that Adam Strange smokes. What is that weird fake brand that aren’t Marlboro red cowboy killers he’s smoking? Lamborellos? And who still buys cigarettes in a soft pack?
– The fact that Seg thinks Adam is from “the planet Detroit” is a really subtle and clever nod to Superman II. When General Zod and his buddies arrived on Earth, they thought it was “planet Houston.”
– We don’t have to mention that Superman’s cape here is functioning like the family photo in Back to the Future, right? Everyone caught that? Good. Moving on…
– When Seg is having that conversation with his parents about Adam, the cut of his shirt, and the design around the shoulders, make it look like the shirt/cape combo of Superman.
– Seg’s parents, and thus Superman’s great-grandparents, are Tyr-El and Charys-El. They aren’t from the comics (that I can tell, at least), but Tyr is a reasonably common Kryptonian name, so why the hell not, right?
– A fun detail in the background. You can see Tyr-El’s medicine on a table, two gold vials with red liquid in them. Up close, those vials have Kryptonian writing on them that reads “take two drops a day, seven days a week.”
– Seg is still a long way off from being a noble superhero, but when he fights those military cadets in the alley at night, he does this jumping punch maneuver that is kind of a Superman-esque move.
We should talk about Brainiac, right?
– Brainiac has been menacing Superman since Action Comics #242 in 1958 (hey, the same year that Adam Strange first appeared!). His MO has always been that he steals cities from the surfaces of planets and bottles them. He’s a terrific villain, but has never been done properly in live action…until now.
The version of Brainiac that we’re going to get on this show draws heavily from Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s excellent Brainiac story from 2007, which kind of evolved the character into this movie-worthy, terrifying, cybernetic horror show. It’s handily one of the greatest Superman stories of the modern era, and the best of my lifetime.
The interior of his ship that we glimpse is positively full of “bottled” alien cities, too. It…looks cooler than how it looked in his original comic appearances.
I’m not gonna get into too much more detail for fear of spoiling future episodes, but trust me on this, Superman fans…this is the Brainiac you have always wanted to see.
– Seg’s best friend Kem remains mysterious, as is his background. But if you dig way the hell back in El history, there was a Kem-L. It’s probably a coincidence…right?
– Kryptonian currency and the electronic method they use to swap it is “solar chips.” You can spot faded posters and fliers in among the graffiti in Kem’s bar, and that’s the only place in the show where paper is ever used.
– It’s becoming pretty apparent that Adam Strange might be exaggerating his status a little bit, right? His description of how unreliable the Zeta Beam can be is completely on point, though. Funny that we also learn in this episode that he’s an archaeology dropout, not a full-fledged archaeologist as his comic book counterpart is. Not exactly Indiana Jones, is he?
– We do get the names of the Kryptonian gods Rao “defeated.” One of those is definitely Cythonna, an ice goddess, and you can see how she might come into conflict with a guy like Rao in the mythology.
– Dev-Em’s history is hinted at here, and once again, all I can say is that this character is far more interesting than the one from the comics. I promise to get into that soon (complete with some quotes from Aaron Pierre!).
– Like Dev-Em, Commander Quex-Ul is a name familiar as a Superman villain, one who came back to haunt him from the Phantom Zone. We’ll just assume that is one of this poor guy’s descendants because TV Quex-Ul has the shit killed out of him by Lyta Zod, in a kill moment a little reminiscent of how Superman dispatches General Zod in Man of Steel.
– We get references to both “the spirit of Jor-Mon” and an allusion to the Kryptonian fable about Jor-Mon on the Jewel Mountains in this episode. The Jewel Mountains were a staple of Krypton comic book stories in the 1970s, although they haven’t been mentioned in any recent comics. Cool to see that we’re getting them here. Now when will I hear the words “Scarlet Jungle” spoken?
– Val-El’s resurrection as a hologram is another of the many Superman: The Movie influences this show displays at every turn (keep scrolling for my endless notes and love for that movie down below). I approve. I also really approve of this show’s version of the House of El crest, and the tasteful way it looks in black on that awesome blue tunic Val is rocking.
– We finally see those Fortress “windows” in action. These are the “stations of the Cross” but for the House of El. Showrunner Cameron Welsh says that yes, each and every one of those windows does indeed tell a story of a different member of the House of El, all from the comics…and all in Kryptonese.
– Tharg-El “discovered the cure for the green death.” This is a cool, kind of revealing line. In the 1986 Man of Steel by John Byrne, and the World of Krypton comic by Byrne and Mike Mignola, it turned out that Kryptonite was menacing Kryptonians long before Superman made his way to Earth. Kryptonite poisoning was a result of the radioactive stresses in the planet’s core, and the resultant radiation sickness was “the green death.” In many Superman comics, as he succumbs to Kryptonite poisoning, he’ll start to turn green. I hope they revisit this as the show goes on.
– Val-El describing the Phantom Zone as a kind of shortcut to explore the universe is reminiscent of how it was deployed on the Supergirl TV series. However, note that in the comics, traditionally it was Jor-El who discovered the Phantom Zone as a way to punish criminals (eventually Krypton stops believing in the death penalty…which is nice).
– Is that a look of recognition between Adam and Val-El in the Fortress? Adam says “wow, you look super realistic…” stops himself, and then the two share a nod. If Val had been traveling space and time before his execution, it’s very possible he would have made his way to Planet Detroit at some point and found Adam Strange.
And there is definitely precedent for members of the El family to have visited Earth in the past. Usually, in most comics versions (and Smallville, strangely enough), it was Jor-El who traveled to Earth, and this helped him ultimately choose our world as the destination for his son. Since Krypton has already shifted the development of the Phantom Zone from Jor to Val, I don’t see any reason why Val shouldn’t have been the one to visit Earth, either.
In any case, this is something to watch as the show develops.
– I absolutely love the Rao “crucifixes” that Rohm and Ona carry. Having common, everyday religious relics around really helps flesh out the world.
While we’re on the subject of Rao, the robed figures with High Kryptonese lettering tattooed on their faces are known as “The Word of Rao.”
– We’ve already discussed Black Zero in earlier episodes (keep scrolling for more details), and I don’t see much in the way of DC Comics references for “Sector 19” in Kandor. But there’s a hugely important name introduced in this episode…
Jax-Ur. Believe it or not, before Superman II immortalized General Zod as the Kryptonian criminal to beat, Jax-Ur was Superman’s prime Phantom Zone asshole. One of the reasons Kryptonians weren’t fond of space travel in the comics was because Jax-Ur “accidentally” destroyed the moon of Wegthor (see my notes on episode 1) with a nuclear missile. The character has been around since 1961, but we’ll be meeting a rather different version on Krypton later this season…
I’m pretty sure there’s a mention of things going down at “4300 hours.” I have always been under the impression that a Kryptonian day is 27.4 hours (do not ask me how/why I know this), but maybe the show measures time differently.
– Adam is offered a “Daxamite hunting blade” by one of the Rankless traders. Daxam, of course, is the home planet of Mon-El, who some of you may hate over on Supergirl. It doesn’t appear that Krypton takes place in the same corner of the multiverse as Supergirl, but it’s good to know there’s a Daxam here, too.
That same trader tries to pass off the Brainiac probe as coming from a “legendary Gem City.” And while a gem city definitely sounds like something that would be right at home in Silver/Bronze Age Kryptonian mythology, my memory banks are drawing a blank at the moment. I am also very tired.
– I do love the variety of styles and colors we see in all the Rankless crowd scenes in this episode. At one point, I could swear I saw someone in red trunks and a yellow belt, but I might be imagining things.
– Adam is TOTALLY bullshitting about designing the Zeta Beam Device himself! Not only is it clearly alien technology, it kind of looks like Jack Kirby designed it. And while Kirby never really had anything at all to do with Adam Strange, I just like the design choice here.
– Gotta love Seg’s “I’m better with the truth,” line. The guy has a strong sense of justice if you ask me. Might have picked that up from Commander Lyta Zod.
– The Rankless getting choked out by a uniformed figure who proclaims “I can’t breathe” seems like an intentional echo of the death of the unarmed, non-violent, Eric Garner at the hands of a New York City police officer in 2014.
Also, I’m just going to quote directly from Delia Harrington’s review of the episode, because she has absolutely nailed it…
“It’s worth noting that separating out members of a specific group, under the guise of anti-terrorism actions, is the seventh stage of genocide. Furthermore, the forcible separation of children from their parents, as the Sagitarii tried to do here, is one of five components of genocide, as outlined in international human rights law.”
– As far as I know, there’s no Kol-Da in the comics. Am I wrong?
– “There is no Rohm” is this show’s “There is no Dana, only Zuul.” But the rest of her dialogue, especially “Krypton is worthy of collection” is absolutely chilling. Treating Brainiac like a horror movie villain is really the way to go, and I get the feeling they’re going to tease this out over the rest of the season.
– That EMP grenade that Seg uses to take out poor Rohm looks an awful lot like an Omegahedron, the maguffin of the 1984 Supergirl movie…and which has kinda popped up on the modern Supergirl TV show, too.
Wondering why this very Brainiac-heavy episode entry is light on me actually talking about Brainiac? That’s because I have a whole article about the creepy green guy right here for you instead!
There’s not a whole lot of DC or Superman mythology in this episode that I haven’t already covered in my breakdowns of the previous episodes (those all start below this one), but there were still a few fun things to catch…
– It’s interesting that the Nova Cycle is basically like a kind of Christmas/New Year/renewal celebration. It’s even more interesting that the Voice of Rao can kind of just determine when it starts. And why shouldn’t he? The guy literally decides when it is daylight and when it isn’t in Kandor. It would seem that Krypton might not rotate and have a traditional day/night routine.
– The offerings to Rao presented during the Nova Cycle festival are red and blue gems, not only recalling traditional Superman color schemes, but other kinds of Kryptonite. Red Kryptonite has weird, unpredictable effects, while Blue Kryptonite traditionally only has an effect on Bizarros. Kryptonite is sometimes portrayed as a naturally occurring element (rather than any given fragment of the planet that was irradiated by the explosion), and I wonder if there’s any connection to that here.
Or maybe they just look cool…which they do.
– Using an insect that invades an orifice in your head as a form of torture sure does bring to mind the most disturbing scene in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, doesn’t it?
– Seg trudging off through the frozen wastes reminds me of Clark Kent in Superman II, trying to find his way back to the Fortress of Solitude after foolishly giving up his powers and getting his ass kicked by a trucker as a result.
– The saga of Jayna Zod and her older brother isn’t from the comics, but it sure is good storytelling. I spoke with both Ann Ogbomo (Jayne) and Georgina Campbell (Lyta) about what it means to be a Zod, and you can read more about that right here.
– Now, we’ve heard the legend of Jo-Mon mentioned several times on this show already, and I just want to make sure I’ve got it straight. Here, Jo-Mon took on all comers on the Jewel Mountains, right? But in the comics, Jo-Mon was a pacifist, who preached from up on those mountains.
But what’s really interesting to me is that the “Sword of Jo-Mon” that we see represented on that temple in the ice wastes looks like the “Sword of Superman” from one of Elliot S! Maggin’s weirder Supes stories from the late Bronze Age. Just cool callbacks on top of cool callbacks.
– I do love that instead of a “trial by fire” the Zod’s are tested in a “trial by ice” basically, which sort of sets them up even further as the opposites of Superman. After all, Superman derives his very powers from the sun.
– Don’t think Superman II fans didn’t notice that “as such, you kneel to no one” line.
– Krypton keeps digging deep on Superman lore, this time for ice goddess Cythonna and her war with Rao. There’s a nearly forgotten Superman one-shot called Superman: The Last God of Krypton by Walt Simonson and Greg Hildebrand that told her story, and while the way it relates to Superman himself will never make it to the screen, it’s still pretty cool that they’ve just decided to weave it into the background of the show.
– The Cythonnites themselves, though, are speaking some kind of Kryptonian dialect. I wonder if this is the ancient “high Kryptonese” language we’ve heard about, and this is why Seg doesn’t understand them? Is this like the Kryptonian equivalent of Aramaic or Latin or something? I’m also really curious about what language was used as the basis for this.
– This is the second time Seg’s undershirt has recalled something connected to Superman history. In episode one, it was that wide neck with the design that felt like a cape could be attached/tucked into it. But in this episode, it has a kind of collar design that is a little reminiscent of the outfits Buster Crabbe wore as Flash Gordon. Both the Flash Gordon movie serials (and more importantly, Alex Raymond’s comic strips) were enormous visual inspirations on early Superman, and this doesn’t feel accidental.
Check out what I mean…
It’s very possible I imagined this, but I could have sworn that someone present at Lyta’s trial/sentencing was wearing the symbol we see on the lead council member in Superman: The Movie.
And what about that crazy ending, right? I explored the implications of that in detail right here.
– Was this episode the first time we’ve heard the place of judgment referred to as “the Hall of Justice?” If so…c’mon, I don’t need to tell you what the Hall of Justice is, right? Also, the “blue light of judgment” kind of reminds me of these guys…
…but that’s probably a coincidence.
– The big reveal here is that Brainiac’s arrival isn’t anything abnormal. He’s just here to steal Kandor, as we’ve always known he’s destined to do. The interesting twist here is that the theft of Kandor is what ultimately destabilizes Krypton’s core and causes the destruction of the planet.
– So if Kandor is destined to be wiped out, it makes sense that the next destination is Kryptonopolis, the second most famous city in Kryptonian lore. Fun fact: all the Krypton scenes in Superman: The Movie take place in Kryptonopolis.
– That sure is a cool looking Doomsday. Ever heard of him? Killed the shit out of Superman back in the day? This is a neat twist.
– Holy moley, this is the version of Brainiac I’ve been waiting for my entire life. What a terrifying opening scene.
– Daron-Vex is looking to escape to Argo City, birthplace of Supergirl. I hope we get to go there in future seasons.
– The Daron-Vex/Brainiac symbiosis reminds me of whenever Brainiac teams up with Lex Luthor in the comics. You only think you’re the smartest guy in the room until the goddamn Collector of Worlds shows up, and then you’re just another sniveling jackass.
– Kem delivers the punchline of an off-color joke about Rondors. The Rondor is a legendary Kryptonian beast whose horn can cure diseases. We saw them glimpsed in Man of Steel, believe it or not. Please tell me this means we’ll get to see Nam-Ek on this show down the line.
– I love that this world’s equivalent of “you’ll wish you were never born” is “you’ll wish the Genesis Chamber never spat you out.” Another nod to the fact that Kryptonians don’t seem to give birth “the old-fashioned way.”
– We’ve been wondering when Dev-Em would make a turn towards his villainous comic book roots, and sadly, it had to come because of his possession by Brainiac. Hopefully he’s not dead and there’s room for redemption here, because this character is far too interesting to dismiss like this.
– Adam Strange, during his soul-baring speech to Val-El, makes a reference to not having a power ring. While we knew there’s a Justice League in whatever corner of the multiverse Krypton occupies, this is our first official confirmation of the Green Lantern Corps. I desperately hope we meet a member on this show down the line.
– Also, Adam is closely examining the Black Mercy in the Fortress. If that thing gets out, maybe we’ll see a vision of reality where Adam is living out his heroic fantasies.
– Val’s talk to Adam is kind of like the equivalent of Jonathan Kent’s “you are here for a reason” speech in Superman: The Movie.
– Adam’s “piss of, Ghost” line is definitely a nod to Thor: Ragnarok. (Disclaimer: Kayti Burt caught that, not me!)
– Note that Seg-El actually kills someone, albeit in self defense, and it probably wasn’t his intention. Something tells me that this is going to stick with him for a while. This show understands Superman so well, that I think this moment will make a mark.
– Zod never knew his father, who was apparently killed in the battle for Kandor. This raises some interesting possibilities. For one thing, it makes me question the timeline of when Brainiac is actually going to take Kandor. It seems unlikely that Lyta is currently pregnant, and that battle appeas to be looming, right?
But if she is…would this mean that Seg-El is potentially Zod’s father? That would be too convenient, and I think a little too much of a stretch for this show. Could Dev-Em be the father? I’m not sure if Lyta and Dev were ever actually boinking, so I don’t think that’s the answer, either. Far more likely is that for whatever reason (and this raises the spectre of Seg again), Lyta just always lied to young Dru-Zod about his parentage.
In unrelated news, the “there’s someone I need you to meet” moment is just absolutely gold.
– The Not The Voice of Rao’s ascension to proper sun god is a great visual, but whenever anyone, for any reason, says “who wants to live forever” there’s only one thing I think of…
– The weird hallway that we open the episode in is a rather minimalist look at the planet Rann, where Adam Strange first learned about his heroic “destiny” and the Zeta Beam technology. The two disembodied voices are Sardath and his daughter (and Adam’s true love) Alanna. I get the feeling we’re going to spend more time with the denizens of Rann next season.
– Even though Adam’s speech about how Superman “could have been a god” is rehearsed, it’s still a wonderful encapsulation about what makes the character so special.
– We finally meet Jax-Ur in the flesh here. I already discussed the comic book version of the character way up in the episode 3 notes. You were paying attention, right?
– Zod’s talk about how he “attempted a coup” is right in line with assorted tellings of his story. Sometimes they were for “noble” (well, by his standards) reasons, and other times, they were just because he is kind of a penis. I’m rather fond of this show’s version of Zod, though, and I absolutely believe that he believes he is doing the right thing.
– I feel like the speech that Seg makes to Lyta is kind of the Seg-El equivalent of young Clark Kent’s “all those powers” speech to Ma Kent in Superman: The Movie after he fails to prevent the death of Jonathan Kent.
– I will be honest: I do not approve of the revelation that Zod is Superman’s uncle. It’s all to convenient and a little too Steven Moffat for my taste. On the other hand, this show is so good that I’m willing to trust where it’s all going. Plus, it does add an additional element of Shakespearean tragedy to the El/Zod conflict.
– Codex technology, eh? As you may remember, the Codex was the genetic key introduced in Man of Steel, and it drove much of that movie. That’s not the only Man of Steel reference, though…
– The House of El crest is from an ancient Kryptonian symbol for “hope.” That specific meaning was first added to the crest in the Man of Steel movie. However, that in itself was influenced by (you guessed it), Superman: The Movie, which not only was the first thing to make the “S” into “not an S” but opened with a voiceover that referred to Superman as “a symbol of hope for the city of Metropolis.” It’s a clever nod to both elements, and I’m glad to see that Krypton is continuing the tradition here.
– One of the code words Jax-Ur spits out is “Flamebird.” Way the hell back in the ’50s and ’60s, when Superman and Jimmy Olsen would have adventures in the (now bottled) city of Kandor, they adopted the superhero identities of Nightwing (don’t tell Dick Grayson) and Flamebird. Later on, actual Kandorians would adopt those identities. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some version of Flamebird on this show in season two.
– When Val-El returns, we can hear John Williams’ Superman theme faintly played. It’s great that the show has used this, but not overused it. Always to accentuate the right moments.
– But the biggest revelation of all…is the clones! I’ve discussed at length in this piece how much of this show is influenced by The World of Krypton story, and this might be the biggest one yet. Clones for the elite citizens of Krypton is one of the key things that sets things down a difficult path, so…let’s keep an eye on this one.
– Could they have possibly come up with a more satisfying visual for Brainiac? No. No they could not. His moments in this episode are positively cinematic.
– They even tease us with one of the most iconic moments in all of Superman history: the bottling of Kandor! Of course, it doesn’t end up actually happening, which is a shame, because it has never been done in live action. Still, this is exactly what it SHOULD look like!
– Zod dangles the technology available on Cygnus 4019 in front of Brainiac. Cygnus 4019 is “Planet Salvation,” a metahuman prison in our current age, and one filled with crazy technology in ANY age. I really hope we get to go there in season two.
– I’m just going to go on record as saying that this show’s visualization of the Phantom Zone is my favorite ever done in live action.
– The fact that one can see “possible futures” from inside the Phantom Zone feels like a nod to DC’s multiverse.
– The timeline changes, of course…and now Zod is in charge of Krypton. Years before he was supposed to be born. This in itself is interesting, BUT…
…it kind of hints that the kind of imperialistic Krypton that was said to be in the distant past in Man of Steel. I am sure this is intentional.
– That Zod statue sure does remind me of a recent Superman/Booster Gold team-up story by Dan Jurgens, where the pair knew they had ended up in the wrong timeline because of a giant golden statue of General Zod.
– The ending with Doomsday escaping is more than just foreshadowing. When Doomsday was first introduced in the comics in the months before DC’s legendary Death of Superman story, he was teased in one page stingers at the end of each issue…with a mysterious figure hammering, hammering to escape a prison. This was a great live action representation of that.
If you want more details on what really went on in that season finale, I got ’em all straight from showrunner Cam Welsh. You can read all about it right here.
Meanwhile, Krypton Season 2 will arrive in 2019.
Alright, Science Council! See anything I didn’t? Let me know in the comments or shout ’em at me on that Phantom Zone of futility, Twitter! (I’m just kidding, we all know Facebook is the actual Phantom Zone…that place is the worst).