Another Example of the Universe Smoothing Itself Out

No multiverse? Here's a story featuring the first "other Earth" of the new single Earth DC Universe...

SUPERMAN #22, DC Comics, October 1988
The 80s at DC from the Crisis onward were either about revamping their heroes and villains, or about fixing continuity that had gone all screwy in the wake of the Crisis. John Byrne's Superman was pretty great because he deftly handled both. Case in point: Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Prior to the Crisis, the 30th century heroes had been inspired by Superboy's exploits. More than that, Superboy and Supergirl had both been pretty prominent members! After Crisis, some books got revamped including Superman, but not the Legion (which probably should have been, except things were going pretty well over there, so it wasn't). In the new Superman, he was never Superboy, and there wasn't a Supergirl because Byrne had eliminated all other surviving Kryptonians. So no Kryptonian criminals, no Supergirl, no super-dog, no super-horse, no super-monkey... (You can see why Superman had to be rebooted.)

But that doesn't jibe with the history of the Legion! Byrne fixed the Superboy problem by having Legion villain the Time Trapper create a pocket dimension where Superman was Superboy, and indeed, where he had powers at his pre-Crisis, planet-juggling, level. Anytime the Legion interacted with the past, they were always redirected to this pocket dimension, allowing them to play with Krypto the Super-Dog and have Superboy become a member. Then he killed off that Superboy and the Legion buried him.

In late 1988, Byrne revisited the pocket dimension by having a version of Supergirl created from scratch by that world's Luthor. Here's what it now looked like:
What the hell happened? Well, seems like Luthor let the Kryptonian criminals (from Superman II, you know the ones) out of the Phantom Zone, and without a Superboy to recapture them, they laid waste to the Earth. They point blank massacred 5 billion people. There were no other superheroes in the pocket dimension, but people such as Bruce Wayne, Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen all stepped up and became part of Luthor's small, surviving resistance cell. They contact Superman from "our" universe, and off he goes to help them.

If the 5 billion dead of Earth don't make this one bloodthirsty enough, I'm afraid Byrne has the nice idea to kill off everyone that's left too. Bruce Wayne goes out like a chump, melted by Kryptonian heat vision. Then it's Hal "Green Lantern" Jordan and Oliver "Green Arrow" Queen's turn:
Brutal! To make things more difficult, the post-Crisis Superman doesn't have nearly the power level of the pre-Crisis-style Kryptonians, so he can't do much about it. Then he remembers that Superboy had a secret base under Smallville where he kept all different kinds of kryptonite. In the post-Crisis universe, there's only the deadly green, but in the pocket dimension, it's a freakin' bag of skittles. Gold kryptonite, for example, removes a Kryptonian's powers permanently. And since pocket kryptonite doesn't affect our Man of Steel, he finds some and removes the bad guys' powers with it. And then to make things even worse, the Borg show up...
Nooooo... I'm kidding. That's Superman's makeshift prison for the super-criminals. So what to do now? These guys committed genocide on an incredible scale, and well, you saw the cover: Superman exposes them to green K and they die. Yep, Superman kills. Not a dream. Not a hoax. Not a Jimmy Olsen story. Not in self-defense. Three unarmed, unpowered people. A girl, even. (It'll come back to haunt him in a really interesting plot thread, so this was a good move.)

Don't feel sad though, these guys showed just how evil they were even in their death throes. The two guys started blaming one another and die at each others' throats. And the female criminal started offering Kryptonian sexual favors in exchange for her life. Super-skanky stuff that once again shows Byrne's interest for all things pornographic...


De said...

but in the pocket dimension, it's a freakin' bag of skittles

That's as apt a description of pre-Crisis kryptonite if I've ever heard one.

I thought that the Pocket Universe of Zod et al was technically another dimension, which according to Bob Greenberger, was immune to the effects of the Crisis. Yes, I'm aware it's a bit of a reach.

Siskoid said...

Yes, that's how they justified it ;)

But a rose by another name...

Unknown said...

It was a good story, even if I was (and am) one of those old fogies who liked pre-Crisis Superman continuity.

The only negative part, I saw, was the creation of Matrix - Supergirl as a protoplasmic blob isn't an idea for the ages, even if I did enjoy what Peter David did to the character.

Paul C said...

Glad to see someone else liked this story as I know it's quite contreversial. I like the idea of Superman having a reason for his code against killing (i.e. he executed these three and it drove him temporarily bonkers).


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