thelazyreader ([personal profile] thelazyreader) wrote in [community profile] scans_daily2011-01-28 01:15 am

The Day Superman Killed...

Since the Silver Age Superman has always had a strict code against the taking of life. This one principle is so central to his character that when he accidentally killed a villain in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow he immediately stripped himself of his powers and hung up his cape.

It is with this in mind that I show you what is perhaps the most controversial Superman story of all time, The Supergirl Saga, which depicted the only canonical instance where Superman ever killed someone in cold blood, and also featured the first appearance of Supergirl in post-Crisis continuity.

This was the last story in John Byrne's long post-Crisis Superman run that started with his Man of Steel revamp in 1986. It ran in Superman #21, Adventures of Superman #444 and Superman #22, respectively.

At the beginning, Superman is flying over Kansas when he gets the feeling he's being followed.

Supergirl's powers are somewhat different from Superman's, as she demonstrates by morphing her face to reveal she's actually Lana Lang. To add to the confusion, she has a firm belief that Metropolis was destroyed years ago and that Lex Luthor is the world's greatest hero. A fight breaks out over the misunderstanding before Clark starts figuring out what's going on.

Supergirl finally remembers that she's from an alternate universe, sent to Superman's Earth on a mission.

"Welcome to the end of the world, Superman."

The guy on the bottom left is Lex Luthor, with a full head of hair and a much nicer attitude. Superman finds himself in a different universe where the Earth is a barren wasteland with the sole exception of Smallville, which is protected by a forcefield designed by Luthor.

And now I must briefly explain a convoluted part of post-Crisis DC history. When DC rebooted Superman's origin after Crisis on Infinite Earth, they created a huge discrepancy with the Legion of Superheroes comics. In the post-Crisis DCU, Clark never became Superboy. But Superboy was crucial to the Legion's existence as well as a recurring character in their books. So in order to keep their stories in continuity, DC had the Time Trapper create a 'pocket universe' where Superboy existed, and stated that this Superboy was the one the Legion knew.

This pocket universe was the one Superman now found himself in, with Earth in a devastated state after Superboy vanished years ago.

Lana and Pete gave Luthor access to Superboy's Kryptonian lab, hoping that he could find a way to bring him back.

You can guess who 'Von-el' really was.

Interesting members Luthor's resistance has there, eh? Unfortunately even having the entire world united against him only pissed Zod off. He no longer gave a damn about ruling and decided to just wipe out the puny Earthlings.

Supergirl eventually finds Superman and brings him back to her world. Now he is the survivors' last hope of bringing Zod and his cohorts to justice for causing armaggedon.

Superman leads the resistance in mounting an offence against the Kryptonians.

But he fails to turn the tide. As the 'pocket universe' was a homage to the pre-Crisis DCU, these Kryptonians are much stronger than Superman. They crush the resistance and destroy Smallville.

Luthor's secret weapon is a piece of Gold Kryptonite, which, in the Silver Age, could permanently strip Kryptonians of his powers. As the Kryptonite here emits radiation at different wavelengths as compared to Superman's universe, he is immune to its effects. But Zod and his followers aren't.

Luthor dies, and thus the human race is extinct. Superman returns to the cell to face the difficult decision of dealing with the ones responsible.

And he exposes them to Green Kryptonite, killing them.

After burying the bodies, he prepares to leave when he notices Supergirl's protoplasmic form moving in the rubble. He takes her back to his Earth and leaves her at the Kent farm to recover, after which she would go on to become the 'Matrix' Supergirl. He then tells his parents that he needs to be alone for a while, to think things over.

"It is strange now to feel the wind against that face, after the hard vacuum of that other Earth. Strange to think of five billion humans going about their everyday lives, unaware of the annihilation of their doppelgangers."

"And strange, too, to know that in their eyes I am still Superman, the untarnished champion of humanity. When I know that from now on, things can never truly be the same again".


This story was heavily criticised at the time, with many readers outraged that Superman had violated a moral code he had held for over 50 years. After Byrne left succeeding DC writers tried to downplay this story, and Superman was haunted by this event for many years, at one time even exiling himself from Earth because of it.

Presumably because of the controversy this story was not collected in trades, so finding it was pretty hard. But it was worth it; it was a good story, and something to think about.
schala_kid: Slowpoke Flash (flash)

[personal profile] schala_kid 2011-01-28 06:16 am (UTC)(link)
Interestingly enough this story was reffered to in Superman #666 by Rakkar the nothing, a Kryptonian Demon from Kryptonian hell which got destroyed when Krypton blew up (but Rakkar escaped). Rakkar tells Kal that because there were no Kryptonians left to do evil, he shriveled and wasted away....That is until Kal-El killed and stained his soul which let Rakkar thrive and feed off him. Superman denies his claim because this story happened after Infinite Crisis and Superboy-Prime punching so that event got erased from existence. But it is interesting to note that while Clark doesn't remember (and for him that never happened), it still happened because gods, demons and other supernatural beings (Like Death and the Endless) remain unaffected by the Crisis and any reality-altering events.

So they are aware of everything you did before that, and apparently those who are in the Haven and Hell business still count it towards or against you (which sucks if you're Catholic because you can't repent for something you forgot you did and seriously how does that work).

Anyeay here's the page in question

A little context for the "I never murdered anyone before tonight" comment. The Demon makes Clark go bad in a dream and he pretty much kills everyone on his dream (his supporting cast and villains too), of course it was all planned by him and the Phantom Stranger so everything was ok in the end and Clark didn't corrupt his soul.
arbre_rieur: (Default)

[personal profile] arbre_rieur 2011-01-28 06:39 am (UTC)(link)
That or the creative team was planting the seed for some kind of untold tale.