The Last Days of Krypton Review
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Since his introduction in the 1930s, Superman has gone on to become one of the most recognized literary figures in the world. Most people have at least a basic understanding of who he is: an alien sent from a dying planet to Earth as a baby, raised in middle America by farmers to eventually become the worldís greatest superhero. No matter whoís telling the story, or in what medium, these points are the bedrock that every Superman tale is built on. Even those that branch out from the main mythology have to be rooted in that basic understanding of the character.

This is where Kevin J. Andersonís The Last Days of Krypton truly misses its mark. Anderson is a prolific sci-fi author, having worked in a number of well-known established franchises, as well as writing his own, original material. Maybe itís a product of playing in so many different sandboxes that gives his prose here such a generic feel, but outside of a few clumsy references, this just doesnít feel like a Superman story.

It tells the story of Jor-El, a brilliant scientist who will someday become Supermanís father and savior. A brilliant scientist and an exception in Kryptonís technologically advanced but stagnant society, heís one of the first to see the end coming for the planet. His attempts to save Krypton are complicated by a military coup enacted by General Zod (the lead bad guy from the second Superman film).

As with any good tragedy, we come into the book knowing full well how it will end. Krypton will be destroyed, and the infant Kal-El (Supermanís Kryptonian given name) will be sent to Earth. In the meantime, such Superman story staples as the Phantom Zone, the three Kryptonian villains from the movies, the parents of Supergirl, the robotic villain Braniac, and even a cameo from another DC Comics superhero are all touched upon briefly. However, each time one of them shows up, rather than reinforce the storyís connection to Superman, it just casts in sharper relief just how much of a generic sci-fi story this is.

Other authors have tackled Supermanís home planet before, employing different methods and different characterizations. Some have been even less successful than Andersonís, but a greater number have been better. The first half of the book especially feels as though itís going through the motions, offering readers little of the optimism and wonder that permeates the best Superman stories.

Although the action and pacing pick up considerably toward the end, the thinness of the characters and the dull slog through the opening chapters will have already done too much damage. Like the titular planet, there are some nice features on the surface, but the core is weak and failing. So when the inevitable finally occurs, and little Kal-Elís spacecraft is sent rocketing toward Earth, few readers will be tempted to look back.

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