While Krypton is an important part of Superman’s origin, in practice it’s been explored in-depth fairly rarely. Once or twice per reboot, however, DC will gather some of its major Superman talent to reimagine the Man of Steel’s home planet.
One of these attempts was the World of Krypton miniseries from 1979. This was actually the first miniseries ever published by DC, and they’re reviving the title for another crack at reinventing Krypton, in World of Krypton #1 by Robert Venditti, Michael Avon Oeming, Nick Filardi, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou.
Venditti’s been working in the Superman office for almost two years now. His work on Superman: Man of Tomorrow was generally well-received by Superman fans, and he’s taken on a more classic version of the character in the current Superman ‘78 miniseries. On paper, World of Krypton would seem like the perfect series for him to take on next, combining this recent success in the world of Superman with the cosmic storytelling Venditti first became known for on titles such as X-O Manowar and Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps.
And it works pretty well as a finished issue. Venditti takes a narrow focus, spending all but a few pages centering Jor-El, Superman’s father, and the rest of the El clan as they celebrate the naming ceremony of Kara, the future Supergirl. While this narrow focus may seem a bit paradoxical for a book entitled World of Krypton, it introduces a clear point of view for the series and allows for the setup of a personal conflict with real stakes. The issue also includes a few elements of classic Krypton lore that haven’t been used in decades, reintroducing them to a new generation of readers and helping the story feel fresh despite the number of times Superman’s family has been revisited in the past few decades.
The small moments that take place away from the El family are engaging, too. They make it feel like Krypton is dying; not just the geologic processes of the planet, but the biological ones too. It makes sense that Krypton’s ecosystem would suffer before its inevitable destruction, and it really helps add a sense of foreboding to build anticipation for the later issues of the series.
While I mostly know Oeming from his work on Powers, he does a great job with a book that is decidedly more high-concept here. His layouts are appealing, and his version of the skyline of Kryptonopolis is beautiful, especially with Filardi’s coloring to complement it, and it’s Filardi who really steals the show here. The colors are key in making sure Krypton feels distinct from Earth visually, and in this issue Filardi nails the balance, creating a world that feels familiar but different, advanced but not distant. It helps to give this book its own visual style, looking quite unlike any other comic releasing at DC currently.
Otsmane-Elhaou outdoes himself with the lettering. There’s a clever trick used here where many of the speech balloons are rounded rectangles with a fairly large buffer between the text and the edge of the balloon. It makes the text feel clean and orderly, which fits well with a society and a family that tend to be characterized as such. The sound effects are also exemplary, with clean borders and rounded lines that complement Oeming’s thick-lined style, and the captions are stunning.
Where the book struggles is its pacing. It feels like the issue is a bit too compressed, with not enough time for events to breathe. I really think World of Krypton would have benefited from being in the Prestige Plus format like many of DC’s other books, including the somewhat similar Wonder Woman Historia, or by being given a few more issues to tell its story.
Despite that, I would say World of Krypton is a comic that’s open to both long-term Superman fans and newcomers alike. It does a great job introducing its characters and world while setting up the next few issues of the miniseries, and it tells its story in a way that’s novel despite it being a story that’s been covered before.