Krypton is one of the most well known fictional planets in popular culture, but not many people know much about the place.
Sure, it’s been mentioned and even appeared in comic books for nearly 80 years. Still, the planet is most famous for blowing up just after a young Kal-El is shipped off to become Superman.
Many people have ideas about Krypton from Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman: The Movie or Zack Snyder’s 2013 Man of Steel. These films, and the several Superman family television series over the decades, have only offered brief glimpses into the planet.
That is all about to change though, as Syfy has ordered Krypton to pilot. The series, which was created by Man of Steel screenwriter David S. Goyer, is set to explore the planet by following around the grandfather of Kal-El, Seg-El.
If you are expecting flying superheroes who shoot lasers out of their eyes, Krypton is definitely not the show for you. What it can be, though, is a science-fiction action-adventure that explores a unique culture and society. Think Game of Thrones meets Firefly in an absolute best-case scenario.
Krypton is in a unique situation compared to other movies and television series adapted from comic books. The early days of the planet Krypton simply haven’t been explored that much. Sure, most comic fans know the story of Jor-El and Zod, but the generation of Kryptonians before that?
Of the main cast of characters on Krypton, only Seg-El (spelled Seyg-El in the comics) and Dev-Em have had any important roles. And neither of those characters have had a definitive depiction. Simply put, Krypton has a blank slate to work with.
The comic book arcs below give little information on the expected characters and stories that will ultimately appear on the show. What they will give you is an introduction to Kryptonian society and culture.
Superman: The World of Krypton (1987-1988)
This is arguably the deepest look at Kryptonian culture ever in comic book form. Writer/artist John Byrne rebooted Superman in the 1980s and part of that was giving a fresh start and background to Krypton. Goyer clearly used some of this mini-series as inspiration for Man of Steel and potentially Krypton as well.
Despite the presence of Superman on the cover of the trade paperback, the character never appears in the series. What we get instead is a deep dive into Kryptonian society. Krypton has a fascinating and scientifically advanced culture, yet still struggles with the same problems all civilizations have had.
The 4 issues provide a great look at the potential depth and mythology a Krypton TV series could have. Just because there aren’t any classic superheroes, doesn’t mean there can’t be great drama.
Starman Volume 2 #51 (1999)
This is just a single comic book issue, but one that features a lot of Goyer’s insight into Krypton and it’s culture. In this comic, Starman crash lands on Krypton in the past. What he finds is a young Jor-El and an older Seyg-El, years before they discover their planet is doomed.
Goyer wrote the issue along with James Robinson. Although their aren’t many characters besides Seyg-El who are likely to appear on Krypton, this may be the quickest way to get a feel for culture on Krypton and get introduced to the Kryptonian Science Council.
Man of Steel movie prequel comic (2013)
Before Man of Steel was released in theaters, a comic book prequel was released to give some background on the Kryptonian’s previous trips to Earth. The story takes place almost entirely in ancient Earth, but it does give insight into the Kryptonian way of life and heavily features Kara Zor-El (Supergirl) and Dev-Em.
This prequel’s story is by Goyer, Geoff Johns, and Man of Steel director Zack Snyder, with a script by Sterling Gates. Like the Krypton TV series, this is one of the few pieces of media that actually explores Kryptonian culture before Jor-El and General Zod were around.
Superman: World of New Krypton (2009-2010)
World of New Krypton is a 12-issue arc written by James Robinson and Greg Rucka, that continued the Superman: New Krypton story line. The issues have been collected in Superman: New Krypton Vol. 3 and 4. In this arc, surviving Kryptonians have colonized a new planet to claim as their own.
Superman: Last Son of Earth (2000)
What if baby Kal-El was born on Earth and sent to Krypton instead of the story we know? Oh, and he also receives a Green Lantern ring. This comic and the sequel, Superman: Last Stand on Krypton, both written by Steve Gerber, examine that potential scenario. These comics do feature Superman’s grandfather, Seyg-El.
Bonus: The Last Days of Krypton (2007)
OK, so this isn’t a comic book. The Last Days of Krypton is a novel by Kevin J. Anderson. This is a book that I went into expecting to find it boring. Once I started reading the book, however, I was immediately reeled in and wanting to find more about Krypton.
The book focuses on the scientist Jor-El and his budding romance with Lara as they attempt to save Krypton. Jor’s brother Zor, General Zod, and others feature heavily. It also shows Krypton’s potential connections to the greater DC Comics universe, with mentions of Brainiac, Martian Manhunter, and much more.
This isn’t a superhero book. It is a science fiction adventure. The opening chapter hooked me in quickly. It starts with Jor-El attempting to travel the multiverse and accidentally discovering the Phantom Zone. While some might be bored that no capes are involved, it is fascinating if you are a fan of Superman’s mythology.
Planet Krypton has a rich and unique backstory that hasn’t been explored to great depths yet. While the above comics can serve as inspiration, the writers and producers have mostly a blank canvas to work with. Hopefully, that will lead to a unique and exciting sci-fi adventure.