WARNING! This article contains Action Comics #1000 and Man of Steel #1 spoilers.
The Brian Michael Bendis era has begun, and he’s wasted little time re-writing a part of DC history.
Issue #1 of Man of Steel was released this past week, and already Bendis appears to have altered Superman’s origin story and the destruction of Krypton.
In the new canon created by Bendis, the planet Krypton appears to have been destroyed by a single foe rather than its more traditional self-destruction story we are used to.
The foe in question, Rogol Zarr, a brutal alien who was first teased by Bendis in Action Comics #1000 when he burst onto the scene announcing to Superman that he’d “killed Krypton” a statement left unanswered, until now.
Man of Steel #1 opens with Rogol seeking permission from the ‘Cosmic Keepers of Universal Order’ to wipe out the planet Krypton. He claims their scientific expansion threatens peace in the galaxy by bleeding weaker systems dry, leaving them weak and desperate, ultimately plunging the world into chaos.
Unsurprisingly the ‘Keepers’ refuse his request as Krypton hasn’t acted with any aggression and noticing his hatred of science and reference to Kryptonian’s as “Vile, intrepid creatures” leads them to believe he has something more personal against them.
Despite their refusal, it appears that Rogol Zarr acted under his authority and carried out his plan none the less.
In Action Comics #1000, faced to face with Superman, Rogol claims personal responsibility for “cleansing the galaxy of the Kryptonian plague” and tracks downs its last survivors with the sole intention of killing them.
It’s clear at this point that Rogol has now played a major part in Krypton’s destruction, telling Superman while preparing to deliver the final blow that he will complete his mission “just like I once promised Jor-El… When I destroyed Krypton.”
This all seems quite a straightforward premise that Bendis has introduced: Rogol defied orders and carried out his plan to destroy Krypton. During this time, he must have crossed paths with Jor-El where he delivers the promise he later repeats to Superman. All a straightforward platform for Bendis’s new take but also one that will fundamentally alter Superman’s beginnings.
Removing the planetary threat to Krypton and its impending doom raises questions to the validity of Jor-El constructing a spacecraft for his infant son to escape to Earth in. Also, the Krypton Rogol describes in Man of Steel #1 is far from the Krypton we have come to know (previously known to be more idealistic than war-like) which makes this quite a hard sell.
To try to make Rogol compelling or persuasive in the first full comic appearance is a difficult task. He’s arguing against science and progress, all while pushing for genocide of an entire species, based solely on what they may or may not become. At this point, it’s also unclear when Krypton was destroyed and at what stage of their progress scientifically they had reached at the time of the attack.
All these questions and many more can be raised by this altered canon that Bendis has introduced, and it’s going to be interesting to see just what Rogols motives are for his hatred of both the sciences and the Kryptonian’s themselves. It’s certainly a brave move to use an event as big as the destruction of Krypton to bridge the past and future he’s trying to create as he prepares to take the reins on both Action Comics and the main Superman books.
Issue #1 of the Man of Steel miniseries is available now.