Superman: Why did Krypton explosion kill all?

OK, so we have a society that has interstellar travel living on Krypton. So, how did the explosion on Krypton kill everybody? Wouldn’t there have been colonies, space stations, space ships, etc., chock full of Kryptonians?

I’m sure this was handwaved at some point in the DC multiverse countdown to infinity crisis, but I thought it would be more fun to just ask. Feel free to fanwank it if there’s no canon explanation – or if the canon explanation isn’t sufficiently funny.

Hey, it was 1938. No Battlestar Galactica tomfoolery back then. Your planet exploded, you were toast.

Well, pre-Crisis the explanation was that space travel was officially rejected as a pursuit after the mad scientist Jax-Ur destroyed one of Krypton’s moons (and 500 colonists) with a proto-nuclear rocket. Jor-El was somewhat dismayed and continued research in secret, putting together several small interstellar-ready rockets, the first of which was fired as a test project carrying the puppy Krypto and the latter, better model taking Jor’s young son Kal to Earth.

I refer you to the original World of Krypton four-issue mini series of 1979.

IIRC Jor El was the only Kryptonian of any means who actually believed that there was going to be a disaster. Whatever the capabilities of Kryptonian society as a whole, there was no percieved need to spread people out.

To use a different legend - Noah didn’t do anything that his neighbors couldn’t have done - it was just that the other people of that time and place saw no need to build an aircraft carrier in their back yards.

I thought they only had the one experimental rocket.

But I’m no Superman expert, so I may be wrong

I’m not up on current canon, but Pre-Crisis it was hinted that Krypton was isolationist and xenophobic in a sort of Imperial China way. Krypton had banned spaceflight long ago and only in Jor-El’s time was tentatively reconsidering allowing it again. Part of the canon was that Krypton’s nascent redevelopment of spaceflight had been centered in Kandor and was seriously set back when the city was stolen by Braniac- which didn’t help the Kryptonians’ xenophobia in the least. The ruling council authorized a planetary defense system headed by General Zod, and he used the opportunity to try a coup. IIRC, Mon-El was stranded on Krypton when his ship landed there and the authorities refused to allow him to leave again.

Finally, if you add up all the “other Kryptonian survivors” that cropped up over the years, you get dozens, not even counting the mass survival of Kandor, Argo City, and the Phantom Zone criminals. It’s one reason in the post-Crisis reboot they insisted that Superman truly be “the last son of Krypton” and stick to it.

Krypto’s test rocket was introduced in the same issue as the super-pooch himself, Adventure Comics #210 (July 1955), though over the pre-Crisis years there were so many stories featuring Jor-El’s various rockets the guy must’ve been buying them wholesale.

I thought Daxam was a colony of Krypton.

The most recent story is that Krypton was once a huge space empire, but the military government was eventually toppled by the scientists, who recalled and scrapped the fleet in some kind of mixed penance/xenobia. Jor-El was the only person on the ruling science council who believed (General Zod believed, but Jor-El wouldn’t back his coup), and could only put together one infant-sized ship before the planet went ka-blooey.

A few Kryptonian spacers did in fact defy the science council and survived off-world, but all but one of them were killed in retaliation for the crimes of imperial Krypton.

Upon checking, the 1979 World of Krypton series only ran three issues.

Anyway, pre-Crisis the explosion didn’t kill all; a section of what was once Argo City survived for at least 15 years, the survivors gamely hanging on until the inevitable.

My personal fanwank is that Krypton’s sun Rao is further from the center of the galaxy than Earth’s sun-- way out on the outer rim where the stars are too widely scattered to economically justify an interstellar empire, even with the advantage of FTL travel. Here on Earth, it’s only about four light years to the nearest adjacent solar system. But what if it were forty, or four hundred? By the time they got around to constructing a ship capable of making the leap to another solar system, they might already have developed some type of super-advanced, inexpensive remote viewing technology and decided that there was no need to actually go there in person after all. Their scientific ethos might have resisted the natural urge to contact other spacefaring cultures, preferring to leave them anthropologically pristine for study unless absolutely necessary.

Krypton may have had extremely advanced spacefaring technology for use inside their own solar system, but nothing much outside the system except for remotely guided long-distance probes. Even if the scientific principles to build interstellar spacecraft were well understood in theory, Jor-El could have been the first person in centuries to attempt applying the knowledge practically. After all, the only possible reason why a Kryptonian would need to leave the Rao system would be to escape some unimaginable disaster, like an impossibly powerful wave of radiation, capable of sterilizing an entire solar system. And really, what are the odds of something like that ever happening?

So, the Kryptonian in one handwave didn’t have space travel, only Jor-El did, and in another handwave they HAD space travel but didn’t use it, and in another handwave they had once had a space empire but they were kinda nasty or something, and were killed off by … someone … for … reasons …

Plus Astro City survived for … reasons and Braniac put that one city in a jar (when I was a kid, I thought the city in a jar was the coolest part of the mythos. It was like an ant farm with people and buildings instead of dirt and dead ants.) And some people survived in space … anyway … and the Phantom Zone leaks Kryptonians like a seive … and Jor-El was running a witness relocation for Kryptonian criminals and animals and relatives using test rocket ships he got at Krypto-Mart for a dozen a Krypto-dollar.

I also have trouble grokking that Krypton didn’t have a space program but did have the Phantom Zone and technology that would let Jor-El tell which mint a dime in a hooker’s tight jeans came from, without leaving his planet. Or something. I mean, he know all about Earth.

Have I got it pretty close to right?

Throw in the part about Clark Kent’s glasses subtly hypnotizing people into not seeing through his secret identity and you’re bang-on.

Oh, dear. The latest issue of Supergirl rather implies that Krypton is 30 LY from a Green Lantern sector that either includes Earth, or is damn close to the one that includes Earth.

Mind you, GL sectors apparently are pie-slices 1/3600th of the galaxy’s arc, but canon now certainly seems to be that Krypton is not only in a relatively populous region of space, but not too far distant from Earth.

So Superman can fly and survive in space. Wouldn’t this be a standard Kryptonian ability, or was Kal-El super even for a Kryptonian? If he was typical, then why did anyone die at all?

And if he was super for even a Kryptonian, then why bother with the whole alien origin in the first place…just make him a superhuman!

The standard answer to that is that Kryptonians are born under a red sun. Any Kryptonian entering a world under a yellow sun gains the same powers that Superman has.

Energy from the sun charges the cells in his body … or something.

By the way, while thinking about Kandor I was reminded of this thread about a classic pre-Crisis Superman story that was about to be adapted for the Justice League Unlimited animated series. The 'toon as it turned out couldn’t quite do the story, heh, justice, but it was okay.

Are you suggesting that I should place my faith in the shifting sands of comic book canonicity, rather than the historical accounts transmitted directly into my head via the fifth dimension? Get thee behind me John Byrne!

I’m pretty sure that by the time they hit Crisis the only people who died when Krypton exploded were Jor-El and Lara.

Okay, you’ve got Superman of course. Every criminal for the previous decade who got dumped in the phantom zone. Kandor, the single largest city of Krypton, got shrunk and abducted by Brainiac. Argo somehow held together in the explosion (and Supergirl was from there). Then there were apparently starfarers before Jor-El started building rockets because the witch Circe was supposedly Kryptonian (obviously not the same character as the current Wonder Woman archenemy). Jor-El’s neighbor’s kid built his own rocket and didn’t skimp on the space for his whole family…

According to one story, even THEY didn’t.

Unfortunately, I can’t remember the details. Argh.

The current round up of surviving Kryptonians is - Kal-El/Clark Kent, Karsta Wor-ul/Kristin Welles*, Kara Zor-El**, Lor-Zod/Chris Kent***, the population of Kandor****, and the villains in the Phantom Zone.

  • Last survivor of a group that refused to step down after the decommissioning of Dru-Zod’s fleet and the disassembly of the Kryptonian empire.
    ** Currently from Kandor.
    *** Birth son of General Zod and Ursa, adoptive son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane.
    **** May not, actually, be full of Kryptonians. The post-Crisis Kandor is, as indicated by the first OYL Supergirl arc, still in play. Whether this is the Kandor whose interface with the real world was a bottle in the Fortress of Solitude isn’t entirely clear, yet.