The Forgotten Origin - Action Comics Annual #10/Action Comics #850/Countdown
This is for my amusement and for anyone else who might care about the topic. If this is not the topic for you, just please shrug your shoulders and move along, that way we can avoid any friction and problems, making everyone happy.
One origin of Superman that seems to be glossed over and ignored - mainly because the author claims it doesn't exist even though the comics show it does - is the one that appeared in the titles mentioned in the subject title, which was the origin of consequence for Superman coming out of Infinite Crisis prior to its replacement by Secret Origin.
This origin (for Superman in the first two titles and for Lex in the third) present events and aesthetics that are contradicted by those presented in Secret Origin in the same way that itself contradicts Birthright and Birthright contradicted Man of Steel.
Such elements and aesthetics range from Superman's public debut (rescuing a space plane in costume as seen in Action Comics #850 and rescuing Lois Lane from a falling helicopter in Secret Origin), Lex's time in Smallville (sent there by his rich parents as seen in Countdown and being born there as seen in Secret Origin), to the look and technology of Krypton (ships grown from crystals and Jor-El's garb as seen in Action Comics Annual #10 and the same in Secret Origin).
The images from the ship and Jor-El's attire from the annual and Secret Origin have been posted countless times by other people, while I have posted the look of the ship as it appeared in Booster Gold, which is the same as in the annual but different from Secret Origin.
I've decided to find more evidence to support the existance of this forgotten origin, mainly appearances and/or mentions of the crystal ship in other comics, as well as appearances of Jor-El as he looks in the annual.
Now, this has more to do with editorial continuity than with in-story continuity merely to demonstrate that, for at least a time, there was an origin of Superman that is no longer valid (for whatever reason).
For instance, the following images are taken from an issue of Supergirl that features what would be her second or third origin (the Ghostbuster origin, in this case), which was "valid" before her "true" memories of Krypton returned (i.e. in this origin Zor-El is still the scientist that sends her to Earth as opposed to Allura, who does it in the now-current origin).
This is presented mainly to demonstrate that, as far as editorial goes, in the time between the release of Action Comics Annual #10 and Secret Origin #1, what appears in the origin was considered canon, until the following writers decided to replace it.
On that note I will say this, things in the story can either be canon or be mental delusions that characters have, but they cannot be both.
What I mean with that is that the story in the annual can either be canon (i.e. how Zor and the others were exiled, how Non lost his intelligence) OR it can be a delusion that Kara Zor-El has due to Kryptonite poisoning (i.e. the look of the ship and her uncle Jor-El, which contradict the look from Birthright).
One key thing to keep in mind here is that the story from which the following images come from is one which depicts a Krypton from two different versions, one being Birthright and the other being Action Comics Annual #10 (Jor-El is from the latter and Zor-El is from the former).
These two versions/depictions of the charcters should not and cannot exist at the same time, which is why, later, a writer decided to dismiss all of Kara's memories of Krypton as due to Kryptonite posioning or some such gimmick.
While that gimmick may invalidate the look of Jor-El's garb, it cannot invalidate the story from the annual because that story is part of Superman canon, not something Supergirl imagined.
I'll be posting the images separate from this post. I just have to scan them.
I will continue to look for more instances like this and post those images as well.
What we have here is an image taken from Supergirl #16 published a few months after the Action Comics Annual #10 came out with what would be our first look at Krypton following Infinite Crisis.
Following the publication of the annual, all of Jor-El's appearances (and all of Krypton's appearances) follow the aesthetics and continuity established in the annual.
This meant that Jor-El no longer looked like he did in Birthright, which up to that point was the "definitive origin", he now looked as he had been established to at the end of Up, Up, and Away (i.e. Sean Connery).
This also meant that Kryptonian artifacts, like space ships, were built using sun stones, therefore the ship that brought Kal-El to Earth no longer looked like it did in Birthright, it now fell along the lines of the Doomsday ship that Luthor used in Up, Up, and Away, it was grown out of crystals, not built.
It wouldn't be until Secret Origin came out that this was changed to the ship being built as opposed to grown.
I'll post more images and comments as I find more material.
Last edited by Michael Sacal; 10-06-2010 at 08:08 PM.
The inconsistancies between these two events is pretty clear.
In the first one, taken from Action Comics #850, Superman makes his public debut in costume when he rescues what clearly looks on the last panel to be a space shutle, a clear nod to the rescue of the space plane from Man of Steel as a way to retain that event in continuity.
The second image, however, is a clear contradiction of the first (except for the presence of a costume), with Superman now rescuing Lois from a helicopter (I won't show the preceeding images because the point here is to show the public surronding Superman, but those that read SO know what happens before that, right?)
What we have here is two contradicting versions of what Superman's public debut entailed, thus we have two different origins.
Last edited by Michael Sacal; 10-06-2010 at 08:10 PM.
This page, from Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Cyborg Superman #1 published a considerable time after Action Comics Annual #10, presents us with an anomaly as it continues to feature the birthing matrix from Man of Steel as canon.
When the issue was originally published there was certain confusion from some fans in regards to Henshaw's wife, Terri, who in this story commited suicide while in the original version she became catatonic or something like that.
This brings into question what the writers and editors consider open to being changed and what they consider closed to being retained.
If they could change what happened to Terri Henshaw, why not also change the Cyborg's origin and incorporate what, at that time, was the ship that brought Kal-El to Earth into his origin?
For years prior to the publication of this comic, when BR was considered canon, the editors and writers insisited that the Cyborg's origin would eventually be explained within the new context of the character's origin, be that origin Birthright or what we know know as Secret Origin.
In the end, however, the origin of the character has remained the same, he used the genetic material found on the craft to turn himself into the cyborg Superman.
Last edited by Michael Sacal; 10-06-2010 at 08:11 PM.
We've come to the "controversial" issue of Booster Gold (pun not intended but appreciated).
Since the image by its lonesome has courted its fair share of naysayers to its face value, maybe adding images from the previous pages will help put things into context.
To understand these images, one has to understand the point of the Booster Gold comic book, which is that it is a comic book set within continuity that features a character who travels through time to fix events that go wrong in the past history of other characters.
One interesting thing I recently came across with in one issue of this title was that Batman confronted Booster Gold with pictures of Michael that the Joker took of him before he shot Barbara Gordon and paralized her in Killing Joke.
This indicates that the events of this series are considered canon because he is in fact affecting the past history of the characters and the events around them.
There really is NO reason whatsoever to doubt the validity of these images or the comic itself as it pertains to Batgirl, Hal Jordan, or even Superman, other than, in the case of the latter, comics published after this one contradicted the events of Superman's background depicted in this comic.
This was not due to some super villain rewriting the past, it was due to editorial and writer incompetence. It was due to their inability to commit to a design for the ship and an origin for Lex Luthor. If they had commited to the design of the ship presented in the annual and the origin of Lex Luthor presented in Countdown (the latter of which is to this day still available for view on the DC Comics' website), then there would be absolutely no question whatsoever that these images reflect Superman's canon history.
Rewriting the past in fictional stories is easier than doing it in real life. In real life, you can't pretend that something never happened just because you no longer like it.
A small correction. It has been brought to my attention that the origin of Lex Luthor in Booster Gold is in fact contradictory to the origin found in Countdown, which makes this the second Post Infinite Crisis origin for the character and Secret Origin the third.
These are posted more for their aesthetic value than anything else in the sense that these are supposed to be Kryptonian vessels made out of sun stones, which are supposed to give us the idea that every ship on Krypton (post Action Comics #10) are made of crystal.
This fact, of course, was true as far as it pertained to the Doomsday vessel seen in Up, Up, and Away, Kal-El's vessel seen in the aforementioned annual, the vessels of Dru-Zod's armada, and the ship Superman makes to take his family to an alien world.
It wasn't until Secret Origin came out that this changed and ships from Krypton were no longer made of crystal but of metal.
Now, one clear exception is the ship Superman uses to travel to Bizarro World. Why that one resembled the Supermobile of the 80s instead of conform to the crystal vessel designs that followed the annual, is an open question that, most likely than not, can be dismissed to an artistic preference on Eric Powell's part than anything else.
This image is presented to show the further establishment of the origin from Action Comics Annual #10 into continuity, and its growing effect on other titles, mainly Supergirl.
By this time the Birthright Zor-El (and Allura) have been replaced with versions based on the Krypton presented in Action Comics Annual #10, which brings them in line with the version of Jor-El and other Kryptonians (like Zod, Non, Ursa, and Jax-Ur) seen in the Superman comics since Up, Up, and Away.
To my knowledge, these versions of Zor-El and Allura remain in continutiy to this day (in his case up until he was killed).
Prior to the publication of the annual, Idelson and Busiek told readers that we would see glimpses of Superman's post Infinite Crisis origin before they commited to a full-fledge project, or words to that effect.
Up to the time of publication of this issue (or, in fact, a couple before it), those gllimpses appeared in Up, Up, and Away, Action Comics Annual #10, Action Comics #850, the issue of Countdown with Lex Luthor's origin, and Booster Gold #3.
These glimpses included Jor-El's look changing from the one seen in Birthright to the one seen in Up, Up, and Away, to the look of the ship that brought Kal-El to Earth changing from the one seen in Birthright to the one seen in the annual and Booster Gold #3, to Lex's origin changing from the one seen in Birthright to the one seen in Countdown and the one seen in Booster Gold #3.
It was not until this issue of Supergirl that we see the Post Infinite Crisis versions of Jor-El and Zor-El together.
One could argue, that this story arc in Supergirl constitutes the first glimpse at Superman's second Post Infinite Crisis origin as it is from this point forward that what would become the current version of Krypton as seen in New Krypton and Secret Origin began to be established. Yet, we must not forget the fact that even after this issue there still remains some inconsistancies with Secret Origin, mainly Jor-El's garb and the look of the ship, which are different in SO.
As to the issue of cosmetics, we must not forget that since the concept of the guilds was introduced cosmetics have become of greater importance to Krypton than they were before.
Now, who or what a character is is determined by the clothes they wear.
If they wear one certain set of clothes they are military, if they were another they are poets, and if they a third they are scientits while a fourth makes them convicts.
Jor-El's attire fails to fall within the notion of a guild, because while he is a scientist he is not seen wearing the clothes of that guild, he is in fact seen wearing two different types of clothes that, to my knowledge due to having fallen behind in my reading of the comics, has not been established as belonging to any specific guild (I'm sure it's possible that it has been and I just don't know it).
The question becomes, how can Jor-El change guilds between Action Comics Annual #10 and Secret Origin, and what does each outfit mean?
Last edited by Michael Sacal; 10-07-2010 at 08:48 AM.