Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
Superman and associated characters are trademarks of DC Comics.
Thank you for stopping by, and thanks for reading this story. Please feel free to let me know what you think - I like mail!
A Brief Introduction.
This story - 'Superman: The Age of Superheroes 1938 to tomorrow' began accidentally. While I'd already developed an idea for an epic tale of how a period Superman could become our Superman of the twenty first century, I hadn't committed to writing it.
Chapter one was really an exercise in creativity. I wanted to 'turn up the volume' on Jerry Siegel's original origin for Superman - to make it more contemporary, while remaining true to the spirit of his mythology.
That quest to recapture the verve of the gritty Superman of those early years led me back to the source material and the history of the time, and there was something that felt right about starting where it all began. So I did.
Chapters 2-14 deal with the years before 1938, and are really snap shot - shorts - that form part of an extended 'Smallville' prologue to set the scene. Most of this will be familiar, some moments are lifts directly from the original comics. What follows is a retelling of Action/Superman #1 in my own style. For there I go my own way, although I take inspiration and characters, and broad story ideas from the period comics. I've also tried where I can to weave real world history into the story, so in this way this is in it's own way an alternative history fiction.
From the reviews.
"The story itself is incredible. I know a lot about Superman's history, and you have united it masterfully. Its a real treat to see the name of a minor character that, at first, I think is an original creation of yours, go to this one comic book website, type in the name, and realise that you actually based him/her/it on an actual golden-age character. Every chapter is a treat. Even chapter that were light on action had something new that kept me reading. I was shouting in my head "I knew it!" when the Ultra-Humanite was revealed to be the first supervillian. I smiled when you found a logical way to include Krypto. I was surprised when what I thought was going to be ***** turned out to be ***** (with one l). Finally, I nearly clapped my hands when the Justice Society of America first came together." - scifidude
Attention Grabbing Excerpt
( If the following scene appears as familiar - and I hope it does - it is inspired by the comic book frame immortalised as the iconic Action #1 Cover - the 1938 debut of Superman)
Superman grabbed the bumper of the car, sliding behind the Cadillac for a brief second before snatching the auto's driving wheels clear of the pavement, then he began braking the speeding vehicle, his boots sliding along the road surface, bringing the sedan to an abrupt stop – while pulling the car to himself.
Superman tipped the car up further, shifting his grip he tossed the car over his head and grabbing hold of the spinning prop Superman tore the drive shaft clear. The powerless rear wheels span on steadily slowing.
Balancing the town-car and its seven occupants over his head Superman flips the vehicle over onto its side.
One hand now taking the strain his fingers sink into the body work; with the other free hand Superman tears the doors off the big sedan while shaking the auto. The gangsters fall tumbling to the ground.
Then with a nonchalant toss Superman drives the expensive limousine into the ground. Butch's chrome crumples as the engine smashes into the empty cabin.
Freeman Dyson – Dyson imagined a uniform solid shell of matter around the star; 'Dyson Sphere' - such a structure would completely alter the emissions of the central star, and would intercept 100 percent of the star's energy output. Dyson speculated that such structures would be the logical consequence of the long-term survival and escalating energy needs of a technological civilization.
Dedicated to America's Greatest Generation.
Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster – fathers of modern mythology.
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. " Arthur C. Clarke
Prologue : Chapter One
Part One : An Alien, An Illegal Alien. A Kryptonian in Kansas : Chapters 2-14
Part Two : An Alien, An Illegal Alien. A Kyptonian in Metropolis : Chapters 15-44
Part Three : An Alien, A Legal Alien. A Kryptonian American at War : Chapters 44-
Ah Gentle reader! I bid you welcome to my tall tale.
It is said the universe is not greater than we imagine, but that the universe is greater than we can imagine.
So I begin this story by boldly challenging you to imagine a reality that is even more incredible than our own singular universe.
Countless stars together make a Galaxy. Countless Galaxies together make our Universe.
It is said, can a person count the grains of sand on the beach? Could anyone number the stars in the cosmos?
And yet I ask you to imagine what theoretical Physics calls the meta-universe.
For it is science that imagines not just our one great Universe - filled with countless galaxies, containing countless stars, but an infinite number of such universes. Together these make something unimaginably vast – the Multiverse!
These infinitely different universes are sometimes called parallel realities. Realities where time unfolds differently, where unique worlds come into existence; vast universes birthed from chaos, living and dying, time and time again.
The story of Ace of Action, the Metropolis Marvel, the Man of Tomorrow, the Man of Steel, the first and greatest of the super hero's of the modern age begins in such parallel reality.
This is Superman's story, and it begins with a star called Rao.
A bright and brilliant star, young Rao burns in the crowded heavens of an already ancient universe.
Aeons pass, life emerges.
Great Rao burns on, now a captive of meta-human industry.
Jor-El watches Krypton.
Krypton is more than a world, it is an artifact. His people; a race of Supermen long ago broke apart the fabric of the planetary bodies that orbited Rao; an entire solar system shattered and pounded into dust. From this chaos the House of El had overseen the construction of Krypton. An artificial sphere, a machine that contained a sun.
Krypton – a technological marvel, whose interior was bathed in all the vast energies of Rao.
From space – from a distance, only a deep red glow seeped through the relatively thin skin of the sphere, other intelligences came to call Krypton the great Red Star.
Jor-El observes the ancient mega-structure, now a living mausoleum.
He sees through the Red Star and onto Krypton's huge interior surface; millions of times larger than any comparable natural world. Great continental landmasses and mega-oceans teem with all manner of imported life, save one. Gone are the demi-gods who built this world star.
Kryptonians were no longer limited mortal beings.
Jor-El's thoughts instantly crossed the vast expanse of space, watching the contracting and collapsing cosmos, dark matter sucking the ancient stars back to the universes centre, collapsing galaxies fall back into a vast black hole and destruction.
His was just one of countless universes within the Metaverse. This singular universe was already dying long long before the vast artifice that was Krypton's construction; collapsing even as Jor-El's most distant single celled ancestors emerged as life; but time is relative, and even in the twilight age of this doomed universe, there had to be time enough for miracles.
Lara! His consciousness reached out for her. His wife, his beloved Lara had begun their first golden age. They had conquered death, almost. Her mastery of biology had given them many centuries of healthy vibrant life; but even that was not enough.
Accident, chance, disaster, they still ruled in these ancient times. Lara was not satisfied with just extending life; but perfecting it. She and her disciples eventually rewrote even these rules. Their race became stronger, tougher, eventually invulnerable to disaster, calamity and disease.
Science had given them mastery of the stars by capturing the energy of light itself in their very cells, they shrugged off the ancient metal carcasses, the alloy boxes which had limited them, and with their hands holding the tools of their own invention this race of Supermen built themselves a new home, a citadel worthy of gods, Krypton.
Yet even these newly modified, customised, and magnificently powerful beings were yet flesh and blood, they had changed the rules, but the game was still the same. Even Supermen must die.
The House of El. The architect's of Krypton; first among them was Jor-El, who discovered an answer, and then over many millennia mastered the Phantom Zone, using the great engine that was Krypton to control and open up undreamed of possibilities.
Rao's power utilised through super science to transform each one of them, making them gods among the stars, no longer limited by material bodies, they crossed over into the Phantom Zone. Here a single thought could span the cosmos instantly, here time and space were subject to their will; and Krypton made this possible.
Kyrpton was the bridge between the Phantom Zone and normal space. It was the vast spherical machine that gave their thoughts substance in the real world; taking raw energy and turning into any kind of matter at their wish, the universe was now theirs; and so it this was the greatest and most glorious kryptonian ages began - but the end of the game remained the same, because even Universes die.
With all their great powers of science and invention even the Kryptonians could not halt their universe's accelerating collapse, a process long established before even life had evolved. Galaxies tumbling back to the centre, ultimately to end as an all encompassing black hole singularity. Perhaps if they had come to power in a young universe it would have been different.
Jor-El drew closer to his beloved. "The Council of Krypton has ruled against us – our plan to cross the great void. Our brethren are weary Lara, this universe holds no mysteries; they are resigned to our collective fate."
"My beloved; when the great bridge between the Phantom Zone and Space time is broken, we will finally die."
Jor-El embraced his wife. "My love your plans to recreate our mortal forms are incredible but the Council knows how much we have all evolved beyond the limits of a material body; flesh and blood cannot contain our intelligences; such a machine would be a prison to us - they cannot go back."
"And yet darling there is so much beyond known space and time, there are other universes, young vibrant and emerging, unknown and new."
Lara the fault is mine. The same technology that made us masters of this universe now traps us here; condemns us to it's fate, and that is my doing, that has been the price of our divinity.
"To begin again, to live and breath, to be meat and bones, would you have me cripple your intellect?
"Darling which memories would you edit from your eons of life – how could you be the same person I have loved for these last millennia when you are reduced to the confines of a single human mind?"
Lara touched his consciousness stirring his memories of the distant mortal past. "Death. Once our people feared it, strove to escape it, and yet is death has become the only unknown – the last mystery; the last great adventure."
"We all have lived so very long." Lara replied. "Is it so surprising we are tired of this life?
"And who knows what will happen when Rao dies, when the bridge between the Phantom Zone and space-time burns? It a seductive question - what lies beyond the veil of death?"
"Perhaps nothing - Perhaps everything." Jor-El returned his gaze to Krypton's Red Star tumbling towards the centre and oblivion. "Soon it will be over."
Lara. Her consciousness now touched his. "Jor-El" she embraced him. It was a kiss. A kiss that lasted a lifetime. She became all and everything to him, their minds had long ago become more than biology, more than technology – they existed in their own conjoined reality – with more substance, more intensity, and more intimacy than mere flesh and blood could dream of. Centuries passed between them – such was the urgency of their plight, there was a scarce few millennia before Krypton died, destroyed – a consequence of the cataclysmic death throws of this ancient universe; only centuries before they and all their kind would cease to exist in the physical world of their birth.
Lara the author of their advanced biology, it was fitting that Lara would come to him to give birth to Kyrpton's future. Together they engaged the great planet engine one last time. In moments their union was given substance, from thought by energy to matter.
We are complete. It was their common thought.
The first child to be conceived in many millennia was born, their child, Krypton's last Son.
"We cannot leave Krypton; we cannot escape the fate of this our universe, because we have become so much more than we were, we are Krypton."
"You Kal-El. You will live. Everything else that is of Krypton will die, but you are unique among us, you alone are able to cross the last great threshold, you will pass from death into life. You will journey through the infinite dimensions and sample countless possibilities; until you find a new world, a home and people as we once were – a family of flesh and blood where you can grow and learn, where you can live and know love."
"You are Krypton's last and greatest son – in you Krypton will live on."
The craft sped away, cradled within lay Kal-El's fragile infant consciousness. As a baby his mind was unburdened by the countless memories of an unimaginably long life; instead Kal-El was blessed with the boundless opportunity to live and grow, to remember and learn; to evolve.
Behind him Krypton shattered and burned, further away sped the craft – faster, along a predetermined trajectory taking him to the edge of reality. The universe died around the vessel, but Jor-El's last great invention engaged at this terrible moment.
An incredible Phantomic engine erupted into life punching Kal-El's crib through the barrier between the divergent universes.
Among myriad dimensions and countless variables the craft sought out an improbable outcome; a new younger universe, a universe with life – life that had against all odds had arisen to become humane and human.
Kal-El's inter dimensional ship surfed along cascading realities, a tiny life boat upon a river of divergent possibilities the independently intelligent machine scanned successive universes, individual galaxies therein, searching for Stars with habitable planets, seeking among these a world, any world of flesh and blood, a kindred people.
Countless examples of life were examined and found wanting; all the time seeking sentient beings to compare to the template Lara had determined, each potential candidate measured against a mother's demands, each was found wanting – always just too different, too alien, too incompatible with her vision.
The Craft sped on seeking an ideal, universe after universe.
Lara's program sought out men and women whose features mirrored the mortal bodies she had so long ago transformed and evolved. Her motives were simple, primal, Lara wanted her son to be loved, and know love, to grow and mature as she and her beloved husband Jor-El had lived in that distant age - as the last mortal generation of their people. Lara wanted their son to evolve into his heritage – and that required an unique set of parameters – a peculiar planet, a peculiar people.
He would not need tools, or machines to thrive, a primitive uncivilised world would be immaterial – technological advancement no advantage. Lara had crafted a unique physiology to keep Kal-El safe from any conceivable material harm, but she knew their son would need companionship for his heart and soul. Their child needed a family and a home. His adoptive parents wouldn't be Kyrptonian, but they would be as close as Lara could get.