J. Michael Straczynski has started talking about his upcoming reboot of the Man of Steel, Superman: Earth One, and one of his first teases has us more than a little worried about what he's got in store. Spoilers!
Talking to Newsarama, the Babylon 5 creator said,
Along the way, we go to his backstory, how he was found (some small changes here, but nothing outrageous), how he grew up and discovered who he was, and we again ask the why question. We know that Krypton was destroyed, but why was it destroyed? Was it an accident? Do planets just up and blow up one day? Or is there something more that we don't know about? Was it a natural event...or a hit job on a planetary scale?
Wait wait wait. Krypton's destruction wasn't an accident, but "a hit job on a planetary scale"? Seriously?
This could be a red herring, and I hope that it is. If there's one thing that the suggestion that Krypton's destruction was deliberate brings, it's an upset to the majority of the Superman mythos: Suddenly, he not only has a central nemesis that's not Lex Luthor, but he has a central narrative that breaks what feels like two important Superman rules: It's has nothing to do with Earth, and it has an end. I can almost let go of the first one - Superman goes into space all the time, that's an old-school trope, after all - One of Superman's (admittedly many) taglines is that he fights "the Never-Ending Battle," but where are you supposed to go once Superman has defeated the menace that destroyed his home planet and caused him to become Superman in the first place? Everything else is an anti-climax. And it's not really as if you can drop that Superman's home planet was destroyed on purpose without promising a confrontation with the being responsible, either; it all goes back to that "You can't introduce a planet-destroying gun in the first act" dramatic rule, I think.
Krypton's destruction needs to be an accident. It's an important tragedy that, along with the death of Pa Kent, reminds Superman that not only can he not save everyone, but that everything bad that happens doesn't have some evil mastermind behind it. It's what makes Superman Superman, that he continues to strive to save the day even though he knows that he can't, that he tries (as Clark Kent) to find explanations and meanings to everything even though he knows that they don't always exist. Superman is, at heart, a character made up almost entirely of optimism and hope, and that works best when there's something to contrast it with; turning Krypton's destruction into something done on purpose shifts the tragedy into something more dramatic and, ultimately, turns the story into something closer to a revenge fantasy.
Plus, Batman already has the "driven to find the person responsible for making him an orphan" schtick down, anyway, and you really don't want to mess with Batman on that kind of thing.
A Week of JMS: Day 1: Superman Earth One [Newsarama.com]