The Krypton Chronicles #1 - cover by Rich Buckler/Dick GiordanoThe Krypton Chronicles

(1981 - three issues, DC Comics)

Script: E. Nelson Bridwell. Pencils: Curt Swan. Inks: Frank Chiaramonte.

Superman decides to research his roots (when alter ego Clark Kent is assigned to write an article about Superman's family tree by an assignment editor impressed with the success of the TV mini-series "Roots" -- how's that for a comic reflecting its time). To do so, Supes and his cousin Supergirl travel to the city of Kandor -- last surviving piece of Krypton -- where they learn the history of the El family (as in Kal-El, Superman's Kryptonian name).

The various short episodes, focusing on Superman's various ancestors (who all conveniently happened to be prominent citizens) are told in reverse chronology (that is, the more recent stories are told first).

The Krypton Chronicles isn't by any means a must read, particularly since nowadays probably none of this stuff is even remotely in continuity. But there's a charm to it. There's the wonderful art by Curt Swan and the escapist appeal of reading this mix of science fiction and historical epic. None of the stories are that brilliant on their own, there are no surprise twists, nor, for the most part, any subtle turns in character (good guys are good guys, bad guys are bad). The decision to tell the stories backward is not uninteresting, but it works against an overall story arc, a sense that the pieces are building to something -- which didn't have to be the case. In fact, Bridwell could have set up questions that only get answered as we delve further and further into Krypton's dim history. There's also a contemporary sub-plot of someone trying to sabotage Superman and Supergirl's research...but that's resolved pretty quickly.

Not great, but appealing, particularly for older readers with its use of Silver Age lore, and characters who have either been eliminated from Superman's mythos in recent years, or drastically altered.

Not to be confused with The World of Krypton, which was apparently the first official comic book mini-series DC ever did back in 1979, nor to be confused with the 1987 World of Krypton mini, either.