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The exploding planet Krypton from HISTORY OF THE DC UNIVERSE #1 (1986). pencils George Perez, inks Karl Kesel, colours Tom Ziuko

Culture and History

Fifty light years from the Earth solar system is an unremarkable red dwarf system with only one major planet. Known to its inhabitants as Krypton it was roughly Earth sized and home to a race of people known as Kryptonians. Kryptonians bear a similarity to humans, but in many ways they are more closely related to Daxamites.

Under their red sun the Kryptonian race advanced steadily to become a seemingly utopian technological society. By the time of the conclusion of their "Fourth Age" the elements of Kryptonian development were in place. The planet was more or less united behind a planetary government seated in the capitol city Kandor with some elements of sovereign nations remaining. As a culture the people lead an idyllic life surrounded by robots and followed a ritual path through life. This left them to enjoy the lush natural wonders of their world and the personal freedoms given by their advanced science. Underlying all of their achievements was the Clone Banks, each Kryptonian would maintain three mindless Clones in theses banks which could be used as spare parts if their "owner" was ever injured. The main religion on Krypton was Raoism, which preached the teachings of the Red Sun God Rao, the official religion of the planet, however some fragments of earlier mythologies would remain with stories of Jewelled Mountains and Flamebirds.

While not technically a closed society Krypton only had sporadic contact with aliens and other life-forms. Approximately two hundred and fifty thousand years ago a group of Kryptonian scientists formed an alliance with the alien scientist Bertron who taught them the principals of genetic engineering. This knowledge of genetics would eventually lead to the creation of the Clone Banks. The association with Bertron ended when he was killed by his own experimental subject, a being later known as Doomsday.

There was a sea change in thought approximately two hundred thousand years ago when a contingent of aliens from a dying planet reached Krypton. Amongst them was a priest merely called the Cleric who represented an interstellar faith preaching the teachings of the peaceful Divine Deity. The influence of the aliens on Kryptonian life was resented by Science Council member Kem-L, he initiated a movement against the aliens known as the "Great Purge." During the Purge Kem-L used the aliens own science to create a Phantom Zone Projector which he then used to conceal all trace of the murders of the visitors - only the Cleric was to survive.

The vast majority of Krypton did not know of the Great Purge or of Kem-L's actions. The Cleric continued preaching the peaceful teachings of the Divine Deity and eventually founded a temple with the intention of gathering a group of followers and then leaving Krypton. Chief amongst his followers was Sen-M and Syra. Together the three argued against the use of Clones as a method of extending life preaching that only the Divine Deity could create life and to replicate the body without a soul was a blasphemy. Others who felt that Clones should be given human rights also joined his cause. The growth of this new religion worried the Raoists and the anti-Clone preachings worried the Science Council, science and religion banded together to preserve the way of Krypton life.

Again it fell to Kem-L to "protect" Krypton. Kem-L used a two pronged attacked against what he saw as the contaminants in Kryptonian life. Initially he genetically mutated all Kryptonians via some unknown process so that they would die if they ever left the planet, secondly he created the Eradicator. Original an artefact from the Cleric's homeworld, the Eradicator was an information gathering and communications device called the All, each world that the alien colonists lived on had an All (they served as a link between every colonist and as a focus for the Great Holy Commune that the Cleric sought). In the hands of Kem-L the All became something else, it mentally imprinted Kem-L's memories, emotions and goals fulfilling its original purpose as an information gathering unit. Uploaded with new software created by Kem-L and upgraded using Kryptonian science the All became the Eradicator. A weapon and cultural "cleanser" of almost unlimited power.

When the militant followers of the Cleric led by Syra found out about the Eradicator they confronted the security services. The Eradicator was used against the Cleric, but it's original programming prevented him from being killed. Improper use of the device then devastated a wide area. Only the Cleric survived, he decided that it was best for him to leave Krypton and to take the Eradicator with him before it fell into evil hands. A large group of his followers went with him, but died because of the genetic defects created by Kem-L. Of those left behind Sen-M became one of the planets greatest thinkers and almost legendary pacifist founder of the Clone Rights Movement.

Over the following centuries the Clone Rights Movement became a major political force on Krypton while the rest of society was happy to be serviced by non-humanoid robots and the Clone Banks. However protests against the use of Clones grew, picketing against hospitals and the major cities were common place. It grew to the point where a major riot in the capitol city Kandor caused the first violent deaths of Kryptonians in centuries. The already tense situation was fanned by the revelations that a woman, Nyra, had allowed one of her clones to develop a mind and to be surgically altered. The Clone was then passed off as the bride of her son, Ran-Z. If her actions were the result of an over-zealous mother or as a militant Clone Rights statement is unknown, the effect however was dramatic. Horrified by his mothers actions Ran-Z murdered his mother, her clone and then seemingly committed suicide.

The revelation of Nyra's crimes shocked the planet and plunged the people into civil war. A terrorist organisation called Black Zero detonated a bomb in Kandor destroying the city and killing forty million people. The war between the authorities and the rebels lasted a thousand years, not even one generation by the scientifically extended life spans of the Kryptonians. The surface of the planet was scared, wiping away any ecosystem to speak of. Massive tank like Warsuits roamed the country side exterminating the rebels. Black Zero was seemingly eradicated but at the expense of scattering the remaining population in hovels across the planet. Small remnants of the former technological society had survived and banded together under the World Council.

The leader of the Council Van-L joined forces with a former Black Zero agent called Vara when it was revealed the surviving members of Black Zero had developed a doomsday plan. They planned to destroy the planet by using a highly advanced bomb. The plot was masterminded by Black Zero's leader, the still living Ran-Z. Van-L managed to destroy the bomb by partially detonating it, destroying everything for miles around, but apparently saving Krypton.

In the wake of the destruction of the Clone Banks and the defeat of Black Zero the Seventh and Final Age began. The Warsuit technology was refined and perfected into a skin tight garment that was fitted to all Kryptonians at birth extending the wearers life span for centuries. The shear life span of the Kryptonians had an adverse effect on their culture. The need for reproduction, to replace the dead, was effectively eliminated and destroyed the need for physical relationships between the two genders. When a Kryptonian did die the central computers determined which living Kryptonians would be the best genetic matches. Samples of material would be taken from the selected couple (who would never actually meet) and then cultivated in vitro. The embryo would then undergo gestation in an artificial womb called a Birthing Matrix. All Kryptonians lived in exile, isolated from all others. The culture was dead, the society staid and sterile.

Into this staid and dying society came the scientist Jor-El, a descendant of both Kem-L and Van-L. He was not like other Kryptonians of his time, he spent years studying the vast historical archive of Krypton's past in such depth that he caused his robotic servitors to worry for his development. When Zon-Em died an opening was left in the Register of Citizens, a routine scan of the genetic matches of living Kryptonians revealed that the best possible match on the planet was between Jor-El and Lara, daughter of Nara. From the moment that he found out that he had been selected to be a father Jor-El was captivated by Lara, a librarian who maintained Krypton's vast archives. He would take any chance to steal a glimpse of her or to hear of her activities.

When Jor-El noticed that both he and his father were suffering from some strange weakening aliment he confronted his father, Seyg-El about it. Seyg-El admitted that he suspected that he might be dying. This revelation in a society where death was practically unknown caused Jor-El to undertake a massive project. He set his robots out across the planet secretly tapping into the personal records of millions of Kryptonians. He discovered that twenty million people had died of the unknown disease, a figure hidden by the central Council and the isolated lifestyles of Kryptonians.

Jor-El began another exhaustive search of archive material and a three month search of the planet. He discovered that the deaths were a side effect of Black Zero's doomsday bomb. The abortive detonation of the device had started a chain reaction in Krypton's core that had taken a hundred thousand years. The native elements and minerals were fusing into a new radioactive element, Kryptonium. It was the radiation from this and its ore Kryptonite that was killing the Kryptonians. Jor-El discovered more. The continued synthesis of Kryptonium in the planets core was causing massive pressures to build up. The planetary strain began to manifest as earthquakes.

With little time left Jor-El removed his son's Birthing Matrix from the Gestation Chambers and attached it to an experimental Hyper-drive of his own design. Over the gestation period he had altered his son's DNA to remove the defect that Kem-L had introduced. The meant that young, Kal-El would be the first Kryptonian to be able to leave his world in over two hundred thousand years. Lara confronted Jor-El about his removal of the Matrix. He confided in her the truth, in days perhaps even hours Krypton would explode, yet their son would survive. Together they launched Kal-El's Hyper-drive spaceship into the void on a course for the planet Earth. Then as their planet died Jor-El declared his love for Lara, something that no Kryptonian had done in millennia.

All that now remains of Krypton is a debris cloud of Kryptonite surrounding a molten core of Kryptonium. That area of space is little visited and is known to some as the Gulf of Krypton. The only known remnants of Kryptonian science exist in the Eradicator and the Fortress of Solitude on Earth.

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