Review of Action Comics #13

“There’s always a way, Jor-El.”

***Contains Spoilers***

This issue opens with the sentencing of the first person to be sent to the Phantom Zone. Dr. Xa-Du was sentenced to 20 years in the Phantom Zone, after which he would be given a parole hearing. He sees complete physical dematerialization as a fair or just punishment. He vows to make Jor-El(and his family) pay for this injustice. For those of you that don’t know the Phantom Zone is a dimension where you have no need to sleep eat or drink. Dr Xa-Du is never given his parole hearing, on the day it was to occur Krypton exploded.

Today, back on Earth Superman has finished going over artifacts that he recovered from Kandor, with the help of Professor Palmer. He thinks he hears something in the fortress, as he looks around he sees nothing. Until he sees a figure of a man that disappears almost as suddenly as it appeared. He finds the Phantom Zone projector(which includes a large mirror). The mirror is cracked and he sees what appear to be paw prints of a large hound on the other side of the mirror(more on that later). Suddenly the man from before appears behind him and activates the projector.

Superman finds himself in the Phantom Zone, along with all of it’s inmates. For twenty years the Krypontian council sent the worst criminals to the Phantom Zone, most of them blaming the house of El, for creating it. He is immeidiatly under attack with no help of reinforcements. Until he gets a flash of an old memory and thinks of the paw prints. On a hunch he whistles. He is rescued by non other than Krypto(we’ll get to his story in a minute). Krypto was also defending a stranger. It is the Phantom Stranger. He explains that Superman is the only one who can stop Xa-Du, who trapped Phantom Stranger in the Phantom Zone.

The Stranger can use his cool hat to leave, but Superman will have to seize control of Xa-Du’s ecto suit in order to open the portal and escape. Back in the material world Xa-Du is strutting around the Fortress, overjoyed and the chaos and destruction he plans to bring to the world. Superman is able to wrestle control of the Ecto suit while the Stranger and Krypto keep Xa-Du occupied. He activates the portal and is freed and using a peice of the ecto suit he is able to free Krypto. But it seems that while all seems well others are plotting to free Xa-Du again.

I told you we would cover Krypto’s story so here it is. Krypto was given to the infant Kal-el as a friend and protector. Duties which he embodied perfectly. One day there was an accident and a criminal almost escaped from the Phantom Zone. Krypto quickly leapt to his master’s aid and saved the El family. This act of heroism came at a cost as Kryto was trapped in the Phantom Zone.

The phantom dog followed his young master’s rocket to Earth and stood by him everyday. When the Kent’s died, he was there, when Kal-El moved to Metropolis, he was was there. Every challenge Kal-El faced Krypto stood by his side, unable to act.

I liked this story, especially the mini story of Krypto. It is both touching and sad that the phantom dog never left Kal-El’s side. I am unsure who the people were that contacted Xa-Du at the end, but if they have the tech to communicate with the Phantom Zone they might not be far from opening a portal for some of the inmates to escape. Although I do sort of agree that the Phantom ZOne is a messed up form of punishment. I think that 20 years in there would rive most people mad. I guess the Kryptonians didn’t believe in the death penalty, but in some ways that would be more of a kindness. Plus, even if I didn’t go insane I don’t see how years of not being allowed to interact with the world would rehabilitate me. Hey, it was a different time on a different world. Who am I to judge?


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