In a recent issue of his comic book series All-Star Superman, writer Grant Morrison encapsulated the Man of Steel's origin story in just eight words: "Doomed planet. Desperate scientists. Last hope. Kindly couple." Obviously, there were images accompanying those words — the rocket shooting off from Krypton, the Kents discovering baby Supes — but those words by themselves ... they pretty well do the trick. Elegant, simple, and in a sense, primal — the lost child brought up to defend truth, justice, and the American way on a world not his own.
There is, of course, far more to know about Superman's origins, should one be curious and/or incredibly bored. Thousands of comic book pages have been devoted to the subject over nearly seventy years. Depending on which of those pages you read or choose to believe, Krypton left behind Krypto the Super-Dog, Superman's cousin Supergirl, a city in a bottle named Kandor, and myriad other bits and pieces of pop culture ephemera.
Now tens of thousands of words in prose add to Krypton's history, in The Last Days of Krypton, a novel about the end of Superman's doomed planet by author Kevin J. Anderson.
As I read The Last Days of Krypton, I kept pondering a single question: it's obvious that a creative mind CAN come up with reams of sci-fi material surrounding a doomed planet and its last son, but SHOULD anyone want to read it?
In the case of this particular book, I'm not sure anyone should. Speaking just to the work itself, Anderson gamely attempts to give Krypton a fresh and vibrant life on the page, and he largely succeeds. The main problem is that there's far too much worldbuilding and far too little action. Maybe that's just a personal preference — there are plenty of fans of worldbuilding and character development — but Anderson seems to hesitate when it comes to jump-starting the book's action, lingering instead on Krypton's dense political structure and the inner lives of such recognizable comics characters as Superman's parents, Jor-El and Lara, and the Kryptonian baddie known simply as Zod. It's a dense read, which again may please some. Personally, I just became disengaged out of sheer restlesness; I found myself desperately wishing for something, anything to happen. Hell, blow up the damn planet already, if it'll get this thing moving.