I suspect it was cigars ‘n’ wine all around the office when they came up with the name “Kru-El.”

§ December 20th, 2013 § Filed under superman, the eBay § 11 Comments

So I was looking for something else on the eBay the other day (the Man of Steel prequel comic, if you’re wondering) when this particular item caught my eye:

It’s one of those “Choose Your Own Adventure”-type books, but with that Super-fella I’m sure some of you have heard about. I ended up buying it, primarily for three reasons: first, I am a Superman fan, and this kind of oddball thing is right up my alley. Second, pal Andrew has his Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Tumblr You Chose Wrong, and I figured I could contribute some endings from this book for his site. Third, I could write about it on my own site. And thus, here we are.

I’ve only done one read-through, following a couple of different branches here and there when it was pretty obvious when a decision was going to lead to an unfortunate ending.

AN ASIDE just in case you don’t know about this kind of book…it presents a narrative in which you are asked at certain points to make a decision about where the narrative should go. You are then directed to another page in the book which continues the narrative until you either reach another branching decision point or an ending. The decisions are usually in the format of “If you decide to go into the dark, foreboding cave to investigate the growling sound, turn to page 57. If you decide to run the hell in the other direction like a sensible person, turn to page 99.”

In the narrative line I followed, Superman ends up going with Lex Luthor to fight it out on another planet with a red sun, nullifying Superman’s powers so that they can engage as physical equals. If he didn’t do so, the missiles Luthor has aimed at Metropolis would activate, destroying the city. At various points you are given options to knock out Luthor (which sets off the missiles, automatically activating when Luthor is disabled), or even to straight up let Luthor get killed (very unSupermanly, resulting in an appropriately bad ending for Supes).

As you can see on that cover, there are other villains that turn up along the way, such as the Toyman and the Phantom Zone villains (General Zod and Faora, of course, but also the fabulously-named Kru-El). The book helpfully includes a couple of pages of villain fact-files, which you are invited to turn to when the villain(s) first pop up in whatever narrative thread you’re following.

“FORTRESS FACT FILE #3 – FAORA HU-UL: This female Phantom Zone villainess is crazy! Her hatred of all mankind makes her the most dangerous of all the Phantom Zone foes! Do not approach Faora without a weapon, or you will have no chance of surviving!”

Well, sure, why not.

Hold on, only reading one line of narrative before writing this post doesn’t seem right. Let me go through again and see what happens. Be right back.


Okay, so this time Superman encounters a nine-foot-tall yellow monster wreaking havoc, and one thing leads to another, the monster tells Supes that he came to Earth to ask Superman for help, but the oxygen-rich atmosphere disoriented him and made him act all crazy ‘n’ such. He wants Superman to go back to his planet, but (turning to page 24) Superman decides to take him back to the Fortress of Solitude to run him through his super lie-detector to make sure it isn’t some kind of trap. Once there, the monster notices the Fortress Zoo and asks to see it. (Turning to page 34) Superman agrees, but while in the zoo, the dreaded Bravado Beast, who hates the color yellow, breaks free of its pen and charges at the monster, breaking cages and freeing other creatures in the process. The rampage continues into Superman’s Kryptonite storage room, which exposes some of the deadly rocks:

“‘Help me!” Superman shouts to the creature.

“‘I can’t!” the creature replies in terror. ‘The Bravado Beast has me in its clutches — and it won’t let go!”

“‘Then this,’ Superman gasps, ‘is…’


I’m a lousy Superman, it seems. Also, you can see the Bravado Beast itself in this article about Superman’s zoo.

One more point about this book…on the very first story page, Superman is referred to as “Earth’s Mightiest Mortal,” which I’m pretty sure was solely Captain Marvel’s tagline. That Superman, always horning in on Billy Batson’s action.

11 Responses to “I suspect it was cigars ‘n’ wine all around the office when they came up with the name “Kru-El.””

  • Old Bull Lee says:

    I remember this book, it was my introduction to the format. I remember finding the different ways Superman (or I) could get killed disturbing but fascinating, and kind of liberating since the pop culture for most kids in the 80s was fairly death-free.

  • lankyguy says:

    I remember the name Kru-El coming up in interviews with the Superman The Movie writers, when they did their comics research. It was a name they were determined NOT to use.

  • caleb says:

    I don’t have the issue of Justice League in front of my, but Ultraman’s dad’s name in the current New 52 version of the Crime Syndicate was Jor-Ill (can’t remember if it was on “L” or two in “Ill”), which I thought was awesome (and sorta made me roll my eyes when I read Johns saying in an interview that the Syndicate aren’t the evil duplicates of the JLA, but something more subtle than that).

    Of course, maybe that name pre-dates Johns and I just never encountered it before…

  • Mil-Milo says:

    Just a lil note. The link to the “You Chose WRong”-tumblr is wrong. With that said I also would like to wish you:

    A Very Merry Christmas!

    Thanks for all the good stuff you publish Mike!


  • Snark Shark says:

    Neat! I used to have one!

  • Mikester says:

    Fixed the links. Sorry everyone.

  • Bryan says:

    You just made me go look through my collection of childhood books, because I know I had this. And sure enough, there it was between an Indiana Jones “Choose Your Own Adventure” knock-off, and a Justice League “Which Way Book”, with all the big names (and Firestorm) running from a giant head of Darkseid. Also found: 2 non-DC “Which Way Books” and two 1960s novelisations of “Get Smart”. I know how I’m spending my snowed-in winter now!

  • Always been a big fan of the “choose your adventure” style books.

    Sure, some are worthless drivel, but others really strive for a cohesive narrative that makes sense for the character in question.

    I had the full set of Marvel ones from TSR in the late 1980’s (sold them all except for the few that had Doctor Strange in them) and those weren’t bad.
    In fact, the DOCTOR STRANGE one is an actual favorite entry of the character for me.

    There was even a really good black and white, independent COMIC done in that style, which could have been read as a “CYOA” but also could be read straight through from front to back (and I think even from last page to first) and it was pretty good! (it was from the 80’s as well… I seem to recall it being about a wizard, or a kid who becomes a wizard, but the title eludes me. I almost want to think it was a single letter, like “Z”… damn… crappy memory… to the longboxes!)


  • Yep, definitely had this when I was a kid. The description of Faora definitely brought back memories. If I recall correctly, a big part of getting a good ending was choosing the right weapon out of the Fortress of Solitude for whatever villain and situation Superman was about to face.

  • Andrew Weiss says:

    Hey, Bryan?

    You Chose Wrong accepts reader submissions, so if you’d like to spread the bad ending joy of any of those books….