Candor about Kandor.

§ September 23rd, 2007 § Filed under superman Comments Off on Candor about Kandor.

So Saturday, pal Dorian and I were poking through the Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen comics at the shop, when Dor brought up the very unusual coincidence that there just happened to be a number of people in Superman’s bottle city of Kandor who look exactly like most of Clark Kent’s friends…not to mention Clark Kent himself, as in this example from Action Comics #309 (Feb 1964):

Now, I’m not sure how many Kryptonians are supposed to be in the shrunken city of Kandor…let’s say it’s about the size of Los Angeles, so there’s about 4 million people in there. What are the odds that four people in Kandor’s population happen to look exactly like the terrestrial friends (Lois, Jimmy, Perry, and Clark) of Krypton’s most famous survivor? Even if the city had a New York style population, with about 8 million, that would still slightly stretch credulity, I think. Perhaps someone better than me at odds and statistics can tell me how likely it is that a random set of people from cities of these sizes would contain exact duplicates of people from outside that set.

If we were choosing look-a-likes from the entire population of Krypton, I might be more willing to buy it. But we’re picking from a small fraction of Krypton’s inhabitants…four people who look exactly like another four people from another planet, who all happened to be in Kandor when it was shrunk by Braniac and thus survived Krypton’s destruction.

I’m not trying to do another in-depth analysis or anything, but there may be a couple explanations that’ll make this coincidence a little easier to swallow.

My cyncial explanation for this is a bit out of character for Superman, but may be enjoyed by those fans of the “Superman’s a big jerk” school of humor. Superman seemed to do an awful lot of time-traveling in his pre-Crisis days, and popped up on a pre-exploded Krypton with some regularity. Perhaps Superman made several other undocumented trips to various points of Krypton’s history, surreptitiously guiding populations, manipulating relationships between certain people, and just generally guiding Kryptonian genetic development and reproduction so that certain physical aspects are bred to Superman’s benefit; i.e. that people whose appearances resemble his friends from Earth will 1) be born sometime close to the abduction of Kandor, and 2) will actually physically be in Kandor at the time of its shrinkage.

Just picture Superman, on one of his many time trips to ensure the success of this manipulation, wearing a fake mustache and handing a flyer to red-haired, freckled Kryptonian kid, reading “JOBS AVAILABLE – enquire in KANDOR – freckles a PLUS.” The kid rushes off to Kandor, visions of employment pushing him forward to his fate, while Superman laughs gently to himself, knowing that one more piece of the future “Look-Alike Squad” is in place.

See, told you it was cynical. It does have the added benefit of letting you imagine that there was an entire population of red-haired, freckled Kryptonians wandering around, caused by Superman’s genetic meddling. “THE JIMMY OLSEN ARMY OF KRYPTON” — the greatest Silver Age Superman story you never read.

The other option is that Krypton was a world of advanced science. As the announcer says in that first panel, the Look-Alike Squad “resembles” Supeman’s Earth friends. Whatever resemblance nature created could be enhanced by Kandor’s super-cosmetic surgery.

Or it was just a big ol’ coincidence, which, let’s face it, ain’t nothing unusual in the Superman milieu.

Another thing Dor and I discussed was Kandor’s dealing with their limited space. Probably strict population control, an extensive recycling program…once Superman took over care of the bottled city, problems like waste and garbage extraction were probably handled by him. But prior to that, as Dor noted, Kandor was just kept on a shelf in Brainiac’s ship, with (apparently) only an air hose attached to the top. Brainiac strikes me as a guy who just collects things (in this case, shrunken cities) just for the sake of collecting them, without much regard for their care. I doubt he gave much thought to Kandor’s inhabitants beyond the air hose, making the population/gargage and waste production issues all that more important. I don’t want to come right out and admit I used the phrase “Kryptonians drinking their own recycled, reprocessed urine,” but, you know, c’mon.

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