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Drawing Crazy Patterns – Just How Easy Was it to Travel to Krypton Before it Exploded?


In this feature, I spotlight five scenes/moments from within comic book stories that fit under a specific theme (basically, stuff that happens frequently in comics). Here is an archive of all the patterns we’ve spotlighted so far.

This week, we take a look at all of the people (other than Superman, of course, who made a number of trips on his own) who have somehow managed to time-travel to Krypton before it exploded and actually met Jor-El!



First up is a story that I’ve featured in the past in I Love Ya But You’re Strange. It is 1959?s Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #36, by Otto Binder, Curt Swan and Ray Burnley. You can read here for more information about the story.

Suffice it to say that Jimmy Olsen, early in his days at Metropolis (before he began to work for the Daily Planet) volunteered for a time travel experiment that landed him on Krypton when Superman was just a wee baby.

Jimmy ends up as Kal-El’s babysitter, even handing out some corporal punishment…

Jimmy even helps to make sure that Kal-El escapes Krypton before it explodes…

As it turns out, Superman’s memories of Jimmy being his babysitter is actually the reason why he decided to make Jimmy his best pal when Jimmy arrived in Metropolis. So that is how Jimmy became Superman’s pal AND how Jimmy got his job at the Daily Planet!


1964’s Superman #170 gave us “What if Lex Luthor Were Superman’s Father?” by Jerry Siegel, Curt Swan and George Klein. I think that the name of the story confused DC’s production staff, since they labeled the cover as if this were an imaginary story, while really it was a time travel story.

Anyhow, Luthor escaped prison by pretending to volunteer for a scientific study…

I love that Siegel felt the need to have Luthor explain why his clothes grew. It is good to know that even then, writers were being beaten down by nit-picky fans.

Anyhow, now that he is free, Luthor heads to one of his hide outs to do what all villains like to do, check out Krypton in the past through a timescope…

And then, easy as pie, Luthor travels to Krypton with a plan to trick everyone into thinking he is a hero so that Lara will marry him instead of Jor-El…

He actually succeeds in wooing her!

But when he details his plan, it is hilariously insane…

How could that plan possibly make any sense to him?

Anyhow, Jor-El exposes him for the fraud that he is and he has to escape to the present. It is weird how emo Luthor gets here (I’ll always be a loser!)…


The following year, in Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #59, Lois learns about a device that could have saved Krypton, so naturally she decides to go back in time to give it to Jor-El…

She meets Jor-El…

A whole lot of crazy crap goes down. I am not going to get into it, as I will use this story for a future I Love Ya But You’re Strange. So if you want to talk about the specifics of this story, please wait until I get to it for I Love Ya But You’re Strange!

Anyhow, as things end up, Lois’ plans were to no avail, so she heads home but before she can get home, she is accidentally sent to the Phantom Zone…

Superman then frees her (the story opens with Superman checking on the Phantom Zone to see what’s up)…

Which, of course, means that Lois was in the Phantom Zone for decades and Superman missed her for decades, but, eh, who can keep track of those things? Certainly not writer Otto Binder and artist Kurt Schaffenberger!

It’s weird how pissy Superman was at her at the end, right? I mean, I know she’s a pain in the ass and all, but damn, dude, chill out!


At the opening of 1970’s World’s Finest #191 by Cary Batest, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, Batman and Superman encounter time-traveling Jor-El and Lara, who show up quickly and then disappear, but not before mentioning that they’re about to commit their greatest crime. Superman’s all, “Say whaaaaat?” So he decides to go back in time to find out what the deal is. He can’t go without his Bat-buddy, though, right?

Story continues below

Check out their time traveling…

I love the casualness of how Superman mentions he could have messed up. Batman was likely thinking, “Uhmm…was that something that could have easily happened? Maybe you should have mentioned that first.”

So they run into Jor-El, and they provide their cover story…

I love how Batman explains their cover story…

Really, Superman, you think that was GOOD?

Anyhow, obviously, it turns out that the whole thing is some big misunderstanding, and the crimes they’re committing are really for a good cause. Pretty standard fare. However, I love the ending…

“Oh right, I can’t actually get us back from the past.” “Seriously, Superman, you have to tell me these things!”

Luckily, the government’s “time vortex” brings them back (it was what brought Jor-El and Lara to the future) and then it is destroyed so that they can’t be sucked back. How conveeeeeeeeeeeenient!


Here’s a rarer post-Crisis example!

In an 1999 storyline, Jack Knight, Mikaal Thomas and a hologram of Jack’s dad, Ted, traveled through time and space to find the missing Will Payton. At one point, in Starman #51 (written by James Robinson and David Goyer with art by Peter Snejbjerg and Keith Champagne), they end up on Krypton in the past and meet Jor-El…

They get into some trouble with the Kryptonian higher-ups, but Jor-El helps them escape…

It is implied that Jack’s visit inspired Jor-El to look to Earth later on.

Okay, that’s five! I hope you enjoyed ‘em! If you have any ideas for future editions of Drawing Crazy Patterns, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com!


I assume the name of Jor-El’s father Seyg-El was inspired by Jerry Siegel in the Starman story?

I like the Seyg-El wink in the Starman story. Nice homage.

How is it that Earth people can even move around on Krypton? Doesn’t that planet have a higher gravity pull than Earth? I mean, that is, IIRC, part of the reason Kal-El (and other Kryptonians) have superpowers on our planet? Earth has a weaker gravity than Krypton. I mean, you’d think Batman, Jimmy Olson, Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, etc. would be flattened by Krypton’s gravity.

Batman’s explanation sounds like something Booster Gold or Blue Beetle would have comed up with if they were stuck in that situation, but not Batman.

No honorable mention to Tomar-Re for almost getting there in time?

Two things worth noting:

1) The STARMAN story retroactively established that the pictures of Earth that Jor-El showed Lara in MAN OF STEEL #1 came from Jack Knight (It’s the same picture of the shirtless farmer).

2) The name “Seyg-El” was established in one of the stories John Byrne wrote for Superman. I think it was in the WORLD OF KRYPTON miniseries he did with Mike Mignola.

How the heck can a child of Luthor be named Kal-El? Unless Lara was Lara-El and her and Jor-El were relatives which would explain some things about Superman.

Good point; that doesn’t make any sense. Lara’s maiden name was Lara Lor-Van. I’d think the kid would wind up being called Kal-Or or something.

i love how Luthor handily learnt to speak the language of a long-dead planet…

RE: Luthor on Krypton

1. Were we ever given a reason why Luthor simply doesn’t kill Jor-El? I mean, that way the chances of Superman being born are reduced to zero.

2. Weird how Luthor’s imaginary child still looks exactly like Superman. Wonder why he wasn’t shown imagining a son with some Luthor characteristics, like, say, red hair…

Perry White didn’t get to visit Krypton too? I cry foul!

I listed most of these in a comment a couple months ago, but I don’t think I even knew about the Luthor one. That’s delightfully insane. So is the Lois Lane story, of course, so I’m glad you’ll be going into it in more detail soon.

Come to think of it, that comment was on a story that doesn’t appear here in which Supergirl travels back in time to Krypton. (Superman #156, which you featured here: http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2013/04/26/comic-book-legends-revealed-416/3/ ) I’m guessing that’s not listed here because she didn’t have time (hah) to look up Jor-El while she was there?

Post-Crisis, didn’t Kon-El visit too (in Superboy #59), or does that not count because it was virtual reality? And in the New 52, Superboy must travel back in time to Krypton as well, because we saw him there in Supergirl #0.

I guess genetics isn’t Luthor’s scientific specialty. If he provides half the genetic material, the baby won’t be the same Kal-El. It’ll be someone entirely different.

Someone should do a story where all the visitors to Krypton meet. Maybe with Ambush Bug as the guide.

That Starman story was great, but then they all were.

Could Lois’s years in the Phantom Zone be the explanation for her psychotic behaviors? I remember it being Mon-El having some mental problems due to his stay there. Except Lois was crazy before that story, right?

For the rest of his life, Luthor should have taunted Superman with the fact that he dated Lara. When Superman wraps a steel bar around him, Luthor could say ‘Your mother tied knots the same way’ or ‘I haven’t been in any thing this tight since…’

Benn- Re-read the Lois Lane story above. She has the foresight to bring anti-gravity boots. She even points out that “otherwise I couldn’t stand up.”

Chronologically speaking, as Superman grew to adulthood, he would find out his mother’s suitor is now his current archnemesis (and former friend), another meddler is now his romantic interest, and the physically abusive babysitter he had as a toddler is now his current pal…

I’m starting to think the Superdickery might in fact be justified.

Superman: You’ve gone too far, Luthor!

Luthor: That’s what your mother said.

Superdickery is always justified.

Except towards Batman. But even he needs to be taken down a peg now and then. Helps keep him focused.

Did we get Adventures of Superman #468? Something about Superman having to travel back in time to undergo some Kryptonian ritual, literally minutes before it was destroyed..

I think the worst Legion of Super-Heroes story in the 55 year history (and there have been some absolute stinkers) was Superboy and the Legion #255 where the Legion time travels to get some of the spaceship window from Jor-El’s lab to stop an invasion. No, I don’t remember why they couldn’t come up with some Kandorian or Daxamite substitute. Just save yourself from reading this slop.

Fred Hembeck spoofed the Lex story, only to have Black Zero, the man who blew up Krypton, point out how silly it was.

Did we get Adventures of Superman #468? Something about Superman having to travel back in time to undergo some Kryptonian ritual, literally minutes before it was destroyed..

This is just for non-Superman visits. He visited a lot.

I’m guessing that’s not listed here because she didn’t have time (hah) to look up Jor-El while she was there?

Exactly. The way I figure it, if you don’t actually meet Jor-El, it is a bit of a waste, ya know?

One I’m glad you didn’t feature was that stupid Superman/Batman story where somehow Thomas Wayne gets taken to Krypton, and meets Jor-El, and it’s (at the very least) implied that the Wayne fortune came from Kryptonian tech that Thomas somehow brought back home.

Or something. It’s a horrible premise that wasn’t executed well, and it makes my head hurt just to remember that much of it.

I recently re-read that Starman story, and I found it kinda weird Jack Knight immediately recognizes Jor-El as “Superman’s dad”. Now, Superman is hardly pals with Jack, so is his home planet and lineage supposed to be common knowledge at this point in the post-crisis DC universe?

Sure, a lot of people went to Krypton, but it wasn’t really cool until Vibe did it, and taught Jor-El to breakdance.

There’s a No-Prize-y reason (yes, I know, wrong company) Superman couldn’t have freed Lois from the Zone any earlier. Under Weisinger, the rule was usually that you couldn’t exist twice in the same timeframe. For example, Seuperman always had to travel back to Krypton at times before his birth or he’d be an invisible phantom-like being. So under that rule, Superman would have to wait until after Lois had left the present on her time-trip to bring her back.

Maybe that’s why he’s so POed: “I had to mark this on my calendar like, twenty years ago because of you!”

I like to think that “Seuperman” is how Dr. Evil pronounces it.

Derek Metaltron

June 24, 2013 at 8:11 am

Wasn’t there a Thomas Wayne Meets Jor-El story as well, set when both of their wives were pregnant with Bruce and Kal? I think it was in Batman/Superman somewhere.

Captain Haddock

June 24, 2013 at 9:21 am

That kiss Supes gets from his mom seems very Marty McFly to me…

The Silver/Bronze Age was pretty wacky! I remember reading the Starman story. That was an awesome storyline.

Luthor’s convoluted plan seems like it was designed to get around a universe where you couldn’t change your past. Its the kind of plan you might come up with if you realized that you couldn’t prevent Superman from being born, couldn’t prevent him from coming to Earth, and couldn’t prevent him from becoming a hero. But for some reason you can still make major changes to the timeline.

To be fair, that is pretty much how many of these Krypton stories work. You can become Kal-El’s baby-sitter, get Jor-El interested in rockets and Earth, and the like. But you can’t prevent Kal-El from going to Earth, save Krypton, or permanently keep Jor-El or Lara in a post-Krypton time. Luthor was apparently enough of a genius to see hints of the fourth wall, but not enough to realize his plan was thus doomed from the start.

I am just fascinated that no one cared about paradoxes back then. It makes me wonder when the idea of the time paradox was first conceived in sci fi. H.G.Well only went to the future, and in a Coneticut Yankee the time travel may well have been a dream anyway, so such things weren’t really a concern, but obviously it came up later. You have the Sound of Thunder, but that’s less about paradox than inadvertantly altering time.

Anyway, it seems that these stories all work on a predestination premise anyway (hence why Luthor must always be a Loser) so that everyone goes back but they had already gone back anyway.

According to Wikipedia, the first sci-fi novel to outline the time travel paradox was Le Voyageur imprudent from 1943, written by René Barjavel. So the concept predates A Sound of Thunder.

My favorite moment from that Starman story is when Jack creeps Seyg-El out by talking about how humans reproduce: “The natural way… sweaty and squirty.”

The “Jack in space” arc went on for way too long, but the Krypton story was definitely the best part (discounting the Rashomon-style “Times Past” issue with Ultra the Multi-Alien, Space Ranger and Space Cabbie).

Gotta love Silver Age Jor-El. Let me test the experminental spaceship with my son’s puppy, instead of…….anything else! Dad of the year right there.

How I love that picture of Batman wordlessly staring at Superman as Superman thinks to himself “oh right, by traveling here I’ve killed us both, I forgot all about that…”

superman and friends have visited krypton so many times jor-el must wonder why these guys keep bothering him.

I like how SPACE LOCUSTS are the least goofy part of that Luthor story. BTW, since in that era Luthor was drawn pretty much to look like a hairless Clark Kent, Lara’s “he may not be handsome” comment actually vindicates Luthor’s premise that Superboy did in fact ruin his life by making him bald.

If anyone ever said to me “Because I’m going to Krypton, silly!” I would shoot them dead right then and there. Two in the neck, execution-style. Lois, not being as smart as Bill & Ted (and that’s saying something) didn’t think to use her new EFFING TIME MACHINE to give herself the time to fully master Kryptonian before arriving at her destination. Then again, Doctor Who makes that same mistake all the time, and he’s not a hare-brained journalist.

Welcome to hospitable Krypton, where wearing “alien costumes” will attract a lot of attention and might get you lynched. Don’t worry, though, most of our renegade scientists carry Dissolvatrons and are diplomatic enough not to raise their eyebrows at even the most moronic bald-faced lies.

Post-Crisis Jor-El and the Beyonder: Separated At Birth?

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