Warning: SPOILERS For Supergirl #23
DC Comics has changed the story of Krypton's destruction once again, revealing that Appa Ali Apsa, one of the Guardians of the Universe and a key figure in the history of the Green Lantern Corps had a hand in the death of Superman and Supergirl's home planet.
The recent Man of Steel mini-series showed that one of the Guardians was part of the group that debated the merits of killing off the entire Kryptonian race, but thanks to Supergirl fans can now put a name to the Guardians' face. And get a major hint of the lengths the Lanterns have gone to in order to hide this secret.
The Man of Steel mini-series introduced a new villain called Rogol Zaar - a super-strong warrior who claimed to be responsible for engineering Krypton's destruction. The mini-series saw Rogol Zaar travel to Earth after learning of the existence of Superman and Supergirl, where he promptly set about destroying every piece of Krypton that survived, including The Fortress of Solitude and the Bottle City of Kandor. Zaar was sent into The Phantom Zone, but the revelation that someone had plotted Krypton's destruction to make it look like an accident inspired Supergirl to travel into space in search of answers.
After a scan of Rogol Zaar's axe by Green Lantern Hal Jordan prompted a notice that all information on the object in the Green Lantern archives was blocked, Supergirl traveled to the planet Mogo to consult the library of the Guardians of the Universe directly. The presence of a Kryptonian in the archive draws Supergirl into a pocket dimension and triggers a recording left behind by Appa Ali Apsa - one that was meant to be played in the event of his passing. Part confession and part last-will-and-testament, the hologram reveals the existence of a cabal known as The Circle.
It was this group, which Appa Ali Apsa was a part of, who were responsible for unleashing Rogol Zaar on Krypton and the deaths of billions of other beings. The recording then informs Supergirl that Appa Ali Apsa left behind other recordings detailing the crimes of The Circle, scattering them around the galaxy so that a single archive could not be found and destroyed, in the hopes that someone would one day be able to reveal the truth and bring The Circle to justice.
The fact that the Guardian tied to Rogol Zaar is Appa Ali Apsa suggests several things. Appa Ali Apsa first appeared during the legendary Green Lantern/Green Arrow run of Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams, where he took human form as "The Old Timer" to join Oliver Queen and Hal Jordan on their spiritual quest to rediscover the heart of America. The Old Timer elected to remain in his human form, having grown fond of mortality, to travel the universe but in time he went crazy from the lack of contact with his own species. He later became known as The Mad Guardian, after he used his powers to create a "mosaic world" made up of cities from the various worlds where he had traveled after renouncing his place among The Guardians.
Given the timeline involved, it seems likely that Appa Ali Apsa's decision to travel among mortals to see if The Guardians had grown out of touch with the people they meant to protect may have been prompted by his pained conscience in the wake of Rogol Zaar's actions. It's further possible that the knowledge of what he had done further pushed him over the edge towards becoming The Mad Guardian.
In any case, one question still remains for Supergirl - was Appa Ali Apsa acting alone, or could other Guardians of the Universe be part of The Circle?
Supergirl #23 is now available from DC Comics.