WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Action Comics #1000
When it was announced that Brian Michael Bendis' first DC assignment would be a Superman story with artwork by Jim Lee, it was suspected that something big was in the works, even before it was confirmed that Bendis would be revitalizing the entire Superman comic line following Action Comics #1000. Things are even bigger than predicted, however, with Bendis' first story threatening to fundamentally change the Superman mythology forever, as a new villain is revealed as the REAL reason for the destruction of Krypton!
First appearing in Superman #1 back in the summer of 1939, the death of the planet Krypton has always been the impetus for sending a young Kal-El into space, where he would eventually arrive on Earth and become the Man of Steel. While the cause of Krypton's destruction has always ultimately been tied to differing natural disasters, more modern stories have suggested that the detonation of a doomsday weapon, or over-mining the planet's core caused earthquakes that eventually tore Krypton apart.
But according to Bendis, it may be a single being to blame: Rogol Zaar.
The idea of a single culprit isn't blasphemous on its own, as other variations of the story have seen the planet's destruction hastened by the artificial intelligence Brainiac. In the reality of the television series Smallville, it was suggested that the villain General Zod was responsible for Krypton's destruction, though it was never explained how.
In Bendis' story in Action Comics #1000, "The Truth," the blame is placed on the new villain named Rogol Zaar. The action of "The Truth" focuses on a destructive battle in the middle of downtown Metropolis, with Superman and Supergirl fighting the axe-wielding Rogol Zaar, who handles both heroes with surprising ease.
As he demolishes Metropolis in his efforts to kill both Superman and Supergirl, the chatty Rogol Zaar explains that he has killed many Kryptonians in his time and that he came to Earth to kill the last few that remain. "I cleansed the galaxy of the Kryptonian plague," boasts Rogol Zaar. "And I am here... to finish the job!" Zaar goes on to say, as he readies himself to deal a killing blow to Superman, that he once spoke to Jor-El and promised him that his family line would die "... when I destroyed the planet Krypton."
How precisely Rogol Zaar arranged the destruction of Krypton and his reasons for doing so has yet to be explained. The final panel of "The Truth" encourages readers to keep an eye out for Brian Michael Bendis' upcoming mini-series The Man of Steel to learn more.
Unfortunately, "The Truth" offers DC Comics' fans little reason to be specifically excited about Brian Michael Bendis' taking over the Superman line. While the story promises big changes are coming, Rogol Zaar is presented as a chattier, weapon-wielding version of Doomsday in terms of his powers and abilities. His desire to kill Kryptonians, while a bit more specific than many of the power-house villains appearing in Superman comics both old and recent, doesn't inspire much enthusiasm either (beyond the inherent 'reveal').
Hopefully the upcoming Man of Steel mini-series will do a better job of presenting Rogol Zaar as a villain worthy of respect - and providing a more intriguing tease of his past visit to Krypton.