Friday, July 22, 2005

I'm Ba-ack....

...although it may well be a day or two before things get back to normal here.

Actually, Jessi and I (as well as KO and Krypto) returned from Seaside yesterday, but we also went to Wild Waves/Enchanted Forest (a Six Flags park, although one could hardly recognize that, to be honest).

The trip to Seaside was an absolute blast... we had a great time, lots of fun, and lots of exercise (we walked darn near everywhere we went).

If any of you guys want to check out some photos from the vacation, Jessi's put together a very neat PhotoShow which you can check out at this link. You won't see me in many of the photos, as it seems I took most of 'em!

One of the lesser things we did there was going to this "Spin to Win" thing... basically, we filled out an entry for this drawing, and could spin a wheel with various prizes, mostly stuffed animals. I did the form, Jessi spun, and she hit "Go Shopping!" We got a certificate for $250 from this website.

Sounds like a great deal, eh? Well... if it was, would I be saying it was a lesser thing? Turns out this site has a bunch of merchandise that has a shipping and processing charge that tends to be about half the "value" of the merchandise, and one can't use the certificate on that part of it... so our $250 "shopping spree" will cost us about $125 if we "take advantage" of it.

We also got to sit through this presentation for TrendWest, which is a timeshare vacation thing that would cost us way too much, and wouldn't let us vacation with the dogs, but we got a $50 gift card for doing that. This selling thing was connected with the spin and win deal.

Seaside was a great place for shopping, too... I got a leather jacket for $20 on the main row of shops, and we did a bit of shopping at the outlet malls there, too (no sales tax in Oregon made it an even better deal for us).

The dogs were in daycare during the day Monday through Wedesday, but we took them out on the beach Monday and Tuesday evening, as well as Thursday morning, so they could get some off-leash time, and they were very well behaved! We were both impressed with their performance there.

Seaside was a lot of fun... and if you go there yourself, I'd recommend staying the same length of time... that was about perfect for what we wanted to do!

The Six Flags park today was a fun trip, too... we rode each of the roller coasters a few times, did almost all the water rides... had a great time, but frankly, we're both exhausted!

We should have a pretty good weigh-in at Weight Watchers tomorrow morning... with all the exercise we got, plus we were mostly very good with our food choices.

Anyway... possibly later today, but more likely sometime tomorrow, it'll be mini-review time here, and I'll also get some more comics ads posted, and then we'll see what else I have for ya!


Sunday, July 17, 2005

A Bunch O' Links For You Guys!

Just in case you've already read all the stuff I've posted to tide you over while I'm on vacation, I present… The Bunch O' Links! These are websites I try to hit at least once a day on the weekdays, and many every single day!


Peter David's Blog is a great place to find out what PAD's thinking about, catch reruns of old But I Digress, and be alerted to his latest projects!

Mark Evanier's Blog is a site I always check every day… you never know what he'll be talking about! It could be about Kirby, it could be political, it could have to do with animation… it's all good, and he gives you links to interesting places, too!

The Imponderables Blog is by David Feldman, author of the Imponderables books… and you never know what he'll come up with there, even though it rarely has to do with Imponderables!

Mike Gold's Blog isn't updated all that often… but he has some interesting stuff to say when it is!

World Famous Comics isn't a blog per se, but you can find the latest column from Tony Isabella, participate in his TonyPolls, and hey, there's other stuff there, too, such as my Cover Stories columns! Check 'em out!

Don Simpson's Blog is a blog I don't check on very regularlly… and that's mostly because sometimes Don gets a little too Comics Journal for my tastes… but your mileage may vary!

Bob Greenberger's Blog is one that sometimes updates daily, sometimes doesn't… but it's well worth bookmarking and reading!

Tom Peyer's Blog has some of the most delightfully weird stuff you'll find… check it out!

The Cartoon Brew Blog is a must for you if you've got any interest in animation.

Fred Hembeck's Blog is a favorite blog for me to read… and he'll let you know when his Fred Hembeck Show columns come up for reading!

Robby Reed's Dial B For Blog is fast becoming a favorite for me, too… but you know, he gets so much promotion already I won't mention any more!

News-Sites and Other Stuff -- Fair warning, most of these sites have annoying pop-up ads!

Mr Pop History updates usually on Weekdays, and he answers questions about pop history!

Comic Book Resources is usually only updated Monday through Friday… and sometimes their server gets a little overworked… but it's worth stopping there… and they have an amazing link list (which needs updating, but still…)

Comics2Film is the best site I've found for the latest news on comic books that are optioned for film or TV!

Silver Bullet Comics usually covers reviews of new comics and features interviews with artists and writers… plus, it's home to the All The Rage rumor column!

Toy News International is a good site for updated information on toys!

World Famous Comics isn't a blog per se, but you can find the latest column from Tony Isabella, participate in his TonyPolls, and hey, there's other stuff there, too, such as my Cover Stories columns! Check 'em out!

Newsarama is probably already on your bookmarks… but if it isn't, add it now!

Super Hero Hype is usually worth checking out, although if you hit all the other news sites, you probably get everything they have.

The Pulse is another comics news website you should have in your bookmarks!

Miscellaneous Links

The Emerald City ComiCon website will keep you up to date on next year's best Seattle Comics Convention, ever… and I should be returning with my Fan/Pro Trivia Challenge called "You Call This A Trivia Contest?" next time, too!

Lee's (Useless) Super-Hero Generator is delightfully wacky fun! Use it in conjunction with the next link to create your own superheroes and super villains!

HeroMachine 2.0 is based on the Ugo website, and it's great for designing character costumes… although I don't recommend using it with slower internet connections!

This Is Broken is a very fun site… people post all kinds of things they find are broken there… well, just check it out and you'll see why I like it!

That's all for now… it should help keep ya off the streets, eh?


Pre-Vacation Thoughts...

Since this'll likely be the last item I post before leaving on my vacation trip on Monday morning, a few random thoughts!

Teen Titans: Watched the season closer Saturday night, which was the third part of a three-part storyline. At the end of last week's episode, Trigon was on Earth, and he was sending evil duplicates of Cyborg, Beast Boy and Starfire to battle them while Robin and Slade were finding Raven.

Now, can I just say that as the ep began, and I saw how difficult it was for the Titans to battle their evil duplicates, I turned to Jessi and said, "They should trade opponents so they aren't fighting themselves." She said I'd said the same thing last week.

Took 'em a while to come up with that themselves. Geez, don't the Titans read comic books?

Still, it was a very satisfying end to the season... I just wish it weren't such a long wait until new episodes (although I did finally see the Larry the Titan episode earlier today).

Justice League International: This show also had its season closer, with Brainiac and Luthor becoming the ultimate team, merged together! Lots of great stuff for comics geeks like me, including LOADS of cameos by JLU members who haven't had the spotlight yet... PLUS when Brainiac/Luthor sends evil duplicates of the JLU's "Big Seven," it doesn't take them any where near as freaking long as the Titans did to figure out trading foes was the way to go!

Plus, we had the Flash really going at hyperspeed... and as soon as he vibrated out of our plane, I knew the Speed Force was responsible for it... and my geek-like knowledge paid off, as that was indeed the case!

Next season, things will be different for the JLU... no satellite in space, instead, an embassy on Earth (is it too geeky to hope that the new HQ will look like the Hall of Justice from Super Friends? Maybe they can take over the HQ of the Ulti-Men... and say, wasn't the Apache Chief-like character supposed to have joined the JLU, anyway?).

Good stuff!

Party Time! Geez, I'm just bouncing around here... anyway, Jessi and I had an early evening dinner with my extended family, to celebrate my mom's birthday and my brother Jeff's wife Kristi's birthday. They both got Target Gift Cards, 'cause I couldn't come up with a better idea! Jessi had the Lemon Chicken, or something like that, and I went for the salad bar (and I resisted temptation very well, thank you very much).

Weight Watchers: Lost 3.6 lbs. this past week! Yay!

I Hate Traffic Jams! When we left for Tacoma for the party, we had 45 minutes to get there and be on time... the drive should take 20 minutes, tops.

We ended up arriving 10 minutes late. There was a major traffic jam along I-5 starting in Olympia, and going all the way north to Fort Lewis before it suddenly opened up.

What was causing the jam? I'll be damned if I know. There was no accident, no construction, no nothing!

You know what's worse? Three hours after we left, we were coming back... and you guessed it, that same traffic jam was still there, but even worse this time!

Still no sign of what was causing it.

Closing Thoughts: Tony Isabella's plugging this blog again in his Tony's Online Tips (oh, crap, I just remembered I was going to do a bunch o' links for you guys! Guess I'd best do that before I go to bed tonight), so welcome, those of you who haven't been here before! I hope you'll find plenty of interesting stuff to peruse, and that after I get back from my vacation trip on Thursday, you'll stop by here and read my latest Random Thoughts!


Gold Key June 1973 Ad #5

Originally uploaded by waffyjon.
Of course, nowadays you can go to Walgreen's or just about any store with a photo department and get these done today, but in the 70s, it must've been a real novelty!


Gold Key June 1973 Ad #4!

Originally uploaded by waffyjon.
OK, is it just me, or do these ads strike anyone else as entirely inappropriate items to be advertised in Gold Key comics, best known for their licensed cartoon comics?

Or did readers of Dagar, Dr. Spektor, Dr. Solar, and Space Family Robinson really go for incense?


Gold Key June 1973 Ad #3!

Originally uploaded by waffyjon.
No real comments on these... other than to point out how different these are than what you'd see in DC and Marvel comics!


Gold Key June 1973 Ad #2

Originally uploaded by waffyjon.
Just because I don't post 'em that oftn... here's a Grit ad!

And as a bonus, Fun Factory, which was a competitor to Johnson-Smith!


Gold Key June 1973 Ad #1

Originally uploaded by waffyjon.
Here's a full-page ad for Disneykins, which were PVC figurines that were obviously not in scale to each other, eh?

And to be honest, they don't look that well-sculpted, either... but I'm sure the kids wanted them anyway!


DC Spring 1976 Ad #4!

Originally uploaded by waffyjon.
Well, at least Spalding didn't think that kids who read comics aren't interested in playing sports, eh?

But the real reason I posted this ad is that, unless I'm terribly mistaken, that's Mad-man Jack Davis' artwork on this ad!


DC Spring 1976 Ad #3!

Originally uploaded by waffyjon.
Still posting away, in a fruitless attempt to put so much content here that it'll take my faithful readers (both of them! Just kidding, there's at least three or four) the entire time I'm gone to read through 'em all (although I know that Glen Davis -- who just wrote me to let me know that they sell Pet Crabs in his area -- has already read everything after this post)...

So here's a few more tabloid-size items, which I thought I may have posted before, but wasn't quite certain!


DC Spring 1976 Ad #2

Originally uploaded by waffyjon.
Something here for comics fans of any age, eh? For the tots, there's the Colorforms playset... if you're a bit older, the banks or puzzles might be fun...

But of course, the real gems here are the Batman and Superman books! I used to have the Superman one myself.


DC Spring 1976 Ad #1!

Originally uploaded by waffyjon.
Yep, Bicentennial time for sure with this ad... but what the heck made these t-shirts so "official," anyway?


DC September 1978 Ad #3!

Originally uploaded by waffyjon.
Here's an ad that shows that they used to advertise just about everything kids want in comics!

A clever bit of marketing here... get the kids to send a dollar for a catalog and poster, and then the kids will beg mom and dad to buy them the bike!


DC September 1978 Ad #2!

Originally uploaded by waffyjon.
Here's one of those kinds of ads I don't post very often, because they were so common... but I figured it was time for another one!


DC September 1978 Ad #1!

Originally uploaded by waffyjon.
Hey kids! Sell our stuff to your family, friends and neighbors, and win fabulous prizes!

Yep, it's another one of those ads!


DC September 1973 Ad #4!

Originally uploaded by waffyjon.
Here's an ad for a catalog... which I'm sharing just because I thought it was very eye-catching and well-designed!


DC September 1973 Ad #3!

Originally uploaded by waffyjon.
Ah, Plop! I bought the first issue off the stands, but never bought another one after that until I was an adult.

Plop! was much better than one would expect... yes, some of the gags were real clunkers, but overall, I've enjoyed the issues I've read!


DC September 1973 Ad #2!

Originally uploaded by waffyjon.
Full page house ad comprising of the cover with an on-sale blurb... much more of a soft-sell than one expects, eh?


DC September 1973 Ad #1!

Originally uploaded by waffyjon.
Ah, here's a series of models I remember fondly... Aurora's Prehistoric Scenes!

I wanted 'em all... but truth be told, I only ever got the pterydactyl (I know I spelled that wrong) and the caveman with the boulder.


DC August 1977 Ad #6!

Originally uploaded by waffyjon.
Yep, it's the Super Friends (minus Aquaman, who would've been the obvious choice to me) waterskiing!

One of these days, I've got to do a web search and see if anyone has photos of this.


DC August 1977 Ad #5!

Originally uploaded by waffyjon.
Here's the Great Superman Movie Contest, DC's own in-house thing that competed with Marvel Value Stamps in terms of seeing how many 1970s comics would be cut up!


DC August 1977 Ad #4!

Originally uploaded by waffyjon.
Here's a house ad that's obviously trading in on nostalgia.

It's not obvious here, but the actual title being promoted was DC Special Series, not Five-Star Superhero Spectacular.


DC August 1977 Ad #3

Originally uploaded by waffyjon.
Showcase returns... and brings with it the New Doom Patrol!

So, with Byrne's current series basically rebooting the DP completely, do these stories fit anywhere at all in current continuity? Heck if I know.


DC August 1977 Ad #2!

Originally uploaded by waffyjon.
Here's an ad for Crazy Crabs, someone's answer to Sea Monkeys, which had long been a comics staple.

Now, maybe it's just me... but I don't really see the appeal of a pet crab. Do you?


DC August 1977 Ad #1

Originally uploaded by waffyjon.
OK, this ad certainly appeared in more than the DC August '77 comics... I've also seen it on Gold Key comics, too.

Anyway, well do I remember this, the Star Trek Poster Magazine... and it was pretty much as it said... a magazine of posters! If I recall correctly, it was basically unbound, but folded out to large poster size, with articles as well.

I think I only ever bought the first one, however, as much of a Trek fan as I was!


DC June 1977 Ad #5!

Originally uploaded by waffyjon.
Monogram did a lot of comics advertising in the 70s... here's an ad for their rubber band-powered airplane kits!


DC June 1977 Ad #4!

Originally uploaded by waffyjon.
Here's some very cool stuff, some moderately cool stuff, and some not cool stuff!

The very cool? Of course, that would be the Batmobile, Batboat, and Batcopter miniatures. I mean, it's the freakin' Batmobile, coolest car ever!

Moderately cool? The patches... if the Green Arrow one hadn't been so out-of-date, this would've been cooler... but those are still pretty cool.

And then, of course, there's those rings... silly stuff, really.


Doc Kent: The Man of Steel (Chapters 1-4)

Here's the first four chapters I've written for an Elseworlds story recasting Superman as Doc Savage, more or less... I've started chapter 5, but don't know when I'll get back to this.

Hope you enjoy!


"Doc" Kent: The Man of Steel

By Jon B. Knutson

An Elseworlds Story

Chapter One: Krypton, Earth Year 1913

Light-years beyond our solar system, too far for any instrument
made by man, orbiting a giant red sun, was the planet Krypton.
Krypton was a shining green planet, orbited by two moons, and
inhabited by an advanced race of beings. The Kryptonian race
could easily be mistaken for humans, although any native of Earth
who found himself on Krypton's surface would find it nearly impossible
to move, due to the planet's strong gravitational pull. Krypton's
strong gravity was no hindrance to its people, naturally, who'd
adapted long ago in their evolution to it; indeed, one would be
hard-pressed to find any Kryptonian who was less than physically
fit ­ a rather convenient side-effect of the stronger gravity.
This physical fitness, combined with Krypton's advance science,
allowed the citizens of the world to create a very advanced civilization,
with conveniences taken for granted which would boggle and baffle
Earth's finest contemporary minds.

Yet, strangely enough, Krypton's society was somewhat insular;
except for one short period in its distant past, Krypton's scientists
were content to explore the mysteries of science and their home
world there was little or no interest in the exploration of planets
beyond Krypton, save for its moons.

One of the few inhabitants of Krypton who did have an interest
in outer space was the scientist Jor-L. Jor-L was different from
the other members of Krypton's Council of Science, for rather
than specialize in one field of science, he preferred instead
to meld the various disciplines together, for he had long felt
that too much specialization left one's imagination limited to

Jor-L's brother, Zor-L, felt much the same way; but if anything,
he was even more outspoken on this opinion, which many of his
contemporaries felt kept him from being elected to join his brother
on the Council of Science.

"You're late, Zor," Jor-L said, looking up from his
equipment as his brother exited his sleek sky-vessel. Like all
vehicles on Krypton, the sky-vessel was coated with a layer of
gold, one of the most common elements on Krypton. This made gold
very cheap, and its pliability as well as its ability to deflect
microwaves made it ideal to protect the highly-advanced technology
that made the sky-vessels environmentally efficient; conversely,
the anti-gravitational field that actually powered the craft also
protected the gold plating from the effects of friction. This
sky-vessel had actually been invented by Jor-L some dozen or so
Kryptonian years ago, and had already become ubiquitous in the
skies over Krypton's cities, such as Kryptonopolis and Kandor.
To Jor-L's annoyance, most Kryptonians who owned one insisted
on referring to it by his own name, despite his own preference
for just calling them "sky-vessels."

Zor-L looked about him. The two Kryptonian scientists were in
Krypton's deepest crater, the lowest point on the planet's surface.
Nearly three miles wide (in Earth measurements) and a mile and
a half deep, the crater had been formed thousands of years in
the past in an explosion; or at least, that's the story as it
was handed down from one generation to the next. The legend didn't
happen to mention what caused the explosion.

"Kara was appearing in a school production of Lesla-Lar
and the Babootch
I holo-video'ed it for you if you'd care
to see it. She was disappointed you weren't there after all,
you're her favorite uncle!" Zor-L replied.

Jor-L laughed. "I'm her only uncle!" Jor-L's normally-serious
expression had softened to one more jovial when he laughed. Jor-L
was considered very handsome by Kryptonian (or Earth) standards.
He was slightly taller than the average Kryptonian, with black
hair, piercing blue eyes, and a firm jaw. Like all Kryptonians,
he was in excellent physical health. When he spoke about that
which mattered most to him, his conviction was usually contagious.
"When I get back to Kryptonopolis tonight, Lara and I will
speed over to visit, and we can all watch the holo-vid together,
all right?"

Zor-L nodded. "Kara will appreciate that and besides, neither
she nor my wife have seen little Kal in what three weeks?"
Zor-L was just slightly shorter than his brother, but there was
still a very strong family resemblance. Zor-L's hair was dark
brown where his brother's was black, and the blue of his eyes
was somewhat softer.

Both Kryptonian scientists wore standard form-fitting garb, as
was the custom for daytime wear. Jor-L's shirt was green with
a golden collar, with blue fitted pants and red boots. Upon the
chest of his shirt was the red-and-gold sunburst symbol of Rao,
Krypton's sun, and the insignia of the Council of Science. Zor-L's
shirt was blue with a scarlet collar, black form-fitting pants
and green boots. Both brothers wore scarlet headbands signifying
their "house."

"We'll both need some pleasantries tonight, unless I'm reading
the geo-monitor incorrectly," Jor-L said gravely, his face
returning to its grim state. During the past several months,
Zor-L saw his older brother's expression slowly turn grimmer and

"Let me take a look," Zor-L offered, looking over the
apparatus Jor-L was examining when he arrived. The geo-monitor
was comprised of a tripodial base, atop which was a geodosic sphere.
From each plate of the equator of the sphere, a wire extended
to a point in the ground of the crater, about 50 feet away, attached
there by probes which pulsed as they analyzed the subsurface.

Atop the sphere lay a flattened circle, which served as a holographic
generator which projected a small image of Krypton. Touching
the control pads along the outer rim of the projector allowed
the user to enlarge or contract the image, as well as to "peel
back" the surface to see what lies beneath the upper crust
of the planet.

"I pray I'm wrong, my brother," Jor-El said, turning
away from the equipment. In the distance, he could see one of
Krypton's twin moons just coming into view over Krypton's Jewel
Mountains. The mid-day sun shining on the mountains caused them
to twinkle and glow in all the colors of the rainbow.

Zor-L looked over the machine's readings. He had no doubt his
brother had interpreted the findings correctly; after all, Jor-L
had built the device himself. "May Rao preserve us,"
Zor-L sighed. "We don't have much time, do we?"

Jor-L closed his eyes. His fists tightened. "Half a solar
year at the very most. I cannot wait any longer to tell the Council
of Science of our findings. Krypton must prepare for the worst."

Lara Jor-L was humming a Kryptonian lullabye to herself as
she put her infant son to bed for his afternoon nap. Lara, Jor-L's
wife, was perhaps half a foot shorter than her husband, and considered
one of the most attractive women in Kryptonopolis. She had her
choice of suitors, but none had touched her heart like the youngest
member of the Council of Science did. They had been married just
over two solar years, and their son, Kal, was born just half a
solar year ago. Like Jor-L, Lara had black hair, although hers
fell down to her shoulders. Her green eyes were always inquisitive,
and her smile could brighten even the most dour of moods. She
wore a robe of scarlet, robes being the traditional garments when
one is relaxing at home, and not expecting company. She wore
matching sandals.

Baby Kal definitely took after his father, with his shock of
black hair and penetrating blue eyes. "When daddy coming
home, mommy?" Kal asked. Like most of Krypton's infants,
Kal was able to speak during his first year.

"Hush, Kal your father will be home later. You must take
a nap now, so you will be rested for him! Even Krypto is taking
a nap, see?"

At the sound of his name, Krypto stirred from his resting place
at the floor near Kal's crib. Krypto bore a very strong resemblance
to an Earth dog, pure white in color. Krypto was as yet a puppy,
not much more than ankle-high to Jor-L or Lara. When he seemed
to realize that he wasn't being offered a treat or playtime, he
lowered his head back down to his paws and went back to sleep.

"Okay, mommy, I sleep now." Kal closed his eyes, while
Lara tucked his red and blue blankets around him and continued
humming her lullabye. Within minutes, Kal was fast asleep.

"Now, perhaps I can see about preparing dinner!" Lara
whispered, careful not to wake her son as she left the baby's
room and proceeded to the kitchen. A soft tone alerted her to
an incoming video call. "Answer," Lara instructed,
as one wall of the kitchen changed from a three-dimensional rendering
of Krypton's Scarlet Jungle to a viewscreen. "Alura! To
what do I owe the pleasure?" Lara exclaimed.

Alura, Zor-L's wife, was as attractive as Lara was. Her hair
was blonde, and styled shorter than Lara's, and she had blue eyes.
Like Lara, she was also wearing a robe, hers of an azure color.
"Have you heard from Jor or Zor yet? I tried to reach them
earlier, but my signal couldn't get through. Zor's usually so
good about letting me know when he'll be returning."

Lara frowned. "That's unusual. I wonder if?"

Alura looked quizzical. "I get the feeling you know something
I don't?"

Lara quickly changed her expression. "Let's just say I'm
not supposed to know yet. I'm certain there's nothing to worry
about. How did Kara do in her play?"

Alura noted the quick change of topic, but chose not to press
it. "Oh, she was excellent, as always. There was a casting
director in the audience, and he told me he thought she could
be the next Lyla Lerrol!"

Lara laughed. "Oh, I don't think Lyla's ready for retirement
yet!" Alura then saw Lara looking off to the side. "I
think I hear Jor's sky-vessel now I'll bet Zor will be home soon
himself. I'll vid you later, okay?"

"Okay, Lara. Give me love to little Kal, will you?"

"Will do. Goodbye!"

As the viewscreen changed back to the view of Krypton's Scarlet
Jungle, Lara went from the kitchen to the sky-garage of the apartment,
where Jor-L's sky-vessel was just touching down. Lara knew from
Jor's expression that he had bad news and, indeed, had been expecting
it for some time. Jor-L had not realized that Lara had seen his
notes on the phenomenon he and his brother were investigating;
Lara herself had been an accomplished scientist in her own field
before she became pregnant with Kal and retired to raise her son.

"Lara" Jor gasped as he exited the sky-vessel, his
hands shaky, his stance unsteady. Lara rushed to her husband
to help prop him up. "Lara, my love I have terrible news."

"I know, Jor I saw your preliminary notes. There's no doubt?"

"None whatsoever, darling I only hope I can convince the
Council of Science."

Later that evening, Jor-L, Lara and Kal went to New Kandor
to visit with Zor-L, Alura and Kara. After dinner, the adults
left the pretty teenage Kara to play with her baby cousin while
they retired to the sky-balcony.

"I wish I could be there with you tomorrow, Jor, to help
convince the Council of Science," Zor-L mused.

"As do I, my brother, but you know as well as I that Council
of Science meetings are only open to the members themselves.
I have all the data on infodisc, and I pray that will be enough,"
Jor responded.

"Can't anything be done to stop it?" asked Alura.

"Nothing if I had only discovered this a year, perhaps two
years earlier, perhaps we could have done something but now, it
is too late."

Zor-L looked through the glass door into his apartment. Kara,
her blonde hair a stark contrast to Kal's black hair, just down
to her shoulders pretty blue eyes dancing with delight as she
played with her cousin it would be a shame not to see her become
a woman in her own right, he thought. "So there's only one
option, then?"

Jor-L nodded. "Only one. I pray we have enough time to
implement it."

"Gentlemen Krypton is doomed!"

The eleven other members of the Council of Science, the youngest
of whom was still fifteen years Jor-L's senior, reacted with shock
and dismay at the statement made by Jor-L.

"What proof do you have of this, Jor-L? This is a very
serious statement you have made!" the senior member demanded.

"I first suspected it when the ground-quakes became more
and more common. Upon investigation with my own equipment, I
learned that Krypton's core of uranium is unstable. In half a
solar year, perhaps a full solar year at best, the unstable core
will detonate, destroying our world," Jor-L explained. "I
have uploaded the infodisc to your monitors, and you can see for
yourselves the results of my studies."

"Ridiculous Krypton has experienced ground-quakes many times
in the past, much more violent ones than we've seen in the past
years, and the planet did not explode before!" scoffed bearded
Zed-Ul, a specialist in geology. "Surely, if such a geological
event was going to happen, myself or one of my assistants would
have discovered it long ago!"

Jor-L sighed quietly. "Standard geological instruments
are unable to detect the radioactive core's instability. The
fluctuation of ultra-radioactivity has been causing the core to
expand and contract and each contraction only offsets the expansion

"So what do you expect us to do, Jor-L? Project the entire
population of Krypton into the Phantom Zone to spend eternity
with Krypton's worst criminals?" mocked Reg-N, psychologist.

"No, Reg-N, that would not be the answer, for there would
be no way to release us from the Zone from within it. I propose
a fleet of space arks be built, to transport the population of
Krypton to another world. Fearing this would come, I have discovered
in space a suitable planet, orbiting a yellow sun"

"Preposterous!" senior member Lat-Hi shouted. "We
abandoned our space program centuries ago, after the loss of our
first colony ship, proving space travel was too dangerous! I
do not find your data convincing, Jor-L you said yourself this
came from your own instrumentation, and I believe you have been
working yourself too hard lately. Why don't you take a leave
of absence from the Council of Science, take your family on a
vacation. You have probably not spent enough time with your newborn
son, I should imagine. "

Lat-Hi's expression then grew very grave. "And Jor-L, do
not speak of this to anyone. It will serve you no good to spread
terror and hysteria among Krypton's population with such madness.
I warn you, if word comes to the Council that you have tried
to make your crackpot theories known to the public, it will not
go well for you. You are dismissed, Jor-L."

"The fools they wouldn't listen to me."

Jor-L, Zor-L, and their families had gathered at Jor-L's apartment.
The children were being kept occupied with a three-dimensional
movie in the living room, while the adults were in the dining

Zor-L placed his hand on his brother's shoulder. "So there
is nothing to be done? I won't believe it. Perhaps if the two
of us work secretly we may accomplish a miracle."

Jor-L's eyes began to burn with determination. "Yes. We
may not be able to save all of Krypton, but perhaps we can save
enough of the population to begin again on a new world. Do you
recall our method of criminal punishment before I invented the
Phantom Zone ray?"

"Of course we put convicted criminals into orbit around
Krypton, in suspended animation, while subliminal conditioning
rehabilitated them. But the prison fleet was converted into shuttles
to the moon city of Kalamar we would have to begin from scratch!"

"I still have a set of construction data on infodisc. Perhaps
with a modified propulsion system, larger versions of the vessels
would work. But it will take many tests."

"Then we had best begin at once!" Zor-L exclaimed.

During the next 30 days, the brothers each worked on their
part of the process. Initially, they worked in Jor's home laboratory,
building a small operational model of their new star-drive. It
was Jor-L's hope that he could develop a propulsion system that
did not require a spacecraft to carry any more fuel than was necessary
to achieve escape velocity; once it was in space, a combination
of solar-power cells and hydrogen intakes would boost the craft
the remainder of its voyage. Once the initial model was completed,
the brothers knew it had to be tested. It was decided that the
experimental launch would take place at the same crater Jor's
suspicions were confirmed. It had the advantage of being far
away from any cities, so if anything went wrong, no one would
be threatened.

However, both brothers knew that the model would need a passenger,
to ensure that the life-support and inertial bafflers would keep
the passengers safe.

"One of us should take the maiden voyage, Jor. We should
have the conviction of our beliefs enough for that!" Zor-L

Lara would hear none of it. "No! If either of you went,
and died in the attempt, then there would truly be no hope! It
will take the both of you working together to make this a success!"

The four adults argued back and forth on the issue, trying to
keep quiet. A short distance away, Kal and Kara played with Krypto.
Jor-L glanced over at the trio, and inspiration struck. "We'll
use Krypto. We're both certain it will work, I am certain that
he will return safely home."

When informed that his pet would be used, Kal-L immediately burst
into tears. No amount of convincing by his father or his uncle
could change his stance that he would never see his pet again.
Finally, Kara, Lara and Alura had to take Kal away from the launch
site to try to calm him down while the two brothers strapped Krypto
into the test model and prepared it to launch.

The starcraft was primitive-looking in design; it resembled nothing
so much as a short, stubby blue cigar with three red fins. The
fins would only be used to stablize the craft while it was in
the atmosphere, and neither brother felt it important to make
the model aesthetically appealing. The usual gold plating was
supplemented by additional plating to provide protection against
cosmic and other radiation while in space.

Finally, the preparations were completed, and the brothers walked
to the sky-vessel they took to the launch site, where their families
waited. Jor-L produced a small data-reader, with which he would
remote-launch the craft and track its progress. The course set
would send the starcraft away from Krypton, go into a single orbit
around Krypton's sun, and then return. The trip would take only
a few days, by Jor-L's calculations.

"Conditions are right it must be now!" Jor exclaimed
as he activated the craft's solid fuel rocket. As the six family
members watched, the craft soared high into the early night sky.
Within minutes, it could no longer be seen by the naked eye.
Jor's data-reader provided updated information, however.

"It's outside of Krypton's atmosphere now data readings
indicate Krypto's a bit scared, but still doing fine, Kal,"
Jor reassured. "Star-drive engaging at point zero zero five
velocity, course set." Jor looked up. "Everything
is going just as planned. We have a few days to wait so why don't
you two ladies see about preparing some dinner while Zor and I
get our collapsible sleeping domes set up? Kara, can you watch
Kal for us?"

Lara and Alura entered the sky-vessel to prepare a simple meal
in the ship's small galley area, while Kara tried to get Kal to
play with her. She had brought a simple robot with her that could
understand spoken commands, and she tried to coax Kal into giving
it a command other than "Bring Krypto back to me."
The two brothers set up the collapsible sleeping domes, a bit
like tents but with temperature regulating devices to keep the
interiors from getting too cold or too warm.

The next morning, Jor-L was the first to awaken. Rubbing the
sleep from his eyes, and rising carefully so as to not awaken
his wife and son, he steathily exited the sleeping dome and consulted
his data-reader.

"Oh, Rao, no"


Jor-L turned to see Lara emerging from the sleeping dome. "Lara
the test model with Krypto

"it's gone."

Breaking the news of the loss of Krypto to Kal wasn't easy.
Lara, Alura and Kara tried to console Kal in the back cabin of
the sky-vessel while the brothers flew it back to Kryptonopolis.
En route, they argued back and forth what caused a problem with
the test. By the time they had reached Jor-L's apartment, the
two brothers' arguing had gotten very heated, to the point where
each was more or less blaming the other for the failure of the

Finally, Lara had had enough. She burst into the pilot's area,
tears running down her face. "Stop it, both of you! Yes,
the first test was a failure but neither of you seem to realize
that there's a little boy back there, inconsolable because his
beloved pet is gone! You can build another rocket but there won't
be another Krypto. That dog meant the world to your son, Jor-L
and you can't see how much that's upset him?"

Jor looked at his wife. "Lara I'm sorry. You're right.
You know how important the starcraft project is, but I hadn't
thought what losing Krypto would mean to our son. Can you forgive

Lara indicated the back of the sky-vessel. "Perhaps you
should worry more about whether or not your son will forgive you,
my love."

Jor got up from the pilot's seat, walked to the rear cabin, and
picked up his son, holding him tightly in his arms. "Kal
I am so very sorry about Krypto. You know I wouldn't want to
hurt him or you, don't you?"

"You said Krypto would be okay!" Kal sobbed.

"I know, son I know and I wish to Rao Krypto was okay.
But Krypto was a hero, Kal, do you know that? His sacrifice will
mean something, I swear it what I learned from what happened will
help us all, Kal, I swear it."

"A hero, Jor?" Zor questioned. "You make it sound
like Krypto had a choice. The poor animal had no idea what was
happening to him. It should have been one of us in the test model.
At least then, whatever happened, we could have used the manual
override to correct the problem and returned safely."

"Zor, I don't know for certain if it was a fault with the
craft, or something neither of us anticipated. For all we know,
if one of us had gone up instead of Krypto, the same thing may
have happened."

"You really believe that, my brother? Then perhaps we should
each pursue our own theories and once we see who is successful,
then we can work together again."

"Don't be foolish, Zor that would waste valuable time."

"Foolish? It was foolish for you to spend so much time
verifying and checking and rechecking your initial readings when
you first discovered what was going to happen to Krypton. If
we'd started then on this project, we could've been much further
ahead than we are now! Alura, Kara we're leaving."

With that, Zor-L and his family boarded their own sky-vessel
and left.

"Jor, you're both upset and angry. When you both calm down,
you'll work together again on this," Lara suggested as they
watched Zor's sky-vessel fly off.

"I pray to Rao you're right, my love I pray you're right."

As it worked out, several more weeks passed before there was
any further contact between either family and it did not involve
the brothers. Lara and Kal met Alura and Kara in Kryptonopolis
Zoo, without telling their husbands.

"I want to see the Metal-Eater!" Kal exclaimed as they
entered the zoo.

"Kara, can you take your cousin to the Metal-Eater's glass
cage, dear?" Alura asked.

"Sure, mother. See you there!"

As the two children hurrired ahead, Lara lowered her voice and
asked Alura, "Has Zor gotten any further along with his experiments?"

"I don't know, Lara he's shut himself in his lab he barely
leaves it to eat, sleep or bathe. It's become an obsession with
him, and he refuses to tell me anything."

Lara nodded. "They're so alike in so many ways it's frightening.
Jor has done virtually the same thing. Kal hardly sees his father
any more. But at least Kal has stopped crying for Krypto every
night, thank Rao."

Suddenly, the ground began vibrating first only slightly, and
then more forcefully. "Groundquake!" someone shouted.
The two women began running towards the Metal-Eater's cage, both
realizing that as violent as the quakes were, the glass bars on
the Metal-Eater's cage could shatter and there were more dangerous
animals in the zoo which might be freed if the Metal-Eater got

"Mommy!" Lara heard Kal screaming. The two women fought
their way through the panicking crowd towards their children.
Then, as suddenly as the quake started, it stopped. "Mommy,
I'm scared," Kal cried.

Lara picked up her son at the same time Kara wrapped her arms
around Alura. "Perhaps we should try to do this again another
day," Lara suggested to her sister-in-law.

Lara and Kal had just reached their apartment when another
groundquake began, this one worse than the last one. Outside
the building, they could hear the sounds of buildings being damaged
by the quake.

"Lara! Kal!" Jor-L's voice rang out. "Thank
Rao you're back the quakes are getting more violent than ever
I don't think there's much time left. The destabilization of
Krypton's core must be getting worse than I'd estimated."

"But what can we do, Jor? Have you been successful in your

Jor's face fell. "I have but one small craft readied it's
a one-man craft, but you and Kal can both fit in it the life-support
and inertial-dampening systems should be able to deal with it.
It's already programmed to proceed to the planet I'd discovered
long ago."

"You're not certain, Jor?"

"I wanted to do more tests but there isn't time for that
now. Quickly, come to the laboratory. Krypton only has but a
few hours to live, if that!"

As the family rushed into Jor-L's lab, Lara made a decision.
"Kal will have a better chance of survival if he takes the
voyage alone, won't he?"

"Maybe. I think so. I'm not one hundred percent certain,

"My place is with you anything that will help Kal's chances
for survival must be done."

Jor nodded in agreement, and reached for a small flexible bulb
on a workbench, and brought it to Kal's face. "Son, this
will help you sleep," he promised as he squeezed the bulb,
sending a small quantity of gas out of it. Kal instantly relaxed,
asleep. "It's a form of the suspended animation gas that
was used on criminals. It should help keep him safe and relaxed
during his voyage."

Lara hugged and kissed her limp son, then handed Kal to his father,
who did the same before walking to a corner of the lab where his
latest model craft was built. It resembled the first test craft
in many ways, with the addition of a red tubular nosecone. Jor
placed Kal in the starcraft and strapped him in. As he made a
final check of the craft's systems, another quake started.

"There's no time to lose" Jor muttered, closing the
craft's hatch. He darted to the other side of the lab, where
Lara waited. "The trip will take but days, although to Kal
it will seem like he's just had a short nap. The additional systems
I've developed should keep him safe."

The starcraft's engines began to warm up, the dull throbbing
barely audible over the roar of the latest groundquake. Jor-L
and Lara could hear screams outside as buildings crumbled and

Suddenly, the starcraft was launched, a glowing field surrounding
it as it burst out of the building.

"Goodbye, Kal-L, my son Rao be with you," Jor-L prayed.
He embraced his wife warmly and kissed her for the last time.
"I love you, Lara."

"I love you, Jor."

Over the surface of Krypton, the quakes proceeded to grow larger
and more violent. In the Council of Science chambers, there was
no time to lament their not listening to Jor-L's warnings as the
ceiling collapsed. Fissures began to open in the planet's surface.

Kal-L's starcraft rapidly gained altitude amidst the desstruction
of Krypton. Upon leaving Krypton's atmosphere, the starcraft
swiftly accellerated as the planet exploded. At just barely under
the speed of light, the starcraft's nosecone generated a warp
in space as the starcraft was pursued by the remnants of Krypton
streaking through space and then vanished from sight.

Just outside Earth's solar system, a warp in space appeared,
and from it emerged the Kryptonian starcraft. Just before the
warp closed, the craft was followed by fragments of the doomed
planet, appearing as glowing, green asteroids.

The gleaming spaceship's internal circuitry shut down the star-drive
of the craft and reignited the ship's mass-fueled engines, simultaneously
opening panels in the sides of the ship to deploy solar "sails"
to collect the inherant power of Earth's yellow sun. Additional
panels extended outward, revealing collection shafts to capture
the free-floating hydrogen.

Within the craft, baby Kal-L slept peacefully, blissfully unaware
of his flight, nor of the asteroids from his homeworld following
him. One of the larger pieces, still at high velocity from the
explosion of Krypton, caught up with the vessel as it reconfigured
for non-warp travel, smashing one of the solar collection panels
before it could properly begin absorbing solar radiation. The
asteroid split into a number of smaller pieces when it struck,
shooting off in different directions.

Kal-L's expression changed briefly from calm to agitation as
the explosion occurred. Jor-L would have been surprised to see
this, as the gas he exposed his son to should have rendered him
completely insensate during the journey. But Jor-L did not anticipate
the effects of the fragments of Krypton upon his infant son.

The starcraft's onboard computers immediately compensated for
the damaged panel, and increased the intensity of the ship's protective
screens to prevent a reoccurance. The starcraft's sensors scanned
far ahead, seeking the verdant third planet from the sun, and
the computers used the information to adjust the ship's course.

Chapter Two: Kansas, USA, 1913

On a lonely country road, miles from the nearest town, surrounded
by farmer's fields, a black curved-dash DeSoto puttered along.
The vehicle bounced and shuddered as it went, leaving a cloud
of dust in its wake from the dirt road.

Inside the car were a young married couple. The husband, driving
the car, peered through his glasses ahead of him at the road,
which was getting harder and harder to see as the sun passed lower
in the sky. His brown hair was cut short in the style of the
day, although it was covered by a hat. He wore a long white coat,
buttoned up, which was getting dusty from the driver's travels.
Although in his late twenties, his face showed a wisdom beyond
his years. His gloved hands gripped the wheel tightly.

Next to him sat his wife. Like her husband, she wore glasses
and also had brown hair, although hers was down to her shoulders.
Her hat helped keep her hair from flying into her face as they
drove. She was an attractive woman, dressed in a long dark dress.

"Are you sure this is the right road to Smallville, Jonathan?"
Martha Kent asked.

"That's what the farmer back down the road told me, Martha,"
her husband assured her. "Apparently, it's another five
or six miles away. I don't know why they haven't paved these
roads yet!" he sputtered as the car's left front tire hit
a rut in the road, causing the car to lurch violently. "Although
at the rate we're going, it'll be an hour or more until we get
there. Maybe we should have stayed back at Midvale for the night
instead of continuing on. Lewis could've waited another day,
you know."

Martha looked over at her husband, then back to the road. "He
seemed pretty excited when he called he said it was important."

Jonathan gritted his teeth as the car lurched through another
rut in the road. "I know, Martha, I know."

Suddenly, a plume of steam burst from the engine of the car,
and the engine stopped. Jonathan pulled the car over to the side
of the road. "Well, looks like we're not getting there for
a while longer, blast it!"

The couple got out of the DeSoto, and Jonathan opened the hood
of the car. More steam escaped as he did so. "That doesn't
look good," Martha offered.

"Looks like a hose broke I think I can fix it, though.
I'll have to wait for it to cool off first, else I'll burn my
hands." Jonathan went to the rear of the car, where he took
out a set of tools. "Do you see any farmhouses nearby we
can get some water from?"

Martha looked around. "Nothing but fields as far as I can
see. Folks in these parts probably retire early, I'd imagine."
She then looked up at the sky. The sun had been down long enough
to make the stars visible. "Oh, Jonathan you don't see skies
like this in New York, or Metropolis look at all the stars!"

Jonathan didn't even glance up. He leaned against the car, arms
folded. "I'll need all the light I can get to get this car
running again."

"I'll be Jonathan, look! A shooting star!"

Jonathan looked at his wife and saw her pointing off into the
sky. Turning to see what she was pointing to, he saw a white
point of light in the sky, moving down. "If I didn't know
better, Martha, I'd say it was coming right this way," he
said as the point of light became brighter and larger. "In
fact, I'd say it is!"

Within seconds, the shooting star flew over the Kents. "Martha,
that's no shooting star it's some kind of aircraft!" The
ship-in reality, Kal-L's starcraft-struck ground in a field not
too far away from the Kents, creating a trench in the ground a
quarter-mile long.

"Do you think someone was in that thing?" Martha asked,

"If there is, they will probably need medical help ­
it landed pretty hard!" Jonathan said as he climbed over
a wooden fence cutting off the field from the road. Martha followed
him, and the pair hurried to the spaceship. As they approached,
the glowing field that caused the light they saw dimmed and then
faded entirely.

It was like nothing the Kents had ever seen before, or even imagined.
"What kind of aircraft could that possibly be, Jonathan?"

"I don't know there's a hatch of some kind there, on the
top maybe I can get it open?" Jonathan surmised as he reached
to the top of the ship. To his surprise, just before he could
touch the hatch, before he could even begin to look for a release,
the hatch hissed, then opened up automatically.

"For heaven's sakes" Jonathan exhaled as he looked
inside the ship. "Martha, come here you won't believe this!"
he called as he reached inside. When he touched the buckles
that held Kal-L in place, they opened up, the belts contracting
into the sides of the cockpit.

"What is it, Jonathan? Is someone in this thing?"

"Yes, there is," Jonathan said as he pulled Kal-L out
and turned to his wife.

"A baby?!?"

Kal-L awoke as Martha took him into her arms. The last thing
the child remembered was being held in his mother's arms, and
how he awoke in the arms of a stranger. He began crying, calling
for his mother in the Kryptonian language, but it sounded like
gibberish to the Kents. Martha spoke soothingly to Kal as the
Kents crossed the field back to the car, while Jonathan muttered
to himself about what kind of "damn fool puts a baby in an
aircraft, or whatever that fool thing is," among other things.
As they walked back, they spotted a small pond they'd missed
while running to the ship. Martha waited with Kal in the car
while Jonathan took a small bucket back to the pond to fill it
with water to refill the DeSoto's radiator. Before filling the
radiator, he made repairs as best he could on the engine, to ensure
the water wouldn't leak out.

Once the car was repaired, Jonathan cranked the engine up, it
started, and getting back behind the wheel, the Kents continued
into Smallville.

"Where do you suppose he came from, Jonathan?" Martha

"I don't know, Martha maybe Lewis knows something about
it. Perhaps it's some kind of military test or something, I don't

Calmed, Kal-L tried asking where he was, and what happened to
his parents in Kryptonian.

"You know, Jonathan, if I didn't know better, I'd almost
say this baby was talking! Could he be speaking Russian?"
Martha marveled.

"You forgot I speak Russian already? Between the two of
us, we know most of the major languages on this Earth, and more
than a few minor ones it doesn't sound like anything I've ever
heard. Besides, he can't be more than a year old at most whoever
heard of a baby that young speaking?"

The Kents remained quiet as they continued driving into Smallville.
Presently, they arrived at a small house, a two-bedroom, single-story,
simple home, with a large garage behind it. Like all the houses
and buildings the Kents saw as they entered Smallville, it was
of simple design, nothing fancy. The mailbox at the front of
the house read "Lang." Jonathan parked the car in front
of the house, and while Martha carried the baby, Jonathan reached
into the back of the DeSoto and grabbed their bags. "As
late as it is, I'd be amazed if Lewis is up," Jonathan said.

"Oh, hush, Jonathan you can see the light from the window
as well as I can," Martha hissed as they approached the front

Jonathan sat their bags down on the porch before knocking on
the door. The door opened, and a lovely redheaded woman, her
hair pulled back into a bun and wearing a pants outfit, answered.
"On, Jonathan and Martha! It's good to see you! Lewis
didn't think you'd make it in until tomorrow!"

"But you stayed up late just in case, eh?" Martha answered.
"I think we'll all be up a bit later than we expected tonight,
Lenore," she promised as she showed Lenore Lang the baby
the Kents had found.

"Land sakes when did you have a baby, Martha?"

"Baby?!?" a voice called from within the house. Lewis
Lang, a man in his mid-thirties, came to the doorway. He was
dressed in a striped shirt, tan pants, and suspenders. His eyeglasses
were perched atop his head. His hair was dark, but turning prematurely
gray at the temples. A neatly-trimmed mustache adorned his face,
providing contrast to his thin eyebrows. "What's this about
a baby?"

"It's a long story, Lewis can we come in?" Jonathan

The Lang's radio played softly in the background, lulling
the mystery baby to sleep as the Kents explained how they came
to find the baby. Lewis nodded as he listened to the explanation.
"Jonathan, if it were anyone else but you telling me this
story, I'd dismiss them as being a complete crackpot. But as
the Bard said, 'There are more things in this world, Horatio'
and so on. We've both uncovered plenty of unusual things in our
years in archaeology. Do you think you could find the air ship
again, tonight?"

"I'd imagine so, Lewis," Jonathan replied. "What
are you thinking?"

Lewis filled his pipe and lit it. "Unless I miss my guess,
this child didn't come from any nation known to man and neither
did the air ship. I'll hitch up the horses to the wagon, and
we can head out there unless the ship won't fit on the wagon,
you reckon?"

"It'll be a tight squeeze, but it'll fit."

"Excellent, excellent. I strongly suspect it would be best
if nobody knew about the air ship and unless I'm sadly mistaken,
it seems that you and Martha have taken a definite shine to the
lad, too. Do you plan to keep him?"

Martha looked at her husband, pleadingly. "Oh, Jonathan,
do you think we could? We've tried having a child of our own,

"I know, Martha. But how can we explain him?"

Lewis Lang drew in a puff from his pipe and exhaled it. "I
think I know how we can make the arrangements for that but for
now, let's retrieve that air ship."

Lewis and Jonathan were out all night, retrieving the airship.
The weight of it was more than both men could lift, so they had
to improvise a rope and tackle system to get it onto the wagon.
The wagon's wood creaked in complaint when it was loaded aboard,
but the wagon held. By sunrise, the horse-drawn wagon had returned
to the Lang household, and brought the air ship into the garage.

The two men covered it up with a large tarp and entered the house,
where Lenore Lang was making a hearty breakfast of fresh-baked
biscuits and sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, hot coffee, and hash
browns. Martha was asleep in Lewis' easy chair, the mystery baby
cradled in her arms, looking for all the world like mother and

"Ah, breakfast! One of the few reasons I enjoy getting
back from civilization from the field is a chance to have a decent
breakfast again!" Lewis exclaimed, kissing his wife.

"As if I don't make you good breakfasts in the field!"
Lenore replied, taking a mock swing at him with a stirring spoon.
"You managed to get the air ship in the garage?" she
asked. "I'm dying to take a look at it!"

"That can wait until after breakfast," Lewis decided.
Then, sniffing himself, he added, "And also after a good,
hot bath, I think!"

"It's amazing, Jonathan the most incredible thing I've

"I know, Lewis do you really think it came from another
planet? Mars, perhaps?"

The two men were scrutinizing the starcraft in detail, as their
wives walked around the ship. Martha was still holding the baby
in her arms, as if she was afraid if she let him go, she would
lose him.

"Of that, I have no doubt I've never seen anything like
these dials and indicators. This is beyond anything science has
come up with here. I couldn't even begin to guess what the purpose
of any of these are! And this metal it's the hardest thing!
Hand me that torch over there, would you?"

Jonathan wheeled over an acecytylne torch, and handed the nozzle
and igniter to Lewis, who lit it and focused the flame to a cutting
thickness. "I'm going to see if I can cut off a piece of
this, so we can find out what it is." He took the torch
to one of the stabilizer fins of the ship, and concentrated the
flame on one spot for several minutes and then abruptly shut off
the torch.

"It's not even marked!" Jonathan exclaimed.

Lewis nodded. "I'm no metallurgist, Jonathan, but it looked
to me as if the metal absorbed the heat and instantly neutralized
it. If there was any way to shape or form this stuff into a suit
of armor, you could be invulnerable while you wore it!"

"So what are we going to do with this thing, Lewis? If
we turn it over to the Army, they might find out about the baby,
and want to do some kind of tests on him."

"Clark," Martha corrected. "His name is Clark,
after my maiden name."

"Well," Lewis thought, "we don't want anything
to happen to Clark I suppose the thing to do would be to bury
it. I can always tell the neighbors we're digging a tornado shelter
but it's going to take some time."

"You can count on me to stick around and help. Martha and
I aren't due back at Metropolis for another few months anyway,"
Jonathan said. "Now, you said something last night about
how we could explain Clark?"

"Oh, right I'd almost forgotten. Do you think your DeSoto
can fit the five of us comfortably?"

"Without our bags in the back, surely."

"Then it's time to pay a visit to Midvale Orphanage, in
the next town over."

Jonathan sighed. "Another drive on that rutty, dirt road?"

Lewis and Lenore laughed. "You took the back way into town,
Jonathan!" Lewis explained. "There's a paved road all
the way to Midvale, they just finished it last October! Then
again, if you hadn't taken that way, you wouldn't have found Clark,
would you?"

"This is very unusual, Lewis not to mention highly circumspect!"

Lewis Lang sighed. The director of Midvale Orphanage was a long-time
friend. Richard Malverne, while an all right guy, could be a
bit of a stick-in-the-mud sometimes, and Lewis knew it. "Look,
I explained the situation several times already. The Kents came
across this abandoned boy on their way into Smallville, and in
a short time, they fell in love with him, and want to adopt him.
There haven't been any reports of missing babies, have there?
You can call the police if you want, and the Kents have all the
identification you could hope for. They just need the adoption
paperwork filled out."

Richard considered it. "All right. I'll talk to the sherrif,
just to be safe, and if there are no reports of missing babies,
we'll get the paperwork taken care of. I guess we've known each
other long enough I should be able to trust you."

"Darn right, you should!"

By the end of the day, the Kents had become the legal parents
of Kal-L, or as he was newly christened, Clark Jerome (for Jonathan's
father) Kent.

That evening, the Kents and Langs celebrated Clark's adoption
with a roast beef dinner and a bottle of wine. After the dishes
were cleaned from the table, Clark was put to bed.

"Say, Lewis with all the excitement over Martha and I finding
Clark, we'd completely forgotten to ask what your news was that
you wanted us out here for!"

Lewis laughed. "Well, Jonathan, to be honest, I'd forgotten
about telling you! Actually, there's two pieces of news. The
first one is, I've come across some more artifacts from the Kanda
civilization during my last expedition down south I think I'm
getting closer to finding where their legendary lost city is hidden!"

"That's excellent news, Lewis! You will be certain to keep
us posted on that Martha and I would love to join you when you
have a better idea where it can be found."

"Naturally, Jonathan. If it wasn't for you, I would've
never found out about the Kanda civilization in the first place!"

"So what's your second piece of news?" Martha asked.

Lenore spoke up. "Lewis and I will be having a child of
our own."

Chapter Three: Metropolis, Spring, 1919

"He's the most amazing student I had this year, Mrs.
Kent. Admittedly, at his age, we don't expect a lot, to be honest
but your Clark is one of a kind."

Martha smiled. You have no idea, she thought.

Miss Jones, Clark's first grade teacher, was a matronly woman
the kind of woman whom children tend to recognize as the grandmother
type, with an easy smile, and plenty of patience. "I wouldn't
be surprised if he grew up to be another Professor, like his father!
His reading skills are nothing short of amazing, too he's already
reading at a fourth or fifth grade level."

"Yes, Miss Jones, I agree, Clark is wonderful but I don't
understand why, then, you wanted this special conference with

Miss Jones' brow furreled for a moment, as if she was trying
to find the best way to express her thoughts. "As bright
as he is, some of his classmates have felt a bit overwhelmed by
him even discouraged. Clark seems to learn so easily, as if it
takes him no effort whatsoever. It frustrates those who have
to put more effort into learning."

"I see we have considered private schooling for Clark, I
must admit."

"It's not just his intellect even during athletics, he excels,
too It's as if nobody wants to try to compete with him on any
level even something as simple as a fifty-yard dash, Clark's so
much faster than the other children they're not even trying to
catch up with him, much less beat him."

"Well, during school breaks, Clark does get plenty of exercise
with his father and I on our expeditions"

Miss Jones tried to appear sympathetic. "As much as I hate
to say it, Mrs. Kent, I don't believe Clark belongs in the public
schools. I'm afraid it won't be long before he becomes bored
with what he would consider the slow pace of the classes and bored
children look for other ways to entertain themselves, if you get
my meaning given Clark is so much stronger than the other children

Martha got up from her seat. "Miss Jones my son is no schoolyard
bully, and he will never be one. Jonathan and I have been raising
him with the best of moral guidelines. However, I do appreciate
your concerns. I will have a talk with Jonathan tonight."

"So, what can we do, dear?"

Jonathan considered the problem. "If his teacher only knew
how much Clark was holding back as it is at least, physically
she would be really concerned! It's not fair to Clark to have
to feel like he needs to put on a front like that, and at his
age, it's difficult for him to understand. Perhaps we need to
see to his education ourselves, with some additional help, of
course. I think some of the teachers at the university might
be able to assist in Clark's education. However, given his strength
and speed he needs to learn how to best develop his physical abilities,
as well. Let's take a few days and think about it, all right?"

"All right, Jonathan."

"Clark, I have a surprise for you today!"

"Great, dad what is it? A bike?" Clark's last bicycle
had become damaged beyond repair in a recent accident. While
the bike was more or less destroyed, Clark survived the accident
without a scratch his hair was a bit mussed up, and his clothing
torn, but he wasn't even bruised.

"No, not a bike perhaps better than a bike. Think you can
do without classes for a day?"

"Oh, sure I'm actually further ahead than most of my teachers
were prepared for anyway!"

"Well, then, let's get in the car, and I'll show you your

Clark and Jonathan drove outside the city limits of Metropolis,
towards the Curtiss Mountain range, but instead of continuing
northward to the mountains, Jonathan turned off the main road
to parallel Hob's Bay. Hob's Bay was the major port of Metropolis,
but the far side of the Bay was bordered by a series of sharp
cliffs. Clark looked excitedly out the windows, asking his father
questions the entire way. "Are we going camping? Are we
going mountain climbing?" and so forth. Jonathan pulled
off this road, onto a freshly-paved section of road, which shortly
led to an armored gateway. Jonathan exited the car briefly to
unlock the gate, which opened automatically, closing again shortly
after the car was driven through it.

"Mountains have something to do with it, Clark and I suppose
you could call it a camp of sorts," Jonathan finally answered.
"Son, you know how you've been feeling bored in school?"

"Yes " Clark answered, a bit suspiciously. "The
other kids well, they don't seem to be able to learn as fast as
I can."

"I know, son. I think you'll be able to learn a lot more
if you were in a less-conventional academic environment."

Clark looked at his father quizzically. "I don't get it.
Am I going to a special school?"

"The most special school on this planet, son. Take a look
up ahead!" Jonathan pointed just ahead of the car, where
the road led to the sheer side of a mountain. "You know
which mountain that is, right?"

"Sure Mount Siegel. Nobody's been able to climb it, because
it's so steep near the ground."

"Well, nobody's had the chance in quite a while. Your mother
and I bought up all the property around Mount Siegel a while back
we weren't sure why at the time, but it's paid off now."
The car got closer to the side of the mountain, where Clark could
see a tunnel dug into the side of the mountain, wide enough for
two of the largest trucks built to drive through, side-by-side.
"All summer, we've had crews working on this for you."

Jonathan drove the car into the tunnel. "The construction
crews nicknamed this tunnel the 'Zoomway,' because it's so wide
and tall, they thought you could race cars down it." Above
the car, in the roof of the tunnel, a series of lights helped
illuminate the way.

Clark looked out the back of the car, and then ahead of it.
"The lights are coming on when we're about fifty feet away
from them, and turn off about the same distance behind us. How?"

"There's a small radio transmitter in the back that controlls


"It's pretty simple, really, son the transmitter is limited
to a range of about fifty feet, and each light has a separate

"And when the light's in range, and receiving the signal,
the light turns on, right?"

Jonathan chuckled to himself Of course, he'd catch on that
"Right. There's also some vents to flush out
the exhaust from the car, too but those are harder to see."

Clark fell silent as the car continued down the "Zoomway."
He realized that the road was curving just slightly, as well
as sloping downward. The design of the tunnel was such that it
wasn't immediately apparent, although Clark realized that several
complete circles had been made already. "How far down is
it? Where we're going, that is?"

"It's about 100 feet down to the main level. This tunnel
curves around it, and the other levels rise up from there."

"Levels? What kind of place is this? I mean, you said
it was a special school"

"Well, Clark it's also kind of a fortress, too. There are
15 levels altogether. The first level is well, see for yourself!"
Jonathan explained as the Zoomway abruptly ended and the car emerged
into a subterranean chamber. Jonathan stopped the car, and the
two exited Clark's eyes were everywhere at once, trying to take
it all in.

The main chamber was circular, about 200 yards in diameter or
so. The ceiling of the chamber rose 100 feet above the floor.
Clark was amazed that the air didn't have the damp and dank smell
he'd associated with caves on previous trips, but smelled very
fresh. The floor was concrete for about half of the area, marked
with spaces for parking vehicles, while the remaining area was
tiled. Clark saw that either side of the chamber had a winding
staircase going up, while between them, on the opposite side from
where the Zoomway ended, was an elevator. "This is the parking
and shop level, Clark you've got all the equipment here you could
need for repairing any kind of machine. Well, except for electronics
that's the next level up. This is more for mechanical repairs
and machining. Level two is the electronics lab, chemical lab,
and the medical center. Level three is the gymnasium and pool.
Level four is the library and classroom. Level six is the residential
area, where we've set up complete quarters for you as well as
your mother and I and any staff members staying here for any extended
period of time. Level seven is the recreational area, with games,
music, and that kind of thing. Level eight is the animal sciences
labs. Nine is the archaeology, geology, and optics labs. Level
ten is the arboretum your mother calls it 'the jungle.' Level
eleven is the hangar"

That got Clark's attention. "Hangar? You mean for airplanes?"

"Well, one airplane right now. And for the time being,
we think we can have it take off from there, but we haven't quite
worked out the landing part of it yet. The mountain has a leveled-off
area at the same level as the hangar, giving us enough of a strip
to take off from but I'm not convinced there's enough room to
land safely."


"Level 12 is unused right now your mother and I figured
we would need room to expand things, depending on how quickly
you learn everything, as well as what else is discovered. Level
14 is being used just for storage right now, and level 15 is the
astronomy lab."

"Wait a minute you skipped level 13."

"That level is off-limits to everyone but your mother, Lewis
Lang, and myself. It's even off-limits to you, for now, anyway.
In a couple of years, you should be old enough to understand
what's there, I promise." Jonathan paused, several thoughts
running through his head. "Let's go up to the sixth level
and get some lunch, okay?"

Jonathan led Clark to one of the staircases, which Clark guessed
were at the north and south ends of the garage level, which the
two began to climb. Each story up had a small landing, with a
doorway numbered to the corresponding level. They soon arrived
at level six, and went through the door. "Your room is the
first one on the right, and your mother and I have a room just
across the hall from you. There are 12 other rooms here, whichwill
be occupied at various times by your instructors and other visitors.
The kitchen and dining area is at the end of the hallway,"
Jonathan explained.

It all looked very modern to Clark, and very clean and shiny.
As they passed the first door, Clark saw that his name was engraved
on a steel plate next to the door his parents' names were likewise
marked across the hall. The remaining dozen rooms weren't permanently
marked, but instead had small chalkboards mounted next to the
doors. The dining area opened up from the end of the hallway,
comprised of five tables with four chairs surrounding each of
them. The chairs and tables were all of modern design as well.
"Hey, Chop-Chop!" Jonathan called out as they entered.

A doorway to the left of the dining area opened, and a short,
somewhat portly Chinese man came out of it. He was dressed in
traditional Chinese clothing, with a red blouse-like shirt over
which he wore a golden vest. His pants were likewise loose, and
blue in color. His hair was done in a pigtail. "Boss, haven't
I asked you not to call me that?" he said, scowling.

"Sorry, Liu old habits die hard. Clark, meet Liu Huang,
chief cook and bottlewasher for the complex. I met him before
you were born, in Hong Kong. He ran the best restaurant I've
ever been in, and we got back in touch when he immigrated to the

Clark reached out and shook Huang's hand. "Why did dad
call you Chop-Chop?"

Huang laughed. "He overheard some sailors call me that
in my restaurant and figured that must be my real name. I didn't
correct him until the 20th or 30th time he called me that."

"You don't talk like most Chinese people do," Clark

"Yeah, I know my mother was Chinese, but my father was British.
He died when I was a teenager, but he'd already taught me to
speak English well enough that my step-father couldn't influence
me too much."


"Now, young master Kent, I'd bet you're hungry I've got
a special meal planned for the two of you!"

An hour later, Clark was stuffed from the meal, and he was listening
to Huang and his father exchanging stories about "the old
days." Clark got the impression the two had more common
experiences than the Hong Kong restaurant, but didn't press matters

"Excellent meal, Chop er Liu. I knew you were the man for
this job! Now, Clark and I have to be going we've got an important
meeting to attend!"

Clark and Jonathan left the dining area, and went down to level
4 of the complex, and into the classroom. Clark immediately noticed
how unusual it was there were two desks, and that was it, as well
as several chalkboards and maps of the world posted around the
room. "Isn't anyone else going to school here?" Clark

"This is all for you, son. I know that school is boring
you, and that's because you're exceptionally bright in fact, I
think you're smarter than your mother and I put together! But
public school isn't keeping pace with you. That's not to say
that your fellow students were stupid, you understand it just
means your intelligence is at the high end of the scale. So,
I've contacted the finest instructors in the world, and set them
to the task of challenging that intellect of yours. You'll be
learning at a much faster pace than you were allowed to before,
and even more so, you'll be learning things that aren't usually
taught at your age level.

"You'll be spending six hours a day in this classroom, plus
two hours minimum in the gym, every day except Saturday and Sunday,
which are recreational days. Your teachers won't give you traditional
grades, either what's important to me is that you understand what
is being taught, and when your teachers feel you've grasped what
they're teaching, you'll move on to the next topic. Some days,
you may spend the entire day learning a foreign language, and
that's all you'll be taught other days will be a mix of different
things. Not all your instructors will be here full-time, so as
they're available to teach you, they'll take the lion's share
of your time."



Three months later, Clark awoke in the middle of the night
with a start. His blankets were soaked in sweat, and his heart
was pounding so hard he could hear it.

The door to his room burst open, and his father and mother, clad
in bathrobes came in. "Clark! We heard you call out!"
Jonathan exclaimed.

"Are you all right?" Martha asked.

"I I think so. I just had the weirdest dream I lived somewhere
else, and had different parents and I even had a dog, I think.
And where I lived was strange, too," Clark explained.

Jonathan thought about this for a few minutes. "Son, don't
worry about that dream. It's not important right now. Are you
going to be able to fall back asleep, or should I wake Chop-Chop
up and have him make some cocoa?"

"I think I'll be fine,