Kurt Busiek Reveals "The Third Kryptonian"

Wed, October 10th, 2007 at 12:00am PDT

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Jeffrey Renaud, Staff Writer

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"Superman" #668 on sale now
In today's release of "Superman" #668, acclaimed writer Kurt Busiek ("JLA/Avengers," "Astro City") revealed the name of the alleged third surviving Kryptonian whose existence was revealed more than a year ago in the Busiek-penned "Back In Action" storyline in "Action Comics."

At the end of this week's "Superman" #688 a mailbox is shown with the name "K. Wells," a name some well-read Superman fans probably haven't thought of since 1985's "Crisis on Infinite Earths."

"People who have read it will know at the end of the story that the third Kryptonian is somebody named K. Wells and that's a reference to Kristin Wells, who was the pre-Crisis Superwoman," Busiek told CBR News. "But the pre-Crisis Superwoman wasn't Kryptonian. She was a descendant of Jimmy Olsen from the future, who time-traveled and had a suit that gave her special powers. So this isn't the same character. We are just re-using a name from the past as a nod."

The writer continued, "Long-time Superman fans have seen a character with the same name. Or at least one of the same names but that's more a tribute than anything else. It's not an attempt to revive that particular character. There have been hints of the character that we have done so far. But, putting those aside, this is a new character."

"DC Comics Presents: Annual" #2 The original Kristen Wells' first comics appearance
Created by Elliot S! Maggin, the original Kristin Wells first appeared in the novel "Superman: Miracle Monday" in 1981. Maggin himself later introduced her into comics continuity in "DC Comics Presents: Annual" #2 in 1983 as Superwoman. Wells was last seen (in canon) in "DC Comics Presents: Annual" #4 in 1985 and has yet to reappear in the post-Crisis continuity of the DC Universe.

Busiek started laying the groundwork for the mythos-bending "Third Kryptonian" arc during his "Back in Action" story he wrote in "Action Comics" #841-843, now available in trade paperback. While collecting Earth's superheroes in hopes of reaping great rewards for their sale, the villainous alien known as the Auctioneer lets slip there is, in fact, three survivors of Krypton – Superman, Supergirl and another.

"It seemed like the perfect time to say, 'Hey, look. Here's a clue. Everybody start thinking about this,'" Busiek said. "And we have come back a couple of times and touched on it a little bit more as a background mystery and that's got people thinking about it and talking about it. Finally, we've gotten around to it in the book to say, 'Okay, Superman has cleared away this other stuff that he had to do. We're going to see him going all out in the third script of the 'Third Kryptonian' arc and see what happens when he finds out who it is."

"DC Comics Presents: Annual" #2 can be read in its entirety at Superman Through The Ages
Fans have been guessing for months online and in the shops just who the third Kryptonian may be, but Busiek said they could have ruled out a list of usual suspects. "'Kingdom Come' Superman [recently introduced into continuity in 'Justice Society of America'] wasn't there when the Auctioneer said, 'There are three Kryptonians on Earth.' Anybody who wasn't there at the time obviously wasn't the Kryptonian he was talking about," said Busiek. "So it couldn't be Superboy Prime and it couldn't be 'Kingdom Come' Superman, and it couldn't be Krypto, even if he would consider a dog as a one of the humanoid race of Kryptonians, and it's not Chris Kent and it's not the Phantom Zone villains. None of them were there at the time."

Helping Superman out in his search for Krypton's missing link is his "World's Finest" partner in crime solving, Batman. "If you were looking for a needle in a haystack, and one of your closest allies was the world's greatest detective, you'd call him in," Busiek remarked. "It was mentioned in 'Superman' #662 that Superman asked Batman to help look for the third Kryptonian, and #668 is where we actually see yes, Batman is indeed on the case and they are working stuff out together and doing what they can, as to clues on Earth."

"The Third Kryptonian" storyline continues in "Superman" #669
While Busiek wouldn't reveal if the third Kryptonian would even survive the three-issue arc, he did say repercussions of her existence would be felt on a much larger scale in the months ahead. "This is not simply a three-part story and done," said Busiek. "There are things that happen in this story that will affect the 'Superman' book a few months later, both books in fact. There are revelations that will lead into much bigger things. There are other elements in the story that will come back again. This is a three-part story that works as a self-contained story but it also as a launch pad for a lot of big stuff that is coming."

Fans can also expect even more in the future, as Busiek told CBR News he and Geoff Johns ("Action Comics") will be following their popular "Up, Up and Away" storyline with another "Superman" and "Action Comics" crossover in 2008. "It's happening after the 'Insect Queen' arc in 'Superman' #671-673 and the 'Superman and Legion of Super-Heroes' arc in 'Action Comics' #858-861,"revealed Busiek.

"It's one of the fun parts about working with someone like Geoff and having the two books where we can bounce back and forth," he said. "So for instance, he can introduce Chris Kent in his book in the 'Last Son' storyline [in 'Action Comics'] and then I can use Chris Kent in 'Superman.'

"The Third Kryptonian" storyline concludes in "Superman Anual" #13
"Chris Kent is actually important in the 'Third Kryptonian' story arc and the 'Insect Queen' story arc that follows. Once I've done that, maybe Geoff picks up Chris again and does more with him and we get to feed off of each other's ideas."

Johns actually stayed at Busiek's home in Washington state for a few days while the two plotted the "Up, Up and Away" storyline in 2005, and later the two met in New York and laid the groundwork for the next two years of "Action Comics" and "Superman."

As for Kristin Wells, Busiek says the revelation and actual discovery by Superman of a fellow Kryptonian is not all hugs and kisses. "Superman's a little bit conflicted because on the one hand, he has found someone else from home," explained Busiek. "On the other hand, someone is trying to kill them all. And third, it's not like, 'Hey, there. I am your cousin from the next town over' and everything's happy. The third Kryptonian has a history and has a past and that past is not something that completely sits well with Superman.

"Superman: Back in Action," collecting the Auctioneer storyline, on sale now
"It's one thing to meet somebody who has actually seen the planet that Superman was born on, who knows about the culture because they lived through it but on the other hand, that doesn't mean that the third Kryptonian is a completely nice person or for that matter, a completely bad person. That's something Superman has to discover."

Indeed, even if two people are from the same hometown (or planet), that doesn't ensure they are rooting for the same ball team. Busiek agreed, "If you were lost a long way from home and you met somebody from home, it would be great to meet them but the next question, you have to ask, 'Is this somebody, I am going to like or not?'

Or it could be worse, said the Boston native.

"You aren't a Yankees' fan, are you?"

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