Superman #234: "Prison In The Sky"

Superman #234
"Prison In The Sky"
February, 1971

Story: E. Nelson Bridwell
Art: Curt Swan

2 Eorx, in the year 9,9995 --- is Council Day, where a new member is
elected to the Science Council...  The picto-cast showed the scene to
every part of the planet, while Jor-El and Lara worked at the
space-complex.  She knows that Jor should have been selected as one of
the two candidates, but the young scientist has not had a chance to apply
his anti-gravity discovery.  Both watch as the elderly Ken-Dal is about
to demonstrate his new invention.  The scientist fires a small missile
into the air, where tracking computers use tachyon tracers to log its
location some 17 light-years away... 49.8 seconds after take-off.
Ken-Dal hopes to have enough warp fuel for manned probes to be sent to
the stars.

The second candidate, Tron-Et, fires a dissolver-beam at a passing cloud,
and causes a rainbow-effect to appear.  The cloud is dissolved, without
any harmful radioactive side-effects.  It is time for the citizens of
Krypton to use their vote-projectors for the candidate of their choice.
A blue circle for Ken-Dal or a green square for Tron-Et.

The red skies of Krypton are filled with the peoples' choices, while the
central computer in Kandor tallies up the results.  Ken-Dal ---
483,521,732... Tron-Et ---962,344,518.  Tron-et is now a member of the
Science Council.  After being sworn in, the scientist proposes that his
matter-dissolver device be used to end the problem of overcrowded
prisons.  The idea of a death penalty is regarded as inhuman and
barbaric, but other suggestions for the problems are to be discussed at
the next meeting.  Jor-El is given the chance to show his discovery of a
suspended animation gas.  He proposes that the prisoners be sent up in
space capsules, orbit the planet, and return when their sentences have
been served.  His studies have shown that when a body is suspended in
zero gravity, it is possible to reprogram them... and when they set foot
again on Krypton, the prisoner would become a model citizen. 

With the approval of his proposal, Jor-El got the assistance of Jax-Ur to
design a prototype prison-satellite.  On New Year's Day ---9,996, a
prisoner serving a life sentence agreed to volunteer for the experiment.
The robot guards bring Nali-Ilv, a member of a large criminal combine,
but who has not revealed the identity of its leader.  As the volunteer
rested in the chair, Jor-El gives him the suspended animation gas...  The
rocket then leaves a golden trail against the pinkish sky.   In one
Lorax, or seventy-three days, there should be some sort of personality
change for Nali-Ilv.

The day before the rocket's return, the prison-capsule disappears from
view above Glacial City, but the Vathlo tracking station locates its
position.  The following day finds Jax-Ur at the controls and guiding the
craft to a safe landing.  Before the two men can release the prisoner,
Nali-Ilv jumps out of the ship, and punches Jor-El in the jaw.  Jax-Ur
can only watch as the prisoner leaps away into the air.  Nali-Ilv has
become a super-human.

Ilv was soon seen using his newfound powers to rob monetary deposits and
supply houses...  The picto-casters report the criminal's exploits and
place the blame on Jor-El.  The young scientist decides to head for the
Kryptonopolis Metal Depository at once.  As Nali-Ilv exits the building,
he is startled by the sight of Jor-El flying towards him.  The
scientist's punch to the jaw floors the criminal.  He knew that Nali-Ilv
was using an anti-gravity belt beneath his clothing.  His super-abilities
were faked by increasing or decreasing his own weight.  Jor-El realized
this when Nali-Ilv had already recovered from being in suspended
animation... a condition which requires some stimulus to revive him.

The man is Ed-Ilv, the twin brother of Nali.  The leader of the combine
had used a matter-dissolver on the capsule, then sent a double in its
place.  Ed-Ilv points the man out... Tron-Et.  The death penalty would
have been used to dispose of criminals who had known too much about his
activities.  Tron confesses that he had used Vas-Ur's plans to come up
with the matter-dissolver.  The former crime-chief was unknown even to
his grandson, Jax-Ur.  As a member of the Science Council, Tron-Et would
have had access to all of the inventions.  After his expulsion and
imprisonment, Tron-Et was replaced by Ken-Dal on the council.  Tron would
be sent up in a capsule for 25 years, and it would be learned if Jor-El's
plan for rehabilitation would work.

On Krypton, people kept mental-tape journals.

Picto-casts were the Kryptonian version of satellite television.

Jor-El is wearing a blue uniform rather than his familiar green one.
Perhaps the color is a symbol of his rank in the Science Council.

Superman met Ken-Dal when he traveled to the past in "Superman's Return
To Krypton!" from Superman #141 (November, 1960).  The scientist and the
city of Kandor were stolen by Brainiac shortly before the planet's

The results of the vote-projectors are more immediate, not to mention...

Tron-Et resembles Cornelius Van Lunt from the Zodiac.

Jax-Ur is wearing clothing similar to the prison grays that Luthor would
wear in the Silver Age.

Nali-Ilv is "Villain" spelled backwards.

It was lucky for Jor-El that he understood the gravity of the situation.

Tron and E.T. was films made in the early 1980s.

These stories from the Fabulous World of Krypton were re-told in the 1979
World Of Krypton miniseries by Paul Kupperberg, Howard Chaykin, Murphy
Anderson, Frank Chiramonte, Jerry Serpe, Adrienne Roy, Shelly Leferman,
and Ben Oda.  The three-issue miniseries was edited by E. Nelson

Steve Chung
"Review In The Sky"