WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Hal Jordan and the Green Lanterns Corps #38 by Robert Venditti and Ethan Van Sciver, in stores now.
The destruction of the planet Krypton is a landmark in the history of the DC Universe. In some ways, it's the event that started it all, what led to Kal-El finding his way to Earth and become Superman, humanity's savior. But as the DCU and its mythology grew, new elements and layers were introduced, like the Green Lantern Corps, an intergalactic police force tasked with keeping every quadrant of the cosmos safe from harm.
As we learned more about the Corps, as we became aware that they had been around for hundreds, even thousands of years, some began to wonder where they were when Krypton exploded. After all, saving an entire planet from doom is sort of the Corps' main jurisdiction.
The answer eventually came in 1972 in Superman #257, where we learned that Tomar-Re, the Green Lantern of space sector 2813, tried and failed to save the doomed planet. Now, in Hal Jordan and the Green Lanterns Corps #38, we revisit this shared history between Krypton and the Corps, as Kryptonian supervillain Zod gives us his own take on the Green Lanterns' responsibility in failing his planet.
When Hal and Kyle Rayner went on regular patrol on a primitive planet in the previous issue of the series, they were shocked to find Zod and the rest of his family building a new civilization. The Kryptonians proved too powerful to overcome, even for two Green Lanterns, and the two officers are now prisoners of the General. Proving that good manners and respect aren't entirely dead, Zod invites a battered Hal to a meal with the rest of his family, so the two may talk terms.
It isn't long before Zod offers a bit of a history lesson to his son, Lor-Zod. It seems that Zod is very much aware that Tomar-Re was the Lantern assigned to the space sector that Krypton was a part of. But while the General's wife, Ursa, harbors hate and anger towards the Corps for failing their planet and their entire species, Zod has a different point of view.
The Superman villain recognizes that the situation is somewhat of a paradox, because as much as he mourns his people, he also can't deny the fact that without this turn of events, without the death of most of his people, he never would have become a super-powered being. Thanks to the destruction of Krypton, Zod found his way under Earth's yellow sun, where he would develop superpowers that would allow him, in his words, to bring his race to new heights.
This is actually a similar point of view to the one beheld by the Guardians of the Universe. In Superman #257, where we learned of Tomar-Re's original failure, the Guardians consoled Tomar-Re by reminding him that the destruction of Krypton had led to the creation of Superman, the universe's greatest superhero who would come to save countless lives.
In its way, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps gives us the other side of the coin. On the one side, there is Superman, who wouldn't have become a force for good, and on the other, there is Zod, who wouldn't have turned into a supervillain. There is a serendipity at play here, for both parties. A long time ago, Tomar-Re discovered that he gave the universe its most formidable superhero, but in doing so, as we're now reminded, he also gave it one of its most dangerous villains.