Kandor was once the capital of Krypton, until the space-villain Brainiac shrank it and stuffed in into a bottle. That pink-jumper-wearing weirdo wanted to kidnap cities from all over the place and dump them on some planet, with himself as the ruler. He tries this routine on Earth, with Paris, New York, and Metropolis, only for Superman himself to put a kibosh on the scheme. Superman manages to restore each of Braniac’s cities to full size, with the exception of Kandor. That city he brings to his Fortress of Solitude, vowing to undo Braniac’s miniaturization.
Kandor existing in the Fortress of Solitude is the status-quo for most of these stories. Being stuck in a jar, I wouldn’t describe that as living, just existing. I imagine that for the Kandorians who survived the bottle period that it would be like surviving a siege. Superman and his friends can shrink themselves down and have adventures, and some Kandorians briefly leave the bottle, although the consequences aren’t pretty if they stay out for too long. Stories from this period include Superman and Jimmy Olsen moonlighting as Kandorian Batman analogues, Lois Lane and Lana Lang palling around with a Kandorian doppelganger of Superman, and various Kandorian villains mucking around on Earth. At the end, Superman does manage to fix the Kandor situation, although things don’t quite end the way he plans.
The nuttiest theme of the whole book was the large amount of doppelgangers. Superman has more than a few, some of whom are relatives and the rest you can just say ‘shared ethnicity.’ But to see the entire Daily Planet staff replicated within a shrunken alien city seems a little unlikely. Maybe I could find dopplegangers of all the people I know in a large city like New York, maybe Paris, but I wouldn’t bet on it. The Daily Planet doubles are some of the Kandorians who occasionally leave their city, mainly to impersonate the journalists at events where they could be assassinated. It’s a strange thing to want to do, I guess, but the Kandorians are just that grateful to Superman. Plus it’s probably their only way out of the bottle, even if it is just temporary.
Silver Age Superman was a complete loon, which is really fair enough. I mean, the man does come from another planet. His eccentricity finds its finest expression within the Fortress of Solitude, where he keeps souvenirs of some of his adventures. In this volume Superman shows Lois Lane the room that he’s dedicated to her. It’s filled with mannequins of her and other souvenirs. The whole thing creeped me out, but Lane actually seemed flattered. From one stalker to another, I guess.
I enjoyed this book quite a lot. I liked the fantastic details of Kandor, the skewed priorities of Superman and his friends, and I appreciated the situations in which Superman’s powers left him. The dopplegangers of Kandor gave me a real Borges vibe, and some of the things that they do in the bottle city bought Calvino’s Invisible Cities to mind. I’d recommend it.