Superman 338 – Kandor gets enlarged

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It’s bye bye bottle city in Superman 338 (Aug. 79), as one of the classic elements of the series changes forever.  Wein, Swan and Chiaramonte make a decent story out the event, and it was more or less an inevitability.  How long could the reader keep waiting for Superman to achieve what he had promised so many years earlier?

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Superman extracts energy from a super-nova, and believes that he has developed a ray that will safely and successfully enlarge Kandor.  But it needs be tested, and though Supergirl thinks it’s a dangerous risk, Superman sets up an ultrasonic signal that he knows will bring Brainiac to Earth.  Superman plans to let Brainiac shrink him, so he can test the ray on himself.

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There is a pause in the story as Perry White celebrates his 40th year on the Daily Planet.  The usual crew are there: Lois and Clark Kent, Lana Lang, Morgan Edge, Jimmy Olsen and Steve Lombard. But even such rarely appearing characters as Percy Bratten and Dave Stevens get cameos before the story moves back to the main plot.

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As planned, Brainiac arrives and shrinks Superman, but winds up getting his shrink ray rebounded back on him, and gets so small he simply disappears. But he must figure out a way to grow, as he returns a year down the road in Action Comics.

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The ray works as intended on Superman, who gets restored to his normal size.  He and Supergirl bring Kandor to a deserted planet, and after so many many years, enlarge the bottle city.

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Though Zor-El and Alura hope their daughter will stay with them, Supergirl insists that Earth is her home now.

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But it is not all good news.  While the ray worked fine on organic material, it did not stabilizie the atoms in inorganic matter, and though the Kandorians are safe, their city crumbles.  Superman is very upset, but Van-Zee insists that they can and will rebuild their culture on their own, and send him back to Earth.

While Van-Zee, Zor-El and Alura all return in the Krypton Chronicles miniseries a couple years down the road, the loss of Kandor was really not so much a victory.  Indeed, within a couple of years, even before Crisis, there would be another version of the bottle city, and more than one after Crisis.  But none would really match the joyous science-fiction fantasy of the original.

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