"Phantoms": The proud city of Kandor was once a glorious place - and with all of their successes and victories, they could not imagine that the apocalyptic warnings of Jor-El could be true. Everything they'd experienced had shown them that Kandor would last forever.
- This whole thing's a trap. The enemy's leading you on. Taunting you with your family. Charge in there and he's just going to kill them before your eyes.
- — Batman
Synopsis for "Phantoms"
The proud city of Kandor was once a glorious place - and with all of their successes and victories, they could not imagine that the apocalyptic warnings of Jor-El could be true. Everything they'd experienced had shown them that Kandor would last forever. So it came as a surprise when his prophecy of doom came true, and Krypton was destroyed. Somehow, though, Kandor endured, when it was collected within a bottle by Brainiac. There, they waited for the last son of Krypton to find a way to awaken and rescue them. He was distracted though, by the needs of the people of his adopted home. In his most recent battle with Brainiac, his fortress home was destroyed, and Kandor and its people vanished from the ruins. Superman and Batman have only just rediscovered it in Iceland, thanks to the help of Dr. Ray Palmer. From what they can see from the viewer on the Ant Farm, though, Kandor was involved in some kind of war.
Ray shrinks them down small enough to infiltrate the bottle city and Batman warns that a full-on assault on the tower where the threat seems to be coming from could be too dangerous. These Kandorians now have the same powers as Superman - though they may be tiny. Superman supposes that maybe they can use Supergirl's Kandorian friend Tali to find a trustworthy ally before planning their attack. Lois Lane intends to join them on the mission, but Superman warns that humans could not survive the conditions within the bottle for long - despite the fact that Batman is going in, and he has no powers. Grumpily, Lois warns Batman to be careful.
Once inside, Kara and Superman immediately feel the increased Kryptonian gravity weakening them. Attempting to conserve their powers, they continue on foot, hiding hurriedly from a group of Kandorian soldiers. Kara can hear that their heartbeats are completely synchronized - which suggests that they're under the control of the enemy, whoever it is. Upon finding their way to Tali's house, they are upset to discover that it's been ransacked and destroyed - vandalized with the crest of the House of El. Several other houses have been similarly vandalized. Nearby, Batman locates patterns in the dirt that suggest that people were gathered and loaded into transports. Superman accidentally steps on a device that recognizes his genetic code and begins telling his family history - revealing relations he'd never heard of. Lara's sister and mother had lived on Kandor - Mara and Dame Kela-Van - which means they might have survived Krypton's destruction.
The device goes on to say that the people of Kandor were told a tale of how Jor-El framed Xa-Du and exiled him to the Phantom Zone before causing the destruction of Krypton, and the separation of Kandor from it. Then, it was Kal-El who imprisoned the city in a bottle in a land of giants. The people of Kandor now submit themselves to a kind of living death in order to produce the power that is required to destroy Kal-El. Horrified, Superman insists that this story is a lie - but he is overheard by a group of soldiers who recognize him. Before he realizes what's going on, one of the soldiers activates a device in his wrist that causes him to explode. Batman warns that the whole place is a trap. Superman's enemy is taunting him with his own family - and if they charge into the tower after him, he will kill Mara and Kela before their eyes.
Superman decides that he will leave the saving of Superman's family to Batman. He and Kara will focus on sparing the lives of the 7 billion unwitting humans outside the bottle city, and destroy the tunnel from which Kandorians are being ejected like bullets. No one will be leaving Kandor. Soon, the pair have destroyed the ramp, and Batman has fought his way to the control room to free the Kandorians from the vats entombing them. Before long, though, Superman sees who is behind all of this horror - Xa-Du himself - whose imprisonment in the Phantom Zone had given him infinite time to plan his revenge on the House of El. Recognizing the threat, Superman sends Kara to help Batman while he faces Xa-Du - who towers above them - alone.
Xa-Du reveals that there is no need for Kara to leave to seek their long-lost family members, because they have been afflicted with his living death, and are now his thralls, ready to fight.
Appearing in "Phantoms"
- Ant Farm
- Fortress of Solitude (Flashback only)
- Kandor (Flashback and main story)
- Krypton (Flashback only) (Destroyed)
- While this issue lists Mara-Van as Lara's sister trapped on Kandor, the sister shown to be lost on Kandor in Action Comics (Volume 2) #3 is named Zora.