In 2009, DC Comics published “New Krypton”, a year-long story-arc through the pages of the Superman titles, Supergirl, and various “New Krypton” themed one-shots. The “New Krypton” Saga tied up a year’s worth of story lines in the various S-themed books culminating in a top level Black Ops conspiracy to kill Superman, and the release of one hundred thousand Kryptonians from Brainiac’s most prized Bottled City: Kandor. The conspiracy takes on greater urgency when the Kandorians relocate to Earth’s Antarctica, and only get worse when a pillar of Kandorian society is killed by US military forces.
Who is …. Codename; Assassin?
Jonathan Drew is Codename: Assassin. Created by Gerry Conway, Codename: Assassin is a highly trained, covert ops specialist for the United States military. First appearing in 1st Issue Special #11, in February 1976, Assassin is a character born of tragedy. At a very young age, Drew lost his parents to unknown circumstances, leaving him and his older sister to fend for themselves. Eleven years later, Drew is in graduate school, although he’s failing a required psychology class. The professor of that class, a Dr. Andrew Stone, proposes a solution. If Drew will allow Stone to test out some new “enhanced psychology experiments”, Stone will pass him. In the established norm of the genre through the Sixties and Seventies, Stone is attached to a machine, which promptly explodes. Stone and Drew survive, although Drew has turned meta, and now has both telepathic and telekinetic powers.
In the origin story told to us in the pages of “1st Issue Special, Codename: Assassin” #11 the reader finds out that as Drew is taking part in these experiments his sister meets a tragic ending. Having turned adversity into success, Drew’s sister became a lawyer and began representing what she thought was a group of successful Italian businessmen. Only, they weren’t businessmen so much as they were mobsters who put a hit out on her when they felt she knew too much. The hit is successful, Drew sought and found revenge for his sister’s death and then disappeared.
In fact, that would be the last time the character saw publication until 2009’s “New Krypton” saga. So, Codename: Assassin falls off the continuity radar. The only other mention of him is in a 2001 issue of Starman in which the original Starman recalls that Drew was operating for a short time in Opal City at some point in the 1970’s.
Fast forward to 2008 and Codename: Assassin comes out of the shadows and jumps directly into active duty in the DCU.
The first chapter of “New Krypton” opens with a special one-shot issue in which the various threads running through the S-titles are stitched together to reveal the conspiracy to kill Superman. In the pages of Superman’s Pal: Jimmy Olsen #1 (December 2008) the mystery surrounding the conspiracy starts to fall away as Jimmy pursues his first major piece of investigative journalism.
Pouring over photos from Superman’s battle in Metropolis against a meta known as Atlas, Jimmy discovered a shadowy figure placed on the rooftops, only on closer inspection that dude is hovering in mid-air. The face triggers a memory and Jimmy digs deeper into his old negatives finding a picture he took years ago at the funeral of Drew’s sister. The man hovering above the ground and Jonathan Drew are on in the same.
A little more digging dredges up the name of Dr. Andrew Stone. Jimmy tracks Stone down and he re-tells Codename: Assassin’s origin. The pieces from the 1976 origin story are kept in tact. Before Jimmy’s eyes Stone is assassinated by …. Assassin, while Jimmy hightails it out of there and on to his next stop: CADMUS Laboratories in Metropolis.
Being a life long Superman fan, CADMUS tickles the old nostalgia bone. A high-tech lab specializing in producing clones was central to the Man of Steel’s continuity from the late 1980’s and well into the 1990’s. CADMUS created the clone of the first Guardian and whom became the lab’s Chief of Security for many of those years. They created Superboy, with the DNA of the original Superman, that first appeared in the pages of Adventures of Superman #XXX, during the “Death of Superman” saga. CADMUS’ cloning technology was used to create a version of Bizzaro, and played a pivotal role in cloning Lex Luthor’s body. In addition, they merged Earth technology with the technology and expertise from the likes of Darksied.
Much of Codename: Assassin’s character history over the intervening years is updated by Dubillex, a cloned alien that was also one of CADMUS’ chief science officers. In a touching eulogy to the important role CADMUS played as part of the Superman mythos, Dubbliex, sitting in a vacant headquarters, explains that the US military had confiscated all of CADMUS’ cloning research and technology.
He also tells Jimmy that for a brief time, many years ago, Jonathon Drew was the lab’s chief of security while the original Guardian was still on the job. In fact, the long established reason for the original Guardian’s death was that he died in the line of duty, as an officer of the Metropolis Police Force, is retconned as a cover story. Dubillex tells Jimmy that the original Guardian, Jim Harper, discovered that the tests he was allowing CADMUS to perform on him were used to create his clone, unbeknownst to him. He was killed by Jonathon Drew, CADMUS’ chief of security.
The final pieces of information that Dubillex gives Jimmy helps solve the mystery of who Codename: Assassin is, and who he is working for. First, Dubillex tells Jimmy that the cloned Guardian, the one that was featured so prominently in the 1980’s and 1990’s is still alive and living in an American border town in southern Arkansas that is notorious as a crossing point for South American metas. The second piece of information is the confirmation that there is a conspiracy to kills Superman, and that conspiracy comes straight from some of the highest, most covert operations in the US military.
Codename: Assassin, who disappeared from the streets of Opal City sometime in the 1970’s, was recruited and trained as a high tech military operative, a meta-human super-soldier/assassin. His immediate supervisor: General Sam Lane, thought deceased in the aftermath of 2000’s “Our Worlds At War” story line. The two have been working together, trying to find a way to assassinate the world’s sole Kryptonian, fueled by a fear of the most powerful being on Earth.
That plan is thrown into high gear after Superman freed to the trapped citizens of Kandor from Brainiac’s imprisonment. All of sudden Lane has one hundred thousand, Superman-level aliens on Earth to protect humanity from.