Argo City seems to be poised to play a key role in the current Supergirl's origin. What happened to that Argo City? How did it survive? What was Zor-El's plans? How did Kara's pod find its way to Earth? Who set up the star gates that lead from Argo to Earth? How did everyone die? And where are all the bodies? So many mysteries still to be solved/
With Argo City in a place of prominence in Supergirl's origins yet again, I thought I would go back and look at the various Argo Cities that have been seen in DC Comics, and how the city's fate has been tweaked and changed with the various incarnations of Supergirl. And that means taking a look all the way back to 1959's Action Comics #252 and Supergirl's first appearance.
Initially in the Silver Age, it is simply luck that keeps Argo City intact when Krypton explodes. And luckily enough a 'bubble of air' was ripped away with that planetary remnant.
And among the survivors are Zor-El and Alura. And there was enough technology intact to keep the survivors alive.
Unfortunately, the same reaction that turned Krypton to Kryptonite happened with Argo City. The very ground became toxic.
Again, as luck would have it, Zor-El kept rolls and rolls of hammered lead in his lab. The ground was completely covered with the lead, shielding the citizens from the deadly K-rays.
And so, time went by and the Kyrptonians were pretty happy.
Kara was born on the city and grew to be a young girl. (This differs from the last two incarnations of Supergirl where she is born on Krypton and therefore technically older than Kal.)
And then ... further tragedy. Meteorites hammer the city, puncturing the lead shielding. Unable to make repairs, the city seems doomed to a slow death.
The radiation poisoning is a slow decree of death. With time on his side, Zor-El cobbles together a rocket in hopes of rocketing Kara away to safety. Alura uses a 'super-space telescope' and discovers Earth. She also sees a telecast of Superman performing his usual heroics. During that, Alura learns that Superman is from Krypton thus making Earth the perfect landing place for Kara.
Fitted with a S-shield suit so Superman will know Supergirl's heritage, Kara is placed in a rocket and sent to Earth.
And that's that. For all we know, Argo is still floating out in space, a city on a giant chunk of Kryptonite.
Almost 5 years later in Action Comics #309, the Argo City story is slightly tweaked. I wish I could scan in panels, but I don't own the issue and the black and white 'math paper' scans from the Showcase Supergirl Vol. 2 don't come out well.
In this retelling of Supergirl's origin (which culminates with Zor-El and Alura being alive in and ultimately freed from the Survival Zone), Supergirl uses a special light telescope to see into the past. There she learns that Zor-El had erected a weather safety dome over Argo City and that is why the city remains intact. It also explains the city's intact atmosphere.
The ground still becomes Kryptonite but in this instance it is Anti-Kryptonite, a rare form of Green K which effects non-super-powered Kryptonians. (Kryptonite had become a muddled device back then and standard Green K did not effect depowered Kryptonians at that point.) Again, the land is covered in lead.
Zor-El then fits the chunk with rockets in hopes of propelling the city to a safe place. And, indeed, he takes it to a yellow sun system where the citizens become super-powered. But Jer-Em, a religious zealot, thinks it is an abomination for the citizens to have powers. He sends the city back to a red sun system while simultaneously destroying the rocket system. For his crimes, Jer-Em is sent to the Phantom Zone. The meteor shower again happens and the citizens die while Kara is rocketed to safety. At this point, in desperation, Zor-El tries and succeeds in sending himself and Alura to the Survival Zone, a dimension akin to (but not) the Phantom Zone.
But the ultimate fate of Argo remains the same ... as a dead city floating in space on a chunk of Green K. Per the Superman Encyclopedia, the Vrangs find Argo City in Action Comics #548 and Mr. Mxyzptlk crashes it into Metropolis in DC Comics Presents #97 (an issue I own and will now need to reread). But I still like the idea of it just out there, a sort of floating gravestone for Krypton.
Next ... the new Argo as seen in Action Comics #869.