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Cover date: September 2008
"Brainiac" - Part Two: "Hide and Seek"
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Gary Frank
Inker: Jon Sibal
Reviewed by: Neal Bailey
Back at the Fortress, Supergirl assures Superman that this isn't really Brainiac, that she saw Brainiac probes take the one true Kandor, and that no one has seen the real Brainiac.
Agitated, she burns the probe, upset at seeing Brainiac again.
Clark talks with his parents, who naturally fear for him, but trust him to do the right thing. Clark spends time with Pa, and they talk about what it was like growing up.
At the Daily Planet, Clark takes guff from Lombard, who then goes after Jimmy and Ron.
Superman forms a ship and flies deep into space, seeking Brainiac and studying findings by Non about Brainiac on Krypton. He finds probes attacking a planet, and finds himself unable to stop the "bottling" process.
A missile blows apart the system, and Superman is left unconscious. Brainiac's ship pulls him in.
Story - 5: This was a 4.5 of 5, but in cases like that, I follow my gut, and this was nearly a perfect issue.
I've seen complaints online about the way that Brainiac's history is being ignored or ret-conned, or complaining about the arrogance of saying that this Brainiac is the REAL Brainiac. That's one way to take it. I see this as Geoff Johns having the cojones to confront and try to make simplified many, many years of continuity, and for that he has my respect. Much more so than a guy who simply introduces a new Brainiac and doesn't care where it fits into continuity. Is it the same thing he did with Toyman? Yes. Will it satisfy everyone? No. But is it better than, I dunno, "Picture, maybe, a Yod!"?
I think so. I really think so.
There was a bit of chaff here. The scene with Pa, while awesome characterization, didn't really serve any purpose other than to show interesting stuff from Clark's past, and has no real bearing on the story that I can see. Still, for chaff, it's good chaff, that's why I say 4.5 of 5, as opposed to, say, Trinity #6, which I just read, in which the issue tries to be cute for the whole thing and never gets around to telling a story. This issue does, and hey presto super pronto.
This Brainiac is scary, menacing, and quite honestly, my favorite since Milton Fine, and I haven't even seen him in action yet. That's powerful writing. The mere idea of seeing him come is anticipation, kind of like what they did with Doomsday. THOOM! THOOM! Interest rising.
It's a Superman story starring a Superman villain and Superman. This hasn't happened, really, since Last Son, and we know how that went. Now Geoff is finally unloading, and he's rocking my face.
Why does Superman need a ship? I probably missed something. But I don't care, not with story this fun.
And yes, it's weird to have Supergirl outknowledge Superman despite her relative newness, but I buy it.
I LOVE Lombard as realized in this comic. Excellent.
Political, ancillary note, but it concerns this issue and my experience of it, so it's going in the review. There's a poster in here that shows the women of the DCU in evening dresses, with the caption, "THE REAL POWER OF THE DCU." This made me actually pause reading the comic and infuriated me to the point of having to take a deep breath. Why? Well, because, folks, lip service is not feminism, and this poster isn't equality. Put the DCU men in suits and have them staring at us seductively with the turn of phrase, "THE REAL POWER OF THE DCU!" and we would all rightly have fits. So too, does this intimation that the women are the real power bristle me. Why? Because that's not how you emphasize the strong, awesome women of the DC Universe, by putting them in evening gowns in poses that make them seem sassy and in charge. That's how you make them (or anyone, male or female) look like idiots. Instead, you INVOLVE THEM IN PIVOTAL STORIES that are WELL TOLD and don't pander to the crap, "I'm strong because I'm female" ethic, and instead, "I'm strong because I'm a good person." I'm sorry, and I know this is ancillary to this story, but I'm sick and tired of being insulted as a man by posters, television shows, and other media that intimate that men are not a real power or are somehow inferior as a way to play to a female demographic when that does nothing to further the message it's purported to support. It just ticks off the men and makes the women look like they're going from oppressed to oppressors. Men and women are both very real powers, but you know what? Singling women out like this doesn't make them equals, it makes them pariahs for people who misunderstand the message, or it makes them arrogant. Cut the crap, and put this PR into writing a Power Girl that isn't going to be sold on her breasts, huh? Because right now, that's the real Power of the DCU, if you'll pardon my sarcasm, when you put "THE REAL POWER OF THE DCU" under chicks with about ten tons of cleavage in "hot" poses. Other than a few scattered rational female characters like The Question, Batwoman, Manhunter, and maybe the Birds, I have yet to see a palpable effort to put their money where the mouth of this phrase is. I mean, seriously, we're talking about a company that two weeks ago had its strongest female character, Wonder Woman, play second fiddle to Superman in the flagship weekly despite an equal grasp of the situation. Please. The real hypocrisy of the DCU, if anything, and you know me, I'm not one to harp on this subject, but when it's shoved in my face, I'll be damned if I'll sit there and let it wash over me when it denigrates the idea of male-female equality.
Art - 5: Awesome through and through. If Frank was not earning my total attention with the Legion stuff, he is now, absolutely. Iconic.
Cover Art - 5: Doesn't happen in the issue and lacks a background, which is usually grounds for me being all over a cover, but it's such a great pose, so compellingly awesome, it's five city. Rad.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2008.