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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #866

Action Comics #866

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 11, 2008

Cover date: August 2008

"Brainiac Part 1: First Contact"

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Gary Frank
Inker: Jon Sibal

Reviewed by: Adam Dechanel

Click to enlarge

During the days of Krypton when Zod and Ursa still worked on the side of good. An alien force of robotic enemies arrives slaughtering innocents they surround the city of Kandor and unleash an energy force field. It encases Kandor and before Zod can stop it the city is gone along with their attackers...

That was thirty five years in Krypton's time... this is today.

The Daily Planet is having a staff meeting and Jimmy is late. For the benefit of newer staff a roll call goes out via refreshment orders:

Clark Kent.
Lois Lane.
Catherine 'Cat' Grant.
Steve Lombard.
Ron Troupe.
Jimmy Olsen.
Perry White.

Steve irks the entire staff with his backward attitude and over all ignorance, Clark swiftly teaches him a lesson with the infamous broken chair leg stunt. Initiation complete Cat is a bit different, before her time away she was an accomplished journalist. Her son Adam's death has clearly knocked her for six and a façade of brash cattiness is the result several years later. She flashes flesh at Clark and he's very calm. Lois of course in unimpressed. They know it's an act, they knew Cat before, Clark is more sympathetic, even if he didn't have powers it's easy to spot a disguise. Lois jibes back that she would have figured it out eventually!

Before they can retort more flirty banter a flaming object from space is heading to Earth. Clark quickly broadens his shoulders flips his hair and rips his shirt open in inimitable style.

Meanwhile in Smallville Jonathan Kent is busily posting a fence around the farm, his loving wife Martha waves him inside the house for breakfast. The pair don't notice the weathervane suddenly spinning... the cause unknown...

Clark flies upward and catches the flying object. It rapidly transforms into skeletal form and into the familiar appearance of one of Brainiac 1.0's foot soldiers.

As before on Krypton it attempts to lobotomize its prey, but under a yellow sun, that's just not going to happen. All it does is hack Clark off. Ripping off an arm Clarks sends the battle into a nearby river. The robot shields itself and scans Clark's body.

A tiny droplet of blood appears from the point it had tried to hurt Superman, enough for a DNA scan.

This happens in a split second for it powers down literally as Clark is about to administer a devastating blow, instead he watches it power down and crumple. Leaving him puzzled as to Brainiac's plot.

In space we see a frozen old star cruiser shaped like a skull. Dead for some time it suddenly powers up with the transmitted data. The ice melts, lights power up and the cruiser hums to life....

The tri-circle blinks on and we are greeted by a chamber full of bottled cities, almost like lanterns lighting the room.

Central to the room is a metallic structure. The nature of the structure is unclear but we do see a comatose body within, a Coluan. The data extracts and notifies the ship that it has encountered a Kryptonian... a 242 is now in progress.

To be continued...

ratingStory - 5: OH MY GOD! This was absolutely - ABSOLUTELY brilliant. For the first time in years we saw the Daily Planet as a news room and the staff interacting... since it's a core element of the Clark Kent and Lois Lane dynamic not to mention Superman I'm surprised it took a backseat so long.

The continuity gripers and board trolls will roll out with the old Man Of Steel is holy argument but there is now obviously a real effort to make cohesion - continuity is a little different though that's starting to flow - yes vaguely but things like Cat's character overhaul to Entertainment section bitch was plausibly done and even added to Lois and Clark being a couple - i.e., chatting like two people and not in expository dialogue.

Jimmy being reverted to pre-Countdown is a godsend.

Ron the token multicultural guy thankfully has a role now instead of - that guy who does nothing but once dated Lucy Lane and his conversation with Steve was great. (Kinda wish they'd throw in Angela Chen... oh well)

Steve on the other hand is an ass. He absolutely deserved falling on it. I can already foresee some great clashes with the cast. To be honest this is what drew me to Superman, not the costume, not the battling big villains, no batty influences, no JLA communicators. Pure unadulterated living the life type writing. In fact it was writing like this that got fans interested in the Lois & Clark show and in STAS.

TV veteran Kenneth Johnson once said his method for the Hulk TV series was TOTAL story - the fact Hulk was in the show was nice but not the point - it was about David (he had issues with the name Bruce- lol) Anyhow he stipulated from the beginning there would be only one Hulk scene per episode, two if warranted to the story. Some moaned there wasn't enough Hulk. Bah.

Deborah Joy Levine years later followed suit... she stipulated her show was about Clark Kent & Lois Lane and their skills as investigative journalists, with a dash of Superman, (and budget) this meant the man of steel would appear for a maximum of 10 minutes per 50 mins.

There isn't a budget here so yes they could have gone all Loeb & McG. Two pages of the Daily Planet and 20 splash pages of punches and kicks, but I like character and good writing so I'm glad its here.

The splash on page thirteen is awe inspiring and you know what - it only works BECAUSE of the scenes prior. Check it out - read the book from page 12 onwards and it just feels... empty. Page 14 by the way has me feeling a little dread... the nagging feeling that something is going to go horribly wrong... I HOPE I am wrong.

The scene with Zod was nice, an obvious nod not only to keeping Krypton and Brainiac linked but Last Son also and giving Zod and Ursa a nod to times when they were actually good. And reverting Brainiac to Colu roots but mixing in the endoskeletons and roachbots is a nice twist as was the tri-circle. I'm glad Yoda's little brother has been phased out and am eager to see where this is going (Damn it I hate the rotating reviewer system I want to do the whole arc! lol).

ratingArt - 5: The artwork in Superman & The Legion Of Superheroes was ropey in that it was really struggling not to be Supreme Power/Squadron Supreme. In one issue it seems to have shaken it off.

Absolutely AMAZING work. The splash of Clark and Lois was stunning - where can I buy it! 15 with Clark flying‹wow! The arrival of Supergirl next issue I'm sure will be amazing too - isn't the Linda Danvers run the last time Gary drew her for a Super book? Gary Frank or Jon Sibal get in contact I'd like an interview!

ratingCover Art - 4: Spooky stuff... Brainiac's eyes are piercingly evil from the shadows and the sheer collection on cities reminds me of how deadly Brainiac was. I don't worry about Superman much but just the expression on his face says we're in for bad tidings...

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

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