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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #870 Action Comics #870

Action Comics #870

Scheduled to arrive in stores: October 8, 2008

Cover date: December 2008

"Brainiac: Finale"

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

Reviewed by: Adam Dechanel

Click to enlarge

The Coluan monster, recaps his actions from the past few days as Kara is brought in to the chamber of bottles to join her restrained cousin. In Smallville a storm is brewing perhaps caused by the missile heading for the sun. Martha and Jonathan nervously try to secure the farm certain that something terrible is on the way.

Brainiac goads his captive about his love for all things Earthly. Krypton was a superior planet, Earth in comparison is a savage world with nothing to offer. Metropolis, now a bottle city stares up at the warped image of Superman through the protoplasmic glass. In particular Superman glimpses down at the miniscule Daily Planet building and the microscopic human staring up at him.

Lois whispers and Superman focuses his weakened senses to hear his loving wife. She tells him that if this really is the end of the world he has to know that she loves him. Superman, focuses harder to release his reserve solar energy and while Brainiac continues his diatribe Clark breaks free!

Brainiac is unimpressed and easily parries Superman's blow. The seven foot behemoth catches and crushes Superman's hand until it bleeds.

"Earth has robbed you of your potential, you are far from Kryptonian... you are a simple brute"

Mocking the teachings of his parents angers Clark into retaliating. Grabbing Brainiac by his interface ports he digs his fingers in rendering them useless before pulling Brainiac's head onto his bleeding fist. Unleashing his heat-vision he scorches the eyes of the villain and quickly severs the cities of Metropolis and the amalgamated Kandor and Argo.

Kara is being restrained by Brainiac sentry bots but, resolve renewed, the Man of Steel destroys the robots and rescues his cousin. Kara drowsily awakens and realizes she is captive on Brainiac's cruiser. Before Clark can reveal his discovery about Kara's parents, in the background they hear Brainiac rise and make his way towards them.

Kara is scared, chilled to the bone, but Clark offers his full support, something he realizes he had neglected to do in the past. Kara realizes this is her chance to be a true hero, worthy of her family crest, giving chase to stop the missile from sending the sun nova.

Gritting her teeth Kara smashes through the ship's hull and directly after the missile. Superman waits to confront Brainiac. Free from his machines, Clark regains some composure to show Brainiac who really is in control.... No one is in control of life.

The weakened villain is taken aback as Clark zips out of his path to kick him in the spinal column and flash freeze him to the side of his own cruiser - or as Clark puts it 'his own bottle.' Superman's arctic breath weakened the hull enough for Superman to leap through and the two fall to Earth with tremendous force.

Brainiac lands in marsh land, a stark opposite to the sterile safety of his cruiser. Insanity creeps in almost instantly as Brainiac sees his body invaded by bacteria, germs, bugs and all manner of environmental 'hazards' we live with every day. With futility the Coluan desperately tries to claw the germs from his body and distracted by fear he is again caught by surprise and Superman flies down and stomps Brainiac's face in the silt.

Superman is about to strike again but the bottles begin to screech and crackle with energy. Quickly he leaps back into the air to help the souls within, leaving Brainiac in the marsh. Brainiac consciously activates a small homing missile from his damaged cruiser and smiles that he knows where Clark's true home is...

Superman: Landing in a crater that was once Metropolis, places the bottle back exactly in place before the bioshell cracks and the city expands to its original size.

Supergirl: Using all the speed at her disposal, the Teen of Steel rushes to stop the missile.

Lois Lane: Lois looks up at her husband as he races away. Even as Steve uses their rescue to flirt with Cat, Lois looks on with a heavy heart.

Jonathan and Martha Kent: Martha races out of the farmhouse to tell Jonathan about what has just happened to Metropolis but the couple see something in the sky heading directly for them that stops them in their tracks. Jonathan grabs his wife and pulls her out of the missile's path.

Supergirl: Kara grips the missile heading for the sun and, summing up her immense strength, hurls the missile out of the solar system. She saved the world!

Superman: Clark lands near to the Fortress and is flung backwards as Kandor and Argo expand in position next to Clark's former place of solitude.

Brainiac: Dead? Perhaps...

Jonathan and Martha Kent: Pa comforts his wife and they share a tender moment in the fiery rubble that was once the Kent farm. Kara is still in space too far to help and Clark is distracted by the formation of the Earth's newest city. Jonathan feels his arm freeze and his heart skip beats... he drops to his knees and a terrified Martha calls out for her son.

By the time Clark hears the pleas of his mother, the last of Jonathan's life ebbs away...

Clark arrives and the Kent family mourns their loss...

The End...

5Story - 5: It took me a LONG time to read this through.

Even longer to review.

I went back to read the entire arc from start to finish so I could make a proper judgement. There is very little to fault here, I'm sure there will be many that will mourn the passing of John Byrne's Man of Steel, I will - for some of its elements, but I'm glad we're moving forward... these recent issues of Superman and Supergirl (Kara) are perhaps the best in over a decade. We've all had to deal with loss, be it Jonathan Kent or someone close to us. This was very well written and I hope the follow up is dealt with just as expertly.

The silence in the last few pages resonates with some emotion you can only know if you've lost someone close to you. I will admit it felt very real to me. Let's admit though that Jonathan and Martha have done little to progress the Superman stories in recent years in the comics. The ramifications of this event along with Superman's sudden arrival of extended family, not to mention the arrival of the 'murderer' of both of his fathers will be felt for a long time to come. In one five-issue arc that is a monumental achievement - dwarfed only by Sterling Gates' rescue package for Supergirl.

Kara meanwhile completed her first true superheroic act and the pride and joy in her face is something you can feel yourself too - even the most anti Kara fans can see she's a character with potential, from her self doubt to her resolve to succeed - it's all there.

Bravo to Brainiac also, he's proven to be a villain integral to the creation of Superman and has resumed his place as the villain with equal potential to Luthor as ultimate nemesis - it's unheard of these days for a Superhero to have such, the majority have a 'rogues gallery' and that's not the same thing.

I've filled my synopsis with as much detail as I could to elaborate on the doubts of Superman's strength of character which was seemingly rife on the DC boards - shame on you if you thought Superman would fail in the face of adversity.

For the record, those who say that Jonathan dying means the end of the Polyester age: yawn.

4Art - 4: A spectacular issue with Superman cutting loose with amazing effect. Nice to see that his training during Our Worlds At War is being utilized. Many a reader seems to have forgotten what he had learned.

The scene of Superman burying Brainiac in the silt should be a poster - it is a breathtaking splash. This run on Superman is some of Gary Frank's best work - ever.

The only thing I knocked a point off for is the switch between Jon Sibal and the heavier detail lacking inking of Bit. The much heavier inking is perhaps what took me out of the story slightly and at just the wrong moment as the harsh realities of those final pages seem almost separate from the rest of the book and definitely the previous chapters.

3Cover Art - 3: The cover, although very emotional, just seemed to pre-empt the entire book. I wish the cover was focused more on the action inside as the previous chapters were also aimed at 'heart strings,' not that Jonathan's passing didn't deserve it but the showdown surely would have been more fitting.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2008

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