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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Adventure Comics #516

Adventure Comics #516

Scheduled to arrive in stores: July 14, 2010

Cover date: September 2010

"Brande Speaks"

Writer: Paul Levitz
Penciller: Kevin Sharpe
Inker: Marlo Alquiza

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

Superboy thanks Brainiac 5 for traveling to the past and giving him a lift. Brainiac 5 explains that it was all Cosmic Boy's idea but believes he can make this trip productive after all and retrieves a few roaches from a nearby tree. Superboy is reminded of when he first met R.J. Brande as Brainiac 5 was trying to kill roaches that day too. Brainiac 5 notes that the fact that Brande is dead and roaches still live is proof that the universe is randomly unfair. He mentions that they are on their way to hear a final message from Brande, a custom Brainiac believes is barbaric.

After some preliminaries and complaining on Brainiac 5's part Superboy, Brainiac, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Chameleon Boy and Saturn Girl listen to Brande's message. He tells them of his youth on Durla and how he was one of the few to have what he refers to as big ideas and a big mouth to express them. One day he discovered a long forgotten library and learned of Superman. After leaving his son in the care of his sister Brande assumed Superman's form and tried to fly off of Durla. Assuming Superman's form proved futile but eventually he found a form that would let him escape Durla's orbit and eventually found his way to Earth where he assumed the form of a human, a form that he was eventually stuck in thanks to a fever.

Brande used his advanced knowledge and became a star starter using a process to turn a red sun into a yellow one. Using the money he earned from that process Brande set up a new identity on Earth and eventually brought a few of his fellow Durlans off planet. The only problem he faced was that the government of Earth was not friendly to aliens. Brande knew that Superman would be the best spokesman for tolerance but there was a small problem; Superman had been dead for centuries. In short order Brande hired everyone in the galaxy that ever even thought about time travel to allow him to meet Superman, including Brainiac 5. While those experiments were going on Brande was nearly killed on a trip back to Earth but was saved by Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl. Brande showed his gratitude by giving them enough credits to form the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Eventually Brainiac 5 did crack the code of time travel and brought Superboy to the past. For making his dream come true Brande bequeaths Brainiac 5 an endowment which will ensure Brainiac 5 has enough money to continue his experiments. Brande ends his message by thanking the group for allowing him to change the universe a little before he died and for allowing him to meet the inspiration for all of his efforts.

Long live the Legion.

4Story - 4: This story was a little clunky but I liked it just the same. I have to admit that I am a sucker for this sort of "untold tale". What separated this issue from the standard story behind the story is that Levitz gave Brande's tale a lot of depth. Instead of making Brande a magnanimous benefactor for the Legion Levitz didn't pull any punches and showed that the man had his flaws. He was self-centered and basically abandoned his child to pursue his dreams. All of that led to the Legion of Super-Heroes to be sure but there was a cost and I liked that Levitz added those layers to make it a more interesting story.

I will admit that I was kind of confused how Brainiac 5 was able to interact with Brande during the message. Going into the story I was under the assumption that the message was a recording but then Brande seemed to be talking to Brainiac 5, so I will admit that I'm not sure if Brande was actually talking with Brainiac or if he had anticipated Brainiac's comments and responded at the appropriate time. This didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story but I was scratching my head a few times.

All in all, though, this was a solid story with good characterization. It was a quiet little tale about a man saying thanks to the people that made his dreams come true. You don't see enough stories like this in the current comic book marketplace and to my mind we need more of them to balance out the big-budget, summer blockbuster mentality that most stories have today.

4Art - 4: Kevin Sharpe's art was very strong in this issue. He had to draw a wide variety of time periods and alien landscapes and pulled it off admirably.

4Cover Art - 4: This was a solid cover. The eyes on Lightning Lad and Cosmic Boy are a bit odd, but I like the iconic feeling of this cover.

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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