Scheduled to arrive in stores: September 22, 2020
Cover date: November 2020
“Planet Brainiac” – Part One
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Penciller: Max Raynor
Inker: Max Raynor
Cover: David Marquez
Variant Cover: Lee Weeks and Elizabeth Breitweiser
Reviewed by: Keith Samra
We open with Steel and Batwoman assessing the damage to the Batcave, as they try to determine what transpired, and why there is so much destruction. Steel and Batwoman are granted access to the Bat-Computer, and they are caught up to speed on the events that transpired and left the cave in the manner that it’s in.
Flashback to Superman and Batman taking down a reanimated Chemo fuelled by the power of a volcano, courtesy of the Brimstone Brotherhood, later Batman reveals that the algorithm that he created to keep tabs on their adversaries managed to work perfectly, but somehow it was corrupted and left a virus in the system, when he plugged in the Chemo transponder into it, and coupled with the distress signal from Kandor a few issues ago, triggered an attack from a latent Brainiac programme. The Batcave itself attacked our heroes, through any means of technology available.
Steel and Batwoman receive Batman’s warning, but his last instructions at the end are not heard due to the choppy signal. They heard Batman tell them that they are being held on Brainiac’s base on the dark side of the moon.
Both Steel and Batwoman make their way to a shuttle to take them there. On the moon, Batman is recaptured by Brainiac’s drones, and as he is taken back to where they are holding Superman in the holding cells, he tells Superman that he hopes they follow his instructions and don’t come to the moon.
To be continued…
Story – 5: As always, Joshua Williamson delivers a fantastic story, that is not mired by the current happenings of the heroes own on-going titles, but fits in well enough that we accept that it happens in the same continuity. And as I have stated many times in the past, Williamson’s stories feel timeless and have an episodic quality to them, as though they are from a season of an animated show, with an overarching story arc throughout the season. Think season 1 of “Justice League Unlimited”. I loved Williamson’s use of continuity, from the previous storylines, mixed with that of the individual books our heroes star in. He’s a writer that makes things work, and the continuity geek in me loves it.
As good as the story was, I can’t say enough good things about the appearance of one of my all-time favourite Superman supporting/secondary characters… Steel! I love Steel so much, and was really excited to see him guest starring in this issue and arc alongside Batwoman. Steel is such an underused character, its criminal, and sadly, he played second fiddle to Batwoman at times in the way of dialogue, but that’s a Bat-Family trait I guess, they must all be bad-@$$ while a Superman is left looking clumsy and foolish at times. Another example was when Batman states that he knows Kryptonain fluently… Batman doesn’t need to be the know all and do all of the DCU… Then again, he is being written as Bat-God as of late.
There isn’t much more I can really say for this issue, seeing it is the beginning of the next arc. It was enjoyable, it set the scene for the next few issues, we were introduced to the villain, or rather a version of the villain. That’s the best thing about Brainiac, we can get so many diverse storylines out of him, as his very nature allows him to be rather a fluid character.
Art – 4: I’m not familiar with Max Raynor’s work at all, this is the first project I have seen his art in, and I am very, very impressed. He gave Superman a larger, thicker physique, while his Batman sported shades of Jim Lee, seeing as how he has set the standard for Batman signature look in the modern age. I liked the more cartoonish style that he bought to the pages, as it fit in well with the action. Raynor did a wonderful job on the backgrounds as well.
Raynor’s Steel and Batwoman were also quite impressive, I loved the semi classic look of Steel’s armour, the more back to basics look was a welcome change over the at times clunky and over detailed New 52 had him in. The Rebirth age has brought him back to a more recognizable visage. Batwoman looked dynamic as well, so no complaints there either.
The only nit-pick I had was that on a few panels, Superman looked really awkward and clunky, but that is nothing to really dwell on. I really liked the art, and look forward to seeing what Raynor brings in the issues to come.
As always, the coloring was superb and brought a certain level of depth to the line art. Sanchez is one of the best.
Cover Art – 1: I love David Marquez, and this is a stunning cover, but it lacks a certain panache, and feels very rushed and unfinished as an image. Superman’s head seems a little large for his body, and Batman looks like he’s making a 90s Wildstorm character pose.
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