Tag Archives: Braniac

Today’s Super Comic — The Adventures of Superman #445 (1988)

One of the many things the Man of Steel movie got wrong was having Superman kill the bad guy, feel bad for a whole half a second, and then happily move on with his life.

In a late ‘80s storyline, Superman was left with no recourse but to execute three Kryptonian criminals who had destroyed an alternate Earth in a pocket dimension. His actions were justifiable—these powerful criminals would have no doubt turned their attention to the real Earth, they already had a track record of success in their genocidal pursuits, and there was literally no one else left in that other universe to mete out punishment. Still, while he did what he had to do, he knows he failed to be Superman in that moment.

The Adventures of Superman #445 is right after that storyline, and we see Superman appropriately wracked with guilt. There’s no tidy resolution yet—he’s got a long soul-searching journey into space still ahead of him before he comes to terms with his actions. For now, Braniac provides a distraction, though the battle shows how even a Man of Steel can fray.

I wouldn’t want a guilt-ridden Superman as the status quo, but the storyline showed us a different side of him while reinforcing one of his essential characteristics—his deep respect for all life.

Also, #445 shows how the Superman comics of this era made great use of the supporting cast. Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, and Cat Grant all are all involved in various plots and subplots (primarily Jimmy and Cat in this issue), and their presence keeps Superman tethered to humanity, which is also essential.

Writer/Penciler: Jerry Ordway

Inker: Dennis Janke

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues

Appropriate For: ages 9 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Action Comics #866 (2008)

Superman’s greatest enemy is no doubt Lex Luthor. But his second greatest enemy is easily Braniac (even if the movies have failed to make use of him thus far).

Braniac receives a modern reintroduction in Action Comics #866, which begins what might just be his strongest story arc to date. Writer Geoff Johns amps up Braniac’s creepiness and alien nature while retaining his classic shtick of miniaturizing cities, bottling them up, and maintaining a collection of perfectly preserved samples of alien civilizations. Here, he actually comes across as a frightening, dangerous figure (maybe a bit too frightening for younger children) and definitely a worthy foe for the Man of Steel.

Even as the story modernizes elements of the Superman mythos, it pays homage to the past. Artist Gary Frank’s rendition of Superman/Clark Kent resembles Christopher Reeve more than a little, and this first part spends some time with the classic Daily Planet staff, with Clark playing his role as the guileless nice guy without any over-the-top bumbling around.

It’s a strong part one, and yet it all gets better from here on out.

Writer: Geoff Johns

Penciler: Gary Frank

Inker: Jon Sibal

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Superman: Braniac (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Superman #65 (1992)

Superman_v.2_65Catch-up post 4/4! All caught up! Whew!

Before the movies had Independence Day, Superman comics had “Panic in the Sky!”

The title comes from the classic George Reeves episode, but the scope of this seven-part storyline far exceeds what was possible in 1950s television. This is pure blockbuster—just turn your brain off, indulge your inner child, and enjoy the wild ride.

The Earth faces an extraterrestrial menace led by Braniac, and Superman must assemble an army of his fellow superheroes to stop it. Superman #65 is the “gathering of the troops” part of the story, in which Superman reluctantly accepts the fact that he’s the one who needs to organize and lead the planet’s defense. It’s fitting for the character, who has never craved power but will humbly accept the mantle of leadership if he needs to.

Guest stars abound—Wonder Woman, Aquaman, even Deathstroke the Terminator, and so many more. It looks like a company-wide crossover, but the story stays confined to the Superman titles, allowing him to remain the undisputed protagonist throughout.

It’s just good clean, action-packed fun, and great for younger readers.

Writer/Penciler: Dan Jurgens

Inker: Brett Breeding

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Superman: Panic in the Sky! (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 8 and up