Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Review: Superman Family Adventures #9

Superman Family Adventures #9 came out last week and once again was just a wonderfully entertaining read. We have only three more issues after this and I am going to try to savor every one of them.

As usual, creators Art Baltazar and Franco are able to weave classic Superman story-telling tropes with humor and remarkable characterization. I have said it before, Lois is Lois in this book. Superman is Superman. Supergirl is Supergirl. Clark is Clark. It is as if the creative team has distilled these characters down to most primary concepts and display them in all their glory here. I don't know if the current mainstream DCnU books grasp these characters as well.

This issue brings Brainiac into the picture, something that has been hinted at since the first issues of the book. And this is a more modern take on Brainiac, buff and in black like Gary Frank's take in the Brainiac arc. Despite being the main villain here, Lex gets the best 'bad guy' moment that actually shows how much Baltazar and Franco get him.

But the best overall moment is a Lois moment, complete with a new color of Kryptonite.

Brainiac arrives on Earth and basically says he is going to take over. The people of Metropolis run for cover.

But Braniac knows he'll need some help with Superman so goes to the guy who has the biggest collection of Kryptonite there is ... Lex. Again, we have seen Lex picking up chunks of Kryptonite throughout this series so it is interesting to see such continuity in a book like this.

And there is humor too. Brainiac  has infested all of Earth's technology all the way down to toasters and blenders.

And so Lex and Brainiac decide to team up to deal with the Super-family. I can remember growing up and seeing covers where Luthor and Brainiac were shaking hands or teaming up and wondering just how Superman could beat their combined might. So this was cool for me ... nostalgic to be sure but still a great threat for the Man of Steel and his cousins.

I also loved a Miss Tessmacher appearance. If Smallville can have Otis Berg, why not a Miss Tessmacher siting? I am still amazed how influential the Donner films still are.

Things get a little nuttier when Brainiac decides to bring the fight to Superman, flying into Metropolis armed with Luthor's K-collection.

As I said above, in this book there is this understanding and appreciation of the core aspects of these characters. But there is also an appreciation of iconic symbolism and phrases too! How great is it to see Clark rip open his shirt, revealing the S-shield, and then shouting 'this is a job for Superman'.

Brainiac then shoots Superman with Periwinkle Kryptonite which makes Superman suddenly become a suave, debonair, romantic devil, sweeping Lois off and dancing with her ... at least for the short time he is under its effects.

A Lois/Clark(Superman) romance is always welcome.

Now last month, the awesome doors were blown off the hinges when Baltazar and Franco brought Lara back. And here she is, making the rounds, saying hi to everyone who has missed her. Love that middle panel with Supergirl!

Funny how I can roll with this here. If Lara returned in the main books, I would be apoplectic. Here, she is simply Auntie Lara come home!

Brainiac brings the fight to the Fortress, enlarging the Brainiac bug from last issue to monstrous proportions. While the Family (including Bizarro!) battles the bug, Superman bashes the main ship.

I find it interesting how Brainiac has slowly evolved into a Kryptonian origin. Was it first seen in the Superman:The Animated Series? I love how Lara chastises Brainiac for these attacks. It is an attack against his own family. Fascinating.

Just when it looks like the Brainiac/Luthor team is going to win, Lex semi-switches sides. He realizes that he should be the one to defeat Superman ... him and only him ... and so he hits Brainiac with the shrinking ray rather than Superman.

That sort of narcissism, that obsession, is a key feature of Lex. Like with the heroes, Baltazar and Franco get Lex too.

And with that, Lex disappears. And while the main Brainiac body gets taken in to Kandor for some Kryptonian judgment, a Brainiac drone is seen walking from the ship.

A dangerous combo indeed!

But the best moment in the book comes at the end.

All along it has been implied that Lois knows Clark is Superman. Here, we basically get proof. Lois brings Clark the periwinkle Kryptonite and enjoys some romantic dancing with the mild mannered reporter. Why bring Clark the K-chunk unless she knows.

We have three issues left. Could Baltazar and Franco give is a reveal? A wedding? I hope they do.

As usual, no complaints here. Just solid characterization, great fun, and some action.

So ... why exactly is this book going away?

Overal grade: B+


Martin Gray said...

Why is the book going away? Because it knocks the New 52 Superman comics into a cocked hat, showing them up - it's sheer joy.

I'm not keen on Brainiac's modern ties to Krypton, what's wrong with Colu? Also, I get tired of modern comics tying major villains into the hero's origins (eg GL).

Then again, it did allow Lara to display a new super-power - Super-Guilt!

Top review.

Gear said...

Nice review ANJ.  Superman Family Adventures is a constant breath of fresh air, I am really going to miss this book.

Martin, I wonder if the trend toward tying major villains into the hero's origin is tied into writers thinking that success comes from imitating success rather than being original.  Batman seems to be the model for today's grim characters, so the Batman/Joker relationship becomes the model.  I know I prefer the original too.

Ravenwynd said...

Another great fun issue. It is such a shame this is being cancelled.

Gene said...

"So ... why exactly is this book going away?"

Because DC can't have nice things.

Martin Gray said...

Cheers, Gear!