Thursday, January 6, 2022

Review: Superman '78 #5

Superman '78 #5 came out last week and was an excellent penultimate chapter in this six issue mini-series. The second to last chapters have an important job in stories like this. They have to move the plot forward enough so that the story can be wrapped up in the finale. 

Here writer Robert Venditti and artist Wilfredo Torres bring us to the brink. Superman is brought back from Kandor, He meets Brainiac in battle. We get a decent cliffhanger. But Venditti also brings us, as he has throughout this book, wonderful personal moments and solid character beats. 

Wilfredo Torres also gets to shine here. The back half of the book is the sort of brawl I wished to see in a Reeve Superman movie. He tosses in a bunch of Easter Eggs too ... Richard Pryor (from Superman III), Barney Miller, and Shaggy. His likenesses are spot on with (for me) his Jackie Cooper the best. 

There's a lot to be wrapped up next issue. What happens with Brainiac? With his cities? What happens to Lex? Will we see a Lois/Superman romantic moment? But I think the way this issue plays out, there will be plenty of room to cover all the bases.

On to the book.

I have been cheering how much Superman has basically proclaimed Earth his home and Ma and Pa his parents to his birth parents on Kandor. 

But I love the scenes between Jor-El and Kal. Lara has been hugging her long lost son and wishing Superman would stay on Kandor. Jor-El has been a bit more stand offish. Here we finally seem him melt a little, saying he just isn't good with words, with sharing his feelings. Beautifully rendered there by Torres.

Even better is Superman saying that Jor doesn't need to talk. That tape of instruction Kal listened to on his journey said it all. He loves his father and knows his father loves him.

I like these family moments.

Meanwhile, Metropolis has been uprooted, floating in the air, and about to be miniaturized.

Another high point of the book has been the pitch perfect representation of the Gene Hackman Lex Luthor. He is simultaneously brilliant and ludicrous, boastful and ridiculous. 

He seems to be outside the city and ready to take on Brainiac. But he is going to get there in a hot air balloon. How low tech! It is the perfect dichotomy for this Lex. (Of course he used a balloon in the Donner flicks.) And I love Torres take on the classic purple Bronze Age costume.

Lois meanwhile holds out hope.

Some comic book science talk later and Superman is ready to be re-grown to take on Brainiac.

We get another great Jor-El moment. When we first met him in Kandor, he was a broken man. Now seeing what Superman has become has given him hope.

Superman inspiring hope in Jor-El! That's excellent.

Now normal size, Superman confronts Brainiac.

I love the 'General, would you care to step outside' pose here. Even the angle with him towering/floating over Brainiac looks like the scene from Superman II. That's his power move! You know things are gonna get rough! 

Love it! My favorite panel in the book. 

Nice callback to the prior page with Lex now wondering what took Superman so long.

But I really like the love and faith Lois has. 

Still, I am tickled by Lex going to fight the space computer tyrant in a balloon!

Brainiac finally says that humanity have proven themselves to be unfit to self-govern.

He has to bottle us and destroy us. 

Great design here. The three circles, evocative of the animated version. The classic Silver Age look. And the striped bands on the arm definitely seem to homage the spiked pants of that original era.

His motivations though are very similar to what we have gotten recently.

After trouncing several Brainiac drones which look like the late Bronze Age skull design, it comes down to a one on one fight. Who will win? Superman? Or Brainiac in battle armor?

I think we know the answer. 

But this is a good cliffhanger. I have to assume the physical threat will end quickly leaving the rest of the pages to sort out all the other plot threads. Will Kandor end up in the Fortress? Regrown on Rokyn?

This series has been something special. I am sad to see it go and can only hope we get more. I want a sequel already! And maybe put this team on a Supergirl '84 book!

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

This book is the joy of my heart, I can literally "hear" Chris Reeve's voice, Margot Kidder's Voice and most especially Gene Hackman's voice alternately bombastic, Sarcastic & at once craven. That's a considerable achievement, especially considering most of that core cast is no longer with us. I really hope DC revisits this setting because there is a lot here worth seeing and a lot worth "Getting Right a Second Time".

Here is hoping


William Ashley Vaughan said...

I think Lex knows exactly what he is doing using a hot air balloon. No computers for Brainiac to hack. Of course, he probably has brought along self-contained Lextech for whatever dirty plan he has in mind.

Anj said...

Great point about a balloons being Brainiac-proof.

And yes, the voices of the characters are spot on so I hear the actors!