Friday, April 12, 2024

Review: Action Comics #1064

Action Comics #1064, the first part of the House of Brainiac arc, came out this week and was an unbelievably fantastic issue on many levels. If there was ever a 'jumping on' Superman comic, something to recommend to friends, it's this one.

This is how you start a mini-event perhaps designed to bring in new readers. Showcase everything that there is to love about the main character - here Superman's earnestness, his geekiness, his heroism. Give a glimpse of the cast of the book. Ramp the action up to 10. Introduce the main villain and have there be a serious threat on the horizon. Sprinkle in some mysteries and you have a crackling open chapter.

Here, Brainiac arrives with a Czarian army to grab 'the smartest personin Metropolis ... it isn't Lex or Superman. Brainiac is looking for some missing piece of information. It is all out mayhem in Metropolis involving the entire Superman family. The book ends on a doozy of a last page. 

But if that wasn't enough, there are small and some big nods to Superman history. Let's start with a 'triangle' chapter number on this cover, so reminiscent of the beloved Triangle Era of the Man of Steel. We are reminded this is a Superman family. There's some mysteries solved and mysteries introduced. Supergirl really shines. It's spectacular.

Rafa Sandoval is on art and he picks up right where he left off when he was on the book with Phillip Kennedy Johnson. The character moments are wonderful and fun. The action sequences are bold and loud. Sandoval does a great Supergirl to boot.

So hang on to your boots for some highlights!

When Phillip Kennedy Johnson was on the book, it really felt like a Superman Family book. 

The book opens with Lois enjoying her first day off in at least a year. As she runs through the city, she interacts with the entirety of the supporting cast. It's so big it sometimes seems a little unwieldy. So this is such a simple little trick to show us everyone, including the staff of SuperCorp and some villains. I love it.

And Kara going on a date???? As a Kara fan, I need to know about this ! ('Epic high five' is fun.)

Then it's pages of Superman flying over the ocean near a pod of dolphins, flying down a totally tubular wave, even flying over a sporting event and high-fiving a young boy. It is such a great way of showing who Superman is.

Lois wants to spend her day off doing yoga in Centennial Park with Clark, Jimmy, and Siobhan.

But why this day? What is it an anniversary of ???

This was such a tiny moment but as a fan of Lois and Clark, I need to know!

Sandoval gives all these pages an easy, breezy feel. Which is in stark contrast to the carnage ahead.

The yoga date is interrupted by an army of Czarians and Brainiac drones literally falling from the sky to attack. Just like that, the super-family's day of relaxation ends. 

I love this scene. Superman actually turns to Supergirl for advice since she has 'more experience' with Brainiac. I have talked about how in the last year, Kara seems to be sort of second in command of the family, a field commander. So this was great.

But it Brainiac monitoring everything and he wants the Czarian general Checal to capture the smartest person in the city.

At Supercorp, we learn that LL-01, the AI Lex, was actually Brainiac. And that Lex incited the Luthor Revenge Squad to attack to try and prep Superman for some Brainiac plot Lex found out about. Now that is a nice thread to pull.

Can I also say that I should have guessed this. When we first met LL-01, I wondered why Lex would be dressed in a Kryptonian like garb. I assumed it was a little needling by Lex but I should have realized it was a clue. Lex would never do that. Kudos Joshua Williamson.

At Supercorp, the Brainiac army isn't after Lex. They're after Lena.

I just love the visual of Brainiac's prison/teleportation guns. They are bottles. 

How 100% Brainiac to bottle his prisoners. 

As a Supergirl fan, this was my favorite moment of the book. 

Kara says she used to be afraid of Brainiac but that was a long time ago. Love Sandoval's action here of her frying a drone. And love her expression in the last panel. 

I mean this has to be referencing Geoff John's Brainiac saga. But that was 16 years ago, one of the first stories I covered on this blog. 

What is interesting is that this seems to completely skip the New 52 Supergirl continuity. I suppose that the whole DC Rebirth movement, the more recent Dawn of DC era, sort of picked up on the more classic plots. 

16 years ago ... a lifetime ago. I might need to do a post looking at that time again. 

Unfortunately Brainiac captures all the super-powered beings in Metropolis. The entire Super-family present and even Metallo, the Parasite, Mercy Graves, the Silver Banshee, and Livewire are grabbed.

And just when it looks like General Checal is going to capture Superman, Lex does something noble. Lex runs into the beam and gets bottled. He wants Superman to rescue Lena. 

The main thrust of this title has been Lex being a sort of partner to Superman, trying to be better. I have wondered the whole time if he was above board. This act is a bit selfish (would he have done this if Lena hadn't been grabbed) but is also selfless. For all he knows, he is heading to his death.

Lex being Lex.

What information is Brainiac missing? What will it do? 

Check out this last page. 

On Brainiac's ship are all the Brainiacs. All the continuity Brainiacs. 


Talk about a great hook to make me want to read more immediately. 

Now THAT is a great chapter one. 

I can only hope that the rest of the arc is of this quality and intensity.

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

Excellent review, excellent comic. This was a winner all the way down the line, this looks to be a good storyline… well, we need a big ‘fingers crossed’ so far as the Power Girl issues go.

Am I going bonkers? I thought we had the LL-01: Brainiac revelation about a month ago… maybe I saw a preview of this one.

And yes, who is Supergirl’s date?

Anj said...

If the LL-01 reveal already happened, I completely missed it!

Anonymous said...

This will have to be in two parts, so here's part 1:

Overall, I would agree that this is a very good issue. There is however one thing that's bothered me about Action Comics' storytelling: using an actual or attempted kidnapping of at least one of the Super Twins as a plot point. This is now the fourth time in almost a year that it's happened, and frankly it's starting to get boring because of how predictable it is. If you don't get what I'm saying, think about this for a second. In Action Comics 1048 and 1049, the main event is a a battle between the New Gods to kidnap Osul because he has the "Fire of Olgrun." In the subsequent Metallo arc, both Osul and Otho get kidnapped by Metallo in Action Comics 1054. After that, Otho gets kidnapped by Janan Al Ghul in Action Comics 1059, and the next two issues are mostly about Clark's attempts to rescue her. Now we get yet another kidnapping of the twins right at the beginning of the plot.

To be clear, I'm not saying that kidnapping the twins is intrinsically a bad idea for motivating the Super Family or something that shouldn't be portrayed. I'm just saying that at this point it's an idea that's been overused. Please give us more stories that involve the twins being featured as something other than hostages to be rescued. I say that as a huge fan of them who thinks they're the best lasting legacy of the PJK run.

From a narrative perspective the twins provide a chance for us to see Clark and Lois in a genuine parental role raising kids with de facto Kryptonian superpowers in a way that's no longer possible with Jon given his sudden aging to adulthood. They also present an opportunity to show us the genuinely alien side of the family by demonstrating how culturally alienated they are from American/Earth culture given their upbringing on Warworld. At the same time, they also present a fascinating challenge to the rest of the family's Kryptonian members by not only thinking about how they can get the kids to assimilate to American culture, but in the process of doing so how confronting each of them with the question of how and by what degree they have actually truly assimilated into American culture. Watching Superman and Lois raise a daughter is also quite interesting since that's something that's only been very rarely portrayed in a few Elseworlds stories. By extension, seeing how Otho develops a fully adult sense of self as she grows up - particularly in the context of her having Kara and "Paige"/Karen as prior examples of how Kryptonian descended women might do so and could advise her - would be fascinating to see because it would be an unprecedented chance to see the journey from youth to maturity for a de facto Kryptonian powered girl. The twins' internal relationship also presents some interesting material for exploration, especially in the context of whether one of them wishes to become more independent of the other as they grow older and build more relationships outside of that core bond. Finally, the twins present an interesting opportunity to explore how some of the DCU's younger members relate to the Kryptonian contingent of that universe. I for one would be particularly interested to see a new "Super Kids" series featuring the kids and Damian, in particular because I'd like to see how Damian with all of his cynicism and arrogance confronts Otho with all of her own cynicism and brashness.

Anonymous said...

Part 2:

None of this is to say that this is a bad issue. Rather, it's more to note that at this point the twins' narrative potential has been somewhat wasted. Aside from a few minor cameos in Steelworks, the Power Girl Special, the Supergirl Special, and Josh Williams' Superman comic, it seems like they haven't been allowed to grow that much beyond being subjects for other people to rescue. A really sad reflection of this is that when DC decided to create a new comic series prominently featuring young characters, they picked the "Sinister Sons" instead of the twins. I can't say enough how much I think that whole concept and it's subsequent execution are stupid, and by contrast how much better a youth oriented series featuring the twins might have been. Hoping for DC to give us a series that focuses on fleshing out the twins' character and relationships might be too much, but at a minimum I do that one day DC gives us stories that develop their characterization without resorting to just making them potential or actual hostages for the rest of the super family to rescue.

Anonymous said...

This was all fine until Supergirl got bottled, typical DC they always make sure to take her off the board in the first issue of any mini in which she might play a part. I am kind of sick of it really, because it reduces Supergirl from being a character (even a supporting character) to being an inconvenient detail that has to be accounted for, in order to make Superman's narrative more exciting.
But honestly (and if this sounds angry, apologies) why would we ever expect anything else from DC Comics??


Anonymous said...

Supergirl will have a role in Action 1065 at least:

"Superman and Lobo have their hands full with Brainiac’s Lobo army, so it’s up to Supergirl and Conner Kent to stop Brainiac himself! It’s an impossible battle, but they are joined by some unexpected and deadly allies!"

They are depicted working together on the cover.

I hope they get enough panels, but I suppose there's a good chance the "unexpected and deadly allies" will bail them out of trouble.


Anonymous said...

Williamson has said that Kara will play a pretty big role so she’ll not be bottled long.

Anj said...

Thanks for continued comments.

Anon - I agree with the twins dilemma although at least here everyone is kidnapped, not just them. I'm actually just glad they are still in the book. I worried whoever came after PKJ would just shunt them away.

And TN - yes, Kara was bottled quickly but so was everybody. I'll cover the Williamson comments soon. But it sounds like he has big plans.