Friday, April 19, 2024

Review: Superman #13

Superman #13 came out this week, the second chapter of the House of Brainiac storyline and another winner, especially if you are a Supergirl fan.

The arc started just last week with an absolutely crackling opening chapter, full of action and mystery. Writer Joshua Williamson and artist Rafa Sandoval keep their creative feet on the gas, cranking everything up. We get some new information to continue to build the story. We get new mysteries, including a big one about Brainiac's motivations. And there is still a lot of action, showing just how scary Superman would be if he sort of lost his filters. 

In comics, there is more than action and plot. There is characterization. Seeing Superman seethe over Brainiac's attack and take out some of his frustration on Lobo was tremendous. It humanizes Superman a little. And hearing Lobo be a sort of amateur therapist was also fantastic. 

But the biggest win in this comic was Williamson's take on Supergirl. She is confident. She is angry, appropriately so given her history with Brainiac. She is brash, willing to take risks to fight her foe. She's young and learning. We even hear about a history with Brainiac 5, something we haven't seen in a long time. That shows that Williamson is knowledgeable of her history and respects it. Heck, even the cliffhanger is a Supergirl moment.

I have been singing Rafa Sandavol's work for a while now. He really is shining here. It's like he has elevated his game, bringing in more layered and detail to his work, perhaps because he was given time to do this whole arc? 

On to the book.

The book starts with Lobo causing a ruckus at Guy Gardner's Warriors bar. But then Superman shows up. Czarians attacked Metropolis. Maybe Lobo can lead Superman to them.

It's a great scene with Superman basically opening up on Lobo in a style that is more brutal than I am used to seeing. He doesn't have time to convince Lobo. It's go time with the Main Man. That lack of control showed me that Superman means business.

Sandoval brings great energy to the fight with Superman looking angry and impatient.

And Lobo paraphrasing Casablanca? Win.

Meanwhile, on Brainiac's satellite, the Coluan is experimenting on the super-powered beings he kidnapped. We see him basically torturing Livewire.

Check out the miniaturized and bottled Supergirl though. She isn't having any of it.

She basically says, even tiny and depowered, she is going to mop the floor with Brainiac. I love it. 

What do I like about Supergirl? She is young and learning and not always polished. Her being this defiant is wonderful characterization for her. She has seen Brainiac attack her planet. She should be angry.

But then we get one big old puzzle piece.

Brainiac tells Supergirl he has learned all their is to know in the universe and now wants to create something. As he says this, he seems to overheat or short-circuit. He isn't well. In fact, the other versions of Brainiac carry him to a healing tank.

I can't help but wonder if Brainiac is somehow being used by someone else here, forced to do something he doesn't necessarily want to or reprogrammed to do something.

And create what??? More on that later.

Lobo agrees to help Superman find the other Czarians.

That's because the Czarian General Chacal is a sort of legend on his homeworld, a brutal warrior who took over a city that disappeared. Sounds like that city was taken by Brainiac. 

Why would Chacal work for Brainiac? And how is he still alive unless you don't age in the bottle?

Flying off to space, Lobo actually comments on the ferocity of Superman's attack before.

I sort of like that Lobo is giving Superman a little advice here. You can't bury anger all the time. Sometimes you have to deal with it or explode.

Hmmm ... 

I think I will remember this moment. Somehow I think this is going to be a key later, either for Superman or Supergirl.

Brainiac talked about creating something.

Coming out of the healing tank, he walks by this tube. It seems to have a female form. We know that Queen Brainiac is around the corner. 

Is she controlling him or manipulating him somehow? I don't think Brainiac wants to not be in charge.

Superman shows up with Lobo and Brainiac's Czarian army engages.

On the ship, we see that Lex wants to save his daughter and is willing to sacrifice Superman to that end.

This whole Williamson run has been Lex trying to improve himself and ally himself with Superman.

So is this a reversion to the old Lex? Or a feint?

Another good thread for this story. Who is the real Lex?

The issue ends with Kara deciding to take matters into her own hand.

She still has the Brainiac drone skull from her battle last issue. Now, using facts from a future Brainiac she was close to, she is able to open her and Conner's bottle. (Although the results aren't as spectacular as she hoped.)

Great cliffhanger. 

But let's not bury the lede. Somewhere and somewhen, in continuity, Kara cared for a future Brainiac. A Kara/Brainiac 5 romance happened. Long Live the Legion! And kudos to Williamson for respecting Supergirl's lore.


Another winner.

I'm betting that Brainiac is being manipulated here. He is shorting out, creating the Queen, experimenting on super-beings. None of that sounds like him necessarily. Give me more!

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

Top review! What a spiffy issue, this is a storyline worthy of triangles. Supergirl was on tremendous form here, and I can’t wait to see what Kon-El plans to try with his tactile TK, having chatted to The Chained.

Is Lena maybe being turned into the Brainiac Queen?

From that interview we were reading with Joshua Williamson, it sounds as if he’s fallen a little in love with Kara. Maybe he’s going to be the one to bring her back in her own mag? It’s ridiculous that this wimpy version of Power Girl has more of a comic shop presence than smart, feisty Supergirl.

William Ashley Vaughan said...

Much as I dislike the current version of Power Girl, by tanking in sales it may wear out the welcome of the self-pity and depression approach to superheroes. By taking the hit of a bad run, Power Girl's current debacle may insure that the next Supergirl comic is more like what Williamson is writing now. At least I hope so.

Anonymous said...

Solid Review. I agree with your points, and would like to add the following notes.

- Lois tells Clark, "Go get our friends and family. Get our babies." Not, "the kids," or, "the twins," but, "our babies." Given that Jon wasn't among the kidnapped and that it's very difficult to think of her referring to anybody else other than the Super Twins that way, this makes me believe she's now calling Otho and Osul her babies. That's the strongest proof yet that she's fully accepted the twins as her own children, which is notable because for a lot of the PKJ run it seemed like they were more bonded to Clark and Kara while Lois seemed to feel at times like they were a bit of an obligation unexpectedly foisted on her by Clark. Kudos to Williamson for essentially confirming that the twins really are now fully accepted by both of their adoptive parents.

- Lois also mentions Jon is on a mission with the Titans, but the latest issue of Titans that came out this week doesn't even mention much less feature him. What is this mission, and when did the Titans reach out to him?

- It's fun to see that when they're not doing anything else the Czarnians best idea is to have a giant bar fight. Why Brainiac tolerates something that potentially destructive on board his ship is however a mystery. Maybe this is a sign he has less control over the Czarnians than might be presumed at first glance?

- Do Lobo's comments about Crush indicate he has some actual paternal feelings for her, or does he still basically see her as either a nuisance or tool to be used the way he did in the Lobo and Crush miniseries? Also, will this have any ramifications for Crush's portrayal in her upcoming appearance in Power Girl?