Friday, September 19, 2008

Action Comics #869 Review

Creative Team
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Gary Frank
Inker: Jon Sibal
Colorist: Brad Anderson

Issue Rating
Story: 8.7/10
Art: 9/10
Overall: 8.85/10

Issue Summary
Braniac's space ship continues its attack on Metropolis and starts to release pods containing Brainiac's robots to attack the citizens. At the Daily Planet Brainiac's robots attack the Daily Planet's employees and Supergirl and Lois on the roof. Even though Supergirl is shaking with her fear of Brainiac she still attacks his robots to buy Lois time to escape.

Inside of Brainiac's ship Superman is having head squeezed by Brainiac. Brainiac downloads all of Superman's memories including his fears. As Brainiac threatens the Earth Superman grabs and bits the cord in the back of Brainiac's head of and punches him into one of his pods. Superman then goes to find the Bottled City of Kandor.

When Superman finds the city an odd psychic connection happens and someone starts to talk to Superman. Superman first thinks it might be his father but it is actually Zor-El and his wife Alura the parents of Supergirl. Zor-El explains that unlike the rest of Krypton he and his wife did heed Jor-El's warning of the disaster that would destroy Krypton and used some of Brainiac's technology that was recovered by General Zod to created a force field to protect Argo City. When the force field was activated Brainiac sensed his technology being used and integrated Argo city with Kandor. But before Brainiac finished the integration process Zor-El and Alura saved Kara by placing her in a spaceship so she could escape and be with her baby cousin Kal-El.

As Zor-El finishes his story Brainiac recovers and attacks Superman again. Brainiac reveals that the body Superman has been fighting is nothing but a shell Brainiac was using to fight Superman with and that his body and mind are the ship itself.

Back at Metropolis Supergirl is becoming overwhelmed by Brainiac's robots and even with a timely save from Lois is captured by Brainiac. Brainiac then proceeds to shrink and place Metropolis and its citizens in a bottle like he did to Kandor.

A captured Superman is in a trance and being fed as much information into his by Brainiac until he becomes overloded by all the information and become brain dead. As Brainiac does this he also launches one of his Solar-Aggressor machines towards the sun to make it explode and incinerate Earth just like Krypton. The issue ends with Superman coming out of his trance and giving Brainiac a look like he is about to kick some serious ass.

Highlights of the Issue
"Superman pulls a Mike Tyson on Brainiac."

"Supergirl has turned into the new Hawkman with all the retelling of her origin."

"The Bottle City of Metropolis!"

"Who ever said 'knowledge is power' hasn't met Brainiac"

Action Comics #869 was another great read. Like I have said before Geoff Johns is turning in one of the best Superman stories in a long time and setting things in motion for the next big Superman story "New Krypton." If you still have not picked up this story yet due yourself a favor and pick this story since this only part four and I am sure you can find the other three issue in stock in your comic shop.

One of the problems I have had with Superman is that he has never really had villains, outside of Lex Luthor, Apocalypse, and General Zod, that could hurt Superman physically and emotionally. To be honest for as popular as Superman is, his Rogue Gallery is not very deep and/or as rich as other superheroes like Batman, Spider-Man, or Flash. The villains Superman usually fight are either super strong, i.e. Doomsday, or use kryptonite to weaken him and then beat him up, i.e. Metallo, which leads to most Superman stories to be boring and predictable.

That is certainly not the case here with Brainiac who has been one of Superman's more underutilized villains. In this story not only is Brainiac a threat due to his super genious IQ but also because he may actually be physically stronger than Superman. Even when it looks like Superman finally has Braniac down for the count Johns reveals that the Brainiac Superman was fighting was nothing more than a organic shell Brainiac was using just to be a physical presence to Superman. I love that the Braniac turned out to be the space ship it self and not some androind or organic being.

This twist in the story really makes me wonder how in the hell Superman is going to take down in the next issue since it is the last issue of the story. Even with the look of determination in Superman's eyes I don't think he alone can take down Brainiac. To be sure Supergirl will play a part in helping to take down Brainiac but even with her help its hard to see that those two alone can beat Brainiac in Supergirl's current state of fear. But I trust Johns will have something up his sleeve and not have Brainiac go down like a punk in the next issue.

Now the other interesting development in this issue was the presence of both of Supergirl's parents being alive. I did not expect that. With Zor-El and Alura still alive it places both Supergirl and Superman in a tough spot once they release the surviving their remaining family and fellow Kryptonians. It is going to be especially hard for Superman because his alligences are going to be questioned the most of chosing Earth the planet were he was raised, shown to be a man, and all thr people he loves are or choose the Krypton the planet he was born in.

Now the only problem I had with this issue is that we were again presented another origin story of Supergirl. This was the second retelling of her origin in one week since this weeks Brave and the Bold issue also retells her origin. I get that DC wants the reader to be emotionally invested with her character but to continue retell her origin is not the way to do it, especially twice in the same week. It was this part of the issue that really keep the issue from being rated a 9 or 9.5.

But even with this slight problem I had with the issue Johns is probably the first writer to actually make me like the Supergirl character. Before this story I have thought she was just an annoying Superman lite. But here I really like that Johns has given her character depth with her constant fear of Brainiac which has prevented her from fighting at 100%. Even when she tries to put on a brave face the fear she has is always present. But that fear might change to determination when she finds out her parents are still alive.

Now praise has to go to Gary Frank, Jon Sibal, and Brad Anderson for bringing Johns story to life with the art. The art in this issue was just awsome. I especially love how Frank's draws the fear in Supergirl's eyes right before she fights Brainiac's robots. Also the scene were Brainiac is holding a shurken Metropolis bottled up like Kandor was also great spread.