Superman: Brainiac

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On today’s installment of, “What Didn’t Geoff Johns Write for DC?”we’re met with a Superman storyline from Action Comics.  I didn’t have many expectations for this comic, thinking it’d just be a seemingly self-contained storyline about another meeting between Superman and Brainiac.

Silly Jess. When will you learn?

There’s a meeting between the pair, sure, but this comic is so much more than your standard “Superman fights a bad guy and saves the world” schtick.  I knew it would be something more when Supergirl points out that Superman has never actually met Brainiac before. He’s met his clones, his programming, but never him.  I knew then that clearly Johns was leading up to that crucial meeting.

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The two come face to face and Brainiac actually bests Superman. Captured, Brainiac learns the location of Earth and plans on destroying the planet, after capturing Metropolis and converting it into a bottle city.

Oh yeah, did I not mention that? He hoards them for their knowledge, retaining a single city while destroying the rest of the world.  He has dozens collected, and Superman is surprised to find that Kandor is not the only Kryptonian city under Brainiac’s care.

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Argo City is still in tact, along with Supergirl’s parents.  The implications of this revelation are pretty astounding. Superman has come a long way from his “last son of Krypton” days, with cities full of Kryptonians now, some of whom are close relatives.  In typical Superman fashion, Clark saves Earth as well as the bottle cities, helping preserve countless worlds from complete annihilation. Of course, while all of these world-saving events are happening, a heart-breaking scene is playing out on Earth.

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While Superman is saving the world, his father dies of a heart attack.

I didn’t want to believe it. I kept hoping he’d be shown in the hospital, weak but alive.  His life has been threatened before, but he’s always pulled through.   This time though, Jonathan Kent succumbed, plunging Clark into a well of grief as he struggles to deal with this loss.

This scene shocked me, and took a lot for me to accept. It felt so tacked on to the story. There was no build-up, no heightened sense of drama. Jonathan Kent just died with no-one but his wife around.  But then, isn’t this how it usually happens? He’s been in a handful of situations where his life is hanging in the balance for days, weeks, months on end. Here though, his death feels realistic because there’s no build-up, and so the impact is that much more powerful.  My heart ached for Clark and the pain he was feeling, because we’ve all experienced a similar loss, or have known someone who has.  This is a universal pain, one which we mere humans can understand as much as Superman.  I didn’t expect to come across such an emotional moment in this comic, and yet it somehow managed to flow perfectly. I may not like it, but I can’t deny its resonance.

This comic surprised me, tugging at my heart strings more than I could have expected. True, the Brainiac portion wasn’t quite as poignant as Jonathan Kent’s death, but it was a solid story nonetheless.  The further explanation of who Brainiac is and what he does was welcome, and if there’s any sort of a silver lining in the story, at least Kara has her family back. I want to hate the ending, but even I can’t deny that this was  destined to happen sooner or later.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go watch some cartoons to lift my spirits after this truly sad ending. RIP Jonathan Kent.




One thought on “Superman: Brainiac

  1. Jonathan’s death still bothers me. This was a period where I’d come to feel that “my” Superman had been/was being done away with, in favor of moving the character back to more of a “pre-Crisis” version of the character, after Infinite Crisis. The heightened powers, playing down the Clark Kent side, killing off Jonathan, etc.

    I agree with what you said about how the suddenness and all making it that much more authentic, and I, too, cannot deny that.

    I know I keep saying it in my many comments, but I continue to look forward to your thoughts on stuff as you catch up, knowing myself what you’re about to get into…


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