Action Comics #869 (2008)

Action Comics #869 (November, 2008)
“Brainiac, Part 4: Mind Over Matter”
Writer – Geoff Johns
Penciller – Gary Frank
Inker – Jon Sibal
Letterer – Rob Leigh
Colorist – Brad Anderson
Associate Editor – Nachie Castro
Editor – Matt Idelson
Cover Price: $2.99

Well, here’s an issue with a cover that proceeds itself, eh?

Many folks might remember that this bugger caused quite a stir back in ye’ old 2008.  It depicted Superman and Pa Kent having an evening chat… each holding a beer.  Wha-wha?

Yeah… there was a bit of backlash against this… folks didn’t want to see Superman with a beer, and so… there was a recall and reissue… with some very poorly Photoshopped “Soda Pop” labels added to their… very brown bottles.

The updated image almost appears annoyed at the backlash… as, if we look at it… how hard would it have been to make that label say “Root Beer”?  I mean, just take a look:

Oh well… whattayagonnado?  Apparently, 1,000 copies of the “beer cover” made it out into the world… so, if you managed to get your hands on one, make sure to get that bugger slabbed.

Where do I stand on the non-troversy?  Well… I really don’t have a problem with Clark sharing a beer with his father, but I’ll admit… I’m not exactly torn up about it being changed to soda.

Picking up where we left off yesterday, Brainiac’s skull-ship has arrived in the skies over Metropolis… and it’s causing quite a mess!  On the rooftop of the Daily Planet, Supergirl looks on in shock… this isn’t the first time she’s experienced… or at least heard about something like this.  She insists Lois leave while she still can, as she prepares to fight off the Brainiac-bots.

Meanwhile, inside the ship, Brainiac appears to have Superman in some sort of claw-hold… pressing his thumbs into Superman’s temples… to the point where he begins to bleed!  He mocks Superman for being Kryptonian… but acting human.  He insists that no matter how powerful he (Brainiac) becomes, he would never assume to be anything but Coluan.  Superman’s had about enough… and bites through Brainy’s… er, umbilical-like cord? 

Luckily, this is enough to cause Brainiac enough distress to back off.  Superman then punches the baddie right through the pod he’d come out of.  With him out of the way… he looks through Brainiac’s “collection” in search of Kandor.  He is drawn to one bottle in particular by the sound of… his father’s voice?  Well, not exactly… he learns that it’s actually the voice of his uncle, Zor-El… Supergirl’s father!

It’s here that he (and we) learn that the people of Argo City used Brainiac’s own leftover technology to erect a dome over their city… which is how they escaped the devastation of Krypton.  Pretty sneaky, huh?

Some time passed… and Brainiac kinda “homed in” on his dome-y tech.  He approached the floating Argo City, and began to integrate it into Kandor.  It’s at this point, Zor-El and Alura sent their daughter Kara to Earth.  Everything’s being woven together… and I’m digging the heck out of it.

Superman continues to listen to his uncle’s story, until Brainiac recovers and resumes his attack.  In Metropolis, Supergirl continues to hold off the bots… until she is brain-probed.  Lucky for her, Lois didn’t heed her warning… and slams the attacking bot with a fire extinguisher.  She then looks skyward… and realizes that a dome is growing over the city!

It looks as though Brainiac has won!

What an awesome page!

His final act for this chapter is… taking care of Earth’s pesky Sun (just as he’d done with all of the other cities he’d added to his collection).  In Smallville, the Kents see a red blur heading toward the Sun.

Another great installment as we rocket toward the conclusion of Brainiac!

As mentioned yesterday… this definitely feels decompressed, however, I can’t get mad at it!  The pacing all feels pretty perfect.  Of course, this time around we’re not only looking at this once a month… I’m sure that affected the way I received it back in ’08.

So…what do we have here?  Well, we get some new “lore”, for starters.  The people of Argo City were able to nab some of Brainiac’s leftover tech… and used it to erect a dome over themselves.  This protected them from the destruction of Krypton… and would ultimately lead to their being discovered, and integrated into the bottle city of Kandor.  I dig that.  I really like it when everything is connected… probably why I’m so stuck on continuity… eh, pobody’s nerfect, right?

The cliffhanger we get here… actually feels important!  Metropolis has been “collected”, and just as he’s done every other time he added something to his collection, Brainiac sets to putting out the Sun.  We gotta remember, he needs to wipe out the planet/galaxy entirely so that he’s the only one with the knowledge.  Very sinister… and I really dig it!

Overall… this Brainiac story, as said several times before, feels like a modern classic.  Definitely recommended.  Johns and Frank feel like a real dream team here… and, even though we’re in the “nebulous interim” between Infinite Crisis and Secret Origin… this feels like “must” reading.

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