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Action Comics #868

Posted: Thursday, August 14, 2008
By: Erik Norris

Geoff Johns
Gary Frank (p), Jon Sibal (i), and Brad Anderson (c)
DC Comics
"Brainiac" (part 3)

I want some of the talent juice Geoff Johns is drinking. Geoff, if youíre reading this, can you spare some? Seriously, I think every reviewer on the planet has used the expression, ďI donít want to sound like a broken record,Ē when describing Johns latest epic in the pages of Action Comics, but heís seriously left us no choice. You hear me Geoff, youíre making us sound like crappy writers! It seriously takes me minutes of staring into space, one eye twitching, to find one single minuscule fault, or something I can ďfanboyĒ out about with one of Geoffís Superman comics. His handle of this fictional character is masterful, Action Comics #868 just yet another example.

The book opens with another great Daily Planet sequence. These usually end up being my favorite moments of each issue, and this one lives up to that standard. I love Johnsí reintroduction of Cat Grant, and her confrontation with Supergirl here is hilarious. While itís a plot device to get Supergirl active in the story, itís also an amazing character piece for Cat; showing just how jealous, fake, egotistical, and downright bitchy she is. While itís odd that Kara has never come across breast implants, or itís a matter of her simply playing dumb and being sarcastic, she completely slams Cat, hilariously knocking her right off her high horse. Seeing all the interns of the Daily Planet completely shift gears towards Supergirlís youthful beauty, compared to Catís Visa purchased assets was a great choice by Johns to open the latest issue with. It really sets a playful tone which makes the conversation between Supergirl and Lois all the more poignant. Just knowing Kara has been searching frantically for her cousin really brings the scope of this story back into focus right in time for the shift in setting to Brainiacís skull-head ship.

The pages that follow are a real showcase for Gary Frank as there are little to no words as Kal-El wakes from his probing at the hands of Brainiac. Supes get a vision of what has happened to every planet Brainiac harvests for knowledge and pops right out of his coma, pissed off. The three panels that show Superman removing a probe from his mouth are horribly disgusting, just as they should be, and show how alien and unforgiving Brainiac is in his methods.

Then we get Superman versus a monkey. Yes, you read that right, Superman tussles with an ape like creature all the while delivering a hilarious line thatís perfectly suited for the Christopher Reeve version of the character. With how Gary Frank draws Superman, that line made me realize just how much I miss Chris Reeve playing the big blue boy-scout. It sucks big time, but with the creative duo of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank on Action Comics, I get to imagine what it would be like to see Reeve don the costume again, every single month.

Now remember when I said that it takes me a long time to find anything to bicker about with Johnsí work on Action Comics? Well here it is: the design for the real Brainiac. The page leading to Brainiacís reveal is absolutely mind-blowing. We have Superman, extremely confident because he knows this song and dance, go completely speechless and in awe as he is overshadowed by Brainiac. However, when I turned the page and Brainiac is finally revealed, I became slightly disappointed. Donít get me wrong, his outfit is great, but Brainiac as a hulking Neanderthal? I mean, he even mentions he hasnít left his bio-shell in five centuries. How the hell did he stay so fit? Itís a tiny design nitpick that led to slight disappointment, then completely forgotten once the story picked up from that point.

Action Comics #868 was another great addition to ďBrainiac.Ē I think my favorite moment was Jonathan and Marthaís cryptic conversation on the farm and how it foreshadows that everything wonít be the same after this story wraps. Even the cliffhanger helps add to that notion with the entire city of Metropolis in a deep state of, ďOh sh*t, this is bad.Ē Action Comics continues to be one of the best superhero titles on the stands, so get out there and pick it up if you donít already. Itís stories like these that show how great a character Superman is, and why he is still vital to American pop-culture. How is that for a compliment?



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