Thursday, October 2, 2014

Back Issue Review: Supergirl #1 - Supergirl Heads To Vandyre University

In anticipation of Supergirl joining the Crucible Academy in November, I  have been making my way through the back issues looking at the times Supergirl entered a new school.

In the 1960s it was Stanhope College.
In the 1980s it was Lake Shore University.
In the 1970s it was Vandyre University. And that new school was introduced here in Supergirl (vol 1) #1, from 1972.

This was Supergirl's first self-titled solo book after almost 4 years of ruling the roost over at Adventure Comics. Interestingly enough, it was released one month after Adventure Comics #424, her last story there. I wonder what spurred the movement to her own title. Did they think Supergirl deserved it after such a long run? Was the plan to turn Adventure back into an anthology book so she needed to move?

Regardless of the reason, this was something of a mini-reboot for Supergirl. She had just quit her job as a reporter/cameraperson for a San Francisco television news crew. It was time for a new start. Despite having graduated from college, it seems that it was time for some more schooling.

And, as this was a new direction, Supergirl got a new creative team. Cary Bates wrote this issue and the bulk of this whole 10 issue run, with a few Arnold Drake and Bob Kanigher stories thrown into the mix. But, the real star of this series is artist Art Saaf who drew the most bodacious, curviest, most va-va-voom Supergirl to date. She really is stunning under his pencil.

There is no better panel to illustrate Saaf's approach to the character than this opening splash page. Kara is radiant as she soars above the Golden Gate Bridge.

But there is something very much cheesecake in this pose, a semi-brokeback view of both her pulchritude and her posterior, a teeny tiny waste. And I am still trying to figure out what is happening with her legs. Still, Saaf is a master of the bombshell Supergirl.

Her life as news reporter is over. So Supergirl is able "to pursue my real ambition ... at last".

Her "real ambition"? As a long time fan, I don't recall Linda pining to be doing something else.

Her real pursuit turns out the be acting? Acting??

And despite her time and degree at Stanhope, Linda hopes to learn her chops at Vandyre University, a school with a Drama major.

Suddenly Supergirl realizes that she needs to move in today! I don't know about Vandyre U. Writing a letter on September 13, sending it out via postal mail, to tell them they need to be in by September 15! Sounds dicey.

Of course, having superpowers makes moving a breeze. In moments, Supergirl has packed up all her stuff and moved it into the school's Delta Zan house (maybe a sorority).

Bates does a good job of setting up a supporting cast. Here we meet Aunt Rosie, the house mother. She seems like a kindly and motherly figure.

And Linda sees the stuff from her roommate Wanda Five, who Rosie call strange ... but nice.

Later, Linda heads to the drama class and is nearly run over by a woman running from the auditorium.

And then we get the first mystery of the book. Linda walks into the class, run by Basil Rasloff, a famous leading man from times past. I have to assume Basil Rasloff is a take off on Boris Karloff.

The scene involves a student 'dying' on stage. But it turns out the student has actually died!!

With no other lead, Supergirl decides to track down the girl who ran from the auditorium. She heads to the dean's office and superspeeds her way through the student files and discovers the person who ran from the scene is none other than Wanda Five!

There is a brief side plot where it turns out the student was being blackmailed. But the blackmailer is not the killer.

Later, Supergirl is drawn mentally to head to a graveyard where she meets Wanda.

It turns out that Wanda has some form of ESP. She was able to mentally concentrate on Supergirl and bring her to the cemetery. Wanda's ESP had kicked in right before the student died. She had rushed there to try to save him.

While talking, Wanda gets another surge of negative energy. Someone else is going to die.

In the goofiest scene, Supergirl streaks with Wanda to the scene. Another drama student is tied to a log heading into a buzzsaw at a lumber mill, like something out of a 1930's serial. Supergirl scoops up the log and makes two shocking discoveries. One, the giant buzzsaw is a plastic prop ... it isn't real. And two, the student is already dead.

Heading to the police station, Supergirl, Wanda, and the police review the crimes.

The first student, a drama major, was killed by poisoned face cream.

The second student, also a drama major, was killed by fear. He had an underlying cardiac condition and the fright of being on a log heading to a buzz saw killed him.

Hmmm ... two drama students killed in odd ways. What could the connection be?? Come on Supergirl, you're better than this.

Well, the connection is discovered. Both were planning a starring role in an upcoming project. And both plays are one which Basil Rathloff starred in.

And, incredibly, the school is planning a third big production of another play Rathloff was famous for. It is clear that Rathloff is killing off young actors doing his plays.

As if on cue, Wanda gets negative thought waves again. Someone is about to be killed. Supergirl begs Wanda for some clues to where it is happening. Luckily, she gets the clues of a crane on the construction site of the new math building.

At last we hear Basil's reasoning. He curses method acting, long hair, and mumbling voices. Hmmm ... I guess Rathloff would really really hate Marlon Brando!

You can tell that Rathloff has a flair for the dramatic in his murders.

The first student died from poison makeup. The second died from fright after being put in a classic hollywood death trap. And here, he is going to drop the last student from a crane onto a bed of nails! Did he make that bed of spikes? Because I can't imagine a reason for something like that to be anywhere like a construction site.

Luckily Supergirl shows up in time to save him and then take out Basil.

Overall, Basil is no threat to Supergirl in any way. This was really more of a mystery tale.

The book ends back in the Delta Zan house where in the last panels we meet the other housemates Sheila Wong and Terry Blake. That is a pretty diverse household for a comic from 1972. Love that about this book.

I love the last panel of Linda, her finger to her face in a classic Supergirl quirk when she is deep in thought. That is a truly lovely Linda.

And Wanda Five... who is she really?

Unfortunately, the Vandyre setting and these characters are never really the focus of this brief series which is more of a one-and-done random adventures.

This issue also had a page of Supergirl fan-designed costumes. Look at those bellbottoms in the lower right.

But more importantly, is the Paul C Ryan design from now famous veteran comic artist Paul Ryan??? The world wants to know!

For me, the big draw to this issue is the art by Saaf which really pops. I mean, a deranged actor isn't exactly Mongul. But it is fun to see Supergirl slightly de-aged again, set up in school, and learning to be an actress. I always kind of felt that her being a reporter in San Francisco was a little too close to Superman. I want Kara to be part of the family but not a clone of him.

This is a book of major importance for a Supergirl collection as it is her first true solo book. While this book lasted only 10 issues, it stands out for the Supergirl collector as her first time as a headliner.

Overall grade: B/B+

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Review: Adventures Of Superman #17

Adventures of Superman #17 came out this week, the last issue of this title which has been a true joy for me. For the last year and a half I could count on this book for showcasing a classic take on Superman, an inspirational figure, a true hero. And this book always seemed to come out just when something particularly odious happened in the main books. Ranging from straightforward 'Supes fighting Brainiac' to more philosophical treatises on Superman as immortal hero, this book stretched my mind and made me glad to be a Superman fan again.

And so it was with a sad heart that I see this book come to an end.

But what a way to end. We have three very different stories, each of high quality, proving that in the right hands we can have a cosmic Superman, a Superman horror story, and a Superman romance story. The next time I hear someone tell me Superman is boring or that you can't tell a compelling Superman story, I'm going to hand them this issue.

Just fantastic stories and from great creators. Jerry Ordway and Steve Rude. Steve Niles and Matthew Dow Smith. Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine DeLandro. It is a perfect lineup for this title's swan song.

The first story is written by Jerry Ordway and drawn by Steve Rude, two creators I have complimented many many times on this site. There is something timeless about Superman and Rude's style has that timeless feel to it. I mean, just look at this panel as Superman streaks to stop a massive asteroid from crashing into Earth. Beautiful.

But knowing that OMAC was going to be in the story was bonus. Rude has always shined when doing Kirby.

Landing on the satellite, Superman is startled to see a robot assemble itself and start a fight.

There is something amusing about seeing Superman, under rubble, cape over his head, wondering why every robot he encounters starts a fight.

But this is more than just your standard robot. This thing can somehow has Kryptonite and actually gets the upper hand.

That is, until OMAC arrives. And it is the classic OMAC. Not evil robots. Not the finny New 52. Buddy Blank, sent by Brother Eye back in time to rescue Superman and stop robot G-7.

This just screams Kirby. The poses, the line work. Classic.

It turns out that G-7 was sent from the future to kill Superman. The hope being that without Superman as a symbol of hope and selflessness that Brother Eye and OMAC would not exist allowing the nefarious villains from the future to reign supreme.

Luckily, with OMAC's help Superman survives and the bomb is brought back to the future where OMAC uses it to blow up the headquarters of Dr. Skuba (the villain of the piece).

"The great heroes of the past have inspired us to pursue justice for the oppressed Brother Eye."

This is why I love this book.

But the last panel is great as well, showing the inspiration as it exists. After all a satellite saw the asteroid coming and a one-man-army-corps named Superman was sent to stop it.

Now I love Ordway and I really love Rude. But this was just the appetizer in this book.

"Ghosts of Krypton was the next story in the issue, written by horror specialist Steve Niles with moody art by Matthew Dow Smith.

In this story, Superman is the dedication of a moon base when a ghost from Krypton's past arrives. It turns out that this astronaut also left a dying Krypton and was rocketing to Earth. But he died during the trip, crashing on the moon.

With the usual powers of a poltergeist, this ghost begins to shake the foundations. And then he sets his eyes on Kal, wondering why he hasn't conquered Earth.

You know, call me old fashioned, but I still like to think of Krypton as a peaceful, advanced society and not a bunch of expansionists.

Superman finds the actual body of the ghost and then says ...

"I am of both worlds. Krypton is in my soul. But Earth has my heart."

That is why I love this book.

And rather than fight this specter, Superman decides to help it. He reunites the body and soul of this explorer and gives it a burial. Incredible.

It turns out Pa gave Clark some advice about ghosts, about how they only have the power you give them. And that helped in a pinch.

So science fiction Superman story? Check.
Horror Superman story? Check.

How about some romance to close the book?

"Mystery Box" is written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, one of my favorites. And there is wonderful understated art by Valentine DeLandro on the piece.

Now people have heard me lament the treatment of Lois Lane in the New 52 for the last 3 years. And, much like I look for a classic Superman in this book, I also get to see a more classic take on Lois as well. Thanks goodness Adventures and Smallville are around for Lois fans!

We start out almost with an Bond movie teaser, Lois in disguise, running from bad guys, jumping out of a moving car and into a propeller plane. It's almost a riff on Indiana Jones!

Just a perfect opening hook!

And then we find out it's Valentine's Day later in the week and Lois has given Superman a mystery box. It is small, leadlined, wrapped.

And so begins a mystery. What should she have given him?

And more importantly what should he give her?

It leads to an interesting travelogue through the DCU as Superman asks friends - Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman - what the box could be and what should he get her.

The answers are hysterical. And frankly, I'm not sharing. You need to buy this issue to see those scenes.

But the end scene is fantastic and deserves to be shared. Lois and Superman are at nice romantic picnic for Valentine's Day.

So Superman presents Lois with his gift to her, in a little velvet box.

The progression of the panels is great. First some incredulity by Lois - 'seriously'. Would Superman ever get on one knee and propose?

The that middle panel, wide smile, you know she thinks it is going to be an engagement ring.

Then the look of disappointment. But also a hint of annoying. He got her a watch? Not exactly romantic!

The art is sooo wonderful here. That expression in the third panel is perfect.

But there is more, Superman's watch is made from pieces of her most recent adventures. And it doesn't tell time because he will wait for Lois. Their love is timeless.

Again, great middle panel art here with Lois smiling wide.

She then gives Superman her gift again.

It turns out it is a box that can't be opened. Her gift was a mystery ... something rare for Supergirl.

But this is the best part ... at least for me.

Lois is giving this long prepared speech about how awesome her gift is when Superman starts laughing.

Initially Lois seems irked. Is he laughing at her? But then he brings back the romance as he says she is a constant mystery for him. He didn't need the box.


A happy, loving Superman and Lois. Complete with a little adventure and romance. And the art captures it so effortlessly!

It is just fantastic. And it makes the perfect capstone for this book. Because who knows if we will ever see this Lois and Superman in a New 52 book.

So a trilogy of stories showing how great Superman could be in multiple genres. And just like that Adventures of Superman is over.

And it will be missed. Thanks to Alex Antone, the editor of this book, for crushing it for a year and a half.

Overall grade (issue): A+
Overall grade (series): A

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

New 52 Supergirl Action Figure

There has been a recent surge in collectibles of Supergirl in her New 52 costume. Between the Artgerm statue, the Kotobukiya statue, and this New 52 action figure, that corner of my collection wearing that costume has grown.

The figure itself comes in a nice clean package. I do like how the front has the 'peel' appeal of the DC logo. I don't quite understand the Kryptonite shard included with the figure. Could it be some sort of homage to the odious 'stab H'El in the chest' moment in the books?

And I can't believe I just remembered H'El on Earth. Yeesh.

I do like the figure quite a bit, even if I am not to fond of the costume itself.

The low point of the figure is the 'crazy eyes' look she has on close up. Maybe she is wide-eyed about how much she loves Earth? (I can dream).

The metallic gloss red works well with the boots and costume elements but it unfortunately stands in contrast to the matte red cape. And the hair invokes Mahmud Asrar's excellent art.

For some reason, I like the look of this figure more at an angle.

This looks more heroic than head on ... at least for me.

The cape itself is pretty simple with a couple of folds. Nice gold edging though.

And so you see that there are now several pieces in the New 52 corner of the shrine.

These are all really excellent pieces. DC has done a good job with the collectibles of the New 52 costume. That said, I still wouldn't mind seeing it go away.

Bring back the red skirt/full shirt Matrix costume!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Review: Superman Futures End #1

Superman Futures End #1 came out last week and was a very good story. It isn't exactly a Superman story with Kal only appearing in a flashback sequence. But there is enough of Superman in this book to make me happy, showcasing how he inspires others to do what's right.

It isn't a big surprise given the reveal in the main Futures End book as well as the lightning motif on the cover that the helmeted Superman is, in fact, Captain Marvel. It seems that in the main book, Lois has told the world that this Superman isn't the Superman. And as a result, there is some fallout with people mistrusting Captain Marvel and a rogue of the Big Red Cheese coming calling.

As most know, I am not collecting the main FE book figuring I have read enough possible bleak DC futures to fill a lifetime already. But this one seems to focus more on the light and less on the grim.

The book is written by Superman great Dan Jurgens. Jurgens has a great sense for Superman and that shows here. He also writes a near perfect Lois  making me happy to see that version of Lane as opposed to the one that has been in the current super-books.

Lee Weeks does the art and really just sparkles. This was the most beautifully rendered book of the week. And Weeks' Lois is also perfect. Maybe we need to start up the cry for a Lois solo book again.

This is a dystopian world. Remember, even in the present, DC has set up Superman to be distrusted by the masses and feared by the military. And he's the real Superman.

So despite this new Superman having done good, having been a hero ... there are those who qurestion his motives. After saving a family from a fire, someone in the crowd yells 'what are you trying to pull'!

Yep. Sounds like the New 52. No one likes heroes in this world.

It turns out that Lois has seen the Superman's secret identity ,.. Captain Marvel ... and revealed that on the news. And apparently, he was eaten alive by the press for hiding something. That also sounds like the New 52. Established hero dons new costume = distrust.

But Lois is more than just a reporter of sensational news. She wants to know why. She tracks down Billy Batson and asks him why. Why he became the helmeted Superman.

Weeks is at his best in the Lois scenes in this book. There is something classic about his interpretation of her.

Billy retells the scene that inspired him to pick up the mantle of the S-shield.

During the future war with Apokolips, truces were made. Captain Marvel was fighting side by side with Black Adam. That is ... until Adam tried to betray Billy, to kill him and steal Billy's powers.

Luckily Superman was nearby to save Marvel. And in times of war, Superman seems to be acting like judge and jury. He sends Black Adam to the Phantom Zone.

Again, beautiful art by Weeks. Superman looks beefy and the world seems war-torn.

Now none of the prior Futures End crossovers tempted me to buy the main book. In fact, a couple made me want to buy it even less.

But I have to admit ... this piqued my interest.

Superman leaves for a solo mission, a secret mission given to him by an unknown person, a mission he never returns from (even though we know he survives).

What was the mission? Who sent him??

Kudos to Dan Jurgens for making me interested in Futures End, even for a moment.

I like this Billy a lot more than the self-absorbed punk that I read in Justice League. Here he seems mature, discussing how the world needs a Superman.

But Lois also has a good point. Billy needs to be himself as well. Is this life as Superman rewarding for him?

Now I don't mind the idea of Superman being so influential that someone picks up his mantle. Steel? He's a great character. Remember the Supermen of America. Or the concept of Team Superman? It works. But those characters were honoring Superman without sublimating their own personality to be him. It is fine distinction.

Then Jurgens does something pretty nifty. With the reveal that Superman is Shazam, one of his Rogue's decides to make a splash. IBAC starts to terrorize the city. Ibac!! Ivan the Terrible, Cesare Borgia, Attila the Hun, and Caligula all rolled into one.

This is really a Shazam comic so I am glad that one of his baddies is the villain of the peace.

We get a couple of pages of standard super-powered mayhem, all drawn solidly by Weeks. Really wonderful art in this book.

But finally Billy is victorious. And with that he realizes he needs to be himself. He shouts Shazam and the helmeted Superman suit becomes the more classic lightning bolt costume of Captain Marvel.

Nice lightning effect here on the broken glass helmet. Works given the discussion of identity and Billy accepting himself as Cap.

So a decent little story. I like Marvel's understanding of the power of the S-shield and his desire to uphold that symbol. (I would love for him to keep an S-shield armband on.) I also like that this means that Marvel has grown into more of a hero than I have seen prior. And having him trounce IBAC is a nice touch.

I also love Lois in here as an investigative reporter looking deep into the story and telling the 'whys' not just the 'whats'.

So kudos again to Jurgens. And loved Lee Weeks here.

Overall grade: B+

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Poll: Favorite Film/TV Interpretation of Supergirl

With the recent announcement of a Supergirl television show we are all wondering exactly what sort of Supergirl we'll see on the new Greg Berlanti/Ali Adler show. The initial blurb says she will become the hero she was meant to be which leads me to think she won't be the angry isolated New 52 version.

Thinking about the new show reminded me that Supergirl has had a handful of other incarnations on the big and small screens. So I figured we could look back at those other versions of Kara, many of them from the recent past. And, to add to the fun, I thought you could vote on which 'outside of comics' Supergirl interpretation is your favorite.

Let's start at the beginning!

1) Supergirl movie starring Helen Slater - I think the Supergirl movie has a special place in the hearts of all Supergirl fans. It is completely campy. The plot makes little sense. The villain feels like she would fit right in on the old Batman television show, crazy with a headquarters at an abandoned carnival.

But the movie is saved by Helen Slater. She just embodies the optimism and grace and determination of Supergirl. She really is Supergirl here. This is the first appearance of the 'Matrix' style costume. And it includes Linda Lee, Midvale High, and a rubbish boyfriend.

Can Slater's performance trump the sheer lunacy of the movie to have this be your favorite Supergirl outside of comics?

2) Timmverse Supergirl - I have to believe that DC Animated Producer Bruce Timm is a Supergirl fan. He made sure to introduce Supergirl in both Superman the Animated Series and the subsequent Justice League Unlimited. This was Kara In-Ze, from the planet Argo, a planet in Krypton's solar system.

And Timm really had this Kara grow over the course of these series. The early episodes of S:TAS show a young, eager, almost impetuous young girl desperately trying to help. We see her befriend Batgirl in a famous Batman:The Animated Series episode. And then in JLU, we see something of an older and wiser Kara. Initially she is still a bit of a hothead. But over the series, we see her mature. We see her confront some demons when she battles Galatea. We see her acting like the veteran compared to Stargirl. And ultimately, she completes the hero's journey, joining the Legion in the future. If people want to see an arc of a character, this is where to go. 

As Timm said (somewhere) and I am paraphrasing "I don't care what people say, Supergirl kicked ass."

I am very partial to this incarnation of Supergirl.

3) Smallville - I have issues with how Clark was portrayed in the Smallville show feeling that he moped and sulked around before finally ... FINALLY ... being a hero!

But I have very few issues about how Supergirl was portrayed on the show. And much of that strength is thanks to Laura Vandervoort. She made Supergirl a strong, proactive, and heroic character. She was the perfect foil to Clark. While he was running around as a blur, she was in your face in her costume.

Unfortunately, Clark was the star. So as a result, this Supergirl had to lose her memory, hang out with Lex, and eventually leave the present time, heading into the future to join the Legion so that Clark would be 'free' to achieve his destiny.

Still, when she was active ... she was fantastic. And I liked the variable 'costumes' she wore. If any one of these non-comic interpretations show that a Supergirl show would work, it is Smallville and Vandervoort's performance

4) Superman/Batman:Apocalypse -This movie made by DC Animation is basically a retelling of the Jeph Loeb/Michael Turner comic arc which reintroduced the Kara Zor-El Supergirl to the DCU.

Visually, this is a great movie. I love the way this Supergirl looks, with wisps of blonde hair and (occasionally) a big smile. She is voiced by Summer Glau who does a great job getting across the young hero. And Glau gives the movie some street cred.

That said, this is the story where she is brainwashed by Darkseid and becomes a dirty girl for a short period of time. She does get in a decent fight with Darkseid at the end. And the movie does smooth out some of the rougher spots of the Loeb plot.

Superman Unbound - This was a movie based on Geoff Johns' Brainiac storyline. There is a lot to like about this version of Supergirl as well. She is a bit scarred by the Brainiac attacks on Krypton. But she channels that into a desire for justice. She is more proactive that the Smallville Kara. She ends up saving the world by stopping Brainiac solar missile. And the performance by Molly Quinn is fantastic.

I also think the overall look of Supergirl in this movie is slick as well.

Okay, those are the other non-comic versions of Supergirl. So let me know which one you like best. And vote on the poll over on the right.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Review: Superman:Doomed #2

Superman:Doomed #2 came out this week and I am going to be honest and say that I am thrilled that this arc is over.

It isn't as if there weren't fine moments in this somewhat drawn out mega-crossover. There were. In fact, there were plenty of fine moments in this issue, many of which I will share. But finding those moments felt at times like panning for gold. You need to work your way through a lot of silt to find the treasure.

For every great character moment, for every nuance, for every bit of heroes acknowledging what an inspiration Superman there were many more empty cliffhangers, dropped subplots, and character gaffes.

Perhaps most annoying was the concept of the 'infected Superman' which changed issue to issue ... page to page. Was it an infection out of control? Could he will himself back to normal? Was he cured by 'good feelings' at one point? Was he dying? Without clearly understanding the threat of this Doomsday virus, I didn't feel invested. In one issue Superman is so out of control he exiles himself into space. In the next, Baka's warm feelings completely cures him. Huh??

And then there is the 'real villain' of the piece Brainiac. His plot is also something of a jumbled mess. He is draining the minds of humans starting in Smallville and Metropolis. He sends down drones that are a feint. He has the Cyborg Superman as a sort of misdirection. And he has a ship that in some issues is 4x the size of Earth but in others is like the JLA satellite. At least in Doomed #2 we find out his plan.

As if adding to the disjointed feeling of the overall arc, this issue has 9 credited artists. Each page is beautiful. But you can't go from Lashley to Churchill to Herbert without feeling a little dizzy from the stylistic changes.

Now listen ... I am about to show you the high points. And they are good high points. But as a whole Doomed was like a runny omelet. Some bites were delicious. But mostly it was a mess.

Last issue ended with Brainiac's ship arriving and Superman deciding the only way to break into the Collector ship and stop him is to go full-Doomsday mode. He sheds his humanity and lets the Doomsday in him surge. See ... maybe I am trying to think about this a bit too medically. How does this even happen? From human to Doomsday because he willed the infection to go out of control??

There are only a few free minds on the planet and Lana and Lois are among them. I like that first panel with the two most important women in Clark's life looking up, confident he will save everyone. It is nice that they have faith in him.

And I also liked the next panel explaining the coloring snafu of a couple of issues back when Lois was her normal skin tone. She turns green when she uses her psionic powers. Nice recovery.

 Superdoom basically begins tearing through the ship, hoping to get to the core and disable/dismantle the Brainiac tech.

While Lana and Lois were on the same page just before, here we see how they differ. And it might be the first time I haven't liked Lana in the Pak era.

Lois tells Clark to not lose himself to the monster, to not do something he might regret. But Lana ... she outright tells him to kill Brainiac. It makes me think that maybe Lana doesn't understand Clark quite as well as I thought she did.

 Like much of this arc, a lot of time takes place on the mental plane. Brainiac might be safe in his control room and Superdoom might be running through walls but the real confrontation is taking place in the mind as Brainiac tells Clark his plot.

It turns out that Brainiac is gathering all the sentient mind energy he can. He knows that observation can change reality. He hopes to have enough 'observer power' to recreate the universe.

It is a riff on the old 'light will behave like a wave or a particle depending on the belief of the observer' experiment. But it is a bit much to swallow.

But let's say that I decide to swallow it. Let's say that Brainiac needs lots of minds to do this (indeed he says he has already drained billions). The last place you would ever go is Earth!! Why go to the place with the guy who has trounced you over and over? Drain every other planet you find. Why poke the beehive?

 Back on Earth, Brainiac discovers that the resistance is hiding in the Fortress. So he sends his troops in hoping to distract them. One of his army is the Cyborg Superman.

Now after being sullied and mistreated in the prior big Superman crossovers, Greg Pak and Charles Soule treat her very well in her few moments in the book.

First off, the Cyborg tells her of Brainiac's plans, saying that Brainiac could give them back Krypton. He asks her who would even care about Earth when that could happen. It is basically the same hook that H'El tried to get Kara to help him The same.

And yet it is clear Kara has grown a bit. She isn't lured by that anymore. She cares about Earth and wallops him with a nice left jab.

 Again, conversing in their minds, Brainiac warns Superman what is going to happen if the fight on Earth continues, if Superman doesn't allow Brainiac to rewrite history.

Supergirl will kill her father the Cyborg. Then she will be forced to kill Superman who will be out of control as Doomsday. Then she will become infected by the spores and become Doomsday herself.

I had to include this page. There is something very meta about this page with an enraged Kara, having killed her father, splitting Superman in two and becoming a monster. It is drawn by Ian Churchill who drew the Jeph Loeb and early Joe Kelly Supergirl issues, the one where she is a monster who gunned down her classmates and was trying to kill Superman.

That has to be why he was chosen to draw these pages right? It would have fit right into the last Supergirl series, somewhere around issue #10 I would say.

That said, Churchill does draw the bottom of the costume differently. Look at the second panel. The red area is broader and it looks more like gym shorts than a bathing suit. I like that way more than the usual interpretation.

This is a very good page by Pak with a very good moment for Supergirl.

Superman tell Brainiac is that he doesn't understand the cousins. Kara might have been a little out of control at one point but she won't kill the Cyborg.

And she doesn't. Instead she just pounds him and is victorious.

After seeing him utterly defeat her and kill her in her own book a couple of times over, it is great to see Kara finally win here.

But this is Superman and Brainiac's battle on the psychic plane.

Brainiac enters the marauding Superdoom's mind and shows Clark possible futures ... if only Superman will let the Coluan recreate the universe. In one of them, Steel and Lana marry and become the heroes of Metropolis allowing Superman to retire.

In another, drawn by Dave Bullock, Superman's very presence has an effect on humanity. The world becomes a better place, inspired by Superman. Crime and evil fades away. And Batman gets to retire!

But these glimpses into a possible peaceful future doesn't change the fact that the universe would be rewritten by a tyrant. Superman is able  to shrug these off as folly.

Bullock's style is pleasingly like Darwyn Cooke's. It works for this sequence.

Oh yeah ... remember that subplot where Wonder Woman went into the Phantom Zone to convince Mongul to use Warworld to attack Brainiac? Remember?

Well, we get reminded of it for 2 pages. Diana fires Warworld from within the Zone, blasting Brainiac's ship, weakening Brainiac's defenses and resolve.

Can you fire a weapon from within the Zone, through a portal, and out into the universe??

And I think of the time spent in the Phantom Zone over the issues - hunting Dr. Xa-Du, fighting Mongul, etc. It all seems like a waste of time as none of it seemed to impact the story greatly.

With Brainiac weakened by Superdoom beating him up, the mental plane becomes something of an even playing field. In fact Lois is able to join Superman there to try to battle Brainiac.

In this state, Brainiac's true intentions are finally revealed. His origin includes him losing his wife and child. He is anguished by this. He wants a universe where they are still in his life. And that touches Superman. When Lois is about to psionically kill Brainiac, Superman talks her down.

They should want peace, not punishment.

It is a nice moment showing the core of Superman's beliefs.

That said, I am a bit tired of the 'sympathetic back story for a villain'.

This stay of execution is something of a pause. Brainiac ends up continuing his assault on Earth, is killing the population by draining them, and still wants to recreate the universe. There is no easy way to stop this plot now that it has gone this far.

The only solution is for Lois to drain Brainiac of all his power and then shove it into Superman.

Again, I have some problems with this. Brainiac is the most powerful psionic in this universe (personally I just miss him being super-intelligent). So how can Lois, a neophyte given powers by Brainiac be capable enough to drain him.

And then giving them to Superman?

Look at this panel. Is this what we want Superman to be? This monstrous amalgam. Can't we just have Superman? You know what it reminds me of ...

That's right. Morrison looked into the future.

And then a whole bunch of things happen that I don't know if I quite follow.

Superman, energized by his powers, Doomsday strength, and billions of sentients mental energy, grabs Brainiac and flies him to a black hole. Or maybe he creates the black hole with his 'observation powers'.  Somehow all of this strips Lois of her Brainiac power and rids Superman of all the Doomsday virus particles.

It may be that both Brainiac and Superman head through the black hole ... it's hard to tell. At the very least Superman shoves Brainiac through it.

So is it the black hole or the observation powers that does all this. I guess I have to roll with it.

But once again, the whole 'Doomsday infection' is so convoluted that it is hard to wrap my head around. Gravity cured him? Good feelings? And as this infection was the crux of this whole arc, I am both irked and underwhelmed.

But within the black hole, Brainiac seems to have been placed in a Hypertime like area of alternate realities.

There is a lot to digest here. That's a pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths JSA (based on Huntress costume). That's Plastic Man and Uncle Sam on Earth X, also pre-COIE. There's Lord Volt and Lady Quark, peri-COIE. But also a red trunked Superman, the Flashpoint world, the vampire Batman from the Red Rain Elseworlds. And a classic Harley Quinn!

This really had nothing to do with Doomed and might be the best page, with great art by Aaron Kuder.

So, mercifully, Doomed ends.

For this issue, we have Lois having faith in Superman, that great moment of compassion by Superman, the future sequence with a retired Batman, and all the Supergirl stuff as high points. But I have to weigh that against all the low points here ... the concept of rewriting the universe, the Lois power levels, the cure at the end. And against the big issues I have had with the Doomed arc itself, the feints, missteps, and inconsistencies.

Overall grade: C