What’s old is new again, and now with Warner seemingly acknowledging the Tim Burton Batman 1989 movies as their own universe in “Elseworlds” on TV, DC dives head first in to expanding the original movie universes of their respective character properties. After “Batman ’89,” DC Comics follows up with “Superman ’78.” It’s an expansion and exploration of the beloved movie universe from Richard Donner’s Superman, and it wholeheartedly embraces everything about the movies we loved right down to the silly dialogue.
“Brainiac – Chapter 1” begins just as Krypton is about to be destroyed viewing Jor-El and Lara El’s final moments, oddly interrupted by a red beam. It’s a moment we don’t see in any of the original movies. We cut to Metropolis with Clark Kent chasing around Lois and anxiously looking to make a mark in the Daily Planet. Just as Superman has established himself, Brainiac crash lands in to Metropolis ready to destroy the species. But he’ll have a tough time if Superman has anything to say about it.
The art from Wilfredo Torres is excellent, as it fully channels a lot of the light hearted camp of the live action movies, while also conveying the dynamic action of the comic book medium. Every character is modeled after their respective cast member, and Superman looks and acts so much like Christopher Reeve, that you just might have goosebumps reading the first issue. Every scene is bright, and dynamic, and writer Robert Venditti speeds us through what we already know, while also establishing this new narrative. We don’t go through the clunky information dump, and visit Superman as he’s battling another alien menace, all while working around outwitting Lois Lane.
There is a lot of implication with what we read about in this in first issue. There’s the hint that Lara El and Jor El might actually be alive, Brainiac may be keeping them hostage in his miniature environment collections. And of course there’s the obvious hint that Brainiac wants Earth. Chapter 2 announces “Lex Luthor to the Rescue?!” which promises to re-introduce the fan favorite cinematic Lex Luthor, modeled after Gene Hackman’s likeness. Aside from the fun action and wholesome character focus, there’s an interesting ambiguity to Brainiac’s appearance, allowing for some interesting fan casting. Who would you have cast as Brainiac in 1978? For me, either Peter Cushing or George Lazenby.
In either case, I can’t wait to see how this storyline unfolds within the Richard Donner movie-verse. Hopefully this can lead to sequels, spin offs, and I’m sure DC is planning a crossover with Batman ’89. I’d bet money on it.
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