When I was a kid I always loved the issues of Superman where the Man of Steel faced Lex Luthor and Brainiac. Each of those villains seemed powerful enough to take Superman down, but together they seemed unstoppable. One of my favorite issues was when they shrank Superman small enough to put into a bird cage. I just really liked the image and the threat of Superman being too tiny to handle the struggle.
I’ve been a fan of Geoff Johns’s work for years. I love how he brings heroic action and a feeling of wonder back to strips that rival what I remember as a child when I first encountered those heroes. This time Johns creates a Brainiac the like of which I have never before seen.
Over the last few years we’ve had a few incarnations of Brainiac, but somehow they really missed the overall feeling of awesome evil and impending doom that I remembered from the stories I read as a kid. Granted, a lot of things were more terrifying to me when I was younger, but an emotionless, cold machine should be truly creepy. (Terminator really did it for me!) I remember those early stories of Brainiac showing him acting more or less human, laughing and mad and scared. And he had green skin long before Harvey Dent did.
The version of Brainiac that Johns treats the readers to made me feel uneasy at first, then tipped the scales over to a genuine worried state before the book ends. This Brainiac is loathsome and vile, a true villain with its own agenda. I like the fact that Brainiac is actually a giant ship that has various automatons it can send out as probes, sentries, and offensive units. This Brainiac is actually a rolling army when it wishes to be.
The early pages depicting Krypton and Kandor are really good, and the fear those people have of Brainiac is palpable. When I first saw Brainiac do the skull-injection bit, I knew Johns was going to deliver a rough ride for his readers. This wasn’t going to be your daddy’s Brainiac.