The “New” Brainiac!

8 Oct

brainiacrevamp

brainiac1“I have traversed the universe. I have seen the beginning of time. I have walked the paths trodded only by the gods themselves…and I have become like the gods. Compared to me, Superman, you are but a common fly.”

By 1983, the traditional Superman enemies were pretty stale, and desperately needed a real shot in the arm to be powerful and threatening again. Marv Wolfman, then the writer of Action Comics at the time, together with artist Ed Hannigan (best known as the creator of Cloak & Dagger, an unappreciated “workhorse” artist on satellite titles like Spectacular Spider-Man) created the idea of turning Brainiac into his most menacing form yet: an emotionless, malevolent, murderous machine of near infinite and cosmic-level intelligence, liquid metallic and bound to a skull-head ship. The new Braniac combined the callous, inhuman murderousness of Ultron with the cosmic grandiosity of Nomad (you know…from the Star Trek episode “The Changeling?”). It can be argued that the Wolfman Brainiac revamp was the first time that Superman’s Rogues Gallery got someone that was beyond a match for not only Superman, but possibly the entire DC Universe.

The Brainiac revamp deserves some special praise because it happened “in continuity.” No previous stories had to be discarded or thrown out. It’s a sign of what can be done by working with continuity instead of struggling against it, a good sign that revamps that require discarding of continuity are totally unnecessary. There is nothing wrong with continuity that can’t be fixed by what is right with continuity.

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Here’s proof of how successful this Brainiac revamp was: when most people think of Brainiac, they think of the detatched, emotionless super-genius computer with the Skull Ship…as opposed to the second-rate, slightly thinner Luthor in underwear that he was previously (or even the bald guy with mind powers he was for a flickeringly brief moment after the mid-eighties reboot). Arguably, this was the single most successful and memorable villain revamp of all time.

actioncomics528The Beginnings

The groundwork for the Brainiac revamp was laid in Marv Wolfman’s Action Comics #528-530, the final “swan song” story and sendoff to the short-pants “original recipe” Brainiac. In the previous story, Brainiac was reprogrammed to be a good guy by Superman, using his computer intelligence to save planets. Brainiac has a problem, though: he discovers in space a giant indestructible world of his own creation from back in the day when he was a villain, a cross between the Death Star, a Borg cube, Tyr’s War World from “Legion of Super-Heroes,” and Unicron from Transformers: the Movie. Interestingly enough, this concept of “Brainiac’s War-World” (only referred to in the Wolfman comics issues as such in an off-handed way) would make a return in not one but two forms after the Crisis. Really!

The reformed Brainiac goes to his former archenemy Superman for help against this dangerous, unstoppable creation. This leads to the bulk of the story, where even Superman is helpless against the unstoppable war-world creation. Brainiac is incredibly sympathetic in this story as an ex-criminal that sincerely regrets his crimes and wants redemption for them, and leads to a lot of unusual scenes where Brainiac and Superman rescue each other and save each other’s life, creating a real friendship between the two, an epic Bromance.

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However, as a result of being reprogrammed to be a good guy, Brainiac suffered from “data loss” that made him forget all of the potential secrets of his planet-sized superweapon. Superman, with great regret, realizes that the only way to have Brainiac figure out the planet-killer’s weaknesses is to turn Brainiac evil again, reprograms Brainiac to his previous self as an evil megalomaniac.

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brainiacpanel3It was downright heartbreaking to see Superman make such a hard moral choice with someone that he called his friend and reprogram them to be evil again. Superman stories are at their best when they deal with difficult and interesting moral choices. Maggin said an annoyingly simplistic thing once: “There is a right and a wrong in the universe and the distinction is not that difficult to make.” Sorry, Maggin, but most of the time it’s incredibly difficult and involves making ugly compromises, and there are even some situations where there are no good choices at all.

Naturally, Brainiac pretends to work with Superman again in order to stop a potential threat, but…surprise! Brainiac betrays Superman right at the end. The battle is incredibly emotionally intense because Superman is haunted by the fact that he is totally responsible for Brainiac’s crimes as a result of his deliberate choice to turn him evil again to stop the death-weapon. Brainiac’s madness is Superman’s fault, and therefore it is also Superman’s fault what Brainiac does in his madness.

In the end, Superman manages to defeat Brainiac (with great regret), an act that dissolves his consciousness and traps him at the heart of the planet. In this way, we say goodbye to both the classic Brainiac, and set the stage for the Brainiac reboot a year later. It was a great sendoff for the classic Brainiac, and certainly a better story than the Satanis/Syrene arc that followed it.

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Action Comics #544

actioncomics544When we next see Brainiac again, it’s in the famous Action Comics #544, a double-sized issue that features the Cary Bates revamp of Lex Luthor as a Khan-style madman that finally has a totally legitimate grudge against Superman, who Lex blames for the destruction of Lexor, the one place he was a hero, and the death of his wife…not to mention a very sleek, George Perez-designed armor suit that puts Lex, power-level wise, on a par with other megalomaniac power-armor users like Doctor Doom.

It’s worth noting that Marv Wolfman originally had an idea to revamp Lex Luthor as well, turning Lex into an evil tycoon businessman, an idea that he ended up using in his Action Comics run for Vandal Savage instead. It was John Byrne that used Wolfman’s Luthor idea in his Superman reboot, and while  I like the concept very much, there was no real reason it couldn’t have been done in continuity. After all, it’s not hard to imagine the smartest person in the world would also somehow use it to make himself one of the richest, connected and most powerful, Ozymandias-style. However, for whatever reason Superman’s editor went with the Cary Bates Wrath of Khan/Doctor Doom revamp idea.

The Brainiac Revamp

The Brainiac revamp was drawn by Gil Kane, who did a few Superman annuals by himself (which I should add, were badly written and cliche enough that it goes to show why Kane always worked with plotters before and after). It’s hard to imagine this was the same Kane that did the original Green Lantern; his art was so sketchy, unpolished and ugl,y at first I thought it was Carmine Infantino with Vin Coletta inks (zing!). To Gil Kane, I say the one thing no artist ever wants to hear: “your old stuff was better!”

The story begins with Superman returning to the Warworld and Brainiac using a black hole to escape his imprisonment, only something goes wrong and he becomes incorporeal.

Brainiac’s atoms fly through space and merge with a billion year old computer. With it, like V’Ger, he “learns everything that is learnable,” and goes so far back in time that he sees a hand emerge that creates the universe – a being that Brainiac calls the “Master Programmer.” When he returns to his body, he gestates into a new, evolved form.

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So, let’s rephrase that: Brainiac touched the equivalent of the Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey, now possesses infinite knowledge about the entire universe, is reborn into a supremely evolved being, and he seeks to find and replace God. And you know…he’s scary and cosmic enough that goal isn’t as crazy as it sounds.

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The New Braniac’s first order of business is to get supplies. And how does he do this? By coldly and logically using his weapons to near genocide an entire planet, reducing the inhabitants to slave labor. This is something so ruthless and remorseless it’s hard to imagine classic “green bald guy” Brainiac doing it.

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Superman is quickly contacted by whatever remains of the population. This, incidentally, is something I always liked about Superman in the Bronze Age: the elements of space opera, which made Superman a very science fiction character that dealt with space. Superman rushes in to save the insects, but he’s hit by a missile from Braniac’s head-ship. And Superman realizes, to his horror, that he no longer has any of his super-powers.

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Get all that? A Brainiac that can so quickly and casually neutralize Superman, the most powerful hero ever, is one heck of a threat. He dropped Superman with one blow! To use a cliche, this is not your Father’s Brainiac. If the purpose of the story was to set up the new Brainiac as a threat, mission accomplished. And worse, Brainiac keeps Superman alive in order to perform medical experiments on him. What a cold, creepy guy. It was one heck of a cliffhanger, leading directly into Action Comics #545.

Action Comics #545

Thus far, everything that is going on, Brainiac has known about. He lured Superman to the planet, and when the people he conquered and enslaved rebel, he predicted their revolt and allows their rebellion to happen as a display of futility. This is a Brainiac that obviously is near-omniscient and in control.

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Superman manages to escape, but as Brainiac’s head-ship is a part of him, his escape is temporary; as he’s escaping, Brainiac totally defoliates an entire planet, all the while just “toying around” with Superman. What a multitasker! I’ve never heard that phrase before, incidentally: “just toying around” with Superman, and is able to make Superman run for his life.

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Superman is able to steal a small starship, and apparently having seen The Empire Strikes Back, decides to do like Han Solo and lose Brainiac in an asteroid field. Brainiac’s computer brain, however, can perfectly predict how to fly…and anyway, he can cover his juggernaut of a ship in an unstoppable forcefield.

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brainiaccomicspanel3In the end, Superman’s ship is predictably wrecked. The good news is that Superman’s powers have recovered with his powers. He attacks Brainiac’s head ship with its near-infinite, H.R. Giger inspired weaponry, and in the end has to fly to escape. When he returned, Brainiac’s ship merely warped away. And what does Superman do?

He runs away, exhausted, beaten and wonders if “even a Superman could beat this new Brainiac.”

Aftermath

Final score? 9/10.

There are only a couple things that bother me about the New Brainiac. This business with Superman as the “Angel of Death” gets a big fat “wha-huuuuh?” from me. Well, everyone I’ve ever told it to had the same exact reaction: “Seriously?” Likewise, there’s a feeling that Brainiac seeing God and trying to replace him was building to something, one of the great unfinished plot threads prior to the reboot.

brainiacfigure1If the new Brainiac origin is reminiscent of Nomad, a comparison to his introduction can be made to the introduction of the Borg in Star Trek: the Next Generation, a show that might be called Star Trek: The Good One. There was an unstoppable, frightening foe that was machinelike and remote that made the previously all powerful Enterprise seem tiny and afraid – one of the most startling and fearsome introductions for any villain ever. Like with the introduction of the Borg, the issue with Brainiac ended with a nervous Superman anxious about their next inevitable confrontation, from which he’s not the odds-on favorite. And there’s a definite feeling that Superman was changed forever.

As far as villain revamps go, this is right up there with Frank Miller’s take on the Kingpin in Daredevil; a revamp that made Brainiac a contender and one of the most frightening and effective members of Superman’s Rogues Gallery (and the DC Universe). Previously, writers used Brainiac for the same reason they used the Prankster: Superman’s Rogues Gallery was so impoverished they had no choice. Now they use him because he’s chilling and fascinating.

Some believe that multiple takes on a character are equally acceptable, like those that defend Sprang-era Batman as “just as legitimate” as Englehart’s Darknight Detective. It’s worth pointing out that saying “I’m as good as you” is only done by people that feel in some way inferior. However, if there is such a thing as a “definitive” Brainiac that is the dominant vision that others are subordinate to, this is it.

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13 Responses to “The “New” Brainiac!”

  1. The Rev. Daniel F. Graves October 8, 2010 at 12:33 pm #

    Gotta love the “power action computer kick” promoted on the action figure box.

  2. tj October 8, 2010 at 2:48 pm #

    While I find Julian Perez’ truculent comparisons of eras and artists somewhat vexing (because one thing a perusal of the quality of Superman storylines over the decades teaches us is that lumps of coal are always more common than gemstones), one thing Julian’s energetic (might one say “bounding?”) reviews highlight is that innovation and reimagining is possible even with the most tired or tiresome of characters.

    I never preferred the power-suited Luthor because, whether in earlier or later incarnations, Lex always struck me as a high-minded schemer, employing minions or gadgets rather than dirtying his own hands. Getting in fist-fights with a lunkhead like Superman… so gauche!

    But I can agree that the transformation of Brainiac into a cosmic and immortal threat, a machine to the Man of Steel’s humanity, was a refreshing improvement… and always possible in any era, given the machine can always be rebuilt from scratch.

    Julian’s reviews do starkly illustrate how unnecessary the reboot was, given the powerful changes and reimagining already underway in the Superman mythos (probably the result of a freer hand in the editor’s chair). No need to throw the vibrant baby out with the tepid bathwater.

    I’ve always thought DC missed an opportunity by not casting the “Man of Steel” miniseries reboot–if they hadda do it at all–as focusing on a Lost Years kind of storyline, Kal in transition from boy to man at Midvale College and early Metropolis days. That particular era was always little explored and ripe for reexamination. That would have allowed writers like Byrne to spend years revisiting and smoothing some of the basic concepts and early history, essentially depowering and deemphasizing Smallville (and all of its inherent continuity problems), reworking his various relationships, his discovery of his heritage, while leaving the later marvelous mythos fully intact.

    • Julian Perez October 8, 2010 at 4:56 pm #

      I never preferred the power-suited Luthor because, whether in earlier or later incarnations, Lex always struck me as a high-minded schemer, employing minions or gadgets rather than dirtying his own hands. Getting in fist-fights with a lunkhead like Superman… so gauche!

      Well, the Doctor Doom suit wasn’t the biggest change to the character of Lex Luthor.

      In Action 544, Superman is responsible, through accident and carelessness, for the destruction of Lexor and the death of Lex Luthor’s wife. Lex was a very different character, especially around Superman: a creature of rage and revenge.

      I agree that I couldn’t see Lex Luthor wanting to grip or grapple with Superman at least prior to that issue…but after the destruction of Lexor, Lex is filled with white-hot hate. He wants to punch Superman, zap him, blast him, make him suffer.

      I’ve always thought DC missed an opportunity by not casting the “Man of Steel” miniseries reboot–if they hadda do it at all–as focusing on a Lost Years kind of storyline, Kal in transition from boy to man at Midvale College and early Metropolis days.

      “Man of Steel” is often misunderstood. If you read the miniseries, it doesn’t specifically get rid of any particular element – robot Brainiac, anything. It’s just a framework, separated by years and years. If somebody really wanted to bring back, say Lori Lemaris, Man of Steel had so many gaps that she could be slipped in there without a problem (as Byrne and Kesel later did – and personally I like their take on Lori better than the others, because they understood that Lori was much more interesting and poignant, like Gwen Stacy, dead than alive). Saying that “Man of Steel” got rid of anything is a misunderstanding of what the series set out to do.

  3. nightwing October 8, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

    It’s a sign of what can be done by working with continuity instead of struggling against it, a good sign that revamps that require discarding of continuity are totally unnecessary. There is nothing wrong with continuity that can’t be fixed by what is right with continuity.

    Indeed. And yet when I said essentially the very same thing in a comment on your previous post, you accused me of beating a dead horse by continuing to question whether the reboot was necessary.

    I quite agree that any writer worth his or her salt can make even the most tired and “silly” premise work if they’re willing to put effort into it. That goes for the current mythos as well as the one it replaced. The slacker’s way out is just to reboot every year or so, which is what we’ve gotten.

    Getting back on point, the only thing “messed up” by this particular revamp was the issue of Brainiac 5 of the Legion of Super-heroes. The original Brainiac was always supposed to have a “computer mind,” which I suppose made him an android of some sort. But he looked so human I guess even the writers forgot this angle and had Brainiac 5 be his biological descendant. The “Terminator” retooling made his synthetic nature unmissable, so they had to backpedal a bit to explain the Legionnaire’s origins.

    Here’s proof of how successful this Brainiac revamp was: when most people think of Brainiac, they think of the detatched, emotionless super-genius computer with the Skull Ship…as opposed to the second-rate, slightly thinner Luthor in underwear that he was previously (or even the bald guy with mind powers he was for a flickeringly brief moment after the mid-eighties reboot).

    If you say so. I’d argue most people don’t have a clue who Brainiac is, and think the term is just a label assigned to annoying know-it-alls. Aside from the Filmation and Super-Friends cartoons, Brainiac hasn’t been as exposed as say Zod or Luthor, so if people remember the chrome-plated version, it’s probably thanks to the action figures and related “Super Powers” merchandising. He really wasn’t around for very long when you get down to it.

    Ed Hannigan (best known as the creator of Cloak & Dagger, an unappreciated “workhorse” artist on satellite titles like Spectacular Spider-Man)

    Never read any of that. I know Hannigan as the artist of the first arc of “Legends of the Dark Knight” and Mike Grell’s monthly Green Arrow series. Sadly, I understand he is current suffering from multiple sclerosis.

    t’s hard to imagine this was the same Kane that did the original Green Lantern; his art was so sketchy, unpolished and ugl,y at first I thought it was Carmine Infantino with Vin Coletta inks (zing!).

    You hit on the real difference there, however accidentally, and that is inks: Kane, like Infantino, had a very stylized approach that worked best paired with inkers who could add polish and gloss, like Murphy Anderson and Sid Greene, who made Gil and Carmine’s figures attractive without losing the quirky, kinetic quality of their figures. When they inked their own stuff, though, we saw Kane and Infantino’s work in its purest form, and it could be freakish and off-putting to say the least. There are a few issues of Green Lantern around #40 or so — way back in the 60s — when Kane inked his own work and it didn’t look too much different from these 80s issues of Action.

    If the new Brainiac origin is reminiscent of Nomad, a comparison to his introduction can be made to the introduction of the Borg in Star Trek: the Next Generation, a show that might be called Star Trek: The Good One.

    I think what you meant to say was that the first couple of Borg shows were “Star Trek TNG: The Two Good Episodes.”

    Some believe that multiple takes on a character are equally acceptable, like those that defend Sprang-era Batman as “just as legitimate” as Englehart’s Darknight Detective.

    Gee, I wonder who that could be? 🙂

    t’s worth pointing out that saying “I’m as good as you” is only done by people that feel in some way inferior.

    It’s also worth pointing out that people who say “My taste is superior” are what most of us call elitist snobs.

    However, if there is such a thing as a “definitive” Brainiac that is the dominant vision that others are subordinate to, this is it.

    Subordinate how? This version lasted a couple of years at best. DC has re-imagined him multiple times since then and never felt tempted to return to this version (though they’ve come close to “old shortpants”). When Warner adapted the character for the Superman and Justice League cartoons, they didn’t evoke this version. I *think* he may have come out as a toy again recently, but just as one of many “looks” for the character.

    I will grant you this: if they ever get around to putting Brainiac in a live-action film, I’d like to see something along these lines (at least the skull ship: if they made this version of his body, everyone would scream “Terminator rip-off”…and not without justification).

    Glad you like the stories, though they weren’t always my cup of tea. You may find, though, like the rest of us old fogeys, that “definitive” is in the eye of the beholder. Batman, Dr Strange and Captain America have moved on past Englehart and Brainiac has moved on from Wolfman. Nothing’s ever definitive so long as there’s new creators determined to redefine it.

  4. Julian Perez October 8, 2010 at 5:41 pm #

    Getting back on point, the only thing “messed up” by this particular revamp was the issue of Brainiac 5 of the Legion of Super-heroes. The original Brainiac was always supposed to have a “computer mind,” which I suppose made him an android of some sort. But he looked so human I guess even the writers forgot this angle and had Brainiac 5 be his biological descendant. The “Terminator” retooling made his synthetic nature unmissable, so they had to backpedal a bit to explain the Legionnaire’s origins.

    I was actually reading Superman 167, the first appearance of the Luthor Brainiac team while preparing this review, to prime the old neurons. The reason is that was the first story where Brainiac was revealed to be a computer instead of a creepy alien. It was, incidentally, a really great read…I found myself rooting for Brainiac and Luthor for the same reason that you root for jewel thieves in heist movies, because you admire their cleverness so much you want them to get away with it.

    The story had an explanation for one of the trickier issues of the reboot (and a difference between Ed “Planet Smasher” Hamilton and say, Bob Haney – Haney wouldn’t have cared about Brainiac 5). If Brainiac isn’t a green alien, how can Brainiac 5 be related to him? The answer Hamilton came up with in that story was that Brainiac was given a son to complete his disguise pretending to be a human. It was that son, Brainiac II, that started the Brainiac line. It was also established later that Shadow Lass’s powers were hereditary.

    Never read any of that. I know Hannigan as the artist of the first arc of “Legends of the Dark Knight” and Mike Grell’s monthly Green Arrow series. Sadly, I understand he is current suffering from multiple sclerosis.

    I’m extremely sorry to hear that.

    Though you didn’t miss anything. Spectacular was, possibly due to many of Gerry Conway’s uninspired villains like Razorback, the pig-trucker, always had a permanent status as the less relevant satellite title.

    In fact, a year ago they canceled both “Web of Spider-Man” and “Spectacular Spider-Man” and just decided to publish Amazing Spider-Man three times a month.

    If you say so. I’d argue most people don’t have a clue who Brainiac is, and think the term is just a label assigned to annoying know-it-alls. Aside from the Filmation and Super-Friends cartoons,

    Well, my Mom doesn’t know who Lazarus Long, Telzey Amberdon, Corwin of Amber, and Elric are, but they’re nonetheless extremely crucial, central figures to science fiction and fantasy.

    Subordinate how? This version lasted a couple of years at best.

    Yeah, it lasted a few years in this particular form, but this particular form influenced every single version of Brainiac afterward. That’s what I’m saying; this was the model, and when they inevitably went off-model, Brainiac was brought back to this ground state. The carnival mentalist Brainiac with mind powers of 1988 eventually became a murderous, omniscient computer again with a skull ship.

    When Warner adapted the character for the Superman and Justice League cartoons, they didn’t evoke this version.

    Really? Because the Brainiac in JLA and Superman cartoons was more like this: a cold, murderous omniscient alien computer that can upload and download his mind to the point where any physical form was temporary (and he even had a skull ship in some JLA appearances and the Static Shock crossover). He sure as heck wasn’t a green guy with a shrink ray or a carnival mentalist.

    Okay, let me put it this way. The reboot gave Brainiac the following characteristics:

    * He became cold, mechanical, ruthless and murderous;

    * He was a practically omniscient machine not bound to a physical body.

    Every single version of Brainiac in popular culture since this reboot had these characteristics. Nobody ever did Brainiac as the short-pants wearing green guy with a shrink ray, or the post-Reboot, earthbound carnival mentalist.

    Sometimes the details are different; for instance, in the early 2000s Ed McGuinness briefly revived Brainiac’s green and purple color scheme, but he was still a computer. The classic-look evoking colors were just a paint-job.

    It’s also worth pointing out that people who say “My taste is superior” are what most of us call elitist snobs.

    Well, there’s the difference: I’m intellectually honest enough to admit that I prefer one era over another, that I play favorites, that Superman’s Schwartz era is in general better than the Weisenger-edited era, that some periods have views of the characters that are more focused, more accurate, better-written, and just plain more dramatic and less silly.

    Whereas you make a big stink of “no era is better than another”…and what that means in practice is that something as genius as the Timm/Dini Batman series just receives polite applause, whereas you’re all practically masturbating over Batman: the Brave and the Bold because he fights gorillas and walks on walls like Adam West. I find that intellectually dishonest.

    • Nightwing October 8, 2010 at 10:01 pm #

      What you call “intellectual honesty” I can plain old hypocrisy. Let one of us proclaim pre-Crisis continuity superior to modern and we’re inflexible, narrow-minded fogeys stuck in the past, but when you dismiss interpretations you dislike as wrong-headed or not “definitive,” you’re just “telling it like it is.” Our opinions are just opinions — and wrong to boot — but your opinions are divine insights.

      re: “validity:” There’s lots of versions of Superman I don’t like — Marv Wolfman’s is a good example — but I’m willing to acknowledge they’re as “valid” as any other for the simple reason that DC printed them and there’s no un-printing them. I may not like them, I may never re-read them, I may (and do) give them away to my school library rather than take up space in my longboxes with them, but they still existed and they “count” as much as any other.

      Same with Batman; whether you choose to recognize reality or not, Sprang’s version is as “valid” as Adams’, Miller’s or Morrison’s. It existed, it was THE version of Batman for the better part of two decades. If you want to proclaim it a “nadir” or “wrong-headed,” you’re entitled to your opinion, but it’s no less valid because Julian Perez says it isn’t.

      For the record I loved Batman: The Animated Series, I never missed it, I have every episode on DVD and still watch them, and I even paid money to sit in a theater and watch “Mask of the Phantasm,” one of two adults (the other was my fiancee) in a room full of kids who thought they were getting something else and talked all the way through it. If I was the type to consider something the “definitive” Batman, that series would be it (but even then largely because it incorporated elements of all previous incarnations with respect and love).

      But B:TAS was a long time ago. In the intervening years, we’ve had years and years of grim and gritty, “I can beat Galactus, Satan and a Black Hole if I have time to plan”, uber-jerk Batman in the comics, witless bull-in-a-China shop, Cookie-monster voiced Batman on the big screen and half-assed, phoned-in THE Batman in cartoons, so yes I am enjoying the humor, the retro feel and the FUN animation style of Brave and the Bold.

      If you’d been around me in the early 90s, you couldn’t have gotten me to shut up about B:TAS. Trust me, I’m a fan. But when you complain it only gets “polite applause” here in 2010, what you mean is we should be playing grumpy old man and throwing brickbats because B&B is not B:TAS. “They did a Batman cartoon already, and they’ll never better it. Pack it in already.” But this time I’m content to let you play Grandpa Simpson, yelling at clouds.

      Anyway, there’s a difference between recognizing someting as “valid” and endorsing it as great stuff. I can dislike an interpretation without feeling threatened by it, and I’ve been at it long enough to know everything comes full circle if you wait long enough. It probably does seem odd that I could like both Adam West Batman and Neal Adams Batman, or for that matter both Sean Connery Bond and Roger Moore Bond or Captain Kirk and Captain Picard. But I do. Call me unfocused. There’s still plenty of stuff I don’t like; Batman since 1997 or so, Brosnan Bond, Captain Sisko. My filter’s more porous than yours, but it does exist.

  5. tj October 8, 2010 at 8:14 pm #

    “Man of Steel” is often misunderstood. If you read the miniseries, it doesn’t specifically get rid of any particular element – robot Brainiac, anything. It’s just a framework, separated by years and years.

    Untrue, although I’ll grant some of what you say. MoS specifically reoriented Clark as being ignorant in adulthood of his Kryptonian heritage, portrayed as cold and sterile and essentially non-influential, and removed from continuity his essential milquetoastiness. That’s huge. The status of his parents, and the changes that wrought on his essential story, have already been discussed on another thread. We can debate these alterations as whether they were successful or superior; to some extent some might have been improvements.

    Byrne himself often said he considered Clark the REAL character, Superman the costumed pseudo-identity (we can watch “Kill Bill” to see what Tarantino thought of that inversion).

    But I’ll grant that MoS was creative. Just wish they’d left all the goodies untouched.

  6. Kurosawa October 9, 2010 at 6:09 am #

    I always had mixed feelings about the Brainiac revamp. I agree the short pants visual needed work but I thought the Alien/Terminator hybrid they came up with was too derivative and unoriginal. I would have liked a more up to date, less disco version of the Pulsar Stargrave visual from LoSH. The whole point of Brainiac originally was that he was supposed to pass for humanoid but was in fact an android. I never cared for Wolfman’s Superman or anything else he wrote to be frank, and in fact I consider DC from the time of his return until they destroyed it all in COIE to be an alternate version of the Multiverse for purposes of both accepting and getting around COIE, but that is an entirely different manner. The current version of Brainiac is actually the best version, visual wise although the writing of his most recent appearances was in the New Krypton/War of The Supermen mess and as such was dreck. The best thing about this reboot was the skull ship itself which was way more distinctive than the old ship he used. I wasn’t too wild about the Luthor redo either, although I did like the old purple and green bodysuit much either. The best thing about this book though was that it does show how you can change things without the shortcut of jettisoning all old continuity. I always felt MOS was cowardly because they never really took on the difficulty of writing Superman-JB and company just created a new character instead.

    Do any of you guys know what exactly the Bates/Maggin in continuity reboot would have done? I’ve looked all around and never found any details of it except it would have worked with the previous continuity.

    • Julian Perez October 9, 2010 at 11:15 am #

      Do any of you guys know what exactly the Bates/Maggin in continuity reboot would have done? I’ve looked all around and never found any details of it except it would have worked with the previous continuity.

      First, Maggin, to the best of my knowledge, wasn’t a figure in any type of reboot. I think you mean the Cary Bates proposal.

      Bates has done a few interviews on the subject of what his in-continuity reboot would have been like. I’ll see if I can find one, but off the top of my head what he said it would involve was Superman dying. He would have really died, but been restored by science in much the same way as Klaatu in the “Day the Earth Stood Still.” Like Klaatu, he would not have “entirely come back himself,” and been depowered, among other changes.

      (Interestingly, both Superman dying and getting depowered were a big part of later Superman events!)

      The Bates proposal sounded interesting, but personally I’d love to have seen the one by Steve Gerber and Frank Miller made around the same time. Gerber was my favorite writer of all time along with Stainless and it’s a crime he didn’t play a bigger role in the Superman story.

      • Kurosawa October 9, 2010 at 3:07 pm #

        Thanks much. I would have liked to seen Gerbers proposal as well, although I don’t trust Miller with Superman at all-or much else really.

      • Julian Perez October 10, 2010 at 7:23 am #

        The guy’s made a few mistakes in recent times but in 1985 he was hot off Daredevil and was at the absolute height of his creative powers. I’ve always found myself agreeing with his view, and that of Michael Chabon, that the post-Comics Code Silver Age was a neutered step-down from promising Golden Age beginnings. Superman as a strongman and tough guy that doesn’t have to explain himself or answer to anyone always seemed more interesting to me than the incorruptible rule-follower and secular saint he became after the Code.

      • Kurosawa October 11, 2010 at 1:21 am #

        I was never a huge Silver Age fan-certain stories I like and the concepts I love, but I was more into the Bronze Age. My issue with Miller is he seemed to have a personal dislike of Superman and wanted to position him as an establishment stooge. I know he suggested the story that was in Batman and the Outsiders to Mike W. Barr and of course his Superman in DKR was just an abomination to me. It seemed he has real contempt for the character.

  7. Inkstained Wretch November 4, 2010 at 11:05 am #

    “It’s hard to imagine this was the same Kane that did the original Green Lantern; his art was so sketchy, unpolished and ugl,y at first I thought it was Carmine Infantino with Vin Coletta inks (zing!). To Gil Kane, I say the one thing no artist ever wants to hear: your old stuff was better!’”

    I totally disagree with you here. Gil Kane’s art work had evolved into something really dazzling and an unique at this point. It was perfect for Superman. It’s too bad he wasn’t made the regular penciler for the series.

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