Superman ’78 is the sequel to Christopher Reeve’s Superman fans could only dream up. Artist Wilfredo Torres has done a great job capturing the likenesses of the actors as well as the vibe of the original series. The story has also upped the ante much more than a ’70s movie budget could by sending Brainiac into Superman’s path. Superman ’78 #4 picks up with Clark Kent stuck in Brainiac’s trap, but he’s with his parents and the remaining Kryptonians. Should he break free or take his place amongst his people?
One of the joys of this series has been how it feels like a natural sequel to the original series. That’s due to the dialogue sounding natural for these characters, especially since they look like the actors who played them. It’s also the clean lines and retro feel Torres gives the environments and general look of the book. When you take all these familiar elements you get a strong and comforting nostalgic energy.
The book takes that and molds the identity of the series into something more with Brainiac. The opening of the issue shows Brainiac witnessing the end of his planet and people, possibly the last time they were caring, and cuts to him getting an upgraded body. The sci-fi weirdness of the scene helps show he’s a different kind of alien compared to the Kryptonians.
The story also takes Superman’s story a bit further thanks to him meeting his parents and learning a bit about the Kryptonian culture. They’re trapped in Brainiac’s jar, but life must go on. Venditti explores how Superman’s upbringing on Earth has changed him and made the Kryptonian life a bit foreign and unnatural to him. An alien on Earth and now, it seems, an alien amongst his people.
The vibe of the book is pitch-perfect, but the plot is a bit slow generally. It’s also a bit predictable since we know Superman would never give up on Earth and there isn’t enough time to make him truly ponder living as a Kryptonian in a jar. There aren’t enough pages to flesh these things out, which in some respect is okay since it is a story set in a movie universe.
Lex Luthor gets plenty of time to chew up the scenery as well. Torres draws all his ego and sassy intelligence very well with good expressions. It’s also fun to see him interact with Lois Lane, who despises him but knows she needs him. A classic reluctant team-up.
Superman ’78 #4 continues to be the movie adaptation we didn’t get, but we totally deserve it. Venditti and Torres have delivered a dream of a project to readers as we get to imagine this well-made comic as the movie sequel we could only dream of.
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