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Superman: House of Brainiac Special
DC Comics

Comic Books

‘Superman: House of Brainiac Special’ provides depth and promise to an already exciting event

Accomplishes a lot of load-bearing work.

Though we’re only three issues in, House of Brainiac is shaping up to be a real barnburner of an event. With Action Comics #1064 and Superman #13 setting up the players and stakes, it’s started off with bombastic action – the supers of Metropolis abducted by Brainiac and his Czarnian army and Superman and Lobo jetting after them on outer space motorcycles. Nothing could read as quintessentially, shrug-inducingly fun as all that.

The House of Brainiac Special does something unique, however: it pulls the camera back and lays into aspects of the story much more subtle than heroes in jar prisons.

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DC Preview: Superman: House of Brainiac Special #1

DC Comics

First off, it goes about laying some historical background on Brainiac and Lobo’s home world of Czarnia, delivering an origin to Brainiac’s pet army. In doing so, the issue provides a nice summary of the Czarnian history, which feels necessary for new readers (and refreshing to studied fans).

DC Preview: Superman: House of Brainiac Special #1

DC Comics

Like the whole of the Dawn of DC Superman books, this special delights in the cartoony past of the character and his foes. We get a nice moment of an old-school Brainiac and a one-man skull ship not much different from the one recently released by McFarlane Toys.

'Superman: House of Brainiac Special' provides depth and promise to an already exciting event

McFarlane Toys

All that history gives way to what might feel like a diversion from the action, but the diversion sets up deeper stakes for our narrative. Perry White finds himself debating with his mayorial opposition, Garon Blake. While the politics at play – a pretty standard portrayal of xenophobia vs acceptance, wrapped in the all-too-clear ‘alien’ phraseology – aren’t particularly subtle, the implication is: however space-faring, robot-punching, and cosmic-warring the main event might be, there are much richer human implications.

This is a story about the world’s strongest man, a grumpy Wolverine parody, and an evil robot. It is also the story of basic human liberties and the very real threat of race-motivated violence.

Superman: House of Brainiac Special

DC Comics

There are also long-standing narrative threads weaving into House of Brainiac, as the special’s third story exposes Amanda Waller and the mysterious Council of Light. It’s a firm reminder that the Dawn of DC provided a clean slate of jumping on points without excising the narratives that preceded it. This is a book influenced by Dark Crisis just as much as it’s a book influenced by Joshua Williams’ current Superman book.

Tapping a different artist for each story lends these chapters a unique air and puts the reader in a unique mindspace for each. Brainiac’s history with Czarnia taps Edwin Galmon, who plays gruesomely with all that tech and all that violence, while Steve Pugh’s Perry Mason plays with a sort of grounded, person-of-the-people humanity. Finally, Fico Ossio gives us the scratchily-shaded world of Waller’s conspiratorial secrets.

The House of Brainiac Special accomplishes a lot of load-bearing work, elevating what could be a simple four-color Superman space romp to something altogether more challenging. There’s a promise of deeper reward in these pages, making the wait for the story’s further chapters all the more anguishing.

Superman: House of Brainiac Special
‘Superman: House of Brainiac Special’ provides depth and promise to an already exciting event
Superman: House of Brainiac Special
Jumping away from the Superman/Lobo action, the House of Brainiac Special provides deep background and deeper stakes for the event.
Reader Rating1 Votes
8
A quick refresher on just *who* the Czarnians are
Elaborates on the political landscape of Metropolis.
Bibbo!
Leaves all the high-fling action for issues of Action Comics and Superman.
8
Good
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