Action Comics #899 review

I’m almost ashamed to say it, but I’m proud of Lex Luthor. Yes, he’s a scumbag with no reverence for any individual life other than his own, but he’s our scumbag. A regular human, no super abilities but able to take on, and beat, beings of immense power.
And that’s what he does this issue, as he faces not only Brainiac, who’s been manipulating Lex’s Lois Lane robot for his own ends, but the unknowable creature behind the whole Black Ring quest.
There are revelations aplenty as writer Paul Cornell sets the stage for Superman’s return to Action Comics with #900, and a massive battle against Lex. Plot threads from the last ten issues knit together nicely, putting Lex in a good place to save the universe. Wotta guy.
The finer details of who’s been up to what turn out to have been less than guessable, but I don’t mind at all – not every story element has to proceed from previous ones; I rather like surprises. And the being Lex must face after beating Brainiac – in a thoroughly entertaining duel of wits – fits nicely into the Superman mythos.
As well as holding his own against Lex, for a little while, Brainiac messes with his head, confronting his bald foe with his lack of self-knowledge. Of course, the emotionless Brainiac’s headgames stem from his logical nature, not mischief. Superman’s biggest villains prove well-matched here, though one must prevail.
Artist Pete Woods is absent this issue (he’s no doubt working on next month’s massive conclusion to Lex’s Action Comics residency) so we’re treated to Jesus Merino. He does Woods proud, sticking to his character designs while injecting his own brand of pizzazz. His finest hour here comes with the design of the creature Lex battles: think Jack Kirby Celestial crossed with a Twiglet. And his cute Mr Mind Jr simply demands the plush treatment.
I’m not madly keen on details of David Finch’s cover (Brainiac’s left thigh is the size of a planet, while Lex’s biffed head looks off) but the overall impression is striking.
I am chuffed to bits at the prospect of Paul Cornell and Pete Woods handling Superman in Action Comics from next month. But come #901, I suspect a part of me will be missing Lex Luthor. Who knew?

4 thoughts on “Action Comics #899 review

  1. I was intrigued by this as I have a love/hate relationship with this revamped Brainiac.
    I've always really liked Brainiac for the most part throughout his various incarantions but this supposedly definitive and 'real' version leaves a lot to be desired, his reputation simply does not live up to the reality and this issue is yet another paving stone on his journey to mediocrity.

    When DC rewrote Lex Luthors history after Infinite Crisis I wasn't impressed, he lost a lot of credibility for me as I was inured to the Lex as Buisinessman template and the return to mad scientist was a retrograde step.
    But with the work that's slowly been done with him I'm now won over! Action Comics has been an okay journey, moostly focused on Lex's intelligence and weaknesses of personal character but still a very worthwhile endeavor.
    I didn't find his battle with the supposedly all-powerful and dangerous Brainiac terribly convincing this issue but DC have yet to do justice to this new Brainiac, he's an embarrasment frankly. A thick B-lister villain at best. And that simply isnt what a Brainiac should be about.

    But the news Paul Cornell is sticking around is good I think…


  2. Probably because I was raised with super-scientist Lex, the post-Crisis businessman version never sat well with me. Having Lex sign the paycheck of mad boffins rather than be the mad boffin diminished him in my eyes. Mind, I could live without the super-suit, I've never been a fan of that.

    I do see your point about the new Brainiac – so far, he's not that impressive. 'A thick B-lister at best' – ha!


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