Superman #23.2

Written By: Tony Bedard
Art By: Pascal Alixe

Superman #23.2 establishes that Brainiac is a force to be reckoned with, with the telling of his origin. However, due to undefined relationships and inconsistent art, this issue falls short.

It’s been interesting to see the choice of narration in each Villains Month issue. For this installment, an extension of Brainiac’s consciousness – Pnumenoid – tells Brainiac’s not-so-humble origins as a detached scientist who causes the destruction of his planet. The cold narration sells Brainiac’s doom and gloom, but doesn’t add the needed injection of heart to the story.

There isn’t the same emotional attachment to Brainiac (or Vril Dox as he’s originally named) or to the people of his planet Yod-Colu as there was in Cyborg Superman’s feature. We aren’t acquainted with any civilians, and Brainiac’s wife is immediately introduced as disgusted with him. We don’t get to experience the feeling of disgust or betrayal that she feels when she discovers her husband is using their son as a test subject.

Alixe excels at drawing detailed figures, with sharp line work, similar to Kenneth Rocafort’s work on the title. However, the blocking of characters is jarring, as seen in bottom two panels of page four, where Victoria Viceroy’s head is off-panel and floating. Alixe loses his sense of bodily structure as the issue goes on, noticeable in the panel where Brainiac grasps Victoria by the neck.

The issue does successfully prove that Brainiac is a worthy foe for Superman and all of planet Earth for that matter. The splash page of his various incarnations is a feast for the eyes, and his lack of conscience arouses fear.

Superman #23.2 shows why Brainiac needs to be a concern, but doesn’t make us feel sorry for the character, understand his disposition or empathize with his experiences.

Score: 6.9/10