Superman Brings His Most Ridiculous Movie Move to Comics
As the world of Christopher Reeve’s Superman fully introduces its iteration of Brainiac, the Man of Steel fails back on his strangest attack.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Superman ’78 #2, on sale now from DC Comics.
While still one of the best superhero comic book adaptations around, the Christopher Reeve Superman films have some interesting flourishes that may seem patently bizarre further removed from the Silver Age of Comics Books that inspired them. From Superman causing Lois Lane to forget his secret identity through a kiss in 1980’s Superman II to Superman fixing the Great Wall of China with a strange power in 1987’s Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, there are some genuinely head-scratching moments and powers that the Man of Steel employs in that iconic run of superhero movies. And in the comic book miniseries Superman ’78, which continues the story from the first two Reeve’s films, the Last Son of Krypton revisits one of his stranger movie attacks.
The comic book series has introduced Brainiac to the world of Reeve’s films, with the supervillain viewing Superman as an invasive species on Earth due to his Kryptonian heritage. While scouring the galaxy, cataloging all intelligent life, Brainiac sent a probe to Earth, where it fought Superman across the streets of Metropolis. While studying the drone’s head, Lex Luthor accidentally reactivates it, causing it to send a transmission back to Brainiac himself, who quickly makes a detour to Earth after learning about Superman’s existence. And as Brainiac launches his full invasion of Earth, with Metropolis as ground zero, an increasingly outnumbered Man of Tomorrow decides to use a secret weapon right out of Superman II in Superman ’78 #2 by Robert Venditti, Wilfredo Torres, Jordie Bellaire and A Larger World’s Dave Lanphear.
Rather than engage Superman personally, Brainiac unleashes a wave of drones on Metropolis as they devastate the city while searching for Superman. The Man of Steel manages to avoid being overwhelmed by the robotic army, but the fight quickly grows out of control as the drones continue to swarm around the superhero all while inflicting massive amounts of collateral damage to Metropolis. Soaring above the city, a desperate Superman tries to regain control of the conflict by flying a large energy field in the shape of his costume’s chest emblem, trapping several of the drones inside before it becomes clear this strategy provided only a brief stopgap.
The energy emblem was an attack used by Superman in the climactic showdown inside of the Fortress of Solitude at the end of Superman II. Outnumbered by General Zod and his fellow escaped Kryptonian criminals from the Phantom Zone, Superman quickly loses his home field advantage inside of his own headquarters. With only a handful of tricks left up his sleeve, Superman flings the emblem-shaped energy field at Non when the savage convict lunges at him, sending Non to the ground until he eventually claws his way free and rejoin the fight, leading to Superman to resort to even more desperate measures.
Superman’s use of the emblem-shaped energy field against the Brainiac drones is about as successful as the tactic was when it was used against Non in Superman II, acting as more of a temporary setback than leading to any lasting change. And running the risk of letting his city fall in flames, Superman has to take on drastic measures to cease the attack before the devastation ramps up, setting up a meeting between the Last Son of Krypton and the ultimate extraterrestrial enemy.
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