Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #782

Action Comics #782

Scheduled to arrive in stores: August 22, 2001

Cover date: October 2001

2001 Shield No. 41

Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciller: Kano
Inker: Marlo Alquiza

"Trial By Fire"

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey (

Inside of the Lexcorp Tower, Lex Luthor and his changed daughter Lena try to harness the power of the Brainiac planetary weapon in order to deal a crushing blow to Warworld.

On Apokolips, Darkseid mourns the fall of his planet's war-torn heart. He bids Wonder Woman, nearby, to take flight or be destroyed.

Superman, meanwhile, plunges into the sun in an effort to gain more power.

Steel combats the power grid in the Aegis, wondering how he is alive.

Superman, enraged and empowered, grunts and considers the voice in his head. Imperiex's voice.

Focus. Clarity. Kill.

Captain Marvel, Green Lantern, and Deadman, among others fight the machines in the heart of Warworld, shaped like a huge Brainiac.

The Luthors attempt to fire the weapon while General Zod looks on. Zod gloats on having captured Metropolis for Luthor. Brainiac intercedes on the firing operation, having come through the previously thought blocked signal, frying Lena and teleporting her to his command module.

He condemns her weak flesh and prepares to kill her, when a noise rocks Warworld.

Error? Brainiac wonders. Superman has arrived.

Imperiex commands Superman to kill. He is so powerful that he is out of control.

Steel contacts Luthor, informing him of the situation. Luthor tells Steel that he has the situation in hand. A dazed Jimmy Olsen, spouting babble in Brainiac speak (to find out how, read Harley Quinn: Our Worlds At War) is hooked into the machine, ready to fire the weapon.

Darkseid asks Wonder Woman for power to his Omega Beams, in order to restore his strength.

Superman plows through Warworld, heading straight for the heart, despite Brainiac's admonishments that such destruction is impossible. Inside the heart, Imperiex's voice screams to crush the heart, to kill it.

Superman realizes that in order to kill Brainiac, he must release Imperiex, and thus doom the universe. Catch-22.

Superman screams at Imperiex to stop confusing him.

Luthor prepares to fire the weapon, knowing that doing so will kill his daughter, Superman, and anyone on Warworld.

Superman contacts John Henry, and they halt the operation. Superman has a plan.

At once, Luthor bombards with Lexcorp Tower, and Darkseid opens up with his Omega Beams. The two beams hit and converge, opening up a gigantic boom tube.

Superman pushes the planet through the boom tube, despite Brainiac insisting that it isn't possible, to Lena's gentle scoff, "You'd be surprised what meat is capable of... when heart is involved."

The boom tube leads to the beginning of time, where Superman allows Warworld and Brainiac and Imperiex to meld with the birth of the universe, giving them both what they wanted and thus ending their threats.

Warned of the consequences, Superman notes that there is no victory without risks, and no way to avoid more destruction and death other than this.

On the way out, he takes a piece of Brainiac's ship with him.

Superman tells Lex, "We are small men in a large universe." And hands him a small package. It's his daughter, Lena. An infant no older than the day Lex fed her to Brainiac, approximately two years ago, our time.

"This is your second chance, to forget trying to be a God," Superman tells him. "...and embrace what makes you a man."

"I told you I'd get her back. Don't let her go again."

Darkseid takes Apokolips away from Earth in a giant boom tube. The war is over.

5Story - 5: Amazing. Lots of very good stuff here, lots of action, lots of excitement. Usually, when I see a comic book with nine panels a page, I get dubious. Rarely, if ever, do I read a comic book with nine panel pages and not notice it. This one provided such a pleasure, because it pulled you so far into the story that you had trouble coming back.

I'll always consider when Luthor gave up his daughter in the beginning of the run of these new teams one of the best, if not the single best moment of characterization I've seen in this comic series. But now, with Superman returning that daughter across time, space, and the loss of family and friends, I think that moment has a pretty wonderful challenger.

So everything is closed up. All of the fanboys (well, the ones I know anyway) were jazzed because Superman would have to kill in order to end the war. Well. Well, well, well. He didn't. And I'm glad. I would have been disappointed if he had. He was tempted, and this was a good thing to show, but he didn't. It made the story for me. Well, that and the Lena thing.

Several logistical problems that after the story made me say "huh?", but didn't affect my view of the story:

Superman becomes super-super-super man by virtue of flying into the sun. The books have played with this before, and he ended up having to be drained by the Parasite to not expand to explosion. What powered him down this time? Was the exertion to move Warworld sufficient? Probably. Just a thought.

Lena was a good twenty, twenty five years old in this story, but Superman takes her, as an infant, from Brainiac without going back in time to where Brainiac had her as an infant. (I'm assuming that Lena grew up either in a speeded up process or across the spans of theoretical time travellings done by Brainiac ending up in the present day.) Had he taken her as an infant, before "Our Worlds At War", then Lena could not have played her part and the war would have ended differently. This makes the adult Lena either a clone, a fake, or a machine. I'm interested as to which it is, and I hope this dangling end is resolved.

If the world now has Imperiex and Brainiac reshaping it, in places... what will happen to the treachery of Brainiac 2.5 when he attempts to usurp Brainiac in the Brainiac 13's future... OH MY GOD, I'M CROSSEYED.

Okay. No more playing with the temporal aspects and problems of this story... but you get the idea. There were some problems. We'll leave it at that, because the story itself more than made up for it providing everything we need from the old Blue, Red, and Yellow.

5Art - 5: Great. Just like the story. The story wouldn't have been what it was were it not for the art. It helps that Lena returning happens with the same artist that provided her disappearance and demise. Superman returning the child occurs exactly where he promised he would find her does. This is a chilling, heart stopping piece of motion in art.

The stark, dark colors are very gritty, and normally I would condemn that, but given the nature of the story and the way that everything has taken a decisive turn towards falling to hell in everyone's life, given the war, I'd think that in this case it is not only understandable, but apt. Steel looks pretty spiffy in his new duds, as well.

4Cover Art - 4: Very exciting, very depicting of what is in the issue, Superman battling Warworld in his increased size. The only thing that bothered me and knocked it a point is that looking at the picture, it's not amazingly clear what Superman is fighting, and that's slightly confusing. It looks like Metropolis to the bottom right and left side, and Brainiac's Warworld in the middle. Either way, it's still a pretty nice depiction, and eye catching as well.

Other recent reviews:

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic was on sale.

January 2001

February 2001 March 2001 April 2001 May 2001 June 2001 July 2001 August 2001 September 2001 October 2001 November 2001 December 2001 Annuals

Back to the Mild Mannered Reviews contents page.

Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2001.