DCAU #221: War Games

IN THIS ONE... Brainiac might destroy Earth, but not if Livewire has something to say about it. (Two-parter)

CREDITS: Written by Mark Millar; art by Aluir Amancio and Terry Austin.

REVIEW: Brainiac returns and almost gets to STAY returned with a rash of mysterious computer malfunctions that drive Superman to exhaustion and are, in fact, too much for the Man of Steel to handle. This is one story where people really do die because Superman can't be everywhere at once. Millar's script doesn't let up, and Amancio's dynamic art keeps a sense of tense jeopardy throughout. And that helps sell the scene where Lois and Jimmy are caught in an explosion (it's basically the Arnim Zola scene in The Winter Soldier). The story may, in fact, be too violent for the DCAU, making me worry about Kal's alien zoo animals lying prone around Brainiac in Part 2... But we don't usually see too much.

Superman is thrown into the Phantom Zone at the mid-point, and that could have been an adventure onto itself. Sadly, it's just a plot convenience and the way he returns is an even more dubious one. Livewire, awakening from her slumber and deciding to help save Earth... that I like. All the villains should be lining up to make sure they have an Earth to cause mayhem on. But that she should show up and somehow know what happened to Superman and to reverse it electronically with her powers... Is there a missing piece where Hamilton would have gotten word to her? That aside, he puts her life in danger to save us from nuclear Armageddon, with a single missile slipping out to give Superman something to do, and acting as the engine of Brainiac's ironic demise.

Some nice moments in Part 2 aside from that include Mercy's reaction to Superman saving the day and Lex's reaction to hers, Lois Lane's impassioned speech to Livewire, and Brainiac's oh crap moment. But I'd still say Part 1 was the better chapter, as things grow desperate around the city.
IN THE MAINSTREAM COMICS: Clark refers to Jimmy as "Mister Action", a name he used in late Silver Age Superman's Pal stories.

REREADABILITY: Medium - Plot's on a railroad, but the dynamic art and character moments make up for it.



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