By: Greg Pak (story), Aaron Kuder & Scott Kolins (art), Wil Quintana (colors)

The Story: Brainstorms aren’t always good things and this one seems to prove it.

The Review: Recently, I’ve thought that if we could just move past the Doomsday stuff, Doomed might be a pretty decent storyline. I’m glad I stuck to my guns in saying there’s nothing further to develop with Doomsday, not even in the body of Superman, because that’s largely turned out to be the case. Obviously, it’s not terrific that it took an excruciating number of issues to make that clear, but the important thing is we’ve finally gotten past that.

The way I see it, the story of Doomed only truly started once Brainiac started flatlining everybody on the planet, sparing neither superhero or supervillain, yet keeping them all alive for purposes we can only speculate to. Doesn’t that sound a lot more interesting than “Superman infected by Doomsday virus”? Now we’re talking about a legitimate global disaster that requires a proportionate response, which is going to be hard to come by when the threat is actually bigger than the planet itself.

I don’t want to spoil too much of the various tactics attempted by Clark et al to repel Brainiac; I’ll just say that while it almost crutches on Clark’s usual standby of Phantom Zoning a problem into submission, Pak doesn’t let it be the end-all, be-all it has the potential to be. On top of that, Pak mixes in a fun array of characters that goes beyond the usual League associates (seeing how much of the League is incapacitated anyway), which makes Doomed feel less like the usual DC crisis.

Busy as he is with the Armageddon in progress, Pak makes some time for a few endearing character moments as well. He seems to have a special resonance with Diana, even more so than Charles Soule, who’s currently writing her full-time. Her embrace of Lois hits right onto Diana’s compassion and feminism both (“Last time we met, we nearly killed each other. But now I know what you’ve endured. Thank you, sister.”), and her kiss with Clark (“And welcome back, hero.”) actually has some genuine sexual chemistry—albeit with a slight comical touch from the fact that she does it with all his other major love interests (and I’m including Bruce in there because obviously) in the room.

This issue is pretty exciting on its own, but between the fallout here and from other issues, there’s a lot more excitement to come. Brainiac remains a seemingly unbeatable opponent and we still don’t know the particulars of his plan for Earth. Besides him, we have several other major antagonists at large: Xa-Du, now with the additions of Mongul and Non, both of whom are boss-level villains themselves. The lives of several heroes hang in the balance—although I suppose the same could be said for every hero, since pretty much everyone is caught in Brainiac’s psychic tractor beam. That’s a lot of stuff to cover, and for once, I’m glad we have a few more chapters left in Doomed to get it done.

Kuder’s art is great in itself, but it’s his enthusiastic vision that’s magnificent to see. When I talk about DC’s house artists, I usually say their output is “merely fine,” or something similar, and what I mean is their constant delivery of the most straightforward, vanilla version of the script possible. What separates a great artist like Kuder from that pack is dramatic flair (and a clean, confident line to render it clearly). Take the splash of Red Hood, his Outlaws, and their rescuees floating in midair, psychic light streaming from their eyes to join the tangle of light racing across the sky overhead. Kuder takes a simple image and adds awe to it just by his choice of POV: looking from the ground-up, just beneath the feat of the Outlaws, Arsenal’s bow dropping past your eyes. With that kind of competition, Kolins is doomed from the start; his thin, slightly choppy visuals put the nail in the coffin.

Conclusion: Amazingly enough, you’re excited to see how this story’s going to turn out, even if it’s been quite a slog to get to this point.

Grade: B

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Okay, just warning you that I’m being a little mean here, but every time I see anything misspelled in a comic, I immediately think Dezi Sienty. Ghost Soldier: “Guessing the mothership’s a little to [sic] big for that solution.”

– And seriously, the whole Lois referring to Superman by his first name thing is really bugging me out. So she knows???