Warning! Spoilers ahead for Superman ’78 #1
In DC Comics’ Superman ’78 series, a new adventure, set in the world of Christopher Reeve’s Man of Steel, is revealed showing that he fought the alien Brainiac before facing General Zod in Superman II. Set right after the events of the first Superman film, directed by Richard Donner, it’s revealed that the Coluan collector was Reeve’s first alien threat before General Zod and his followers broke free of their imprisonment by Superman’s father before Krypton met its end. Now, Brainiac is coming for Superman in this new series, believing that the Kryptonian is upsetting the balance of Earth and its evolution.
Prior to Superman ’78 – from writer Robert Venditti and artist Wilfredo Torres – it was assumed that Terrence Stamp’s General Zod and his disciples Ursa and Non were the first extraterrestrial threats Superman had ever faced, creating an important connection to Kal-El’s past, seeing as how his father Jor-El was the one who imprisoned them years ago in the Phantom Zone. His battle with the evil Kryptonians was harder than most of Superman’s fights. He had just given up his powers to be with Lois Lane, though he eventually regained his abilities and defeated Zod, promising that he would never abandon his role as Earth’s protector again.
Now, Superman ’78 #1 reveals a scout drone sent by Brainiac to assess the planetary stability of Earth and its inhabitants, initially seeing the planet as a minor threat. However, that was before the scout was met by Christopher Reeve’s Man of Steel. While Superman managed to defeat the drone, he was certainly caught off guard by its strength. Still, the scout drone was able to send its data (including its analysis of Kal-El) back to Brainiac’s mothership, prompting a swift response from the Coluan. Apparently, Brainiac will be seeking to eliminate this singular rogue Kryptonian who escaped Krypton’s destruction, while also seemingly confirming that Zod, Ursa, and Non are still trapped in the Phantom Zone.
While Brainiac preceding Zod doesn’t seem to harm the greater Donnerverse narrative in any way, it does suggest an interesting sequential pattern of events. Superman deals with Earth-based threats in his first film, and three other Krypton survivors are introduced in the second. So Brainiac referring to Superman at the singular Kryptonian implies his encounter with the Man of Steel predates Zod, Ursa, and Non.
It’s going to be very interesting to see where this new series goes next, as well as its counterpart Batman ’89, which similarly follows the events right after the first Tim Burton Batman film. However things play out, Brainiac seems to be a perfect choice for this new adventure, allowing readers to see Reeve’s Superman out of his element with this first alien threat that isn’t a known quantity like his Kryptonian foes led by General Zod.