Friday, April 22, 2016
Let's talk about comics. I get away from the point of this blog regularly, so tonight let's get down to it.
I love comics. I read a ton of comics. I create comics. I love doing it. It fuels me. It drives me. I've made it a primary point of my life and I've made a lot of great friends and associates in person, on the internets etc., through this craft. We may not always agree on politics, but we find a common ground in the art of comic booking. And that's what matters.
I'm what can be classified as an "independent" creator or a "indie/small press" publisher. I don't like the term "self-publisher" because my books still get published, I just decided to do it my way.
Anyways, I've been officially making comics under the TJ Comics banner for almost seven years. It started with a small book called "Mack Turner: Slayer of the Dead" that stalled out after three issues (but will be back eventually, rebooted!) and continues with Patriot-1 and ExtraOrdinary today. I also publish The Argonauts by Keith Dallas, and if you're out there looking for a partner to help package and publish your book for the sole purpose of helping each other out, contact me through TJ Comics.
We're relatively poor, we sometimes work "real" jobs we can't stand and we just want to tell our stories. Comics are like a drug and once you're hooked, it's very, very hard to turn away. Sometimes what we do to put out our stories is mind-boggling... we have to be directors, managers, writers, artists, publishers, cashiers, tax accountants, web developers, social media experts and of course, salespeople.
For me personally, I want to do my own books like Patriot-1 and ExtraOrdinary, but I also want to contribute to the mythos of characters I love. Be it well known characters from Marvel or DC, or lesser popular ones like The Phantom or The Rocketeer, for example. And let me tell you, it's an uphill battle.
I've run two successful Kickstarter campaigns, Patriot-1 won an IPPY Award in 2015 - a particular point of pride for me - and I've spent thousands of dollars to make my comics happen even with lower-than-hoped sales and I keep going.
I do have a solid day job, I'm also married with three young children - making up the four people who mean the word to me. I've been with my wife for 11 years (married for 5), she's my best friend, my kids are awesome and exhausting and I just try to be a decent human being, a good father and a good husband. As I get older, I've become very interested in charity campaigns and helping others. Sure, I got in trouble and didn't always have the best judgement when I was young and stupid - but that's part of growing up. Why is all this personal stuff important? Because I like to think I'm an OK human being or at least try to be and that's key to my view on comics and the industry.
MANY people I've met and befriended in comics are the same way. Many people I follow on the social medias are good people, committed to their passion, fighting an uphill battle just trying to tell stories about their characters, characters they love and trying to make a few bucks in the process.
For some of my friends, they've been influential and work/worked for Marvel and DC and when they do cons and such, they sometimes don't have to worry about table or hotel costs and that's awesome, they've earned it. But for guys like me, I have to carefully pick and choose shows, limit travel and essentially go into each con with the prospect of losing money.
Hell, last weekend I attended a show with some solid names in comics like Mark Waid, my pal Jamal Igle, my friend Steve Orlando and many other titans of past and present. The show was attended decently, but the table I paid extra for was relegated to a far corner, a ways away from the big name creators, and next to a concession stand and bathroom that was all to the far right of the entrance. A forgotten area of indie and small press publishers waiting and waiting for the crowds to swing over. The best kind of cons mix the small press with the big names, or make fans have to go through the small press to get to the big names,
But the attendees never really came, I sold a couple books, but I barely even pitched the books because no one came by, which is highly unusual. With about 4 hours left in the show I was getting frustrated, I spent extra money for a "corner" table and believe me, "corner" was quite literal. The con was an hour away from my house, just across the George Washington Bridge... so it wasn't far and I was paying for the table, gas and tolls. Usually, I'm satisfied if I make my table costs back, but as the first day of the show came to a close, I had little to show... nor did those around me. So I made the decision to cut my losses and just stay home the next day with my wife and kids. Worked out too, it was 75 degrees outside and we got new sand for the kids' sandbox.
That's the first time I left a con like that. It's getting tougher out there for indie and small press. Cons were once our time to shine, but we've been overshadowed in recent years by numerous things like cosplayers, celebrities and "media guests" taking precedence over comics, people really into comic culture but not comics and of course, the sheer fact that there are so many damn cons.
My point is, there are a lot of good, honest people out there trying to do what they love. Deserving to be noticed. Working hard to create fan bases and maybe, MAYBE, get a shot with the big publishers.
Not all indie and small press comics are created equal. Let's just be honest, I personally pride my books on quality. Art, story, printing... I want to put out the best and most professional-looking product possible. While I'm never going to discourage anyone from pursuing what they love, there are a lot of "amateur" books out there.
But what's my end goal? A lot of things actually. I've got a Patriot-1 screenplay that I think is really, really good... and what I'd love is the chance to pitch some of the ideas I have for Marvel, DC, whomever. See if those ideas fit into their editorial plans. I mean... that's what we want to do right? Tell some stories? Make some money?
It should be that simple. At the end of the day we're in a business, a capitalist business. With that in mind, controversy was stirred up by the ousting of Shelly Bond as Vertigo's executive editor. I don't know Shelly, I know the phenomenal books she's stewarded and I know many of the people I know and follow have nothing but great things to say about her. She was let go for whatever reason, be it business or what not... that's neither here nor there. But what her ousting unleashed was something far darker about comics. The "open secret" about DC Comics editor Eddie Berganza... which leads to another problem, which leads to another problem and so on.
The ugly, dark side of comics.... I'm not going to recap here... because you can read it at Bleeding Cool and at Comics Beat...
In a nutshell, we're talking about sexual harassment, blacklisting, gender inequality in comics and general bullshit that shouldn't be happening in a business that is frankly, dying.
The worst part about the whole thing is that there are stories just as bad out there with high profile creators and editors, the DC one just brings up some additional questions. But these issues aren't relegated to just DC. Conventions have signage that say "cosplay is not consent" because people have little dignity or respect for their fellow fans. There are stories of creators, big and small, being shunned or "blacklisted" because they speak out against injustices... much like the superheroes they write or want to write.
The "blacklist." This is a list of pros that publishers allegedly keep if you speak ill of them, or if you don't fall in line or if, in some cases you report sexual harassment or other awful things that shouldn't be happening. Because even if you have a massive and passionate fan base and could team up with a publisher and make some money, if you're blacklisted for some infraction in the past, you're shit out of luck.
Here's an industry trying it's damnedest to make inroads for diversity - diversity in characters, diversity in creators - all that good stuff... but yet there exists an environment where people and specifically women feel they have to remain silent on serious issues for fear of not being able to pursue what they love. I mean, come on.
How can an industry become more diverse, more inclusive and attract new readers to survive when there are horror stories like this out there?
The comics industry and REAL comics culture is burning, while the comics pop culture thrives. Sales are down, readership is down, many talented and creative people are shunned, overlooked, not given a fair chance and it's more evident than ever thanks to social media. Conventions, once boons for small press and indie comics and artists to develop fan bases and find work are afterthoughts to the latest Funko POPs or cheap, unlicensed print vendors.
While good people struggle to create something new, unique or impassioned in an effort to tell stories and make a buck, there are those that are making comics unsafe, exclusive and generally the opposite of what comics should be. That's what gets me the most here. Many of us in the comic persuasion have been bullied at one point or another. Often times that's what turns us to comics. Many of us have been told to grow up or "chase real dreams" and yet, here we are still doing it. But the industry is becoming rife with bullies and people getting in the way of your dreams.
As a whole, comics suffers because of this. There's a darker culture on the rise. One that embraces many old stereotypes and it becomes increasingly difficult to see whether or not the future for comics is bright or if it's just spiraling to the bottom of the ocean floor.
Whether it's harassment, black listing, forced silence or just general sexism. Women are a minority in comics and often treated like second class citizens and that's being polite in some cases. But there's also ageism and the "removal" of now legendary creators who are perfectly capable of creating modern stories.
I'm a "bottom-rung" on the comics ladder. But as I'm trying to climb up, I can't help but look around and see people, ideas and money falling from the top.
There's a rampant problem of really questionable people in the industry, whether it's people in editorial positions or bloggers-turned-creators with a history of being really shitty to people and using their fan bases and following to spread negativity and being generally shitty. For what? It's obviously not helping the business. It's not helping small press and indie creators thrive. And it sure as hell isn't breeding a welcoming environment for new people to spend their dollars and grow the industry.
I like to consider myself a decent human being and person, constantly striving to be better while taking care of myself and my family. When you're like me and you hear of these horror stories of the industry, you become frustrated and you start to wonder why the hell you're even trying in the first place.
We all need to be better.
You can directly support me by checking out TJ Comics and/or ordering Patriot-1 or ExtraOrdinary or my other books directly from my online store. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
Monday, April 4, 2016
This is the completion of my "trilogy" of Superman posts. Rather than another thinkpiece on Superman, I've decided to share something I've had notes on since "Superman Returns." When I was young, one of the things I always wanted to do was write a Superman movie. That has never changed, though realistically it would likely never happen. With that in mind, I've decided to share the detailed - and a bit rough - treatment for what I would do with Superman in the movies. (Fair warning, this was a labor of love, you may find some typos). I don't think Superman is a difficult character and I do believe he can stand for his classic ideals in the modern world. If you have some time, please feel free to read, comment and even reach out to me.
I started putting this together after "Superman Returns" and it does draw heavy influence from Geoff Johns' phenomenal "Superman: Brainiac" storyline. Posting this now is more therapeutic than anything else, and just an opportunity to tell a Superman story I may not otherwise ever be able to tell.
It's long, but I hope it engages you and you enjoy this vision of Superman.
So here it is... "Superman: The Man of Tomorrow"
SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF TOMORROW
Treatment by Kevin Powers
Treatment by Kevin Powers
“What if they’re afraid of me, Pa?”
“People will always be afraid, son. But with your gifts, you can give them every reason not to be afraid.”
“By being you, Clark. You can use these abilities to help others. You can give them hope for a better tomorrow… give them a reason to look up.”
A montage of Superman's exploits since his public debut through news clippings, broadcasts and interviews with witnesses, people rescued and Superman himself.
18 months ago, SUPERMAN made his public debut preventing a commercial airliner from crashing in Metropolis. Making the city his base of operations, he helps where he can around the world - saving people from natural disasters, terror attacks and the occasional super-villain. Although he does not involve himself in regional conflicts, his presence is felt. Feared by many at first, Superman makes himself available to the media and has held meetings with various governments and the United Nations, including “controversial” nations like Iran and Russia. Superman makes an effort to becomes a very public figure from the get-go.
Superman’s presence has resulted in other people with powers to emerge throughout the world. Dubbed “metahumans,” some of them are good, some are misunderstood and some are plain evil. Superman has battled the likes of the Parasite, Livewire and The Prankster – each featured in Daily Planet stories by Lois Lane and Clark Kent.
The final news clippings show LEX LUTHOR and Superman having a good relationship and considered friends. Lex also discovered Kryptonite, a rare metal that can weaken Superman and strip him of his powers. A second story shows Lex destroying the Kryptonite and then in an interview, Lex goes as far as to call Superman “a friend.” The Man of Steel has worked with LexCorp and Wayne Enterprises to allow the study and reverse engineering of the Kryptonian engine that brought his rocketship to Earth. The two companies have created the quantum drive - an engine capable of lightspeed – and are preparing to test it on LX-01, a rocket ship powered by nuclear fusion and the special engine.
Open on LexCorp Launch Station Alpha, a rocket launch station off the coast of Metropolis. At a press area near the launch pad, VICKI VALE explains BRUCE WAYNE's involvement in the development of the rocket but acknowledges Wayne is not present at the event, but in his stead is LUCIUS FOX. SNAPPER CARR delivers a report discussing the importance of the rocket and what it could mean for humanity’s future. Finally, LOIS LANE discusses the history of the quantum engine and how it relates back to Superman and his desire to help humanity achieve greater things.
When the broadcasts end, Vicki and Lois exchange verbal jabs commenting on each other's respective relationships with Batman and Superman. Lois makes it clear that Vicki has never actually seen "The Batman" and that he's just an urban legend in Gotham City. She quips, “maybe one of these days I’ll head over to Gotham and get the exclusive.” When security tells them to leave, Lois tries to convince one of the security guards to let her inside launch control, citing she is General Sam Lane's daughter. After a moment of trying to charm her way to an exclusive, the security guard pushes her towards the elevator. As the door opens, a man - JOHN CORBEN - walks out and bumps into Lois. They are momentarily flustered and she looks at his nametag to see the name "Jim Lee" and the photo of an Asian-American man. When she looks at Corben, he is not Asian-American. Just as she's about to question him, she's whisked away into the elevator.
At the observation platform away from the launch station, JIMMY OLSEN is trying to set up the perfect shot in hopes that Daily Planet editor PERRY WHITE will use a photo from him, at least on the website. CLARK KENT is trying to calm Jimmy's nerves by talking about the potential of the LX-01 and discovery what could be out beyond the stars. Clark tells a story about how he used to look at the stars late at night, wondering who else could be out there looking back. Jimmy wonders if Superman will be present for the launch. Clark smiles, assuring Jimmy that Superman probably isn't far.
Outside of the launch station, Lois calls Clark and tells him something is wrong. When he tells her to alert security, she explains that they thought she was crazy and that she's going to find Lex to tell him to call off the launch. Clark tries to convince her otherwise, but she hangs up.
Inside the launch control center, Lex is observing the room as the launch countdown begins. He's distracted when he hears "get your hands off me!" and security escorts Lois into the control room. She explains what she saw and although Lex doesn't believe her at first, he asks for Jim Lee's information and is informed that Lee called out sick. The launch sequence begins as Lex scans security systems and spots Corben exiting a restricted area that houses the rocket’s booster and navigation controls. No one recognizes Corben and Lex tries to call of the launch, but it's too late. The launch starts and the control center panics trying to override the system sounding alarms and yelling for an abort.
At the observation deck, Jimmy excitedly starts taking pictures when he notices red alarm lights going off through his zoom lens. He tells Clark that it looks like something is happening. Using his super-hearing, Clark listens to the sounds coming from the control center and the alarms going off at the launch pad as the rocket begins to lift off. Jimmy snaps a few pictures as the rocket takes off and turns to talk to Clark, but Clark is gone.
The rocket continues to ascend when the boosters explode causing it to spin out of control as it rises. Inside the control center, Lex is angry that no one can override the controls and fears the worst. One of the mission controllers informs Lex that if the quantum drive goes off inside Earth's atmosphere it could theoretically open a wormhole or a black hole.
Superman flies past the control center and towards the rocket. He floats outside the crew pod, using his heat vision to detach it from the rest of the shuttle. The crew pod descends to Earth as Superman tries to cool the rocket boosters with his freeze breath, but to no avail. He then diverts his attention to the crew pod and makes sure they safely make it to the ground.
Superman opens the pod and one of the astronauts tells him that the quantum drive is active and if it explodes it could be catastrophic. Superman takes off again racing towards the rocket booster and breaking the sound barrier. He flies through the rocket, ripping the quantum drive out of the shuttle's engine bay just as the rocket boosters and shuttle explode. Superman flies the quantum drive safely back to the ground to the cheers of the crowd. As he lands, Superman manages to shut down the drive but hears automatic gunfire and cars screeching and flies towards the sky as crew members run to the drive.
In orbit above Earth, a satellite detects the quantum drive's signature and then launches itself into deep space.
Back on Earth, Corben is in a high speed chase with police driving erratically and firing a weapon at the same time. Superman flies overhead and Corben is distracted as he hears the sonic boom. When he looks back at the road, he tries to swerve as he slams into the back of a car, going airborne and rolling violently off the road. Superman stops the car from falling into a ravine, but Corben is severely injured in the crash.
In deep space, the mysterious satellite flies towards a space craft lifelessly floating among the stars. The satellite docks with the ship and a computer is activated, scanning the satellite for information. It discovers the recorded data of the quantum drive's signature. Suddenly, the entire ship powers on and a mysterious being at the center of the ship - BRAINIAC - awakens.
The next day at the Daily Planet, Perry White orders Jimmy to get him black coffee and calls a meeting with Clark and Lois. They discuss the rocket incident and Perry asks what information they've found on Corben. Lois explains she hasn't found much other than Corben being a decorated soldier in the Army and was also a mercenary who has recently been on the payroll of both LexCorp and mega-corporation Omega Worldwide. Lois says she dug deeper and found some questionable transactions between LexCorp and Omega subsidiaries and notes that Wayne Industries refuses to work with Omega. Clark mentions he put in a call to Wayne Industries and they do not know where the quantum drive is.
Perry wants them to investigate; Lois informs them she already has a meeting with Omega CEO Bruno Manheim. Perry tells her to take Olsen and Clark and get answers.
Lex waits on the roof of his building as a medical helicopter lands, delivering John Corben. Lex instructs his people to take Corben to his private lab.
LOIS AND CLARK AT OMEGA WORLDWIDE
Lois, Clark and Jimmy arrive at Omega Worldwide. They enter the lobby and Lois started doling out orders, telling Jimmy to stay quiet and for Clark to follow her lead and ask basic questions "like a good, naive farmboy," to throw Manheim off. Manheim's assistant arrives to escort them when police cars and fire trucks race by the building. The assistant asks for identification as Clark turns and tries to filter his super-hearing to exactly what is happening. He focuses on police band radio and listens as there are reports of a woman threatening to jump and commit suicide three blocks away. Clark feels around his pockets and looks at Lois. "Oh my gosh, I left my wallet in the cab!" Clark runs out of the building, leaving Lois and Jimmy. Suddenly, Jimmy gets an alert on his phone about the jumper and Lois tells him to go and that she can handle herself.
Outside the Omega building, Clark ducks into an empty alley and changes into Superman.
Standing on a balcony on a high-rise apartment building is a young twenty-something. She's crying hysterically and looking down. Superman appears hovering above her. She immediately yells as Superman not to stop her and he promises that he won't, but that he wants to talk to her and floats to eye level. Similar to the scene that occurs in the Superman: Grounded storyline, the woman explains what's troubling her and Superman just listens. When she finishes, he talks to her about what it was like to grow up with his developing powers and the fear of uncertainty. He tells her things get bad and get worse, but you can never lose hope for a better tomorrow. Superman extends his hand and tells the woman that if she is still hopeful for a better tomorrow, then to take his hand. She sits and says she needs a moment and Superman responds "I'll be here when you're ready."
LOIS CONFRONTS MANHEIM
Inside Bruno Manheim's office, Manheim tries to make small talk with Lois and asks her about her relationship with Superman. Lois tells him to "cut the crap" and she immediately begins to grill him on his relationship with John Corben and business dealings with LexCorp. Manheim skirts around the issue and tells Lois there are forces at play she cannot possibly understand. He does give her details of the exact work that Corben did for him, including industrial sabotage and assistance in acquiring a rare metal scattered all over the Earth. Lois presses further, but Manheim avoids the issue, accusing Lois of conducting a witch-hunt and asks her to leave. He tells her if she really wants a story then she should check the LexCorp Launch Station’s lab.
Manheim watches Lois leave and then makes a phone call, saying: “beef up security of all shipments coming through Gotham.”
THE JUMPER DECIDES
Superman still floats in front of the young woman ready to jump. She finally stands and asks Superman once more if he'll stop her if she jumps and he says "no, I gave you my word.” She then takes a step forward, but grabs Superman's hand and hugs him. He carries her safely back down to the ground and makes sure she gets medical attention.
THE FIRST BRAINIAC DRONE ATTACKS
Lois is in a cab talking to Perry on the phone and says she has a lead on the location of the quantum drive. The cab suddenly stops as a large meteor can be seen heading for the ground.
Still aiding the young woman, Superman's attention is diverted when he looks up and sees the fireball streak across the sky. Superman asks the young woman once more if she is okay before he takes off.
Superman flies into the path of the oncoming object and is immediately knocked out of the way. He watches as it crashes into a field at the LexCorp Launch Station. Security approaches it and it transforms into a humanoid robot - BRAINIAC DRONE 1 - and attacks the security guards.
Superman flies into the path of the oncoming object and is immediately knocked out of the way. He watches as it crashes into a field at the LexCorp Launch Station. Security approaches it and it transforms into a humanoid robot - BRAINIAC DRONE 1 - and attacks the security guards.
Superman flies onto the scene and punches the drone into the ground. He then directs his attention to the injured guards, flying them to safety at super-speed and then back to the seemingly destroyed drone, telling the other guards to get clear. The Brainiac drone awakens and punches Superman knocking into an SUV.
The drone begins to scan Superman and calls him an anomaly and that he shouldn’t exist. Superman flies at the drone and unleashes a barrage of punches that the drone is able to absorb. The drone fights back and grabs Superman by the neck, slamming him into the ground. The drone unleashes two tentacles from its torso that pin Superman's arms. Using his heat vision, Superman is able to break free of the drone’s grip as more armed guards and armored vehicles arrive and open fire on the drone, distracting it long enough for Superman to regain his bearings.
Superman and the drone fight in mid-air and Superman battles to keep the drone from reattaching its tentacles. Explosions goes off in the sky next them as the guards are firing high-explosive weapons into the air. Finally, one of the explosions hits the drone and it’s dazed, allowing Superman to hit it at super-speed and force it through the hangar roof.
Inside the hangar, Superman stands between the drone and the remains of the LX-01, including the quantum drive. They battle again, but Superman doesn't hold back, pulling on the tentacles to punch and do serious damage to the drone. After he rips out the tentacles, Superman uses his X-Ray vision to find a processor. Using his heat vision to soften the metal, Superman punches through the drone's chest and rips out the processor and crushes it, shutting down the drone.
DRONE BATTLE AFTERMATCH
Lex arrives at the hangar and is immediately fascinated with the drone, citing that it has technology he's never seen. Superman questions why Lex still has the LX-01 and asks if Bruce Wayne knows. Lex informs Superman that LexCorp has more proprietary and patented tech in it than Wayne Industries, effectively making it his property. Lex also lays claim to the drone and implies that Superman leave. Lois arrives and she immediately questions Lex about the LX-01 and why he’s keeping it hidden. Lex tells them both to get off his property and after a tense stare down, Superman picks up Lois and flies away. Lex orders the drone be taken to his lab at once.
Superman flies Lois back to the roof of the Daily Planet and she asks him to dinner in their “usual spot.” Superman agrees and flies away.
Lois enters the bullpen inside the planet as Jimmy is recounting the story of Superman saving the young woman, but Perry is disappointed that Jimmy didn't get photos of the drone. Lois tells Perry she'll have the Brainiac story in an hour, but it may bury Lex which makes Perry nervous. When Perry asks about Manheim, Lois explains that she’s still investigating. She sits at her desk and sees Clark sitting at his. “Did you find your wallet?” Clark smiles and shows her the wallet.
Lois laughs and makes a phone call to an unknown party. "Do me a favor; see if you can any shipments of metals and minerals recently. I'll email you a list of companies to look out for. Yes, yes. Next time you are in Metropolis, I'll see what I can do."
From his stasis pod, Brainiac is watching satellite and broadcast footage of his drone’s battle with Superman. He tells his computer to process the results of the drone’s scan and learns that Superman is Kryptonian. “Impossible. Acquire sample for analysis.”
Two drones launch from Brainiac’s ship and enter a wormhole.
DATE WITH LOIS
Later in the evening atop the Metropolis Sky Tower (think Seattle's Space Needle), Superman and Lois have dinner together and discuss their relationship. Superman flew to Paris to bring Lois a very specific dessert. While she is grateful, she's also upset that after nearly a year of dating, he won't tell her his secret identity. She wants to go on normal dates with him and have a normal life.
They quip back and forth, but Superman doesn’t know if it’s the right thing to do. Lois says “you can tell me or not, but if you don’t I’m not going to keep doing this.”
Superman pauses but is distracted when he hears a sonic boom. He looks up and it immediately tackled into the air by the two Brainiac drones. He battles the drones in mid-air, trying to fly them away from the city. One of the drones wraps a tentacle around Superman’s neck and the other grabs his waist and the plummet back towards the ground.
Superman and the drones land hard in Centennial Park and continue to battle. Superman is soon overwhelmed as one drone jumps on his back and wraps its arms and legs around him. The other drone uses its hand to cover Superman’s face and send a small probe attached to a cable into his throat. Superman struggles as the drone transmits data to a "Brainiac Prime" and Superman has flashes of Krypton and his real parents. After a moment, Superman uses his heat vision to free himself of the drone's grip. Superman breaks free of the other drone and uses his freeze breath to slow it down. With the drone partially frozen, Superman uses his heat vision to rip out the drone’s processor, shutting it down. He turns his attention to the other drone but it takes off into the sky. Police and firefighters arrive and Lois appears. Superman looks at Lois, grabs the drone and takes off.
FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE
Superman flies into orbit and then back down towards the Arctic. He flies toward an iceberg where about two-thirds of the way to the top there is a section that has steps and a smoothed over area that looks like a door. Superman stands on the final step before the door and puts his hand in the center of it. Kryptonian lettering appears across the door and some of the characters begin to form a sequence - like a combination. The door opens and Superman is greeted by his robot KELEX.
Superman makes his way through the fortress to a Kryptonian console. When he activates the console, a projection of JOR-EL appears before him. Jor-EL praises his son for the good he is doing on Earth and encourages him to keep going, but can sense there is something wrong. Superman lifts up the drone and shows it to Jor-EL, asking about Brainiac. Jor-EL's demeanor immediately changes. Superman explains the encounter with the drone and mentions "Brainiac Prime." Jor-EL is stricken with grief and tells his son that Earth is doomed.
Jor-EL explains Brainiac's history and what happened when it came to Krypton. Showing Superman a projection of what happened; Jor-EL explains that Brainiac seeks out world's that are on the brink of total devastation. Jor-EL recounts that seven years before Superman was born, Brainiac came to Krypton. He explains the former capital city of Krypton - Kandor - was the most prosperous, progressive and technologically advanced city on the planet. Jor-EL explains that Kandor was the ideal of what all of Krypton strived to be - successful, accepting and a hub intergalactic travel on an otherwise xenophobic world. Then Brainiac arrived.
Superman is shown images of Brainiac drones swarming Kandor and the people of Kandor trying to fight back. Brainiac’s drones corral the citizens of Kandor within the city limits. Some of the citizens resist and fight the drones, but they are immediately killed. Superman watches in horror as Kandor is encased, lifted from the planet's crust and shrunk. Jor-EL tells Superman that Brainiac collects the greatest cities of civilizations and planets on the brink of destruction - and that is how Jor-EL learned Krypton was doomed.
However, Jor-EL questions Brainiac's motives. He acknowledges that Earth's climate is teetering on the brink of collapse, but the core is stable. Jor-EL goes over Brainiac's history based on his own research conducted with his brother Zor-EL. Brainiac is from the planet Colu and was once a revered scientist named Vril Dox. The Coluans are a mostly peaceful people who believe in advancing other civilizations and worlds. Dox had an opposite philosophy, merging with a sentient computer program and becoming Brainiac. His only purpose now is to collect specimens of failed worlds and use their knowledge to better only himself. When Superman asks how to stop him, Jor-EL tells him "there is no way to stop him. Earth's final days have come."
Onboard Brainiac’s ship, the alien rests in his stasis pod as the drone returns and plugs itself into the mainframe of the ship. Brainiac asks the computer to bring up specific files regarding the Superman sample collected on Earth. Brainiac also examines his files from Krypton, recounting the history of the planet’s destruction. The Kryptonians tapped into the planet’s core as an energy source rather than exploring alternative energy sources. Although they briefly thrived, they poisoned the planet from the inside, making Krypton unstable. Brainiac acquired Kandor when Krypton’s fate was irreversible.
When reviewing the files, Brainiac discovers two quantum drive signatures – one from Argo City and the other from Kryptonopolis. They both entered a wormhole, but only one made it to Earth.
Brainiac processes data on Earth, discovering it has a similar orbit pattern and many of the same characteristics as Krypton. The computer notes that Earth is only halfway through its life cycle, but the dominant species – humans – have accelerated the planet’s decline through war, famine and environmental irresponsibility. The computer also notes that Superman resides mostly in Metropolis – Earth’s most advanced city. The computer explains how Earth’s yellow sun is also the source of Superman’s abilities. Brainiac sets course for Earth and prepares to acquire Metropolis as his ship opens and enters a wormhole.
In the depths of the LexCorp building is Lex’s secret lab. The lab itself is highly advanced with many recognizable and practical workstations, as well as many that reach beyond standard sciences. Lex works alone, listening to classical music and dissecting the first Brainiac drone. He notes that the metal appears to be organic and was only truly vulnerable to Superman’s heat vision. He posits that he can adjust the resiliency of the metal and apply it to both improve his battlesuit and provide the perfect shell for his secret “Metallo Project.”
Clark sits on the top floor of his family’s barn, leaning on the door and looking up at the stars. PA KENT greets Clark and immediately notices that Clark is shaken. Clark explains the encounter with the Brainiac Drone and his visit to the Fortress of Solitude, briefly recounting what Jor-EL told him. With Brainiac looming, Clark believes everything he’s done is for nothing and that humanity will never try and fix their mistakes. Pa acknowledges that humanity can be its own worst enemy, but that as Superman; Clark can be a beacon of hope that will inspire humanity to be better. Pa briefly recounts the problems he and Ma Kent faced trying to have children, but when Clark fell from the sky, they had new hope of a better tomorrow.
Pa tells Clark that humanity can be cynical, fearful and always preparing for the worst and that is why some people still fear Superman. But Pa also reminds his son that he’s more than just Superman, he’s more human than he is Kryptonian and at the end of the day, he’s still just Clark Kent. Pa is confident that Clark will defeat Brainiac or any other threat that comes his way, and that the people of Earth will have another reason to strive for a better tomorrow. “You can put on that suit and be Superman, but you’re still Clark Kent, and the one thing Clark Kent and Superman have in common is you always find a way. You always give us hope, son.”
Clark has dinner with his parents at the house. MA KENT scolds Clark on his manners when he tries to go for food before she sits down and then she asks briefly about “the killer robot.” Ma almost brushes it off, confident that Clark or some his “super-friends” can stop it. Ma pivots and asks about Lois, reminding Clark that he can’t be Superman all the time. Clark is a bit coy and both Ma and Pa are disappointed he hasn’t told Lois his identity yet. Clark tries to say it’s complicated, but Ma doesn’t accept that. She mentions his high school sweetheart, Lana Lang, the first person he ever told and she’s been fine having kept the secret. Pa laughs about the entire situation, saying “Lois is a Pulitzer prize winning journalist, Clark. You’re naïve if you think she doesn’t know!” Ma joins her husband’s assertion, “she loves you Clark, but it’s up to you to let her in.”
The next morning, Lois is asleep as her phone rings – it’s Vicki Vale, the contact she made following the first Braniac incident. She has a tip for Lois and says the connection between LexCorp and Omega Worldwide is that Omega has been supplying LexCorp with Kryptonite. Vicki tells Lois that the shipments come through Gotham City before making their way to Metropolis and that she’s emailing the information. When Lois asks how Vicki found out, Vicki replies "an urban legend helped me out."
Brainiac’s ship exits a wormhole in Earth’s orbit and makes its way into the atmosphere. The military immediately goes into a frenzy trying to identify the ship. The ship rapidly descends above Metropolis and people drop what they are doing.
Inside Lex’s office, Lex and Lois watch the ship in awe. Lois looks at Lex, “you do this?” And Lex responds “Can’t you call Superman?”
Superman then flies towards Brainiac’s ship and Lex and Lois both breathe a sigh of relief. As Superman approaches the ship an energy beam hits him and he’s knocked back into the ground. Suddenly, Brainiac drones emerge from the bottom of the ship.
Lex tells Lois he’ll show her exactly what he needs the Kryptonite for and they enter a private elevator.
Superman struggles to get back to his feet as he looks up and sees the Brainiac drones making their way to Earth. Superman takes off and starts fighting the drones and they all focus on him.
Lex and Lois arrive in Lex’s workshop and he explains that the Kryptonite is also a power source and he’s been experimenting with harnessing that power. When Lois asks why, Lex unveils his battlesuit, powers it on and tells her “Superman can’t do it alone.”
Moments later, a hangar opens in a courtyard behind the LexCorp building and Lex takes off into the sky.
In the sky above Metropolis, Superman is holding his own but focuses on saving people from the drones and that puts him at a disadvantage. Just as he starts to get overwhelmed Lex appears in the battle armor and helps Superman fend off the drones.
Superman briefly explains to Lex that the ship belongs to an alien called Brainiac. Lex questions Superman about how he knows and the Man of Steel explains that he just learned of Brainiac’s existence.
Superman tells Lex he needs to get into the ship before Brainiac bottles Metropolis. With no time to explain, Lex and Superman fly towards Brainiac’s ship and draw the drones towards them, using them as shields for Brainiac’s energy beams.
Lex gets taken down by drones and Superman manages to avoid an energy beam just to be grabbed by a larger tentacle from the ship. Superman is pinned and pulled into the ship as Lex struggles to fight off the drones.
Bound by the drones on board the ship, Superman is brought through a collections room with thousands of bottled cities and looks on in horror. He is then brought before Brainiac. The drones force Superman to his knees and Brainiac emerges from his stasis pod. He’s massive and physically imposing. He grabs Superman by the neck and explains that he shouldn’t exist because Krypton is gone. Superman tries to fight back but Brainiac overpowers him.
Brainiac explains his intentions – he preserves the greatest cultural achievements of worlds that are about to die. Earth wasn’t a target, but Superman’s presence has accelerated the timetable for Earth’s death. Superman disputes Brainiac’s claim, suggesting humanity can change, they just need a push.
Brainiac counters and suggests even if humanity stopped the damage done to the environment, there are other parties interested in Earth, mostly because of Superman’s presence. Brainiac also tells Superman that his existence must end as Krypton has been destroyed. Brainiac claims to be benevolent and gives Superman a choice as one of his drones brings the bottled city of Kandor and place it in front of Superman. Brainiac tells Superman he can die and be studied by Brainiac or he can live for eternity, powerless inside Kandor.
Superman remains resilient as Brainiac calls him “a god with no world.” Brainiac tells Superman before he makes his choice, he will watch Earth’s greatest city be taken for collection.
A gel-like substance begins to emerge from the bottom of Brainiac’s ship as the drones float into the air. Lex’s battlesuit is damaged and he’s a bit beat up. He watches in shock as the substance descends in a opaque shape around the city.
Lois, Perry and Jimmy watch from outside The Daily Planet as the casing lowers.
The casing wraps around the city and begins to harden, cutting off people on the outskirts of the city and prevents people from getting out.
Lex diverts all remaining power to his thrusters and takes off, flying towards the Launch Station.
Superman pleads with Brainiac to stop, but the alien reaffirms his position that there is no hope for humanity. A small drone floats in front of Brainiac and he broadcasts to everyone on Earth. He announces his intentions and tells humanity they have failed their planet and not even Superman could save them.
As the world looks on in fear, Superman screams and uses all of his strength to break free of the restraints. Shocked Brainiac turns and is met with a massive punch. The drone feed cuts off as Superman and Brainiac battle in the ship, eventually crashing through the hull and back down to Earth.
SUPERMAN VS. BRAINIAC
Superman and Brainiac battle in the sky above Metropolis. Neither one of them has a clear advantage, but Superman is easily distracted by saving people and preventing catastrophic damage. Lex arrives to help Superman and together they battle back towards Brainiac’s ship.
They crash back inside the ship and Brainiac is left reeling. Lex tells Superman he’s armed and aimed the quantum drive at Brainiac’s ship and will destroy it. Superman is shocked and tells Lex to look around – millions of lives are at stake inside the bottled cities.
Lex blames Superman for bringing Brainiac to Earth and reveals he’s never trusted Superman and fires a Kryptonite beam, taking Superman down. Brainiac then fires a weapon at Lex forcing him out of the ship.
Brainiac prepares to shrink Metropolis, but Superman uses his heat vision to knock Brainiac away before punching through the console, causing the process to halt and the encasing to disappear. Brainiac is irate and begins to mercilessly punch Superman. “Why do you save them?!” Brainiac asks. Superman replies: “Because there’s always a better tomorrow.”
Superman fights back, overwhelming Brainiac and pushing him back into the stasis pod, using his heat vision to seal him shut. Superman continues to fight off Brainiac drones.
From the ground, Lex uses a keypad on his armor to launch the quantum drive. “Die aliens.”
Superman fends off the last of the drones and flies out of the ship at super-speed, looking for the quantum drive. It races towards ship and Superman flies at it. He grabs it and tries to stop it, but Lex has used Kryptonite as part of the drive’s shell and Superman is weakened. Using his last bits of strength he changes position and manages to pull the drive away from the ship.
Superman falls away as the quantum drive explodes, creating a shockwave that momentarily stuns him as a wormhole opens in the sky above Metropolis. Superman regains his bearings in mid-air and flies back towards Brainiac’s ship as it’s slowly being pulled into the wormhole.
Flying back into the ship’s hull, Superman grabs Kandor and looks at Brainiac. “I will return, Kryptonian. You will die.” Superman looks at Brainiac with disgust. “When you do, I’ll save the rest of the lives you stole.”
Superman flies out of the wormhole and makes his way back down to the ground as Brainiac’s ship is pulled in and the wormhole closes. The people of Metropolis cheer wildly as Superman descends to the ground, carrying Kandor. Jimmy takes a photo of Superman and immediately shows it to Perry who smiles with joy.
SUPERMAN CONFRONTS LEX
Inside his office later that night, Lex is irate over the headlines online and in the Daily Planet. “SUPERMAN SAVES THE WORLD.” Lex angrily declares that he saved the world and if it weren’t for Superman, Brainiac would have never showed up.
Superman appears outside Lex’s office. Superman demands answers and wants to know why Lex attacked him. Lex reveals that he’s always hated Superman and doesn’t trust him. He’s an alien and he’s done nothing but put people in danger. Lex also says “I AM SUPPOSED TO BE HUMANITY’S SAVIOR, NOT YOU!” Superman stares at Lex stoically and Lex screams “SAY SOMETHING!” Superman gets in Lex’s face and says “I CAN SEE YOUR SOUL” before flying away.
Lex receives a call telling him that Corben is ready.
In his lab, a surgical team awaits Lex as he scrubs in for an operation. On an operating table is Corben’s body. Two scientists wheel in another table and uncover it to reveal a metallic skeleton. When Lex asks for the power source, a case carrying a Kryptonite heart is brought in. He examines the Kryptonite and then looks at Corben: “It’s time for a new job, Mr. Corben.”
SUPERMAN TELLS LOIS
Lois stands on her balcony looking at the skyline. Superman flies up to her and they briefly discuss what happened with Lex. Lois acts a little cold towards him, but Superman gently grabs her arm. “Lois, I love you. It’s time for you to know…” Lois smiles, “It took you long enough, Smallville.” Superman is taken aback, surprised that Lois really did know all along.
“So you did know?”
“Looks like Lois Lane is going to dump Superman for Clark Kent. How scandalous.”
Superman smiles and they kiss as we pan up to the stars.
SUPERMAN CONFRONTS MANHEIM
At night, Bruno Manheim dismisses his assistant for the night and pours himself a drink. When he turns around, Superman is floating outside his window. Manheim takes a drink and smirks at Superman. Through the glass Superman says "I'm watching you." Manheim laughs and grabs a permanent marker from his desk, draws an Omega symbol on the window and says "So is he."