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Comic Book / Superman '78

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Superman '78 is a six-issue DC Comics miniseries. Created in a similar vein to the Batman '66 and Batman '89 comics, the series is a continuation of the adventures of Christopher Reeve's Superman from Richard Donner's Superman Film Series (the first film in particular), and is written by Robert Venditti (Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps) and drawn by Wilfredo Torres.

A bright, shining day in Metropolis is interrupted by a mysterious drone that crash-lands in the city and starts wreaking havoc. This looks like a job for Superman! But where did the metallic menace come from, what is its purpose, and who is Brainiac?

A sequel was announced in 2023, Superman '78: The Metal Curtain, also by Venditti.


  • The '70s: Well, obviously.
  • Alternate Continuity: At the end of the series, Jor-El and Lara survive and Luthor makes his getaway, making both Superman Returnsnote  and, at least, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace non-canon (at least in this continuity).
  • Batman Gambit: When Luthor bid Superman farewell, he planted a device that could contact Superman via the brain's Alpha Waves. He intended it to drag Brainiac back to Earth so he can prove that he was the greater intellect. It worked a little too well.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Though Brainiac is killed in the explosion of his ship and Metropolis is spared becoming nothing but rubble, the cities Brainiac held in his collection are still shrunken and Luthor used the confusion to get away. However, Superman has vowed to find a way to restore the worlds, which Jor-El and Lara are more than happy to wait for as they now know they have hope of returning to normal.
  • Break the Haughty: Lex Luthor's life on parole seems to be nothing but this; being offered menial labor of working in a cafeteria and living in a rundown apartment that take two trains and a bus in the rain to get to.
  • Canon Immigrant: The first issue does not waste anytime by introducing Brainiac into the continuity of the Donner films.
  • The Collector: Brainiac's, as expected, modus operandi.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Wilfredo Torres used Yul Brynner as the visual basis for this version of Brainiac.
  • Dark Messiah: What Brainiac accuses of Superman being to the people of Earth. He's also one himself with his talk of preserving life and saving Earth from an "invasive species" like Superman.
  • Determinator: Superman sums up why he and Brainiac are completely different in six simple words in issue #6
    Superman: You gave up. I NEVER WILL!
  • Fantastic Nature Reserve: Brainiac's ship is full of collected species he claims to have "saved" from extinction. Including the city of Kandor with Jor-El and Lara.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: Brainiac justifies his actions by screaming at Superman about how he lost everything. Superman's response:
    Superman: I thought I lost everything, too. I didn't let it twist me.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Not wanting to be upstaged by Brainiac, Luthor planted a device on Superman and used it to contact Superman so Brainiac can detect it. He did, alright... and decided Earth is too dangerous to be left alone.
  • Hope Bringer: Superman proves he's this once more by the end of the series.
  • Interquel: Interestingly, unlike its companion series, this is actually set in between the events of Superman II and Superman III.
  • It's Cuban: After Brainiac III carts Superman away, evil billionaire Lex Luthor offers Lois a Cuban cigar, and comments that it's her loss if she's too distracted to have one.
    Luthor: It's Cuban. Only the best.
  • Last of His Kind: Brainiac states he's the last member of his species and we're shown a brief flashback to him surveying the remains of his civilization following some unspecified apocalypse.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: Lex is revealed to have a hidden laboratory in his rundown apartment.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In general, there are a lot of panels and poses that are outright traced from the movies.
    • "Otisburg" graffiti can be seen on a wall Clark is running past.
    • In Luthor's secret lab in his apartment parts of his famous battle armor can be seen along with a giant tube labeled "BZ1".
    • Brainiac's drones use the robotic-skeletal Brainiac design first introduced in Action Comics #544 in the early-80s.
    • Superman uses the (in)famous "cellophane S" from Richard Lester's version of Superman II against a couple of Brainiac drones.
    • When Brainiac returns to Earth, Lex dons his purple and green jumpsuit from Pre-Crisis continuity and Superfriends.
    • Richard Pryor pops up in a crowd scene as Braniac prepares to shrink and capture Metropolis. Very likely supposed to be same character he played in Superman III.
    • Brainiac being the featured villain may have been inspired by an earlier script for Superman III in which he was intended to be the Big Bad.
  • Never Say That Again: When Lex is able to transmit a way to allow Superman to escape the bottled city of Kandor, Jor-El praises the invention, saying it must be the work of a true genius. Superman just responds to never let Lex hear that
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Luthor's device is exactly what Jor-El needed to help re-enlarge Superman.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Brainiac brings this up with him commenting on he and Supes both respectively being the last their kind, as well as the physical pinnacle of their races.
  • The Reveal: Jor-El and Lara-El are revealed to be alive in issue #3. Taken, along with Kandor, during the very last seconds before Krypton was destroyed by Brainiac.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Gene Hackman's Lex Luthor doesn't disappoint when he shows up.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Spared by the Adaptation: By the end of the series, this proves to be the case concerning Jor-El and Lara, stuck in the Bottled City of Kandor, but still alive.
  • Tuckerization: A train station is shown in a panel with the name of "Shuster Station", a nod to Supes' co-creator and original artist, Joe Shuster.