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Superman: House of Brainiac Special #1 is the Absolute Power prologue you didn't see coming

This week's Superman one-shot has a big impact on DC's summer 2024 event

Superman: House of Brainiac Special #1
Image credit: Jamal Campbell/DC

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Fans might have been tempted to overlook this week’s Superman: House of Brainiac Special #1 when it was first announced — it was, after all, a one-shot issue tying into the main storyline happening in the regular Superman and Action Comics that was officially described as “Chapter 2.5.” If it’s not even a full chapter, some fans might have asked themselves, how big of a deal could the issue really be?

Here’s the thing, though: for anyone tracking the march towards DC’s big summer 2024 event, Absolute Power, Superman: House of Brainiac Special #1 turns out to be pretty essential. Here’s why.

Spoiler warning for Superman: House of Brainiac Special #1. Do not read further if you want to remain surprised by the issue itself!

Superman: House of Brainiac Special #1
Image credit: Jamal Campbell/DC

Superman: House of Brainiac #1 is split into three chapters; two of them are written by Joshua Williamson, who’s writing both Superman and Action Comics during the House of Brainiac storyline, and who has been one of the primary architects of the DCU since 2021’s Infinite Frontier era. The middle chapter, meanwhile, is written by Mark Russell, with art from longtime collaborator Steve Pugh. It’s a somewhat disconnected story about Perry White running for Mayor of Metropolis — a subplot in Williamson’s Superman title — and, although it’s arguably the heart of the issue (or, at least, the most heartfelt chapter in the issue; it’s a really lovely, meaningful read), it’s not what we’re here to talk about.

Neither, truly, are we here to talk about the first chapter, although ‘Secrets of Czarnia’ (illustrated by Edwin Galmon) fills in some gaps in both the House of Brainiac story — what is Brainiac doing with his own army of Lobos, anyway? And what connection does he have with Lobo’s home planet? — and wider DC continuity. (Hands up anyone who expected to see Miss Tribb from the 1990 Lobo miniseries again; no, I don’t believe you.) No, what we’re here to talk about is the third chapter in the issue, ‘Signal.’

The Amanda Waller of Everything

DC comics fans who’ve been following Amanda Waller’s journey through the Dawn of DC era — that includes us, by the way — have had two questions at the front of mind for awhile now:

‘Signal’ answers both of those questions. As Waller confronts the figures hidden behind the screens — now giving them the name “Council of Light” — she explains that they have no government connections, but certainly have a lot of knowledge… and some interesting abilities. “We found you on Earth-3 and returned you to your homeward so that you would be our agent here,” one of the figures helpfully explains, but it’s what happens when Waller asks them to reveal themselves that is the most interesting… as the Council of Light, it turns out, is made up entirely of different versions of Brainiac from throughout the villain’s history.

Superman: House of Brainiac Special #1
Image credit: Fico Ossio/DC

It’s safe to say that Waller doesn’t take the reveal well — the phrase “May I remind you that I have taken you out before, and I can do it again?” might be something she says, referring to the events of Justice League: No Justice, back in 2018 — leading to a schism that Brainiac claims to have seen coming, but is likely to be the instigating factor behind Absolute Power proper. After all, before this, Waller was working to someone else’s agenda, simply because it suited her own plans. Now, though, she’s off the leash and angry… and that’s never something that anyone around her should want.

DC comic readers won’t have to wait long to see what happens next in the story, though — this weekend’s Free Comic Book Day event brings a prelude issue for Absolute Power that sees the story behind it take shape ahead of July’s big launch. Things really are starting to heat up in the DCU, and that’s not a good thing for the good guys.

Superman: House of Brainiac Special #1 is available now.

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