Brightburn

I’d been seeing the trailers for Brightburn around, and figured I’d just . . . wait for Redbox, maybe. I mean, Supes getting weaponized by Lex Luthor was pretty much ever other issue for a while, and Justice Leagure Dark had already shown me what all there heroes being unheroic was like. But then I heard somebody online saying that this was a slasher.

I was at the next showing.

[ note: gonna be spoilers here ]

And, to back up: a book or three ago, Marketing of whatever publisher I was with hit me up for articles or posts I could write here or there. I pitched the idea that Superman wasn’t the real hero. It was Ma and Pa Kent who deserved that title. It was their bulletproof sense of right and wrong that gave the most powerful being on Earth some guidelines, some parameters, kept him between the ditches, like. My plan was to say how lucky it was that he’d landed there, instead of one farm over, where the family from X-Files‘ “Home” episode set up shop. If his rocket capsule bassinet lands THERE, then, bam, the world’s over, bye.

But, Marketing elected to have me write about something else. No big loss.

I am glad other people were thinking along these lines, though. And, could be this is some arc in one of the Superman titles . . . but I kind of doubt it. I mean, yeah, this killer kid has all Supes’ powers, is a kid in Kansas, seems to be traipsing through the tried-and-true story we all know from all the different versions, but it feels, too, like the writers or someone is taking pains to not get into licensed territory. Well, not quite.

Anyway, why I wasn’t rah-rah for it? I figured it was just an attempt to flip superheroes on their back, show us their belly. Isn’t The Boys about to do the same thing? I mean, Mystery Men was doing something like that twenty years ago, but nobody watches that anymore, and of course Frank Miller and Alan Moore were taking similar shots in ’86. But this is now; in today’s world where everything cycles so fast, we get to the same stuff over and over again. Which is fine, cool, whatever.

But, when I heard it was maybe a slasher . . . had to be there.

And? It is for sure some horror, and some really good horror, but it’s not a slasher. I can see where people might say that, though: the mask, the stalking, the set-piece killings, the gore. That essential slasher dynamic is missing, though. As everybody’s saying on social media, this is more that Omen build we know and are terrified of.

It completely works, too. I don’t understand all the bad write-ups Brightburn‘s pulling.

And, too, I was wrong: it doesn’t take bad parenting to create an evil Superman. Some kids are born bad, yeah? At least in this world. Moreover, technically . . . this is horror, sure, no doubt. But if it subscribes to any of the builds we know, it’s the invasion story. The alien invasion story that’s been hot the last few years, maybe siphoning off or adding to all our tensions about immigration and refugee situations. I honestly don’t know. But, this is that, anyway: this kid’s not here randomly. He’s, as the story tells us, a brood wasp—a cuckoo, basically, come to not only feed on us, but, as the ‘orders’ he gets from his bassinet intimate, maybe terraform Planet Earth.

Why not, right? If Superman can fly around the equator fast enough to turn back time, then razing all life can’t be that big of a trick. And, in good horror fashion, the ending sets us up wonderfully for a sequel.

So, yeah, I really liked this one, am glad I got kind of tricked into going. Hope to see it again when it hits Redbox.

talking comics, that mask kind of reminds us of Sandman’s Cthulhu-ey traveling helmet, yes?