Monday, October 22, 2018

January 2019 Solicits

The DC solicits for January were released this week and it looks to be an interesting 5 week month. Here is a link to the entire list:

One of the most interesting sites was the return of the 'Prestige Format' in a number of books released in the 5th week. I'm a huge fan of that format. Unfortunately, the 2018 price tag of $8-10 bucks makes the 'impulse buy' of them unlikely. The hook or idea has to be huge to prompt the buy. Is something like The Other History of the DC Universe, mini-series looking at characters who have felt different or prejudiced against, bold enough to bring me in? Or am I more likely to get the silly sounding anthology Mysteries Of Love In Space?

Another fascinating piece is the return of Young Justice, spotlighted below. But we are here for the super-books. On to those issues.

written by MARC ANDREYKO
variant cover by STANLEY “ARTGERM” LAU

Supergirl…super-captured! Still recovering from radiation poisoning, Kara finds herself in the clutches of the Citadel and its ruthless leader Harry Hokum, who is eager to experiment on one of the last Kryptonians in the known universe. How is Kara supposed to track down answers to her Rogol Zaar/Krypton mystery in the midst of a Vega System civil war? And you don’t throw a civil war in the Vega System without the Omega Men returning—even some long-lost ones!
ON SALE 01.16.19

I can't help but notice that Artgerm is back on the variant cover. Remember everyone, this is a business. If Artgerm on the book lifts the sales by 10K, maybe they should keep him on variants.

Kevin Maguire is on art again. I don't know how the Shaner/Maguire duties are being divvied up.

And I like the sound of the plot as well. If Supergirl is out in space, you may as well bring in the more cosmic stuff. Omega Men? Why not? Give me some Primus and Tigorr please!

In fact, why not have a crossover with JL Odyssey!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Review: Justice League #10

Justice League #10 came out this week, the opening chapter of the upcoming 'Drowned Earth' storyline. Written by Scott Snyder with art by Francis Manapul, it is a crackling issue, an excellent opening chapter which gives us the skeleton of the story while continuing to nudge forward the subplots which are the underpinning of this title.

Scott Snyder has been keeping his foot on the gas pedal in this title and this issue continues that pace. But while giving us a decent amount of exposition about the main plot, he also peeks in on the other members of the League, all of them busy with the current Legion of Doom threat. And, as if that wasn't enough, he also injects a lot of DC history into the issue. We get guest stars and mentions that deepen the continuity of the universe. For an old timer like me, I love seeing and hearing about these corners of the DCU.

Artist Francis Manapul really brings his A game here. As has been typical of the book, we are given crazy scenarios and locales, larger than life stuff, and Manapul is up to the challenge. But there is also small touches, little flourishes, which elevate even that heady stuff.

My one complaint? That there is a side mini-series about this. If I want to read the whole story I need to go outside this book. And I don't know if I am ...

On to the details.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Sales Review: September 2018

Sales for last month's books have been posted and I am starting to get nervous. It is a classic Anj move to look at sales (really orders) and think the worst. But when sales of your favorite character's book starts to hover around 20K, when it loses a third of sales in a couple of months, maybe I have a good reason to get nervous.

As usual, I love the analysis on ICv2. Here is a link to their coverage:

Supergirl #22 came out in September, the second issue of the new direction of the book.

I will remind people that before the Bendis pause and the new direction, the creative team of Orlando, Houser, and Rocha seemed to be peaking. The book had Artgerm variants and sales were healthy.

A 'bold new direction' can be a jumping off point. The idea of Supergirl wielding an axe and leaving Earth is certainly bold and new but it will it be accepted? Seems like many like a Supergirl on Earth.

The book came in at #104 and only 22,115 issues were ordered. That is a relatively precipitous drop. It's not as if the book hasn't dipped this low during the Rebirth time period. But the concern is where will it bottom out.

Yes, I am concerned.

For reference, the monthly sales figures of the Rebirth era Supergirl.

Oh how I miss those 30K figures.

Meanwhile, Brian Michael Bendis seems to have found his footing on the main Superman titles. The Action Comics book has crackled for me. And the Superman book with it's gorgeous Ivan Reis art has been steadily improving.

Superman is selling close to 70K. Action is close to 60K.

While not mega-sellers, maybe what DC was hoping with all the 'Bendis is Coming' stuff, these are very solid numbers. Glad these books are finding a sizeable audience.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Supergirl Episode 401: American Alien

Supergirl Season 4 started last Sunday and it started with a bang. I will start out by saying I was very very impressed with this episode. It built off of last season's revelations. It laid out the theme of the season nicely. Everyone had strong scenes with excellent characterization. New characters meshed very well with the cast. There were a couple of surprise guest stars. And ... and I think most importantly ... the political aspects of the plotlines and the themes were presented well, as aspects of the actual story instead of preachy, weird, hamfisted speeches.

I was thrilled.

There is no doubt that Supergirl is a politically progressive show, leaning left. Even the title card this season, colored by the rainbow, is a nice subtle nod to the idea of inclusion. The concepts of acceptance of diversity, embracing differences, and acknowledging value have been part of the show since its inception. Last year several episodes seemed to stall when the agenda seemed to be more important than the story, something I really have an issue with. The previews of this season made it seem like we could be in for more of the same. Instead we got a well-told story which showcased these issues. We weren't told what side to be on, we were shown. That goes a long long way with me.

Somehow this premiere not only gave us the foundation of the season but gave us subplots, name drops, personal character moments, and action. It was well acted all around. Despite all that, it didn't feel overstuffed, rushed, or superficial.

Seriously, I was so impressed with this episode that I can only hope that the rest of the season lives up to this beginning! Prepare for typical long review.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

DC Universe App

The DC Universe app came out a while back and I will admit it took me a bit of time to sign up. I wanted to wait for the first Titans episode to drop before downloading it. With the show pilot dropped, I decided the time was right.

I'll only give a bullet review of the Titans show. In three words, it's Snyder-level dark.

Maybe that is the point. Maybe this is a Titans show in *that* universe.

Dick Grayson is a police officer in Detroit involved with cases involving children. At night he becomes an ultra-violent Robin, bashing, stabbing, and maiming criminals. Yes, he utters the famous 'F Batman' line and we learn he felt he was becoming too much like his mentor. But this is a brooding Dick, willing to pulverize a fallen foe.

Starfire seems to have memory issues, lives as a mistress/courtesan to a Russian mob boss, and also has no problems killing people. Her powers erupt unexpectedly (maybe she forgot she has powers) and she incinerates some hitmen. But she also snaps the neck of a fallen foe.

We only see Beast Boy briefly. A green tiger in live action is awesome. A Gar who is a petty thief using his powers to lift video games from a department store is not.

At the very least Raven, effectively portrayed by Teagan Croft, is a fascinating character. Trying to bury something evil within her, barely hanging on, and  trying to find Grayson for help, she is fascinating.

The acting is good. The effects are good. And if I place this as a dark 'Elseworlds', I suppose the tone is fine. I can always rinse the ashes from my mouth by switching over to Teen Titans Go! I suppose I'll be watching. After all, Hawk and Dove show up next week. Hear me talk about them over here.

What about the rest of the app?

Monday, October 15, 2018

Review: Superman #4

Superman #4 came out this last week and was the best issue of this particular title since the Bendis takeover. While I have been enjoying the Metropolis plotlines in Action Comics, the Zaar-centric Superman hadn't grabbed me up to now. I think in this issue we finally get some of the characterization of Superman we have seen over in Action in this book. And that injection of personality added a ton of value to the proceedings here.

But more than just that personality, that look into Superman's ethics and some Pa Kent wisdom, it is the juxtaposition of these scenes with the mayhem violence happening around it that works doubly well. It isn't additive; it's multiplicative. When you hear what Superman wants but you see what he has to do, it makes the narrative sing.

Add to that Ivan Reis art (inked by Joe Prado and Oclair Albert), which is Neal Adams' stunning, and you have a winner issue. The action sequences are huge, letter-boxed, and mind-blowing. I also have to single out colorist Alex Sinclair for the huge palette he displays in the Zone scenes. Letterer Josh Reed also joins in the fun. From the art viewpoint, everything works together. Even the foil-enhanced cover is shiny fun.

I was floored here. And entertained. It all worked. On to the book.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Review: Supergirl #23

Supergirl #23 came out this week and was another interesting chapter in this new direction for the title. I know that interesting is an odd choice, a damning with faint praise sort of word. But the truth is I enjoyed this issue. There are plot points that feel a bit forced. There is one magical moment that felt off. Kara's emotions continue to run a bit rampant, a sort of step backwards. And much of the turmoil seems overly forced.

Writer Marc Andreyko builds the mystery of 'The Circle' and their role in Rogol Zaar's plan to destroy Krypton. We get to finally see the mystery man who has been in shadows on the cliffhanger pages and he looks familiar. Kara gets lucky and is given the next crumb in her trail. There is a lot of fighting that, in theory, could have been avoided. Perhaps the thing I am having a hard time wrapping my head around is Kara's labile emotions. I get that she is reeling from the Zaar reveal. But her angry reactions and lack of trust feel more like the Kara of 2011, not 2018.

What truly elevates and saves the issue is the art by Kevin Maguire. No big surprise that Maguire injects so much emotion into the scenes. Kara looks fantastic. And I love his Krypto. The book really sparkles. Seriously. If this issue had less spectacular art, I think I wouldn't be so forgiving. Add to that the shiny, foil cover by Artgerm and the fun Supergirl rocket-surfing variant by Amanda Conner and the book just looks stunning.

Onto the book!