To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Crisis on Infinite Earths, I have been looking at the Supergirl specific issues, culminating in the classic Crisis on Infinite Earths #7.
Earlier this month, I reviewed Crisis on Infinite Earths #5and showed how the creative team of Marv Wolfman, George Perez, and Jerry Ordway were really starting the stretch their legs on the book, bringing more and more characters from the DCU into the story.
And no scene captured that feeling more than the famous 'Monitor satellite scene' in the issue. There, on two pages, Perez stuffed in as many characters as he could, both the famous and the obscure, the popular and the forgotten. I can remember looking at these pages closely when the book first hit the shelves, trying to name everyone that I saw.
This scene certainly struck a chord to fans and creators alike because we saw it replayed elsewhere, albeit from different viewpoints. I thought, breaking briefly away from the Supergirl-centric approach to my Crisis coverage, I'd review those other versions of this gathering in a couple of Crisis cross-over issues and one late arrival.
Swamp Thing #46 was one of the more interesting Crisis cross-overs to hit the stand. This was smack in the middle of the run by the acclaimed, legendary team of Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, and John Totleben. Moore had made Swamp Thing into a true horror comic. This was the 'American Gothic' storyline, one which introduced the world to John Constantine. At this point, Swamp Thing didn't know exactly what was going on other than the world was becoming darker and a great metaphysical threat was approaching.
Moore had included the JLA as cameos in the 'Anatomy Lesson' arc and later in this book he would include other mainstream characters like Zatanna, Zatara, and Mento. He even has an arc where Swamp Thing fights Batman and later Lex Luthor. So Moore didn't shy away from dipping his toes in mainstream DC.
Here we open up with Swamp Thing just as he is brought to the Monitor's satellite. Constantine talks about the multiverse ending. We see him look into a globe similar to Morrison's Orrery of Worlds. And Constantine warns that there is more than just the physical worlds that people need to worry about.
It is great to see this scene from Swamp Thing's eyes. He feels out of place amongst the lunacy there. From Kamandi to Ambush Bug to the Creeper, it is Mardi Gras. It is a place of Gods and Monsters. Nice. Moore always had a turn of the phrase.
But I loved how Swamp Thing notices the reaction to Alex Luthor. Surprise and suspicion. I would react the same way. How do you trust a Luthor, even if he is from Earth 3?
Again, Swamp Thing at this point doesn't know exactly what part he is playing in this, just that Constantine has him blipping from place to place fighting monsters. They run into the Phantom Stranger who brings up the mysterious (at this point) Newcastle event.
There is a ton of foreshadowing here ... both in Swamp Thing's personal response to hearing the name Luthor to the Stranger saying he will see Constantine and Swamp Thing again. Nothing was wasted in these Moore issues. It remains a stellar read.
Finally we get a little information. Constantine and Swamp Thing will spearhead the defense of the spiritual planes while the super-heroes will defend the physical realm. I love Constantine's confidence that the physical world will survive. It is the other threat that is more dangerous.
Spoiler alert - Later in this issue we learn about the Brujeria, the Invunche, and the plan to bring back the Anti-God. All this comes to a close in Swamp Thing #50. Go out and buy these issues or trades!
We move from what I consider the best Crisis crossover, and certainly one of the more intelligent, to one of the sillier and forgettable crossovers, Infinity Inc. #22.
Now you have to remember that Earth 2, as it was, was going to disappear after the Crisis. The backbone of the All-Star Squadron and the history of Infinity Inc. was going to change dramatically. Roy Thomas was the writer of all the Earth 2 books and must have felt like he was playing continuity Jenga, removing a key piece somewhere and hoping nothing would fall.
Maybe because of this upheaval, Infinity Inc. got 8 Crisis cross-over issues - 7 monthly issues and an Annual! (Similarly, All-Star Squadron got 7 cross-over issues.)
Infinity Inc. #22, written by Roy Thomas with art by Mike Clark, Tony DeZuniga, and a young Tod McFarlane, starts out smack dab in the middle of the Crisis on Infinite Earths #5 satellite scene.
The team, composed mostly of the children of the All-Star Squadron, meets up with their parents and spend a good portion of these early pages arguing with Helix, a super-villain team that spar with throughout the book.
One of the things that I like about these visits to this scene is we see the smaller picture. As Swamp Thing is just trying to absorb all he is seeing, these more seasoned super-heroes seem to take it all in stride.
So here we see Fury and Silver Scarab touch base with Wonder Woman and the Flash simply to compare notes.
I love Plastic Man and Elongated Man in these panels.
And look at Scarab waving to his parents.
Look closely though. There, in the shadows ...
It's Supergirl! Standing between Deathbolt and Blok. And there is Braniac 5 too!
We get a bit of exposition here about what is happening in the Crisis. We have Alex Luthor again explain about the merging of worlds.
And, as in Swamp Thing, he is asking the gathered to trust him, to help him save the universe.
And then something of a left wing turn.
In 1999, 13 years after the Crisis, Marv Wolfman tapped the well one more time writing a one-shot issue of Legends of the DC Universe: Crisis on Infinite Earths #1. Art was by Paul Ryan. In this issue, the heroes journey to another world to try to stop the anti-matter wave from destroying everything.
One of the main characters in the story, as seen by the cover, is Supergirl. That's right, we get a whole issue of Kara Zor-El in the headband at a time when Linda Danvers was dealing with being an Earth Angel.
Seems a little odd ..
I am sure I will review this issue in it's entirety at some point.
But the last page of the book is another look at the satellite scene. This one is a bit more consistent with the original, from Harbinger to Pariah to Luthor and even Platinum and Mercury, the framework of the scene is the same.
There in the middle is Supergirl. She is hugging Superman. It is a bit chilling knowing what we know happens soon enough.
And so this closes my look at Crisis on Infinite Earths #5 and the famous satellite scene.
Convergence: The Adventures of Superman #2 came out this week and gave us another peek at the pre-Crisis Supergirl. Last month, Marv Wolfman, the writer who killed off this character, showed us a Kara who learned of her ultimate destiny and continued to fight the never-ending battle.
I commented last month on how Wolfman continues to pick the scab of Supergirl's death, revisiting it and her a number of times over the course of his career. Perhaps we Supergirl fans can take some smug satisfaction in a couple of things. For one, we know that Supergirl isn't worthless and superfluous, her character surviving and thriving past her 'death'. And, for me, I find it fascinating that Wolfman does come back to this event. I don't know if he thought that Supergirl's death would resonate so much that it is still this important 30 years later.
This issue, Wolfman has Supergirl really trying to deal with the knowledge of her own death. Does she continue to move towards that fate? She never wavers in understanding of her role and what she must do. But the thoughts plague her as they would any of us. I cover most but not all of these scenes here. And I suppose that this is the crux of the story for Wolfman. (Certainly the gorillas from Kamandi aren't real threats to 2 pre-Crisis Kryptonians.) I just wonder if we needed to see and hear it so often in the issue.
The art on the book is done by Roberto Viacava, a newcomer to me. He acquits himself nicely here. There is nothing splashy about this. Just solid composition.
Last issue ended with the super-cousins fighting the Phantom Zone villains within the Zone. There is a little artistic license here as the Zone is a more physical realm than the ghostly ether I grew up with.
Right off the bat, we hear Supergirl's inner monologue about her death. She knows she is going to die. She know she needs to protect Kal and save him so he can ultimately stop the destruction of the universes. She has to protect Superman.
In some ways, Kara knowing she is going to die diminishes her sacrifice in Crisis a smidge. On the other hand, it makes this whole story one about Kara protecting Kal and not the standard reverse.
In fact the two sort of trip over each other to save the other.
Superman throws Supergirl out of the rapidly closing rift out of the Zone, staying behind to most likely die at the hands of the Zone villains.
She then uses a grappling gun (conveniently left available in the Batcave, where the two have set up shop) to pull Kal out.
It is a bit of a stretch. Would she be trained enough on a grappling gun to pull this trick shot off?
While Supergirl would most likely act the same as she has here, her visions have put a bit more emphasis on her protecting Superman. While she might otherwise be acting independently, trusting that Superman will survive, she sort of mother hen's him throughout the issue. And he can tell that something is up.
She isn't exactly hiding that she knows something when she says what she does in the second panel. Yes, both would do their best to save the other. But the Infinite Earths (or one amalgam Earth) needs Superman to survive and save them.
(On a side note, it isn't like this Superman is the ultimate hero in Crisis. It is more Kal-L.)
Like I said, this emotional aspect of the story is more compelling that the action sequences.
Back on Earth, the cousins see the Kamandi Earth has invaded Gotham, ready to challenge the 'champions' per the tournament edict of Telos from last month.
But can a gorilla wielding a sword really be a challenge? Does this provide conflict?
Realizing they are outmatched by two Kryptonians, the apes detonate bombs around Gotham as a delaying tactic.
I loved this little sequence of the Kal and Kara saving people around the city rather than pursuing the apes. They are heroes. And it is great to see these two incarnations working together, being heroes.
But, again, we see Supergirl perseverating over her fate. Once again we see images pulled directly from Crisis on Infinite Earths #7. And we see that dismay on her face as she realizes she has to move forward with this.
I still think that knowing this fate takes away from the actual act in Crisis. If she knows she is going to die, it carries less weight ... at least for me.
And once again, Superman asks her what is going on. I like that Wolfman has Superman know his cousin well enough to read her emotions, even if they are a little obvious.
The cousins and Kamandi head to the ape city to fight General Symian to find the gorilla's great weapon. It turns out to be an ancient unused nuclear missile.
Am I the only one who got just a whiff of 'Beneath the Planet of the Apes' with this whole scene?
Superman is captured and Supergirl is knocked unconscious. But it is all a ruse to get Symian to reveal the missile.
In short order, the super-cousins rout the apes. Supergirl has some nice moments in the fight. Here she seems to be having fun, a hallmark of this era of Supergirl.
With the threat over, and now the Convergence Earth rumbling into the main DCU (an event seen in all this week's Convergence cross-overs), the cousins decide to take the fight to Telos.
But first, we have one more moment with Kara thinking about her death and how she has to save Superman. One of the core parts of this original Supergirl was her admiration of Superman, how she strived to be a hero like him, how she ended up being a hero like him, stepping out of his shadow and establishing herself. So I like how she outright tells him that he is the best person she knows. And how he will always save the world. The lip bite is a bit on the nose, but it shows she realizes her role here.
I was cringing a bit when this mini-series was first announced. The Wolfman connection to the pre-Crisis Supergirl isn't one I need to revisit. But, of all the times he has returned to the character and this moment, I think this one is his best. For the first time, it felt like he respected this character. In many ways, she is the hero of this 2 issue story. And she is a hero, knowing that she will need to pay the ultimate price, her life. But she knew that going into this adventuring business.
And, despite the good stories I have read of Matrix, and the reboot Supergirl, and even the New 52 Supergirl in places, it was good to revisit this Supergirl one more time. And it wasn't the naive, super-sweet young Supergirl. It was the mature Supergirl, at the height of her game.
Anticipation and preconceived notions are double edged swords. For comics (and really any medium), they can fan the flames of ardor, making passionate fans that much more eager to read a book. But when expectations are high, they are often not met. And fans who have been chomping at the bit might feel crestfallen or underwhelmed.
I had high expectations for Convergence Superman:The Man of Steel. I have fond memories of the Reign of Superman era, a time when Superman mattered and creativity was high. There was a 'bring the band back together' feeling of writer Louise Simonson and the Steel character. And we had covers from Walt Simonson and internal art by legend June Brigman. I was ready for something special and spectacular. Even with Gen13 around, a group I don't care too much for, I was ready.
Unfortunately, this book was sort of pedestrian, a simple slugfest with a couple of nice moments. And so, I will share the nice moments and a couple of key plot points.
Last issue ended with Steel being paralyzed from a battle which included the repowered Parasite and the Gen13 who were heeding Telos' command to fight. Steel's niece and nephew, Natasha and Jem, decided to join the fight, donning armor they had put together on their own.
John Henry had significant guilt for trapping his family with him in this city. And that guilt has plagued him. He has tried his best to keep them and the whole city safe.
Like many times in comics, from tragedy heroes can be born. This spurs the brother and sister to once again put on the armor fight Gen13 and the Parasite. They have to take on the mantle of protector.
And, no big surprise, John Henry wakes and demands that the experimental nanobots get injected into his body. We saw the family cat become a Warlock style feline last issue.
There isn't time for anything else. These are desperate times. Dr. Hamilton does what he is told and pumps Irons with the nanites.
We all knew this was going to happen right?
We get several pages of Gen13 skirmishing with the Parasite. Finally (and maybe implausibly),they combine their powers to defeat him.
One thing I liked was the acknowledgment that a year off from using their powers has made them rusty. I took some time to feel the beats again, to learn to fight like a team.
But there is no time to rest. The Steel twins decide to attack while the Gen13 team is winded from the Parasite fight. In reality, Gen13 has serious powers and the twins a sort of bargain basement Iron Men.
In fact Gen13 is about to deal some possibly lethal damage to the two heroes when Steel, now sort of organic metal man, arrives.
Just like the Gen13 needed time to get into team mode, it takes some time for their leader, the genius Kaitlyn Fairchild, to start thinking like a leader. She wonders if they are doing the right thing by simply following Telos' orders as opposed to thinking things through.
I love Brigman's work on faces and expressions. That lower panel is gorgeous.
After a couple of pages of a melee best described as a stalemate, Steel decides it is time to step up as a leader and hero.
He asks everyone to stop fighting. Maybe his nanotech control, based on the dome technology, gives him an advantage against Telos. Maybe everyone can team up and win instead of fighting to the death.
As the elder hero, the role model, it was a nice moment for Steel. He was, after all, the 'heart of Superman' when he first arrived. He should be the one trying to calm things down.
Now one of my problems overall with Convergence has been the lack of stability and continuity even among the mini-series. What are the rules of this tournament? How does one win? Is Telos even watching? In some mini's, one champion has been chosen to fight another outside city limits. In others, it is a free-for-all.
Here, despite no battle happening, the Gen13 crew is whisked away by ... something. And Steel just stands there wondering what it all means.
I am wondering what it all means.
This wasn't a particularly great look back at Steel. It wasn't a particularly good story. It doesn't seem to impact Convergence at all. It simply is.
And when you are an average comic that I had super-high expectations for, you feel below average.
I am impressed with DC's attempts to broaden the scope of their comic landscape in this post-Convergence world. We heard of Prez, Bat-Mite, and Black Canary. We heard that good stories will trump continuity. And we have seen books geared for different audience types.
And here is the blurb: DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS will join the Digital First comic line-up with a
new ongoing series. Digital chapters will be available starting in July
with the first print collection available August 12.
Written by Marguerite Bennett and art by Marguerite Sauvage, DC COMICS
BOMBSHELLS #1 introduces retro-bombshell versions of Batwoman, Wonder
Woman and Supergirl in an alternate reality where super-powered female
heroes are on the front lines in WWII! The full line of Bombshells
characters will be introduced as the story unfolds in the months ahead.
We saw DC do something similar with the Ame Comi girls book. I was intrigued by that book and bought it. I think the Bombshell designs are superior to Ame Comi so I am definitely in. I especially like the Wonder Woman and Batwoman designs, so glad they are two of the stars. And while I don't like the Supergirl design, it doesn't hurt that she is one of the headliners.
Add to that a perfect creative team of Marguerite Bennett and Marguerite Sauvage and how could I say no.
I can only hope that Supergirl gets treated a little better here than she did in the Ame Comi books. I liked that book but poor Supergirl. She was treated pretty shabbily.
And between this and JLA 3001, I wonder if this is what Dan Didio meant when he said there were plans for Supergirl in the summer.
I have not been reviewing the main Convergence book on this site. It isn't a great story. I'm not particularly engrossed with the premise. And I don't know if I am feeling invested in the main characters here - the displaced heroes of Earth 2.
I thought Convergence #6 was worth taking a closer look at because it prominently features 2 Supergirls, the current Kara and the pre-Crisis Supergirl as well. But I also felt that I needed to also show just how sloppy these books can somehow get when writers and editors don't seem to know the continuities they are writing. There are parts of this book that make no sense.
There are a lot of artists on this issue but Ed Benes is the primary penciller with Eduardo Pansica pitching in as well. I think Benes' art looks the best it has in some time. This is the best I have seen him render Supergirl in a while.
But the muddled plot, dominated by Warlord and Earth 2 characters, is something of a drag. I don't care for Deimos. I don't care for Telos. I don't understand how/why Brainiac is trapped in a force bubble. And I am not feeling just how special this particular Dick Grayson is.
On to the highlights, mostly Supergirl stuff.
This the first the first time we have seen Supergirl since the last issue of her own series. That issue ended on a cliffhanger. Supergirl had lost her powers. I guess I was supposed to forget that.
Assuming I move away from her continuity, I suppose I should be happy that she is helping Superman. The Convergence planet is coming into our universe. And the cousins are thereto investigate it together.
Supergirl acting like a hero in a Scott Lobdell book is something novel!
Unfortunately, the continuity mistakes pile up.
The Red Lanterns show up to investigate as well.
Kara seems afraid of them, or upset at seeing them, needing to be emotionally supported by Superman.
Except ... Kara loved the Lanterns. They acted like her family more than Superman did. She hugged Guy. They had nicknames for each other. She helped them even after she had shed the ring. She'd probably fly up and hug them. She definitely wouldn't be uncomfortable around them.
Also, Zilius Zox died in Red Lanterns! How is he here?
And in Red Lanterns #40, Guy gave up the Red Ring.
That is a lot of gaffes for one scene.
And to make matters worse, Lobdell makes his Watcher clone, The Oracle, also show up.
One thing this while Convergence thing has done has made me realize how much I miss the pre-Crisis Supergirl. And she is featured nicely in this issue. Too bad the colorist doesn't make her shoulders red, like they should be in this costume. I blame the predilection for piping on current costumes. Peter Steigerwald, the colorist, must not have realized the lines on her shoulders demarcated a change in color.
In the book, Telos has been replaced as master of the world by Deimos, a lair error from the a Warlord comic. And Deimos has a new proposition for the trapped cities. Those who will serve him will be spared.
A set of detainees decide to unite and fight rather than bow to Deimos' will. Great to see the old school Superman, red trunks and all, leading the team.
As I said earlier, the Earth 2 characters take center stage here. That includes Dick Grayson who somehow felt to be the most important person n the planet. Even Superman says so. Grayson's perspective is paramount.
But I don't know if I have ever understood why people think Grayson is the keystone here.
And the heroes think that Telos is the key. Last issue, Telos was able to recall that at some point he was a denizen of this planet, a man with a wife and family. It was Brainiac who stripped him of that mortality, that normalcy, and set him up as caretaker of this zoo-like world.
That knowledge seemed to shake Telos' resolve. He fled the world allowing Deimos to take over.
Now Grayson plays that key role, telling Telos that he needs to rejoin the fight, to wrest control from Deimos, to shrug off the slavery of Brainiac. Now is the time for Telos to make amends for past misdeeds.
I don't know. I can think of dozens of characters who could give that speech. Perhaps it is my lack of Earth 2 knowledge that makes me not grasp why Grayson is the one, called out by Superman, and thrust into this role.
Telos thinks that Deimos might be able to tell reveal his true name. And somehow that knowledge will make him free. As one of my daughter's once said after watching one of the many Hiyao Miyazaki movies - "If it's one thing I've learned, never reveal your true name or have it taken from you."
The time has come. The time for battle. Let then the armies form.
Agsin, nice that the pre-Crisis Supergirl gets a nod, along with the pre-Flashpoint Superman and Parallax. Quite a trio.
Great shot of Kara. If only the shoulders were red!
And so we see the 'good guy' army, the troops united to fight against Deimos and for a shared reality. I see among the troops two Superman, Donna Troy, old school captain Atom, and Supergirl.
I absolutely love that shot of Supergirl, very apt for this period in her life. At this point she was confident, independent, defending Chicago. She was a hero in her own right, not just 'Superman's cousin.' She would be there, arms crossed, defiant in the face of the enemy, sure of herself.
But then we see the army that has been mobilized on the side of Deimos. It's one thing to see the Flashpoint 'heroes' there. They have always been on the dark side of things. And I can see why the Extremists and the Crime Syndicate would join in.
But the Kingdom Come Superman? And while it isn't in my scan, the Huntress is there too! Why would she join Deimos?
It all sets up a classic brawl of a next issue.
Overall, I think Convergence has been something of a mixed bag. Some things have been good. Others missteps. And this main story has been up and down.
Still, how great to see that original Supergirl again.
Convergence Superboy #2 came out last week, bringing the Kingdom Come Superman/90s Superboy battle to a close.
These Convergence side series are unbelievably brief. Were two issues of 20 page comics enough to tell a story in which the creators were tasked to 1) reintroduce characters from older time periods, 2) include the 'dome coming down now fight' scene, 3) have a plot that included something more than just the fight, 4) have some character growth or progression and 5) be good story-telling?
I don't envy these teams. It can't be easy, especially in an age where all arcs seem to be stretched to 6 issues. Are there compressed stories these days?
Convergence:Superboy does as good a job as any in accomplishing those goals above. Writer Fabian Nicieza has a nice little arc for Superboy here, bringing him from dismay for lacking powers, to re-embracing his powers, to fighting for his world, to ultimately sacrificing himself a little. Superboy is the straw that stirs the drink in this series as opposed to the Kingdom Come Superman who, outside of a major moment for all involved at the end of the book, acts more like an irresistible force.
Artists Karl Moline, inker Jose Marzan, and colorist Hi-Fi bring a nice house style to the book. This isn't flashy or warped. It has an old-school feel which suits the book fine given the presence of this Superman and the 90s Lois as well.
That doesn't mean that there isn't heavy action as the two fighters just lay into each other. This is almost 'Pacific Rim' material! Superman uses a 747 as a club.
But what I like about this is the understanding by Dubbilex that such a fight will undoubtedly level the city if it continues. Any time I read things like that, I feel it is commentary on the Man of Steel movie. These are heroes trying to save their worlds. What sort of world will they be saving if Metropolis is leveled and its people killed.
Nice splash page here.
Kingdom Come Superman has his eyes on the prize. He realizes that all these cities need to work together to fight Telos. But unlike others who simply want to form an assault squad, this Superman wants to 'win' his battle. Superman thinks that if Superboy concedes that Superman will get closer to Telos. Maybe from there Superman can end this.
But it seems like a risky gambit. Telos said that cities whose champions lose will be erased. How does Superman know that Superboy's world won't be utterly destroyed? Isn't he asking Superboy to make a decision that could impact the whole city's population?
The rules of this 'tournament' have been loose and ill-defined. I suppose that this seems as reasonably as anything else.
It does seem like Superboy is the young hero here. He is definitely fighting all out against the Kingdom Come heroes. But there is no listening to reason. He is just attacking.
I like the old tactile TK powers from the earliest days of this Superboy. Here is an interesting way for him to use it, breaking up the surface of the water as Flash runs on it. Haven't seen that one before.
But the biggest emotional moments of the book belong to the Kingdom Come Superman.
I love how overwhelmed he is when he sees Lois alive again. In Kingdom Come it was her death at the hands of the Joker (followed by the acceptance of Magog when he assassinates the Joker) that led Superman to his self-exile in the Fortress.
Her death shut him down.
So, of course, seeing her alive would shock him, would flood him with emotions. Does he want to lose another Lois again?
And then, during this pause in the battle, Superboy decides to continue the attack and inadvertently clobbers Lois with shrapnel.
Now I don't know if like Lois being used as a plot device. I don't think I like her injury being used as the impetus for discussion.
But there it is. I do love how Superman is distraught, rushing to her aid, cradling her, and having the Flash run her to the hospital.
It becomes clear to Kon that this brawl is doing nothing but harming innocents. And Superman explains how he hopes his victory will get him closer to Telos to end the entire thing.
Kon realizes that Superman has a better chance of saving the day than he does. Superman needs to win. He even asks if he needs to die for this plan to work. He was willing to sacrifice his life in an effort to save everyone. It is mature turn for this Superboy. It is character growth ... in a brief 2 issue series. Impressive.
Superboy stands there and allow Superman to knock him out. And like that, this Superman is off.
While not earth-shattering, I enjoyed this 2 parter, this chapter in particular. To see these two heroes stop their destructive skirmish, come up with a way to try to save everyone, and to have Superboy sacrifice himself is entertaining and engaging. And these are two characters whose stories I have enjoyed. It was good to revisit them.