Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Supergirl 415: O Brother Where Art Though

Supergirl episode 415, titled 'O Brother Where Art Thou' aired this week and was a tour de force.

I have come to the hard realization that this show isn't truly a Supergirl show but an ensemble show. Supergirl might be the hub that the characters orbit around. But she is often one of the crowd. Once I realized that this was more of a 'team comic' and not a 'solo book', I was able to take a deep breath and try to enjoy.

This episode, for example, is mostly about Lena and Lex Luthor. Sure, Kara is present, caring about James and fighting Manchester Black. But those are the subplots. Instead, the main focus is examining the odd relationship of the Luthor siblings. We get a peek into their past and their interactions. And we got one hell of a reveal at the end. It all worked magnificently for me.

Much of the praise has to be heaped on Jon Cryer, who guest starred as Lex. I didn't anticipate that Ducky would be able to bring a sort of veiled malevolence, a sort of 'he's probably scheming but he seems sincere' undercurrent. It isn't always over the top bombastic. Instead it is more of a cold, chilling, calculating evil. Brilliant.

Another interesting plot is the ongoing darkening of J'onn J'onzz. We get a big moment in the end here. I wonder if what we see happen at the end actually has happened. You'll see what I mean.

On to the show.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Review: Superman #9

Superman #9 came out last week, the second chapter of The Unity Saga, and another chapter in the hard life of Jon Kent. I have to say, it has been hard to read these last two Superman books in the same month that I am also reading the fun-loving anime style Superboy in Adventures of the Super Sons. In this issue, writer Brian Michael Bendis continues to put our friend through the physical and psychological wringer. It isn't easy to read sometimes.

The Superman book as a whole has overall been the lesser of the two super-books on the shelves and part of that has to do with the whole family dynamic being played up here. We went from Peter Tomasi's super-family, heading to the town fair and going on vacation together, to this unit, split up through time and space, not even living together. I still don't know if I quite understand Lois and Clark's relationship these days and this issue continues that confusion.

And while Jon might be proud of his personal growth during his lost years, it seems that growth through abandonment and torture will never be as good as growth through love and nurturing. How can this poor kid, faced first with his genocidal schizophrenic grandfather, than the evil version of his father, and then the evil version of his mother ever live through it unmarred.

The issue's art is again split between Ivan Reis and Brandon Peterson. Reis does the present day stuff and continues to draw a classic Superman. Peterson brings a softer touch to Jon's flashbacks. His work on expression is fantastic, especially given how terrified and brutalized Jon is here.

But this remains something of a storyline I wish would not have happened. It still makes little sense, especially given that it started with Jon heading off with Jor-El and Lois leaving him there.

On to the book.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Matrix Monday: Showcase '95 #1

 Last Monday I covered the finale of the 1994 Supergirl mini-series. In the end, the Matrix Supergirl finally left Lex Luthor and found a mentor with Lex's ex-wife Elizabeth Perske.

In the immediate aftermath, Action Comics #700 came out with Lex attacking Metropolis. Oh, yeah, and then something called Zero Hour happened. Matrix was involved like everyone was in that event but did not have a big role. She receded a bit into the background.

Then 1995 rolled around and early on Supergirl was a bit more visible. In January of 1995, she was the cover star of the David Michilenie/Butch Guice  Action Comics #706 , a nice fill-in which reminded folks that she was part of the super-family.

She also was the cover star of Showcase '95 #1. The Showcase books at this time had yearly themes and 1995 was the year of Superman characters to headline the book. So this issue we get not only Supergirl but Alan Scott Sentinel and Argus. This also was a sort of try-out book for DC. Not only were more minor characters given the spotlight but newer talent were given a shot.

It is a weird convergence that she headlines two books in one month.

That is a great cover by Tom Grummett sporting a beautiful Supergirl.

And yes, I had this one signed by Tom Grummett a couple of years ago in Boston.

On to the book.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Review: Supergirl #28

Supergirl #28 came out this week and was another chapter in this space-faring adventure Kara is on to investigate Rogol Zaar. As this bold, new direction has moved along slowly, I have been less and less forgiving of it. This is something of a nasty story. And while occasionally we see Supergirl say something that sounds like the Supergirl I want to read, the actions and plots surrounding those lines make them feel more like lip service.

Writer Marc Andreyko writes a great, gritty, Omega Men story. I might like reading this if it were a Starfire story. Or a Darkstars story. Or an Adam Strange story. But so much of this feels like yet another 'extreme' look at Supergirl. Add to that a few cringe worthy moments for a book about a young woman hero and you get something that just doesn't feel right.

The art is by Eddie Pansica and I really like it for the story it is telling. It is a very muddy, brutal story and Pansica brings that feel of chaos and violence. This is the most ragged and beaten I have seen Supergirl in a while. Put him on an Adam Strange book and I'll be there.

These prefaces to my reviews are becoming almost cookie cutter, other than a slow descent into further dissatisfaction. I hope this arc ends soon and we head back to Earth.

On to the book.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Back Issue Magazine: Elseworlds Finest & Barbara Kesel

I am a big fan of TwoMorrows Back Issue magazine, basically subscribing to it out of my LCS. As a amateur comic historian, I love these looks back at themes, comics, and creators from my history.

The latest issue covers all the alternative realities that comics have given us in the Bronze Age, from Marvels What If? to DC's Elseworlds and a ton of other imaginary tales. I love the concept of Elseworlds and What If? so this issue was in my sweet spot. Definitely worth getting and reading.

As always, whenever I stumble across a Supergirl specific nugget, I try to share. As Supergirl has had roles to play in some of the storylines which fit this issue's theme, I wasn't shocked to see her mentioned.

Specifically, the Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl comic got some significant coverage within the Elseworlds article.

Can I say that this issue has been one of the books I have wanted to do a dedicated review of since I started the blog. And yet, somehow, I have never been able to get to it. Part of it is how long it is. It would be hard to cover in one post. And yet, I think it would be cheating a little to cover it in two posts. That said, I recently split each issue of Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds into 2 posts given the dense nature of those stories over on The Legion of Super-Bloggers site. So maybe I shouldn't be overthinking it.

Regardless of my review, I love the issue and if you don't have it, you should seek it out.

And perhaps this TwoMorrow coverage will spur me on a little.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Supergirl 414: Stand And Deliver

Supergirl episode 414, titled 'Stand and Deliver', aired this week and was a good episode, pushing all plotlines forward, focusing on the political atmosphere of the day with the usual bend, but also trying as best as this show can be to veer to the center.

One thing the show has always had going for it are the strong actors and the character work on the show. This episode, we get a ton of wonderful performances. And we get to see great character growth and moments. In this episode we see Dreamer and her excitement over being a hero. We get to see Supergirl inspire people. We get Brainiac 5 growing as a hero. We see J'onn's personal torment. But most of all, this might be the strongest James Olsen episode in two seasons. I

And the villains get to shine here as well. Menagerie is glorious in her high class desires. The Hat is surprisingly revolutionary. Manchester Black is dogged in his pursuit of revenge. And after a some time, we see just why Ben Lockwood would be able to rally people.

But there has to be a plot to build these on. The main plot is the growing anti-alien sentiment on Earth. After four invasions in three years, I'm not surprised. One thing the show has done is to paint the extremists on both sides in a bad light. The Elite balance out the Children of Liberty. Slaughtering your enemy is never the answer.

Add to this a great cliffhanger and I was pretty happy. On to the review.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

DC Superhero Girls Premiere

As a fan of Lauren Faust's My Little Ponies:Friendship is Magic as well as her take on the Super Best Friends Forever, I have been awaiting the rebranding and re-imagination of the DC Superhero Girls eagerly. Through shorts and interviews, I got the sense this was MLP on steroids, a sort of Looney Tune romp through the DCU while still giving the overall empowering message that the earlier DCSHG was built on.

Last week, the premiere of the show, titled #SweetJustice hit the airwaves and I was delighted.These are sort of side-eyed versions of our superheroes and they do semi-neatly fall into a My Little Pony algorithm. Wonder Woman is Twilight Sparkle, the leader of the group. She holds the team together and wants to train them. Batgirl is the Pinkie Pie here, bringing oodles of energy and sometimes lacking a focus. Babs sometimes gets in her own way but she is utterly sweet. Zatanna is the Rarity here, a stage presence with style. She is reluctant to get into heroing but brings pinache. Bumblebee is the Fluttershy, timid to a fault with power that reflects her lack of confidence. Supergirl is clearly the Rainbow Dash, an act first, rough and tumble with a heart of gold, counterculture tomboy. Which, I guess, makes the vegan and pacifist Green Lantern the Applejack. (Okay that last one is a hard fit.)

Of course, this is an origin story so we hear how the girls meet and become a team. There is a fight between them, a classic comic trope. We get a good look at all their personalities. And we get a glimpse at a possible hero. And there is a ton of fun and laughs. There might even be a few references for old-timers like me hidden in there.

This being a Supergirl blog, I'll say I was delighted with her characterization. I often describe Supergirl as fierce in her pursuit of justice. This Kara is that times 10. And her desire to be outside the mainstream, probably because of the known difficulty with her relationship with Kal, puts this outside of the norm for the character. But her actions speak loud. I think I am going to love this Supergirl. And I think I will be laughing with her too.

On to the synopsis/review.