Friday, July 19, 2024

Review: Superman #16

Superman #16
came out this week, an Absolute Power tie-in and the first issue post-'House of Brainiac'. It re-unites writer Joshua Williamson with the original artist on the title Jamal Campbell. Not surprising, it is a fun read with beautiful art.

I am not collecting Absolute Power. The concept of Amanda Waller somehow depowering all the heroes and taking control of the planet was completely uninteresting to me. It seems these days I collect every other 'DC Event'. Lazarus Planet yes. Beast World no. Absolute Power no. All In ... probably.

This issue actually is just what a tie-in/crossover should be. It is clearly an issue of Superman, telling its own story. But it is clearly taking place in the Absolute Power big story. As such, Williamson gives me enough info to get me up to speed as a non-reader of the event. Even more impressive, he hints at something that happened in Absolute Power that made me want check out that book. As I said ... impressive. If only there was one of those little editor boxes that might have led me to which of the books I should look. Without that info, the yearning dissipated.

The plot is simple. The heroes are in disarray and trying to get coordinated. Superman is in critical condition. Zatanna has an idea that can help everyone. Meanwhile, the Metropolis gang try to stay alive. It all works well. But there are smaller moments from the supporting characters that really are the high points here, showing how Williamson is working with a full cast and keeping me interested in all of them.

As for Campbell, his art is as polished as ever. I love his take on Zatanna. We get a Smallville flashback that is wonderful. He even makes amnestic Lex seem fresh, like a new character ... which in some ways he is.

Solid issue. Solid crossover. No complaints. On to the particulars.

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Review: My Adventures With Superman S2E9

The penultimate episode of season 2 of My Adventures With Superman came out this week. 
It is intriguingly called 'Superman!' and I think that title works for a number of reasons, especially given the exclamation point. This is Clark shaking off the fake life Brainiac has been giving him, rebecoming Superman. But we end on what seems to be doomsday and so that scream might be people asking to be saved.

I like this show. I love the dynamics of Lois and Clark in this show. I like how she saves him in this episode, opening his mind to the fake life Brainiac has fed him. I like how Superman and Kara decide to team up and fight in the end. I even like how Amanda Waller and Lex Luthor are shown, perhaps, the error of their ways. There are some nods back to this show itself and even to comics. It is both serious and comedic and wholesome all at the same time. This show is way way better than I thought it was going to be and I had pretty high hopes.

This is 'Supergirl Comic Box Commentary' so I have to talk about Supergirl's role here. 

As I have said, at length, I don't think that we needed her to have a dark past, whether as cruelly raised tool of Brainiac or mind-controlled/possessed genocidal weapon of destruction. I did know she would end up in a good place. And this episode cements both that dislike and ending. Kara starts the episode utterly defeated. She thinks Brainiac-possessed Clark is unstoppable. She calls the situation 'hopeless'. She sulks a little. She knows she has killed. It is only when Jimmy spurs her to be a hero that she shakes the doldrums and flies into battle. Heck, she seems ready to sacrifice herself for Earth. She ends up a hero.

But the truth is we could have eliminated all the darkness and got to this same place. She could have been happily exploring for Brainiac as a student for him. He could have destroyed these worlds while she was out on the next mission (we see he has to tech to destroy worlds). She might have realized she was a well-meaning dupe who didn't kill opposed to the 'raised as an angry warrior and world-killer'. We have been shown she has good traits throughout the show. Why we needed the dark varnish over her character still perplexes me. It wasn't needed. (And I know there is an outside chance that everything Kara remembers are implanted ... so maybe she isn't a killer. I can still hope.)

Anyways, I am glad Kara will end up a hero. And overall the show is entertaining and fun. Intrigued to see how it all wraps up. 

Monday, July 15, 2024

Review: Action Comics #1067

The second installment of the 'Superman Superstars' initiative on Action Comics began this week with Action Comics #1067. The latest superstar creative team to join the book is writer Gail Simone and artist Eddy Barrows.

I have been a fan of Simone for a while having been there for her Birds of Prey run (hard to believe that was 21 years ago) from the beginning. I liked her Wonder Woman run as well, especially the Ends of the Earth arc which brought in some of my favorite DC Sword and Sorcery characters. So i have been a bit interested to see what she'll do with Superman.

I also have been a fan of Barrows since his brief stint on Action Comics back in the New Krypton arc. My problem with Barrows has always been his inability to stay on a title long. So perhaps a brief story like this, written well in advance, might mean we'll see his art on the entire thing. His precise work is always wonderful to behold. And this issue, filled with moments big and small work, shines.

'Challenge from the Stars' includes the credit page which dedicates the story to Denny O'Neill and Neal Adams. And this opening chapter shows us why that dedication is present.

This fast-moving first issue is a definite riff on the classic Superman Vs Muhammad Ali treasury (one of the few treasuries I still own from my youth). In that story, an alien race challenges Earth's greatest warrior to a one-on-one fight for the planet. 

And that's the plot of this story too as Superman, early in his career, must take up the mantle to protect another planet from destruction.

A lot happens in this issue. No complaints about deconstruction here as Simone whips through the events a record pace, with Barrows bringing it all together beautifully. Nice cliffhanger too! This was a solid opener. 

On to the particulars.

Friday, July 12, 2024

Review: My Adventures With Superman #2

The comic My Adventures With Superman #2 came out last week, the second part of a mini-series with Superman dealing with a new version of Amazo.

I have been watching and enjoying the show this comic is based on, even while dealing with its terrible backstory behind Supergirl. This is a new Superman universe so everything feels fresh here as we see Clark learning his powers, dealing with his dual identity, and (most importantly) loving Lois Lane. 

This comic continues to focus on the Lois/Clark relationship as well as Jimmy being part of the news team. The scenes that sing the most in this book are those of these three interacting. I especially like Lois and Clark sort of feeling each other out as new daters. Part of that is learning more about this Lois and contrasting (and comparing) her to her father. Given what we have seen this season on the show, I like seeing more of what life was like growing up as Lois with Sam.

In this issue, the Jimmy/Clark/Lois trio head into an army base to try to find and free the Amazo robot. But it isn't Superman; it's Clark. Seeing him deal with decreased powers and try to remain a hero and help Amazo is another part of this chapter that works well. 

We end on a solid cliffhanger putting Clark in some peril. 

Pablo Collar brings the style of the show to the book as well making this smoothly slide into this universe. 

On to the book.

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Review: My Adventures With Superman S2 E8

The eighth episode of the second season of My Adventures With Superman, titled 'The Death of Clark Kent',  came out this week and was another interesting episode, perhaps opening up a door for a better ending for Supergirl than I have been expecting.

My reviews of this show have been an interesting exercise for me. I actually am enjoying the show as a whole with its wholesome foundation, its somewhat darker plot themes, and it's anime twee-ness. It is a crazy mix. 

There is no doubt this is a small town Superman with small town beliefs and a very earnest approach to helping people. Superman is that wholesome protagonist that the whole show is built on. But the themes of the show are ones of isolation, persecution, and loneliness. This season has Superman truly questioning if he fits in on Earth and it is amplified by Luthor and the government turning the people against him. 

Add to that, you have the Brainiac/Supergirl story. Brainiac wants to recreate Krypton. He wants to convince Superman that he doesn't belong so he can use Kal. And he has been using Kara this whole time. It means that Superman is going to have to choose Earth. Kara is going to have to reject Krypton, at least the vision of it Brainiac has been filling her head with. 

But mixing anime cuteness and wholesome 'aw shucks' Smallville with genocidal Supergirl's and depressed, isolated Superman and keeping it cohesive is tough. I think about the movie Thor Love and Thunder which had Jane dying of cancer, a god-killing being kidnapping children and threatening to sacrifice them mixed in with ludicrously bad humor attempts. It didn't work. 

Somehow this show is pulling it off. I'm enjoying it overall. 

I still wish Supergirl had a better backstory ... but the truth is that might come to pass. On to the particulars.

Monday, July 8, 2024

Review: Kneel Before Zod #7

Kneel Before Zod #7 came out last week and was another brutal, fight-filled brawl of an issue. But it is also about as close to a Keith Giffen Legion issue I have read in a long time. As a long-time LSH fan, I was pretty tickled by the issue.

Outside of the nostalgia of this issue (and trust me there is a lot of stuff for a Legion fan to love here), I have sort of turned the corner on this book. Yes, the issues are mostly violent action and a lot of it. But the real foundation here is that, for all his bluster, Zod is a broken man. From visions of Jor-El to losing his family to looking into the abyss this issue, Zod is falling apart. This is a very different take from the character that has always been a ramrod straight, narcissistic despot. It finally has added some depth to the character for me.

Dan McDaid continues to be a sort of revelation on the book. His art remains a sort of rough beauty, perfect for a melee like this title. Moreover, this issue he really leans into Giffen, from the 9 panel grid to Munoz-esque faces in shadow to the Kirby-esque Emerald Empress. And more. 

I am pretty sure this series got cut short and will end soon. I doubt writer Joe Casey is going to tell us the full story he wanted to. And there are a lot of loose ends. But for now, I am going to enjoy this dive into Zod.

On to the book.

Friday, July 5, 2024

Review: Power Girl #10

Settle in ... this is probably my last review of this Power Girl run. Barring some major Supergirl crossover, I think Power Girl #10 will be the last issue in my collection. 

This issue was a loose tie-in to the House of Brainiac storyline. But in a very tangential way. So with that connection to the main books over, I'm done.

This issue shows much of what I have been struggling with in terms of the book. Writer Leah Williams continues to me a Power Girl I don't particularly recognize. It leans into a current trope in comics - that our heroes are just like us, traumatized and hurting. That means we are heroes. I go more for the heroes aren't like me but are people I should aspire to be like.

But, for me, this issue's fault lies with the plot. A lot of what we are told seem spurious or coincidental. Much of it doesn't make much sense within the confines of the DCU. It will be easier just to show you.

The art continues to be solid in a sort of grungy way. I like Eduardo Pansica a lot and think his stuff would be perfect for a back alley, ground level book. And I like the Nicola Scott variant cover even more than the standard Yanick Paquette one. No denying the source for Scott's vision.

When does an homage become a copy?

But I seriously love this Kerry Gamill cover from the 80's Power Girl mini-series. Nice updating.

On to this book.