Monday, February 20, 2017

Review: Super-Sons #1

Supersons #1 came out last week and was exactly the fun sort of romp that I thought it would be. If people think that Batman and Superman would have a hard time being friends, they should read the interactions of the two young heroes Robin and Superboy. Damien's abrasive personality, flaunting of rules, aggressive heroing, and and overall superiority complex contrasts wonderfully to Jon's rule-following, optimistic, and otherwise good behavior.

How and/or why would these two hang out?

While those personalities seem to clash, both are young legacy heroes trying to figure out who they are in this crazy world. There is more in common than not. So I can see why they would seek each other out as well. In my head canon, Damien is lonely and wants someone his age to pal around with.

Writer Peter Tomasi does a great job in this first issue. We get a hint of an upcoming villain. We get a flashforward of a battle, a taste of things to come. And we get a compelling opening adventure which does a nice job of laying out who these characters are. When the issue was done, I wanted more. That is what a first issue should do.

I have praised Jorge Jimenez's art in the past but he really shines here. His style is starting to get a little more daring in my mind. I am starting to get a sort of Chris Bachalo/Humberto Ramos sort of feel, a sort of bending of the art away from realism and into something more interesting.

Super-entertaining and Bat-tastic. Count me in.

On to the book!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Review: Superman #17

Superman #17 came out this week, a one and done horror story focusing on Jon and Kathy and the dealings of the nearby Deadman's Swamp.  In a current comic world of six issue arcs built for trades, I love the one and done. And I especially love it when it stands alone *and* builds on overlying arcs. In this instance, the Deadman Swamp plot point hadn't been touched on since Superman #10. And there is more hints that Farmer Cobb is more than he says he is. So this issue worked for me and worked well.

The Superman title has been the more family-centric title of the super-books, so focusing on Jon also was welcomed. There was a little bit of Stranger Things in this issue so I wonder if storytellers Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason were trying to plug into that zeitgeist.

And the art by Sebastian Fiumara is perfect for the material. There is a sort of Bernie Wrightson feel to the proceedings. From the swamp surroundings to the moldering mansion to the monstrous animals, this really brought back echoes of the original Swamp Thing series. And that is always high praise.

I have a couple of theories about the proceedings, better said during the review. But the idea of Deadman's Swamp is a nice wrinkle of horror in the otherwise sci-fi tone of the book.

On to the book!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Review: Superwoman #7

Superwoman #7 came out last week so I am a bit late in covering this issue. But in some ways, the time was needed. This issue is a super-dense and somewhat confusing closure to the first arc. I wonder if the story got away from writer Phil Jimenez. I have praised Jimenez in the past for packing a lot into his books, making them feel like two issues in one. But here I felt like there were so many threads being covered that I was feeling frayed as a reader.

As all the characters and plots are being wrapped up, I found myself asking 'why'? Why did Lena need the temporal cubes? Why is she invading the Phantom Zone? Why is the suit called 'Insect Queen'? Why does the Atomic Skull demand an apology from Lex? Why doesn't Lex know how to reboot his armor? Why does Lana sound like she has been mistreated by all the men in her life? Why does the Gestalt ship need to change configuration? Why? When I ask that many whys, the story is lost on me.

I also can understand that this book might be the title for Jimenez to look at feminism and that is fine. But I think that the downgrading of Lex and some of the speeches by Lana feel a little forced. I'd love a Lana story about feminism. I don't know if I need a feminism story with Lana as speechmaker. Maybe I am saying this too clunky. Maybe it is better for me to say that I would rather be shown the feminist slant than be told it.

The art on the book is done by Jimenez and Jack Herbert. The two styles seem to jibe well with each other. And as usual, it is a packed issue with inset panels and great page layouts.

On to the book.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Supergirl Episode 212: Luthors

Supergirl episode 212, titled 'Luthors' aired this week and was a decent episode, building up the threat of the Luthors and Cadmus, bringing back a couple of villains from earlier in the season, and shoring up one of the relationships that has suffered the most during this season - Kara and James. And, in continuing and running theme of this second season, we touch on prejudices and biases.

For me, the most interesting plot involved the relationship between Lillian and Lena. We learn a lot about their family's history. We meet the other members of the Luthor clan. There is a nice understated current of the eternal argument of nature vs. nurture. There is a lot here to remind me that you can't trust a Luthor. And that bias is unfortunately played out on Lena who is trying to do good and distance herself from her family's legacy. But Luthor motivations are, to quote Churchill, a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. People just keep thinking there are ulterior motives.

But I was definitely glad to see that some time was spent on the Kara/James friendship. It has felt, at times, this season that the show runners simply didn't know what to do with James. The Guardian plot felt a little forced at times. So seeing them at least voice their issues with each other and try to move past them was welcomed. I also liked hearing James add some Superman/Luthor context to his concerns about Lena.

And we continue to nudge the Kara and Mon-El romance forward. In fact, we get just about as close to a kiss as we have before a surprise ending stalls things.

Finally, I have to compliment Katie McGrath for her performance as Lena in this episode. She really has to emote a ton here, veering from sadness and worthlessness to a touch of anger and self-reflection. And she simply nails it. What a nice showcase for her skills.

On to the show.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Review: New Super-Man #8

New Super-Man #6 came out last week and was another introspective chapter for the main characters of the book. After the first arc concentrated on Kenan accepting his powers, wavering with his loyalty to family and country, and starting the hero's journey. This brief 2 part story has Kenan taking the next steps on his journey. But it also gives us some backstory on Baixi, the New Bat-Man. In particular, I enjoyed this part of the arc more. This humanized Baixi and gave him something of a tragic subplot. This adds dimension to his character.

Another thing that I am appreciating about this book is writer Gene Luen Yang updating Asian characters from DC's past. I am glad that Yang is looking at some of the clunkier portrayals of Asians in the past. So seeing I Ching as something more than a 'sensei' spouting fortune cookie wisdom is great. And the ending cliffhanger looks as though Yang isn't done. I wonder if we will see an updated and improved Wu 'Chop Chop' Cheng. He is due for a modern and more appropriate take.

The art on this issue is again by Billy Tan and a love the fine lined and polished look of his art. This isn't the scratchier and rougher look of usual artist Viktor Bogdanovic. This feels organic and flowing and that works well with Ching's lessons. I hope he becomes the go to pinch hitter for this book.

On to the issue!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Review: Action Comics #973

Action Comics #973 came out last week and was a great little rest issue after the God-Killer arc that preceded it. Superman took a bit of a back seat in this issue, allowing Lois the chance to truly shine. And this also gave us a much closer look at the mysterious Clark Kent. For someone who has found the Kent mystery fascinating, I liked it. For someone who has been craving a strong Lois presence in the DCU, I loved it.

But as a long time reader, I couldn't help but feel that there was a wonderful Bronze Age patina to the whole issue. Maybe DC shouldn't be aiming their books at people of my age, a nearly elderly age bracket. There is no denying that there is something classic about this. And that is what #Rebirth was supposed to be about, getting back to the classic feel of these characters that have made them lasting.

Writer Dan Jurgens has a great handle on Lois, showing her in all her glory. She's a fierce investigative journalist. She's brave. She's willing to dust her knuckles if she needs to. And it is all in the name of truth, justice, and the American way.

The art is split between Patch Zircher on the Lois/Clark pages and Stephen Segovia on the Superman pages. Both artists put nuances into the pages to really make then visually engaging and complementary to the story. Great stuff!

And while I am a fan of Crisis #7 homages, I think this cover by Gary Frank  is the third in three months! From Doom Patrol to Superman to Action Comics, these are getting to be like ants. 

On to the issue!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Review: Supergirl #6

Supergirl #6 came out this week, the end of the first story arc of this new #Rebirth take on the character. And frankly, for me, it was the best issue of the run so far. I don't know if I would have started this new run with a Zor-El/Cyborg Superman story. I don't know if I would have had Argo City enter Earth air space. And I don't know if I would have retold yet another story where Supergirl accepts Earth as her home.

But there is an old saying about these things. "Don't give the reader what they want. Give them what they need."

Writer Steve Orlando wraps up this first storyline in the best possible way. This isn't a reimagining of Supergirl. The foundation of her being a hero who loved Earth, a far cry from the angry loner from the early New 52, had been established by Tony Bedard, K. Perkins, and Mike Johnson.

No, this was a reaffirmation of who Supergirl was. A refining of that character. This issue ends on such an upbeat and optimistic tone, in all aspects of Supergirl's life, that I feel as if the true #Rebirth is starting now. We needs to get out of the blocks and get running. But now we are sprinting. The last pages of this book truly encapsulate what I love about the character and I am on board.

It helps that Orlando really steeps this book in DC Comic lore. Rather than portray the #Rebirth universe as a reboot, Orlando looks way back, dropping verbal cues and visual images of DC's broad history. Whether it is pre-Crisis, pre-Flashpoint, or pre-Infinite Crisis, it all is in play here. And for a longtime fan like me, that is beyond spectacular. It even starts with the variant cover, the Bengal riff on the classic cover of Superman #233.

Brian Ching's art is consistent. There is a lot of energy here and a emotion. But it is the quiet scenes at the end where I think Ching truly shines in this issue.

So this was quite the finale. On to the book.