Monday, July 4, 2022

Review: Action Comics #1044

Some life stuff kept me from getting comics in a timely fashion last week so reviews were pushed back a bit. So you get a review of Action Comics #1044 on the Fourth of July holiday. Seems fitting that on the day we celebrate America's independence, we get another chapter of Superman trying to win Warworld's denizens their freedom.

Writer Philip Kennedy Johnson has been doing a wonderful job with pacing this Warworld saga. These are middle chapters but every issue continues to move the plot forward. Every issue has a plot thread nudged, a new thread begun. But we also continue to get a good look at Superman as an inspirational figure. This isn't just action. This isn't just revolution. This is how Superman can change things and change people. 

This issue also has an excellent back-up, 'A World without Clark Kent', looking at an Earth without Superman. In it we get a peek at what the Superman family has been doing. And in particular we get a great look at Supergirl and the respect she has from the other members of the team. We see a caring Supergirl, invested in her family, and caring about others. She also has a great left jab. It's about time we see this Supergirl again. Johnson really seems to have a solid understanding of her.

The art is a wonderful mix. Riccadro Federici continues the horror show of Warworld. Mongul's warriors are part Cenobite from the Hellraiser movies, part Alien Xenomorph, part Venom symbiote, and all carnage. Mongul is vicious and brutal. It sings. Will Conrad draws a flashback giving us the origin of Orphan. And David Lapham brings a grungy style to the Earth back-up. Each part's look fits the story.

I truly feel this is going to be a landmark story for Superman, with a lasting impact. Everyone should be reading it. On to the particulars.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Black Orchid Review: Action Comics #260 (?)

I have been reserving Wednesdays recently to look at Black Orchid's pre-Crisis history, looking through the lens of a fan theory in the 70's that Black Orchid was, indeed, Supergirl.

I have one more Black Orchid story to review from the Phantom Stranger series. But before I review that last look at the Orchid proper, I thought I might review Action Comics #260, a story cover dated January 1960, a full 13 years before Black Orchid was introduced.

Now you might ask yourself why I am reviewing this book but that should all become evident by the end. Perhaps you are a long time fan and you already know. But I promise you, I will bring this home. 

"Mighty Maid" was written by Otto Binder with art by Al Plastino. 

This reads more like a classic Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane, with Lois upset and frazzled that a superpowered female might become the love of Superman's life. We get a Lois rescue, some Lois shenanigans, and even the occasional <sob>.

But perhaps, best of all, it is a classic Silver Age story with enough insanity crammed into 12 pages than the average trade these days. 

It is all beautifully rendered by Plastino who brings a sort of angular beauty to all the people in the book. His women all resemble Joan Crawford.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Bullet Review: Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen's Boss Perry White

Every so often, the comic world gives me a complete treat, a wonderful reminder of why I love the medium.

In 2020, creators Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber delivered a masterpiece with their Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen maxi-series, a book which swerved into the insanity of comics while also somehow embracing continuity. I was tickled pink and demanded a sequel.

Last week, a creative sequel of a sort, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen's Boss Perry White #1 came out. Included in it is a 7 page Perry White story by Fraction and Lieber, a snack of a story which completely recaptures the elan of the Olsen series. Now $4.99 for a 7 page story is a hefty price tag but brilliance comes at a cost. And DC does a good job of trying to support the price tag by including reprints of key Perry stories over the years, from the Bronze Age through to Bendis' run on Action. 

But the real magic is the new material. Set in the same Metropolis as the Olsen story (the giant lion statue prominently displayed in a panel), it gives us a little peek into Perry's mind while also giving us that wry humor that this wizened comic reader loves. Lieber's art is clean and cool and captures the feel of the universe especially on a 2 page spread showing different headlines that the Planet has emblazoned above the fold.

Hard to not give everything away in a review so I am holding back the ultimate solution and an absolutely brilliant closing page to the story. 

I'll only say that if you enjoyed the Jimmy Olsen book, you need to get this. And if you haven't read the Jimmy Olsen book you need to.

On to the particulars.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Review: Batman/Superman World's Finest #4

Batman/Superman World's Finest #4 came out this week and this book continues to just delight me. This book seems to be set in the late Bronze Age and I am solely basing that on costumes and personalities. But some of the story sensibilities also fold neatly into that era. Almost anything can happen and we just can chalk it up to 'comic book science' or 'comic book magic'. 

And for a Supergirl fan, this book is a revelation. This is the type of Kara I am hoping to read. Quick to action. Still young and learning. Young enough to be startled. Powerful enough to beat down the bad guy. I mean it when I say that this is probably the best Supergirl book I have read in the last few years. I know ... your own mileage may vary. But reading this is reading who Supergirl is to me. Thank you Mark Waid.

The rest of the story is fantastic. Superman and Batman's easy friendship and rapport. Nezha and his evil plans. Bronze age heroes under Nehza's spell. The cliffhanger It all works.

The art by Dan Mora is just as fantastic. The action sequences are spot on with an energy that sizzles. The expressive work is just fantastic, especially Supergirl. There is a composite World's Finest suit which demands an action figure. This is one of those books that I really linger over the art to drink it in. 

Seriously, this is a fun and entertaining book that everyone should be reading.

On to the particulars.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Black Orchid Wednesday: Black Orchid And Satan Girl

I continue my look at Black Orchid and the fan theory that she was actually Supergirl. As I wait the delivery of Phantom Stranger #31 and #32 to arrive (to continue my look at the Orchid's solo stories), I thought I would tantalize with a little side idea that adds to the mystery. All thanks to friend Mart Gray for this idea and it is a doozy.

As many Supergirl fans know, in Adventure Comics #313, Supergirl is hit by red K and splits into a second persona, Satan Girl. 

What Martin so astutely pointed out to me is that Satan's Girl outfit, all dark purple and magenta with a flowing cape looks like Black Orchid if you squint. I mean a character named Satan Girl should be garbed in reds and scarlets adorned with horns and pitchforks. Instead we get this color scheme. 

Even this issue is all about Satan Girl keeping her identity a mystery. Hmmm ...

Monday, June 20, 2022

DC Comics September 2022 Solicits

The September solicits for DC Comics came out last week and it looks like autumn will be kicking off with a busy month. 

Here is a link to all the solicits over on Newsarama:

The Warworld saga seems to be steamrolling to a close. The opening arc of Superman Son of Kal-El looks like it is nearing an end. And there are plenty of other books out there.

Supergirl is only mentioned in one solicit. She appears on a couple of covers but mostly variants. But I remain hopeful that Phillip Kennedy Johnson is going to do her right in Action Comics. This month is also the middle of Dark Crisis but the main titles of the DCU seem to be churning along despite the main characters being 'dead' in that mini. I remember a time when I knew DC's timeline!

On to the books:

Variant cover by MARIO "FOX" FOCCILLO
1:25 foil variant cover by MIKEL JAN├ŹN

It has all led to this: the final battle between Superman and Mongul, and between the Authority and Mongul's Unmade Champions! The identity of the hooded stranger has been revealed, uncovering a shocking betrayal that threatens to crush Superman's rebellion forever! But as the fate of Warworld relies on Superman, the last chance to return his powers now lies with Natasha and John Henry Irons. From the visionary creative team of Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Brandon Peterson, and Will Conrad, empires fall and rise and the fourth world is reborn in this jaw-dropping final chapter!

We come to an end of the Warworld Saga with a stand alone final battle issue. I love this variant by Mikel Janin but the main cover looks like a sci-fi barbarian movie poster.

Looks like we won't know the traitors identity until this issue which is fascinating. I like how Steel and Natasha are a key element in the finale. I like John Henry and feel we haven't seen as much of him as we should.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Review: Superman Son Of Kal-El #12

Superman Son of Kal-El #12 came out this week and was a quick read which only nudged things forward. This issue felt like we were treading water in some ways. I get it, President Bendix is a bad guy, turning people into super-human drone warriors, and blowing them up when they serve their purpose. I get it, Bendix is willing to go after the Kents. I know that Jon and Jay are a couple and are starting to team up. We just get that recapitulated this issue. 

Tom Taylor does a nice job linking this book with Nightwing again. Both books are socially progressive. Dick has decided to mentor Jon. It makes sense for them to help each other. But even this team-up has been done recently.

Even the addition of Krypto, an element I usually love, felt a little forced. Almost like Taylor needed to add a cute dog in the mix. 

The art by Cian Tormey and Ruairi Coleman is solid throughout. There is a lot of zany action here. That includes a craziness with a sort of Cthulhu style monster battle in the Senate. It flows nicely. 

But I was hoping for something more here. This felt a bit like more of the same. 

On to the book.