Tuesday, September 30, 2008
The cover of Sleeper #1, the masterful super-hero noir by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips seems a strange sight on a Supergirl blog. But Supergirl #34 is coming out tomorrow and I am asking people to talk it up if it lives up to expectations, if it is as great as Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle promise it will be.
DC is doing there part with a lot of buzz including a nice interview from Gates and Igle discussing all the things we have heard about this issue (http://www.newsarama.com/comics/090830-Supergirl34.html) as well as preview pages of the issue on Newsarama later today! Hooray to DC for plugging the book so much!
I put Sleeper up today to remind everyone that fans talking about the book and plugging it is as valid as a media push.
I almost didn't get Sleeper. I almost missed out on one of my absolute favorite titles from the last 5 years. The only reason I bought it was because I was lucky enough to be in my comic book store and overheard a couple of guys talking about how great it was. I knew and enjoyed Phillips from his Hellblazer run, but I had never really heard of Ed Brubaker before.
Anyways, these guys talked so highly of the series that I went out and bought the issues and then Sleeper: Season Two. If I hadn't heard them, I may not have. And then I would not have learned that Brubaker is so phenomenal and might not have bought his stellar runs of Captain America and Daredevil (2 characters I have never purchased regularly before). It led to Iron Fist and Criminal and other books of his.
Word of mouth is powerful.
In much the same way, I almost missed Matt Fraction's trippy and innovative Casanova. I was in my comic store when a store worker who I had befriended in that customer/cashier sort of way strongly recommended I buy the issue. He was so enamored of the book that he said if I read it and didn't like it, I could return it. That's how sure he was about the greatness of the book. And he was right.
This also tipped me off to Matt Fraction, which led me to Iron Fist and now Iron Man, 2 characters I also never read before.
As for me, I did my part talking up Atomic Robo (wittily written by Brian Clevinger and distinctly drawn by Soctt Wegener) at my store and spreading the word about how great and fun that series is. It is well worth reading!
Anyways ... word of mouth is powerful.
So if we Kara fans read Supergirl #34 and think that it is great (something I think is going to be true based on everything I have read about it and what Gates and Igle have leaked), we should talk it up. Whether it be grass roots in a brick and mortar comic store, or on the web ... spread the word!
It is a good time to be a Supergirl fan!
Monday, September 29, 2008
How I wish I had been able to get to the Baltimore Comic-con this year and get to the Superman panel or at least find the new creative team and chat with them! While I wasn't able to go, I was able to go to a local show yesterday up here in Boston.
The Boston Comic Book and Pop Culture Spectacular is a small one-day show here and is organized about 3 or 4 times a year. The dealers remain fairly constant, so I usually only go if anyone of note is going to be a guest.
The show will often get 1 or 2 creators a year that are really worth trying to see. In the past I have met Denny O'Neil, Norm Breyfogle, Cliff Chiang, Rick Leonardi, and some others.
Yesterday's big name was Ethan Van Sciver of Green Lantern (and soon Flash) fame. I love Van Sciver's detailed art.
I will also say that living legend inker Murphy Anderson was also a guest there too. I love meeting the old time creators.
As I said, I am a big fan of Van Sciver's work and think he draws beautiful women. In particular I have been impressed with his Pheonix and Wonder Woman renditions.
So I went early to get in line to have some books signed and to grab a commission sketch. Luckily, I was first in line and was able to get a solid head shot commission. I like how he put tiny s-shield earrings on her. The commission is at the top of the post.
So yet another piece to my ever growing collection to be displayed on the wall of fame. I also bought a bunch of back issues, so all in all it was a great day!
Saturday, September 27, 2008
The Baltimore Comic-con is this weekend and unfortunately I am stuck in rain-soaked Massachusetts. Luckily, sites like Newsarama do a great job of reporting on the panels. For example, here is the link to the Superman panel coverage.
The members of the panel were Matt Idelson, Superman books editor; Sterling Gates, Supergirl writer; James Robinson, Superman writer; Geoff Johns, Action Comics writer; and Jamal Igle, artist on Supergirl.
Well, we are only 4 days away from the release. I don't think I can talk any more about the issue without actually seeing it. But I am very intrigued by the Cat Grant storyline.
So I know this is a lot of hype and propaganda, but for Robinson to gush a bit about the new team, it must be good! I also like the idea of their finally being a supporting cast and a rogues gallery for Kara.
We have already seen Reactron. While I hope there will be new villains created for Kara, I hope that Gates and Igle re-invent Blackstarr. In the Daring New Adventure issues, Blackstarr certainly had the power to be a legitimate threat for Supergirl. We saw a glimpse of a new Blackstarr in Action Comics #850, an issue which also hinted at the Brainiac and New Krypton storylines. Maybe that foreshadowing will come to pass too!
While there is some concern from some that integrating Supergirl into the Superman title will take away her individuality, I think it is a step in the right direction. I think that you can't have Supergirl exist in a vacuum without any interaction with Superman. It wouldn't make sense for Kryptonian cousins on Earth to not interact with each other.
The truth is I think Kara will be integrated with the super-titles not subsumed by them. For example, my guess is the Supergirl title in the New Krypton story won't be simply a chapter in the arc, but rather how Kara is dealing with the presence of Kandor and the survival of her parents. Kara has always shown that she preferred Krypton to Earth, how much she misses it. She will be conflicted, and that conflict is ripe for a good story.
No on to the Q&A from the audience.
Gates: Supergirl #35.
On the DC boards and now here, the new creative team have said that issue #35 will answer all questions about the muddled origin story of this Supergirl. Hopefully there will be some resolution of the mad Zor-El, ranger Zor-El, and now scientist Zor-El beginnings we have seen. Jamal Igle on a couple of boards has stated that the new origin seen in this month's Action Comics is *the* origin. Thank goodness !!! Hopefully no more 'kill Kal-El' Zor-El ever!
Idelson said to check out the Cosmic Adventures of Supergirl in Eighth Grade.
One more reason for me to need to check out this title! If 2008 is The Year of Streaky, maybe 2009 will be The Year of Comet.
- What is Lana Lang doing? And are there any plans for Supergirl to have a boyfriend?
Johns: Lana will be a main character in the Superman universe.
Gates: As for relationships, keep reading.
It will be interesting to see how Lana ends up in Supergirl's life. She certainly has the experience to help Kara work her way comfortably into the super-heroic community.
As for relationships, please no Power Boy. And please no Dick Malverne. He has had his stories. I remember the days when Supergirl lamented about her inability to hold down a boyfriend. And if she did, they were pirates, crooks, or henchmen. I hope that the new team fleshes out Kara's character before hanging a man on her arm.
- Can you explain who are the various Supergirls?
While I think at some point it might be nice to have this Supergirl interact with Linda, the truth is we don't know this Kara at all. It has been 3 years worth of stories with multiple origins, multiple styles ... I don't know this Kara.
Before we see her interacting with the old Supergirls, before we see endless guest-stars again, let's learn more about Supergirl herself.
- Will Supergirl have a secret identity?
I should have run a 'should she have a secret identity' poll.
- How do you interact with the storyline when you draw Supergirl?
I have always liked Igle's art, but man it sounds like he hit this one out of the park!
But I think we all are looking forward to reading a likable and sympathetic Supergirl. We have waited long enough!
- If you haven't read earlier issues of Supergirl, will you understand issue #34?
You know the drill!
Friday, September 26, 2008
I continue to enjoy Tiny Titans more than I think a man of my age should. Tiny Titans #8 was no exception.
One of the things that I like about it is that it truly can be read as an all-ages title. I enjoy it. My 9 yr old enjoys it. My 5 yr old enjoys it. The comic walks a fine line of silly comedy and tweener school issues, and somehow jams in a surprising amount of Titans history, as well as pop culture references like Fight Club and The Beatles, for the old timers.
For example, the Terror Titans were introduced in this issue as kindergarten students called The Lil Terrors. The Persuader is carrying a giant toothbrush instead of an axe. Everyone enjoyed that, myself included. Blue Beetles parents at the parent/teacher conference are The Beatles. I think I enjoyed that more than others.
As for Supergirl, she continues to shine in this comic as the perfect student that everyone either loves or wants to be. There is no jealous angst here. Everyone just thinks Supergirl is cool. And while all the other Titans are the butt of jokes or act silly, Kara seems to be above the fray, floating serenely.
As I have said before, 2008 is The Year of Streaky with his appearances here, in the Supergirl main title, as a part of her deluxe doll, and rumored to be part of Supergirl:Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade comic.
Streaky in a wet suit! I love it.
I don't know if I would continue getting this title if I didn't have the supergirls at home. But if you need a chuckle and want to see perfectly portrayed Supergirl, Tiny Titans is worth the money.
Overall grade: A
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Brave and Bold #17 was released last Wednesday, teaming up Supergirl with Raven. As clearly seen on the cover, the emphasis on the story is Kara's relationship with her father Zor-El. And, as seen by the outfit he is wearing and the maniacal look on his face, this is the 'kill Kal-El, crystal hell' mad Zor-El seen in the earlier issues of the Supergirl title. This version of Zor-El was quietly retconned away about a year ago in Kelley Puckett's first issues on the title. On top of that, the very day this Brave and Bold issue was released, an even newer, more Silver Age inspired origin for Supergirl was unveiled in Action Comics #869.
Now I treat Brave and Bold like I treat the Classified titles and the Confidential titles as being in quasi-continuity. By that I mean that I can pigeon-hole them somewhere into the chracter's timeline if it comfortably fits. If it makes no sense continuity-wise, I can simply ignore it.
Written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by Phil Winslade, this issue seems to be wedged into Supergirl's history somewhere around Supergirl #13.
I think this will be one of those polarizing Supergirl issues as to whether or not you enjoyed it as a reader. As readers of this blog know, I was absolutely not a fan of the anti-hero killer Kara as written by Joe Kelly. So when I saw the leering evil Zor-El on the cover I knew I probably was not going to like this issue. No big surprise, I didn't.
Now if you like the edgy troubled killer Supergirl, you might find merit in this issue. The truth is, if that origin is valid then a team-up with Raven actually makes sense. Both are young women struggling to be heroes, struggling to keep something evil reigned, struggling to break the mold that their individual fathers cast them in.
That is just not my Supergirl. Supergirl is not Raven.
Anyways, onto the story.
The book opens with Kara having a tumultuous dream where Zor-El keeps telling her that she must realize her destiny and kill Superman. Supergirl fights him throughout the dream and wakes in a cold sweat, realizing she needs some help from this relentless psychological torment.
Supergirl gets referred to Raven by Nightwing. She flies to Raven's high school and, while Raven is in her secret identity, grabs her and flies off. Not exactly a nice way for Kara to respect Raven's secret identity. I am sure Raven will have lots of questions to answer next time she goes to class.
Then, when Raven begins talking to Kara about her own origins, Kara smarmily replies "if I wanted your origin story, I'd pick up 'Who's who'. Just tell me you'll help me." Not the nicest way of asking for help. In fact, it is downright obnoxious.
And this panel encapsulates most of what I didn't like about the Kelly Supergirl (whose origin was probably an idea of Jeph Loeb's). I don't want to read a Supergirl who says 'I was taught to kill. Maybe that is all I am good for.'
I am not saying that chracters like this should not exist. But you shouldn't write Superman like Batman and vice versa. You shouldn't write Cyclops like Wolverine and vice versa. You shouldn't write Supergirl as a killer with confidence issues.
Nevertheless, there it is in print.
Raven tries to help Supergirl achieve some inner peace through meditation. Unfortunately that doesn't work. So Raven takes Supergirl to Azareth where she hopes her teachers and priests will be able to calm her through more meditation and some magic.
This student finally kills some college security guard and reaches a level of evil that is palpable in Azareth. Impressive if somewhat contrived. Raven implores the priests there to awaken Supergirl so the two of them can deal with this threat, but the priests refuse. They say if they awaken Supergirl from her meditation/trance that she 'will never know peace.'
Sometimes I read comics and I simply don't know what to say. This issue was on the bottom of last week's pile because, after Kelley Puckett's decent job of rehabilitating Supergirl, I did not want to go back to the 'mad Zor-El days'. It did not help that I also read Kara's new origin in Action Comics, already called dogma by the new creative team, before I read this.
As I turned each page I kept saying to myself, this is not a Supergirl I want to read.
And Supergirl pretty much acts like an insensitive ungrateful angry woman the whole issue. Wolfman writes a much more sympathetic and engaging Raven, no big surprise given he created her. But it just felt like this issue was designed to make Raven look better at Supergirl's expense ... much like the way Supergirl was written in the 'Terra' issue of her own title.
So what can I say, I bought this issue for Supergirl only to read a version of her I do not like in a story that is otherwise bland. Winslade's art is somewhat sketchy and is colored nicely with a soft palette.
Overall grade: D-
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Here are the costumes for you perusal. I tried to pick a couple of covers which featured the costume in a positive way and in some different angles.
1) 'The Original' or 'The Blue Skirt' - This is the version that Kara was wearing when she burst from that rocket on the cover of Action Comics #252. It's old school in a good way, harkening back to adventures when Kara was a girl young enough to be embarassed about her crush on Jerro the Mer-boy, riding a super-horse, and just finding her way in the world.
2) 'The Hot Pants' - Shortly after Supergirl graduated from being the back-up feature in Action Comics to headlining Adventure Comics, she switched to the 'Hot Pants' costume, complete with V-neck puffy sleeve shirt. This was the primary costume for Supergirl until the mid-80's.
Now certainly there were some minor changes, beaded short bottoms vs athletic shorts, slippers vs boots, choker vs no choker. But overall, the design remained fairly constant. This is the Supergirl I grew up with. The first Supergirl I read and enjoyed, making her my favorite character.
3) 'The Variants' - During her Adventure Comics run, the editors actually invited readers to design new versions of Supergirl's costume (see the cover the Adventure Comics #397 at the top of this post). Some of them were featured in issues!! I cannot imagine anything more engaging to readers, something which of course would never happen today. These versions include bathing suit styles and body suits as seen above but also thigh high boots and funky belts.
None have ever caught on with me, but I am sure there are fans out there.
4) 'The Headband' or 'The Crisis'- In the early 80's, the Supergirl movie was being made and the producers decided her costume needed to be changed. The original movie design included a head band and red shoulders on the shirt as well as a red mini-skirt.
DC Comics decided to change the comic book costume to be more in tune with the movie and so unveiled the costume above. Kara explained that she added the headband as a flourish of Kryptonian culture.
Alas, the movie changed their mind and went with a more Matrix-esque version. DC kept the headband look for the remainder of that Kara's career, cut short in Crisis on Infinite Earths #7.
5) 'The Matrix' - My personal favorite. When John Byrne re-introduced Supergirl as Matrix, the protoplasmic heroine from a pocket universe, he put her in this costume, one which I feel is the most iconic. Here with a flowing skirt of decent length and the classic blue shirt with S-Shield, she exudes presence and strength.
Flourishes I like are the pointy sleeve ends and the pointy belt. Supergirl just looks like a hero in this costume.
6) 'The White Shirt' or 'The Timm' - In the late 90's, DC Comics was enjoying great success with animated versions of their properties. Bruce Timm was the mastermind behind Batman: The Animated Series and the Superman: The Animated Series.
In the Superman animated series, a Supergirl was introduced, a young girl named Kara from the planet Argo, a planet in Krypton's solar system. She lands on Earth and befriends Superman, living with the Kents and fighting crime. She dons an updated costume with a white belly-shirt and blue dress.
In a case of 'history repeating itself', DC decided to take advantage of the animated branding by having the comic book Supergirl, a conflicted and now slightly depowered girl named Linda Danvers, don the white shirt costume. She wore this costume throughout the remainder of her run as Supergirl.
7) 'The Turner' or Current- In 2004, DC decided to re-introduce Supergirl as Superman's cousin. Suddenly my beloved Matrix/Linda Danvers version was ret-conned out of existence, paving the way for a young Kryptonian with a 'simple origin' to take on the mantle of Supergirl.
With a new design by uber-fan-favorite Michael Turner and written by Jeph Loeb, a conflicted Kara lands on Earth and dons this version, apparently designed by Ma Kent. Again, Supergirl is in a belly shirt, now the more classic blue, with gold trim and a blue mini-skirt. There have been slight variations along the way different belts and different lengths and sizes of shirt and skirt, but the overall design remains Turner's.
All versions have their plusses and minuses. And I am sure I have missed or not mentioned some of the rarer or seldom seen costumes (adult Linda Danvers full white shirt version from Many Happy Returns comes to mind immediately) but I think I covered the big ones.
I hope people vote. I really enjoyed hearing people's thoughts about the Final Crisis #3 cover.
Last week I talked about Brad Metzler's efforts to save Jerry Siegel's home including great items being put up on Ebay.
Again, the link to donate and help save the Siegel home is http://www.ordinarypeoplechangetheworld.com/
Monday, September 22, 2008
Sales number for the month of August have been posted on ICv2 and comics sales as a whole continue to drop in the current US economy. Here is the link:
Luckily Supergirl seems to be treading water, selling nearly the same 28K issues each month and ranking in the low 80s/high 90s in sales each month.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Well, we are a mere 11 days away from the much anticipated Supergirl #34, the first issue for the new creative team of Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle! 11 days!
For those craving to hear more about what the new team has in mind, there is a great interview with Jamal Igle over on The Pulse. Here is the link: http://www.comicon.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=36;t=007480
Now Mr. Igle talks about a lot of things in the interview including Tangent:Superman's Reign and Marvel comics and it is worth reading the piece in its entirety. What is interesting is that he spends a lot of time on Supergirl and touches on one of the persistent hot topics about Kara, her costume.
About every 2 months or so, the topic of her costume rears its ugly head on the various Supergirl boards out there. Some people absolutely loathe the belly shirt. Some feel it is too 'slutty' and 'sexy'. Some love it. Others are indifferent. Here is what Mr. Igle had to say.
With the encouragement of DC Editorial, he and Gates are toning down her stripper-inspired costume and making her personality more realistic as an actual teen-aged girl: "I'm trying to [take a different approach to her] than the previous artists. Catching up on older issues, the shirt got smaller… and she's supposed to be a teen-aged girl."
He verbalized the uncomfortable feeling many readers of the title have felt for several years: "I don't feel comfortable sexualizing what's supposed to be a teen-aged girl." The first thing he did, "was look at the costume, and make her less like a hooker than she's been looking."
The picture at the top of the post was a preview piece Igle drew when he was announced as the artist. Sort of a different vibe than the Cinemax-like panels from Ian Churchill above.
As for me, I like the Matrix version of the costume. And no, that statement isn't a lame excuse to show my Igle commission again, although clearly he would draw a wonderful Kara in this outfit. That said, while I don't prefer it, I don't hate the belly shirt in and of itself. There are plenty of other young super-heroes sporting the look including Stargirl, Ultimate Jean Grey, and X-23.
First things first ... I am a 'Big East' guy, not an 'ACC' guy. UNC? Ah well, those basketball cheerleaders usually have more to cheer for than those of my alma mater, Providence College.
That sounds so perfect right now. A Supergirl that wants to help people ... and that readers want to see win. I am looking forward to Mr. Igle's new design and I am counting down the days to October 1.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Every so often a comic comes out that reminds me 100% why I have stuck with this hobby for so long. An issue that has great writing and great art ... an issue with action and drama played out by archetypal characters all in the setting of super-heroics. In this day and age where there are shelves full of dreck in the comic book store, issues like that are true diamonds ... more like needles in a haystack. So when one comes along, readers should shout about them from the hillsides to draw attention to them.
And if you are lucky enough to stumble on one of these issue *and* it also stars their favorite character, in my case Supergirl ... well it suddenly becomes an all-time favorite. I would already put Action Comics #869 in that category. With a great plot by Geoff Johns and the typical wondrous Gary Frank art, this is an instant classic. My guess is I will re-read this issue many times.
While Supergirl goes into action on the ground, Superman is facing off against Brainiac on the Coluan ship. Brainiac explains that he somehow is able to harness strength from the beings he has captured as the prisoners' genetic information is fed into his body-suit and mind. After hearing this, Superman disconnects Brainiac from his system by biting(!!) through the conduit linked into the back of Brainiac's head. Suddenly being unplugged causes Brainiac to temporarily short-circuit, allowing Superman a moment to explore the ship and look for Kandor.
Surprisingly, Superman finds himself being called to the city. And he is being contacted by none other than Zor-El and Alura, Supergirl's parents!! Although their survival was foreshadowed in Action Comics #850, this was still a wonderful reveal! Dressed in their more traditional Silver Age garb, they immediately ask about their daughter.
Okay .. okay .. so it is a little confusing to have 3 origins of Supergirl in 5 years.
As for Kara, she is still kicking robot tail on Earth, swearing that Brainiac won't hurt anyone again. Nice!
But the revamping of Kara's origin continues ... and man did it continue to floor me!
Alas, Brainiac does not like to share his technology. Nor does he like cultural and genetic information to be out of his control. He wanted to have the only knowledge of Krypton and so, drawn to Argo by his own technology, he goes about destroying it. He harvests what he feels is new information and puts it into Kandor. This includes Zor-El and Alura.
But the issue is not over yet and suddenly things look bleak for the heroes.
Metropolis is shrunken into a bottle and taken on board Brainiac's ship.
And if that isn't bad enough, Brainiac fires a 'solar aggressor' into our sun which will make it explode in under an hour. Talk about your classic comics cliffhanger!
Congratulations to Mr. Johns and Mr. Frank for their run on Action Comics and this issue in particular. Suddenly Superman is relevant again. Suddenly Supergirl is a character I can be proud to say I love again!