Thursday, September 30, 2010

More Previews From Smallville:Supergirl

Is everybody as pumped for the Supergirl episode of Smallville, scheduled for an October 8 airing?

Well, just in case you weren't excited by the concept, maybe some pictures from the episode will stir you from your doldrums. Over on CBR, the CW has released from stills from the episode as well as the official episode solicit. Here is the link:

And here is the solicit:

“Supergirl” (TV-14) (HDTV)
LAURA VANDERVOORT RETURNS AS DC COMICS’ CHARACTER SUPERGIRL — Clark (Tom Welling) is stunned when Kara (guest star Laura Vandervoort) returns to Earth and tells him Jor El sent her to stop the dark force that is coming because he doesn’t believe Clark can handle it.  Meanwhile, Lois (Erica Durance) confronts Gordon Godfrey (guest star Michael Daingerfield), a shock jock radio DJ who has been crusading against heroes, after he threatens the Green Arrow (Justin Hartley).  However, after Godfrey is possessed by the dark force, he takes Lois hostage and Clark and Kara have to come to her rescue.  Mairzee Almas directed the episode written by Ann Cofell Saunders

Nice description with Jor-El realizing he needs someone 'take charge' to battle Darkseid and that person is Supergirl. And Glorious Godfrey as a shock jock is a stroke of genius.

But that picture of Laura Vandervoort in a near-Supergirl uniform, standing next to the American flag is just spectacular.

But that's not all! There are a lot more photos.

In this one, Vandervoort sports what looks to be more of a combat uniform with the blue leather jacket and pants.

And what could be better than a little Linda Lee thrown in for good measure!


Tip of the hat to blog friend Gene for sending me this link to a CW promo clip on YouTube where Vandervoort talks about Supergirl and the episode. Here is that link:

Man, Vandervoort just sounds like a Supergirl fan, invoking Helen Slater, crossing her fingers that a Supergirl movie will be made, and sounding excited to play the role again.

One more week! 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Review: Smallville Legends: Kara And The Chronicles Of Krypton

An 18hour work shift kept me away from all stores yesterday so I haven't purchased or seen any of Superman/Batman:Apocalypse. I am guessing that the review for that movie will be up by the weekend.

I figured that one way to pass the time until then would be to look at Supergirl's last animated appearance. Back in season 7 of Smallville, when the Supergirl character was introduced to the show, the WB made Smallville Legends: Kara and the Chronicles of Krypton.

6 3-minute episodes were made and I believe available via mobile phones.

The animation is pretty lackluster, a sort of 2 dimensional choppy style of cartoon. It is clear that the model for Kara  in these episodes is Laura Vandervoort.

And as this story was an adjunct to Smallville's mythos, a lot of what transpires is new territory for me. The story takes place on Krypton.

In this version of Krypton's history, the planet is buried in a civil war. General Zod's troops are bombing cities indiscriminately and have taken over a number of mines on the planet which houses the materials necessary for weapons and ammunition.

There is some concern from the ruling council that this mining is leading to Krypton's planetary instability. Jor-El has already detected the internal rumblings of the planet's core.

Zor-El, in the last remaining mine controlled by the acting government, pleads with the council to continue drilling. The only way to thwart Zod is with the power the mine provides.

Almost immediately you get the sense that Zor-El is an oily character. But Kara loves him, telling him she is heading off to school with her father's assistant Augo.

As she is about the enter the school, Augo luckily calls to her, delaying her entry. Good thing to as the school is demolished by a terrorist bomb. Do you see Kara being flung away from the carnage in the top right corner.
This sort of reminded me of the whole 'crystal death' Supergirl. Remember how in that arc Supergirl gunned down her classmates. Anyways, it seems that personal loss and tragedy is one of the recurring themes in Supergirl's history regardless of which incarnation we are talking about.

Relatively unharmed, Kara realizes that Zod's men are responsible for the high school disaster. If Zod is bombing that close to home, he must be going after Zor-El and the mine. She races to her father to warn him.

She then stumbles across a horrible truth. Zor-El is actually working with Zod. That means that Zor-El is responsible for blowing up the school, killing Kara's friends and nearly killing her.

Shocked, Kara confronts Zor-El. Much like in the Joe Kelly arc in the comic, Zor is mentally disturbed here. He actually could care little for either Zod or the council. He is manipulating both sides to achieve his goals. And Kara plays a part in that. Zor-El was never worried about Kara because Augo is his loyal acolyte and was charged with keeping Kara safe.

And what are Zor-El's goals?

Well Zor-El is something of a religious fanatic. He feels that The Book of Rao's prophecies are coming to pass. The last prophecy talks of the destruction of the planet and the emergence of a God-like hero who will lead the people of another planet. Now we know that prophecy is about Superman. But Zor-El thinks it is talking about him. He has created a drill missile which will head to the planet's core and detonate the planet. And then Zor and Kara will step through a portal, head to Earth, and rule that planet as Rao's hero.

One thing that I did like about this is Kara's morals and strength. She is disgusted by her father's actions and scared by his zealousness. She tries to escape. Unfortunately, she doesn't get far and is taken away from the mine by Augo.

In another section of the mine, Kara uses some guile tricking Augo into thinking she has changed her mind and accepted her role in Zor's schemes. Augo tells her that Zor-El knew she would come around to his way of thinking. Then Augo confesses his love for Kara.

Pressing her advantage, Kara pushes Augo into a mine elevator and sends him away.

While this isn't ground-breaking material, I did like that Zor-El completely underestimated Kara's resolve, thinking she would simply fall in line. I love that she is a pretty strong character here, doing what she needs to do to try to save people.

With only a few moments to spare before Zor-El arrives, Kara contacts Lara and warns her about Zor-El's plans. Knowing there is no time to stop the missile, Lara vows to save Kal-El.

In the meantime, Jor-El has contacted Zor-El. Zod has been captured. Zor-El is under investigation. The power to the mine is turned off. The teleporters away from Krypton have been deactivated.

Always prepared, Zor-El overrides the mine shutdown and fires the drill missile. In Smallville mythology, Zor-El is responsible for Krypton's destruction!! Without the teleporters, he'll need to rocket to Earth instead.

He then confronts Kara, demanding that she come with him. Angry at her father, she pushes him away. He stumbles into one of the crystal control boards and impales himself on a rather large shard. Suddenly, Zor-El is dying. With little time, he mindwipes Kara and takes her away.

Lara gets Jor-El and the two place baby Kal in his rocket and send him to Earth.

The confused Kara doesn't quite understand what is happening. Zor-El, doing his best to mask his pain and covering his wound, tells Kara that she needs to go to Earth to protect Kal. She is rocketed away.

Zor-El seems surprisingly calm for his plans to have been thwarted. But he holds onto the prophecy that he will be resurrected as a God. And, in fact, on Smallville, that comes to pass.

The series ends with the two rockets heading away from the exploding Krypton.

While this is a sort of Elseworld's version of the destruction of Krypton, it was nice to see Kara portrayed as a very strong ethical character who acts with conviction. We saw glimpses of that strength in Laura Vandervoort's performance. The Smallville Supergirl is pretty pro-active and pretty confident in her opinions (when she isn't amnestic and in Luthor's thrall of course).

The animation here is pretty lacking making it sometimes difficult to watch.

I watched these off of the Smallville Season 7 DVD collection, but in looking right now they are all available on YouTube.

Overall grade: C-

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Review: Justice League #49

After the frenetic JLA/JSA 'Dark Things' storyline, Justice League of America #49 was a welcome 'rest issue'. 'One in done' issues like this one are a needed down time after major arcs allowing the writer and artist time to reflect on what is happening and giving the creative team a chance to look at a character in a different light, in different settings.

So after the crazy action and revelations of 'Dark Things', it was nice to see the team recovering, relaxing. 'The Bogeyman' was written by James Robinson, pencilled by Pow Rodrix, and inked by a veritable gaggle of inkers, seven in all! The issue is really a Jade and Donna book although we see all the Leaguers at least briefly. I was glad to see those two characters get the bulk of the time. Donna has really been a leader on the team, the warrior who wades into a fight so it was nice to see her (at least briefly) off the battlefield and here her thoughts about her non-superhero life. And Jade has just returned so I thought it was good that I got to know her a little bit better here.

The issue opens up with Dick and Kara returning after thwarting a robbery. It is sort of an amusing look back at Silver Age adventures, as Kara is lugging a giant saxophone and Dick muses how there were always big props involved in the early days.

Since the announcement of this new League, Robinson has talked about the relationship he wants to develop between these two, a brother/sister sort of mentoring relationship. This scene was a nice way to see how these two are getting along. Even though Supergirl is acting bright and happy, calling the two of them the new World's Finest, Dick recognizes that inside she is lonely. Her exterior is a front. In a classy move, even though the adventure is over and they could part, Dick invites her in for a sandwich and Kara happily agrees. I thought it was great on his part to recognize what is going on in Supergirl's life. And best of all there wasn't a drop of sexual overtones here. It really felt like a familial relationship.

Rodrix draws a young, fresh, and pretty Supergirl but I wish he had been told about her shorter hair. And one thing for sure, he doesn't think the bike shorts are part of the costume.

In the meantime, Donna and Jade are in San Francisco to run some errands and tidy up some of the after effects of 'Dark Things'. Donna talks about how much she loves the city and is thinking about moving there. Again, one of the aspects about issues like this that I like are these quiet moments where you get some insight into the character.

The two heroes go to Alcatraz to check in on the Shadow Thief who was driven mad by the Starheart. He is still incapacitated, appearing absolutely terrified and repeating 'he is coming' over and over. Given the panel we saw in the last part of Dark Things, I am guessing it's Eclipso who is coming.

While in Alcatraz, Donna is called to visit the villain The Bogey Man, and older villain who can worm his way into a child's mind and feed off the negative energies of shame and fear. More over, to increase the cringe factor, Donna recalls that he liked to be in little girl's minds most of all. In the past, Wonder Girl was strong enough to shake off the attack and clobber him.

Any time I can see the old school Titans in their old uniforms, like Donna's here, I am happy.

After leaving Alcatraz, Donna goes to visit the Titans only to be suddenly attacked by them. Initially the current Wonder Girl lays her out with a wicked right hook and then the rest of the team jumps in. I liked this panel of Donna squaring off with Ravager the best in the sequence. Donna looks absolutely fierce and there is a nice kinetic feel here as she blocks the bullets.

Fending off the attacks, Donna realizes that Jade is nowhere to be seen.

While Donna is being physically attacked and berated by her foes, Jade is in a whole different sort of hell. This is more of a mental emotional attack as people from Jade's past call her selfish and slather on the guilt. Her adopted parents, Alan Scott, Kyle Raynor, Solomon Grundy, Fury, Northwind, the Star Spangled Kid ... they all talk of their disappointment in Jade's action, how she has let them down.

And when she vows that she'll become a better person, Jade is rebuffed by her Black Lantern self.

Is there still some sliver of the Black Lantern Jade inside her? Or is this some manifestation of the darkness she absorbed from the Starheart? Or is this just a part of Jade that she is trying to deny exists? I get the sense that Jade is going to be a very complex character in this book.

I also get the sense that Robinson really like the character. This is the 4th or 5th splash page of Jade since she came into the book. Interesting that the Black Lantern Jade is a much brighter green than the current incarnation. Is that because the real Jade absorbed some of the dark energy and is physically darker as a result?

When the Titans both young and old are done attacking Donna, the attack sinks to a more personal, more psychological level. Donna's ex-husband Terry, her babies, even her younger self combine for an all out assault - physical and mental. In particular, I loved the jabs by the young Wonder Girl who is blaming the older Donna for all the mistakes that Wonder Girl will eventually make. There is a feeling of fatalism here.

No surprise, this whole thing is a psychic attack by the Bogey Man. The heroes haven't even left Alacatraz. He is a bit perverted, hiding in the young Wonder Girl's body and thrilled he got to lick Donna's soul. He is stronger now; he was able to enter adult's minds and play his games.

But as he is stronger, so is Donna. She defeated him before and so she is able to shrug off his attack and realize it is literally all in her head. It was great to see Donna just put all of this baggage behind her. It probably helps that she just faced off with Terry and her kids in Blackest Night:Titans. I also liked how she told the Bogey Man that he could have put in Brainiac 8 or Dark Angel to really try to add to the angst.

While it lasted for a bit, I thought it was wonderful that Donna saw through all this nonsense and was able to end it. She really is a warrior.

Donna drags the Bogey Man over to Jade's nightmare realm. Jade's nightmare has moved on the a personal self-examination. She is haunted by images of the Jade-sidian construct from 'Dark Things'.

How evil and dark is this being? It is too much for even the Bogey Man to absorb and he is built to absorb those feelings.

I can understand Jade's confusion here. She was briefly a White Lantern and now she is being eroded from the inside by the energies she absorbed. There is more to come here! I am looking forward to this storyline when it happens.

Without much explanation, Jade shakes off the attack and blasts the image of Jade-sidian away. With that mental construct gone, the Bogey Man's attack is over and the heroes awaken in Alcatraz.

The emotional anguish over, the two heroes are able regroup. Donna realizes that she doesn't need to check in on the Titans, she doesn't need to think too much about what the Bogey Man showed her. She has been able to put all of those insecurities behind her. It is time to move on. And maybe Jade should join her; maybe they should open up a photography studio.

Again, I am glad it didn't take Donna long to recognize this whole thing as a mental attack. I did think it was interesting that the two heroes had very different versions of their personal hells. Donna's is on the battle field, all blood and weapons. Jade's was all emotional, not one punch thrown. It really showed the differences in the two heroes and gave me some insight into them as well. Nice.

The issue ends with another look at Dick and Kara.

I am glad that Robinson knows that Kara is still reeling from all the loss in her life recently. She asks Dick if she will ever be able to move on from it.  She is calling on him for his guidance and experience. He says she just needs some time and what better way to kill time than by fighting crime. Again, it really shows a nice progression in their relationship. I am very happy with this.

Overall I thought this was a good issue. The internal battle field of insecurities is a very well traveled road seen in many comics but I thought the contrast between the two heroes' versions of personal hell was a new wrinkle. And all this promise of darkness in Jade and the 'he's coming' rants is nice bait for the upcoming year.

Pow Rodrix has a nice style, sort of Eddy Barrows-esque. It is stylized but not out of control. His art adds to the story, not distracts from it. I'd like to see more from him.

Overall grade: B/B+

Saturday, September 25, 2010

December 2010 Solicits

 The DC December solicits are up on Newsarama and looks like a good month for comics. Here is the link for all the solicits:

And here are the Super-titles with my usual comments.

A dangerous new foe has it in for Cat Grant, and as much as Supergirl'd like to see Cat get what's coming to her, The Girl of Steel has no choice but to get involved! This one's got it all - Arkham Asylum, Superwoman, the Justice League of America, and a couple of twists and turns you won't see coming!

I am glad that the Toyman subplot that has been percolating for some time is coming to the forefront. I wonder if Cat changes her mind about Supergirl after this issue. The Arkham visit must be concerning the Toyman. This isn't the first time Supergirl has been there. I wonder if a reference to the Superman/Batman Kara/Tim issue will be made.

And more Superwoman. I can't wait for round 2! (Or is it round 3 given WoS?).

Glad to see Jamal Igle on the credit list.


1:10 Variant cover by DAVID MACK
With Washington, D.C. in the hands of The Omega Man and the full extent of his horrific power revealed, the JLA is forced to make a difficult decision. Is there no choice for the World’s Greatest Heroes but to team with the World’s Worst Villains – the Crime Syndicate – in order to save both Earths? How will this desperate action be affected by Ultra Man’s betrayal of everyone. . . and the reappearance of Dark Supergirl?

 Okay. First off, what a doozy of a variant by David Mack. Looks like I am going to break my 'no variant' rule again.

I have been pleased with how Robinson is treating Supergirl in JLA. It is better than what we saw in Cry for Justice. And I am thrilled to see Dark Supergirl coming back. As I said before, I never was pleased with the resolution of that story so hopefully Robinson is able to make more sense of it.

And I really hope Supergirl kicks the snot out of Ultra Man.



1:10 Variant covers by IVAN REIS
The hottest series in comics blazes on as the legacy of the new Aqualad is forged and the extent of his powers is revealed! Plus, Aquagirl joins the battle, and Firestorm seeks out the Justice League’s help!

I haven't been blown away by Brightest Day because it feels a bit too staccato for me. With a few pages devoted to each character, I don't get enough of any. I have enjoyed the Alive Man and Hawks stories the most.

Anyways, Supergirl graces the cover here so we will finally see an official Finch Kara. And as this book is DC's biggest seller, any publicity for Supergirl is welcomed.

1:10 Variant cover by SAMI BASRI
The epic "Grounded" story arc brings The Man of Steel to Des Moines, Iowa! A chance encounter there, however, suddenly thrusts Superman back in time. So somehow he's Superboy again, the world is on the brink of nuclear Armageddon and it's all his fault!
Retailers please note: This issue's content was previously solicited for issue #705. 

So, after just a couple of months, we already are seeing an 'interlude issue' in Grounded and delays by the main creative team. I didn't have the energy to post about it when it was first announced. Am I allowed to say that the momentum for Grounded has ground to a halt? I am actually looking forward to the Lois issue ... maybe more than the main issues.

This story was solicited before but with a different cover. I wonder if this cover is supposed to be for the story after this one. I am pretty sure (whenever we read this cover's story) that this will be the first appearance of the 'new' Wonder Woman. I was hoping she wouldn't cross over into main continuity until everyone was sure that the current new timeline isn't going away.

Co-feature written by NICK SPENCER
Co-feature art by RB SILVA
Part 1 of a 2-part crossover with the Secret Six! Lex Luthor doesn't want to get his hands dirty fighting Vandal Savage (that Black Ring energy ain't gonna find itself!), so he hires Savage's daughter Scandal and her Secret Six team to take the immortal villain down for him! Continued in SECRET SIX #29!
    And in the hit new JIMMY OLSEN co-feature, Jimmy signs up for a "Win a Date" auction, but much to his surprise, so does his ex, Chloe Sullivan! While Jimmy ends up on a date with CrazyPants McGee, Jimmy's archrival snags Chloe! D'oh! And wait, are those wedding bells we hear? Better hope they don't toll for thee, Olsen!

I keep hoping and hoping that this Luthor story will grab me. I'm not a Secret Six guy so I don't think is going to help matters. 

I am getting more and more intrigued by the Jimmy Olsen co-feature. The artwork seems slick and Nick Spencer has sounded pretty excited by it. 

While present-day Lex Luthor is busy fighting an array of the DCU's most vile foes over in ACTION COMICS, this annual takes a look back at two formative encounters Luthor had before he became the bald mad genius we know and love (to hate) today! Marco Rudy illustrates a story of young Lex and Darkseid, while Ed Benes tackles a tale starring Luthor and Batman foe Ra's al Ghul!

Nice cover by Van Sciver.

I wonder if these stories will have any bearing on the current arc or if they are just stories. I don't necessarily know if I like the concept of a young Luthor meeting Darkseid. Seems a bit contrived. Hopefully the story is solid.

But I do like the idea of Luthor and Al Ghul meeting. I wonder if they will get along or hate each other. I don't think there is room for middle ground. And I think most megalomanics hate other megalomaniacs. This one sounds good.

Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Cover by phil noto
1:10 Variant cover by GUILLEM MARCH
The vegetation of Smallville is out of control, and all evidence points to Poison Ivy as the cause! Superboy's friend Simon thinks there might be more to this than meets the eye, but he'll have a hard time convincing Superboy of that now that he's in the thrall of Ivy!

With the popularity of Batman and Poison Ivy, this crossover seems like a way to keep new readers reading. I like Ivy so it will be good to see her tussle with Conner.

And as a huge Phil Noto fan, I am thrilled he is on the title as cover artist.

So overall, a nice month. I'm almost glad there were no unanticipated issues as I am usually broke around the holidays.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Review: Supergirl #56

Supergirl #56 came out this week and was a really wonderful comic. It sometimes is as simple as that.

This issue continues the BizarroGirl storyline with Kara winging her way to the Bizarro World to both bring BizarroGirl to justice as well as help save the planet from whatever threat it is facing. And sure there is some nice action sequences here and one of the better 2 page spreads I have seen in recent time.

But for me, the juice of this whole storyline has been the comparisons we have seen between Supergirl and BizarroGirl. BizarroGirl isn't the exact opposite of Supergirl, far from it. Sterling Gates instead makes BizarroGirl a sort of dark reflection of the character. We see many many similarities between the two, played out in outrageous ways (it is Bizarro World after all). And every time Supergirl sees something that strikes a chord in her, reminding her of what she is going through and where she has been, it helps her grow as a hero. By seeing so much of Kara's life echoed here, it even helped me as a fan recall all of what has happened since Supergirl #34. Sometimes those echoes are personal events in Kara's life. Other times it is events she has witnessed (like last issue where BizarroGirl's plight reminded Supergirl of Reactron's fate). Supergirl has really been put through the wringer. No wonder she is occasionally filled with self-doubt, wondering what she should be. Rather than being simply a comic element (although there are some funny moments), BizarroGirl is a powerful plot element. Nice stuff.

Inside the Bizarro rocket, Supergirl talks to the unconscious BizarroGirl, putting into words how she saw so much of herself in this warped version of herself. Doubts, anger, confusion ... it was all there. Supergirl still blames herself for the destruction of New Krypton at the hands of Reactron as if she was the only domino in the chain of events.

Supergirl also recognized that Dr. Light would basically go 'all Alura' on BizarroGirl, poking and prodding the imperfect duplicate at STAR Labs. Supergirl couldn't be part of that either.

All of this shows just how much Supergirl has grown in the last year. She isn't going to be a part of injustice any more. She isn't going to let events unfurl in front of her that she doesn't agree with and not intercede.

While under the effects of hibernation gas during the trip, Supergirl has a very unsettling dream showing just how she is suffering from some post-traumatic stress. In the dream, she is on New Krypton, she knows it is about to explode, but she can't speak to warn anyone. It is a feeling of absolute helplessness as she once again sees her people die before her eyes, their flesh stripped from their bones.

But the dialogue in the dream shows even more emotional pain. Supergirl still thinks her people would look at her as Alura's spoiled brat daughter.

Her self-image is as a belittled helpless person; you can understand why she was near catatonic in the early issues of this arc.

I have to say it again. At least this book is taking a good hard look at how the catastrophic end of New Krypton would effect the super-family. You can't simply sweep that story under the rug, simply move away from it. Unlike Grounded, this book realizes that the super-cousins would be emotionally reeling.

Here is another example of how I have enjoyed Gates take on the Bizarros. Yes, sometimes they are warped versions of the Super-family. Sometimes they are the exact opposite of them.

That's why I loved this splash page. It is the exact opposite of the standard Kryptonian origin story. The Kryptonian rocket is speeding it's way to a doomed planet rather than away from it.

The issue's title is 'Mad World' and it is apt given the insanity we see on the Bizarro World. As for me, I am more of a Gary Jules' version of the song Mad World rather than Tears For Fears original rendition. Of course, I also think Donnie Darko is a tremendous movie and Jules' version was on that soundtrack so maybe I am biased.

When the two arrive on the planet, Supergirl is not welcomed home as a hero. Instead, she is labeled an enemy of the people and pelted with fruit.

I don't know if it was intentional but this very much reminded me of the baseball stadium scene in Supergirl #34. The most prominent Bizarro in the initial crowd shot is wearing a baseball cap. I always wonder if I read to much into these things.

More importantly, Supergirl flies down and defends BizarroGirl, screaming at the crowd. If only Kara had someone to defend her so closely early in her career. It felt like Supergirl was righting the wrongs done to her by defending her duplicate.

Supergirl finally realizes that all Bizarros don't speak in strict opposite speak. Bizarro Luthor explains that there are different dialects on Bizarro World, different levels of imperfectness I guess. I'm glad someone finally explained it!

In another tip of the cap of Supergirl history, BizarroGirl thinks BizarroLuthor is dreamy. That could only happen on the Bizarro World ... except it actually happened when Matrix was Lex's lover in the Superman comics of the 90's. That really was bizarre ... and as a Supergirl fan it was absolutely cringe-worthy.

This Luthor explains that he accidentally lured the 'Godship' to the BizarroWorld when he was looking for a way to hurt Bizarro#1. Before he can explain more, he is devoured by a Godship probe.

It seems that these brainless drones eat anything and everything ... people, objects, the planet itself ... and then return to the ship to have the matter converted to energy. What an ugly creature, mostly mouth!

The probe dispatches BizarroGirl with a quick tail swipe, knocking her out of her other boot. It was a light moment in an otherwise dense issue.

Bizarro #1 arrives to help thwart the probe and is thrilled to see BizarroGirl. He showers his cousin with love, reminding Supergirl of just how much Kal has supported her recently. It is another way that BizarroGirl's life mirrors her own, maybe helping Supergirl realize that she has a lot in her to be thankful for.

Bizarro tells Supergirl of how he tried to fight the Godship but was unsuccessful, how he created BizarroGirl for backup but loved her too much to have her die and so sent her too Earth.

Confidently, Supergirl says she will fly to the Godship, look inside, and get some information about the aliens driving it. Bizarro tells her it is a bad idea which she assumes means it is a good idea; she is on Bizarro World.

As she flies off, Bizarro says that isn't exactly how it works. She is heading into danger.

Still, I love how Supergirl is pro-active here, flying into danger to save this world.

What is supposed to be a quick reconnaissance mission turns into something much scarier.

I probably have 80% of this two page spread scanned here; it is magnificent in it's entirety. It works because we see just how much this thing dwarfs Supergirl. It is the exact opposite of the typical double page spread. Usually in those, the hero is the major element, dominating the art. Here, Supergirl is a tiny part of the spread. I suppose that also makes sense given the Bizarro nature of this issue.

In a great twist, it turns out the Godship isn't a ship at all, it is a massive organism.

The being slams Supergirl into the planet, throwing her literally through the world and back into the Bizarro's Fortress.

Undeterred, Supergirl knows she is going to need help defeating this world-destroyer. She is going to need Superman.

Hmmm. I think it is great that Supergirl is dedicated to helping the Bizarros, risking it all to save their planet. Again, it makes sense from where she is coming from that she would be so ardent in her desire to save them. BizarroWorld is the stand-in New Krypton. If she couldn't save her world, she will save this one. All of these contrasts and comparisons, so many elements of Kara's life played out here as demons she can finally overcome, really makes this a great great issue.

I really think she needs to do this herself. She needs this so she can move beyond everything. But it needs to be her internal strength that gets her through the fire. I don't want Superman's help here. So that ending deflated this issue a bit. Since Superman isn't mentioned in next issue's solicit, maybe it doesn't happen.

But there is no denying how wonderful this issue was ... allowing Supergirl to think through all of the emotional trauma she is dealing with, process it, and maybe finally rid herself of it in a very physical cathartic way.

And having BizarroGirl be more than a simple brutish enemy, by having her be a skewed version of Supergirl, is the perfect vessel for this story.

So lots of action and lots of characterization in this arc.

And great art as well. I had to include this panel of the Bizarro Sterling Gates inserted into the book by Jamal Igle. Igle has such a handle on the character. I don't have it here, but the panel where we first see BizarroGirl, happily saying 'goodbye' to Bizarro #1 was perfectly playful. On a side note, I don't see any bike shorts on BizarroGirl. Purposeful omission?

We still don't know if Igle will remain on the book as no official word (as far as I know) has leaked about that. But, as I have said before, if he is leaving I'll be disappointed. His stuff is just perfect for this book.

Overall grade: A

Thursday, September 23, 2010

One Last Baltimore Comic-Con Post: Jamal Igle's Superwoman

I know the Baltimore Comic-Con was almost a month ago, but I had to sneak one more post about it in.

A good friend who went to the con with me got this sweet Superwoman commission from Jamal Igle. I saw a number of the commissions Jamal worked on there and was impressed with all of them. I love the coloring and shading here as well as Lucy's devious expression. Slick.

On a semi-related note, Adrian Syaf was just named the artist on Birds of Prey meaning Igle is not on that title as rumored before. Hmmmm ... maybe we are lucky and he isn't going anywhere after all.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Supergirl! Now Let's Get Snubbed!

 A tip of the hat to Supergirl writer Sterling Gates (!!) who on Twitter reminded me that September 22nd is Supergirl's birthday! I can't believe that slipped my mind! Gates also linked to this great web site The DC Universe Calendar ( here is the link: ) which commemorates all the important dates in the DCU. There must be have been some hard research to set that site up! Thanks to whoever did the leg work. The issue above had Superman helping Supergirl celebrate her anniversary on Earth ... the closest I could come to an appropriate picture on such short notice.

Anyways, so here I was ready to recognize Supergirl's birthday and write something about how much I love the character and how glad I am that she seems to becoming a big part of the DCU. While formulating that post, I went to Newsarama and read an article about the premiere of Superman/Batman:Apocalypse, the movie bringing Supergirl to the small screen. What better way to add to the birthday celebration than to read about her presence in an upvoming movie?

As always, the whole interview is a great read, with questions asked of many of the significant creators and voices in the movie. Here is that link:

But this blurb based on a question asked of director Lauren Montgomery sort of bummed me out:
Montgomery discusses how Supergirl's name was taken out of the title of the story, which was called "The Supergirl From Krypton" in the comics. Montgomery said it happened after the Wonder Woman DVD-release animated film didn't meet sales expectations. "We had to fight to even put her on the cover, and then they put her skanky version on the cover. So 'those' boys would buy it." 

Boy, that put a damper on things. How sad that DC Entertainment felt the very word Supergirl would detract from sales. And then to hear that they would only allow the 'corrupted Kara' on the cover to lure in a certain demographic is also disheartening.

I have heard rumors that the movie is very good, pretty faithful to the source material, and hopefully the portrayal of Supergirl in the movie lives up to my expectations. 

Anyways ....

I shouldn't let that quote sour the whole day right. If anything ... and I have said it many times ... this is a great time to be a Supergirl fan so today should be a day to recognize that. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Review: Adventure Comics #518

One of the hard things about trying to run this blog is realizing when something has slipped through the cracks. Adventure Comics # 518 came out 2 weeks ago and here I have been remiss in reviewing it. I think with this review I will finally be up to date on the comics that I want to give an in-depth look. Thank goodness, new comics come out tomorrow!

Adventure continues to turn back the clock and look at the earliest stories of  Superboy and the Legion. As I have said since this renaissance of the title, it is an interesting concept for a number of reasons. I think one of the major problems with any Legion reboot is the fear of isolating or offending the continuity-rabid older fan base of the characters. This title's concept is probably heaven-sent for that crowd, allowing the more seasoned Legion lovers to enjoy a look backwards. But this title also allows Paul Levitz to further define and refine this early period of the team while, in essence, teaching any new Legion fans what the team was all about back in the day. We haven't seen any frank re-telling of Legion stories but we have danced around some of the big events in Legion Lore. And outside of, in my opinion, one major gaffe (having Saturn Girl sleep with Cos and then mind wipe him), it has accomplished those goals nicely.

For newer fans, this book also helps to build a foundation for the team which has a lot of history to cover. And it allows the reader the ability to look at a character closely from where they have been (in Adventure) and where they are now (in the Legion main book). Certainly the Saturn Girl in the main book is different than the one here, so contrasting those portrayals helps the reader see just how much these characters have grown.

My one concern as an older fan as I read this book is that I may not appreciate the context of the story if indeed it is meant to embellish a sliver of the Silver Age. I consider myself a huge Legion fan but my knowledge of their earliest history is okay ... not encyclopedic. So maybe Levitz is hinting at a story I just don't know about.

The issue continues the plot of the Legion tracking down the tech-marauder Zaryan.

I have been enjoying the story's focus on the early Saturn Girl and her growing confidence. She bears a grudge against Zaryan. After all, his men nearly killed Saturn Girl last issue, killing the SciPo liaison instead. Imra feels responsible for that death and blames herself for her weakness in combat.

This issue she seems more confident, less antsy in battle, dropping her enemies telepathically while hounding Zaryan. She is able to procure some information about his whereabouts and his next target. It is a small victory but you can see how proud Saturn Girl is. Now the Legion can be proactive.

I know the polished, strong, self-reliant Saturn Girl the best so it is nice to see these early missteps. It makes me appreciate to current strong Legionnaire more.

Back at the LSH headquarters, Brainy, Phantom Girl, and Superboy are investigating a mystery. Some of the Legionnaires have been hearing voices in the headquarters. With some concern that the voices are spectral in nature, Phantom Girl has been left behind to pursue any ghostly leads.

I am still a bit surprised at how forward Phantom Girl is here in Adventure. I don't recall that being part of her usual personality.

She even invites Superboy to inspect the .. ahem ... personal quarters. Not surprising is Superboy's shyness and his awkward rebuff of her advances. He practically trips over himself to get out of there. It is funny to see Clark squirm a bit here.

And call me crazy, but I've come to like the throwback 'P' costume Phantom Girl sports here.

In what has to be a monumental bonehead play, Zaryan has plans to raid Naltor. Isn't it a bit foolish to think you'll surprise a planet of precogs?

And while the planet might not have a strong army (Zaryan says they are 'only Naltorians'), they are forewarned and therefore forearmed.

Didn't Zaryan realize that they might have called in some muscle?

The Science Police are already there and thanks to Saturn Girl's prior discovery, the Legion is there as well.

Among the Naltorians is a young and very fetching Nura Nal, who already senses where her destiny might be. One day she'll be Dream Girl.

And given the mystical nature of Naltor, I thought it was a nice touch that the Naltorian leader calls the Science Police the planet's dark sword. It is a nice flair of local color.

Dream Girl's premonitions don't end there. She also gets a vision of a dead Legionnaire. Given the whole feel of this story, the emphasis on Saturn Girl, and prior hints, my guess is it's Lightning Lad who will die (and then be resurrected by Proty's sacrifice).

But that is part of the problem here. I don't recall enough of the Legion history to place this story in any concrete time period. Despite some information (Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl not an item, Ultra Boy on the team), I don't know if the Lightning Lad death is historically imminent or not. For all I know, this is a premonition of Ferro Lad or Invisible Kid. Maybe I shouldn't let it bother me. Maybe I should just read the stories. But it is sort of mildly annoying.

Superboy meanwhile has fled from Phantom Girl straight to the Superman wing of the Legion trophy room/museum.

In a nice progression from Dream Girl's vision of a dead Legionnaire, Superboy faces his own death in the face of Doomsday. Here is a destiny he can't escape. I like how he acknowledges that is 'better to go out fighting'; he already has the courage of Superman. He looks away without even learning of his eventual revival.

This idea of destiny permeates the issue. How tough must it be for Superboy to already know how you will be killed.

But Superman can't dwell on the future for too long. He hears the ghostly voice warning him that he can't stay. Why is it warning Superboy to go back to his own time? Is it a threat here in the future he needs to avoid? Or a threat in the past that Superboy needs to attend to?

As for the voice itself, it has to be Mon-El right? Communicating from the Phantom Zone?

With no easy answers, Superboy's visit ends and he is brought back to his own time. When he returns there will be a new Legion leader as Cosmic Boy has decided to step down. Again, the book is building on Legion history, fleshing out older stories. So is this change in leadership something that should be jogging my memory? In some ways a little knowledge is a bad thing. Am I trying to hard?

In the end, Adventure ends up being a 'nice' comic. I am enjoying them for this retrospective look at the Legion. But I'm not floored by them. I really would love to hear how the extremes of Legion fans are receiving this book: the hard-core fans and the brand new readers.

The art by Kevin Sharpe is a nice fit for these stories. He has a pleasing style, organic and rounded, not angular and frenetic, which really works for these stories. I am pretty happy with his work here.

Overall grade: B