Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: Year in Review Non-Comics

The next stop on my 2014 Year in Review is to look at all that happened to her outside of the comic book world.

Let's face it, the biggest Supergirl news ... maybe since Kara Zor-El was brought back in 2004 ... was the revelation that there was going to be a live action Supergirl show on CBS. Produced by Flash/Arrow gurus Greg Berlanti and Ali Adler, the show seems poised for the 2015 season and sounds great. The publicity machine around the show has been chugging along revealing things about the Supergirl character, her supporting cast, and possible villains.

Here is how Kara is described:

For Kara Zor-El aka Kara Danvers, the show is eyeing Caucasian females, age 22 to 26, to play 24. As the series’ mythology goes, Kara at age 12 was sent from her dying home planet of Krypton to Earth, where she was taken in by the Danvers, a foster family who taught her to be careful with her extraordinary powers. After repressing said skills for more than a decade, Kara is forced to bust out her super moves in public during an unexpected disaster. Energized by her heroism for the first time in her life, she begins embracing her abilities in the name of helping the people of her city, earning herself a super moniker along the way.

I don't know if, in my wildest dreams, I ever thought that Supergirl would be a TV show on a major network. So this seems like the best possible Christmas gift a Supergirl fan could ever get. It is only made better by the fact that Berlanti and Adler seem to 'get' DC characters. I love the Flash. And while I don't watch Arrow religiously, when I stumble on an episode, I think it is well done. I hope Supergirl is more like the Flash, a brighter hero story.

I also like that she is with the Danvers, has an older sister, and will run into the Toyman and Hank Henshaw. It all sounds almost too good to be true.

We had one casting rumor (Claire Holt) which seems to have been just that ... a rumor. I will hold on to hope that Molly Quinn will play Kara and Alexandra Daddario will play her sister Alex.

But no doubt about it, this is probably the biggest Supergirl story of the year.

A Supergirl live action television show ... INCREDIBLE!!

As for merchandising, Supergirl continued to be a popular subject.

In April, a Kotobukiya statue came out which looked wonderful. I liked the pose, the metallic sheen to the costume, and her expression of confidence on Kara here.

And I am not a big fan of the New 52 costume. But I have to admit, it looks pretty good here.

In September, a New 52 Supergirl figure was released by DC Direct.

Like the statue, the figure actually makes the New 52 costume look pretty good. The expression on this figure is a bit wide-eyed and crazy. But otherwise, this is a great figure.

And then, for those of us not rich enough to afford the original Mego figure, Figures Toy Company came out with a Superman line of retro faux Mego figures. And one of those was this Silver Age Hot Pants action figure ... in ballerina slippers no less!

The hair is a bit bouffant-y. But there is such nostalgia, such a classic feeling, that I love this figure. And the packaging is just beautiful too! There isn't much merchandise in this costume, so I am glad to have this in my collection.

2014 was also the year of the Bombshell. While I liked the Wonder Woman and Black Canary bombshell look, this Supergirl costume didn't grab me.

That said, it was made into a t-shirt, a statue, a print, and even a tumbler glass. I don't have any of that in my collection.

So Supergirl remains a decent seller on the merchandising side of things and 2014 continued that trend with high quality pieces.

 I was able to grab some commissions from the conventions I made it to this last year. This is a great batch by Marcio Takara, Cat Staggs, Chris Burnham, Daniel Govar, and Mitch Gerads. Nice additions and every one of them beautiful!

Lastly, I will close out my review of the best of 2014 by saying thanks to Mike Maihack again for continuing to produce Batgirl/Supergirl comics that are fantastic and fun. There were several this year but this one, poking fun a the lunacy of Kara being a rage-filled Red Lantern is my favorite. Just great.

So that closes my Supergirl review of 2014!

I'd love to hear from everyone what they thought about the year! What did you like best?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Year In Review: Top Ten Supergirl Comic Moments

I spoke  yesterday about 2014 and what it meant for Supergirl. We went from an angry, disaffected, loner who was defeated and disintegrated in her very own book in 2013 to a young heroic woman embracing Earth, finding her way, and even joining the Justice League.

I have talked at length in the past about what I think is the 'true' Supergirl. She is a young woman on the hero's journey. She is optimistic and passionate about justice. She is learning. She always strives to do what's right and sometimes might fail. She loves her family and looks up to Superman but is her own person. That's Supergirl.

And every time DC tries to move away from that vision ... every time they try to make her dark and bitter and angry and 'Hell on wheels' and 'will fight her friends as much as her enemies' ... every single time they fail. That simply isn't Supergirl.

And every time they make her dark and fail, someone comes on board who gets Supergirl, who rights the ship, who brings her back to where she should be. I have thanked Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle immensely for their work rehabilitating the character in her last incarnation. I have to add Tony Bedard, Charles Soule, K. Perkins, and Mike Johnson to the list.

Supergirl is in such a better place as a character now than she was just 12 months ago. The amount of character growth over this last year has been simply amazing! And I am thankful for that!

On to the Top Ten Supergirl Moments Of 2014!

Number 10: "Rao!" - Justice League United #3

The opening arc of JLU had the team coming together to face to threat of Byth and Lobo. The villains were trying to kidnap Ultra the Multi-Alien and bring about the end of days. Earlier we saw a rather hot-headed Supergirl proclaim her hatred of Lobo. In fact, her quick-fisted approach got her reprimanded by J'Onn. Supergirl had to decide. Was she going to be single-minded in her pursuit of Lobo? Or was she going to be part of the team?

Here she has to make that decision in the spur of the moment. In panel one she sees Byth and Lobo escaping. In panel two she sees a bomb explode in the atmosphere, injuring and most likely killing Hawkman.

She has to choose ...

And she chooses to help her teammate and the people on Rann.

This moment will set the tone of these ten moments as most showcase how Supergirl moved away from being bitter, bratty, angsty, and isolated and instead restarts the hero's journey.

Thank Rao indeed!

Number nine: "You just call out my name ... " - Red Lanterns #30

My concerns when Red Daughter was announced are well-documented here. I wrongly assumed that this arc was going to drag Kara further down into the mud, making her angrier, more lonely, more isolated.

Instead, this whole arc was about Kara getting connected to people, realizing that rage isn't the right path, and finding some inner peace. All of this included about as nuanced an approach to the Reds as you can get. Here Bleez talks of how lonely and painful being a Red is; how the Reds mission is to stop rage in the universe so no more Reds are created.

So instead of blasting away and vomiting blood, we have Supergirl have a heart to heart with the Bleez, asking her to be a friend and sounding board. And Bleez accepts, acting as a mentor in many ways.

Now I might complain that this sort of relationship should have already existed with cousin Kal. But at least this was a start. Instead of moping alone in fortress on the ocean floor, Supergirl is reaching out.

Number eight: "Daughter of El" - Supergirl #30

One of the things Tony Bedard said he wanted to bring to the Supergirl book was an understanding of Supergirl's relationship with her mother Alura. We had seen snippets of her relationship with Alura under Michael Green and Mike Johnson and it seemed strained. We saw her being more open with Zor-El (although he was duplicitous with her, experimenting on her).

Here we learn that there is a history of what it means to be a Daughter of El. There is an honor and a responsibility. We learn Alura was a Praetor on Krypton, a leader and peace keeper. And we learn that she tried to imprint those values on Kara. Here, in flashback, we see a young Kara swelling with pride looking up to her mother. Wonderful.

I loved the Alura under Sterling Gates, as complex a character as you could read. I was happy to see her be a big part of Kara's life once more.

Number seven: Super dodgeball - Sensation Comics #4

Okay, this year wasn't all serious character development and growth. There was some fun! And it was found in an unexpected place - Sensation Comics by Gilbert Hernandez.

In the story, Wonder Woman has been brainwashed by Kanjar Ro and Supergirl and Mary Marvel show up to try to help out. Unfortunately, Mary doesn't know who Supergirl is (Kara is still in her hidden emergency weapon stage of her career). So when Mary and Diana battle, they use Kara literally as a range weapon.

Finally, fed up with being tossed around, Supergirl blasts both with her heat vision, dropping them both, and flies off to fight the bad guys.

As funny as the top panels of super-dodgeball are, I love the exasperated expression on Supergirl's face. No more deferential young hero. It was time to flex her muscles.

Number six: "We don't have to fight!" - Supergirl #31

As part of the Red Lantern team, Supergirl joins Guy in trying to stop an insane Red called the Judge who is killing everyone she comes in contact with.

Now the old Supergirl would fly in with a 'punch first, ask questions later' approach. But, having just gone insane with the red ring until dunked in the lake of blood, Supergirl knows the Judge simply isn't in control of herself. So instead of attacking, she actually tries to talk the Judge down. Supergirl says she is there to help and does not want to fight.

This is about as far away from the H'El on Earth, Krypton Returns, early angry Supergirl as you can get. Imagine ... a more measured and intelligent and heroic Supergirl finally seen! And imagine seeing it while she is a Red Lantern!

Just amazing!

Number five: "What, no bike shorts?" - Smallville Chaos #4

I simply adored the Smallville book. It was a classic take on Superman. It was its own universe so we got to meet lots of new incarnations of characters. There was humor and action and powerful moments. And Kara in the book has really shined as a strong independent hero.

But I laughed out loud at this moment when Supergirl rescues a reporter who understands why Supergirl would wear a costume with pants. How can you fly while wearing a skirt without inviting embarrassing upskirt shots or comments.

This resonated even more as someone who lived through the 'bike shorts' scandal in the early issues of Gates/Igle.

A fun Supergirl moment!

Number four: "You're better than all of us." - Red Lanterns #32

I have said that the Red Daughter arc was an amazing one, having Supergirl grow as a hero and bringing her into a 'family' for the first time. But it is clear that she isn't a Red Lantern. She is something more ... something brighter.

With the Reds gearing up for an endgame battle with Atrocitus, Guy decides it is time for Supergirl to leave. She needs to figure out how to get the ring off. She needs to be strong and choose a different path.

And then Guy says it. "You're better than all of us." To have a veteran like Guy tell her that she is better than the Reds is powerful.

This sense that Supergirl is destined for greatness, is destined to be something special, is a truly good person in her heart ... we haven't seen it in the New 52 Supergirl very often. And then, while wearing a Red Lantern ring of rage, we see her caring about others, wanting to help, and being a leader at times!

When I read this moment, I thought for sure that this would be the #1 moment of the year because it spoke of a future of greatness in the character, an understanding that she is something special.

Number three: "Rupergirl" - Scooby Doo Team-Up #6

When I read this moment, I thought for sure that this would be my #1 moment of the year.

There is something completely endearing  about this that, as a Supergirl fan,  made my heart melt.

Is it the hot pants and puffy sleeves? The heroic pose?  The beaming smile? Is it her calling herself 'Rupergirl'? Is it that she is in the Hall of Justice with the Superfriends? And she is talking to Shaggy and Scooby?

I think it's that she calls herself 'Rupergirl' that puts this over the top, as if to say she doesn't take herself to seriously. 

It all screamed of a simpler time, a brighter time.

How could this not be #1?

Number 2: "This planet is my home now" - Supergirl #36

The new writing tandem of K. Perkins and Mike Johnson came on board with Supergirl #36, promising an exciting new direction at Crucible Academy. But before sending Kara off into space, the two established a foundation of who she is currently on Earth. We see her as a barista, wearing nail polish, and cursing the cash register. She's gone a bit native.

But the real knockout punch of the issue was her talk with Clark. It's Superman who is questioning who he is, how much he should be doing, and whether he should be heroing at all. He wonders if Kara should be hiding her powers too.

And here is where it gets interesting, where the student has become the master, where the young hero shows more maturity than the elder. With piercing eyes, she looks at Clark and tells him outright that Earth is her home, she wants to live among the people, and she has to protect them. Can you imagine the Supergirl in H'El on Earth, or brooding in Sanctuary, ever saying something like that ... ever.

But perhaps the coup de grace is her dismissal of Clark. She has to live her own life. She hopes he figures things out. She is the mature one here.

As I said before, that statement of being her own person, of living her own life, reminded me of a similar scene by Paul Kupperberg in Superman #376.


Which leads us to ...

Number one: "A place for myself on Earth" - Supergirl #33

The heart to heart with Clark couldn't happen unless the complete redemption of Supergirl happened. She had to give up the red ring. She needed to decide to live instead of wallowing in misery. And she needed to accept that Krypton was gone and Earth was her new home.

And that catharsis, or is it Kara-tharsis ... that ridding herself of all the negativity ... was encapsulated by her victory over the first World Killer. Throwing away the ring was literally throwing away her anger. And ridding herself of the World Killer was symbolic of tossing out the rougher parts of her history (as well as the fear that she was a World Killer herself). It was a purging by fire.

And, like a phoenix, shaking off the ashes of those darker interpretations of Supergirl, Kara emerges, heroic! Then she turns towards Earth ... not away from it.

This ended the Red Daughter arc and reset things back to a more palatable baseline. This is the Supergirl her fans want to read. And, after nearly three years, we got her back! A perfect moment captured by the perfect art of Emanuela Lupacchino.

So there they are! My top ten Supergirl moments of 2014. My thanks to Charles Soule, Tony Bedard, K. Perkins, Mike Johnson, Bryan Q. Miller, Sholly Fisch, Gilber Hernandez, Allesandro Vitti, Emanuela Lupachino, and everyone for making this a banner year for the character! You have made this old Supergirl fan very happy!

And how about you readers? Any moments I missed? Any that made you top ten??

Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 Year In Review: Honorable Mentions For Top Supergirl Moments

This week starts my end of year review of all things Supergirl.

What a difference a year makes!

Looking back at my 2013 end of year review posts, '13 was a tough year for Supergirl. I barely had enough 'best of' moments for Supergirl to fill a top ten list. In fact, it was easier to fill my 'worst of' list.

Here I am, looking back at 2014 and I realized that the Supergirl character is in such a better place just 12 months later. Gone is the 'really dark' take by Michael Alan Nelson who killed off Supergirl in her own book. Gone is the angry, icy brat that Scott Lobdell wrote. And, luckily, H'El was no where to be seen in 2014.

Instead, we have had Charles Soule and Tony Bedard make Kara a 'Red Lantern', a move I strongly questioned when it was announced, and use that story to redeem Supergirl, to show her the cost of rage, to remind her of who she is. We had Tony Bedard bring her back to Earth but had her rediscover the role of daughters of El. We had Jeff Lemire add her to a Justice League book, making her the muscle of the team. And we just started a new direction by K. Perkins and Mike Johnson, a team that built on the growth of Soule/Bedard, keeping Kara grounded on Earth, while sending her into space.

And, we have seen Supergirl drawn by fantastic artists - Emanuela Lupacchino, Jim Calafiore, Alessandro Vitti, Mike McKone, and Neil Edwards.

As always ... AS ALWAYS ... the true character of Supergirl ends of rising out of the ashes of 'dark' takes. Whether it is by Peter David or Sterling Gates or Tony Bedard or K. Perkins and Mike Johnson, the character of Supergirl always seems to reset to where she should be, a young hero striving to do good and learning on the way.

On to the five Honorable Mentions for the Top Supergirl Moments of 2014.

Honorable Mention #5 - Any Supergirl moment in Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse

The DC work by Franco and Art Baltazar have always been great fun. Tiny Titans was a great primer for the young reader. Superman Family Adventures was a perfect introduction to the Superman family and was the best Superman book being put out while it lasted.

Last year we had Tiny Titans:Return to the Treehouse, a mini-series which had the Titans looking for their headquarters which had been shrunk and stolen by Brainiac.

While Supergirl didn't have a lot of moments in the series, I loved every time she appeared.

Honorable Mention #4: 'I'm here to help' from Supergirl #34

She had just rid herself of the Red Ring. She had met a young man she was developing feelings for. She had accepted Earth as her new home.

And then Doomed happened.

Despite Kryptonite being in the atmosphere, Supergirl rushes to the outskirts of Metropolis to help those injured when the citizens there went comatose. Remember, at this point, Superman isn't exactly popular and is being viewed negatively.

And yet, Supergirl arrives and tells the first responders she is there to help, a classic Superman line. We see her going around the city helping as much as she can, and being thanked.

It was great to see Supergirl acting like the hero, doing this despite being weakened by the K, and being recognized for her help. Tony Bedard had redeemed her.

Honorable Mention #3: 'We were in awe of you'  from Supergirl Futures End #1

The Futures' End issue was something of a mixed bag. It starts with Supergirl brainwashed and mutilated by the Cyborg Superman, vowing to help transform Earth for Brainiac. In the end, she sheds her robot parts and becomes the hero again.

Part of the impetus was running into Captain Comet again, her future significant other. We learn in the future Supergirl leads a new version of The Wanderers. She is the leader of intergalactic heroes. And the team is in awe of her. In awe of her!

It reminded me of James Peaty's storyline where Damien Wayne said Kara earned his respect and Miss Martian said the young heroes held her in high esteem.

At least at one point, the future was bright.

Honorable Mention #2 - 'First kiss' in Supergirl #34

The problem with Supergirl in the early years of the book was that she seemed to hate Earth. She wanted to be away from people in her Sanctuary. She would sacrifice the universe to get Krypton back. She would turn away from everyone in anger.

So nothing said that Earth was now accepted and home for Supergirl than some romance in Supergirl #34. Here she met Michael, someone who had overcome some tragedy in his life, remained positive, and vowed to be the best he could be. He was someone who helped Supergirl early in the issue.

After helping in Metropolis, she returns to Michael and thanks him, giving him a kiss.

Long time Supergirl fans know she often falls for the wrong person. Nothing wrong here.

Honorable Mention #1: 'Laughing with Siobhan' from Supergirl #29

Okay, maybe that kiss wasn't the first time we saw Kara seem at home on Earth. But that kiss was after Red Daughter, after Doomed, after all that stuff.

But here, in Supergirl #29, we saw a flashback when Kara was living with Siobhan. The two were great friends and I loved this scene where Supergirl is laughing with her buddy, so happy she is buckled over. It showed that Tony Bedard knew that Supergirl couldn't be all anger, all disaffected, all isolated. It was a good beginning ...

Tomorrow I'll review the top ten Supergirl comic moments of 2014!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Review: Superboy And The Legion Of Super-Heroes #233

Justice League United, written by Jeff Lemire, has been a great title for me, mixing in the best of the Silver Age, the Bronze Age, and the modern age, into the current state of comics.

It certainly hasn't hurt that Lemire has brought back a Legion of Super-Heroes that I both recognize and enjoy. It has been a while since I have been able to say that. And in the big JLU/LSH crossover, the villain is the Infinite Man (renamed Infinitus).

I have been looking for the right time to review Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #233, the Infinite Man's first appearance and with Infinitus about to rise in JLU I figured the time was right. It was the middle of 1977 when "The Infinite Man Who Conquered Time The Legion" hit the shelves. Writer Paul Levitz and artists Jim Sherman and Bob Wiacek spin a fast paced action tale with a couple of interesting side scenes to create a pretty intense story.

While the story is very good, the art is spectacular! Dramatic, trippy, detailed ... as well as showing huge art where art needs to be huge. Sherman and Wiacek really shines here and make this book worth buying if you see it for the right price.

And this isn't just the first appearance of the Infinite Man! We see Sklarian Raiders for the first time as well, right here on the opening page!

Here, the Raiders are trying to steal a new 'time engine' designed by Rond Vidar. They feel that the United Planets are holding their planet back, keeping technology away from them and therefore keeping them in a sort of Dark Ages. If they need to steal the tech, they will.

Sklarian Raiders are always female, usually gorgeous, and later on obtain a yellow skin color and blue hair with a few pastel highlights. Their costumes here fit the time when Dave Cockrum's influence was still strong in the Legion leading to a skimpy bathing suit style costume with a variety of holes cut out here and there.

Kono, over in the 5YL Legion, is from Sklaria.

The Sklarian Raiders are repelled so Vidar is able to proceed with his hyper-time engine experiment.

Vidar theorizes that time is circular and that he will use the engine power a ship and send someone through time for one lap. The pilot is Jaxon Rugarth, a volunteer from the Time Institute and a fan of Vidar's.

Unfortunately, the  engine works too well. The ship travels through time a near infinite number of times. And that trip is enough to do two things to Rugarth. One, it makes him nearly omnipotent. Second, it cause him so much pain that he goes insane. And all his pain and wrath is aimed at Vidar.

Here is the first of many good pages of big art by Sherman. The design of the Infinite Man is visually grabbing - giant sphinx helmet, invisible or galactic limbs. And with power over time, Sherman gets to stretch his legs a bit showing us Viking ships, biplanes, and starships.

Levitz makes the Infinite Man seemingly unstoppable. We see him pluck things out of time to battle the Legion (dinosaurs and cavemen). We see him blast pure energy from his eyes, helmet, and hands. We see him paralyze Star Boy by freezing him in time. And we see him teleport Superboy away, sending the Boy of Steel careening through dimensions light years away. There is simple no reason why a handful of Legionnaires should defeat him.

But somehow they are able to at least hold him off. Infinite Man realizes he needs to regroup and teleports away to bide his time.

There are plenty of great panels of this early fight with Tyrannosaurs as well as Superboy in the wild visuals of the different dimensions. But I love this page. It's sort of a semi-splash but by giving Sherman room we really see the difference in size between Superboy and Infinite. And there is something ludicrous but fascinating about seeing the villain's bare feet. The shading and perspectives are great too.

And then the story takes what I would think is a left hand turn. Realizing that time means nothing to the Infinite Man and that he could return any second, the team splits up to seek help from the own races and others. So Dream Girl heads to Naltor to see if the high seer can prophesize how to defeat the Infinite Man. And Phantom Girl heads to Gendyx to ask The Timeless Ones if they can help. Neither gets anything useful.

Brainiac 5 even heads to Colu to see if the brilliant minds there can help. But even they have been unable to fully understand time. And Brainy isn't happy about it. Look at that emotion!!

Meanwhile, The Infinite Man has fully grasped his powers. He controls time and space. And he still is livid at Rond Vidar. Despite the powers the Infinite Man has, Jaxon Rugarth suffered pain for "a million million" trips through the circle of time.

He heads back to have his revenge only to once again square off against the Legion.

Despite all these powers ... beams, control of time and space, ability to teleport ... somehow Colossal Boy gets in a right cross to the kisser. I do love how the Legion simply doesn't give up. Would you even consider punching this guy as an answer?

I also think Vidar's silence is deafening. You almost wish he would surrender to spare the world this menace. My guess is once Vidar is 'punished', the Infinite Man would leave.

But the battle continues.

I love this panel. The Infinite Man decides to show the Legionnaires an instant of what he suffered during his trips through time. And we get this absolute maelstrom of a panel with swirls, a Dali-esque Star Boy, and enough Kirby Krackle for an issue.

I have always liked Sherman's work but this issue has really elevated his stuff in my mind.

The Legionnaires are basically delaying the inevitable as the deal with neanderthals, energy blasts, and trips through chaos. Finally Rond Vidar (who is thankfully protected by Brainiac 5's shield belt) comes up with an answer.

He hooks up Rugarth to the hyper-time engine again (!), sending him hurtling through time ad infinitum. This time he won't be able to escape. Instead he will endure the torture of this trip ... forever. Harsh!

And so we have the origin of The Infinite Man. There is a lot of potential for this character as his powers are varied and interesting. His design is also quite grabbing.

We see the Infinite Man again, most notably in a Crisis crossover. But the real beauty of this issue is the art!

Overall grade: A

Friday, December 26, 2014

Review: Superman/Wonder Woman #14

Superman/Wonder Woman #14 came out this week and was something of an improvement to the inaugural issue by the new creative team of Peter Tomasi and Doug Mahnke. Last month was something of an uneven mess when looking at the relationship between Clark and Diana. This issue the mystery of WonderStar takes center stage which means the awkward interactions between the two are at a minimum. That's a good thing.

If there is one thing to applaud about the issue is the pace at which the story moves along. A major revelation occurs on the last page which moves things forward significantly. In the new comics world, I am surprised this happened here and not at the end of next issue.

And the interaction between our heroes feels more natural, although it is strictly in the context of battle.

Still, there were a couple of places that still felt a little clunky. I am interested in reading other people's reactions.

Art-wise, Mahnke always impresses me. I really like his stuff and this book is no exception.

Lastly, my apologies about the quality of pics here. My scanner is on the fritz. Thus, panels are camera pics. And thanks to The Nerdist for the cover pic.

The issue starts with an unknown foe talking about how she will get revenge on Wonder Woman for past transgressions by Hippolyta. We see the eye of the foe, burning like Sauron, talking about painfully remove Wonder Woman from the world.

Okay, we know from future solicits that this is Circe. Too bad because this would have been a good mystery.

But it is the dialogue here which read a little weird to me. It starts out with the line 'what is it with women?'. And then Circe talks about how men are ruled by a handful of emotions while women are fickle, as apt to love as they are to fight. It just read wrong.

And maybe it is supposed to. Maybe Circe has wonky thoughts about gender.

We then head back to Superman, Wonder Woman, and WonderStar wrapping up their battle with Atomic Skull and Major Disaster.

There is this 'aw shucks' earnestness about Wonderstar who says he hopes to be trained by 'his heroes' and wants to help people. Even he knows in this cynical age that it is unlikely that Superman and Wonder Woman will believe him.

So he takes them to the first place he remembers, a massive crater he crawled out of with his beliefs in his heroes and desire to help.

Magic? Time travel? Both?

This lack of true memory is intriguing.

Before the three can talk more, they fly off to stop another bunch of super-villains. Mammoth (who I recognize) has teamed up with someone named Debutante (looking like she is heading to the cotillion) and someone named Crash (looks like a crash test dummy). They talk about getting their powers from someone ... but who? Circe again?

Debutante talks like a stereotypical spoiled little rich girl gold-digger ... which sounds odd and again a bit off. She talks of always letting money and fun blind her. She says that no one should get between a woman and her shopping money. And then she yells that no one breaks a date with her.

I don't know ... I felt uncomfortable reading those lines, even from a super-villain. Am I overreacting?

During the fight, Diana actually needs to rescue WonderStar, using her magic lasso to grab him and move him out of danger. And she uses that opportunity to do a psychological screening of him. Hmmm ... is this a new power for the lasso? Is that a reach of what it should do?

I do like that Diana planned this, making it happen at a time where 'Star couldn't shield his thoughts.

He is a blank slate, a void, without any clear feelings of malice. And he actually thinks the plan to scan him is cool! Who is he??

I have spoken of Mahnke's art and how much I love it.

This was my favorite panel of the book with the three heroes punching out Mammoth once and for all.

Look! They all have a pretty good left hook!

We do touch upon the Clark/Di relationship once in the book. Wonderstar marvels at their love for each other, obvious in how they interact. (Funny, I have never felt that way.)

But Clark and Diana's responses are different.

Diana looks subtly thrilled to hear this. Meanwhile, Superman is irked that someone is talking about their private lives.

I wish this relationship felt natural and seemed obvious. I have never been able to wrap my head around what the two see in each other that led to romance.

But I said there was a revelation at the end.

Without warning, Wonderstar loses control of himself, talking in another voice, screaming threats, and thrashing Wonder Woman and Superman. And then he morphs into Magog.

Ugh ... Magog.

So who is he in the New 52? The Kingdom Come Magog? The JSA Magog? Someone new?

And was he actually Wonderstar transformed?

Okay, I am sick of Magog and wish he stayed in Kingdom Come and was never seen again. But I will admit this was a decent cliffhanger. We only met Wonderstar at the end of last issue. And now we already know who he really is. That is a quick pace for comics. So I am not complaining.

So some awkward moments. Some good battle scenes. A nifty strategy by Diana. Magog. And slick Mahnke art. We are getting better ... but aren't quite there.

Overall grade: C

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!

No matter what you celebrate, hope everyone who stops by here has a happy holiday season and gets all the loot they want!

I'll be back soon!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Review: Smallville:Continuity #1

Smallville:Continuity #1came out in print last week and continued this comics unbelievable steady streak of quality. This is the final Smallville 'episode' and the series has been over for the digital crowd for some time. But I still like to feel the pages between my fingers, so I am delayed in my coverage.

We knew from the first issue of this comic that we were headed to a Crisis. And now, after building up momentum through the last several arcs, we are finally there. There is something of a sad finality to this episode knowing that none are planned afterwards. And I can only praise Bryan Q. Miller, as I seem to every month, for bringing me a fun and heroic DC universe and for making me care for the Smallville continuity more than I did while watching the show.

Here, Miller and artist Ig Guara start the episode out with a bang, showing the effects of a Crisis through time, bringing a couple of classic COIE moments, and ending with an inspirational scene for Clark which reminded me why I love the character.

I have 3 more issues and 3 more months of this comic. I am going to savor it.

We start out in the future where the Legion, while on a rescue mission, come across an all too familiar white wave of energy erasing the universe. Here we see the first homage to Crisis on Infinite Earths. The unmaking of the universe is happening in all times at once.

As for Superman and Lois, they finally made it back to their Earth after a few detours. And with some yellow sun rays, Superman gets rejuvenated.

But the Crisis is already happening here. I love the tenacity of Superman here. "It is never too late to make a difference!" Fantastic!

Unlike prior Earths though, the Monitors are using blue crisis energy. They aren't destroying this world. They are breaking it down in order to reboot the whole thing. And that brilliant idea came courtesy of Lex.

I don't know if I understand the Monitor's motivations are here. Why are they doing all this? Am I forgetting some key moment? I mean, the Anti-Monitor craved power. That I understand.

And I suppose Lex, who has been reborn and is still frustrated by his lack of memory, probably would welcome a reboot even if that means dying and coming back.

Throughout all of this, I have started to see some cracks in Otis' loyalty. Will he eventually betray Lex?

The Monitors have arrived. And they first place they have unmade is Washington D.C. The heroes there are able to slow down things enough to get the president out of there. But this is a loss. The city is gone. There is that blue energy, breaking down a city into its components. Yes, Lois and Superman are going to fight to save the planet no matter what. But this is personal. General Lane and Senator Kent both live in D.C.

Again, why the Monitors would agree with the reboot idea is something I still need to wrap my head around. Will Superman be in the new version of this universe?

It is the end of days. That means some tough decisions need to be made. Diana decides she needs to warn Paradise Island of the threat. She might never see Steve Trevor again. So she says goodbye to her special secret boy.

Hey look ... Wonder Woman! At least a recognizable one ...

I would love to read a Bryan Q Miller Wonder Woman book.

How about another great and classic Crisis moment!

Does anything say Crisis more than all the heroes together in a satellite or headquarters, preparing to team up? This reminded me of the famous Monitor satellite scene from Crisis on Infinite Earths #5.

Love it!

Despite all the action happening, despite the world being unmade around them, Miller does a good job giving us some nice character moments. We should see how these characters we have come to love would react to what's happening.

Here Chloe is weary by all the near-apocalypses she has lived through. What will it mean for her baby?

I also like how, especially in this issue, Miller references many Smallville episodes. I have to assume this magic tears moment actually happened at some point. Fans of the show must be appreciative of this internal continuity.

And here is a great Tess moment. I have liked the arc that Tess' character has been on in this book, killed, reborn as living data, acting as something akin to Oracle.

But here, Oliver wonders why she hasn't created a tangible body for herself. Maybe she is scared of feeling again, of being physical again, of being vulnerable again. The second panel with Tess small and alone is a great image for this point.

Will Tess make herself a body and somehow be sacrificed? Hmm ...

This Smallville book has really embraced a sort of classic take on the DC heroes here. This isn't the New 52. The core of these characters are pretty solid here.

Here, Superman and Batman try to figure out a way they can defeat the Monitors without killing them. How do you end a war without death?

These are two heroes who hate when people die. It would be easy to say that a 'zero body count' is an impossible mark. That they should go in with lethal force. But that would be easy. Instead, they make more coffee and keep thinking. They don't kill.

And then this page where Clark, on the Planet roof with the other heroes, rallies them to battle. This includes another panel where the American flag.

Can I say, I love that this is Clark giving this speech and not Superman. I wish I could verbalize why. Maybe it is that I think that Clark is the real identity. Maybe because he is fighting for Earth, being in this identity carries more weight. But I thought this was great.

The stage is set ... bring on the Crisis.

Overall grade: A