Tuesday, September 30, 2014

New 52 Supergirl Action Figure

There has been a recent surge in collectibles of Supergirl in her New 52 costume. Between the Artgerm statue, the Kotobukiya statue, and this New 52 action figure, that corner of my collection wearing that costume has grown.

The figure itself comes in a nice clean package. I do like how the front has the 'peel' appeal of the DC logo. I don't quite understand the Kryptonite shard included with the figure. Could it be some sort of homage to the odious 'stab H'El in the chest' moment in the books?

And I can't believe I just remembered H'El on Earth. Yeesh.

I do like the figure quite a bit, even if I am not to fond of the costume itself.

The low point of the figure is the 'crazy eyes' look she has on close up. Maybe she is wide-eyed about how much she loves Earth? (I can dream).

The metallic gloss red works well with the boots and costume elements but it unfortunately stands in contrast to the matte red cape. And the hair invokes Mahmud Asrar's excellent art.

For some reason, I like the look of this figure more at an angle.

This looks more heroic than head on ... at least for me.

The cape itself is pretty simple with a couple of folds. Nice gold edging though.

And so you see that there are now several pieces in the New 52 corner of the shrine.

These are all really excellent pieces. DC has done a good job with the collectibles of the New 52 costume. That said, I still wouldn't mind seeing it go away.

Bring back the red skirt/full shirt Matrix costume!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Review: Superman Futures End #1

Superman Futures End #1 came out last week and was a very good story. It isn't exactly a Superman story with Kal only appearing in a flashback sequence. But there is enough of Superman in this book to make me happy, showcasing how he inspires others to do what's right.

It isn't a big surprise given the reveal in the main Futures End book as well as the lightning motif on the cover that the helmeted Superman is, in fact, Captain Marvel. It seems that in the main book, Lois has told the world that this Superman isn't the Superman. And as a result, there is some fallout with people mistrusting Captain Marvel and a rogue of the Big Red Cheese coming calling.

As most know, I am not collecting the main FE book figuring I have read enough possible bleak DC futures to fill a lifetime already. But this one seems to focus more on the light and less on the grim.

The book is written by Superman great Dan Jurgens. Jurgens has a great sense for Superman and that shows here. He also writes a near perfect Lois  making me happy to see that version of Lane as opposed to the one that has been in the current super-books.

Lee Weeks does the art and really just sparkles. This was the most beautifully rendered book of the week. And Weeks' Lois is also perfect. Maybe we need to start up the cry for a Lois solo book again.

This is a dystopian world. Remember, even in the present, DC has set up Superman to be distrusted by the masses and feared by the military. And he's the real Superman.

So despite this new Superman having done good, having been a hero ... there are those who qurestion his motives. After saving a family from a fire, someone in the crowd yells 'what are you trying to pull'!

Yep. Sounds like the New 52. No one likes heroes in this world.

It turns out that Lois has seen the Superman's secret identity ,.. Captain Marvel ... and revealed that on the news. And apparently, he was eaten alive by the press for hiding something. That also sounds like the New 52. Established hero dons new costume = distrust.

But Lois is more than just a reporter of sensational news. She wants to know why. She tracks down Billy Batson and asks him why. Why he became the helmeted Superman.

Weeks is at his best in the Lois scenes in this book. There is something classic about his interpretation of her.

Billy retells the scene that inspired him to pick up the mantle of the S-shield.

During the future war with Apokolips, truces were made. Captain Marvel was fighting side by side with Black Adam. That is ... until Adam tried to betray Billy, to kill him and steal Billy's powers.

Luckily Superman was nearby to save Marvel. And in times of war, Superman seems to be acting like judge and jury. He sends Black Adam to the Phantom Zone.

Again, beautiful art by Weeks. Superman looks beefy and the world seems war-torn.

Now none of the prior Futures End crossovers tempted me to buy the main book. In fact, a couple made me want to buy it even less.

But I have to admit ... this piqued my interest.

Superman leaves for a solo mission, a secret mission given to him by an unknown person, a mission he never returns from (even though we know he survives).

What was the mission? Who sent him??

Kudos to Dan Jurgens for making me interested in Futures End, even for a moment.

I like this Billy a lot more than the self-absorbed punk that I read in Justice League. Here he seems mature, discussing how the world needs a Superman.

But Lois also has a good point. Billy needs to be himself as well. Is this life as Superman rewarding for him?

Now I don't mind the idea of Superman being so influential that someone picks up his mantle. Steel? He's a great character. Remember the Supermen of America. Or the concept of Team Superman? It works. But those characters were honoring Superman without sublimating their own personality to be him. It is fine distinction.

Then Jurgens does something pretty nifty. With the reveal that Superman is Shazam, one of his Rogue's decides to make a splash. IBAC starts to terrorize the city. Ibac!! Ivan the Terrible, Cesare Borgia, Attila the Hun, and Caligula all rolled into one.

This is really a Shazam comic so I am glad that one of his baddies is the villain of the peace.

We get a couple of pages of standard super-powered mayhem, all drawn solidly by Weeks. Really wonderful art in this book.

But finally Billy is victorious. And with that he realizes he needs to be himself. He shouts Shazam and the helmeted Superman suit becomes the more classic lightning bolt costume of Captain Marvel.

Nice lightning effect here on the broken glass helmet. Works given the discussion of identity and Billy accepting himself as Cap.

So a decent little story. I like Marvel's understanding of the power of the S-shield and his desire to uphold that symbol. (I would love for him to keep an S-shield armband on.) I also like that this means that Marvel has grown into more of a hero than I have seen prior. And having him trounce IBAC is a nice touch.

I also love Lois in here as an investigative reporter looking deep into the story and telling the 'whys' not just the 'whats'.

So kudos again to Jurgens. And loved Lee Weeks here.

Overall grade: B+

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Poll: Favorite Film/TV Interpretation of Supergirl

With the recent announcement of a Supergirl television show we are all wondering exactly what sort of Supergirl we'll see on the new Greg Berlanti/Ali Adler show. The initial blurb says she will become the hero she was meant to be which leads me to think she won't be the angry isolated New 52 version.

Thinking about the new show reminded me that Supergirl has had a handful of other incarnations on the big and small screens. So I figured we could look back at those other versions of Kara, many of them from the recent past. And, to add to the fun, I thought you could vote on which 'outside of comics' Supergirl interpretation is your favorite.

Let's start at the beginning!

1) Supergirl movie starring Helen Slater - I think the Supergirl movie has a special place in the hearts of all Supergirl fans. It is completely campy. The plot makes little sense. The villain feels like she would fit right in on the old Batman television show, crazy with a headquarters at an abandoned carnival.

But the movie is saved by Helen Slater. She just embodies the optimism and grace and determination of Supergirl. She really is Supergirl here. This is the first appearance of the 'Matrix' style costume. And it includes Linda Lee, Midvale High, and a rubbish boyfriend.

Can Slater's performance trump the sheer lunacy of the movie to have this be your favorite Supergirl outside of comics?

2) Timmverse Supergirl - I have to believe that DC Animated Producer Bruce Timm is a Supergirl fan. He made sure to introduce Supergirl in both Superman the Animated Series and the subsequent Justice League Unlimited. This was Kara In-Ze, from the planet Argo, a planet in Krypton's solar system.

And Timm really had this Kara grow over the course of these series. The early episodes of S:TAS show a young, eager, almost impetuous young girl desperately trying to help. We see her befriend Batgirl in a famous Batman:The Animated Series episode. And then in JLU, we see something of an older and wiser Kara. Initially she is still a bit of a hothead. But over the series, we see her mature. We see her confront some demons when she battles Galatea. We see her acting like the veteran compared to Stargirl. And ultimately, she completes the hero's journey, joining the Legion in the future. If people want to see an arc of a character, this is where to go. 

As Timm said (somewhere) and I am paraphrasing "I don't care what people say, Supergirl kicked ass."

I am very partial to this incarnation of Supergirl.

3) Smallville - I have issues with how Clark was portrayed in the Smallville show feeling that he moped and sulked around before finally ... FINALLY ... being a hero!

But I have very few issues about how Supergirl was portrayed on the show. And much of that strength is thanks to Laura Vandervoort. She made Supergirl a strong, proactive, and heroic character. She was the perfect foil to Clark. While he was running around as a blur, she was in your face in her costume.

Unfortunately, Clark was the star. So as a result, this Supergirl had to lose her memory, hang out with Lex, and eventually leave the present time, heading into the future to join the Legion so that Clark would be 'free' to achieve his destiny.

Still, when she was active ... she was fantastic. And I liked the variable 'costumes' she wore. If any one of these non-comic interpretations show that a Supergirl show would work, it is Smallville and Vandervoort's performance

4) Superman/Batman:Apocalypse -This movie made by DC Animation is basically a retelling of the Jeph Loeb/Michael Turner comic arc which reintroduced the Kara Zor-El Supergirl to the DCU.

Visually, this is a great movie. I love the way this Supergirl looks, with wisps of blonde hair and (occasionally) a big smile. She is voiced by Summer Glau who does a great job getting across the young hero. And Glau gives the movie some street cred.

That said, this is the story where she is brainwashed by Darkseid and becomes a dirty girl for a short period of time. She does get in a decent fight with Darkseid at the end. And the movie does smooth out some of the rougher spots of the Loeb plot.

Superman Unbound - This was a movie based on Geoff Johns' Brainiac storyline. There is a lot to like about this version of Supergirl as well. She is a bit scarred by the Brainiac attacks on Krypton. But she channels that into a desire for justice. She is more proactive that the Smallville Kara. She ends up saving the world by stopping Brainiac solar missile. And the performance by Molly Quinn is fantastic.

I also think the overall look of Supergirl in this movie is slick as well.

Okay, those are the other non-comic versions of Supergirl. So let me know which one you like best. And vote on the poll over on the right.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Review: Superman:Doomed #2

Superman:Doomed #2 came out this week and I am going to be honest and say that I am thrilled that this arc is over.

It isn't as if there weren't fine moments in this somewhat drawn out mega-crossover. There were. In fact, there were plenty of fine moments in this issue, many of which I will share. But finding those moments felt at times like panning for gold. You need to work your way through a lot of silt to find the treasure.

For every great character moment, for every nuance, for every bit of heroes acknowledging what an inspiration Superman there were many more empty cliffhangers, dropped subplots, and character gaffes.

Perhaps most annoying was the concept of the 'infected Superman' which changed issue to issue ... page to page. Was it an infection out of control? Could he will himself back to normal? Was he cured by 'good feelings' at one point? Was he dying? Without clearly understanding the threat of this Doomsday virus, I didn't feel invested. In one issue Superman is so out of control he exiles himself into space. In the next, Baka's warm feelings completely cures him. Huh??

And then there is the 'real villain' of the piece Brainiac. His plot is also something of a jumbled mess. He is draining the minds of humans starting in Smallville and Metropolis. He sends down drones that are a feint. He has the Cyborg Superman as a sort of misdirection. And he has a ship that in some issues is 4x the size of Earth but in others is like the JLA satellite. At least in Doomed #2 we find out his plan.

As if adding to the disjointed feeling of the overall arc, this issue has 9 credited artists. Each page is beautiful. But you can't go from Lashley to Churchill to Herbert without feeling a little dizzy from the stylistic changes.

Now listen ... I am about to show you the high points. And they are good high points. But as a whole Doomed was like a runny omelet. Some bites were delicious. But mostly it was a mess.

Last issue ended with Brainiac's ship arriving and Superman deciding the only way to break into the Collector ship and stop him is to go full-Doomsday mode. He sheds his humanity and lets the Doomsday in him surge. See ... maybe I am trying to think about this a bit too medically. How does this even happen? From human to Doomsday because he willed the infection to go out of control??

There are only a few free minds on the planet and Lana and Lois are among them. I like that first panel with the two most important women in Clark's life looking up, confident he will save everyone. It is nice that they have faith in him.

And I also liked the next panel explaining the coloring snafu of a couple of issues back when Lois was her normal skin tone. She turns green when she uses her psionic powers. Nice recovery.

 Superdoom basically begins tearing through the ship, hoping to get to the core and disable/dismantle the Brainiac tech.

While Lana and Lois were on the same page just before, here we see how they differ. And it might be the first time I haven't liked Lana in the Pak era.

Lois tells Clark to not lose himself to the monster, to not do something he might regret. But Lana ... she outright tells him to kill Brainiac. It makes me think that maybe Lana doesn't understand Clark quite as well as I thought she did.

 Like much of this arc, a lot of time takes place on the mental plane. Brainiac might be safe in his control room and Superdoom might be running through walls but the real confrontation is taking place in the mind as Brainiac tells Clark his plot.

It turns out that Brainiac is gathering all the sentient mind energy he can. He knows that observation can change reality. He hopes to have enough 'observer power' to recreate the universe.

It is a riff on the old 'light will behave like a wave or a particle depending on the belief of the observer' experiment. But it is a bit much to swallow.

But let's say that I decide to swallow it. Let's say that Brainiac needs lots of minds to do this (indeed he says he has already drained billions). The last place you would ever go is Earth!! Why go to the place with the guy who has trounced you over and over? Drain every other planet you find. Why poke the beehive?

 Back on Earth, Brainiac discovers that the resistance is hiding in the Fortress. So he sends his troops in hoping to distract them. One of his army is the Cyborg Superman.

Now after being sullied and mistreated in the prior big Superman crossovers, Greg Pak and Charles Soule treat her very well in her few moments in the book.

First off, the Cyborg tells her of Brainiac's plans, saying that Brainiac could give them back Krypton. He asks her who would even care about Earth when that could happen. It is basically the same hook that H'El tried to get Kara to help him The same.

And yet it is clear Kara has grown a bit. She isn't lured by that anymore. She cares about Earth and wallops him with a nice left jab.

 Again, conversing in their minds, Brainiac warns Superman what is going to happen if the fight on Earth continues, if Superman doesn't allow Brainiac to rewrite history.

Supergirl will kill her father the Cyborg. Then she will be forced to kill Superman who will be out of control as Doomsday. Then she will become infected by the spores and become Doomsday herself.

I had to include this page. There is something very meta about this page with an enraged Kara, having killed her father, splitting Superman in two and becoming a monster. It is drawn by Ian Churchill who drew the Jeph Loeb and early Joe Kelly Supergirl issues, the one where she is a monster who gunned down her classmates and was trying to kill Superman.

That has to be why he was chosen to draw these pages right? It would have fit right into the last Supergirl series, somewhere around issue #10 I would say.

That said, Churchill does draw the bottom of the costume differently. Look at the second panel. The red area is broader and it looks more like gym shorts than a bathing suit. I like that way more than the usual interpretation.

This is a very good page by Pak with a very good moment for Supergirl.

Superman tell Brainiac is that he doesn't understand the cousins. Kara might have been a little out of control at one point but she won't kill the Cyborg.

And she doesn't. Instead she just pounds him and is victorious.

After seeing him utterly defeat her and kill her in her own book a couple of times over, it is great to see Kara finally win here.

But this is Superman and Brainiac's battle on the psychic plane.

Brainiac enters the marauding Superdoom's mind and shows Clark possible futures ... if only Superman will let the Coluan recreate the universe. In one of them, Steel and Lana marry and become the heroes of Metropolis allowing Superman to retire.

In another, drawn by Dave Bullock, Superman's very presence has an effect on humanity. The world becomes a better place, inspired by Superman. Crime and evil fades away. And Batman gets to retire!

But these glimpses into a possible peaceful future doesn't change the fact that the universe would be rewritten by a tyrant. Superman is able  to shrug these off as folly.

Bullock's style is pleasingly like Darwyn Cooke's. It works for this sequence.

Oh yeah ... remember that subplot where Wonder Woman went into the Phantom Zone to convince Mongul to use Warworld to attack Brainiac? Remember?

Well, we get reminded of it for 2 pages. Diana fires Warworld from within the Zone, blasting Brainiac's ship, weakening Brainiac's defenses and resolve.

Can you fire a weapon from within the Zone, through a portal, and out into the universe??

And I think of the time spent in the Phantom Zone over the issues - hunting Dr. Xa-Du, fighting Mongul, etc. It all seems like a waste of time as none of it seemed to impact the story greatly.

With Brainiac weakened by Superdoom beating him up, the mental plane becomes something of an even playing field. In fact Lois is able to join Superman there to try to battle Brainiac.

In this state, Brainiac's true intentions are finally revealed. His origin includes him losing his wife and child. He is anguished by this. He wants a universe where they are still in his life. And that touches Superman. When Lois is about to psionically kill Brainiac, Superman talks her down.

They should want peace, not punishment.

It is a nice moment showing the core of Superman's beliefs.

That said, I am a bit tired of the 'sympathetic back story for a villain'.

This stay of execution is something of a pause. Brainiac ends up continuing his assault on Earth, is killing the population by draining them, and still wants to recreate the universe. There is no easy way to stop this plot now that it has gone this far.

The only solution is for Lois to drain Brainiac of all his power and then shove it into Superman.

Again, I have some problems with this. Brainiac is the most powerful psionic in this universe (personally I just miss him being super-intelligent). So how can Lois, a neophyte given powers by Brainiac be capable enough to drain him.

And then giving them to Superman?

Look at this panel. Is this what we want Superman to be? This monstrous amalgam. Can't we just have Superman? You know what it reminds me of ...

That's right. Morrison looked into the future.

And then a whole bunch of things happen that I don't know if I quite follow.

Superman, energized by his powers, Doomsday strength, and billions of sentients mental energy, grabs Brainiac and flies him to a black hole. Or maybe he creates the black hole with his 'observation powers'.  Somehow all of this strips Lois of her Brainiac power and rids Superman of all the Doomsday virus particles.

It may be that both Brainiac and Superman head through the black hole ... it's hard to tell. At the very least Superman shoves Brainiac through it.

So is it the black hole or the observation powers that does all this. I guess I have to roll with it.

But once again, the whole 'Doomsday infection' is so convoluted that it is hard to wrap my head around. Gravity cured him? Good feelings? And as this infection was the crux of this whole arc, I am both irked and underwhelmed.

But within the black hole, Brainiac seems to have been placed in a Hypertime like area of alternate realities.

There is a lot to digest here. That's a pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths JSA (based on Huntress costume). That's Plastic Man and Uncle Sam on Earth X, also pre-COIE. There's Lord Volt and Lady Quark, peri-COIE. But also a red trunked Superman, the Flashpoint world, the vampire Batman from the Red Rain Elseworlds. And a classic Harley Quinn!

This really had nothing to do with Doomed and might be the best page, with great art by Aaron Kuder.

So, mercifully, Doomed ends.

For this issue, we have Lois having faith in Superman, that great moment of compassion by Superman, the future sequence with a retired Batman, and all the Supergirl stuff as high points. But I have to weigh that against all the low points here ... the concept of rewriting the universe, the Lois power levels, the cure at the end. And against the big issues I have had with the Doomed arc itself, the feints, missteps, and inconsistencies.

Overall grade: C

Thursday, September 25, 2014

December 2014 Solicits

The holidays happen in December. It is a time of good will and season's greetings. And oddly enough, after being a dour DC fan, I actually felt a little hope after seeing the DC Comics complete December solicits. Here is a link to the entire solicits list as showcased on Newsarama:http://www.newsarama.com/22127-dc-comics-full-december-2014-solicitations.html

Now maybe it is the Darwyn Cooke variants, or the continued fascinating solicits for Multiversity, or some growing optimism about the Perkins/Johnson Supergirl run ... but I was (gasp) happy about the look of this month. I know that other people (specifically Huntress or Wonder Woman fans) may not be feeling the same.

On to the solicits:

Variant cover by DARWYN COOKE

It’s Supergirl’s first day as a student in the Crucible Academy! What is the mystery of the Academy? Who are her fellow students? And what happens if she decides to get herself expelled before she graduates?

It's the second issue of the Perkins/Johnson run on the book. Sounds like we will be learning more about the new setting and supporting cast here. That's right ... I just wrote 'supporting cast' in regards to the New 52 Supergirl book!

But the big win this month are the covers of the book. First off the main cover, a Yildiray Cinar cover. A smiling Supergirl breaking the chains that bind her! She seems almost peaceful. It is beautiful and it harkens back to Superman #223 'Kryptonite Nevermore' and a sketch Cinar did when  he was doing the interiors of the book. Check that stuff out here. Hopefully the 'feel' of this cover conveys the tenor of Kara in the interior.

And then there is this awesomeness.

Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Variant cover by DARWYN COOKE

The Infinitus Saga continues as the JLU battles the Legion of Super-Heroes over the fate of the innocent alien who may grow up to destroy the 31st century!

The reintroduction of the Legion into the DCU by Jeff Lemire. Win.
Neil Edwards (of the ARGUS miniseries) on art! Win. (Better fit than Timothy Green). (Edwards confirms he is on the book moving forward.)
Mon-El and Phantom Girl back! Win.
Infinite Man as the villain (I called it). Win
Book that stars Supergirl! Win win win.

Okay, having the Legion try to kill Ultra isn't a win. But we'll see how it plays out.

Written by GREG PAK
Art and cover by AARON KUDER
Variant cover by DARWYN COOKE

The spread of evil supernatural forces in Smallville continues to get worse – and Superman has no way to stop it. Will this damnation contamination spread to the rest of the world?

I am thrilled that the creative team of Pak and Kuder are back on the book without the constraints of a mega-muddled-crossover.

I also like the 'supernatural' part of this story. Contrasts with the tech-heavy Superman story. And I think it complements the strengths of the creators here.

Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by JOHN ROMITA, JR. and KLAUS JANSON
Variant cover by DARWYN COOKE

Can there be peace and good will toward people without a price? Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr. serve up some holiday shocks as they answer this question and more in this the penultimate chapter of “MEN OF TOMORROW”! And be warned – some significant changes are in store for the Man of Steel to ring in the New Year!

That is one battered Superman.

I have been up and down with this Ulysses arc as it has unfolded so far. But the promise of 'significant changes' has piqued my interest. Maybe back at the Daily Planet? Maybe embracing the Kent side of him instead of feeling 'alone'. Maybe some Lois?

Written by GREG PAK
Variant cover by DARWYN COOKE

Who is Superman’s Joker? It seems it’s the Unseen Terror, who makes the battle personal for Superman! How? By attacking all things related to the Man of Steel! Together, Batman and Superman start to track down suspects – and the first one is Lobo!

Okay, it sounds like a good story for this pair. A mystery for Batman to unravel. Tough villains for Superman to fight. Best of both worlds.

But I just can't get excited about Lobo.

Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art and cover by DOUG MAHNKE
Variant cover by DARWYN COOKE

It’s no surprise that after recent events, Superman and Wonder Woman are cautious about the appearance of the new hero who calls himself Wonderstar. But this mysterious hero seems to be asking for nothing more than their guidance in dealing with his strange, erratic powers – and for their help in protecting his loved ones and his secret identity! The only problem is that his past is a blank slate. He doesn’t know who he is, where he comes from – or why is feels a strange connection to the Man of Steel and the Amazon Warrior!

Ugh ... is it a Cable sort of progeny from a possible future.

I keep saying I am going to drop this book. I have faith in both Tomasi and Mahnke. I hope they justify it.

Written by BRYAN Q. MILLER
Art by IG GUARA and J.P. MAYER

In this new miniseries, the Monitors have come to Earth and begun their work – but instead of using Red Bleed to exterminate the world, a new Blue Bleed is erasing the world’s capitals!

I love this book. Is Continuity the same as Crisis? Or is there more to come.

But different destructive waves? And the Legion teaming up with Booster and Zatanna?

Love this book.

Written by MICHAEL ALAN NELSON and others

Supergirl will burn down the universe before she lets another person tell her who she should be – and her journey as a Red Lantern begins here. The new chapter of Supergirl’s life begins in issues #26-33, plus GREEN LANTERN #28 and RED LANTERNS #28-29.

A trade collection of Red Lanterns and I am looking forward to buying it?

I can believe Red Daughter was so good. As I have said ad nauseum, it is a shame it took something as drastic as this had to happen to redeem Kara. But if it had to happen, I am glad it happened this way. Because this arc was great.

I hope there are extras in this trade.

All that said ... Michael Alan Nelson had nothing to do with the included issues. Bedard and Soule should feel slighted.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mitch Gerads And The Granite State Comicon

I went to the Granite State Comicon two weekends ago, a convention that I have loved attending the last several years.

The convention has grown gently over the last couple of years, getting more comic creators, moving to a bigger hall in the venue they have used, and getting great dealers. This is the convention where I usually end up (gasp) buying comics. Last year felt bigger than the prior Granite State cons as the guest list was long and had both writers and artists. I obtained a bunch of commissions and bought a ton of comics. But unlike Boston, it was cozier. It was small enough that I could still spend decent time with the creators I wanted to see and thumb through long boxes.

This year's con had a different feel to it. The comic creator list was much shorter and the celebrity guest list was much longer. The con boasted the most Game of Thrones stars assembled which seemed to be the biggest draw. But there weren't many comic stars here, and many who were there were staples at this con, creators I have met before.

There was someone there I was very interested in meeting -  Mitch Gerads, current artist on Marvel's The Punisher. I like his style and wondered what a Supergirl by him would look like. So I got on his commission list and dropped of my sketch book.

Now I usually specify which costume I want but I forgot this time. And so I got this absolutely great commission of the New 52 Supergirl. It is the lower part of this costume I dislike, so this head and shoulders commission works great. I love everything about this -her hair, her expression, the baggy feel of the costume, and even the cape works. The grey tones add depth making this just a beauty.

I am so glad I got this commission from Gerads. It is a great addition.

Now as I said, the celebrity guest list was longer and the comic creator guest list was shorter.

That same feel seemed to carry through into the dealers. There just weren't as many comic dealers as I am used to seeing at this convention. And there were many more dealers of 'stuff' - movie posters, wooden weaponry, toys, flasks, etc.

In less than a full day, I had thumbed through all the comics and met all the creators I wanted to.So I was glad I didn't get a 2 day pass.

Now don't get me wrong. I had a great time when I was there.

For one, the youngest Supergirl has decided that this was the year that she was going to all the cons with me. Here we are banded and ready to get in. She enjoys seeing the costumes, looking at the cool stuff, and joining in some shopping.

In the end she didn't find any comics she wanted. But she did get a tiny Pacific Rim Cherno Alpha Jaeger toy. It is now the Black King on her chess board. I know I could 'drift' with her.

I feel blessed that my three girls all share some of my interests.

And then I got the usual stack of $1 box joy. I love that Firestorm cover and used to own that issue. So I was glad to finally find it. And the other stuff was gravy.

I do love that DCCP issue with Black Canary. Great issue with great art.

And I even found a $3 box with some silver age joy. These issues are pretty beat up, not worth bagging. But Superman exposed on Candid Camera? The introduction of Karate Kid, Projectra, Ferro Lad, and Nemesis Kid? How could I not buy them??

But the big 'get' at this convention was the Gerads commission. That thing was a steal!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Review: Superman/Wonder Woman Futures End #1

Superman/Wonder Woman Futures End #1 came out last week. It is written by Charles Soule. It has strong art by veteran artist Bart Sears. It looks five years into the future at a desperate Wonder Woman trying to save the world.

I can't remember ever being this torn about how I feel about a comic.

You see, I have read the Brian Azzarello/Cliff Chiang Wonder Woman since the New 52 started. And while there are aspects of that Diana and her story that I don't particularly like (daughter of Zeus not animated clay, Amazons killing men and male offspring, Diana as War), I have liked the book. It has internal consistency. It is written well with a flair for mythological politics. That Diana has passion and integrity and love for her family and other. But ... and it is a big but ... she is also not animate clay, the product of a murdering society, and War.

In the end, I have decided to read Wonder Woman as if it were on ongoing Elseworlds book. The problem is that Diana also exists in mainstream books like ...well like Superman/Wonder Woman. And as it is, even in the mainstream books, Wonder Woman has been much too bloodthirsty, much too sword happy, much less interested in being an ambassador of peace lately. I want to go back to a more classic interpretation of Diana.

But I also like the Azzarello book ... even if its days are numbered.

With that conflict of Wonder Woman characterization in mind, lets look at this book.

This issue is the second part of a story that started in Wonder Woman Futures End #1.

In that book, the Greek deity Nemesis has raised an army to try to take over the world. Wonder Woman, as War, has raised an army of dead warriors (with the help of Hades) to try to keep Nemesis at bay. But she is losing ground.

Suddenly Superman appears to help.

At first Wonder Woman thinks he has joined Nemesis' army. But Superman sets her straight. If anyone is fallen it's Diana.

And if you take a step back and think about Diana's character and its history, he is right. Do we want a Diana wearing a horned helmet, so quick to slit a throat, so eager to slaughter her enemies?

Do we?

The speech by Superman snaps Diana back to reality. It turns out the entire first part of this story was an illusion Nemesis put into Wonder Woman's mind. While she thought she was fighting Nemesis' armies, she was really fighting demons in Tartarus. Superman went into Tartarus to get her out.

I have never been a big fan of the Diana/Clark romance. But this panel worked. The exhausted Diana ruing what she has done and Clark supporting her saying they can repair things. Even the way they are holding each other. That is support and feels like love more than the raised eyebrows and make out sessions we have seen in this book in the past.

And then this scene. Diana wonders why Superman would risk everything by entering a labyrinth like Tartarus to save her.

"Isn't it obvious?" Because he loves her.

Even that feels more real than the 'romance' we have seen in this book before this. (Indeed, the romance part of this title has always been the weakest part.)

But wait ... isn't Superman brooding in the desert in Futures' End? How can he be here?

It turns out he is a Superman from one year in the future (not five) pulled forward in time by Amazons so he can help Diana.

I love that this Superman hasn't lost hope yet and wants to talk to this Superman in hiding.

Superman shouldn't hide from humanity.

While Diana was lost in Tartarus, Nemesis' army has taken over the world. Only Themyscira stands free. (Is this the threat Batman fought in the future in Batman/Superman? Or are there multiple world threats five years from now?)

Soule does a good job at explaining Diana's life as God of War here. She tried to reward the noble warriors. She didn't help those on the wrong side of a conflict.

But it turns out she couldn't change war even as its avatar. If anything war changed her.

Nice panel here, defeated appearing Diana without background, making her seem as isolated and alone and defeated as she sounds.

Superman and Wonder Woman leave for Olympus, asking the Amazons to buy them some time why Diana tries one last stratagem.

It turns out Nemesis killed the Eirene Goddess of Peace early on in the conflict. By making Earth only a planet of war, without an avatar of peace, Nemesis could succeed more easily.

I thought this was a nice little plot wrinkle.

And then we get into my problem.

Diana enters Eirene's tomb. While Superman tries to hold off Nemesis' army, we hear Diana's voice.

We hear her say words that ring true to her character historically.

War is terrible. You can be a warrior but not embrace war. War is death. Diana loves life.

As Superman says, it is wonderful to hear her say that.

Because historically, Diana was an ambassador of peace, sent to our world to teach us the error of violence and oppression.

And just like that, in the future, Diana is the new Goddess of Peace.

So ...

I like Diana turning away from war, realizing she has fallen away from her ideals, and embracing ... becoming (!!) peace.

But it also seems like a bit of a slap in the face to Azzarello and Chiang's work. And, as I have said, while I don't agree with all of it, it has been a tight and entertaining story of a possible Wonder Woman.

But Azzarello's Diana isn't what I think Diana should be in continuity.

But Azzarello's book was quality for the story it was telling.

I guess since this is as much an Elseworlds as anything I can enjoy it for what it is. And that is a story that finally shows me who Wonder Woman should be. Not the sword wielding, stab first, 'kill your enemies' person. But a hero who is looking to move away from war and death.

Overall grade: B/B+