Friday, October 30, 2015

Review: Superman #45

Another month, another chapter of The Truth.

Superman #45 came out this week and continued to complete deconstruction of Superman. We have seen Superman alone, depowered, on the run, and angry this whole arc. So why not make him broke as well? Why not make him even more ethically bankrupt, veering from the lessons he learned in life that made him the hero he once was. Superman himself says in this issue that he isn't using his gifts in the way they should be used.

Now I have been  trying to follow the nonlinear storytelling of The Truth throughout the four Superman books and we finally seemed to be nearing something of a nexus. The four main villains who have been pulling the strings were together to start a combined assault. Clark has been researching this cabal and has a data stream. I want to get to that eventual fight, if only because I hope it will end this arc and bring back a more classic Superman.

Unfortunately, writer Gene Luen Yang decided that Superman would be the place to put Clark through another side adventure.

And the main idea of this story, a fight club where dying older gods try to whip up some believers or fans, is an interesting one. I just don't know if it is right for a Superman book. (I imagine it more as a Vertigo miniseries.) That said, if I look at this story from a metatextual angle, it speaks a lot about what is going on with Superman this last decade.

Artist Howard Porter comes onto the book and is a welcome relief from the boxy Romita Jr. Porter brings a nice mix of page layouts and panels. While I think his style is better suited for JLA 3001, I'll take him on Superman any day.

The book opens with Clark realizing he has hit something of a wall in his investigation.

Everyone seems to have forgotten about Hordr despite Lois' reveal. I bet this is the first mention of whatever deus ex machina  that leads to everyone forgetting Clark is Superman.

With no new lead on Hordr Prime, Clark contacts Condesa to see if he can get some inside information. Now I have had some concerns that Condesa might still be working for Hordr (or maybe is Hordr) and I like that Clark had the same worries. She is a last resort. At a diner, Condesa reveals that Hordr-Root took over a company called Sungetix, so off goes Clark to investigate.

I like that Condesa asked Lois to come, trying to clear the air between the two. But this is still an immature Clark who still doesn't get why Lois revealed his secret. He storms off. It is ridiculous.

At Sungetix, Clark tries to wily sneak in but his face is far too famous. He is confronted by Hordr-Root. But just as before, Hordr leaves the body he is in. We learn that he can jump from one body to another, a sort of pixilated Deadman.

There are a couple of things about this. This power makes capturing Hordr almost impossible, unless you get him somewhere where there isn't another body to jump into. Of course, it means he is stuck in some poor innocent's body.

I also don't like that Clark is still harping on Lois. He briefly wonders if she revealed him while under Hordr's control. Maybe, just maybe, if he gave her two minutes to explain things he might realize that her decision was done to save him.

At Sungetix, Hordr-Root calls on a super-being named Apolaki to come and fight Clark.

Apolaki looks like a Sun Boy derivative. He tries to blast Clark but his blast is deflected by a Quarmer mask Clark has grabbed. Drained of his power, Apolaki disintegrates into sand.

Good thing it wasn't someone with a physical power.
Good thing Clark rationalizes that this wasn't a living person but instead a construct. Makes this possible murder more easily swallowed.

Apolaki is the God of the Sun in Phillipine mythology.

The brawl brings the authorities to Sungetix. That essentially closes down that Hordr stronghold. But Clark decides to investigate Apolaki more. Clark hears his opponent was a big name at a club called The Thousand One House.

Inside, Clark learns the place hosts a fight club called Mythbrawl. The emcee is Queen Shahrazad who talks about how the fights are more real than blood, life or truth itself.

Now a place called Mythbrawl hosted by someone out of myth is interesting.

Superman watches as two metans - Haemosu and Mayari brawl. It becomes clear that Haemosu has the upper hand and might kill Mayari forcing Superman to enter the ring.

And the crowd recognizes him.

Porter really shines during the fight sequence. Lovely stuff.

After a brawl where Superman beats down Haemosu, he is greeted with the crowd's howls of lust and fury.

Even Superman knows that he wasn't sent to this Earth to engage in bareknuckle brawls. He knows Pa would tell him that 'this isn't what our gifts are for.'

So hurray that Superman still feels the impetus to enter a fight to defend someone defenseless.

But this is still pretty low for Superman to have fallen. What's next?

And Shahrazad looks awful pleased by this, doesn't she? Could she be part of the Cabal, bent on defeating Superman mentally and physically?

And as I said before, the purpose of this fight club becomes clear. This is the place for Shahrazad to tell the stories of these gods in a sort of WWE wrestling fashion, a way to stay remembered and survive. Haemosu is the Korean sun god (a decent replacement for Apolaki). And Mayari is the Tagalog moon goddess.

Shahrazad knows a draw when she sees one. Why shouldn't Superman join this fight club and earn some money?

Now this doesn't explain why Apolaki would be working for Hordr. You think that Superman might be worried that all these people are in league together. But he doesn't seem to dwell on that little fact at all.

And Superman fighting for money? We don't hear him think that this is a way to investigate more. We don't hear him thinking that he needs to worm in deeper to uncover the Apolaki link. Instead he seems swayed by his lack of cash.

And so we end the book with this splash page of Superman entering the ring like a pro wrestler, caped again and greeted to cheers.

Given what we are seeing in comics, this is pretty meta.

The myth of Superman is over. The idea of Superman is done. Gone is the super-strong hero who is here to help. Gone is the guy who wants to do what's right because it is the right thing to do. Gone is the smiling hero who is happy to assist. Those stories are dead, in the past, forgotten. We haven't read those stories in a long long time ... because DC doesn't understand that. When I talk about Superman stories from the past, I probably sound like Shahrazad, blowing the dust off of ancient tomes.

So why not have this Superman, trying to stay relevant and remembered, fight for pennies. That sounds like the current comic market.

And yet the stories this crowd wants the classic ones. Just like I want to read a more classic Superman.

I don't know ... maybe I am overthinking this. Maybe Yang wasn't thinking this.

But I know I am totally sick of this cruel, crass Superman.

It is too bad this idea of Mythbrawl is used here. Because I wouldn't mind reading a book about this on its own and away from Superman.

Overall grade: C

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Supergirl Sighting Post-Crisis?

 For those of you who aren't listening to the Secret Origins podcast, you should be. Ryan Daly is reviewing the series issue by issue and it is a great listen.

Okay, I may be biased, having been a guest twice.

The truth is I have been loving going back and rereading these issues. For one, the stories are typically very good. It reminds me of the classic origins of these characters.

But most interesting for me is seeing how this book was helping DC smooth out some of the post-Crisis speed bumps which arose. We have seen the Golden Age Fury replace Wonder Woman. We heard how Power Girl is now Atlantean, not Kryptonian. We saw Power Girl replace Supergirl in a Doom Patrol flashback.

And 2 weeks ago in the above issue, we learned that Barbara Gordon was Jim Gordon's niece. Head to the wordpress account to listen to this great episode:

For me, as a Supergirl fan, I enjoy going back to this time to see if, when, and how some Supergirl homages were put into comics. Remember, Supergirl was completely expunged from the DCU.

But we saw her in DC Challenge. We saw a statue of her in the Legion memorial hall. We saw a Kara talk to Deadman in a Christmas special.

In the Batgirl origin, we hear Babs talk about how she felt so alone at time growing up that she made imaginary friends.

Okay, I can't prove that the giant blond woman with the Jim Mooney eyes is Supergirl. But it is hard to deny.

Batgirl and Supergirl were friends in the pre-Crisis universe. So having some vestigial memory of that friendship would be wonderful. And the hair and those pale blue eyes with tiny pupils is so evocative of a Silver Age Kara.

I am sticking with that belief.

We flashback to Babs childhood where she and a friend create a number of make-believe woman superheroes. Like Batgirl!

But also like Supergirl!

That is a direct name-check.

But I wonder if DC and Robert Greenberger didn't want to push things too much. While it is Supergirl drawing, she is absolutely raven-haired and not blond. Too bad! How great would a blond Supergirl as a doodle be!

These little name-checks and homages remind me that not everyone at DC was on board with Supergirl's death.

And it isn't the only time I have seen Supergirl sort of discussed in Secret Origins:

Will there be more moving forward?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Supergirl Season 1: Episode 1 Review

Monday night, the long anticipated premiere of the Supergirl television show aired. We had been dealing with a year's worth of hype, teases, and clips. The episode was 'leaked'. It was lauded as a breakthrough, a female-led superhero show infused with feminism and action. It was derided as a 'rom-com', compared to a SNL skit about Black Widow. But throughout it all, I liked what I heard.

So how was it?

Well, I will give it a very solid B+. And most of my quibbles have to do with the pace of the premiere, an issue that shouldn't hamper the show from now on. And it killed in the ratings.

In the future I think these reviews will be more like my comic reviews, recap and commentary. But I think that would be impossible with the premiere.

It became clear that producers Ali Adler and Greg Berlanti wanted to set the stage for the entire season in this pilot, shoving what should have been 90 minutes or 2 hours of story into 45 minutes. Let's review the big beats of the show and be amazed that somehow it was all stuffed in.

1. Review the origin briefly, the flight from Krypton, pause in the Phantom Zone, and Superman dropping Kara off at the Danvers.
2. Establish that Kara has been hiding her powers,  suffers as the assistant for megalomaniac Cat Grant, works with buddy Win Schott and hunky James Olsen
3. Save a plane and feel empowered, realizing a destiny Kara has been denying herself
4. Get scolded by Alex and told to not hero
5. Become Supergirl with Win's help and stop some minor crimes
6. Get branded as 'Supergirl' by Cat
7. Introduce the DEO, Hank Henshaw and give exposition about Fort Rozz
8. Fight and lose to Vartox
9. Have the DEO again tell her she is worthless, have Alex tell her to quit, have Kara doubt herself
10. Have Alex do a complete 180, suddenly telling Kara to become Supergirl
11. Quick message from Alura to confirm the idea of being a hero
12. Back to the DEO to convince Henshaw that Supergirl can be an effective agent
13. Fight Vartox again, this time winning
14. End tease of the big bad, Alura evil sister The General

I mean that is a lot of story for 45 minutes!

But let me concentrate on what works!

First off, Melissa Benoist is perfect as Supergirl. She has such an expressive face and is so solid as an actor. We see the gamut of emotions here. Joy when she is proud of being a hero. Excited to use her powers. Betrayed when she sees Alex as a DEO agent. Sadness when she feels she has failed. Awkward around Jimmy. She simply embodies the complexity of Supergirl, someone trying to live up to the S-shield legacy while finding out who she is. It starts with Benoist and she is charming and strong. I especially like hearing how, even before donning the supersuit, she defends people, asking that Cat not fire the Tribune staff.

The rest of the cast is great. Flockhart oozes as the narcissistic business tycoon Cat. Jeremy Jordan is likeable as the close friend Win. Chyler Leigh shows some range, being supportive, over-protective, as well as jumping into the fray. Mehcad Brooks is as cool as the other side of the pillow. And even briefly, Laura Benanti shines.

The action sequences are big and dynamic. The plane rescue is unreal for a TV show. And the fights with Vartox are high quality.

I also like that Supergirl is at the beginning of this journey. Her fighting style is primitive and crude. She shouldn't be a great combatant after hiding herself for years. She doubts herself at times but always dives back in. She wants to help people. And she knows (even Alura tells her) that her destiny is separate from Kal's. But she also realizes that her being a woman is important. She doesn't want it minimized. These are all the things I love about Supergirl. She is becoming the hero she needs to be. There will be bumps in the road.

I have to admit, the idea that The General being Alura's sister is intriguing. 

And there are also too many Easter Eggs and comic homages that make this Supergirl fan happy. The Otto Binder bridge. The fire at intersection of Gates and Igle. The costume montage including the ludicrous belly shirt and headband initial attempt. The idea of Fort Rozz. Someone who is clearly Despero on the DEO's wanted list. Calling Kara a guardian angel. Slater and Cain as the Danvers. The plane save, echoing so many classic Superman origins and movies. That is a lot of comic knowledge and Supergirl homages.

As a result, it sort of felt like the Gates/Igle run. From the people saying she shouldn't be a hero to those who complained about the rescue to Cat promising to plaster Supergirl everywhere, this felt like that run.

Okay. Enough gushing. On to some criticisms.

To be honest, it felt rushed. I especially think the second half of the show, introducing the DEO and revealing Alex as one of their agents was too fast in execution. Specifically, Alex going from 'don't be a hero' to 'you need to fly' over a commercial break felt too fast. Why the change of mind? She says it is because she realized her own insecurities. But that should have been a slower epiphany. And Henshaw allowing her to go out alone to fight Vartox the second time after belittling Kara and talking about how dangerous she was also seemed a bit ridiculous. Of all the characters, Henshaw felt the most two-dimensional.

I also think given constraints, some of the dialogue felt a bit too on the nose, especially Alex complaining that Hank doesn't think Kara can win because she is 'just a girl'.

All of that said, the stage is now set. We have all that behind us moving forward. While 30 more minutes might have let some of these plot turns happen more organically, I think the show is going to hit the ground running from here on out.

I don't think all the mysteries of Kara's early life have been fully discussed. We'll see her with the Danvers. I assume we'll learn what finally shoved her ship out of the Zone. We'll learn more about her aunt. But the foundation is set.

This has all been worth the wait. Much like the Flash, I think this show is going to get better and better as the season unfolds. With all this set-up behind us, Berlanti and Adler can pause, take a breath, and now build on these plot points. Henshaw's suspicions. Alex and Kara's relationship. The multitude of villains and the General's plot to rule the Earth. We now get to explore these at a better pace.

I can't wait!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

January 2016 Solicits

The complete DC Solicits for January 2016 have dropped and there was a couple of nice surprises in the mix. I will be covering most of the super-solicits here but if you want to look at all the solicits, head to Newsarama here:

A couple of notes before the solicits.

First off, again there is no Supergirl solo title solicit this month. I am done trying to figure out this decision by DC Comics. It makes no sense to me at all.

Second, I am not going to cover the Max Landis' American Alien solicits here. Sorry. Just no.

Third, there are a bunch of books which look so interesting to me. There is a great Birds of Prey reunion over in Batgirl. There is a Dick/Kory reunion in Starfire. The Legend of Wonder Woman by Renae DeLiz looks intriguing. And I may or may not be into Titans Hunt, but Hawk and Dove are there. That is a big lure.

On to the solicits.

Art and cover by SCOTT KOLINS

As Lady Styx’s legion reigns over the Commonwealth, an all-new Justice League rises from the ashes of the old. But can they topple a tyrant who’s embraced by the very people she’s conquered?

How great is it that Supergirl is finally on the cover, front and center, in an iconic pose. Her costume is a bit garish to me, a throwback to some of the wonky variants from the Adventure run in the 70s.

This seems to be the 'all female' League that Giffen and De Matteis hinted at. I'm on board!

I keep waiting for the 'Final Issue' tag. But I am going to enjoy this book while it lasts!

Cover by ANT LUCIA

Now serving on the side of the Allies as part of the Amanda Waller’s Bombshells program, Supergirl and Stargirl wonder if they still are being used as instruments of propaganda. Meanwhile, mythological creatures and the undead legions of Tenebrus attack the Allied forces, bringing Wonder Woman into the fray. Can she count on the newest Bombshells to help?

How great is it that Supergirl is finally on the cover, flanking Wonder Woman with her sister Stargirl! Finally!

I like that Supergirl is trying to work through her life as a person and as a symbol. I am looking forward to reading the story where she defects. That should be something of a major moment for this character, something that shouldn't happen easily. And I hope she continues to question it.

Lastly, love the Wonder Woman 'You Can Do It' Bombshell costume.

Written by DAN JURGENS
Art and cover by LEE WEEKS

The mysteries surrounding Lois and Clark are just starting to unfold! In this issue find out what happened to the man who would have been the Cyborg Superman! Learn what else is hidden in this Superman’s Fortress! And discover why Lois gave Clark his new, black uniform!

We finally have a Superman comic I can get behind. This is a 12 issue mini-series so we are 1/3 through at this point. Certainly the solicit is a great one, hinting at mysteries still to unfold. And a Fortress specific to this Superman ... fascinating. And I keep wondering why this Superman, who wants to remain hidden, would wear a S-shield costume. So why would Lois give him one?

I don't know if I like seeing Lois brandishing a gun. 

Art and cover by AARON KUDER

“The Savage Dawn” begins! Following recent events in the SUPERMAN ANNUAL, Superman is becoming increasingly desperate to regain his powers! The situation is dire, as he must rescue his fellow Justice Leaguers and save the lives of the soldiers facing Vandal Savage!

Onto the fallout of The Truth, a story which still seems to be falling out.

Savage Dawn is a nice name given the Vandal Savage/Dawn Patrol elements. I am guessing this costume Superman is wearing is a sort of solar boosting exoskeleton.

I was hoping that this would be over by now. At least we get Pak/Kuder together.

Art and cover by HOWARD PORTER

“The Savage Dawn” continues! Time is running out, and Superman must make a fateful choice! Can he risk exposing himself to the one thing that could save him: Kryptonite?

Enter the Howard Porter era of Superman. I love Porter's art so I am on board for that.

And the idea that Kryptonite might be the cure for what is happening is at least innovative. Am I curious about this story? Yes. And honestly, I haven't been curious about the Super-books other than when they will reset to something classic.

Written by TOM TAYLOR

It’s an untold tale from the early days of Bruce and Clark’s crime-fighting careers! A new 3-part epic from another time begins here as Batman and Superman are pitted against a menace that will test their partnership—and their friendship!

With James Gordon as Batman and Superman depowered, having a Batman/Superman book is tricky. How do you wrangle those two to interact? The answer is 'with some difficulty'. Currently, the book is Superman/Bat-Family. So now we get a three parter of the 'pre-Truth' days.

I am a bit worrisome about Tom 'Injustice' Taylor writing this. But love the Paquette cover.

Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Cover by ED BENES

“The Savage Dawn” continues! Diana presents a badly wounded Superman to the Greek Gods to see if they will restore him to his former self. But before they can decide, they first must determine if he is truly worthy.

Are they still a couple?? Hard to tell from this solicit.

I haven't read the Wonder Woman book since Azzarello/Chiang run ended. Glad to see those versions of the greek gods still around.

All this said ... I am ready for the depowered, angry Superman stories to be done. Let's rewrite history with Vandal Savage!


In the new CBS series from Warner Bros. Television, Supergirl, born Kara Zor-El on the doomed planet Krypton, arrived on Earth many years after being lost in the Phantom Zone. Raised by her adopted family, the Danvers, Kara grew up in the shadow of her foster sister, Alex, and learned to hide the phenomenal powers she shares with her famous cousin, Superman. Years later, living in National City and working as an assistant at Catco Worldwide Media, Kara decides to embrace her superhuman abilities and become the hero she was always destined to be. With the help of Daily Planet photographer James Olsen, her bioengineer sister Alex, and the research of the super-secret, off-the-grid Department of Extra-Normal Operations (DEO), Kara takes to the skies to protect her world.
Measures Approximately 12.5" Tall
$130.00 US • On Sale March 2016 

So if this is solicited in this month's previews, that gives us all 5 months to save up. Can we all out $26 bucks a month aside?

Love this statue! So iconic!

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Wait Is Over ... Supergirl Airs Tonight!

 The wait is over!!!!

It has been over a year since the news first broke that there would be a Supergirl show.

Since that announcement, we have lived through casting guesses, teases of villains, promos, commercials, and a social media barrage.

We also learned the premiere would be in October, not September, adding one more month of torturous waiting.

I never thought it would be possible ... but tonight at 8:30 we'll all be watching a live action Supergirl show.

But perhaps the best thing about this has been the realization that this show is going to be great.

It starts with the star and everything I have seen and heard from Melissa Benoist has made me, as a Supergirl fan, thrilled. She simply is Supergirl. She exudes all the complexity of Kara, the optimism, the energy, the insecurities, the power ... she is Supergirl!

Look at this picture from TV Guide. That is Supergirl!

But the way producers Greg Berlanti and Ali Adler, writer Andrew Kreisberg, director Glen Winter, the co-stars ... everyone who has touched this show ... everyone has gushed about the spirit and energy of this show. 

I'll try to do my review by the middle of the week. But maybe I'll try to live tweet tonight.

The wait is over!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Review: Superman/Wonder Woman #22

Superman/Wonder Woman #22 came out this week, a dreary and brutal chapter in 'The Truth'. It is one of the worst books I have read in quite some time. It is relentless in its darkness. It is full of off-kilter characterization. And some of the scenes feel forced.

Now I have never quite understood why Superman and Wonder Woman are romantically involved. The relationship has never been presented in a way that seems to make sense. These characters don't seem to belong together as a couple. Emotionally, these two seem pretty different. So from the beginning, I have been a bit flummoxed by the title.

And  I have had my issues with the entire overarching story of The Truth since its inception. I have wondered why DC can't seem to handle Superman these days, trying to twist him into something he isn't .. for example, the current angry, mean-spirited, depowered jerk.

This issue seemed to encapsulate all of these things. It distilled all the things I don't like about the current DCU and the state of the Superman comics into something so purely awful that it is almost toxic. Peter Tomasi writes about as dark, bitter, and violent world as I have read. These aren't the characters I have read for the last 3 plus decades. None of these characters are likeable. None are heroes. I can't root for any of these people. This is a superhero world looked at through a mirror darkly.

Listen, I read these books to follow the characters and review. But Tomasi may have finally forced my hand. And so I will end this review with a question for all of you.

So this review is simply going to be highlighting the awful character behavior in this book.

Let's start out with the punch heard around the world.

Lana, who has outright disliked and isolated Clark since Doomed, decides that Lois' reveal is just too egregious to go unpunished. So, like the rational person she is, Lana decides the thing to do is to plant a right hook into Lois' jaw.

Lana punches Lois.

In this current DC universe, this is a natural response for someone. In fact, Lois isn't surprised by it. She is more surprised that it took so long to happen.

But for me, almost as bad as the punch is the following panel and the reaction of others. Steel looks sad that he witnessed it. But he doesn't speak up. He didn't try to stop Lana. He silently accepts it. And Diana, she looks absolutely bored. She could not care less about these two. She doesn't tell them that fighting each other won't help Clark. No one seems shocked. This isn't a surprising turn of events in the current DCU. That is depressing.

If you want to see what is wrong with the Superman books right now, these two panels are a prime example.

Lost in all this is the fact that Lois revealed Clark's secret so he didn't die in that energy draining chair.

Superman has fled to the JLA satellite. He is going to take a shuttle closer to the sun so he can try to repower. When Clark arrives, the Flash shows up and sees how injured Superman is.

Superman's response to his friend is to knock him out.

Superman, in trouble and needing help, decides his best option is to beat his friend unconscious. 

Because that makes sense. Superman should always beat up other heroes. That is what the Kents taught him.

We never quite hear if the proximity to the sun helps Superman. But he pushes his shuttle so much that the ship falls apart in deep space. Wonder Woman, who was following him in another ship, teleports into his ship and then teleports them both back to the satellite.

Now we finally get to the scene from the 8-page preview from Convergence. There is a slight word change here. Clark now says he doesn't know if he loves Diana, as opposed to 'I don't love you'.

But why does this scene even happen? If the Flash can teleport Superman away why is Diana chasing him in another ship. If she can communicate with him on radio, why follow? Did she think she was going to use her ship to make him get off course? And why does Diana teleport into Clark's evaporating ship to then teleport back to the satellite?

Why? To set up this dramatic scene of Superman declaring his non-love to Diana with the sun behind them. To get to this face-to-face in deep space the characters have to do things that don't make sense.

This ludicrous set-up - a shuttle chase that doesn't need to happen, a needless teleport to put them face-to-face - to make this scene possible makes the whole scene feel forced.

Back in the JLA headquarters, Clark admits that he is upset because Diana interrogated his friends. And so he says he is questioning the relationship.

Diana asks outright if Superman won't fight for their love. He says he won't.

You would think that I would be happy that Superman finally realizes that these two are ill-suited for each other. But instead I am surprised at Diana's non-response. She doesn't challenge him. She doesn't walk away. She doesn't do anything. She will allow him to brood and decide about their relationship's health. She will give Superman time to work this out while she waits. She is passive.

That doesn't sound like Diana.

With the 'race to the sun' plot point out of the way, Clark and Diana decide to hunt down the energy-draining villains from the last issue. We still don't know if it helped Clark.  So that whole space scene feels unnecessary, meaningless, and now even more forced. It was written to get us to that one splash of Superman telling Diana he doesn't love her.

The Flash decides to help them track these parasitic creatures, never even commenting on Superman attacking him. Does that make sense? That Flash just falls in line, not being angry or questioning of Superman's attack?

When the three can't track down the energy-drainers with technology, Superman decides that he'll use the Parasite as a living tracker. Luckily he has been working on 'special gloves' which allow him to touch the Parasite without being drained. Good thing that deus ex machina was lying around. (Think they'll be around the next time there is a Parasite story? Unlikely.)

So to get the Parasite, Superman and Wonder Woman attack an army helicopter which is bringing the villain to prison. Superman crashes through the copter's windshield. Because that is the safest way for him to commandeer this thing.

But think about this. Superman attacks an army helicopter to free the Parasite. Is he a hero? Because that is what I want my heroes to do, attack the civilians bringing a known super-villain to jail.

Even the art mirrors the tone. Superman, with his sunken eyes and scowl, looks like a villain 

Do you want to see a prime example of what is wrong with the DCU, look at this panel.

And Wonder Woman is along for the ride. She wants to help Clark.  She doesn't question this idea by Clark. She doesn't try to talk him out of it. She doesn't try to alter the plan. She is on board for an assault. She is the doting girlfriend who just listens to her man ... because that sounds like Diana.

She uses her sword to cut her way into the ship, coming within inches of skewering an innocent guard with her sword. The guards shoot wildly in bay.

How no one dies is almost too far-fetched to buy. How does this thing even stay in the air? How does no innocent get injured?

Is this how I want Wonder Woman to act? Following her man blindly, attacking innocents? So quick to unsheath her sword that she almost kills someone?


But the assault is a success. Superman and Wonder Woman are able to grab the Parasite, still shackled in a giant device.

He is helpless.

Superman body slams him into the ground from the copter.

Wonder Woman bashes him across the face.

Because battering and torturing someone helpless, even a villain, is what I want my heroes to do. After all they should inspire me.

And Superman?

He decides to pile on.

When Parasite asks why he has been kidnapped (because that is what this is ... a kidnapping), Superman responds with a boot to the face.

Superman angrily kicks someone helpless in the face.

Because nothing says 'Superman' more than him lashing out angrily at everyone in the world. Nothing says 'I'm here to help' like a kick in the kisser.

Have I shown you enough? Do you see how Peter Tomasi has no idea of who these characters are? That Eddie Berganza shows just how wrong a choice he is to edit the super-books? That the DCU is a horrible place filled with horrible people. A place where there is no distinction between good and evil.

Nothing here has felt right. Nothing here is heroic. Nothing in this plot is good or compelling.

It is a shame because I love Doug Mahnke. The art is beautiful even if the subject matter is horrible. Look at this panel with Diana springing into action. I paused here because it is so dynamic and sharp. Put Doug Mahnke on a book more deserving of his stuff. I also like the cover by Cary Nord is actually quite pleasing to the eye. It is like a lure to get you to buy the book. Then you read the inside and feel you have been taken.

But the bottom line is that there is nothing I can get behind in this book. It starts with Lana punching Lois. It continues with Superman attacking innocent guards to spring a super-villain. And it ends with Superman and Wonder Woman physically abusing a helpless villain.

This isn't Superman. This isn't Wonder Woman.

So a question.

Do I continue to review this book, hopefully informing people and keeping them away from it?
Or do I vote with my dollars and drop the book?

Because this an awful book with awful characterization.
Or maybe this is just the sort of world DC Comics wants to be publishing right now, which isn't for me.

Overall grade: D- (raised from F because of Mahnke)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sales Review: September 2015

Comics are dying!
We have heard this over and over for such a long time that at times I think it is like Chicken Little saying the sky is falling. After all, superheroes are everywhere.

Then I see reports on sales, especially months like September 2015, and I think maybe there is a death knell. Comics overall were done last month and last quarter and the numbers are sort of sobering for me. Here is the link to ICv2's excellent coverage:

Last month, Superman #44 caught up the the current timeline, finally bringing the title up the speed. This showed the immediate post-reveal life that Superman was living. It was the last chapter of this new reality with the superstar team of Gene Yang, John Romita Jr, and Klaus Janson.

Has this new Superman been embraced?

The issue came in remarkably high, ranked #24th overall.

Looking at the numbers, it sold only 43K. It amazes me that the 24th most popular comic in sales sold so few issues.

But this isn't huge sales. It doesn't seem like this new approach to Superman have brought in new readers.

I have said all along that the Pak/Kuder Action Comics is the best Superman book on the rack.

But even this book, which I have really think is magical at times, has been sinking into the darkness of the grim new approach. Heck, the cover certainly depicts that.

The Soviet Supergirl is flying high in the DC Bombshells book. This Kara seems a little hard but certainly determined and strong. This is one of two books were Supergirl is currently a character.

Both Action Comics and DC Bombshells sold around 37K.

This certainly is a new world. Bombshells is an out of continuity book based on merchandise. And it is selling as much as Action Comics. In fact, both are selling just above Silk, a book I love but based on a Spiderman derivative.

I think the quality of Bombshells and Silk are great books. But I wonder if Action would sell better if DC just let Pak and Kuder write true Superman stories.

Lastly, Justice League 3001 has the most classic take on Supergirl. We have barely seen this Kara in the book. But what we have seen is great. I want to see more of this Silver Age-y Supergirl interacting with these flawed clones.

Hopefully the creative team will get to some stories where she plays a big part soon. Because sales are slipping. The book was ranked 129 overall, selling just below 17K. Those are cancellation numbers.

I wish more people were reading this book. It is a hoot.

And I want to be able to report on a true Supergirl book. When will that happen???

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Review: DC Bombshells #3

Supergirl isn't exactly appearing all over the DCU these days so I head to the titles she is starring in to get my Kara fix. Unfortunately this month, she is absent in both books she is a part of the cast. First JLA 3001 gave us a Flash-centric issue. Now DCU Bombshells #3 concentrates more on the other plots moving forward.

This isn't a knock against the book. I find this title, written by Marguerite Bennett, to be something of a revelation, bringing new and interesting takes on the female heroes of the DCU. Remember, I grew up reading All-Star Squadron. I don't mind seeing the DCU heroes mixing it up in WWII.

And while I am most interested in seeing the character development of this Soviet Supergirl, the Batwoman story runs a close second. Kate really shines in this issue. And the Zatanna storyline and the Wonder Woman/Mera plot both move forward nicely here, mixing action and plot progression.

The art nicely complements the stories as well. Marguerite Sauvage continues to bring a wonderful sense of 40's style to the Batwoman portion of the issue. There is a seductive panache to those pages. Meanwhile, Laura Braga brings an inky eerie feel to the Zatanna pieces, well-suited for the black magic happening there. And Garry Brown brings a sensible house style to the Wonder Woman war piece, a throwback to classic DC.

This won't be a full blown review. So buckle in.

As I said, I can't get enough of the feisty Batwoman in this series.

The opening riff is Batwoman beating up a Nazi who is helping the Reich round up Jewish families.

A lesbian Jew beating up a Nazi with a baseball bat. Love it.

And we get the beginning of the 'League of Batgirl' plot with Harper Row pitching in a bit and becoming inspired.

And the Kate/Maggie relationship is just great. I thought this was a touching page with Maggie breaking down as Kate is sent to the front.

This I thought was a great page, sort of evocative of war movies from the 40's. Love the window progression in the upper panels.

Kate gets brought by Amanda Waller to a sub where the Bombshells will be brought to the front.

And we meet two more team mates.

I like Dr. Light as the techrat of the team.

But I love the Barda design, especially that crazy hat! When do I get to see this Barda in action??

Kate's next mission, to find Catwoman. I wonder if there will be some romantic sparks there?

The Zatanna and Joker's Daughter segment is pretty creepy. Using Zatanna's magic, Hitler is able to summon some sort of inky demon who will help the Reich.

I think Zatanna is a reluctant assistant here. We know the Joker's Daughter has a hold over her.

Braga's art is just perfect for this section.

Lastly, the Wonder Woman and Mera portion is a nice segment, split in two parts. One is a discussion between Diana and Mera about Diana's attraction to Steve.

Mera is a bit hardcore here, advising that they should kill the injure Trevor, put him out of his misery. But Diana talks of compassion, differentiating herself from the gods and her mother. This is Diana, an ambassador of peace and love first, a warrior second.

The sword is sheathed.

But then when they make land, Diana and Mera encounter a Nazi patrol and just pummel the Germans, destroying tanks and bashing the troops.

Diana might be an ambassador of peace, but she is also an Amazonian warrior when she needs to be.

Right behind the German patrol are Americans led by General Sam Lane. He knows a Bombshell when he sees one.

I am really enjoying this comic. I am not always a fan of Elseworlds but this one seems to be a complete universe with a great set of unique characters. The different artists work for the different arcs. And Batwoman is too fantastic.

Overall grade: A