Friday, May 26, 2017

Review: Super-Sons #4

A bit of Supergirl-specific news came out this week, delaying things a bit. So I am catching up.

Super Sons #4 came out last week, the end of the first arc and potentially the end of the team. More than any prior chapter, this issue shows how difficult it would be for these two boys to be friends and to work together. It isn't easy for the more down-to-Earth Jon to deal with the narcissistic worldly assassin Damien. And this battle showcases that.

The villain of the piece, Kid Amazo, has the potential to be a legitimate threat. But in this story, he is relatively easily dispatched. Maybe too easily. And really, in the end, he isn't even defeated by Superboy and Robin. Really, I think Amazo was really just a catalyst to showcase the differences of the Sons.

As much fun as it is to see the sons bristle with each other, I am finding the interaction with the larger DCU even more engaging. So seeing Luthor, Lois, and Alfred in here was also a great.

Lastly, Jorge Jimenez's art is the perfect style for this book. Stylized, somewhat exaggerated, and in places cartoonish, it jibes wonderfully with the tone of the book.

On to the book!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Supergirl Episode 222: Nevertheless, She Persisted

Supergirl Episode 222, the season finale titled 'Nevertheless, She Persisted, aired this week and was an incredibly intense, over-stuffed, and every emotional ending to what has been a crazy season. This episode felt more like a mini-movie than a television show with spectacular effects, a rousing score,. massive fights, and all the major characters (well most of the major characters) having key moments to move the plot along. I was thrilled. And I suppose given the names in the credits (writers Andrew Kreisberg and Jessica Quallers; directed by Glen Winter), I shouldn't be surprised.

While the title of the episode is clearly referencing Senator Warren's defiance while speaking to the Senate, the overt politics of this season were put on the back shelves a bit to let the story stand more on its own. And for the most part it delivered. The ultimate victory came in the form of a true deus ex machina, but overall this shined.

But the time has come to put a bow on this season. In looking back, the show really covered a ton of topics and subplots. Sometimes all this made Supergirl feel more like a character in an ensemble cast than the headliner.

We had multiple big bads in the form of Cadmus and the Daxamites. We had major plots involving Maggie and her relationship with Alex, Winn and his relationship with Lyra, James and his relationship with the Guardian suit, and J'onn and Miss Martian. We had political stories about alien amnesty, refugees seeking asylum, the down trodden forced into slavery, and basic prejudice. Jeremiah Danvers blipped into the storyline and then vanished again. That is a lot of ground to cover.

And I haven't even mentioned the elephant in the room ... Mon-El. At least on social media, he was something of a lightning rod. Some fans loved his arc as he tried to walk away from a rather ugly past to become something better all while inspired by Kara. Others hated him for being the epitome of the slick, emotionally abusive, frat boy. He was that kind of man that bullied his way into a relationship by constantly nagging the woman, then didn't respect her wishes, and then groveled his way back in. For me, I didn't think he was all that bad. At times his actions were cringe worthy. And unfortunately, he doesn't have a big redemptive moment in this episode. I was hoping there would be big moment where he sacrificed himself for others. All that said,  I believed him when he said how inspired he was by Supergirl and what she represented. I mean, that's why I love her as a character.

But enough looking back, let's look at this episode itself. Be prepared, I took a lot of screencaps because there was so much to love. And I am going to write a lot, not only recap but thoughts. Because this was an overstuffed episode. On to the show

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

RIP Rich Buckler

Over the weekend, the news broke that veteran DC and Marvel comic artist Rich Buckler had passed away after a long battle with cancer. News reports are everywhere but here is Comic Book Resources coverage:

It seems like the loss of legendary comic book creators like this are all too common these days. But personally, this one stung a little bit more than usual. Buckler holds a pretty important place in my heart and my comic heritage. Buckler was a workhorse in comics, a solid artist who is littered throughout my collection. But I think he is sort of underappreciated. Everyone says that they love Buckler's work but I haven't heard many (or any) say Buckler is one of their favorite artist. And that is a shame because is work is just wonderful.

For me, Buckler is best known for his cover of Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #1. This is a truly iconic picture of Supergirl, one of the best known images of her. I had met Buckler a couple of times at conventions and was lucky enough to get him to sign the cover, joining Carmine Infantino and Paul Kupperberg. This is really a cherished book in my collection.

As I said, this cover is a pretty iconic image of the Girl of Steel, even appearing as a US Postage stamp.

Buckler also drew the fantastic Superman vs. Shazam treasury, a story that is truly more of a Supergirl and Mary Marvel storyline. Buckler really shines in this treasury drawing a remarkable Kara. And he even got to draw Quarmm, the Sand Superman!


Back in 2008, I was able to get a Buckler Supergirl commission in my sketch book. While I should have got him to draw the 70s style costume, back then I was pretty locked into the Matrix look.  I love this commission as well. It is a nice action pose with a smiling Supergirl.

Buckler was so much more than that one cover. I know he created Deathlok and had a long career with Marvel. But I'm a DC guy. Buckler drew All Star Squadron. He drew covers and interiors of The Flash in a time when I would often pick up that book. He drew Justice League issues. He drew Superman issues.

As I continue to talk about why Buckler matters to me, I'll add that he drew the Secret Society of Super-Villains. And SSV #9 was my introduction to the Creeper, one of my all time favorite characters. It was Buckler's moody depiction of The Creeper that really grabbed my attention as a kid and started a a life-long love.

My condolences to his family and friends. The comic world is a little smaller now.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

New Supergirl Artist Robson Rocha

The full DC Comics August Solicitations are going to be revealed soon. But some super-titles, including Supergirl #12, were previewed over on Newsarama here:

But the biggest news in that article is that Robson Rocha is taking over on monthly are duties on the book. Here is the solicit.

“EMERALD ERADICATION” part one! Emerald Empress’ attack on Supergirl begins as her new Fatal Five assembles. Empress’ plan to destroy Supergirl’s present to preserve her future goes into full swing as Supergirl tries to hold her own—but soon even her abilities are out of her control.

It looks like all art might be getting shaken up because Artgerm is on the variant cover, not Bengal.

But the big news is Rocha. I have had my issues with Brian Ching's art on the book. It has at times seemed rough, rushed, and unfinished. There have been high points with Ching, no doubt. But I think that he would work better on a different style of book.

So I am glad that Robson Rocha is coming on board. Rocha has a sort of fine-lined and more polished look to things. I have covered Rocha's art on some issues here. You can look for prior reviews with his art here:

I first ran into Rocha's art on Demon Knights and Worlds' Finest. I liked his art then. There was a very good sense of action in the proceedings. And while different artists gave the work a different feel, it always looked very good.

Now I consider Power Girl and Supergirl to be two very different characters so you can't simply say that since Power Girl looked good, Supergirl will look good. That said, Rocha never really dipped too deep into the cheesecake aspects of Power Girl. And the action, as mentioned above, looked sharp. I think you can look at this and see just how Supergirl will be portrayed in the book.

Those Worlds' Finest issues were on the shelves a few years ago now.

If you want to see what Rocha's art looks like more recently, he did a three-parter in the now canceled Batman/Superman book. I reviewed these issues here as well if you want a deeper dive.

Suffice it to say, the art was stunning. there was a different, more detailed, more elegant look to these issues. The action still looked kinetic and powerful. But there was a still more refined look to the art here than even in those Worlds' Finest issues.

I am looking forward to this art change. Welcome aboard Robson Rocha!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Review: DC Bombshells #27

DC Bombshells #27, the print version of the digital first comic, came out this week. As always, since I read the floppies, I am behind the time.

The issue includes another chapter in Supergirl's journey home. Writer Marguerite Bennett has given us a new take on the character. Crushed by the sacrifice of her sister Kortni, this Kara is depressed and powerless. She decides she needs to head home to Russia to try to gain some normalcy but those plans are waylaid when she is discovered by Russian spies, German spies, and Lex Luthor on her train ride home.

I don't mind this Supergirl working her way through this emotionally. We saw how close she was with Kortni. We saw how she was ready to sacrifice herself to defeat the Tenebrau. She is still quite young. I imagine this is what would have happened had Kal died in the Crisis instead of her.

But what I really like is Bennett giving a new riff on an old Supergirl power. At least as how it is portrayed in this issue, I am very intrigued.

The art on the chapter is by Adventures of Supergirl veteran Carmen Carnero and really works well here.

Now while I enjoyed the Supergirl piece, the bulk of the book focuses on the Zatanna/Raven/Ivy/Harley story. And this has yet to grab me. I have talked about how I don't like when this book veers towards being an 'agenda book'. Here I didn't like how Bennett is getting bit too cute with her writing.

On to the book.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Review: Superman #23

Superman #23 came out this week and is the next part in the Black Dawn arc. It also reveals at last the enemy behind all the craziness that has been going on in the sleepy hamlet of Hamilton. And while I am not the biggest fan of the 'big bad', his goals behind his scheme actually makes sense for his character. We'll have to see how it all plays out.

This reveal shows story-tellers Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason have had a long play in mind. And it kind of all clicks into place. With the super-couple moving back to Metropolis (as seen in Action Comics), I guess this is the swan song for the Hamilton locale. So why not tear up the place?

The issue also includes something of a dramatic turn for Lois. Her portrayal in this title has been sort of up and down. She has been a bad-ass laser-firing hero. She has been a pie-serving 50's house wife. And she has been everything in between. In this issue we learn what it means to be a non-super-powered combatant in a chaotic city-wide brawl. Whether this plot twist has any legs will be determined. I doubt we will see a long-term change here.

But overall, while the big beats where solid, the issue overall is something of a muddle. For some reason, it feels rushed. Maybe that is because the middle pages seem to be inked in a more thick-lined style than I am used to seeing. Doug Mahnke's pencils are solid throughout, they always are. But the fight in Hamilton felt a bit muddier than I am used to seeing.

On to the book ...

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Review: New Super-Man #11

New Super-Man #11 came out this week and was another entertaining issue from writer Gene Luen Yang. While there is the usual spotlight on the title character, there is a lot of world building in this book as well. Yang is really creating a whole DCU on the Eastern Hemisphere and it has an old time reader like me pretty engaged. It is like discovering the DCU all over again.

In particular, one of the characters I have been most curious about in this title has been this world’s Wonder Woman. We have heard some tiny crumbs of her origin prior to this. Here we learn a bit more about her background and one of her previous battles. Even her name is somewhat changed. And that all makes me interested in learning more.

But it was also good to see some of the spotlight still focusing on Kenan and his character. Despite the heroic nature he has been showing in the book recently, he is still has some of the smug, self-important teen we met in the earliest issues inside him. That idea that he is growing but hasn’t completely grown is wonderful. This is the classic teen hero on the journey. 

Viktor Bogdanovic has left the book, heading over to the Superman title. In his place is Billy Tan who brings a truly lovely, smooth, clean look to the book. It is different from Bogdanovic who looked pretty scratchy at times. I think Tan’s style might be a better fit for the book. Hope he sticks around.

On to the book.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Supergirl Episode 221: Resist

Supergirl episode 221, titled 'Resist' aired this week, the penultimate episode of the season. Given we have reached the boiling point on all plots, 'Resist' moves along at a very brisk pace, bringing together a number of subplots and characters that have been in the background of late. This episode really has a great combination of action sequences, suspense, and character progression. And it also has the return of Cat Grant, a return that made me remember just how important she was to this show last season on CBS.

In fact, the return of Cat was the high point of one of the most important efforts of the show. All the characters with agency in this episode are women. James, Winn, and Mon-El are really along for the ride and less important to plot progression. Supergirl, Alex, Maggie, President Marsdin, Rhea, Lillian Luthor, and Lena Luthor carry this story. And perhaps best of all, outside of one snarky Cat speech, it wasn't shoved down the audience's throats by corny dialogue. There was no 'why can't I? Because I'm a girl' cringe worthy lines here. Instead it just played out on screen. I was thankful for that.

I'll add here that the acting in this episode was stellar as well. As usual, Teri Hatcher just fills the screen with her diabolical Rhea, switching from loving queen to enraged sociopath in the blink of an eye. I already mentioned Calista Flockhart's performance as powerful. But there were small, subtle, powerful moments from Melissa Benoist, Katie McGrath, and Chyler Leigh that made this whole thing sizzle.

And we get a great cliffhanger to lead us into the finale.

There were some notes here that hearkened back to last season's ending, maybe a bit too close. But otherwise, this episode was fantastic. It even came with a great cliffhanger.

On to the show!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Review: Superwoman #10

Superwoman #10 came out last week and was another step towards the new reality of this book since Superman Reborn rewrote continuity and made Superwoman's history impossible. How can Lana have powers given to her by a dying New 52 Superman when that Superman never existed?

Writer K. Perkins has been given the monumental task of trying to sort this out. And I am rooting for her. I like Perkins as a writer. I loved what she did on Supergirl. And I like Lana and I find the concept of Superwoman fresh. But I wonder if this might be too much even for her. Because everything which led up to Lana being Superwoman is gone. So how do you continue?

That isn't to say that this issue is a failure. One of the things about Superwoman which has felt innovative is that Lana struggles with anxiety and PTSD. She is trying to be a hero while dealing with her own issues. And we see how these continue to be a big part of her character. Lana strives to move past these problems, or compartmentalize them, so she can continue to be better and help people. But the scenes of her flashing back to painful memories still show scenes that I don't think have happened now.

I am also rooting for this book because I think the art team of Stephen Segovia and Art Thibert is a dynamite pairing. The art here really sparkles. Plus, I love this Renato Guedes cover riffing on the classic Superman #1 cover, right down to 'wear and tear' and a price tag.

I just don't know if my rooting will be enough ...

Monday, May 15, 2017

Review: Action Comics #979

Action Comics #979 came out last week and was a good transition issue between the Reborn story and the upcoming Revenge Squad battle. As such, it was a very entertaining read as we toggled back and forth between a very happy Lois and Clark couple and an overly powerful group of villains eager for their destruction. That dissonance makes this a compelling read.

Writer Dan Jurgens is really amping up threat level of the Revenge Squad here. Any one of these villains alone has nearly defeated Superman. To put them all together makes this a true murderers' row.

I will say that I am hoping that the Cyborg Superman story will be fleshed out a bit. His origin is going to be relatively sticky in this post-Reborn universe. We know the Cyborg Superman and the Reign of the Supermen happened in this universe again. But we know that this Hank Henshaw is walking around, working for the military, and apparently human. How did that happen? The 'black suit' Superman stalked him in the Lois and Clark mini-series. Did that still happen? Was he cured? There is a lot to answer and I am hoping Jurgens realizes that.

But for me, the big win of the issue was the apartment hunting opening scene with Lois and Clark. Jurgens has such an ability to write these two in a very natural, comforting way. This whole scene made me smile. It even answered some 'real world' questions that have been nagging me!

Patch Zircher is on art and by now folks probably know I love his art. It is the small subtle things Zircher adds to his art that makes me really appreciate it, whether it be a pertinent background or even panel progression.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Review: Supergirl #9

Supergirl #9 came out this week and opened up the next story arc with the new World's Finest trapped in the Phantom Zone and battling The Phantom King. I am a big fan of Supergirl and Batgirl being pals and between this and the Batgirl Annual, we have the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

But this comic really is about world building by writer Steve Orlando. There is the opening of the Phantom Zone arc. But there are two new villains. There is a potentially a third. And we get some character progression between Kara and the supporting cast. This book is probably setting the stage for the next year of this book. It really takes a nice giant step away from the opening arc and gets moving.

That isn't to say that the main plot is lacking. How Supergirl ends up in the Zone, the villain that attacks her right before, the twisted acts of Xa-Du in the Zone are all very intriguing plot threads. I am pretty invested here. And, as usual Orlando sprinkles in enough DC history to make and old-timer like me very happy.

Brian Ching is on art and I find myself getting more comfortable with his style. But more and more I am wondering if he has the right look for this book. The action, the layout, the expressive work is all solid. But maybe Ching would mesh more with a street level book or something more gritty.

On to the book.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Supergirl On Jeopardy In The Form Of A Question

I am occasionally still flabberghasted at how much Supergirl has wormed her way into public consciousness. Remember, I have been a fan of Kara's for a long time and have witnessed her struggles in comics. No need to pick those scabs.

I'll say that since the inception of the television show, it feels as if Supergirl is somehow a known commodity. Non-comic people know she exists (something not always true). She is on merchandise which is available in mainstream stores. She is everywhere.

And that thrills me.

But I have to say there is something about Supergirl suddenly being an answer on Jeopardy that makes me think that she is part of American consciousness right now.

Over the last year I have seen Supergirl mentioned three times on Jeopardy. How cool is that!

On to the questions!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Supergirl Episode 220: City Of Lost Children

Supergirl episode 220, titled 'City of Lost Children' , came out this week and was an interesting mix of two plots.

Half the episode is devoted to James Olsen, a character who I feel has struggled to find his place in the show all season. James gets the spotlight here and we get some decent backstory and character progression. We learn about his childhood, how he was bullied, and how he kept his guard up. We also see him step up to the plate as a heroic figure just being James. I don't know if this episode solves the James problem but at least it lets him shine.

The other half is a close look at Lena and Rhea and an experiment that catapults us to the season finale. This is just as good a look at Lena as it is James. We get another peek behind the curtain to see just how damaged Lena is despite her polished and proper exterior. And Rhea definitely takes advantage of this weakness in Lena's personality. I must say that both Katie McGrath and Teri Hatcher slay in this episode

McGrath really has this wonderfully understated way of letting us know just what Lena is feeling just by a glance and a turn of the phrase. And Hatcher chews up the scenery, cloyingly sweet when dealing with Lena, stern when dealing with Mon-El, and turning quite vicious when talking to Kara. 

There is the usual dollop of political sentiment and current news in this episode as well, touching racism and refugees.

Overall this was a very good episode with a killer cliffhanger.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Free Comic Book Day 2017: DC Superhero Girls:Summer Olympus

I wasn't sure if I would be able to make Free Comic Book Day last Saturday but luckily I was able to leave work on time and hit the store before the doors close.

My story allows 2 free comics per customer and I decided on Dragon Ball Z and DC Superhero Girls. The  Superhero Girls book 'Summer Olympus' was written by Shea Fontana with art by Yancey Labat (the usual creative team). And, as usual, this was a lot of fun.

I am relatively certain that Summer Olympus is the next DCSHG graphic novel so this is probably the opening chapter. Similarly, last year's FCBD DCSHG book was the opening chapter of Finals Crisis. So this is a nice way to grab new readers and give them a taste of the bigger product.

I was definitely glad to get this because there are moments that should be shared and enjoyed!

On to the book!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Bullet Review: DC Comics Bombshells #26

DC Comics Bombshells #26 came out this last week, the print version of the digital first comic based on the Bombshells merchandise line. It is a comic which started out on fire. The first twelve print issues were fantastic. But after that it seemed to lose its way. It has been a bit on the firing line for me recently, always about to be dropped.

It didn't help that Wonder Woman and Supergirl basically disappeared from the book after the climax in issue twleve. They were my two favorite characters, especially with their character arcs in the earlier books, and suddenly they were gone.

Luckily, writer Marguerite Bennett has decided to bring those two back into the throng. Diana and Kara are back. And nothing says that more than the Supergirl cover on this issue. Hurrah!

All that said, the current stories haven't grabbed me as much as the origin story did. I also think that Bennett is walking a fine line for me on the focus of the book. Initially, this was a character driven book which clearly had a political agenda as a foundation. At times recently this has felt more like an agenda driven book which has characters. And I'll tell you, for me historically, when the agenda overtakes the characters, the story tends to suffer.

The art continues to be a high point. In particular, Mirka Andolfo, who does the Supergirl pages, is a favorite of mine. And Adventures of Supergirl alum Carmen Carnero does very crisp pages here as well.

On to the book.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Review: Superman #22

Superman #22 came out this week, the next chapter in 'Black Dawn'. But to be honest, the cover should have had more trade dress. It should have said 'starring Lois Lane' because this is a Lois issue. And I loved it.

While Action Comics has been more invested in Superman's place in the entirety of the DCU, Superman has been much more of a family book. This has been the true Superman family book, showing life for Clark, Lois, and Jon. Recent turns in continuity has made who Lois is something of a mystery. Ms. Lane? Mrs. Kent? Mrs. Lane-Kent? Action hero? Investigative journalist? Suburban Stepford wife? All of the above? Did the streamlining of the Superman timeline somehow make Lois take a step backwards?

Story tellers Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason hopefully put that to rest in this issue. Lois is following clues, investigating mysteries, throwing front round kicks, and taking names. Lois shines in this issue. And that makes me very happy. Because, especially this Superman - mostly templated on the pre-Flashpoint Superman - is really one member of a team, the team of Lois and Clark.

Doug Mahnke is on art and I have been talking about how much I love his art for a long time on this site. Nothing changes here. The book is beautiful to look at. Vivid and gorgeous, with brilliant colors by Wil Quintana.

On to the book!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Supergirl Episode 219: Alex

Supergirl Episode 219, titled 'Alex', aired this week and was another episode which focused more on the characters and less on the main storyline of Daxam's impending invasion. The main arc isn't completely ignored, a crucial piece is definitely put into place here. But this is about how important Alex is to this universe.

Alex is kidnapped and we see how that effects Kara. We see how that effects Maggie. And we see how that effects J'onn. Alex is an important figure in all of their lives - sister, girlfriend, and daughter respectively. And when she is put in peril, we see just how much Alex is the rock these characters rely on.

One of the underlying themes of this episode is seeing how different Maggie and Kara's methods are in delivering justice. Maggie is a 'by the book' detective, following procedure, and using her interrogation and investigative skills in a deliberate manner. She is aware of the long game and doesn't mind playing it. Kara, on the other hand, is a 'fly in and rescue' sort. She doesn't wait, she acts. That plays out well with this sort of over-confident Supergirl we have seen this season.

And while there can be times when either method are needed (in fact that plays out a bit), these women are a bit entrenched in their style. And the friction that arises when they disagree impacts Alex who loves them both. It gets a little awkward.

I also have to applaud Chyler Leigh as Alex who not only plays the personal moments extremely well but also shows how resourceful she is as an agent. You see why Alex has her position in the DEO.

Lastly, I love that the writers throws long time fans some Easter Eggs. It makes me happy.

On to the episode!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Bullet Review: Justice League Of America #5

I wasn't sure if I was going to collect Steve Orlando's Justice League of America when it was announced. I am sort of a Big 7 sort of a League reader. And when not the Big 7, I like the idea of a legacy league, sort of what James Robinson did with the Dick Grayson Batman, Supergirl, Jessie Quick, Donna Troy model.

But the roster was a bit too interesting for me as a reader to ignore. There were too many characters I like solo to not want to read them as a team. Black Canary? Killer Frost? Vixen? I mean seriously! Even the presence of Batman and Lobo couldn't deter me from trying the book out.

The first arc had the team fight The Extremists, a group of villains committed to creating an orderly society, even if the means to that end are evil. The latest issue has them mobilizing to fight a group of villains trying to bring about total chaos. That is an interesting hook.

There is also a ton of character arcs for these heroes. Can Vixen lead a team with Batman as a member? Can Killer Frost redeem herself from her villainous past? Can Lobo be reined in? Where does Canary fit in? It has been a very enjoyable read so far.

But the last issue had two small moments worth showcasing, important for this blog.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Review: Action Comics #978

Action Comics #978 came out last week and basically could have been named 'the history of Superman'. With the merging of the lives of the New 52 Superman and the pre-Flashpoint Convergence Superman, there is a whole new timeline. And unlike past reboots where either things started from scratch or the reader was left to their own devices to figure out the past, this time DC lays the whole thing out in front of us.

Writer Dan Jurgens started this run through history last issue where Superman asks Kelex to replay his history. We got flashbacks to Krypton and Smallville then. Here, with artist Carlo Barberi, we get the Man of Steel's early life in Metropolis and all the main adventures up to now. It is a bit of a clip show. We don't get much of a new plot moving forward. But this cements that much of the pre-New 52 Superman mythos has survived. As with last issue, it is clear that Geoff Johns' Superman Secret Origin mini is the template.

I have to applaud Jurgens for doing this right. I had a lot of questions about how the lives of the 'Smiths' in Hamilton could be folded into the main timeline where Lois and Clark still work at the Planet. Somehow, Jurgens is able to pull it off.

Barberi has a snappy art style that works well. In particular, the Lois/Clark moments (and there are a lot of them) are fantastic.

On to the book.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Review: Supergirl Being Super #3

Supergirl Being Super #3 came out this week and was a very good issue of this coming-of-age story by Mariko Tamaki and Joelle Jones. The Kara of this book is working through some common issues that crop up in adolescence - that feeling of otherness and perhaps your first dealings with grief. This issue continues to cultivate those themes but adds the new theme, the lure of belonging.

Now I'll admit I am just about 3 decades north of adolescence. But the book is written so well, the images so compelling, that I felt back in that space. And my 'otherness' of Math Club, D&D, and comics is probably nothing compared to some feelings of isolation that others are dealing with. Still, to see Kara sort of walk through her life, reeling from the death of her friend, feeling a bit numb, and getting support from her family and other friends felt very real.

In fact, if there is one thing that really stood out about this issue it is the support structure in Kara's life. She knows she is an alien. She has never felt like she truly belonged. She has struggled sometimes with wondering what she should do with her powers, use them or hide them. And despite all that, it is made abundantly clear that she is accepted and loved by her closest relationships. It is unconditional. And that was wonderful. Because it would have been easy to portray the Danvers as 'stuck in the mud', stereotypical, close-minded folk. Instead, Tamaki gives us the absolute reverse.

The subplot of the 'evil coach' and the possibility of another Kryptonian survivor comes to a boil here as well. Tamaki gives us a very nice curve ball here, zigging where I thought the plot would zag. And that always makes me happy.

Finally, Joelle Jones art, as always, is just wonderful. There is a nuance to the art here, subtle expressive work and body language that adds tremendous volume to the proceedings. This book is as much Jones' as it is Tamaki's.

On to the book!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Comic Box Commentary 9th Anniversary

Over 9 years ago, I created a blog called Comic Box Commentary with the plan to cover all the comics that I was enjoying at the time.

Then 9 years ago tomorrow I realized the canvas was too big and decided to be a bit more focused.

Hence the vaguely titled Comic Box Commentary became Supergirl Comic Box Commentary. And that is the origin of my terrible blog name. I suppose I should have simply started anew. But I didn't think about it that much.

How long would I do this? How often would I do this? Would I find it creatively rewarding (the reason I started it to begin with)?

Turns out, yes it is creatively rewarding. I would be posting often and for a long time.

How people found this place I'll never know.

And so today I celebrate my 9th anniversary the usual way I do - by thanking everyone who stops by, reads my comic reviews, and deals with my ramblings. I love the community of Supergirl fans who come here and the dialogue that occurs. So let me give you a round of applause. I deeply appreciate you all for visiting. In particular, I congratulate those of you who read my long reviews!

I have become friends with so many people because of this site as well. From podcasts to con meet-ups to sending each other comic stuff, it is such a fantastic group that I am honored to be included in!

Lastly, it is hard to believe how far the character has come during those 9 years! I started this site because I didn't like how Supergirl was being portrayed in the comics at the time. I also wanted to highlight her oft-forgotten history. Now she is everywhere!

So I'm raising the virtual glass of champagne to everyone! Thanks for being part of this place!

Happy Anniversary!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

General Zod On The Supergirl Show

The news hit the internet last week that General Zod has been cast for the Supergirl finale and that Mark Gibbon has been cast. Here is a link to Supergirl.TV's coverage:

I shouldn't be surprised by crazy responses to things these days but a portion of Supergirl critics and fans of the show had a bit of a meltdown. Would Zod be a Superman villain fighting Supergirl? Would there be room for another villain in a show which already has Cadmus and Queen Rhea?? And why take time away from a Supergirl show with someone clearly more associated with Kal?

But I think there is a simple answer. I think his role is going to be little more than a cameo.

That is because from the beginning I have said that there is going to more to come from this Legion  ring so prominently displayed in the show.

And that makes me think my prediction about Mon-El is going to come true.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Supergirl Show Episode 218: Ace Reporter

Supergirl episode 218, title 'Ace Reporter', aired this week and was a very Kara-centric episode, something which has been a bit lacking recently. We see a lot of Kara Danvers and a little bit of Supergirl. And for me, someone who loves complex characters with some depth, this was phenomenal. Yes, we have a mega-arc going on with Cadmus and Daxam. And yes, those are important.

But I watch the show for Supergirl.So I was thrilled about this. The title Ace Reporter is an appropriate one since the search for truth is a key part of the plot. And one of the things that I have noticed this season is that Supergirl is feeling good about herself lately. She has a swagger that makes me worry that she is heading for a fall. This story also played on that a bit.

But, in some ways, this was just as much a Lena episode as it was a Kara one. Lena has been sort of on the periphery of the show. We learned a lot about her early on in the season and during the 'Luthors' episode. But in many ways she is something of an enigma. We hear that she and Kara are best friends but we haven't really seen how that relationship came about. We see how Lena worries about whether she will descend into the megalomania her family is so well known for. But she is a mystery. Every episode she is in ends with me thinking 'is she a bad guy or a good guy?' We see much more of that up front here. There are some ominous overtones to the arc. And I can't help that there is some foreshadowing to an eventual confrontation between Supergirl and Lena. I have to add that Katie McGrath is stunningly beautiful in this episode.

There is a fine subplot with Winn, James, and Lyra.Mon-El is funny and helpful here. We get a lot of Snapper here. There is a great cliffhanger.

But the main focus is Kara and Lena. And that made for a great episode.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Review: Super-Sons #3

Super Sons #3 came out last week and was another chapter in a fast-paced, fun title. Things really seem to be propelled forward in this story. Not much decompression here. And that frenetic, almost 'short attention span' feel to the stories seems appropriate for the protagonists. Everything happens fast in that time of life.

But this isn't just an action book. Most of the fun here is seeing Jon and Damien interacting. At times I have said that the 'always at odds' relationship that DC has forced on Superman and Batman is adolescent and sophomoric. This plays that up. These characters are adolescents! So seeing them be friends and that at each other's throats makes sense. It plays up how silly the Superman/Batman stuff is these days.

One of the problems with that contrast between the characters is that a writer could have them become more one-dimensional. So writer Peter Tomasi has to keep these interactions feeling fresh. I don't want Jon to always say 'this is crazy I'm calling Dad.' And I don't want Damien to always say 'no, I'm the best. I can handle this.' Part of the fun will be seeing how each influences the other.

The art by Jorge Jimenez is the perfect match for this title. Everything is a little warped and stylized. There is this slight craziness to it which works with the pace of these stories. I love it.

Now this arc involves Kid Amazo and I have to say I feel a little lost in what the villain's powers are. But I am just along for the ride here. It's like a roller coaster. Just grab on and try to take it all in.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Review: Superwoman #9

How do you remake a book that was just made? How do you reboot something which was just booted?

It can't be easy.

But that is what is going on in the Superwoman book. Phil Jimenez idea of Lana being infused with energy from the dead New 52 Superman couldn't exist anymore in the post-Superman Reborn world. And frankly, the first arc of Superwoman ended in such a jumbled, over wordy, preachy, and confusing manner that maybe erasing that and semi-starting fresh makes sense. I know I am trashing the prior arc but the truth is I enjoyed the opening chapters. It just all seemed to lose its way.

Superwoman #9 has the difficult task of somehow continuing the title, building on some of what has come before, all while trying to explain away the inconsistency of the recent past. Enter writer K. Perkins (of Supergirl Crucible fame) and artists Stephen Segovia and Art Thibert. Can they pull it off?

At least for this first issue, for me, the answer is yes. Instead of immediately trying to explain how Lana had powers, what adventures she has had as Superwoman, and what truly happened, Perkins instead concentrates on who Lana is as a person. The powers and the missions are important, but the character of Lana is the foundation of this book. We need to learn that first.

In Jimenez book, Lana was an extremely complicated character. She was a begrudging hero. She had anxiety issues. She was struggling with the pressure of all aspects of her life. And she was hiding all of this fear from those who loved her. I didn't always like Lana in the book. She seemed to have a hair trigger to lash out at those supporting her. She seemed ashamed of her problems. But always, she eventually tried to rise above. Perkins seems to embrace all of that complexity. Complicated and conflicted characters are always fascinating to read. Indeed there are wonderful bookend moments in this issue.

The art by Segovia and Thibert suits the book nicely. There is a lot of kinetic energy in the action sequences. But the quiet scenes, the conversations between characters, look great with solid expressive work.

On to the book.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Review: Superman #21

Superman #21 came out this week, continuing this arc looking at the World's Finest duo and their sons as well as exploring the mystery of the evil neighbor farmer Cobb. It is a very solid read by creators Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, giving me a ton of stuff to mull over. The finest moments, as usual for this book, my favorite moment is one between Superman and Superboy, Clark giving some home-spun Pa-style wisdom. It is a shame there isn't much for Lois to do here but the bulk of the issue is a battle with a giant squid.

But there is more here. We get a ton of back information about Cobb, more clues to his mystery. I thought for sure he was going to be all about magic given the weird Deadman Swamp issue. But now, it looks like there is a lot of mad scientist in Cobb. I am trying to put together all the clues but right now I am a bit stumped. There is certainly some major 'Watchmen' vibes but I keep hoping that stuff stays at the periphery.

And we learn something about Kathy that made a wacky Anj theory spring into my mind. I thought Kathy was oblivious of her Grandpa's machinations. But now she looks like she smack dab in it.

Gleason's art works very well this issue. The kaiju that shows up and the infantry of the enemy are well done. And the quiet family moments all shine brightly. I have to add that John Kalisz and Hi-Fi bring a bright palette to the proceedings. From a color perspective, this book really sparkles.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

July 2017 Solicits

The July solicits for DC comics came out this week and I have to say, there were a couple of non-Super surprises there which means I might have to moonlight a little to get ready for the summer spending spree. A trade is coming out for the first year of Brian Q. Miller's Steph Brown Batgirl book, a series I ate up like an eclair. And Dolphin is guest starring in Aquaman! And those aren't even my favorite surprise!

And, as seems to be the norm, the super-books continue to look like they are on the right track with solid arcs and great art.

Here is the link on Newsarama for all the books:

And now the super-discussion.

Variant cover by BENGAL
“ESCAPE FROM THE PHANTOM ZONE” part three! Supergirl must quell the maelstrom tearing apart the Phantom Zone, as Batgirl faces down the Phantom King one on one. If they fail, they’ll be lost in the Phantom Zone forever!

Love this cover with Supergirl ripping through the Phantom King-like bandages. I am really happy this is a prolonged Babs/Kara story arc, a way to cement their friendship in this continuity. And hoping that we get a great new understanding of the Phantom Zone.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Review: New Super-Man #10

New Super-Man #10 was a very entertaining issue, stuffing a lot of story and plots into the short 20 page comic. I have been pretty impressed with writer Gene Luen Yang on this book before this issue. He has been able to really get me invested and interested in these new characters.

But this issue gave us a lot to mull over. The main storyline of the Ox-Horse door rings and the portal to Hell comes to a satisfying close. But on top of that, we have more insight into Kenan's powers. We get a nudge in the plot of Dr. Omen and Kenan's father. And I Ching is at the center (or maybe centers) of some mysteries. And, perhaps best of all, it is linked to the Superman Reborn arc. Superman is there and extends a hand to the New Super-Man, a sort of welcoming into the Super-Family. That makes me happy.

The art is done by Viktor Bogdanovic and continues to have compelling visuals. Bogdanovic recently announced he's moving to Superman so this was a sort of teaser. But for me, this issue with hellish domains and giant guardians really sparkled.

Add to that all the usual cultural references of China and you have a very fresh feeling book.

On to the book.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Crisis On Infinite Earths #5 Satellite Scene Redux

Last year, for its 30th anniversary, I did a deep dive into Crisis on Infinite Earths, specifically Supergirl's part in that epic story. Included in those reviews was a look at the famous satellite scene in Crisis on Infinite Earths #5, a tremendous collection of DC characters, brought together on the Monitor's orbiting headquarters. I showcased not only the original scene but also places where it was reshown, crossover issues and one shots. Here is that link:

A side project I am working on has recently had me thumbing through long boxes and looking at a diverse group of back issues. That search included All-Star Squadron back issues. Is was surprised to see the Crisis satellite scene show up in #53 and #54. I didn't recall them being there when I did my review last year and felt I should cover them here for completion sake.

Both issues list Roy and Dann Thomas as writers and Mike Clark, Arvell Jones, Tony DeZunuga and Vince Colletta on art.

The Crisis completely  eliminated Earth 2 and changed the early DC history. I don't envy Roy Thomas for being given the job of rewriting and streamlining that part of continuity. I get the sense that Thomas knew this was something of a last hurrah as we see panels dedicated to the earliest incarnations of heroes including the yellow gloved Earth 2 Aquaman as well as notions about to be obsolete like Earth-S.

DC certainly gave Thomas all the space he needed to wrap it up. All-Star Squadron got 7 Crisis crossovers! Infinity Inc. got 8 crossovers!

But let;s get to that satellite scene!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Review: Action Comics #977

Last week, I gushed ... maybe too much ... about how great Supergirl #8 was.

Settle in. I am about to gush about Action Comics #977.

I have been waiting for Superman to be back track in DC continuity. Yes, I loved Morrison's Action Comics run. Yes, I loved the early Pak/Kuder run in Action Comics. But otherwise, the years since the New 52 have been sort of a drag for Superman fans. It all seemed to reach a terrible critical mass of "Who is this character" in The Truth, when Superman was depowered, out of Metropolis, angry at Lois, riding a motorcycle, and kidnapping and pulverizing super-villains until they obeyed him. That isn't Superman.

It wasn't right.

Which is why I have been thrilled about #Rebirth, a movement which was based on bringing back classic interpretations of characters. The theme has been to move away from deconstruction of these characters and instead to focus on construction instead. Ollie is a socially relevant crusader. Wonder Woman is an ambassador of peace. Supergirl is a young hero on the journey. And Superman is with Lois, a reporter at the Daily Planet, and an inspiration.

That doesn't mean there aren't speedbumps. #Rebirth led to Superman Reborn which made two Superman timelines into one. But the pre-Flashpoint and the New 52 Kal's walked very different paths. The differences need to be reconciled. And while that can be done on a reader-to-reader basis (me figuring out what I want in and out), Action Comics #977 is a sort of primer. It sets the foundation of Superman's origin and beginnings. And that is a good place to start.

Writer Dan Jurgens and artist Ian Churchill do a wonderful job setting the stage, acknowledging the stories from the past, and moving us forward. And we get the beginning of a new villain as well.

I loved this book. And frankly, it was needed.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Review: Supergirl #8

I am on the back side of my forties and occasionally I still get the question 'why do you read comic books?'

I think the next time someone asks me that I am going to shove Supergirl #8 into their hands.

For Supergirl fans, the last dozen years have been an up and down affair. Kara Zor-El was back from being erased from continuity. But she was immature and angsty. But then Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle came along and she was a hero again, a part of the super-family. Then the New 52 happened and we took a step back. She was angry and angsty now. She hated the Earth and shunned her cousin. But then Tony Bedard, K. Perkins, and Mike Johnson came back and suddenly she was a likeable young hero again. Alas, nothing gold can stay and the book was canceled. Then the show hit the airwaves and Kara was in SuperheroGirls and DC realized she should have a book. And we got one with a young, eager hero who embraced her new home and was on a journey. And all seemed well again.

Except one thing ... where was Superman in all this?

Trust me, long time Supergirl fans know the big role Superman has played in Supergirl's life. In the Silver Age, he was like a shadow of doom, willing to hide her away and always ready to exile her from the Earth. But in later years, the two had a very good relationship ... as mentor and student or eventually super-partners.

Since the New 52, most Supergirl fans have been waiting for the two to get back to that sort of loving familial relationship. These two are the last survivors of their world and families. They should want to be part of each other's lives. They shouldn't be angrily avoiding each other. But storylines made it impossible. When Kara was heroic, Superman was Grounded, or powerless and angry, or aloof.

Thankfully writer Steve Orlando fixes all that baggage in one fell swoop. With Superman Reborn behind us, it is time to rewrite history a little and smooth over the rough patches. And so we get Supergirl #8, a book where the cousins hang out together, as family, and love it. But moreover, this isn't a Superman trying to guide Kara. It is a Kal appreciative and proud of all Supergirl has accomplished. She is an ally he will need to rely on. And Kara isn't put off by this. She is thrilled to have dinner, meet Jon, and play with her older cousin.

The art is by Matias Bergara. His style is very reminiscent of Brian Ching's so the book's overall feel remains intact. And some of his expressions and quiet scenes are done in a very charming way.
I can only show the highlights here but I honestly wanted to scan every page. On to the book.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

DC Superhero Girls Lego Videos

I knew that DC Superhero Girls had become a Lego property. And any sort of cross-pollination of these characters into different arenas is appreciated. Heck, think of how much the Lego Batman video games and movies have done to bring DC characters into people's homes.

What I didn't know was that there are Lego DC Superhero Girls videos being produced and available on YouTube. There are a few to watch, most including Supergirl, and they all are a ton of fun.

I thought I'd review one called Trading Places, which showcases Supergirl and is a good introduction to the style of the videos. Here is a link:

 I know I am not the target audience but they are fun. If you enjoy DCSHG or the Lego movies, you probably will get a kick out of these.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

SuperMegaFest And Laura Vandervoort

The spring New England Super Megafest is the unofficial start of my con season. The event is more about celebrities and pop culture than it is about comics. There usually aren't a lot of creators to get sigs from. And commission wants are even rarer.

As a result, it is usually a nice, easy-going day to seek out the few folks I want to see, thumb through some comic boxes, and generally have a non-stress convention experience.

This year was a little different in that the big draw for me was a celebrity. Laura Vandervoort was appearing! Folks hopefully know what a fan I am of hers. She played a strong, proactive, less moping Kryptonian on Smallville, often outshining her more famous cousin. I liked her on V. I thought Elena was a great protagonist on Bitten. And, of course, she was Indigo on last season's Supergirl.

Seriously. How could I not go meet Supergirl?

I got there early enough that I was the first at her table and got to talk a little bit about Smallville and Bitten.

She seemed to agree that Kara having total mastery of her powers made her detract from Kal and so she needed to be sent away. Just think of all they did - amnesia, sent away, and ultimately cast into the future so 'Clark could fulfill his destiny'.

I also talked just for a bit about Bitten.

With no big comic creators to spend my money on, I opted to get a second autograph, this time on Smallville Season 11 #14, a book which spotlighted Kara on the cover. She liked the cover and flipped through the book which was pretty cool too.

I don't often get star-struck but I am pretty sure that my brother who witnessed the interaction would say I was a little bit nervous. Weird. I guess you can take the boy out of the old man, but you can't take the fanboy.

Anyways, I also got some comic signatures from Bob Wiacek.

That means my Uncanny Xmen #171 now has sigs from the main trifecta - Claremont, Simonson, and Wiacek!

Now the big question ... Terrificon or Boston Comic Con or both?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

DC Comics Website Supergirl Page

So the other day I was on the DC Comics main website, mostly to check on what books were coming out the following week. While perusing, I noticed they have 'character' pages available, sort of an electronic Who's Who to give a thumbnail history of a character.

And yes they do have a Supergirl page:

I found it a little interesting that the one picture they have of her has her in the Michael Turner costume from 2004. That is two costumes ago, maybe three if you consider the changes that Jamal Igle made to it back in the day.

But I figured that the Turner picture is somewhat iconic for Kara Zor-El's return to the DCU so maybe I could understand.

Then I read the text ...

Monday, April 10, 2017

Bullet Review: DC Bombshells #25

DC Comics Bombshells #25 came out this week, the print version of the digital first book. As always, this means I am behind the times.

When this book first started, I was completely engaged. We were introduced to the characters. Writer Marguerite Bennett was writing the main characters' arcs in the style of movie genres. And it all came together eventually in a battle over London. After that, perhaps because it wasn't meant to go on, the book seemed to wander a bit. For me, the lack of Diana and Kara in the book was maddening.

Why am I bringing this up?

Well, this issue reminded me of those early issues. I felt something for these characters, for the first time in a while. There were two moments that hit me nicely as a reader. And I definitely like the addition of Rose Wilson and June Moone. Ravager and Enchantress are definitely two of my favorites.

The art is by Aneke. This is the first I have seen of this artist and their style fits the book.

I won't go in depth here. But I felt I should hit on the high points.