Monday, April 23, 2018

Review: Action Comics #1000


Last week was a huge day in Superman history as Action Comics #1000 came out, complete with 10 different variant covers and 10 different stories. One of those was ''The Truth', the first installment by Brian Michael Bendis in his time running the Superman mythos.

I have to say that I loved the issue. Not every story resonated with me. But they all encapsulated who Superman is. I won't review all of them but each vignette leaned into the idea of Superman being a source of truth and justice, a good man trying to help, an inspiration to people everywhere, and beloved. This was my Superman.

Now this won't work for everyone, I'm sure. Some might think it was hokey. Others boring. Others yet unoriginal. But anniversary issues like this ... and this is the biggest anniversary issue of them all so far ... are supposed to be about looking back at the big concepts. And for me, I wanted it to honor all the mythology that came before it.

To put it in other terms, I'm a baseball fan and my favorite baseball movie is The Natural, an almost supernatural story about redemption. That's level is what this issue was. Not Bull Durham or Major League.



I also admit that I splurged and got a bunch of covers. I ordered the limited Artgerm and Tyler Kirkham variants. And at the store I bought the Dan Jurgens, Steve Rude, and Mike Allred covers. 

My favorite is probably the Allred one because he snuck so much Silver Age sweetness onto the cover, including some excellent Supergirl moments.

The plan here will be to look closely at the Bendis story and then touch upon some of the others, so be warned. Spoilers ahead.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Review: Superman #45


I know that Action Comics #1000 came out this week and that is an historic issue that should be first in the review chute.

But before I cover that book and the future of Superman under the reins of Brian Michael Bendis, I feel I had to close the door on the Rebirth/Reborn era of the Superman family. And that means covering Superman #45 by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. And this is an ending. It reads like an ending. And it reads like a metatextual ending as much as a storyline ending.

I said in a recent review, when discussing the ending of this run, that nothing gold can stay. There is some cosmic karma in that Robert Frost run because the team says it here as well. Yes, good things can come of change. Yes, people need to expand their horizons. But it is a shame when something that is still gold is going away.

The Kent family's life is changing. No more Hamilton farm. No more wheat fields. No more country days hanging out with Kathy. It is time to move on.

And this book is changing. No more Tomasi and Gleason leading this family forward. No more stories of father and son, no more mother and son, no more father and mother. This book sold well and was loved. And yet the creative team is being forced out to move on, cleaning up plot threads so 'new owners' can come in to the space.

It has to be both a story and a comment on things.

Thanks again Tomasi and Gleason. I loved this run and I hate to see you go.

On to the book.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Plastic City Comic Con


This weekend I will be heading to a new local con, the Plastic City Comic Con. Here is a link:
http://www.plasticcitycomiccon.com/

This seems like just the sort of low key con I could use right now. It a vendor heavy convention where I will be going to (gasp) thumb through comics and buy them! We finally leaving the doldrums of winter here. We are approaching my 'big con' season. This will be a great place to ease in.

And I am ready! I have heard only very good things about this con. Seems like a 'true' comic convention.

But it isn't all just shopping because a creator whose work I truly enjoy, J.M. DeMatteis, is going to be there as a guest of honor. And I can't wait to meet him.

DeMatteis has a long career with some major works in his oeuvre. Moonshadow, Spider-Man and Kraven's Hunt, JLA (Bwa-ha-ha) are just a couple of his biggest successes.

But I'm me, so I am bringing an eclectic group of books for signatures. And I am hoping he won't be too busy to answer some questions about these works. I will be bringing him  Wings , a little known Elseworlds which came out during the PAD Linda Danvers book.

I wonder if DeMatteis was a fan of that book. Did he pitch this or was it pitched to him? My gut tells me no one cares about this other than me. I wonder how often he gets asked about it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Supergirl Episode 314: Schott Through The Heart


It’s been two months of long hiatus since the last new episode of Supergirl aired. For me, it was a mistake, a lull in the middle of an intense season, it slowed momentum. The season restarted this week with a Winn centric episode which built on the foundation of his character from season one. There are almost no mentions of World Killers or Reign or Purity

In some ways it isn’t the best episode to return with. The main plot is on the back burner for another week. We get no Sam or Ruby. That’s one more week for memories to fade about  the particulars of that plot.

In other ways, it seemed right. We get good character moments from all the main players. Certainly Winn takes center stage.  But there are scenes with J’onn and Alex and James that remind us what we love about them while enriching their stories. And Kara gets great moments both as Suoergirl and Kara Danvers. So no better episode to reintroduce to the cast and remind us what we live about th m.

But also this episode continues the thread of loving and humanity as being a strength for people, not a weakness. I have said all along that Sam’s humanity and hr love for Ruby will win over Reign’s wickedness. That more than punches and heat vision will end the threat. And this episode shows how all the characters are dealing with family obligations and loving responsibility.

The bottom line is this was a fun chapter in this season,  very much a live action comic book with strong emotional beats.

And apologies for clunky writing, rough screen shots and any typos. This review was done on the fly while on a mini-vacation and away from usual tech. Onto the episode!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Review: New Super-Man And The Justice League Of China #22


New Super-Man and the Justice League of China #22 came out last week, ratcheting up the intrigue of the North Korean Aquaman and Kenan's continued struggles with his powers' origins.

I have been a fan of Gene Luen Yang's book since its inception. And current artist Brent Peeples has become more comfortable with the characters as his issues accumulate. But the thing that gets me is that this book has matured quickly. We have gone from a sort of idiot having the mantle of Super-Man thrust on him to a fully functioning super-team with inter-squad relationships and a growing rogue's gallery. Perhaps most surprising, it has never felt too fast or forced. This book has organically grown. And it has been entertaining the whole way through.

While the Aquaman side plot is a good one and brings the plot thrust here, it is Kenan's struggles that really grab me. His quest for balance while being a young kid with super-powers reads true. What happens in this issue makes sense.

I sort of see the writing on the wall. I fear this book is most likely ending soon and that is a shame.

On to the book.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Sales Review: March 2018


The sales numbers for March have come out and things are both fascinating and frustrating. Here is a link to the ICv2 coverage:https://icv2.com/articles/markets/view/40108/top-300-comics-march-2018

For this blog, the big news has been the shelving of the Supergirl title.

'Bendis is Coming!' The landscape of the super-titles will be changed. Supergirl will have a 'new mission'. And it all seems strange when you look at the numbers.

I will also say I realize that sometimes I, as a reader, am impossible to please.

I want Supergirl to be her own hero, having her own adventures.
I want Supergirl to be part of Superman's life but not too much. If she isn't in his books or mentioned in his books I am unhappy. But I don't think his books or life should dictate her series.

And it is probably tough to satisfy all those things. If she wasn't impacted by whatever is happening in Superman's books, I wouldn't be happy. And yet, here she is impacted and I'm not happy.

Surely there can be some happy medium. If Batgirl and Red Hood and Batwoman and Nightwing can all somehow have their own titles *and* be part of the Batman books, it can be done!

So on to the sales!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Review: Supergirl #20


Supergirl #20 came out this week, the last issue of this volume of the title, the last issue of the Rebirth era, the last issue for writer Steve Orlando who has been here since the beginning.

It is painful to write that.

I have written too many times on this site that DC seems to pull the plug on Supergirl titles just when they are cresting creatively. And that is so true here. Since the end of the Phantom Zone storyline, Orlando and current co-writer Jody Houser have really tightened up this book, bringing us a fantastic Kara who is trying to improve the world around her, helping people while she learns about Earth. And artists Robson Rocha and Dan Henriques have brought such compelling and gorgeous art. Everything was working, the book was selling well with Artgerm variants; DC cancels.

But I am not here to curse the darkness. I am here to light a candle.

This is a wonderful ending issue, doing what last issues should do. It wraps up the ongoing DEO storyline very quickly; it has to. It puts the character in a very good place for whatever comes after. And it shows utter respect to the character.

But there are plenty of things not finished. Things I would have loved to read. There had to be more planned for Ben Rubel. There had to be more for Belinda Zee. There had to be more for the Danvers. We hadn't seen Cat Grant in months. Those are all threads that probably won't be seen again. Much like the unwritten threads for Sterling Gates and K. Perkins/Mike Johnson, or the ninth grade with Landry Walker and Eric Jones, I will always wonder what could have been.

I can honestly say that this has been a wonderful run for Supergirl. I wish there was more time. On to this book.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Mon-El Costume Change!


Some pictures have been leaked of Supergirl episode 314 and in it Mon-El is in a much more familiar costume and this Legion fan is pretty thrilled. Here is a link:
https://www.cbr.com/supergirl-monel-comics-accurate-costume/

One of the things that strikes me is that I am honestly in a golden age of my fandom. If you asked me what are the two properties that have spanned my lifelong love of comics it would be Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes. Heck, I run a fan site for one and contribute to a fan site for the other!

And now I live in a time where Supergirl and the Legion are right there on screen.

While I didn't mind the black Legion stealth costumes that the members have sported on this show, this comic accurate costume is fantastic. Just embrace it. And I like the subtle S-Shield pentagon sewn into the shirt. Awesome.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Back Issue Box: Justice League Unlimited #7



With regular super-books either cancelled or on hiatus as we await the coming of Bendis, I have been dipping into the back issues for comics to cover. As usual, I try to tap into some zeitgeist when I review older stories. And there has been a confluence of events that made me revisit Justice League Unlimited #7.

For one, it was Jack Kirby's 100th year birthday this year, resulting in a ton of Kirby stuff hitting the market. Whether it was the Allred's Bug mini, the Kamandi Challenge, or the ongoing and critically acclaimed Mr. Miracle by Tom King and Mitch Gerads, there is more Kirby specific books on the rack now than ever.

Then the news that a New Gods movie was going to go into production with Ava DuVernay behind the director's chair broke.

And then, Supermates Chris and Cindy Franklin started up the JLU cast looking at the Justice League animated show. Find it here: http://fireandwaterpodcast.com/show/jlucast/

With all that happening, it seemed like this issue with Supergirl embroiled in Fourth World war while learning a lesson about family seemed due for a thorough review. There is a lot of action and a lot of emotional heft to this story told in an all ages book. So sit back and enjoy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

DC Nation #2 Supergirl Headline


We all have been waiting for news about Supergirl after the explosion of Brian Michael Bendis' arrival.

Of course, no news has led to the usual concerns of lack of a new book, being pushed aside, or headlining a team book.

Well, the slightest hint came out the other day, from C2E2. At a panel, DC revealed the covers for the upcoming DC Nation magazine. And if you squint close enough at the cover, you'll see a tease. Here is a link to Bleeding Cool's brief coverage on the magazine.
https://www.bleedingcool.com/2018/04/05/sneak-peek-dc-nation-1-2/

So what about Supergirl? Well, it looks like we'll need to wait until July 4th to get some news. Of course, by then, Man of Steel will have ended.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Supergirl Poster Post-Hiatus


It is hard to believe ... and it seems inexcusable ... but the last new episode of Supergirl dropped on  February 5th. That's two months ago!

This season of Supergirl has been very strong, mixing action with DC Easter Eggs and overarching themes of humanity and caring and being 'alien'. I have been impressed with the writing and have been eagerly awaiting each new episode.

So it seemed a little bit strange for the CW to shove this 8 week hiatus on us.

There was never a clear explanation.

Was it because Black Lightning was on the air and CW had some rule about only having 5 super-hero shows on the air at one time? If yes, why shelve Supergirl? Why not DCLOT?

Was it because the casting out of Andrew Kreisberg set the show back a bit?

Was it simply that the episodes weren't done?

Who knows.

What it did do is slow down the momentum the show had going on. Everything was clicking. Two months later will people still care?

So I was very very happy to see this new 'poster' make it on to social media this last weekend. Caring the appropriate line 'Miss me?', it has Melissa Benoist striking a very iconic pose, standing amid ash and smoke.

Yes Melissa ... yes CW ... yes Kara ... we have!!!

One more week!

If they made this into an actual poster and someone has access to an extra, please send it my way!!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Review: Superman #44


Superman #44 came out this week, the second to last issue for the Rebirth team of Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason and the final part of the Bizarroverse storyline. And, befitting of a story set on Bizarro world, it is an odd mix of crazy backwards fun as well as some gut-wrenching emotional scenes. That is a hard and fine line to walk and be successful but somehow Tomasi and Gleason pull it off. I have said it before but I will say it again. I will miss these two on a Superman book. They have really done something special here.

In the book, from the insane side, we see backwards sound effects, reverse versions of super heroes and villains, and the usual backwards speak which needs to be deciphered to get the point.

From the emotional side, we see that this Bizarro isn't an imperfect duplicate. He is the exact opposite. He doesn't save his adopted planet. He doesn't love his family. He doesn't like helping people. He isn't the goofy nuisance I grew up with. He isn't exactly a menace. But he is so self-absorbed, he is utterly unlikable. That isn't Superman. And this loathsome nature plays out on the page in a heartbreaking way.

I also think this book continues to stoke my idea that this is a backdoor pilot for a Young Justice or even a Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes book.

The art is by Doug Mahnke who has frequently assisted Tomasi and Gleason. Mahnke's stuff is always crisp and beautiful. Here, some pages are inked by Jaime Mendoza who brings a sparser feel to the proceedings.


And we start out with this fabulous cover of the Super-Foes facing off against the Legion of Fun. This team face-off book is a classic comic trope, seen on countless issues. But for me it always harkens back to the Secret Origins of Super-Villains treasury.

On to the book!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Laurel Gand's Origins in Legion of Super-Heroes #9


It feels a little like Legion week here at Comic Box Commentary. And I am doing a bit of self-plagiarism today, reposting a review I did over on the Legion of Super-Bloggers to cover Laurel Gand and her origins. 

I have been thinking about Laurel a lot these days. With Superman being rethought (not rebooted apparently) by Brian Michael Bendis, the future of Supergirl is a bit amorphous right now. It sort of reminds me of the Byrne era where Supergirl was removed from continuity. I doubt DC will be doing that now ... but who knows where this will all shake out for Kara.

With Supergirl removed by the Crisis, the Legion had something of a hole in their history. Creator Keith Giffen with Tom and Mary Bierbaum recreated Supergirl to fill that void in the character of Laurel. There are many overlapping origin points. Their powers are similar. Their relationships are similar. And Laurel is pretty cool.

Over on the Fire and Water Who's Who Podcast, the team of Rob and Shag talked about Laurel this week when reviewing her Who's Who page. It made me think of Laurel and her story once more. Realizing I had not reviewed it here, recognizing that it has enough Supergirl stuff in it to make it a worthy post, and also sensing the time was right to look once more at a reimagining of the character, I have decided to post the review of Legion of Super-Heroes #9 here. Hope that's okay. And it is reposted in total so bear with me. New content will be in blue. The old review will be in black.

Read below for the story.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Supergirl Show Renewed


I know it doesn't come as much of a big surprise but it was announced earlier this week that Supergirl (as well as almost every other show on the CW) has been renewed for another season. Here is the coverage over on Variety:
http://variety.com/2018/tv/news/riverdale-jane-the-virgin-arrow-flash-supernatural-renewed-cw-1202741489/

There isn't much more to say. Here is a list of the shows renewed. I was glad to see Black Lightning listed as coming back. And my daughter and I list DCLOT as a guilty pleasure so I am very happy to see that survive the axe.

The CW has renewed 10 of its current series, the network announced Monday.
The renewed series are: “Arrow” (Season 7), “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (Season 4), “Legends of Tomorrow” (Season 4), “The Flash” (Season 5), “Jane the Virgin” (Season 5), “Riverdale” (Season 3), “Supergirl” (Season 4), and “Supernatural” (Season 14). In addition, freshman shows “Black Lightning” and “Dynasty” have been picked up for second seasons.



This season for Supergirl has been exceptionally strong. Between the Earth X crossover, the delightful Midvale flashback episode, the inclusion of the Legion, and the threat of Reign, this season has had compelling stories and character arcs. I have really been following closely the 'being human and having feelings equals weakness' theme which has been running through the episodes. As I have said before, Sam's feelings for Ruby will be Reign's undoing proving that being human is a strength.

Yes, the Mon-El romance (especially coupled with the arranged wedding with Imra) has been a bot forced. But otherwise this show has been very strong. So I am thrilled the show team is getting rewarded with another season.

Hooray for us as Supergirl fans! Four season of live action! Incredible! 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Back Issue Review: Superboy And The Legion Of Super-Heroes #256


We are still a couple of weeks away from new Supergirl show episodes. And we are still completely in the dark about Supergirl in the comics. Will there be a new series coming out of the Man of Steel event? Is DC just pulling the plug?

And with no Superman book on the shelf last week, I thought I would thumb through the back issues for a review. And with Brainiac 5 playing a role in the show, I thought I would take a day to look at a Brainy-centric story. So today I will look at Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #256.

One of the more interesting aspects of Brainy's character is his somewhat unstable mental condition. Whether it is obsession or social awkwardness or outright occasional malevolence, he has always walked a fine line. He has created Computo, an evil computer intelligence, and has tried over and over to look back at that programming and hope to rehabilitate it. He created Omega, a being fueled by the hate of the universe, with which he hoped to eradicate all life. And he has mourned and nearly dipped into madness with grief after Kara died. Please note that linked review was one of the first issues I ever reviewed here.

Even on the show, we have seen Brainy be a little distracted and a little awkward and even a little brusque with people. At times this comes off as narcissism or overconfidence. But you also get the sense he is simply shy and sort of bad with human interaction.

With all that in the mix, I thought this was a good issue to review.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Amethyst Comic Box Commentary



Frustration.
It is a terrible feeling.
But that is what I have been feeling.

I had been putting together posts to celebrate my 10th anniversary of blogging at the end of this month and kept seeing repeating themes.

DC puts out an angry, angsty Supergirl.
Later, they realize this is wrong and put on a new creative team with a new direction.
Book flourishes and fans are happy.
DC cancels the book.

It has happened again. The current Supergirl book is great and it is selling well. It is creator hubris which is forcing DC to cancel it this time. I can't live through it again.

And I realized that maybe 10 years is enough time to cover one character. Maybe it is time for a fresh start. Maybe it was time to start writing about some other character? Maybe it was time to say goodbye to Supergirl.

And that is when I had a gem of an idea. Amethyst Comic Box Commentary. Why not cover another young female hero struggling to find life while living in two worlds! I've always loved the character. Now it is time to shine a light on her!

So I'm glad you found the site!

And what better opening post than to review her first appearance ever in the Amethyst Princess of the Gemworld Prevue story which was embedded in Legion of Super-Heroes #298.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Action Comics #1000 Supergirl Covers



It's truly amazing how quickly the comic landscape can change.

To think, just a couple of months ago I was complaining that DC was putting out 4 Super-books in the same week.

And now, this week, there isn't one super-book on the shelves! The arrival of Brian Michael Bendis is the equivalent of a creative earthquake, shaking everything up. Add to that the delay for Action Comics #1000 and you have a week without a super-family book.

It's kind of sad. Everything really seemed to be clicking, didn't it?

Of course, Action Comics reaching 1000 issues is a truly historical event in comics. And DC is taking full advantage of it by pumping out variant covers which are available not only at comic stores but also at specific companies.

And I reluctantly admit that I ordered a couple. First from Buy Me Toys (http://buymetoys.com/catalog/) is this Artgerm variant selling for $14.99. How could I refuse such a great cover showing the super-cousins in flight together. They are super-iconic in their pose. I love that Supergirl's costume is a shade brighter blue than Superman's. I just love it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Justice League Action: Keeping Up With The Kryptonians



I haven't had much opportunity to blog about Justice League Action but I will say unabashedly that I love the show. It is the perfect mix of deep cuts, outright fun, and super-hero action. I am always happy to see when the DVR has a new episode to watch.

And I finally was able to sit down and watch "Keeping Up With The Kryptonians", a sort of send-up of Elseworlds, angsty Supergirl, the Twilight Zone, and (of course) Keeping up with the Kardashians.

This is about as stellar an episode that I have seen. It showcases Supergirl and Superman of course. But it also shows how much of a family they are. And we don't see enough of that in mainstream media ... or even the comics. So for that alone it is pretty special.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Review: Superman #43


Superman #43 came out last week, the penultimate issue of the fantastic run that creators Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason have blessed us with over the last couple of years. Yes, this wasn't perfect. But when compared to the odd early days of the New 52, the odious Lobdell years, the depowered Yang years, this has been (with Dan Jurgens' Action) a big upgrade. This was an enjoyable, modern but classic take on the Man of Steel. And goodness knows, I needed it.

As I have said elsewhere, Brian Michael Bendis has big shoes to fill. Unlike prior reboots made necessary by the lackluster stories which preceded them, Bendis is coming on board when most Superman fans (and Supergirl fans and Super Sons fans) are not only happy ... but buying the books.

Tomasi and Gleason are sending us off on a high point. The Bizarroverse arc has been a hoot. I love how Superman can inspire the most backwards of beings. And somehow Tomasi and Gleason have figured out a version of Bizarro speak that I can decipher without getting a headache. Plus, I get the sense we got a sneak peek at where the Sons will end up.

And Gleason nails it on art here.

Nothing gold can stay.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Bullet Review: Batman #43



This is going to seem like a silly review. I don't normally buy the Batman solo book. But I have been impressed with Tom King's work just about everywhere else. I loved his two parter with Superman. So it has become something of an impulse buy. In the end, I wonder if it should just move to the pull list.

Add to that my reading, with great interest, the conversation about his treatment of Poison Ivy in this latest arc. I thought my passion about Supergirl was rabid but it pales in comparison to some of the  Ivy lovers out there. They are a vocal group with strong feelings about their favorite character. And they weren't happy. So that piqued my interest even more.

So what made this be pushed over into bullet review territory? Well for one, Supergirl has a role in this book, albeit a silent one. She is there in the background. And the art is by Mikel Janin. I love Janin's art and think he would be great on a Supergirl book. Who knows when (or if) he would be drawing her again! So I thought maybe I would share just for that.

But more than that, there is a moment in this book, an homage to a prior story, that is just so perfect that I needed to talk about it here. And even better, that homage tangentially involves Supergirl!

King is really firing on all cylinders these days. And the art in this book is just lush, especially the Ivy-centric pages.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Review: Super Sons #14

 Super Sons #14 came out this week and very nicely ended the Mother's Day story in which Talia Al Ghul tries to lure Damian back to the dark side. I was very impressed with this arc as it both answered the much asked question 'Where is Talia in all this?' as well as pushing forward the characterization of both of the titular sons. As I have said in the past, the friction and differences between Jon and Damian is such fertile ground for story-telling. Writer Peter Tomasi definitely knows how to mine it!

The thing that I have liked about this is how both Jon and Damian are being influenced and inspired by the other. They come in as Batman and Superman writ small. But I wonder if this friendship and this mingling of ideas during adolescence is what is missing from the Bruce/Clark friendship. They met later on in life and in heroing career. It is, as they say, harder to teach an old dog new tricks. But here when we see Damian's rough edges being sanded down by Jon's optimism, or Jon bending the rules when necessary when nudged by Damian ... well it all works.

Carlo Barberi and Art Thibert really bring a dynamic and definitely youthful feel to the book, with zany expressions and great, sorta anime, qualities. So that jibes well too.

In the end, it just reminds me how sad it is that this book is ending.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

June 2018 Solicits


The June solioits for DC Comics have been released and it is a big month for Superman fans. Finally the Bendis era takes over. Here is a link to all the solicits:
https://www.newsarama.com/39119-dc-comics-june-2018-solicitations.html

I just don't know what to think about this whole upheaval of Superman. I suppose this is what I was feeling in 1987 when Byrne completely uprooted and replanted the entire mythos. In the end, I was pretty happy with Byrne reinvigorating the property. But much of that was I felt the stories had become tepid before he took over. Right now I feel we are in a Renaissance for the Superman and his family.  So now seems like an odd time to blow things up. And this is my biggest concern. After years of suffering, we finally had a Superman I could read and enjoy. Will this be a step back?

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Review: New Super-Man And The Justice League Of China #21


New Super-Man and the Justice League of China #21 came out last week, continuing the story of the North Korean Aquaman while bolstering the subplots and characterization of the team. I have said before that I am somewhat surprised that this book avoided the axe that culled Supergirl and Super Sons from the rack. But I am happy I still get to read it because it is a ton of fun.

Gene Luen Yang continues to walk a nice tightrope here between fun teen superhero book with a cocky lead and a decent dive into Asian culture. Between Korean mythology, a look at China as an open and sorta westernized country, and Kenan juggling two love interests, this books continues to sizzle. I am pretty amazed at the changes in tone and depth of the stories here all while maintaining something of a consistent feel. How is that possible?

Brent Peeples remains on art and seems to grow with each issue. I have enjoyed his take on giant crustacean kaiju as well as his stealthier ninja scenes. Everything seems silkier here, more polished.

All this said, I think I am starting to see the writing on the wall in solicit announcements that we might be nearing the end of this book. So enjoy it while you can.

On to the book!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Review: The Krypton Chronicles #3



The SyFy premiere of Krypton airs tonight, a show looking back at Superman's grandfather and the politics of Krypton in the years before its destruction. In preparation for that I have been reviewing The Krypton Chronicles, a miniseries from 1981 in which Superman learns about his lineage.

I have reviewed the first two issues here and here. Today I review Krypton Chronicles #3, the final episode which has Superman going all the way back to the first person the adopt the last name of El. The first two issues were on Rokyn, providing us with a decent side plot to help break up the ancestry information dump. This issue is much more exposition based with Superman just looking backwards and reporting what he finds.

I have enjoyed this mini-series more that I remembered. It is fun to get these tangential looks at Krypton culture as well as this deep dive into the El family. I also love that Supergirl is involved in all three issues. She is an El as well and should be part of this research mission.

So who was the first El? Jump in!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Review: Action Comics #999


Action Comics #999 came out this last week and reminded me of the days when you would watch a car's odometer slowly turn over some huge number. We are on the cusp of Action Comics #1000, a mega-accomplishment which brings with it a new, bold direction. We have all seen the 'Bendis is Coming!' ads. I have had waxing and waning optimism about Bendis' run. I am approaching the future with some trepidation.

But we are here to talk about Action Comics #999. This is writer Dan Jurgens' swan song. Yes, a Luthor centric special is in the works. But this is Jurgens goodbye to running the comic and guiding the Man of Steel. After a prolific run which has now spanned 3 decades, this could honestly be Jurgens' goodbye to the character. And as a result, I am looking at this issue like a funeral mass. I was sad going in, hoping to celebrate the creators and this run while also being sad that they'll be gone. For me, since Rebirth, I have had a Superman that reads right, that feels right, and that I have enjoyed. And I haven't been able to say that often these last many years.

And this issue is a bit of pure Superman. He is looking for truth and justice. He isn't cruel. He wants to inspire and bring people together. And we see a lot of that here.

We also get Will Conrad on art. There is a fair amount of realism here. The bulk of this issue are conversation scenes that are heavy with emotion and Conrad does a great job bringing us those beats.

But this is a turning point for the creators, for the comics, and for a couple of characters. On to the book.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Review: Supergirl #19


Supergirl #19 came out this week and has a 'very special issue' feel to it as it covers a current social issue, gender identity and individuals identifying as non-binary. For those of a certain age, the 'very special' designation was assigned to television episodes or specials which were supposed to be about a more real topic, in hopes of educating and spurring on discussion. Whether it was after-school specials about teen pregnancy or Saved by the Bell covering drug use or Superman teaching us about the perils of drunk driving, these stories are part of the cultural landscape.

And so this issue concentrates on Lee, a new character, non-binary, and how Supergirl helps Lee. We see how Lee has been coping with issues at home and school. And we see how Supergirl can empathize and be there as a source of hope and inspiration. Supergirl is an ally, befriending, defending, understanding, and being there.  And, in the end, everything ends well. Maybe too well? It feels a little too easy, a little too pat, a little too quick. But when you only have 20 pages and you are only dedicating one issue to the story, things have to happen and fast. 

I certainly don't mind issues like this or this issue in particular. I'm still learning about this stuff myself and could use all the education I can get. But this is a volume of Supergirl which is ending next month. We have a lot of Kara's story to wrap up. Who knows if we are getting another Supergirl title book any time soon. So I just wish there was more time and space to deal with our title character which would mean an entire issue given to a character we have never heard of before and may never hear about again was a nice stand-alone story in the bigger epic. That said, with the impending ending, maybe the creative team felt this was their only chance to produce this story.

Writers Steve Orlando and Vita Ayala give Lee a unique voice and bring the emotions nicely. I care about these characters. There is a great callback to Supergirl's history. But I'll say again, things feel a bit rushed. I was glad to see that we still got some momentum on the lingering plotlines of Supergirl and the DEO.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sales Review: Supergirl #18



The news about the Super-titles came hard and fast recently with the announcement that Supergirl and Super Sons were being canceled. There wasn't much news outside of that. It seems obvious that this is being done to clear the way for Brian Michael Bendis and the realignment of the Superman books. But it feels like throwing out the baby with the bath water. And the sales numbers for last month seem to bear that out. Head to ICv2:https://icv2.com/articles/markets/view/39871/top-300-comics-february-2018

It is not as if any of the super-titles aren't selling well. But let's take a look.


Supergirl #18 continued to arc of Supergirl on the run from the DEO and this time fighting the Evolutionist. I have thought this book has been on fire since the end of the Fatal Five arc. Things are tighter and the story and art is phenomenal.

It also sported this tremendous Artgerm variant cover, the '5 seconds later' cover to the iconic Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #1 cover, right down to the logo, the 'electrifying issue' blurb, and the painted cityscape. It's beautiful and playful and sexy and reverential of the source material. This had to be a draw.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Back Issue Box: The Krypton Chronicles #2

The SyFy series Kryton is going to start in about a week and with that in mind I decided to review The Krypton Chronicles, a look at the history of the El family, published in 1981.

This is a great series to review all the minutiae of Krypton lore and Superman's ancestors in one sitting. What is clear to me after reading this is that Superman comes from an amazing family as it seems every generation has had some member which ultimately changed the destiny of the planet.

Krypton Chronicles #2 has us look even farther back as we get to see several of Superman's ancestors explore the planet, develop to most rudimentary of tools, and lead a movement to free the planet from other worldly oppressors. Seriously, the Els get stuff done.

What I like about these first two issues is that they aren't just historical flashbacks. There is a subplot taking place in the current time, an enemy trying one again to thwart one of the super-cousins. As we move along, you'll see why this holds a special place in my heart.

Last week I reviewed the first issue.  So let's move on to this one.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Maguire Supergirl Art In Bendis' Man Of Steel (Plus Some Ivan Reis)


The news about Brian Michael Bendis' Superman run is starting to ooze out a bit and more and more it seems like Supergirl will have a role in it and that makes me happy.  The latest was tweeted out by DC on their instagram profile.

It shows Superman and Supergirl flying over the city, battling whoever the big bad of Superman Man of Steel is.

Whoever he is, he's big and he wields a pretty mean axe.

How great to see the cousins in action together.


The official instagram post doesn't add too much more to the conversation. But given this is Maguire, we can assume it is in Man of Steel #4.

Maguire has tweeted out the image and said it is a double page spread which makes me think this is really going to pop off the page!


Further news came out over on Bleeding Cool when this image of the six covers to Man of Steel are now joined by a tagline that "Superman's past has come to destroy his future!' Here is the link!
https://www.bleedingcool.com/2018/03/11/supermans-past-destroy-future-bendis/

So somehow this villain is around for the destruction of Krypton? Responsible for it? Maybe he is seeking revenge because Krypton's destruction somehow effected him? Energy/debris from Krypton landed on his world and killed people there?

Hmmm ... what if Kryptonite kills other races with the rapidity it kills Kryptonians?


Just looking closer that the individual covers, I really love this one with Supergirl and Superman streaking into action. And look ... red trunks!!!!

Love it!



This one also stood out.

Bendis has said all along that he isn't going to destroy and rewrite Superman's past. He is building on it.

This cover makes me think he means it.

After all ...


It looks like the cover to Grant Morrison's Action Comics #5. 

Anyways, I really hope Supergirl plays a big role in the story. And I hope she gets a book of her own after the dust settles.

Monday, March 12, 2018

DC Black Label



As the financial aspect of comic continues to be in flux, I have to commend DC for trying to branch out. We have the main line. We have DC Ink. We have DC Zoom aimed at young adults. We have Jinxworld from Brian Bendis. And now we have DC Black Label, a line which has hinted at being the 'R-Rated' adult line of classic characters.

Here is the blurb about the line from Entertainment Weekly:
http://ew.com/books/2018/03/08/dc-black-label-imprint-all-star-creators/

While the Wonder Woman projects sound promising (Kelly Sue DeConnick and Phil Jimenez!), I am underwhelmed, maybe even saddened a bit by the Superman project. Here is that description ripped right from the article.

Frank Miller, who forever redefined Batman with classic ’80s comics like The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One, will finally tackle the Man of Steel in Superman: Year One alongside artist John Romita Jr. Together, they will give “a groundbreaking, definitive treatment” of Superman’s origin in honor of the character’s 80th anniversary this year (one of many celebrations DC is planning for the milestone). That one is due out in August. 

I haven't liked a Miller project since '300'. I think the last project I truly loved by him was Batman Year One, although some Sin City projects veer close. And I don't really like Romita Jr.'s art style. So while Miller/Romita Jr. might sound good on paper, for Superman fans, I don't know if it works.

Plus, do I really need an R-Rated Frank Miller Superman? Will he be a government dupe like in Dark Knight? Working the docks like some thug in Sin City?

So, I'm out. Don't expect reviews here.


While I understand this diversification. And, in fact, I applaud it.

I do have to wonder about the person walking into Barnes and Noble or heading to Amazon looking to buy a book for someone. Will they be able to tell which is the right version? Will this diluted and varied experience lead to further confusion? Or more streamlined buying from savvy readers.

Thinking about Wonder Woman, there'll be the main line, the DC Zoom books, the DeConnick/Jimenez Black Label Wonder Woman Historia book, Wonder Woman Earth One, the recent Jill Thompson version, the DeLiz Legend of the Wonder Woman. Whew ... I don't know if a book store employee or someone typing Wonder Woman into a search window will know which version fits their mold. Will the real origin please stand up!


I suppose this is the whole point of this exercise. Why not let people find the Wonder Woman they want. I know that I'll sample the DeConnick book hoping it veers more to classic DC than, let's say, Bitch Planet. But I'm not the audience for a Bitch Planet book. So why should those Diana fans be denied.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Review: Superman #42


Superman #42 came out this week and completely reminded me why Superman fans have been blessed over these last couple of years since Rebirth. This was a great issue. And sadly, as many have pointed out, it is near the end of this tremendous run by the creative team of Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. Hello Brian Michael Bendis. Goodbye to this title and the love it has shown the Man of Steel.

Tomasi and Gleason have given us a loving Kent family with Clark, Lois, and Jon. They have given us great small town stories and a supporting cast. And they have had these characters act the way they should act. Lois is smart and funny and cunning. Superman is strong and immutable and craves justice. Jon is young and impetuous but recognizes his parents as the role models they should be, even if he challenges them now and then.

So why not have the last storyline before they leave the title turn all that on it's head by visiting the backwards world of Bizarro. And why not really reflect on their run by making this issue mirror Superman #1 in very palpable way. I'll post comparisons at the end of the review. Trust me, it is incredible.

And Gleason really knocks it out of the park artwise, giving us the insane action of the Bizarro World while harkening back.

It all makes me thankful that this run exists. Because Superman had been suffering for a long time. And Tomasi and Gleason gave us a ... well ... a Rebirth. On to the book.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Kotobukiya ArtFX Statue


Seems like over the last year I preordered a number of Supergirl merchandise, slowly paying them down here and there. Oddly enough, two of those pieces have come in nearly at the same time. So after just showcasing the Icon Heroes statue for the shrine, I find myself featuring this Kotobukiya ArtFX statue.

This is a really fun statue. It’s based on the Melissa Benoist Supergirl. It is a very good likeness of her.

But this statue comes with three sets of arms so you can decide on the pose you like.


You can see the poses on the back of the box. Hands on hips? Arms down? Arms crossed?

It was hard to chose.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Legion Five Years Later Post Cards


The midseason forced hiatus of the Supergirl show has been maddening. I am going to be honest.

I have been missing the adventures of Kara, her fight with Reign, and the Legion of Super-Heroes being live and in action on the small screen. In particular, Supergirl comic fans are waiting for things to heat up between Kara and Brainy.

With the show off the air, I have been thinking about the two and the Legion a lot. And with today being an open blog spot (no new episode to review), I thought I would mine the relationship a little bit by looking once more at the 5YL Legion. And thanks to blog friend Paul Hicks of the Waiting For Doom podcast, I have the 5YL postcard set in my collection.

Remember, in that post-Crisis incarnation of the Legion, 'Supergirl' was Laurel Gand, a Daxamite. The muscle of the team, she was big, bold, beautiful, and brutal. And yes, she had a history with Brainiac 5.

I loved Laurel, especially in the early issues. She was definitely a worthy analogue of Supergirl. And I love this picture of her on the postcard, ripping her way through a wall or a ship of some sort.


The text on the back list her as noble and heroic. Sounds like Supergirl!
 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Back Issue Box: The Krypton Chronicles #1

We are just over two weeks away from the SyFy Channel television show Krypton, a show focusing on the El Family generations that lived on the doomed planet before it exploded. Supposedly the show will look mostly at Superman's grandfather and the politics of the planet during that time.

With this look back on the small screen as well as the recent time travel trip by Superman in the recent Booster Shot arc in Action Comics, I thought taking a look back at the El Family and their history on Krypton was timely. And what better comic to look at than 1981's Krypton Chronicles.

This three issue mini-series really took a deep dive into Superman's family history as well as the culture of Krypton itself. As you'll see, the El Family were really destined for greatness, in the middle of seemingly ever major event on the planet there was. No wonder Superman is of such high stock and merit. And, no wonder Supergirl is so noble as well. One thing to say about this mini-series, Supergirl definitely is an appropriately big part of it. This is her family as well.

The mini-series is written by E. Nelson Bridwell, famous for his encyclopedic mind for Krypton history and Superman minutiae so that makes sense. The art is by the legendary Curt Swan with inks by Frank Chiaramonte. While there is a plot weaving through the lessons, this really is a sort of historic text as we learn about what transpired on Krypton.

On a personal note, posts like these remind me how long I have been running this site as I have plenty of links within this site that go to prior posts.

On to the book.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Icon Heroes Supergirl Statue


Last week the Icon Heroes Supergirl Collector Statue was delivered into my hands. I had ordered it when first solicited and had paid it off layaway style. So it was just handed to me ... almost like it was free!

It is a fantastic statue! If someone is looking for an affordable Supergirl piece of merchandise, one that celebrates the television show, I would highly recommend this one. It retails for $65 so it isn't cheap. But in the statue format, that is a decent price for something so wonderful.

It comes in a clean large box which highlights its dynamic nature nicely. This is Supergirl soaring into action!


The statue is just that, Supergirl flying into action in a classic pose.

Poised on a metal post, it gives the sense of Supergirl flying. And it is a very decent size for the price, soaring majestically.

And the sculpt is great. That sort of soulful look on the Supergirl's face is very evocative of Melissa Benoist. You get the sense she is on a mission.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Review: Action Comics #998


Action Comics #998 came out this week, ending the Booster Shot storyline and bringing the end of the Dan Jurgens run on the book that much closer. With Brian Michael Bendis' run just around the corner, I am glad that Jurgens is able to finish up some of his storylines. And this chapter brings this story to a decent close, although I suppose we'll have to see what happens in the next couple of months to see if it how it truly wraps up.

I have never been a big fan of Booster Gold and here, at least, we get a sense of how much weight must be on his shoulders. With access to time travel, he is probably tempted to try and change things. We see how much self-resolve he has to resist that temptation.

That said, the nature of time travel never quite makes sense to me which is why I find these stories a bit vexing. Throughout the story, Booster says that events in the past are more concrete and cannot be changed. Meanwhile future events are more malleable. But what is 'past' and what is 'future'? Our future is someone else's past. Sigh. I guess I just have to roll with it.

And this story for the most part takes place in the future. So while Superman and Booster are able to escape a heinous situation, the real question is will Superman change that future now. Is there an issue where Zod's control of a planet is addressed now? Or do I have to read Green Lantern?

The art on the issue is done by Will Conrad and he brings a slick precise style to the proceedings. I wouldn't mind seeing Conrad on a monthly book. His stuff is great.

On to the book.