Friday, January 19, 2018

Review: Superman #39

Superman #39 came out this week and was a heartwarming issue, a wonderful little human delight in the midst of the comic world. Since Rebirth, writers Patrick Gleason and Peter Tomasi (for the most part) have brought us a kinder, more inspirational, more down-to-Earth Superman. Issues like this one definitely fit that mold.

In many ways, this felt like the occasional Christmas issue we used to get with Superman, an annual issue where we saw Superman struck by the holiday spirit and spending an issue helping the common citizen as opposed to staring down galactic threats. Here, Superman enlists his JLA friends to give a number of pediatric cancer patients a day to remember. It might sound schmaltzy but for me, these things work. While I enjoy universal punch-em-ups as much as the next guy, I want my heroes to be linked ... to care for ... the average working person.

After the Mr. Oz issues and the battle on Apokolips, this was a pause to take a breath and remind me who Superman is and what he stands for.

The art on this issue is done by a favorite of mine Barry Kitson. His low-key style works very well for such a personal story. I don't need hyper-stylized art here. Kitson brings it here. The kids look like kids. The pages flow well. And our heroes look great.

This is one of those issues I think I need to buy multiple copies of, specifically to give to non-comic people I work with. On to the book.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Review: New Super-Man #19

New Super-Man #19 came out last week, a rest issue as the title reconfigures into the New Super-Man and the Justice League of China title. Last issue tied up all the loose plot threads of All-Yang and I Ching and the Ministry of Self-Reliance. So why not take a moment and give us a rest issue focused on a supporting cast member.

Writer Gene Luen Yang steps aside for Mariko Tamaki to pen the book. Tamaki wrote the Supergirl Being Super mini-series and is known for her YA writing. So why not let her build up the back story of the Lois Lane analogue in the book Laney Lan. I haven't thought too much about Lan before this, thinking she was as much an entertainer as a reporter, giving us fluff pieces. Here we see she has much more behind that slick exterior. If I have a quibble it is that this story takes place long ago in continuity. She has a secret she is keeping from Kenan. But it is a secret he has already learned. As a result, there sort of wasn't a 'ka-pow' moment.

The art is by Brent Peeples, the new regular artist on the book. As usual, his work is fine, solid story-telling. I wish there was more zest or zing to this book which is supposed to be overflowing with youthful energy.

Next issue is a bold, new direction. Let's hope it picks up right where the old book left off.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Supergirl Episode 310: Legio of Super-Heroes

Supergirl episode #310, titled 'Legion of Super-Heroes', aired last night and was an extremely entertaining episode, the perfect way to kick off the back half of the season. The midseason finale ended with Supergirl battered and defeated at the hands of Reign, beaten down when Supergirl took her sister's advice to be cold and alien.

But Nietzsche said it best when he said 'battle not monsters lest ye become a monster'. This Supergirl has been struggling with being human, with being emotionally vulnerable, with being Kara this whole season. But the answer was never going to be to match brute, unfeeling force. It was always going to be winning through empathy and humanity. And this episode does a near perfect job of illustrating that ... while also dropping in a Supergirl continuity bomb that has long standing fans purring with happiness.

The episode also was Legion heavy as well. Supergirl and the Legion are as close to peanut butter and jelly as you can get, two great things which are even greater together. And the writers lean into the Legion history pretty hard, name dropping planets and Legionnaires, giving us familiar tech, and showing just how powerful a Legion team can be. (If only DC Comics felt the same!)

Another real draw here was Brainiac 5, a character with major comic history with Kara. I was one of the people who really bashed the way the character looked in preview pictures. And I have to admit, this wild-haired, blue/purple looking Brainy isn't what I would have designed. But the performance by Jesse Nath was pitch perfect, the mix of hyper-intelligent, shy, awkward Querl who is smitten with Kara. His performance sold me, so much I looked past the odd makeup.

And lastly, all this wouldn't work without the evil of Reign. Odette Anabelle is crushing it as the caring mother/malicious judge combo. Now she isn't alone. She gains an ally this episode, showing long term story thinking by the writers, and we hear that maybe there are more World Killers out there, something very true in the comics.

Long intro I know. But excellent episodes get more commentary. Onto the details!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Review: Superwoman #18

Superwoman #18 came out last week, the last issue in the series. I am sad to see it go. I am surprised it lasted this long.

This book has been buffeted about this last year and a half. There was outrage when the book, apparently pitched as a Super-Lois book, turned out to be a Super-Lana book. The opening story arc was muddled, cluttered, and ultimately confusing. Then the entire continuity the series was built on, that Lana received her powers from the explosion of a dying Superman, was swept away with Superman Reborn.

DC made a good move bringing writer K. Perkins onto the book to try to right the ship. There was a ton of improvements in the book. Lana still struggled with insecurity but was clearly a hero. She had a squad with her of Natasha Irons, Terri Thirteen, and Maxima! And we had Supergirl come by. At times it seemed like Lana was the only hero in Metropolis. Those high points buoyed my interest in the series.

Despite that, I still don't know if I quite understand Superwoman's origins in this post-Reborn DCU. Seriously, I'm confused. How could she have been given powers if that Superman didn't explode? It seemed like Perkins was going to explore that giving us issues where Lana disproved her powers being tech-based, seemed to learn they were Red K based, and then fell back to the Super-energy based answer.  And, to make matters worse, I only have the vaguest of notions of Superwoman's powers. I know they are energy-based. That's about it.

Given the shaky foundation, I'm not surprised sales tumbled. It would be hard enough to recover from the clunky opener and new continuity!

And yet, as I said, I am sad to see this book go. And I can lay all that at the feet of Perkins who just made this book entertaining to read even if I didn't quite follow everything. I'll miss this Lana's voice, and Maxima, and that team.

The art on this issue is by Max Raynor, someone who I have never seen before. There is a sort of Otto Schmidt/John Timms leanness to the art which is very good. And that variant cover by Emanuela Lupacchino certainly has a funereal but hopeful feel.

Be prepared to be confused ... or maybe be prepared to explain stuff to me! On to the book.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Review: Action Comics #995

I've been a bit of a curmudgeon lately with my reviews of the Booster Shot arc here in Action Comics. I am not a big fan of Booster. I am not a big fan of 'time traveling to Krypton' arcs. And I don't know if Superman debating changing history by allowing Krypton to not explode sits well with me. Add all that up and I just haven't been enjoying this book as much as I had been. I mean, even the splash page of a possible future El Family on Krypton didn't grab me!

Action Comics #995 was, for me, the best issue of the arc. The primary reason is that I got a deeper dive into Booster's character, giving me a touch more appreciation for who he is. From his internal monologues where he seems more unsure of himself than his outer demeanor, to Skeets giving Superman a recap of Booster's origins, to Superman realizing that his life with the Kents was extremely impactful, Booster seems brighter and more relatable after this issue.

I also like Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund as an art team and they bring a very polished style to the story here. The action stuff here really crackles!

My two complaints? There was so much Booster stuff in this that in some ways it felt like a backdoor pilot for a solo Gold title. And I don't know if the 'splinter' time line with a surviving Krypton is still moving forward or not.

On to the book.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Review: Supergirl #17

Supergirl #17 came out this week, another chapter in this current arc of a Supergirl on the run from the DEO. Despite the danger to herself and warnings from her parents, this Kara continues to put herself out there fighting threats sent out as bait. But this Supergirl knows that with great power comes great responsibility.

Writers Steve Orlando and Jody Houser continue to craft a very solid book with a powerful and inspirational Supergirl and that makes me happy. Since Rebirth, we have seen a Kara who has put the welfare of others first, refusing to let others suffer loss. It isn't just punching. It is emotional support. It is trying to talk through a problem before bashing. And it is great. If you remember this Kara's negativity and selfishness in H'El on Earth, you'll realize how great it is. Thankfully, Orlando and Houser are building on what Tony Bedard and K. Perkins did.

What impresses me about this particular issue is how Orlando and Houser use other characters as foils, showing different paths and different viewpoints to emphasize Kara's actions. For example, Starshame is a sort of Supergirl 'gone wrong'. That contrast adds weight to the story.

Plus, we finally have a supporting cast with supporting cast plotlines. This is a pretty fleshed out book right now.

The art continues to glitter on the book as well. From Artgerm's cover of Supergirl helping a toddler cross the road to the Robson Rocha Carrie-esque main cover, the book pops on the rack. And the internal art by Rocha and Daniel Henriques is gorgeously intricate in its detail. As always, the expressive work adds to the emotion of the story. The back three pages are by Julio Ferreira whose style jibes nicely with Rocha's.

On to the book.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Artgerm Variant Supergirl #18 - Daring New Adventures #1 Homage

It is a little old but the Artgerm variant for Supergirl #18 was revealed last week. And it is a retro look at the Girl of Steel, right back to her holter top, choker, and hot pants costume. And it is a 'second later' cover, building off of the Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #1 iconic cover.

There is almost too much to love. From the Supergirl title font to the painted appearance of the Chicago skyscape, even the 'weathered' appearance making it look like an old comic ... the details are fantastic.

And then there is Kara herself. Look, Artgerm is a good girl artist. So there is cheesecake here. But Kara looks so beautiful and happy here. She seems confident, with her clenched fists and arms cocked ready for action. Plus, those cascading locks! It is all gorgeous.

Now listen, this isn't the current Kara. This isn't the 16 year old in high school This is the DNAOS Supergirl, a woman in her mid 20s. She looks like that.

And as many know, I have been appreciating this costume more and more lately.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

CW Seed: The Ray

The midseason hiatus of Supergirl is nearly over which means Wednesdays will get show reviews back.

With that nearly here, I thought I'd do a quick bullet review of the CWSeed miniseries The Ray which provided some backstory to Earth X and Overgirl.

I think the best thing I can say about this is 'uneven'. It is interesting to see this evil Kara again (once again voiced by Melissa Benoist). I like the additions of the Freedom Fighters as that leans into DC history a bit. I like seeing the origin of the Earth-1 Ray. And the animation is solid.

But the plot here doesn't seamlessly jibe with the Crisis on Earth-X episodes. And that made this feel a little wonky to me.

It is still pretty chilling to see Supergirl in this Nazi uniform. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

March 2018 Solicits

The holidays and 'best of' lists and other stuff has really delayed some of the usual monthly posts I schedule here. Last month's solicits are almost a month old. So I figured better late than never. So here are March's solicits. Feel free to look back and find other sites who posted them all.

Variant cover by STANLEY “ARTGERM” LAU
 In his search to write a CatCo piece on the truth about Supergirl, Ben Rubel interviews a young kid named Lee Serano, who recently became friends with the Girl of Steel. As Lee struggles with their parents and bullies at school for acceptance as non-binary, Supergirl is caught between punching her way through the problem and standing beside Lee as a symbol of hope.

New co-writer.
New artist.
Socially relevant topic.

Hoping this side story doesn't derail the momentum of the plots building in the book. Hoping this is story first. Orlando has tweeted how much he loves this issue so I am expecting something important and wonderful.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Review: Superman #38

Superman #38, the fourth part of the Super Sons of Tomorrow story line, came out last week and was fast moving, if somewhat inscrutable, chapter in this arc. This might be a Superman book but he is barely in the issue. Instead, this is a chapter in a multi-title arc. This will read normally inside a trade, less so for the fan who wants to read just the adventures of the Man of Steel.

Writers Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason have a great feel for Jon and Damian and much of this chapter revolves around those two characters. This would be a great issue of Super Sons. But there is a lot of this plot that I either simply have to accept. So much of this could be chalked up to 'because comic books'. And some of it is clear that reasons to get characters all in the same place at the same time means some weird events and motivations need to happen. And, of course, it all stems from the plot of a future Tim Drake wanting to rewrite history, a story which besmirches his character. 

The artist on the book is Sergio Davila who has a style akin to Jorge Jimenez. Despite running through several books, the stories look similar enough to make me feel it will be a smooth read in the trade.

On to the book.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Review: Superboy And The Legion of Super-Heroes #255

Hey all!

A snow-pocalypse has slightly altered the schedule of the blog so my review of Superman #38 has been delayed  from today into next week. As a result, please enjoy this look back at Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #255.

I have been looking for a Legion book to review on this site for a bit. Most know I love the Legion and I have been waiting for the team to get a proper reboot in the Rebirth era.

And given my recent lamenting of the 'going back in time to visit Krypton' storyline in Action Comics these days, this issue seemed like a quirky little book to go to for a review. There isn't any Supergirl in this post. But not only do you get a visit to Krypton and the El family before the planet blows up, you get plenty of angsty teenage Clark. As a bonus, you get Shrinking Violet in her mod green jumpsuit! What's not to love?

This is a near-perfect example of a Bronze Age done in one story, zipping through any number of plot points with startling alacrity. And this book starts more like a Superboy solo book than a Legion tale. It takes a while for everything to mesh. But once it does, it is a wild ride.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Sales Review: November 2017

With the New Year celebrations behind us, it is time for me to pick up all the news I haven't been able to cover in a timely fashion.

The sales numbers for November came out nearly a month ago and the news for Supergirl continues to flourish. In fact, it amazes me how much better her book has been selling in the last several months, a sharp uptick. Between Artgerm variants, Robson Rocha on art, and a new, better defined path for the book, things are looking up.

To view all the sales numbers, head to ICv2, here:

Supergirl #15 continued the arc of Supergirl on the run from the DEO. I love how the cover is basically a propaganda poster for the DEO, painting Supergirl as a scary figure that needs to be reported. It is such an interesting take on 'Dark Supergirl' give we saw so many 'angry Kara' covers in past incarnations.

So how did it sell?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Review: Teen Titans #15

Super Sons of Tomorrow Part Three took place in Teen Titans #15, giving me the opportunity to look at this book, albeit through the familiar creative names of Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and Jorge Jimenez. Ed Benes also does some heavy lifting on art, putting together a book which very much reads and feels like a Superman book.

The book does a good job of moving the plot forward. The fathers aren't around. The sons show they are truly friends and allies now. And the Titans are split over how to handle the potential threats of Tim Drake and Jon. This is what a middle chapter should do, move things forward as well as add new elements. As a result, from a story progression viewpoint I'm pretty happy.

From an actual story point of view, this book had its ups and downs. Starfire's strength, Damien's concern, and Jon's wisdom all stand out as high points. In the end the positives outweigh the problems.

The art on the book is very good. Benes is pretty restrained for what I am used to for his art. Jimenez is his usual solid stylized self. And this cover by Francis Manapul is a winner, showing the two teams. Love this cover.

And onto the book.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Review: Action Comics #994

Action Comics #994 came out last week, the second part of 'Booster Shot' by writer/artist Dan Jurgens. And it is another chapter of timeline hijinks as Superman tries to figure out how Jor-El became Mr. Oz. As I said when reviewing last issue, the concept of Superman going back to Krypton before its destruction isn't a favorite trope of mine. And Booster Gold isn't a favorite of mine. So as a result, I am trying to see the positive in this arc despite my disinterest in the foundation of the plot.

There is a lot of timey-wimey stuff here. I actually muttered 'pocket universe??' under my breath at one point. And that always makes me cringe a bit. In particular, this issue has Superman actually wonder 'what if' things were radically changed in the timeline, a question I think maybe he would have moved beyond by now. Still, that quick peek into a possible past was intriguing.

One underlying theme here is dealing with fathers. The Lois subplot with her father does have an interesting wrinkle.

And the art here is pure Jurgens with inks by Art Thibert. It has a classic feel to it, very reminiscent of the 90s.

On to the book.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year Mike Maihack Style

Happy New Year!

Before the glow of the holidays completely fades away, I thought I would share (albeit late) Mike Maiahack's Supergirl/Batgirl Christmas comic. These strips have become something of a tradition around here. And with each one, I always hope that somehow DC will hire Maihack for something and allow him to publish an all ages book.

Usually these comics have an overly powered and overly cheery acting as the comic foil to the comic 'straight man' of Batgirl. But this time the table are turned a bit.

This time Batgirl won't be caught by surprise and instead hopes to prance away to a sunny vacation. I love that third panel Batgirl stripping into a bat-one-piece bathing suit and vaulting onto the beach. It is a rare moment of levity for the usually dour Babs.

And I love ...and I mean love ... the bathing cap/cowl with the little ears.

Unfortunately the beach has been turned into a 'Winter Wonderland' by the Mad Hatter. Even Kara (dressed in her holiday striped tights) is trapped.

For once, Babs gets to save the day. I love how cheery it makes her to finally get to be the action hero in her own strip.

And the last panel with Kara warming up with cocoa is priceless.

As usual, Maihack hits all the right tones in this little comic. I suggest you head out and look for all his prior World's Finest strips.

And please visit his sites and check out his Cleopatra in Space comic! Here are some links!

Happy 2018 everyone!