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:

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:

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!

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:

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.