Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Supergirl Episode 323: Battles Lost And Won

The season finale to the third season of Supergirl, an episode titled 'Battles Lost and Won', aired this week and like many episodes in this latter half of the year, this one had it's ups and downs. Perhaps the title of the episode was a bit metatextual.

The main problem for me about this episode was that so many plotlines needed to be addressed that each seemed to feel rushed in getting to their conclusion. I almost wish these last two episodes were done over the course of three episodes, this way we could have time to see more of the emotional fallout to what was happening.

The next problem? Well, because we had to wrap up character plotlines, many of the main plotline of Dark Witches and Reign got wrapped up even faster with a lot of comic book science and lack of explanations. Some pretty weird things happen in this episode.

And when you have those problems, I tend to look at some of the scenes and wonder if time would be better spent elsewhere.

So what did I like. Well, the action sequences and effects were very well done. The actual resolutions of the character plotlines were, for the most part well done. I am glad where we ended up; I just wanted more journey. And there are a couple of good set-ups for season 4 already.

One last thing I feel I need to say is that none of the things I felt were locks for the end of this season actually happened. I am a lousy prognosticator.

On to the show.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Review: New Super-Man & The Justice League Of China #24

New Super-Man and the Justice League of China #24 came out this week, the last issue of this book, and I am sad to see it go.

I wasn't sure what I was going to get when I bought issue #1 of this book. Writer Gene Luen Yang was writing the main Superman book taking it in a direction I didn't like. But I figured with the name Super-Man, I was obligated to give it a shot.

What I have read for the past two years has been, month in and month out, an entertaining and complex book. Yang has had the luxury of giving us DC archetypes through an Asian lens, so it is both comfortable and new. He has looked back at some of the uglier sides of early DC comics and put them into a modern context. He infused Asian mythology into these new characters, especially in my favorite character of Wonder Woman. But most of all he has given us a young hero in Kenan Kong, a school bully lashing out because of his own familial problems and dropped onto the hero's journey. It has been a tightrope walk of action, politics, and comedy but somehow the book pulled it off. Never preachy, stodgy, or boring, I looked forward to seeing this book in my pull file. This issue was Yang's chance to say goodbye and push Kenan farther down the road of that journey.

We have had great artists on the book the whole time but Brent Peeples. His style definitely has grown over the time here. He also has had to deftly jump from silliness to earth-shattering action and has done so extremely well.

So long New Super-Man, I'll miss you.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Review: Wonder Woman #48

Wonder Woman #48 came out last week, an issue in which Diana appears on exactly one page. Critics (including me) have bristled a bit about Wonder Woman's secondary role in her own book since James Robinson took over and this issue is probably the strongest evidence of that. In reality, this should be called DC Comics Presents: Jason and Supergirl.

But as a fan of Robinson, in particular his run on Justice League of America - a team where Kara was the muscle, I enjoyed this issue. This read a lot like one of those JLA issues. I don't know if that is praise for the story or criticism for the complete lack of Wonder Woman in her own book. The super-powerful villains of the piece just disappear in the middle so heroes can talk a lot. But if comics are supposed to entertain me, this one did. Your mileage may vary but this is a Supergirl blog and this was a Supergirl heavy issue.

Jesus Merino is on art and I've always liked his style, thin-lined and precise. There's a lot of 'standing around chatting' in this book but he brings some character and expression to the proceedings. And this Jenny Frison variant of an all-female hero group is just gorgeous. I very much like how Supergirl looks younger here, appropriately.

On to the issue.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Review: Man Of Steel #3

The Man of Steel #3 came out this week, marking the halfway point of this opening arc of the Brian Michael Bendis era for Superman. Anyone who comes to this site knows I had some concerns about this takeover. Everything seemed to be going right for the Superman books. Why should DC rock the boat?

Three issues in and I can say that I am very pleased with what Bendis is doing here. This doesn't detract from the Jurgens/Tomasi/Gleason stuff. It just means that Bendis seems to be embracing all that Superman is much as those prior teams did. There are pitch perfect moments in this issue that just sang to me. If you like classic Superman or if you like Modern Superman or if (like me) you like both, you are in good hands here.

I also have to add that I worried about what this changeup would mean for Supergirl in particular. After all, this is a Supergirl site first and foremost. This issue features Supergirl prominently and, again, I am very pleased. There is an easy camaraderie between the cousins here, a familiarity that I haven't sensed between them for a long long time. They clearly know each other, have fought with each other, and love each other. So that pushes this issue that much higher in my mind.

Add to all this the glittery artwork of Ryan Sook, one of my all time favorites, and you have a winning issue. Things travel fast. There is a lot of wordless pages here. But they punctuate the powerful emotional beats.

Bendis is here! So far so good.

On to the book.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Supergirl Episode 322: Make It Reign

The penultimate episode of Supergirl season three, titled 'Make it Reign' aired this week and it felt like things were sprinting to the end. There are a number of plotlines that need to be tied up before this is over. And, of course, we have the main villains, the Dark Kryptonian Witches of Juru and their agent Reign to deal with.

I have been trying to wrap my head around this season as a whole as we near the end. This mental exercise has given me a headache. Because there has been so much to love about this season. We got a flashback episode, the Legion of Super-Heroes, Argo City, a supervillain threat in Reign with a compelling back story, a ton of comic Easter eggs, and the wonderful theme of Kara needing to embrace her humanity and accept Earth as her home. Heck, we got Streaky! All of this has been wonderful.

But the counterbalance to that has been a Mon-El subplot which has been cringe worthy. I have never been hardcore anti-Mon but seeing he and Kara do this romantic dance knowing he is a married man is just horrible. And we have had to deal with a few episodes with politics delivered so heavily and clunky that the message went over like a lead balloon. There were times when Supergirl felt like a guest on her own show, saved by other people more than saving the day. And because of this, small things which shouldn't matter seem to magnify in my mind.

This episode moved the Reign plot forward, giving us a bit of an info dump, giving us an upcoming deus ex machina, and some unnecessary angst for a supporting character. I can only hope it all ties up nicely.

And I am trying to light a candle and curse the darkness in this up and down review.

On to the show.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Review: Injustice #24

In many ways, I feel remiss in not collecting Injustice 2 on a monthly basis.

I came at that decision honestly. I am not a video game player. I am sick to death of Elseworlds where Lois is killed and Superman a fascist. So the basic premise seemed off. So not pulled.

And yet, I keep hearing that Supergirl ends up the hero of the piece. And I absolutely loved what Tom Taylor did on All-New Wolverine. And I have, based on cover and buzz, picked up the odd issue here and there and really enjoyed the book. For example,  Injustice 2 #13.

And so I decided when I saw the cover of Injustice 2 #24 a couple of weeks ago that it was worth picking up. I am so glad I did. It is almost the perfect to pick up after Injustice 2 #13 because the seeds of Kara's heroics planted in that story come to fruition here. And with a lot of panache.

Taylor gives us a world under assault from Amazo and there is only one hero out there to save the day ... Supergirl. And that plot will always make me happy.

Bruno Redondo is on art and that name is new to me. He brings a clean style to the proceedings but with some nice flourishes here and there which elevate the work.

If you are a Supergirl fan, you should pick this one up.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

DC Nation #1

The second issue of DC Nation, the company-made fan magazine, came out this week and I have to say as a fan of DC, I was impressed.

First off, the price. Free!

Second, it is 48 pages of high gloss, gorgeous art and news. It isn't just 'Direct Currents', although the latest solicits are in there. There are interviews. There are small pieces where you get to 'meet' the creators and staff. There are process pages. There is concept art.

For someone who loves comics, loves seeing the creative process, loves hearing from the creators, this is a perfect vehicle for all things DC.

I wonder how long they can keep up something of this quality or size. I can imagine it eventually being 20 pages or $1 or both.

But until then, I am going to drink it all in. Especially when I learn a little more about my favorite characters and upcoming books.

For example,

Monday, June 11, 2018

Quick Hits: Super Sons/Dynomutt and Supergirl Being Super

I'm a bit behind in reviews so forgive the late nature of these quick hits.

Earlier this month, DC did another round of crossovers between their characters and classic cartoon properties. You might remember the DC/WB crossovers like Bugs Bunny/Legion of Super-Heroes from last year. This year, the company has mash-ups with classic Hanna-Barbera characters. That is a deeper and wider group of shows to pull from which led to some interesting concepts.

As someone who loved the Super Sons concept and book and was still smarting a bit from the cancellation, I knew I was going to get the Super Sons/Dynomutt issue, written by usual Sons scribe Peter Tomasi with art by Fernando Pasarin.

I was expecting a goofy sort of romp with Blue Falcon and Robin playing straight men to the more rambunctious Dynomutt and Jon.

That is not what I got ... at all ...

Friday, June 8, 2018

Review: The Man Of Steel #2

 The Man of Steel #2 came out this week, the second chapter in this six issue mini-series written by Superman scribe of the future Brian Michael Bendis. I went into this series with some trepidation, wondering just what I would get from Bendis and just how much of the previous runs (bringing back a more classic Superman) was going to be left standing and how much would be razed.

Well, two issues in and I am quite happy.

Bendis is walking the incredible tightrope of having this mini-series feel fresh and current while at the same time bring a classic sensibility to the proceedings. We have a Superman who is devastated by the disappearance of his family, who is dealing with modern issues of journalism, who has well-meaning friends who are concerned but afraid to confront, and their is a planetary threat on the horizon. That's all modern comic fodder.

But we also get a smiling Superman taking on a giant toy. We get a Superman saving homeless people from a burning building. We get Jimmy and Perry verbally sparring. We get Steve Lombard and Ron Troupe pranking each other in the background. We have the Planet and super-heroics. That is all old school cool.

The only thing missing from both those elements is ... well ... Lois and Jon. But their plot is just beginning to surface and their presence like Rebecca in the Hitchcock movie and Sebastian in Suddenly Last Summer is felt everywhere, maybe stronger in their absence. I do hope the two return some point soon.

And that Rogol Zaar plot is the thing I am sort of dreading the most and it isn't in the forefront yet. With my liking the Metropolis action so much, I hope Zaar doesn't take the air out of the room.

The art here is predominantly done by two of my favorites - Doc Shaner and Steve Rude. Both bring a ridiculous economy to the proceedings. The art seems simple but is brilliant in execution, that whole new and classic thing all over again. Shaner and Rude and like peanut butter and jelly. Seriously, I love both their styles and they work perfect here.

On to the book.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

April 2018 Sales Review

The sales numbers for April 2018 came out a couple of weeks ago and the numbers were a little bit surprising. This was the last month for a number of the super-titles. Action Comics #1000 was released. It basically is the beginning of the Bendis era.

So what did that mean for sales. Well, as always, you can head over to ICv2 for the actual sales figures. Here is a link:

I had this post written before recent news in which I ranted about how sales this good shouldn't warrant cancellation. So with recent solicits, I needed to come back and edit.

So first up, Supergirl #20, the last issue of this volume of Supergirl.

This was known to be the last issue for some time. Usually sales plummet when a title is announced as canceled and readers jump ship. No one likes a lame duck.

This was the closing out of the renegade DEO storyline. And writers Steve Orlando and Jody Houser needed to sprint to the end to wrap things up (as well as introducing us to the Viking Judge).

So how did this last issue sell?

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Supergirl Episode 321: Not Kansas

Supergirl episode 321, titled 'Not in Kansas', aired earlier this week and was a good chapter in this season's overall arc. We had progression of the Reign storyline with one of the best action sequences I have seen on the show. We had Kara realizing that maybe you can't go home again. We had some progression in J'onn and Alex's subplots which seemed like organic progression for their characters. And we had enough names dropped and homages to make this fanboy happy. Plus, there are a lot of callbacks to things from earlier in the season giving this a feeling of strong continuity. And those things really helped this episode rise up.

That of course means that there were a couple of things about this episode that potentially could have weighed it down. And there were. For one, the romance angle with Mon-El is here in full force and I honestly wish it was gone completely. He should have left in episode 318 but has instead stuck around. I actually had a visceral response to him later in the episode. And when an old man like me gets that fired up about a romance plot angle, you know things are going wrong.

And, I'll say again, the politics of this show are often delivered in a ham-fisted, preachy way that somehow takes me so out of the story that it is hard to get back in. This episode had a message about gun control but used actual guns and gun tech to discuss it. It is so obvious that it was a bit too on the nose. Comics and sci-fi work best when they use allegory to teach. Super-powered mutants can be used to discuss racism and prejudice. Prime directives can be used to teach about colonizing. This could have been a plot about plasma rifles or red sun grenades. It would have been less glaring.

It doesn't help that this gun subplot is crowbarred into an episode where I really want to spend time with Kara, on Argo. She is why I watch the show.

Still, I am going to give this one an overall thumbs up for the great stuff it did do. Settle in, this is a long one. On to the episode.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

August 2018 Solicits

I have covered the new direction of Supergirl around the time it was announced but shortly thereafter, the solicits were officially released. I haven't had much time to cover this recently given the explosion of news. So here I am finally getting around to the August books. Here is a link for all the DC solicitations on Newsarama:

And here are the super-books  on sale at the end of the summer, starting with the new direction of Supergirl.

written by MARC ANDREYKO
variant cover by AMANDA CONNER
blank variant cover available
Mourning the loss of the Kryptonians wiped out by Rogol Zaar, Supergirl decides to play detective and sets off into deep space to learn more about the would-be usurper. Using whatever tech she can scrounge, Supergirl builds a star cruiser, and after intel from Green Lantern, she blasts off into the cosmos with Rogol Zaar’s deadly axe to solve the mystery—along with a traveling companion you won’t believe!

I suppose I will need to read the book before making any broad statements about this direction. This is completely different. A space detective? Again mourning the loss of Kryptonians? Building a star cruiser?

I don't know if we have learned who the traveling companion is yet so that mystery intrigues.

I do like that we get an Amanda Conner variant. And a blank cover! So DC is putting some publicity push behind this.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Justice League: No Justice #4

Justice League No Justice #4 came out this week, wrapping up an extremely fast-paced miniseries where different teams need to fend off universal energies and Omega Titans. It was a fun, quick read showcasing a cross-section of the DC Universe. Interestingly enough, Green Arrow came out as as the biggest hero, holding his own as a force of justice.

It also planted the seeds for future comics including a new Justice League, a cosmic League, and even (it seems) a new Outsiders team. For me, the biggest bang in the book was the return of Vril Dox. If you set the WABAC machine, you will hear my love of the fascist hero back in my R.E.B.E.L.S. reviews. So for a book I barely was able to follow (I didn't read Metal), I have to give this miniseries a thumbs up.


Of course, this is a Supergirl blog, so I kept wondering where Supergirl was. I didn't expect her to have a big part in the book, but the interlude story in  DC Nation #0  made me think she would have some role, perhaps as a last guardian at the gate, trying to hold of the Omegas until the heroes arrived.

Alas, that didn't happen.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Review: The Man Of Steel #1

The wait is over. Bendis isn't coming any more. Bendis is here.

As someone who has been reading comics for over 2 score year (sheesh, I am old) and has lived through countless reboots, soft reboots, and bold new directions, you think I would be numb to this stuff. But I'm not. I care about these characters. It's why I have stuck around. And it is why I was entering this Bendis era with a little trepidation. Superman has been mistreated and the books have misfired for most of the 21st century. The last two years of Rebirth have finally been a return to quality, a return to super. So DC upsetting the apple cart after so long seemed risky, even for such a big name as Bendis.

So I was nervous.

I read Bendis' story in Action Comics #1000 and was intrigued. I read his story in DC Nation #0 and was pretty pleased. The Man of Steel was going to be the real test though.

The Man of Steel #1 came out this week and I won't bury the lede. I liked it. I liked it a lot. We got a classic Superman, back in red trunks, protecting Metropolis, spouting some Pa Kent wisdom, cracking a little wise, meeting another hero of his city, and then heading home to Lois and Jon. Even the Rogol Zaar plotline, the part of this arc I think I will care the least for, read well with some interesting hints about motives and allies.

Ivan Reis and Joe Prado provide their usual solid work on art, bringing us quiet moments and action with equal skill and precision. There is almost a Neal Adams sort of feel here, a nice way to kick things off.

I know ... I should slow down. This is one issue. But for now Bendis has shown me he understands Superman. That makes me happy. On to the book.