Friday, October 12, 2018

Review: Supergirl #23

Supergirl #23 came out this week and was another interesting chapter in this new direction for the title. I know that interesting is an odd choice, a damning with faint praise sort of word. But the truth is I enjoyed this issue. There are plot points that feel a bit forced. There is one magical moment that felt off. Kara's emotions continue to run a bit rampant, a sort of step backwards. And much of the turmoil seems overly forced.

Writer Marc Andreyko builds the mystery of 'The Circle' and their role in Rogol Zaar's plan to destroy Krypton. We get to finally see the mystery man who has been in shadows on the cliffhanger pages and he looks familiar. Kara gets lucky and is given the next crumb in her trail. There is a lot of fighting that, in theory, could have been avoided. Perhaps the thing I am having a hard time wrapping my head around is Kara's labile emotions. I get that she is reeling from the Zaar reveal. But her angry reactions and lack of trust feel more like the Kara of 2011, not 2018.

What truly elevates and saves the issue is the art by Kevin Maguire. No big surprise that Maguire injects so much emotion into the scenes. Kara looks fantastic. And I love his Krypto. The book really sparkles. Seriously. If this issue had less spectacular art, I think I wouldn't be so forgiving. Add to that the shiny, foil cover by Artgerm and the fun Supergirl rocket-surfing variant by Amanda Conner and the book just looks stunning.

Onto the book!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Comic Book Implosion and Supergirl

As a comic book reader of a certain age, I knew that I had lived through the DC Comics Implosion of the 1970s. As an amateur comic historian, I thought I had something of a grasp of what it all was about. But I knew I didn't quite get it. For some reason, I always shunted the Implosion to the mid-70s rather than the later years of the decade. I needed to learn more.

So when the book Comic Book Implosion came out earlier this year, I made a mental note to seek it out. It was on a short 'to buy' list as I saw it waiting on the shelf of my LCS for me to get when the appropriate big sale came around.

Turns out blog friend Mart Gray, of the great Too Dangerous For A Girl review site, made my waiting for a sale moot, sending me a copy to read. And this definitely was a fascinating look at that slice of time.

I definitely knew the term DC Implosion was a riff on the marketing term 'The DC Explosion'. And yes, I am old enough to remember seeing this Joe Staton ad in books and wondering where I would be able to read more Big Barda (having discovered her in the Englehart/Rogers Mister Miracle) and Hawkman.

The book gathers a number of sources - interviews, articles, and publicity pieces - and snips and rearranges them more chronologically so that you understand how the Implosion unfolded. It turns out it all had to do with cover price and shelf life. As a kid growing up then and in a family that was frugal (out of necessity), the difference between a 50c comic and a 35c comic was a big deal.  So to see how those pennies crushed this endeavor and ended a whole swath of comics was fascinating to read.

But this is a Supergirl blog. So did this impact her?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Review: Last Siege #5

The Last Siege #5 came out last week and this title continues to impress me. As I have said before, this book has played out in my mind like a movie. At times the art has felt like storyboards. The panel layouts and viewpoints and extreme closeups have reminded me of spaghetti westerns or Kurosawa films. Trust me, all of that is high compliment. I have loved this story.

This issue, in one brief moment and one panel, I was thrust away from film and back into the comic book form. We'll get there I promise. But when something jarring or different happens in a book the way this did, I was shocked. And that is the best compliment of all. Because after reading comics as long as I have, being shocked is hard to come by. It's a small moment for sure ... but it mattered. So kudos to artist Justin Greenwood for bring this wonderful style to the book.

Best yet, writer Landry Walker starts to peel back the origins of the mysterious swordsman who has been protecting this last castle. We learn his name and his backstory.  We see how he is linked to the warlord King running roughshod across the land. We see how imagery from early in this book is paid off here. It all just clicks.

My comic store has been getting only a handful of these issues each month. So head out and find them or buy the eventual trade. You won't be disappointed.

On to the book.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

DC Nation #5

DC Nation, the company produced news and propaganda magazine came out last week. As usual, it was a great mix of puff pieces, interviews, process pieces, and solicits.

I have loved every issue. Yes, I love the stuff written about the things that I do read. But I also love the more in-depth looks at books I don't read. I don't often drop $4 on a whim for a title these days. So for all I know I am missing a ton of good material. So reading articles about titles I don't get might lure me into a impulse purchase. And you have to love the price point ... free.

Nothing particularly Supergirl in this issue outside of the solicit listing. But still, there are some nice bits for Super-family fans. And there is all the usual stuff too.

First off, there is an article listing the top ten villains in the current DC.

Coming in at number 9, Talia Al Ghul! What is interesting is that she is listed as appearing in Action Comics!

We know that the Invisible Mafia in the book is headed by an as yet unseen female leader. Perhaps that means that Talia is the head of the organized crime movement in Metropolis!

I'll also remind you that Talia led the group Leviathan, a word dropped in one of the pages on Perry White's desk. All the more reason for me to believe she is heading up the mob.

Lastly, we did just see her in the Super Sons before that title ended. Maybe Damian will show up? Or Batman?

What else?

Monday, October 8, 2018

Review: Justice League #9

Justice League #9 came out last week and this was another fine issue in what has been a very exciting title so far. If you have been reading my reviews, you know that one of the things that I have very much liked about the book is the absolute breakneck speed it has been going at. Huge concepts are just thrown at the reader and before you can digest it, the next huge thing is on its way. I have talked about needing to pause to take a breath intra-issue to get my bearings.

This issue is a that deep breath unto itself. While we get a smidge of plot progression, this is really about characterization. We see the Leaguers interacting with each other. We get a glimpse into how writer Scott Snyder sees these personalities. It really elevates the team dynamics here. After seeing them scurry for 8 issues, we see them rest. And, in what feels like the classic Silver Age trope of the team 'splitting up', we get a bunch of two hero vignettes. I loved it.

I have complimented Jorge Jimenez on art before. But I love his stuff. Here, we really get to see his range. From cafeteria scenes to outer space fist fights to literal world (or moon) building, Jimenez brings style and power to the images.

So if you are looking for an issue of this issue as a jumping on point, or an issue to recommend to a friend so they can sample what the book is like, use this one.

Onto the book.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Review: Adventures Of Super Sons #3

Adventures in Super Sons #3 came out this week and was another look at some DC Silver Age tropes in a carnival mirror. Peter Tomasi is really taking advantage of this last trip on the ferris wheel of fun. This current mini-arc of the sons fighting the super-villain fanboys of the planet Cygnus has been a blast, seeing the younger version of the World's Finest team trying to outwit an adolescent take on the Injustice League.

This time around is a hysterical look at the Superman Red/Superman Blue. The Jons don't like each other and seem more interested in fighting each other than the villains. It is a rare day when Damian is the voice of reason!

The art team of Carlo Barberi and Art Thibert continue to bring a sort of giddy energy to the book, bordering on cartoony but staying within the confines of more modern sensibilities. The images really jump off the page.

Add in a cliffhanger showing that our tour through the Silver Age isn't over and you have a confection worth reading. I love this book. And I will be said when this team goes away in the aftermath of the Bendis re-imagining.

On to the book.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Back Issue Box: JLA Act Of God

Just yesterday I wrote about the upcoming CW Flash/Arrow/Supergirl crossover event title  Elseworlds .

Today I thought I would review an example of an Elseworlds series in which Supergirl (Linda Danvers/Matrix) played a pretty big role. And so I present JLA: Act of God, a three part prestige series written by Doug Moench with art by Dave Ross. The premise is simple. What if suddenly all biologic powers disappeared? What would happen to the world?  I'll be highlighting the Supergirl portions predominantly but I'll keep you up to speed with the overall story.

I have to admit, this was a bit of cosmic serendipity. My comic store had just put out a large, well organized collection into the dollar boxes. All three issues were there and I find it hard to pass up prestige books in the dollar boxes, let alone complete mini-series. So I bought this on a whim. I was not expecting such a big Supergirl role so this was someone up there guiding my purchasing hand.

Now overall, I think this is just an 'okay' mini-series. There is a lot of plot points you just need to roll with. There is some goofiness that I would not have anticipated. Superman is treated pretty shabbily. But the fun parts definitely made it an enjoyable read, especially for the price.

I don't know Dave Ross at all. I found the art in the book quite nice with a fine-lined detailed approach. At times it felt a little like Rags Morales. That is a very nice compliment.

So where does Supergirl fit into all of this? Well, to put it in context, the Supergirl title was on Supergirl #50 during this run, the end of the long form Earth Angel arc by Peter David. It is that angelic Supergirl we see here. How did she fare? Let's find out.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

10 Years Ago ... Supergirl #34

Just earlier this year, I celebrated by 10 year anniversary of doing this blog. One of the reasons why I felt compelled to start this blog and focus on Supergirl was because of the rather shabby treatment of the character (in my mind) since her re-introduction into the DCU.

Over on Twitter 2 days ago, Sterling Gates tweeted out that it was his 10 year anniversary since the release of Supergirl #34, his first issue on the book. I am amazed at how quickly time flies. Both Gates and artist Jamal Igle tweeted out some recollections and thoughts about this issue.


That is crazy.

But if any character needed a soft reboot, a bold new direction, a creative team that cared about her, it was Supergirl.

As a new blogger who needed to believe in Supergirl, the news hit me. And this was one of the things that seemed a bit of cosmic luck. Just five months into stubbing my toe trying to blog, Supergirl was getting a new team.

I had never read anything by Sterling Gates and scoured shelves for some Green Lantern Corps issues to get a sense of his style. I had a smattering of Jamal Igle books in my collection already, including a fill-in issue on Peter David's Supergirl run and pulled them out to remind me of his art. 

And you can see how excited I was back then. Supergirl #34 is listed in 16 posts! Sixteen!

I reviewed the book the day after it came out! That just doesn't happen anymore!

I covered the sales. I covered other sites reviews. I culled blurbs from interviews and publicity pieces. I showcased Fernando Pasarin, the artist on the variant cover. I looked up Joshua Middleton pieces since he was on covers. And I kept my fingers crossed.

 And I was floored.

There was this self-realization by Supergirl that she was maybe heading down a wrong path and needed to reinvent herself. The creative team acknowledged the rough parts that came before but smoothed them out. We got Linda Lang. We got a Kara that embraced Earth and wanted to help.

It was the beginning of an incredible run ... maybe *THE* run of Supergirl to date.

So congratulations to Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle for their Supergirl run and hope they celebrated their 10th year anniversary! As a Supergirl fan, I can only say my appreciation for their run and for Supergirl #34 has only increased over time!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Supergirl CW Crossover: Elseworlds

The annual CW crossover story for Arrow, Supergirl, and Flash has been officially named Elseworlds
and this comic fan couldn't be happier.

In 1989, DC Comics published Gotham by Gaslight, a story imagining Batman in the 1880's Gotham, hunting down Jack The Ripper. It is a great book, written by Brian Augustyn with art by Mike Mignola. Spurred by the success, DC began printing all sorts of books tagged with the logo 'Elseworlds', stories where familiar characters could be re-imagined or have their lives changed.

Let's face it, they were imaginary stories.

So you could see 'what if Superman was raised by the Waynes?' and 'What if Batman met Houdini and fought vamipires?' and 'what if Superman was around during the Civil War?' and 'What if Batman existed in a world where America was a Theocracy?'

Released in the wonderful Prestige Format, and usually with great creative teams, they were enticing. And as they existed 'outside continuity', as a reader you could pick and choose which stories intrigued you. I got a bunch of these and liked most of them.

So is the television Elseworlds going to be a similar take? Will there be new worlds? Changes in reality? Is Batwoman present because the idea of 'Batman' has been rewritten?

My guess is yes. But there is even more going on perhaps making this feel more like a certain Crisis.

Read on!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Heroes In Crisis #1

Heroes in Crisis #1 came out last week, the first issue in DC's big company crossover and a sad return to the days of grim, gory, dark story telling of recent years. Unfortunately, this shouldn't surprise me.

One of the things that spurred me to start this blog was the darkening of Supergirl's character in the Loeb/Turner era. I wanted to shine a light on her more heroic past so new readers woundn't think she was always the sullen, sulking, angry girl who just wanted to be left alone.

And over the 10 plus years of doing this, I have witnessed the descent of the DCU into a dark place. Some of the more notable lowlights I have covered include Cry For Justice and the  ripping off of Red Arrow's arm, the graying of all DC in Forever Evil . and the grim nature of Future's End.

Where was the optimism? Where were the heroes spurred to help humanity because it was the right thing to do? Where was the light which was going to save us from the darkness?

It was only a few years ago that DC had a course correction, deciding that they couldn't go down any further. It was time to correct the mistakes of the New 52 and subsequent stories and bring back the ideals, the hope. We got Rebirth  and for a short period of time we were happy.

I got into comics to read the exploits of heroes and be inspired to do more. Yes, even then they had human problems – love, finances, fatigue – but they always rose above. But you get the sense that things are turning and we are heading back to a DCU where (per Dan Didio) heroes can't be happy. Now the trend is to make them utterly relatable, to give the characters not only feet of clay but whole bodies of the stuff.

Heroes In Crisis is a story purportedly about PTSD and healing. Instead of that, we get a bloody, brutal issue.