Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Supergirl Episode 410: Suspicious Minds

It has been a month since the Supergirl show has aired a new episode. But it went out with a bang, the Elseworlds crossover which was just unbelievable.

The question I had was what would I be feeling after the midseason break. Not only was the show going to have to overcome the inertia of no recent episodes, it was also going to have to deal with ending on such a huge high point. Almost any episode would feel lesser in comparison.

Well episode 410,  Suspicious Minds, was a very good episode. I enjoyed it very much. Congratulations to the Supergirl team for kicking off the second half of the season on a high point.

With Agent Liberty jailed, the Sons of Liberty plotline took a back seat here. We don't hear a thing about that hate group at all.

Instead, this episode focuses in on the DEO and the difficulties brewing in that organization. After setting me up with several episodes where it seemed like Colonel Lahey was misguided and might be being swayed to the light, this episode paints her with a troubling persona. Suddenly, she is an 'ends justify the means' person, a 'safety is more important than freedom' person, and a 'I'll use people to achieve my goals' person. I no longer hope this is a redemption arc for her. I think she needs to be revealed just like Agent Liberty has been.

The episode also builds on many of the subplots which have been bubbling along. With half the season down, it's time to move these stories forward.

But if I have to point out the highest point of this episode, it was Jesse Rath as Brainiac 5. He has totally embraced this slightly odd, slightly off persona who is just socially awkward but with a heart of gold. Last season I wasn't sure about this take on Brainy. This season I am all in.

On to the show.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Review: Superman #7

Superman #7 came out last week.

Maybe I should stop there.

Overall I have loved Brian Michael Bendis' take on the Superman family. I have been impressed with the characterization of Superman, the inclusion of the Daily Planet, the threat of the Silent Mafia, and even the way the Rogol Zaar/Phantom Zone storyline ended.

You knew there was a but, right.

The Lois relationship just stands out as a problem. Or rather, the lack of a meaningful relationship with Lois. And that trickles down to the relationship with Jon too. The family was what completely worked in the Tomasi/Gleason Rebirth book. Now that is gone.

Little that has happened regarding Lois and Jon in this book makes sense. Clark and Lois letting Jon go away with the homicidal Mr. Oz makes no sense. Lois joining them made some sense but leaving to come home made no sense. Lois living apart from Clark because 'she needs to' makes no sense. Clark rolling with it and living the life of 'friends with benefits' makes no sense.

And the idea of Jon coming back as an older teen is nonsense. The sheer joy of Jon being the gangly, awkward pre-teen was delightful. Now he's a scarred teen.

This issue at least addresses some of this. But it also had me shaking my head. So much of all this could have been avoided had common sense been used.

I haven't even mentioned the art, a mishmash of Ivan Reis, Brandon Peterson, and a cameo page from Jason Fabok, a Man of Steel epilogue. It's all lovely.

I can only hope this somehow straightens out.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Matrix Monday - 90s House Ads

I am taking a small break from Matrix comic reviews this week to post some Matrix House Ads that I stumbled across this last week.

Supergirl was prominently displayed in two house ads from a comic cover dated April 1998. Supergirl #20, a Millenium Giants crossover of all things, was on the shelves. She was two issues out from sprouting her flame wings and really exploring the angelic aspect, something which had been hinted at throughout the initial issues.

I know how big my love of Supergirl is. And I know how fascinated I was with the Peter David series in the late 90s, a semi-Vertigo spin on the character with tons of references to her prior incarnation.

But what I don't know is how she was being accepted by the comic community at large. And I don't know how embraced this new concept of Earth Angel was either.

Still, I think it is encouraging to think DC thought well enough of her character to have her on the subscription ad. (Remember those days when comics were mailed to people!) Yes it is a double play on words on how hot the deal is. One, I suppose there are people who think Supergirl is 'hot'. Two, fire is a big part of the art here (replicating the cover from Supergirl #14).

Still, they could have come up with any other quip - 'super' deals, deals 'as good as Gold', etc.

Instead they chose Supergirl!

But there was another!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Review: Supergirl #26

Supergirl #26 came out this week and feels like something of a tipping point for me and my patience with this new direction. You know what that's like, right? When you are reading a comic and you just think 'what am I reading?' Or more importantly 'why am I reading this?' Or even worse 'who chose this direction for this book to go in?'

I keep going back to the last issue of the Steve Orlando/Jody Houser run. A young Supergirl trying to figure out teenage life and super-heroing. A Kara Danvers who is feeling awkward at school and maybe having romantic feelings for the first time. A Supergirl who is stepping out from her cousin's shadow as a young hero. An optimistic young woman learning on the job, embracing Earth as home, and appropriately headstrong.

That all worked.

Now we have an edgy, vengeance-fueled Kara, alone in space, spitting on enemies, toting a Liefeld-ian gun, and being casually threatened with rape. This doesn't even feel like a Supergirl book. She is a part of an Omega Men story. Replace her with Maxima or Donna Troy or Starfire and there is no major change to the plot.

This doesn't work.

Now I know. I don't 'own' Supergirl. I have a version of Supergirl I like and that history seems to think is the default. I don't think I like this story or this Kara right now. I have sort of gone along with this direction for now seeing maybe some glimpses of things which could work. But this issue seemed to tip me towards the 'not working' side of the scale.

And perhaps the biggest shame is that the art on the book is so gorgeous. Kevin Maguire's stuff is beautiful. As always, his expressive work is top notch. The covers by Yanick Paquette and Artgerm are eye-catching. It is just such a mismatch with the material.

On to the book.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Young Justice (1998) #1 - Supergirl Homage

Count me among those folks who were thrilled when Brian Michael Bendis announced his Wonder Comics imprint and Young Justice #1 specifically.

I am a fan of classic Conner. I am a fan of Cassie. And I am a huge fan of Amethyst. So knowing they were coming back, in a way that makes sense and that honors those characters, tickled me. I was on board. And the first issue didn't disappoint. It was a rollicking good time with the reintroduction (somehow) of these classic versions of the Young Justice characters with a big dollop of Gemworld on top. Bendis and artist Patrick Gleason are solidly on their game.

I have always wondered why I didn't collect the first Young Justice series from 1998. I was in the middle of residency and I wasn't reading an extended pull list. That probably explains it best. Somehow it slipped by. What makes this doubly amusing is that I was all in on Peter David's Supergirl book which was still on the shelves at the time. Back then, I tended to try anything David wrote.

But like the current run, this team consisted of Conner, Tim, and Bart. Others would join shortly afterwards.

I was reading reading the Waid Flash which occasionally had Impulse crossover. I had read the early Kesel Superboy stuff too. But somehow it missed this.

I recently ran across some of the issues in the bargain bins and grabbed a handful, including the old Young Justice #1. I was surprised to find a Supergirl moment tucked in it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Supergirl Shrine: Imaginext Figure

One of the things that I am always amazed about is the generous nature of the comic book community I am part of here on social media. Every so often there'll be package awaiting me when I get home from work from a comic of blog friend I have made here. And I do my best to return the favor when I can. #topsecretproject is always a favorite part of my con season, getting books signed for friends.

This Christmas season I got a fantastic package from great friend Russell Burbage, the founder and curator of the Legion of Super-Bloggers. Russell helps keep my on track on that site as I maintain 'Fridays with Anj' there.

The package had two pieces but I'll be covering them in separate posts.

First off, I got the Supergirl figure from the Imaginext Series 5 line.

I cannot tell you how happy I was to get this. I see these mystery figure toys all the time. There is often a Supergirl or Streaky figure that I would love to own. But I just can't gamble like this. Imagine if I ended up with 6 Green Arrows and no Supergirls?

So I never pick these up in their raw form. So to have Russell open up a pack, see Supergirl, and think of me was a wonderful. Merry Christmas to me!

On to the figure!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Bullet Review: Supergirl Movie 1984

It had been many years since I had seen the Helen Slater Supergirl movie.

Probably too many years.

At some point in the recent past, a blu-ray edition was released and as an early Christmas gift I bought it for myself. This is a pretty slick package with a blu-ray of the 'International Cut' with a 'Making of' documentary. It also had a DVD with the Director's Cut. (So many versions! What is this?  Blade Runner?)

Now I remembered seeing this movie and not being overwhelmingly impressed. And I know that it has faced some wrath from people for the campiness and nonsensical plot. So I went in with almost no expectations.

You know what.

It isn't *that* bad.

I don't think I have it in me to give this a blow by blow synopsis/review. Instead, I think I'll hit on some of the high points, comment on some of the low points, and shine a light on some of the crazy things that I liked.

So expect this to be a sort of glossing over of the movie.

And expect a lot of compliments to be heading Helen Slater's way.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Review: Adventures of the Super Sons #6

Adventures of the Super Sons #6 came out last week and was a decent issue in this fun series. Writer Peter Tomasi has been having a fun time throwing the boys through the dustier, Bronzier corners of the DCU. With the usual insane interplay of Jon and Damian, these loosely held together adventures have been a trip.

This issue brings us to some of the more science fiction-y parts of an older DC Universe. And I am all for it. The two DC nods we get here are two little known and underutilized properties. So count me in.

But for me, this mini-series is starting to feel a little choppy in its approach. Since Tomasi is trying to tell one story that is spanning this whole title, rather than individual episodic plots, the story holding it all together are looking a bit frayed. We really are bouncing all over the place without the connective tissue to feel cohesive.

Scott Godlewski is on art this time and brings a Barberi-like style to the proceedings. At least that part still feels smooth.

We're halfway through. I hope this tightens up a bit the back half.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Review: The Last Siege #8

The Last Siege #8, the final issue in this mini-series, came out this week and was a bloody finish to an incredible story. No big surprise on the visceral factor. I compared this movie to 'Seven Samurai meets Braveheart' at some point. But there was for me a surprise at the end of this story. But as I have heard Landry Walker say in the past, 'give the audience what they need, not what they want.'

There is so much that I have liked about this book, all spelled out in prior reviews. To reiterate, there is a very cinematic feel to this story, leaning into certain film genres like 'spaghetti westerns' with extreme close-ups getting more and more focused.

The art has been raw and gritty with Justin Greenwood managing the pacing and page layout expertly. Sometimes it is just a panel of an eye. Other times it is a battle of armies. Other times, the panels tilt more as we read, mirroring the action of the characters. Colorist Brad Simpson started out with a palette of purples and grays but quickly has moved to oranges and yellows as the battle field has gone ablaze.

For me, it is the story that fuels this. Tomislav, the absentee prince who returns home from carousing to find his land in ruins. Istva, the warlord king who thinks fear and power leads to nobility. And most importantly Lady Cathryn who has to grow from innocent girl playing with dolls to battle scarred leader over the course of days. It is truly her story. She is the one who grows here, changes.

I am sad to see this book ending and would recommend folks seek out the trade. It is definitely worth it.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

DCSHG: The Fortress Of Solidarity

Thanks to folks who feed me Supergirl information that I would otherwise be oblivious to.

I admit that if there is a hole in my standard Supergirl perusals, it is DC Superhero Girls. I think my focus is so drawn to comics and the show that the ancillary stuff sometimes falls to the wayside.

So thanks to all those who told me I should seek out DC Superhero Girls Episode 521, 'Fortress of Solidarity'.

You can see the two part episode over on Youtube here:

It is as close to a holiday episode as you can get with the usual fun look at the DCU. One thing that has grabbed my attention in the few episodes that I have seen this season is that there has been something of a running thread about Supergirl and her feelings of loneliness.

That started in 'For the Girl who has Everything', a story where she is missing her family and is looking for some control, some world where she is more preeminent.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Mike Maihack's 2019 Supergirl/Batgirl Comic

It's a new year and luckily 2019 started out with another Batgirl/Supergirl comic strip from Mike Maihack!

I have always been impressed with Maihack's holiday based comics of Babs and Kara. Kara is always played as the straight-laced foil to Kara's more bubbly persona. It is clear they are great friends even if their approach is different. And without a doubt they enjoy each others company.

This New Year comic has Kara switching out the heroes' usual costumes with bright pink ones. Babs, of course, can't be the brooding Bat when she looks like 'Bubblegum'. But that is the whole point per Kara.

And it seems to be a justified move when Batman, of all people, arrives with a Santa sack filled with candy. Love it.

Of course, in the Maihack world, Supergirl is obsessed with costumes and several strips have been focused on her switching things up. There is even a 'Christmas costume' strip out there, all somewhere in the link above.

I love Maihack's strips. So this end of year strip is always an extra special gift!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Review: Action Comics #1006

Action Comics #1006 came out this week and was another solid issue in the Brian Michael Bendis run of this book. It has action. It has character moments. It has big plot progression. It has subtle visual storytelling and gorgeous art by Ryan Sook. It has a huge nod to the past. It has just about everything ... except Lois Lane.

All along Action Comics has been my favorite book for the Bendis era. Much of that arises from the main plot that organized crime has quietly been running Metropolis, a fascinating idea for a Superman book. It also has a ton of Daily Planet time and that always works for me. And this issue is sort of a template for those high points.

Add to that Sook's work. Ryan Sook just sings off the page. You really need to linger on the page and take it all in. From expressive work to page construction, Sook is just a genius. I know his time on the book is done. I hope he comes back in some form at some point. I miss his work already.

On to the book.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Matrix Mondays: Action Comics #644

Welcome to the next chapter in my now-and-then Matrix Monday reviews. This won't be a comprehensive look at all of Matrix's appearances. That would be a bit too demanding. But the hope here is to cover some of the big moments in that Supergirl's career that I haven't yet covered on this site.

I recently covered the early Byrne issues of Superman and the ultimate Byrne storyline, 'The Supergirl Saga', which brought the protoplasmic Matrix back to the DC Earth and onto the Kent Farm.

After Superman executed the Pocket Universe Phantom Zone villains, he took off into space, self-exiling himself. During that time, his secret identity was maintained by the shape-changing Matrix. Matrix became Clark Kent. But things have become dark.

And so we have Action Comics #644, the next chapter in the difficult early days of this character. So much for the return of Supergirl.

'Doppelganger' was written by George Perez and Roger Stern with art by Perez and Brett Breeding. I have give Roger Stern a lot of credit for picking up the ball dropped by Byrne and putting together a very solid run on Superman.

And the art team of Perez and Breeding is interesting. There is definitely a Perez 'feel' to this work but I feel like Breeding really puts his own stamp on things. You have to almost squint a bit to realize you are seeing a Perez book, as if it is hidden under the distinctive layer of inks.

But it is a good splash, Superman speeding like a bullet to Smallville to answer a call for help from his friend Lana.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Top Ten Supergirl Moments Of 2018 - #5 - #1

Welcome to the culmination of all things Supergirl in comics for the year of 2018.

On Tuesday, I reviewed all the non-comic Supergirl moments from this last year.

Yesterday, I started covering the top ten Supergirl comic moments of 2018, revealing my honorable mentions and moments 10 through 6.

I have to say, the top 4 really were in the running. It is always cool in my mind when I read a moment during the year and say 'this is going to be a top ten moment'. But it is the most rarefied air when I see something and anticipate a top three moment. This year, I thought for sure #4 would be in the top three. But something snuck in under the deadline to move it back a slot.

Perhaps most telling is that 2 of the top 4 appeared in Brian Michael Bendis' Man of Steel. Considering this was a mini-series set to redefine Superman, the fact that many of us were worried that Supergirl might be swept under the rug, the fact that she has such great moments was both surprising and reassuring to me that Bendis had the whole family in mind in this book.

I also will say that given the mini-reboots and reaffirmations and redirecting of Supergirl over my time at this site, one of these moments feels a little bit familiar, in a good way.

So with no further ado, here are the Top Five Supergirl Comic Moments of 2018.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Supergirl Best of 2018: Top Ten Comic Moments #10 - #6

It is that time of year, a time to look back and gauge the last 12 months. It is one of my favorite times of the year for this site as it gives me the opportunity to review all the places and all the stories that Supergirl has taken part in over the year.

2018 was an interesting year for Kara. Her own book was put on hiatus when I feel it was reaching a sort of creative zenith. The coming of Brian Michael Bendis meant that Steve Orlando and Jody Houser's Kara was shelved. So for a couple of months we didn't have a solo book.

But the arrival of Brian Michael Bendis meant Supergirl was going to have a new emphasis. First off, she played a big role in The Man of Steel, the introduction of Bendis' bold new direction. It also meant that her solo title, when resolicited, was going to have a very different approach and feel.

We also got to see Supergirl in other books - Wonder Woman, Injustice, and even a holiday special. She had small roles in Justice League:No Justice and other books.

But the big thing is, for the most part, she was treated well in all these appearances. She isn't used as a yardstick to prove how tough the enemy is. She isn't immature or foolish. And in some ways, she outshone the bigger names in these books.

As this would be a very long post if I covered all ten, I'll do the back end here. Covers, honorable mentions, and moments #10 - #6 will be covered here.

Onto the best moments of 2018.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Supergirl Best of 2018: Non-Comic Stuff

Welcome to my standard look back at the last year in all things Supergirl.

As this site is *mostly* around the comic history of Supergirl, I will cover the top ten moments in comics over the next two days in separate posts.

But Supergirl seems to be everywhere these days so I like to take a look back at the other non-comic Supergirl stuff that happened in 2018.

We'll start with my personal stuff.

2018 was a very good year for my commissions collection as I was able to grab the 4 that I was aiming for. I also got one from a surprising source. And two more came my way through the generosity of friends.

At the Boston Fan Expo, I was aiming for Tyler Kirkham and Bob McLeod. It took a little bit of luck, but I landed both. The Kirkham one in particular is quite striking.

At Terrificon, my main convention in the con season, I was hoping to grab Kevin Nowlan and Ron Frenz. Again, it took some luck and a definite plan to hit Kevin Nowlan's table first but I was able to get both. I love the fact that I got to finally see the Kara from Superman Vs. Aliens in a Supergirl costume, even if it is only in my collection. Love that piece.

Finally at Rhode Island Comicon, I landed the unique Kevin Eastman Supergirl commission. That is just bananas.

But that wasn't all. I also got a wonderful Ron Randall piece thanks to the best couple on the internet the Sutherlands. I love that fresh-faced Supergirl piece. And The Irredeemable Shag sent me the Thom Zahler Brainiac 5/Supergirl pic above as well.

In 2018, my commission collection hit the century mark. Unreal.

At conventions and other venues, I also met a ton of creators and celebrities. This year's big fan moments included meeting Steve Orlando, John Byrne, Nowlan, Joe Giella, and Laura Vandervoort.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year's Day from Supergirl Comic Box Commentary!

Over the rest of this week, I'll be covering the 'best of' Supergirl in 2018. It will be a three day adventure.

1/2: Best of 2018 - the non-comic stuff
1/3: Best Supergirl comic moments of 2018 - honorable mentions, #10-#6
1/4: Best Supergirl comic moments of 2018 - #5-#1

Should be a fun look back and as always, I love to hear your thoughts.

As for me, I tend to look back at the site over the last year to see how it went.

Seems like the blog is on autopilot sometimes with reviews, show reviews, sales, solicits, and back issue lookbacks falling into place like magic. And I am pretty happy with the fact that I put out 256 posts over the year. This will sound horribly self-congratulatory, but not bad for a little fan site run by one guy.

The site itself remained popular. At least using the free stat counter, it looks like in 2018, I hit around 640K visits. The site crossed over the 4 million page views back in October. If I use Blogger's stats, which are a bit more stringent I guess, it says I had over 390K hits. Either way, not bad.

So thanks to everyone who comes here. Hope the site remains as robust in 2019 as it has been!

Happy New Year!