Monday, October 26, 2020

Bullet Review: Teen Titans # 46

Teen Titans #46 came out this last week and with Jon Kent prominently displayed on the cover, I thought this would be a good purchase and a chance to catch up on this book. I had been reading this book when Adam Glass and Bernard Chang were on the book. But somewhere around Teen Titans #41, the title dropped off my pull list. I honestly think it was a victim of the pandemic. I hadn't put the book on my official pull list, just buying it off the shelf when it came out. I suppose this is my folly.

I was surprised to see Glass off the book and instead see Robbie Thompson on as writer. As a huge fan of Marvel's Silk book, I was pretty excited to see what Thompson brought to the book. I wasn't disappointed.

What I don't know is if Superboy is here as a guest in hopes he'll punch up sales. I am pretty sure the book is already canceled given the DC purge of 2020. 

Jesus Merino is on art and I have always been a fan of his work. He recently did pretty stellar work on the Wonder Woman book. His figures are a bit thin in comparison the Bernard Chang's but no one looks sickly or stretched out like Ian Churchill figures. And I like the playfulness he brings to the more private scenes with the characters.

As for Jon ... well ... it is a moment. 

On to the book.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Back Issue Box: Supergirl #20

DC is in the midst of Metal, an event I am not reading after slogging through the very long convoluted Justice League lead-up. I have no idea what truly is going on there. But at the very least I know it is a big crossover with heroes fighting giant unworldly beings to save the world.

I honestly don't even know if Supergirl is in Metal ...

But it jogged my mind to see if there were any mega-events that Supergirl took part in that I haven't covered here. So today I'll review Supergirl #21 from the Peter David run which was part of the Millennium Giants crossover.

This is a pretty decent 'done in one' crossover with Supergirl clearly the star. At this time in the series, Supergirl's flame wings had just started to manifest. She had heard the words 'earth born angel' but had no idea what that meant. She had just revealed she was the Matrix/Linda Danvers amalgam to her parents, driving her mother back into alcoholism. And Superman was split between Red and Blue!

So a lot of backstory in this 50 issue mega-arc is starting to swirl here and David uses this issue, an event crossover, to nudge those things forward. And, as usual, there is a heavy emphasis on struggling to do what is right, faith, and belief mixed through this. I appreciate that effort making this still feel like a Supergirl issue despite the trappings.

Leonard Kirk is the penciller and had an impressive run on this book. His style suits the action nicely as he switches from scenes of ordinary folks and then gigantic monsters stomping through the ocean.

On to the book!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Back Issue Box: Justice League Of America #140

I continue my little trek through Mark Shaw's history by looking at Justice League of America #140 cover dated March 1970.

This book came out just about 2 years after 1st Issue Special #5 and I believe marks just the second appearance of this Manhunter.

I grew up trying to buy the JLA book of this era as much as I could. Even as a kid, I could differentiate Dick Dillin's art from others. And since I imprinted on the book around this point, Dillin is the quintessential Justice League artist for me.

What I truly love about this story is that writer Steve Englehart really folds a lot of DC continuity, making that Kirby one-shot into something intergalactic. I had always assumed that in comics the robot Manhunters predated Mark Shaw but it turns out I was wrong. 

I do wonder if Kirby would have been happy with the thing Englehart twisted his 'Shan' into. The text piece in 1st Issue Special #5 talks about the unwavering ethics of the Manhunter in pursuit of justice. Here, his organization becomes something different.

And as a fan who is doing this deep dive because of Leviathan, I was happy to read this issue and (at least in my own canon) carry some of it forward.

On to the book.

It all starts off with a bang!

'No Man Escapes the Manhunter!' was written by Steve Englehart with art by Dick Dillin.

And we start out at, of all places, Wayne Foundation!

Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Green Lantern are waiting for an emergency JLA meeting with Batman when the Manhunter busts in to get Green Lantern.

In an impressive display, the Manhunter quickly dispatches Arrow and Canary. Green Lantern doesn't fight back saying he deserves to be taken in and allows Manhunter to knock him out.

The Manhunter scoops up the three unconscious bodies and takes them to the roof of the building.

Now honestly, why would Batman convene an emergency meeting at the Wayne foundation when everyone can teleport up to the satellite? Isn't it a bit risky to have JLA members having a conversation in the Wayne building?

And even more impressive, when confronted by the Dark Knight Detective, Manhunter takes out Batman too. And pretty easily I might add! He tosses Batman off the building, seemingly to his death ... if not for a handy dandy flagpole.

That last panel is pretty weird. It looks like Manhunter suddenly grows in size even though we know he is just a normal human in a suit.

But this level of power and discipline is interesting to apply to Leviathan.

Manhunter throws the three unconscious JLAers into his ship. But Batman had triggered the alarm. Now the big guns of Superman and Wonder Woman show up.

Amazingly, the ship is able to teleport away without even Superman being able to stop it or figure out where they went.

Now this really leans into the current Leviathan storylines where the Leviathan army being able to teleport in and out of places with ease and without being followed is a huge part of their strategy.

Back at the Manhunter headquarters, the Manhunter agent, Mark Shaw, apologizes to his Grandmaster for not following the edicts of the Manhunters. He should have been able to grab Green Lantern without Arrow or Canary seeing him, let alone being stuck taking them along. 

This is quite a mission for the Manhunters as well, as they have been asked to bring in Green Lantern from a group outside the solar system, a far cry from Public Defender Shaw using his Manhunter powers to stop organized crime.

But the Leaguers are thrown into a cell, captive for now.

Interestingly, the rest of the JLA meet and Flash is able to use his ability to sense vibrations to figure out that the Manhunter teleported the other Leaguers to the Himalayas.

But once there, even this vaunted set of super-heroes are also quickly subdued and thrown into a cell.

Perhaps most impressive is that when Superman tries to break out he is battered by a concussive blast strong enough to floor him. The Grandmaster talks about how secretive and hidden the sect is. And how they also have power beyond measure, even things call annihilogram.

Again, this all just lends credence to the Event Leviathan story where this organization was able to exist without anyone knowing it and strike with great power, enough to floor Superman. 

I did like this sequence where Superman and Flash realize the need to double vibrate the Flash to allow him to escape the crystal cell. 

Nicely drawn by Dillin.

Once free, the Manhunter Grand Master yields. 

We then get a little bit of their back history, much of which leans into Kirby's imagery.

They have existed for 1000 years. They use the Pride of the Lion totem to help choose their agents. And they seek out justice.

And while Batman thinks they are just bounty hunters, the Grandmaster says they only crave justice.

It is then that we learn from Green Lantern why he is being pursued. 

Traveling through space, Green Lantern saw a number of exploding meteors all placing nearby worlds in peril. The meteors were being detonated by the magnetic waves of a nearby moon circling planet Orinda.

When GL tries to quell the moon's energies, his lantern beam bounces off the moon and destroys Orinda like the Death Star.

What is up with Green Lanterns inadvertently destroying planets. This predates Jon Stewart and Xanshi by around 10 years. Reeling from guilt, Green Lantern basically allows his ring to run out of power and turns himself into the Manhunters.

The free JLAers demand the ability to do their own investigation on Hal's supposed crime. Green Arrow and Black Canary agree to stay with the Manhunters almost as hostages to ensure the JLA don't try any chicanery.

So Superman and the others head to Orinda's system. There they see a Guardian of Oa getting harassed and almost overrun by a mob.

And the governor of the planet relay that they are the ones who put out the request with the Manhunters to capture Green Lantern.  Hal destroyed their sister planet and they aren't happy.

But what the heck is this Guardian doing out there? Why does he seem so powerless such that a mob is an actual threat? 

This seems weird.

Meanwhile on Earth, another Guardian materializes in the Manhunter headquarters.

Another Guardian! Not another Lantern! But a Guardian.

He arrives with a spare battery and uses a ring to knock out the distracted Manhunter. The Guardian then demands that Hal recharge his ring and escape so that they can analyze the situation with the Manhunters.

Okay ... one Guardian I can roll with. But two??

That means this story is going to take a big leap in scope.

Also, it seems based on this issue that Manhunter needs his whole costume in place, including his mask, to have access to all his power. With the mask off, he isn't nearly as strong.

Out in space the heroes head off to the magnetic moon to again continue their investigation about Green Lantern's purported crime.

On the moon they all fight what seems to be an indestructible, all-powerful dinosaur type creature.

It is only Batman who realizes that it is an illusion! And also, what is this moon orbiting if the planet is destroyed. The whole thing is fishy. Orinda must still exist.

So Green Lantern didn't destroy it!

The alien governor had joined this team.

When this deception is uncovered, he drops his guise as well-meaning politician.

He was part of a long standing plot to discredit the Guardians. He is, in fact, another Manhunter. And knowing he has failed this piece of the plot, he teleports away.

You almost feel for Mark Shaw here. He continues to struggle with his mission. He truly sounds like he wants to help people. He wants justice. But somehow he has been consumed by the mission of the sect, not his own desires.

And now all this interplanetary, Guardians nonsense is cropping up.

But looking at this 1970's story with Event Leviathan in mind, you do get a sense for just how advanced the Manhunters were and that is before folding in all the other spy agencies with their weapons.

I look forward to sharing the next part with you all soon!

Monday, October 19, 2020

DC January 2021 Solicits

The DC Comics solicits for Jaunuary came out last week and I have to say, I have never been more fatigued with DC than I am now. And remember, I have lived through a lot.

I don't even know if I can adequately explain or even want to. But because of METAL (which I am not reading) the DC Universe timeline is again ripped to shreds. And DC is taking two months off to give us some sort of Elseworlds mash-ups before we get back to continuity storytelling.

It feels like Convergence all over again and just a handful of years after Convergence!

Here is a link to the Superman solicits and my thoughts: 

But seriously, another reboot? I think we are number 4 in the last 20 years?

card stock variant cover by ALEX GARNER

Kara Zor-El, Superman's hot-tempered cousin, has finally found peace and purpose away from Earth and its heroes. Now known as Superwoman, she watches over the Moon and the refugees from across the galaxy who have congregated there. But all of that is about to change when a spaceship piloted by a runaway alien crash-lands and turns Kara's world upside down! Does this fugitive come in peace? Or does this arrival bring war to our hero's front door?

Why not start out with something that totally irks me ... this Future State Kara.

When the creative team of Bennett and Sauvage was leaked I was actually excited. They wrote a pretty good Kara over in Bombshells. And I thought at least she wasn't ignored in the event.

Then the solicit dropped. 

Hot-tempered. Away from Earth.



Why must DC always default back to an angry Kara who abandons Earth. That isn't Supergirl. 

Moreover, in this future state world she is at odds with Jon. So now she wants to fight her family again.

This take never works. And I am just sick to death of it.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Review: Superman #26

Superman #26 came out this week and was another example of why I will miss Brian Michael Bendis when he is off the Superman books. Because this one had it all. Clark and Lois moments. Huge action superhero sequences. A scene with Jimmy. A scene with in the Daily Planet pit. A scene in the Fortress. And all the time showcasing why Superman is simply the inspiration the world need.

If you want a primer on what a Superman issue should be, this is a pretty good one.

All good things must come to an end.

Now the main plot line here is the Synmar Utopica coming to Earth to fight Superman. I am not sure I quite understand the motivations behind this. It could be that he assumes it was Superman who killed the Synmar council last issue. But I also wonder if it is that Utopica looks at Superman as what he should be and hates himself for it. And the best way to deal with hate is to transfer it.

Of course, we know Superman didn't kill the council. Which leaves the real unanswered question ... who did? And is that threat around the corner?  Are we going to see Superman and Utopica team up in the end to fight a bigger enemy? That is about as classic a comic book trope as there is.

Ivan Reis and Danny Miki and Alex Sinclair continue to dazzle on art. The pencils and ink are tight. And whether we are in the bedroom or the boardroom or the Phantom Zone, it all looks crisp and slick. Sinclair's colors go from the dim lighting of the nighttime apartment to the dazzling reds and yellows of Utopica's skin and just makes the art sing.

This is a middle chapter and it did what I need a middle chapter to do. It moved the plot along. And it made me want more immediately.

On to the book!

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Back Issue Box: First Issue Special #5

 I was riding high on the Event Leviathan wave when the world turned.

Whether it was the pause in comic production because of COVID or the regime change at DC which led to a massive decrease in editors, the Event Leviathan:Checkmate mini-series that was supposed to come out this summer has been delayed ... hopefully not shelved.

I have heard interviews with Brian Michael Bendis in which he has said it is going to come out. But because of something it was 'building to' has changed, he has had to alter it. 

Now you probably know if you come here that I was obsessed with solving the Event Leviathan mystery, posting Leviathan Theory articles and laying odds on the suspects. I was all in. And this delay for a book I was looking forward to was disappointing.

During that same downtime, I tried to support my comic store by buying supplies and trades. One thing I ordered was the 1st Issue Special hardcover, collecting that offbeat series. And 1st Issue Special #5 was the first appearance of Jack Kirby's Manhunter ... that is Mark Shaw ... that is Leviathan.

I read that issue for the first time and it once again whet my appetite for the Leviathan series. So I figured I would do a brief look at the history of Shaw and the Manhunters. Please note that the screen shots of panels here are from a digital version.

On to the book! Prepare to meet Leviathan!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Review: Young Justice #19

Sometimes life happens.

And so I am writing my review of Young Justice #19 nearly a week after it came out.

We know that Young Justice #20 is the last issue of the series and so this issue feels like writer Brian Michael Bendis shining the spotlight on Wonder Girl in an effort to tell her story while he has time. Certainly the plot that runs through this story is quick paced, almost rushed. This would have been a fine 3 issue mini-arc. 

And I think it is a shame because I feel like this was a nice appetizer to Cassie picking up the 'team leader' responsibilities. But with one issue left, I don't think we'll get to see much of it.

The art is by Scott Godlewski who has grown in my mind. This is a bombastic issue filled with double page spreads and splashes and insane action with a couple of more human interactions sprinkled in. His style brings a sort of freshness to the proceedings. These are young adults who look like young adults. And John Timms cover is a great shot of Wonder Girl.

On to the book.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

MIke Maihack Inktober

For some time now I have talked up Mike Maihack and his wonderful take on the Batgirl/Supergirl relationship. It is always a treat when Maihack creates new content for my favorite World's Finest duo!

For the month of #inktober Maihack has promised a new small sketch of Supergirl or Batgirl or both!

What a sweet treat for this Halloween month.

We are early so I only have a couple of pics to share but they are standard Maihack awesome.

Here is a trick-or-treat scene with Kara in a spooktacular costume.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Review: Superman Family #202

Last week I reviewed Superman Family #201 picking up on Supergirl's romantic feelings towards Peter Barton. That issue ended with a cliffhanger! Supergirl's super-hypnosis granted Barton super-powers. But he could never love Supergirl as that would be an insult to his male ego. So he uses his powers to become Dynamic and try to force Supergirl to retire.

The whole idea is ludicrous. 

As always I am amazed at how much could be told back in the day. In a mere 12 pages, we get a complete resolution to these problems. 

But mostly this shows that Supergirl's romantic problems are evergreen. How could she ever love someone like Barton. Yeesh.

If there is one thing to laud this early run of Supergirl stories in Superman Family by Jack C. Harris is that he did his best to inject Supergirl mythos into the stories. Remember, he brought back Lesla Lar. In this issue, he gives one nod to her Action Comics early adventures. I appreciate flourishes like that.

On to the story.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Who's Editing!


I don't always cross-promote my rare podcast appearances on this site but I had such fun with this that I felt I wanted to share. Head here to listen:

I was the guest star with Siskoid over on The Fire And Water Podcast network on his show 'Who's Editing?' On this show, the guest and Siskoid create a line of DC books but only from the heroes (and 1 villain) within an issue of the famous DC Who's Who book from the eighties.

I got the sixth issue which includes many Doctor characters.

For this show for the characters I picked a creative team of writer, artist, and variant cover artist. I made an elevator pitch for the book and then mapped out the overall idea.

What will I do with Dr. Occult? Who did I have Sterling Gates write? Who will Chris Samnee draw? Which villain gets their own book?

I like getting the creative juices flowing and this was a blast for me. If you want to see how my comic mind works, this is a good place to start! 

Thanks again to Siskoid for inviting!

Monday, October 5, 2020

Review: Batman/Superman Annual #1

Batman Superman Annual #1 came out last week and was a fun standalone story in the mold of Annuals of my youth. Nothing like a Bat-Mite/Mr. Mxyzptlk argument to lead to an entertaining, comical story. Amazingly, the book ends with a message that should be sent far and wide in the DC Comics editorial offices.

I have been very impressed with writer Joshua Williamson's approach to heroes, especially his amazing run on the Flash. One thing he does over and over is support the heroic ideal these heroes should be living and inspiring people with. Williamson has our heroes fight in this book but basically rubs our nose in how silly the concept is. And then he sticks the landing.

The art chores are split between Clayton Henry, Gleb Melnikov, and Dale Eaglesham. Each brings a nice style to their parts. There is a lot of action here and these artists are up to the task. Melnikov gives his part a semi-cartoony look perfect for the 5th dimension.

There is even a small part that reminds me of one of my favorite stories from my youth, transporting me to summer days at the beach with a comic folded in my bag. Ahhh, nostalgia!

On to the story!

Friday, October 2, 2020

Review: Legion of Super-Heroes #9

Legion of Super-Heroes #9 came out this week, the second part of the Trial of the Legion of Super-Heroes and another fantastic art jam piece written by Brian Michael Bendis.

There is so much to love about this particular issue that you should know it was incredibly difficult to pick which pieces of the book I wanted to post here. For a Legion fan, every page is a delight.

Bendis uses the backdrop of the Trial to once again show us audition vids for various members of the team. This technique not only gives us background information on the team members (establishing new origins for some established characters) but also shows that the Legion has never wanted to be the lapdog for the UP. I guess 'eat it Grampa' could be invoked. And then he drops a bomb hinting at an upcoming storyline. Boom!

The art is crazy good with a veritable Who's Who of artists each showcasing a different Legionnaire. Too many names to drop here. Just go buy the issue.

I have been enjoying this book a ton! And these last two issues have been electric.

On the book.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Review: Batman/Superman #12

Batman/Superman #12 came out last week and was an interesting issue for a few reasons. 

For one, it is as much a Batwoman/Steel issue as it is Batman/Superman. I always like these semi-World's Finest team-ups when they happen. And seeing these two working together as more grounded members of their specific teams made for some interesting interaction.

The actual plot involving Batman and Superman is also entertaining. It took me a bit to wrap my head around exactly what was happening. But in the end, seeing our heroes being put through what seems like an endless wringer should make for some wild super-heroics in the upcoming chapters.

And lastly, there is one very brief Supergirl moment which can be read two very different ways and I am interested in hearing what you all think. Should I be an optimist or a pessimist?

Writer Joshua Williamson continues to write snappy dialogue and quick moving plots, something I appreciate in this world of endless 12 parters. And the art by Max Raynor is really gorgeous. I wouldn't mind seeing him on either a Steel book or a Batwoman book in the future.

On to the details.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Back Issue Box: Superman #108

When the concept of Synmar was introduced in Superman #25 I was intrigued with the concept that there were members of that race willing to judge and execute young Kal even before he landed on Earth. His crime? Potentially becoming a 'light god'. 

It led me to think about other times Superman was judged in some way, leading to the review of Superman #247.

I figured I would be remiss if I didn't include something from the 1990's storyline The Trial of Superman. While Synmar and the Oans were contemplating judging and silently judging Superman respectively, in The Trial, Superman is brought to court and found guilty. The crime? The death of all Kryptonians. 

The Tribunal feel that since it was an El family member which tied the populace to the planet, that the El family did not allow the race to escape. As a result, despite being generations apart, Superman needs to pay for the alleged crime of his ancestor.

In the course of this storyline, Superman has to escape prison, inspire other criminals, beat back the villain behind the new Kandor, get some help from the Superman Rescue Squad (the super family), and even face off against the Cyborg Superman. 

But after escaping and being brought back to the court setting, we are just about at the end. 

This near-ending chapter was written by Dan Jurgens with art by Ron Frenz. Let's jump right into this issue where the words, the art, and the action is all big and bombastic!

Monday, September 28, 2020

Review: Action Comics #1025

Action Comics #1025 came out last week, the next chapter in The House of Kent story arc. 

This may be a bit of a scattered review for a number of reasons. 

First off, I have enjoyed this overall arc and continue to do so. I like the Invisible Mafia antagonist. I like how some hints from early on in the Bendis run are being paid off here. I like how the super-family is together, supporting each other. And I have always liked the Daily Planet part of Bendis' Action Comics run. It remains strong here.

But there are two things that stick out that somewhat detract.

One, in this issue we are again introduced to a mega-powered new bad guy to brawl with Superman. Between Rogol Zaar, Synmar Utopica, Apex Lex, and now this new bad guy it seems like I have had a belly full of 'the next big threat'. 

And two, the art of John Romita Jr has never clicked with me but this certainly issue seems even more sloppy and ugly. 

So how do you reconcile the overall excellent story with (for me) an overused plot device and shoddy visuals?

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Supergirl Show Ending With Season Six


The news broke yesterday on multiple sources (like Variety) that the Supergirl show is ending after the sixth season. 

This sounds like it was a mutual decision between The CW and Warner Brothers and Berlanti productions. 

And my guess is this is multifactorial. 

Certainly some of the stars contracts must be nearing an end. Melissa Benoist seems poised to be a mega-star everywhere and so now might be the time for her to get off the serial television schedule and rocketship herself to new endeavors.

Benoist on Instagram had a lovely statement where she discussed how much she has enjoyed playing Kara, the impact it has had on young girls, and how she was glad the show will end on its own terms. 

As you can imagine, I am processing this news.

The show has been a delight for me, bringing my favorite character to millions of eyes and introducing her to folks who didn't even know she exists. Melissa Benoist has been a supernove, embodying the core traits of Supergirl in a way I didn't think possible. The new characters of Alex, Nia, and Winn were revelations. And the show did its best to inject Supergirl mythos like Psi and Reactron into the mix. Heck, we got a live action Legion!

So I am very sad that the show is ending. I couldn't have asked for a better representation of Supergirl in regards to Benoist.

And it is sad because I know that from week to week I might think that Supergirl was lost in her own show, a part of the ensemble rather than the star. Some episodes it seemed we barely saw her. I know that all the CW superhero shows are ensembles but there is never any doubt that The Flash and Arrow were the stars.

 Also, I have to say that at times the stories weren't stellar. At times it felt like the agenda drove the story and not the other way around.

All that said, if you asked me 6 years ago if I ever thought that I would be a Supergirl live action show at all, let alone one with this quality, I would have said you were high. And if you said someone would embody Supergirl as much as Benoist has, I'd also say you weren't grounded in reality.

I really hope that this last season crushes it. I'd love to see this end on a spectacular high note. And, of course, there is an easy way for this thing to end without crippling the Arrowverse. She heads to the future and the Legion.

But I wonder if this is it for live action Supergirl. Will someone 10 years from now think the world needs a reboot?

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Back Issue Box: Superman Family #201

Last week I reviewed Superman Family #197 in which Supergirl finds herself smitten with Peter Barton. 

So what became of Peter Barton? Just recall that Supergirl has never had much success with romance in the present. And in this story, you see that Barton isn't someone that Supergirl should be so enamored of. His views on women isn't exactly woke, even if this is a story from 1980. 

But she is, as seen on this beautiful cover by Ross Andru showing Supergirl gazing into the clouds and thinking of Barton while she also almost crashes into a plane. Lovesick Kara ... a classic trope for the character.

Let's jump right into the story!

"The Face on Cloud 9" was written by Jack C. Harris with art by Win Mortimer and Vince Colletta.

And the story matches the cover art! That doesn't always happen!

Sure enough, Supergirl is flying in the clouds and just thinking about Peter Barton. She can't shake him from her thoughts. But I love how Mortimer has her flight be a series of pirouettes. She is literally twirling in the clouds as she thinks of him. It shows how this is really more of a crush-like, almost adolescent infatuation more that a deep romance.

She is so caught up in her thoughts that she doesn't see the small airplane whose flight lane she has flown into. She has to actual rescue plane who has to swerve out of her way and nearly crashes. These invasive thoughts about Peter are almost dangerous.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Happy 61st Birthday, Supergirl


According to the DC Comics 1976 calendar, September 22nd is Supergirl's birthday.

It has been a weird year for the world.

It has been a weird year for Supergirl.

But at least for today, let's think only the best of our hero. My hope is we will see a great version of her in the comics soon enough.

As for me, 2020 can end any time it wants to.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Bullet Review: Detective Comics #1027

Detective Comics #1027 came out this week, a jumbo issue with a heavy $9.99 price tag, another major anniversary issue just 2 plus years after the mammoth Detective Comics #1000. Of course, this is the 1000th issue with Batman starring in Detective and so I suppose it deserves a bit of accolades.

I think the last Batman book that I collected monthly was Batman Incorporated. (Folks who come here know my love of Grant Morrison ... more on that later.)  I honestly don't know what is happening in the main Batman continuity and even when I hear snippets, I don't think I am missing out.

As a collector though, I love anniversary issues. And I find issues like this, a sort of anthology of short stories by terrific creative teams, to be joyous celebrations. Usually these stories are sort of touch points on themes of the character, a sort of primer on concepts and philosophies. And this issue was no different. 

I wasn't sure if I was going to bullet review this but there is 'blink and you'll miss her' Supergirl sighting and since those aren't common these days I felt compelled. But almost every story in this book is fun. I'll cover just my favorites here but if you have an extra ten bucks, this book is worth it, thick enough to be on you trade shelf.

With a ton of covers to choose from, I picked the Jim Lee 'World's Finest' cover. Hey, in my mind, these two are good friends.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Back Issue Review: Superman #247

Last week I reviewed Superman #25, the first chapter in the Synmar plot which marks the end of the Brian Michael Bendis run on the character. In that pilot, we see a race of aliens called the Synmar who seem to live in judgment over the universe. In fact, there is a brief discussion about stopping Kal-El's rocket before the baby Kryptonian can become some sort of monster.

The idea of some alien race sitting in judgment over Kal-El certainly stirred up memories of 'The Trial of Superman' storyline from the diamond era. But it also made me pull out Superman #247 in which the Guardians of the Universe wonder if they should curtail Superman's actions. They sort of sit in judgment over him as they try to impart a hard lesson.

"Must there be a Superman?" is one of the more famous Superman stories and certainly is a 'must reprint' in any Bronze Age or Seventies Superman collection. And it is an interesting thought exercise. What should Superman do? And what shouldn't he do? 
Perhaps most interesting is that the Guardians of the Universe espouse a very Luthorian view of Superman in this book. Luthor always screams that Superman is holding humanity back. Here the Guardians say much the same thing.
And the narrative boxes are also somewhat novel told in the second person, as if you the reader is Superman. 
On to the book.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

DC Comics Mug

It has been a while since I found something with Supergirl on it to buy for the Shrine or personal use.

Let's face it, 2020 hasn't been a lot of fun!

So imagine my surprise when I stumbled on this pretty sweet oversized DC mug in my travels, and for a mere $6 American!

There are a ton of tiny head shots of many characters including Supergirl so this was a no brainer.

I am of two minds with its usage though.

It is the perfect 'three cups of coffee in one' sized mug for those overwhelming caffeine needs. But I often find the coffee has gone cold by the time you reach the bottom.

It also is a nice size for portable cereal eating, for the couch or the balcony. I most likely will use it for that purpose.

But to be honest, they had me with the inclusion of Supergirl on the mug.

Every so often you need to spoil yourself. This mug made me happy. And I was glad to get something new with Supergirl on it.

I'll tweet a pic with it filled with Crunch Berries soon.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

DC Comics December 2020 Solicits

The December 2020 solicits for DC Comics came out last week. Here is a link to the Newsarama (or GamesRadar) coverage:

In the aftermath of a ton of firings at DC and a cut in titles, I was waiting for these to drop to see what DC had in mind. We still get the flagship books. But the bulk of solicits are either Dark Metal or a one month event called Endless Winter. It almost feels like the DCU is on pause a bit as they get their stuff together.

Of course when I read solicits for books like Dark Nights: Death Metal: The Last Stories of the DC Universe #1 which includes the line  'These are the stolen moments detailing the last stories of the DC Universe.' , I wonder if we are simply headed for another universal reboot. While JIm Lee recently said the 5G reboot isn't happening, I'll wait and see.

I am also sort of burying the lede for this month's solicits and this site in particular. Brian Michael Bendis' run on the Superman books ends here. Sure, we might be facing a new universe so why not bring in a new creative team. But I have enjoyed his works on these books and for the last 5 years or so between the Rebirth teams and Bendis, we have had great Superman books. Nothing gold can stay. I am sure I'll write a requiem for his run when it ends.

Here are the solicits.

art and cover by JOHN ROMITA JR. and KLAUS JANSON
card stock variant cover by RAFAEL GRAMPÁ

The powerhouse creative team of Brian Michael Bendis, John Romita Jr., and Klaus Janson wrap up their run on Action Comics with “House of Kent: Epilogue”! With the final fate of Metropolis’s underworld revealed at last, it’s time for each member of the House of Kent to face their unknown futures head on, including Lois, Conner, Jon, Kara, Jimmy, and, of course, Clark Kent! This standalone Superman story connects threads from Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Superman, Justice League, Legion of Super-Heroes, and other unforgettable series in epic—and unexpected—ways!

An epilogue to the House Of Kent book. We get a one word mention of Kara and at least she is on the cover. 

Will this give these characters directions to follow in upcoming stories? Or is the 'unexpected' connection the reboot?

And I have to admit that ending this series with JRJR art is kind of a drag.

At least Supergirl is on the cover.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Review: Superman #25


It's hard to believe but we are over two years into the Brian Michael Bendis era on the Superman books. 

That's two very solid years of Superman books on the shelves. As someone who loved the preceding teams of Dan Jurgen and Tomasi/Gleason, I think Bendis has surpassed them. Yes, not every story has been perfect. But this has felt like Superman. And for the first time in a while, I feel like the supporting cast has been loved as well. 

But apparently all good things must end. Bendis has said that his time on the Super-books is nearing a close. In fact, Superman #25 was the initially planned swan song. But we are going to get a few more months ... thankfully.

Now Superman #25 is an interesting issue. First and foremost, at least for me, it brings Lana Lang back to the super-books. I am an unabashed Lana fan and so seeing her in this book, still working for the Globe, still friends with Clark, still with a history as Superwoman. So that half of the issue is brilliant for me.

But the main story is the introduction of Synmar, another galactic level threat to square off against Superman. Bendis run began with the introduction of Rogol Zaar. We've had Mr. Oz. We've had Mongul. We've had Apex Lex. Now we have Synmar Utopica. If there is one thing that I wish we had seen in the Bendis run is a re-invigoration of some of the classic Superman villains. What would I do for a Prankster story!

Synmar at least seems like an interesting character. Bendis dubbed him the anti-Superman somewhere (or something like that). And there is an interesting wrinkle in his background seen here that makes me intrigued. More on that later. 

The art in the issue is just incredible. Ivan Reis and Danny Miki really outdo themselves with the unique look of Synmar as well as the Earth-level Lana bits. But it is Alex Sinclair on colors that really deserves a medal here. The book's colors sing, especially the bright Synmar segments.

Okay, on to the book.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Back Issue Box: Superman Family #197

Welcome to the future when it may be that I review stories on a whim!

I pulled Superman Family #197 out of the long boxes because I wanted to reread the Private Life of Clark Kent, ' A Mynah Dilemma', one of my favorite stories ever. (Perhaps I should review that one at some point.)

While I had it out, I thought I would reread the Supergirl story. I was amazed. This is one of those  'buckle up your chinstraps' Bronze Age stories were so much happens in the span of 12 short pages that you are pummeled with ideas as a reader. Seriously, when I review the plot points, I want you all to consider just how many issues it would take to tell this story in the current market.

It is a very solid Supergirl story with her using brains and brawn. There is solid subplots and supporting cast moments. And she is clearly a well established and confident hero. Throw in some timey-wimey nonsense and a potential ghost, and you have a winner of a tale, neat and sweet in a dozen pages.

Oh, and it doesn't hurt to have Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (praised be his name) doing the cover art. JLGL always draws a great Supergirl!

On to the book!

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Fandome And Argo City

I missed the first DC Fandome so I was very happy to see that a second one was being put together. 

I don't think much has been announced about this next all day virtual convention. But I am hoping that more attention will be spent on the comic side of the DCU whereas the first seemed to be concentrating on movies, television, and other media.

Maybe it is here that we will learn about anything regarding Supergirl.

Although with recent changes I doubt we'll hear about new titles.

And hat tip to Mart Gray for pointing out the aesthetics of the poster. While I am sure that the different floating cities represent different aspects of the DCU, you can't deny that they sort of have an Argo City vibe to them. 

A while ago I took a deep dive into Argo, looking at its history in all the different ages of the DCU. If you dig deep enough here, you can get some of those posts:

Suffice it to say, Argo's destiny is usually tragic.

I might actually be able to 'attend' some of this Fandome. Let's hope we that we get some Supergirl news.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Review: Young Justice #18

Young Justice #18 came out this week and was something of a rest issue for this book although taking a good look at the relationship of Spoiler and Tim Drake, a couple I like seeing together. For me, I have been a Stephanie Brown fan forever, loving her time as Batgirl written by Bryan Q. Miller. So seeing her close off part of her past and rekindle her romance with Tim is wonderful.

But this book was just announced to be canceled in the near future and with so much of 'how and why are the key members back in this universe' still unanswered, even a Drake/Spoiler issue feels like space that could have been devoted to the main storylines. Of course, this issue might have been read many months before the decision to cancel was made.

One of the bigger complaints I hear about this book is that it has seemed to meander a bit, always hinting at a bigger, universal story but never quite getting there. I am sad to see that it is being canceled before writer Brian Michael Bendis crosses the finish line. Because I have enjoyed this book. I like all these characters and how Bendis handles them. And I hope that the book ending doesn't mean this team is ending. Come on DC! Give us a special now and then.

The art is an interesting mix by Michael Avon Oeming and Scott Godlewski. Oeming pencils a fight scene at the beginning which is a flashback and brings a sort of 'Batman the Animated Series' energy to the fight with great panels showing the brawl. The remainder is drawn by series regular Scott Godlewski who grounds us more in the feel of this book and also gives us a great melee scene as well.

On to the book.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Review: Batman/Superman #11

Batman/Superman #11 came out this week, the conclusion of the Ultra-Humanite story that writer Josh Williamson has been crafting. For me, these quicker stories (this one just three issues) make for much needed relief in this era of mega-storylines like the ones I have seen recently in Justice League and other books. 

One thing Williamson has been doing in this title since the beginning is use the plots to examine the friendship between Superman and Batman. Sure, things like The Batman Who Laughs and The Ultra-Humanite are bringing them together on adventures. But what keeps them together. I have been liking what has been going on here as both characters at times question the camaraderie, wondering themselves why they are in it together only to have the other reaffirm the friendship.

And the Ultra-Humanite plot here is pretty silly fare, wrapped up a bit too quickly and neatly. But under that is another look at how the DC universe is reacting to Superman's reveal that he is Clark Kent. I don't think it should get under the skin (as it were) of the Ultra-Humanite as much as it does here. But whose to say. When you think your best recourse in life is to live inside the body of an albino gorilla, maybe I shouldn't expect mature emotional responses. Most interesting is that it is the exact opposite to the response of another Superman villain, The Toyman.

The art by Clayton Henry is crisp and lovely, bringing this whole story to a decent enough conclusion. 

And thankfully, my questions on the Ultra-Humanite's powers are answered here as well.

On to the book.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Review: Amethyst #5

Amethyst #5 came out last week, the penultimate issue of this Wonder Comic re-imagination of the character. Writer/artist Amy Reeder is sprinting to the finish line a bit. But of all the issue of this title so far, this one had the most emotion. And this has been an emotional series.

I worried that last issue didn't bring the story forward enough. This issue made up for that by giving us a huge exposition scene where all the things Amy has been trying to learn is revealed to her. She heads to House Diamond, the rulers of the Gemworld, and asks them. It makes me wonder why she didn't do that from the beginning.

But that scene does show us that perhaps House Amethyst isn't the perfect example of heroism that Amy was led to believe. Reeder has been hinting about that this whole time. But now we learn the details. And they aren't pretty.

The real win here is Amy's reaction to learning about the news. Between the stress of her journey with Phoss and Maxixe and this revelation, we see how this affects out princess. And Reeder's art perfectly portrays the emotions Amy is reeling with. 

As I have said before, I wish I could eat this art it is so delicious. While some of Reeder's expressive work might be too stylized, for me it just works. There are a couple of perfect panels in this book.

And thanks to the Diamond scene, I think we are set up for this book to come to a satisfactory conclusion next issue. Last issue's pause was made up for with this issue's velocity.

On to the book.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Review: Legion Of Super-Heroes #8

Legion of Super-Heroes #8 came out last week and was a powerhouse of an issue. 

A sort of jam piece where every page focuses on one Legionnaire and is drawn by a different artist as the fight between the Legion and King Crav and the Rimbor gang comes to a head. For someone like me, a long time Legion reader, seeing these glimpses at different Legionnaires and hearing a bit of their origins, learning a bit about their powers, this was a complete treat.

As I have said before, writer Brian Michael Bendis is walking the tightrope of this book. There is enough classic Legion stuff here for an old timer like me to love. There is a feeling of a hodgepodge approach to the team here with elements of several incarnations mashed together. And there is enough new stuff here to make me intrigued. And this approach of giving each Legionnaire a page is a great way to introduce new readers to these characters.

But the real treat here is the art. This is a real heavy hitting lineup of artists each bringing jaw dropping art. It would be easy to post each page here. But I have to pick and choose carefully. Please go out and get the issue! It is amazing!

On to the book!

Friday, August 28, 2020

Review: Action Comics #1024


After what felt like an eternity of no new material to cover on this site, I was delighted to see a glut of books in my folder this week - Legion, Amethyst, Batman/Superman, and today's review Action Comics #1024

This issue marks the third chapter in the House of El story arc where the Superman family is brought together to finally (I think) bring an end to the Invisible Mafia plot thread which started writer Brian Michael Bendis' run here. I have heard rumors everywhere that Bendis' run on the Superman books is coming to an end sometime in the near future so closing out this Mafia arc makes sense.

But for me, the biggest thing of this issue is the return of Supergirl to the forefront and the beginning of the Superman Family (notice the capital letters).  After months of Supergirl in space, axe-wielding Kara, evil Kara, and goth clown Kara, we actually have a true Supergirl sighting here. It made me smile. Thankfully. I needed this as a Supergirl fan.

Things are also brought to a boiling point as we round the corner of this arc. Often times middle chapters can plod along a bit without true progression. Not true here. I do wonder if we have a 'fridging' here but certainly that isn't the only motivation our heroes have to take down the Mafia.

The art by John Romita Jr is in his style although there are a couple of high points in the issue I will point out later. And I like the cover more for the 'meet the new boss' trade dress. It's Superman ... same as the old boss!

On to the book.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Variant Cover Action Comics #1027

What has happened to Supergirl since her comic left?

Is the military still after her?

Is she still having hallucinations?

Is she still hating Earth?

One thing we do know is that Brian Michael Bendis seems to have her best interests in mind. She has always been portrayed well in the Superman books.

I was thrilled when I saw this variant cover of Action Comics #1027 on line. Once again we see Supergirl as a prominent member of the Super-family.

But the big thing is that it is drawn by Gary Frank!

I have always loved Frank's art. He did the early issues of the Supergirl series by Peter David. And he drew her when Geoff Johns helped reclaim her character in the Brainiac arc in Superman.

Look, I know I am searching for any hope, but at least she isn't in Goth mode.

I'll be there for this variant, for sure.

It is just good to see Kara back.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Back Issue Box: Superman #123 -

I continue to figure out what to cover on this site with a complete dearth of Supergirl material to bolster new input. 

I sometimes am amazed at issues I haven't covered on this site despite this place being around for 12 years. One of those issues is Superman #123, the first appearance of a version of Supergirl. Here we met Super-Girl (notice the hyphen). 

It has always been said that this issue was a sort of trial run for Kara. But I wish some of the folks responsible were alive to discuss this more. 

Was there a discussion where it was said 'we should make a Supergirl but before we bring one into the universe, let's give a dry run to see how people like it'. Was there a discussion where they said 'if there is a big response we should consider making a Supergirl'? Or did they simply read the responses to this one-off character and say 'we should create one'? I know these are minor differences but I wish I could pick the brains of the creators to see if they remembered. This issue was released in June of 1958. Action Comics #252 came out in March of 1959. So we are 9 months away from our Supergirl.

I also wish I could find the letter column covering this issue to see what the letters were like to see if there was a feel about the fans' take from there.

I do wonder if the 'feel' of this story defined how Kara Zor-El would be treated in her own stories. If this was wildly popular, the writers might have decided to continue the relationship we see here between Super-Girl and Supergirl.

Lastly, I am presenting this from my copy of Supergirl Archives Vol. 1. If you see this in reprint form in other comics, they usually color Super-Girl's costume as green and orange and make her a redhead. It differentiates her from Kara and makes it less confusing. But in the original coloring (as presented here) she is in the red and blue. 

On to the story.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Supergirl Show Lego

 DC Fandome was this last weekend and I am still sifting through the coverage to see if any Supergirl news came  out of it.

One thing we did see last week is that an exclusive Supergirl lego mini-figure was made for the  event and given to some lucky people.

It is a clearly Kara from the show. Whether it is the bangs or the pants, there is no denying this is a cool figure based on Melissa Benoist

I love it, especially for the bangs! Too cute.

I can only hope that this becomes available to all people and in all lego-carrying venues. 

Come on DC, send one my way!

And as I said before, send me any FanDome news you think I would be interested in!