Monday, January 18, 2021

Review: Future State Superman/Wonder Woman #1

Future State has, for the most part, been a disappointment to me. But one of the issues I did quite like was the solo Future State Wonder Woman book which struck me as a sort of PG-13 Amethyst book more than the dark and dismal other things I have read.

With that in mind, I decided to get Future State Superman/Wonder Woman #1. This story clearly takes place before Superman of Metropolis and the Wonder Woman book. And happily, I will say this book puts a bit more of a glow on Jon. Unlike the rather dense and impetuous Superman we got in Superman of Metropolis, he really seems to have taken on the mantle of Superman nicely.

Unfortunately, I found this issue's take on Wonder Woman not to my liking at all. There was a certain naive energy and frenetic joy to her adventure in her own book. Here, she is a scowling social justice warrior who actually acts more like a villain to me than a hero. 

Take away her rather haughty and violent manner and you have a pretty decent team-up book showcasing our two titular characters in adventures which finally mesh at the end. Writer Dan Watters keeps the action moving. You get the sense this would be a sort of World's Finest style book were it to continue with Wonder Woman playing the gruff, 'punch first' foil to Superman's more polished demeanor.

Leila Del Luca is on art here. I have always liked here style and no difference with that here. Much of this story is just people talking, either amongst themselves or with an AI sun despot. But her style is vibrant and dynamic, so no complaints.

But I am glad that the sullen Wonder Woman I read here isn't necessarily the final take on the character.

On to the book.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Review: Future State Kara Zor-El Superwoman #1

Future State: Kara Zor-El Superwoman #1 came out this week and it took me a while to work out my feelings for this book. I suppose any book that has me thinking about it should be looked at as a win these days. Any book that has me re-read it the very day of purchase also should be looked upon as a success. It takes more and more to really hook me in these days.

In the end, I have conflicted feelings. I want a good Supergirl story. But I also, desperately, don't want a bad Supergirl story. And while this book is definitely not the latter, I am not sure it is the former.

Writer Marguerite Bennett at the very least doesn't make Supergirl angry or evil. This isn't the infected Goth Queen. It isn't even the Nirhodium-addled Kara from the FS Superman of Metropolis book. So hooray for that. And this is a Supergirl that seems to know who she is and what she wants. That gives her some agency. So you might think that I liked this book. And, as I said, at the very least it is far removed from takes on Supergirl we have seen too much of and which I definitely don't like. 

But then you realize that instead of angry angsty Supergirl, we have got sad, isolated Kara instead. This is a Kara that feels rejected or even hated by her family and the people of Earth. She is someone who has flown to a safe haven which hasn't exactly embraced her. She is someone who's emotional compass is a dog. And ultimately, she is someone who falls back into rage as a default. 

And all of that flies in the face of everything Brian Michael Bendis gave us in his books. A Kara respected by Kal and Jon. A smart strategic Kara who was a leader. The President of Earth in the future.

So better than her solo book? Yes. A good Supergirl story? Not quite yet.

The art by Marguerite Sauvage is very good. It fits the tone of this story nicely, an issue mostly of Supergirl talking with a new character. The muted color palette also works very well with the art as we get this almost idyllic feel to this haven. 

On to the book.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Back Issue Box: Manhunter #2-4

Today I continue my deep dive into the character of Mark Shaw, looking for clues in his past that could have predicted his descent into Leviathan. I have reached his solo title, Manhunter. And as I said in a past post, I'll probably be a little loose with my coverage, not necessarily having a single post for each issue. Instead, I'll batch as feels appropriate.

Today, I'll cover Manhunter #2-#4, completing the first arc in this title. We saw the set-up in Manhunter #1. Shaw has moved on from super-heroing into bounty hunting. His family has mixed feelings about it. A reclusive actress named Olivia Vancroft has taken in interest in adding the Manhunter mask to her collection. And she has hired Dumas, a masked assassin with shape-changing abilities to procure it for her.

This storyline brings Shaw to Japan under false pretenses, has him wanted by the police, and gives us some needed backstory of his family. But most of all, for me, it begins to show how secrets, deceptions, and masks play huge roles in Shaw's personal history. You can see how his hatred of secrets and his understanding of the powers of masks is cultivated.

Writers John Ostrander and Kim Yale infuse a lot of Japanese culture into this story, a nice way to play into the shogun style costume Shaw wears. And Doug Rice and Sam Kieth bring the same energy to the book they brought to the opener. 

On to the book. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Back Issue Box: Superman Family #210

Last week I reviewed Future State: Superman of Metropolis #1, another in a litany of DC books where Supergirl is angry, borderline murderous, and the pawn of a villain. 

I'm sick of it.

Whenever I need a little palate cleanser, I head to the long boxes and look for some joy. I also have been nursing some sport fan ennui. My college hoops team is struggling. The Patriots didn't make the playoffs. 

So why not find a Supergirl sports story.

And so I give you a 40 year old comic, Superman Family #210,  with a wild Supergirl story with some dated references, some crazy sports action, an odd villain who seems like he would be at home in the present, and a rapid denouement. Plus, if you need a primer on Bronze Age, check out the other stories. Clark typing the future? Lois gets a puppy? Jimmy has doubles?

Buckle up! Here we go!

Monday, January 11, 2021

Sterling Gates/Sarah Leuver Supergirl Show Comic

Happy New Year!

I know we are more than a week into 2021 but this little gift from Sterling Gates and @comickergirl Sarah Leuver gave fans of Supergirl and the Supergirl show a true gift, a 6 page mini-comic. Gates explained he did it as a gift to the producers of the show. But for Kara fans and show fans, it is the best present.

I'll present the pages as is with a little commentary at the bottom. 

"Remember Me" covers so many of the best things of not only the show but Gates' run on the title lo so many years ago.

This quick tour of Kara's life by looking at a week is just a delightful mix showing how complicated she is. Free spirit, singing Katy Perry. Fierce warrior fighting supervillains. (Love the Facet namedrop, the antagonist in Gates' Adventures of Supergirl comic.) Survivor of loss, remembering her parents and wondering if she upholds her original culture. And role model, espousing and truly living the motto of 'Hope, help, and compassion for all.'

This is her life.

And frankly, its the life I want to read. 

 Add to that Leuwer's great art, fun and breezy, expressive and soulful. She really captures Kara (and Melissa Benoist's) emotions.

I won't complain about other takes on the character. I'll just say that DC should take note of this as a template for whatever they have planned next for Supergirl. Heck, get this team on the book. 

Thanks again to the creators. Amazing stuff!

Friday, January 8, 2021

Review: Future State Superman Of Metropolis #1

DC's Future State experiment happened this week, the look at possible futures born out of the end of the seemingly interminable Death Metal event.

Fandom had heard about DC's 5G reboot, a recreation of the DCU with new characters in familiar roles. When the 'forever' 5G timeline was truncated to a couple of months, we ended up with Future State.

I am grateful. Because if the Superman I read in Future State Superman of Metropolis #1 was going to be the new reality, I might have to finally jump off. This is written by Sean Lewis, a name I don't know. We still get Jon Kent. We still get Supergirl. But their characterization and intelligence is way off of anything I would want to read long term.

Jon, the bright and smart Superboy, is reduced to an impetuous young man, acting first before thinking. 

Supergirl is an angry hot-head, screaming about wanting to murder her cousin and fighting first. And while there is a story element to explain her actions, I simply don't care. I am sick of reading mind-controlled evil Supergirls who come within an eyelash of murder. We went from the respect Brian Michael Bendis gave Kara to this grim caricature. Honestly, I am just sick of this presentation of Kara. I am not surprised by it any more. But I am sick of it.

And it is a bit of a shame. Because the artwork is by John Timms. I really like Timm's take on Supergirl. He really gives her a polished look. He does a great job with the action here. And even the villain looks like a nice sort of Keith Giffen-y creature. Give me a Timms book with a happy, heroic  Supergirl!

On to this book!

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Back Issue Bin: Manhunter #1

I continue my deep dive into Mark Shaw's character in anticipation of the upcoming Leviathan Checkmate mini-series. Our next stop is the Manhunter series from the late 80's. 

Today I will cover Manhunter #1 as a solo post. The point of this deep dive is to look for historical clues in Shaw's life that might lead him down the path to Leviathan. I don't know if every issue will contain enough to be it's own post so I may cover several at a time. 

But given this is the first issue and sets up the title, I thought it deserved the space. And honestly, I have only read the first two issues of this back when it came out. So I will be discovering this along with you. 

Manhunter was part of an explosion of new titles coming out from DC in this time period.  Written by John Ostrander and Kim Yale with art by Doug Rice and Sam Kieth. Sam Kieth!

Ostrander was writing Suicide Squad at the time, a sort of darker take on the underbelly of the DCU. Unlike that book, Manhunter looks like it will have a more jovial nature. Shaw here seems to be more of an easy-going, wise-cracking hero. So it will be interesting to look forward and see if things change in tone.

Rice and Kieth bring a sort of manga style action to the proceedings here. There is some pizzazz here, some energy which very well with the action.

From Manhunter to Privateer to Star Tsar back to Privateer and now back to Manhunter. Let's get ready for this chapter of the character!