Friday, March 24, 2023

Review: Batman/Superman World's Finest #13

Everyone should be reading Batman/Superman World's Finest. 

I cannot remember the last time I was so thrilled to read a comic. This title, written by Mark Waid and drawn by Dan Mora, has been a complete treasure. It is a sort of classic look at the Superman and Batman families. It is a little bit of a primer/teaser to the DCU as a whole. It includes deep dive references for grizzled readers like me. And it is fun! Comics should be fun!

World's Finest #13 came out this week and was another rollicking, entertaining issue. We have seen Waid bring in the Doom Patrol, the Teen Titans, and other guest stars here. This time we are deep diving into Metamorpho, the Element Man. Tremendous! Waid throws in a significant plotline, the death of Simon Stagg, that directly impacts one of our title stars. 

Dan Mora is a machine. I think, if you compare this to the first few issues, he is a bit sparser in his details. I am not surprised given the amount of work I am seeing from him out there. From covers to the upcoming Shazam book, Mora must be a machine. His stuff still sizzles. There are a couple of pages in this book that are just stunning. So I am glad that even though he is on Shazam he is still sticking around here too.

Waid and Mora have given us a baker's dozen of winners. Everyone should be reading this book. On to the details.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

DC Comics June 2023 Solicits

The solicits for DC's comic slate for June came out last week and there are some interesting things listed. That includes a couple of cancelations on the Bat side of things. Tom King will be taking over Wonder Woman so I won't be collecting that book for the first time in many years. 

Here is a link to the books:

The Superman books really seem to be firing on all cylinders lately so it looks like I'll have to squirrel away a few more pennies. On to those books.

ActionComics #1056

A shocking new character makes their debut as the thrill-packed “Speeding Bullets” concludes! Superman and Metallo must reluctantly join forces to stop the Cyborg Superman. With Tracy Corben’s life (or at least her humanity) hanging in the balance, the Super-Family fights to keep Metropolis standing. Meanwhile, Lois and the staff of the Daily Planet set out to uncover the mysterious leader—and shocking origin—of Blue Earth!

I'm loving this story so far and the return of Hank Henshaw as the Cyborg is a great move. Is the 'shocking new character' the leader of Blue Earth? Or is it someone we should be making guesses about? Intriguing. Could we see someone like Earth Man in the present?

Superman #5
Art and cover by JAMAL CAMPBELL
Variant covers by JOHN CASSADAY and JORGE FORNES
1:25 variant cover by HAYDEN SHERMAN
1:50 variant cover by MIKEL JANIN
DC Pride variant cover by W. SCOTT FORBES

Silver Banshee is back—and more dangerous than ever! Given a massive power upgrade by Lex Luthor’s archenemies, Silver Banshee’s scream rocks Metropolis, and Superman must stop her from destroying his city while also saving her life. Be ready for the shock ending that stabs this series in its heart!

Silver Banshee as Jimmy's girlfriend is just about as perfect a Silver Age pastiche as you can get. Amazing! Will this be classic Banshee or will we see the New 52 version who was so prominent in the Supergirl book?

And that last sentence? Could the Banshee somehow remember the Kent secret identity and scream 'Clark Kent'? Will she attack Lex?

Batman/Superman World’s Finest #16
Written by MARK WAID
Art and cover by DAN MORA
Variant cover by LEE BERMEJO

Batman and Superman versus machines! A.I. villains and heroes—Shaggy Man, G.I. Robot, Red Tornado, and Chemo among them—have launched a global cyberattack alongside Newmazo’s soldiers. Batman, Superman, Robin, and Metamorpho, the Element Man, are unprepared for the onslaught. With millions of lives on the line, the World’s Finest team must find a way to pull the plug before it’s too late!

Newmazo?? God bless Mark Waid.

I hope that part of the machines include the Metal Men. Because my guess is Dan Mora's Metal Men will look awesome. 

This book keeps on delighting. This sounds appropriately delightful.

Adventures of Superman Jon Kent #4
Written by TOM TAYLOR
Art and cover by CLAYTON HENRY
Variant covers by ZU ORZU and AL BARRIONUEVO

The faces are familiar, but the situation is a nightmare. Jon Kent finds himself on an Earth where his friends and loved ones are at war—a place where his personal heroes fight each other for control of the world. What will he do when he discovers that this world’s version of his father, Clark Kent, is on the verge of becoming a dictator?

I suppose lots of super-titles will eventually get an All-Star Superman #1 cover homage. Nicely done. 

Pitting Jon against evil versions of his father might grow tiresome. But this is a mini-series. 

Hoping this title is a bit crisper than the Son of Kal-El book. 

Steelworks #1
Cover by CLAY MANN
Variant covers by JON BOGDANOVE and SAMI BASRI

The Metropolis of the future is here today, but can it survive a terrorist who’s out for revenge against its builder—John Henry Irons, a.k.a. Steel—and his company, Steelworks…and who possesses secrets that could undo everything John has worked so hard to build?
While John’s professional life is firing on all cylinders, his personal life is even better, as his on-again, off-again relationship with Lana Lang might be back on, permanently. Now he must decide whether it’s time to give up being Steel once and for all. But does John even know who he would be without his superhero identity? How does the other Steel—John’s niece, Natasha Irons—feel about his momentous decision? And does any of that matter if Steelworks crumbles around him when he lacks the superpowers to fight back? Writer Michael Dorn (the voice of Steel in Superman: The Animated Series) teams up with artist Sami Basri (Harley Quinn, Catwoman) to bring you the next chapter of Steel’s saga in this not-to-be missed six-issue miniseries!

I have to admit I was not expecting this. 

I don't know if Michael Dorn has writing chops so hope he has a good editor to smooth out any snags. I have like Sami Basri's art on everything I have seen so that's a nice touch. 

Bringing back Lana made me smile. As a Lana fan I can't remember the last time we saw her for a prolonged period if time. 

Drop in a cover by Jon Bogdanove and I am pretty interested.

Superboy The Man of Tomorrow #3
Art and cover by JAHNOY LINDSAY
Variant cover by RICARDO LOPEZ ORTIZ
1:25 variant cover by TOM REILLY

Superboy’s team-up with the Cosmoteers is yielding rocky results. While they’re taking down many of Dominator X’s labs, their team dynamics leave much to be desired. Can this new quartet pull themselves together when Dominator X unleashes his most monstrous creation yet…the hulking Infinity?!

The Cosmoteers? I guess it's better than Ravers.

I hope Dominator X is truly a Dominator. I'll take anything even Legion-adjacent these days!
Superman: Lost #4
Variant cover by LEE WEEKS
1:25 variant cover by RAFAEL SARMENTO

Can even Superman withstand being pushed past the point of emotional and psychological endurance? Marooned on a comet in uncharted space, the Man of Steel reflects on his humble Smallville origins as crushing emotional fatigue threatens to end his journey back—trauma which results in Lois’s struggle to reconnect with the virtual stranger in her own home.

The first issue of this mini-series really hit home for me. So I am interested to see how Christopher Priest fills in the gap. Superman was gone for 20 years but in the first issue that was one page. Now we get to see this journey. 

I suppose this is a story of hope and determination. I am looking forward to seeing where this all goes.

What did you all think?

Friday, March 17, 2023

Review: Superman Lost #1

Superman:Lost #1 came out this week, a delightful surprise in my pull list.

The book appeared in solicits a few months ago, described as a 10 issue maxi-series by (Christopher) Priest and Carlo Pagulayan with the overall plot of Superman being thrown into space and taking 20 years to return to Earth. I have always enjoyed Priest's stories but this one didn't strike me at first.

I wasn't too interested in reading a story where Superman returns to an aged Lois, a new world order, a (presumed) dystopia. This is why I am not a professional writer.

Because Priest sets the stage wonderfully here and takes the story down a path I wasn't expecting. A great path. Moreover, Priest always ... I mean always ... writes a great Justice League and we get a lot of the team here in this first issue. And then, surprisingly for a story throwing Superman into deep space with a long travel home, he throws in a very engaging Lois subplot. We get a lot of sweet moments of the Kents in their home. I finished the issue and wanted more.

Now what puts Superman into space might be a macguffin but it gets us where we need to be.

Carlo Pagulayan does great work here. The issue is a mix of quiet character moments and high action and his work is just stellar. His work feels almost like a Gary Frank merged with Mike Allred. High high compliment!

On to the book!

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Back Issue Box: Superman Family #165

I am rapidly approaching my 15th anniversary here on the site. That is a loooooong time and that means that I have reviewed a lot of books! It also means that I sometimes forget what I have reviewed and what I haven't reviewed. 

So I have to admit that I was shocked when I discovered that I have never reviewed Superman Family #165, the first original Supergirl story in the Superman Family anthology book. 

This is a crazy time for the Superman books. Back in February of 1974, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen was 'canceled' with Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #163. The numbering for the book was assumed by Superman Family, an anthology book with a rotating original story (noted by the larger image on the cover and the top spot of the character role on the left). Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, and Supergirl would rotate that original story spot during this bimonthly 'reprint' era of the book. 

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane was still being published when Superman Family came about but it only had a few more issues before it was canceled and rolled into anthology. Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #137 was the final issue, in the September/October 1974 schedule. 

The first solo Supergirl book was still on-going, but nearing the end of its 10 issue run. Supergirl #10, the last issue of that volume, was also on the racks in that fateful September/October 1974 shipping window.

Here we have Superman Family #165, on the rack in the June/July 1974 shipping window, meaning for a couple of months folks were getting an extra original Supergirl story to read and enjoy!

Put in the historical context, Supergirl had been part of a mobile news team in her Adventure Comics run, which ended with Adventure Comics #424. That story, cover dated October 1972, had her quit the journalism racket. The next month in Supergirl #1, cover dated November 1972, Linda enrolled in Vandyre University as an acting student.

Now semi-headlining Superman Family, it was time for another change. Talk about a character being a bit in the blender. And things get even crazier. So let's dive in!

Monday, March 13, 2023

Wicked Comic-Con Prep

In about 5 weeks I'll be heading to the latest local comic book convention, Wicked Comic Con. 

Last year, Wicked Comic Con exploded on the scene with their first convention. The place was packed with comic book creators and I had a blast.

Already the convention has grown with the con now at the Prudential Convention Center, one of the preeminent convention sites here in Boston. And like last year, the convention is really embracing the comic side of conventions with a huge creator list. This is comic book focused for sure.

I'll be there both days and have a couple of commission ideas that I might comment on in a later post. I haven't had a ton of luck at recent cons to grab some sketches but I am hopeful. And there a couple of artists in attendance who I think would do a very interesting take on Supergirl. Fingers crossed.

Now I have been to many conventions over the last 15 years so many of the creators in attendance I have seen before, including some favorites like Amanda Conner, Chris Bachalo, and Terry Dodson. But here are some of the folks I am most interested in seeing and hopefully chat with.

And as always, I hope to run into friends there so if anyone is going to be there, let me know!

Let's start with Jeph Loeb, a creator I have never met before. Loeb is a legend in the business with many famous works under his belt. 

For me, he is the man who brought back Kara Zor-El to the mainstream DCU. I have a ton of questions to ask him (hopefully) about his take on Kara. Remember, early in that series she was pretty angry and ready to lash out at people. Batman didn't trust her. Where did all that come from?

I'll have some of those Supergirl issues to get signed and probably a smattering of Red Hulk, Batman/Superman, and Superman For All Seasons with me too.

Who else am I hoping to chat up?

Friday, March 10, 2023

Review: Adventures Of Superman Jon Kent #1

Adventures of Superman Jon Kent #1 came out this week, the first part of this mini-series which will send Jon out into the multiverse with a new set of powers. I am trying to come at this with a fresh and clean perspective. And overall I thought this issue grabbed my attention and wanted me to read more. So kudos to the team.

Writer Tom Taylor is at the helm again, guiding Jon into this next phase of character growth. I admit I didn't love the Son of Kal-El  title. Jon seemed like a background character when compared to Jay Nakamura. Jon seemed extremely passive in the book. It was a badge of honor for Taylor that Jon never threw a punch. The politics were ham-fisted and overly simplistic. So the 'powers that be' decided to end that title and bring us this.

And it looks like, perhaps, the idea is to distance Jon from all that. Jon will not only off-world, he'll be out of the universe. He is going into what looks like a very physical confrontation with Ultraman. It also looks like his power set will change to the Electric Blue Superman. I applaud it all. Jon has a history with Ultraman. There are a lot of supers out there now - Kara, Conner, Otho, Osul - so why not differentiate Jon. I am hopeful.

The art is by Clayton Henry who just brings a smooth, gorgeous line to the proceedings. His work continues to improve. While much of the book is conversational, the book is just wonderful to look at.

Is this a move to phase Jon out of the universe for good? We'll see. 

On to the book.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Review: Monkey Prince #12

Monkey Prince #12 came out this week, the end of this series which I discovered on the back end. I came for the Supergirl guest star but I stayed for the good story.

Writer Gene Luen Yang and artist Bernard Chang continue to bring a tremendous story to life here. I have really been entertained by this young hero learning the ropes, guided by a mentor, finding his place in the DCU. Add to it a super-villain family and a mysterious origin and  you have a great mix of character pieces to build on. 

But there also was a sense of joy here. And a solid sense of humor. Monkey Prince talks the way I would talk if I was a teenager who suddenly had powers and was rubbing elbows with Supergirl. He relishes his powers with a sense of wonder and fun. 

I guess I would say this reads like classic Spider-Man to me. Quips and kicks flying!

I have always been a fan of Bernard Chang's art and he really shines here. I love the mythic aspects and the action. And his Supergirl is just glittering. I loved him when he was on the Supergirl book back in the day so it is great to see his take on Kara again.

In fact, if there is one thing to complain about here, it is the treatment of Supergirl in this last issue. She is taken out ... albeit by magic ... and needs rescuing. She never gives up. She keeps fighting. But it would have been great if she wasn't the weak link.

On to the book ... and then onto the back issue boxes for me to get the first eight issues.