Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Dan Didio Leaves DC Comics


The news broke last week that Dan Didio was out as publisher at DC Comics. Here is a link to where I read it first - The Hollywood Reporter of all places:
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/dcs-dan-didio-as-publisher-1280488

I am in the medical profession and I know nothing of the inner workings of publishing. I never wish ill on anyone.

What I do know is that under his tenure, I often didn't recognize the DC Universe I was reading. It was often a very dark place. The overall feeling was often dark, grim, dismal, depressing.

He would say things like this.

Heroes shouldn't have happy personal lives. They are committed to being that person and committed to defending others at the sacrifice of their own personal interests,” he said, according to reports. “That's very important and something we reinforced.

Heroes can't be happy. They can't be married. They can't have families.

He would promote books like Heroes in Crisis where a beloved hero, the hallmark of hope in the DCU becomes a killer.

"I do believe you need that visceral impact in a story," DiDio continued. "Heroes In Crisis is really going to be a book that I think will really reclassify and redefine what it takes to be a hero again in the DC Universe."

Visceral. As if you couldn't have a story where a hero could do good because it was the right thing to do. Where a hero could be happy about being a hero. Where it wasn't all hands being cut off and offal.





It was a universe where evil was relative. Where you might have to root for something evil because it was the lesser of two evils.

Is that the DCU we know?


And then there was Supergirl under his tenure. Of all legacy characters, of all characters with a history, Supergirl was one who was a beacon of hope and optimism and brightness. I don't think he understood her at all.


Within her first arc, she was sexualized. She was turned evil. She was doubted by Batman.






In her solo title's first arc, she became Dark Kara.




In her title's second year, we learned she was sent to Earth to kill Superman. She had shot up a high school on Krypton with her deranged father.

All this darkness was rejected by long term Supergirl fans. People who want angsty characters won't read Supergirl. Supergirl fans don't want her angsty. It is a recipe for disaster. In 3 years they tried it three times. It never works.

Thankfully, Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle came on and righted the ship. But then that universe went away.


In the New 52, she was angry. She hated Superman. She wanted to be left alone. She was willing to blow up Earth with H'el to save Krypton. She left Earth and was killed by the Cyborg Superman (she got better).




Not dark enough?

They made her a Red Lantern.

As always, it didn't work.


Then Rebirth happened and after some rough spots we were in a good place. Supergirl was the hero of National City. She accepted Earth.

So of course the plug was pulled. She was made the Mistress of the Axe. She was a near killer.

Not dark enough?


Let's infect her with the Batman Who Laughs and make her a villain.

Guess what, it didn't work. The book was canceled.

Welcome to the wash/rinse/repeat cycle of Supergirl darkness. If something dark doesn't sell, we should only make it darker. Until sales plummet to the point that we either redeem or cancel. And then, a couple of years later, we'll try the darkness again.

It is like Supergirl is a microcosm of the warped view we saw over and over under Didio's watch. 

And yet ...

And yet ...

We got Morrison's Action Comics run.
We got the DCYou revamp with books like Black Canary and Starfire.
We got the Gates/Igle run of Supergirl.
We got Multiversity.

There were high points. But it reminded me of a line from Peter Milligan's Extremist comic. They were like 'perfumed hankerchiefs in a field of sh*t'. Bright spots on a dismal canvas.




And then, on line, I saw many creators, people whose work I love and admire, compliment Didio for his passion and dedication for his work. They talked about how Didio wasn't behind everything but he took all the on-line abuse, protecting his creative workforce.

I often loathed his overall DCU.
But I loved some books under his tenure.
I couldn't help but think someone with a clearer vision and love of the DCU would be better in his position.
But I know nothing of publishing.
And creators whose work I love lauded him.
But Supergirl was misunderstood by him and those beneath him.

Perhaps it is simply too big for me to grasp.

Will the DCU be better under the next regime?
I can only hope.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Review: Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #8


Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #8 came out last week and was another hoot of an issue. I find myself grinning like a goof after I read this book. It is tough to follow the big story arcs. It is told in a crazy way. Nonlinear isn't enough to describe it. Random?

But it is all good and I have a solid enough feeling about it to just float along and enjoy.

Like past issues, this issue leans into Jimmy's  crazy history throughout all continuities. We get riffs on Silver Age. But there is also a Jimmy take on the Reign of the Superman which truly made me laugh out loud. Matt Fraction continues to inject humor into this book, both side jokes and funny long form plots. I am going to be so sad when this ends.

Steve Lieber also shines here. The panel breakdown, the pages, the different looks of Jimmy, the expressive work all is perfect here.

I know sales aren't great. But I am going to miss this. Maybe DC can give Fraction and Lieber an annual or a special or something when this is all done? I need the smiles!

On to the book!

Friday, February 21, 2020

Review: Legion of Super-Heroes #4


Legion of Super-Heroes #4 came out this week and finally we got a snippet of the team's origins, close enough to the classic to feel familiar, different enough to feel fresh, suspicious enough to make a conspiracy theorist like me wonder some things.

I loved it.

We are slowly meeting the Legionnaires and this issue we get concentrated doses of the original Legionnaires Three. We got snippets of information about Blok and Triplicate Girl. And we got a sort of newish interpretation of one of my longtime favorites Lightning Lass as well.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis is slowly immersing us in this new Legion mythology. There are some storylines brewing in the background. But mostly it feels like the stage is being set here. As a lifelong Legion fan, as someone who has understood the issue of keeping old rabid fans happy while opening up this mythology to new readers, he really is walking the tightrope. I have to give him proper respect for doing this, a seemingly impossible task.

The art on the issue is broken between Ryan Sook doing his usual stellar work on the present timeline. Mikel Janin pencils the flashback sequences. The whole issue sparkles artwise. I am so impressed by this book. And one particular panel gave me goosebumps. When you strike a chord with a jaded reader like me, you have succeeded.

On to the book!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

May 2020 Solicits


Last week DC released their May 2020 solicits. A look at all the books can be found here at Newsarama:https://www.newsarama.com/49036-dc-comics-may-2020-solicitations.html

The big news is the cancellation of Supergirl, a topic I covered here. I keep hearing these rumblings of another universal reboot. I am hearing some behind the scene whispers that Supergirl is going to be left untouched for a bit. I already ranted. Just know it makes absolutely no sense to keep a marketable character like Supergirl on the shelf. Ridiculous.

SUPERGIRL #42
written by JODY HOUSER
art by RACHAEL STOTT
cover by CARMINE DI GIANDOMENICO
card stock variant cover by DERRICK CHEW

Deemed a threat by the U.S. military, Supergirl is now a wanted villain! General Corvid has come for our hero—and she won’t give up until Kara’s gone for good. Meanwhile, the superstorm rages stronger than ever, while hundreds remain helpless against it. Can Supergirl prove that she’s the hero the people once believed her to be? Or will she let everyone down—including herself? Find out in the pulse-pounding series conclusion! FINAL ISSUE

We go out with a sob. Instead of the book ending with Supergirl as a hero, redeemed the solicit makes it sound like she's a fugitive. That is a far cry from the National City citizens cheering for their hero when she returned from space.

Who can I blame for this complete misunderstanding of a character and the character's fanbase?
I have no choice but to blame Dan Didio who has been in charge for all of these dark takes.

On to the rest of the Super books.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Review: Superman Heroes #1


Superman Heroes came out last week, a sort of anthology book by the current gaggle of Superman writers and artists. Think of it as this season's Leviathan Rising. It is a sort of pulse check on what is happening in the super-books while giving us some back story and future hints about the latest major story arc, the reveal that Superman is Clark Kent.

I found most of the book to be quite enjoyable with solid plot and art throughout. In particular, the sort of reaction pieces, those stories to check in on how the news has hit them. Jimmy's story is wonderful and Superman thanking an old professor is another good tale.There is also a very nice 'wisdom of Pa Kent' story. You know I am a sucker for those.

The art is a nice mix. Scott Godlewski lends a folksy feel to the Pa story. Steve Lieber and Mike Perkins draw the Jimmy and Lois stories respectively, keeping up with their current assignments. And Kevin Maguire and Mike Norton add nice panache.

For the price point, I was very happy with this.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Supergirl Canceled ... Or Why I Should Just Give Up


I was away on a much needed two day getaway when my phone exploded with the news.

Supergirl had been canceled.

Here is a link to Newsarama’s coverage:
https://www.newsarama.com/49041-supergirl-ends-with-may-s-42.html

I sighed.

Frankly this book has been slowly dying since Marc Andreyko took over, morphing away from everything a Supergirl book should be until it has become an abomination, a villain’s book, a book that is as far away from a Supergirl book as you can get.

So I went to the story and read the solicit.


‘Deemed a threat by the US military, Supergirl is now a wanted villain!’

And that’s just the opening line.

So I thought about how this cancellation was akin to a mercy killing. Better to stop publishing this horrid representation than to carry it forward.

But as I mulled the news over that day I realized what I was actually feeling.

Anger.

Red hot, pit of my belly, good old fashioned wrath.

Because I’m sick of it.

I’m sick of DC and Dan Didio thinking this is what people want in a Supergirl book only to have it tank. This is now at least the 5th time over the course of this blog’s life that we have seen the creative powers at DC go this route.

It never ever ever works.

So right when Steve Orlando and Jody Houser were hitting their stride, DC puts the book in pause and brings in Andreyko who rights an angry Supergirl, Mistress of the Axe. His Kara would have been a killer more than once if Krypto hadn’t stood between her and her prey.

And if that overly long story wasn’t enough, it’s followed by Supergirl becoming a twisted evil version of herself.

I know I shouldn’t be surprised anymore by this pattern but I thought for sure maybe this time would be different.

Why?

Because Supergirl is at the height of her mainstream popularity.

If the CW can get ‘hope, help, and compassion for all’ right, you’d think DC Comics could too.

And you think the could because Brian Michael Bendis writes a great Supergirl when she is in his Superman book. She is often the hero, usually the voice of reason. He is the captain of the super-ship. You think he’d tell DC that the House of El doesn’t roll that way.

In fact, my only hope is that Mr. Bendis saves the day, putting Supergirl under the Wonder Comics umbrella or having her headline a Superman Family book with Lois and Jimmy. Or out her in the Legion for a year or two. If you are reading this Mr. Bendis, please ... help us.

I know this has been rambling. But I’m upset. And tired.

I started this blog 12 years ago ... a lifetime ago it feels ... because I thought DC was telling terrible Supergirl stories and I wanted to celebrate her. Back then? She had just finished an arc where she was a killer on Krypton.

And here I am, a dozen years later, seeing the same ill conceived story ideas leading to the same results.

Idiotic.


Monday, February 17, 2020

Review: Superman #20


Hard to believe that we are basically 2 years into the Brian Michael Bendis Superman era and that we are still firing on all cylinders.

Superman #20 is another very good issue in a series of excellent arcs. The issue is basically split in half. As with the Superman title, it focuses on Superman's heroic efforts not only on Earth but also in the intergalactic stage. The United Planets are formed. Mongul is there to crash the party.

But the other half of this issue is dedicated the the Daily Star, the Daily Planet's rival. We have seen a lot of Planet Pit drama in Action Comics. So I think it was an interesting choice to put so much rival newspaper in this title.

And much of this has to do with Superman's recent reveal to the world of his secret identity. Now I admit that I am still not sold on the long term viability of this reveal. But unlike the last bite at this plot apple, I think Bendis' roll out has been better thought out and for the most part better plotted. He is asking or touching on all the things that weren't discussed in The Truth from a few years ago. And at least this time, Superman is the one who made the decision.

Add to that the return of one of my favorite supporting characters in Superman lore and this issue is a winner.

Ivan Reis shines on art as usual. He has always impressed me but the space scenes here, the brutal battles against Mongul, are very well done, in widescreen format.

On to the issue.