Monday, May 23, 2022

Review: World's Finest #3

World's Finest #3 came out last week and was just another wonderful issue of  super-hero action and character moments. I don't know if I'll be able to easily explain why this works but it just feels like all the fun and insane brilliance of the Bronze Age but polished up for the current world. 

Writer Mark Waid has such easy grasp of character voices. His Superman and Batman are best buddies and trust each other. His Robin  is young and brash. His Supergirl is intelligent and pro-active. But this is also some sort of tour through the DCU. We get the Doom Patrol and their old enemy General Immortus. We have a very classic Wonder Woman battling Dr. Alchemy. The Flash is battling the Mirror Master. And we get a couple of surprises at the end. While Batman and Superman are the hub of the book, this truly is a DC adventure. 

Dan Mora's art is just as important to the story. Every page is beautiful. I love the fact that we get to see Mora's take on so much of the DCU. With every guest star I keep thinking 'DC should put Mora on that book when he leaves World's Finest. I especially love his take on Supergirl and her Crisis-era costume. She looks like a young, healthy, determined, athletic woman. His action pages also sizzle. 

The Devil Nezha story takes a nice bump forward with us learning how the House of Ji defeated him in the past. Given the scope of Waid's writing, I think there is a clue there. Let the guesses start!

On to the book.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Review: Superman Son of Kal-El #11

Superman Son of Kal-El #11 came out last week and was a very good issue in a title that has been sort of hit and miss for me at times. I really feel like this issue sort of encapsulated all of the good things that I have liked about this book into one crisp tale. This felt like a 'done in one' even though it clearly is a chapter in the longer Gamorran arc. And it places Jon in the spotlight as the new Superman, complete with Superman like ethics. Well ... except for one piece which I hope will be addressed moving forward.

Writer Tom Taylor has seemed to make a name for himself by writing 'feel good' heroes who are as ready to fight social injustices as they are to trade haymakers with super-villains. This book and Nightwing both stand out for their progressive stances. He also has a knack of bringing warmth to these characters who for a while have been muddled in the grim and gritty. And perhaps best of all, he definitely leans into the past, building on continuity as he forges forward. This is a Jon who was involved in some tragedy as a kid, who lived in volcano being tortured for years, and is still trying to live up to the ideals of his father. All of that makes him who he is now. Add to that some great new twists involving Pa Kent and Alfred and this whole book really crackled from a character point of view.

Artist Cian Tormey brings solid work here. There isn't anything flashy. But the scenes roll out nicely. Anyone who can bring authenticity to a heart to heart between Batman and Pa Kent is doing the work. Like Taylor, I think it is the character work that sings here as body language and expression really amp up the script.

So bring on more issues like this please!

On to the specifics.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

DC Round Robin 2: Superboy

A tip of the hat to blog friend Mart Gray for telling me about the Superboy The Man of Tomorrow entry into the DC Round Robin tournament. I haven't been following this particular promotion too closely. What I know is that readers vote for which premise seems more promising until finally one is given the cherished 'go ahead' to be produced.

Mart told me I should check out the Superboy entry and I am glad he did. And as a Conner fan, I am glad this one survived and advances.

Times have been a bit tough on Conner. He was sort of shunted off into limbo for a while. (The New 52 did few people favors.) He finally is brought back into the fold by Brian Michael Bendis in the Young Justice Reboot only to have the book get canceled. And with Jon now being Superman Son of Kal-El for the world, there isn't much room for Conner in the DCU. As a fan, I wondered about what the next steps would be or if this Superboy would again fade away into limbo.

Incredibly, that lack of 'space' seems to be the theme of the book. Writer Kenny Porter and artist Jahnoy Lindsay (both new to me) wonder what it is like to be a member in an over-stuffed super family. Maybe the answer is to head into space?

I find a couple of things interesting to comment on before I head into the story proper. One, I like the homage cover here to one of the first images of Superboy from way back in Reign of the Supermen. The title Superboy Man of Tomorrow seems to be akin to the Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow mini which just concluded, another story where a super-family member went into space. But unlike Kara's sob story in her book where she left out of depression and grief, Conner is leaving looking for adventure. Lastly, this take has some resonance with prior Supergirl stories where she wondered who she was in the great scheme of things. All interesting.

On to the book.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Review: Justice League Vs Legion Of Super-Heroes #3

At long last, Justice League Vs The Legion of Super-Heroes #3 came out. It has been 2 solid months since the second issue. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will kill momentum like delays. And for someone starving for Legion material, 2 months felt like 6.

What makes matters even wonkier is that DC continuity right now is pretty soft. Remember when I thought having Doomsday Clock, Snyder's Metal, and Event Leviathan all overlapping was weird? That was a walk in the park. Right now Superman is dead, on Warworld, and in the 31st century ... all at once. It is this sort of overlapping event phenomenon that kind of cheapens or lessens each of them. We have this Great Darkness and THE GREAT DARKNESS in Dark Crisis. Confusing.

All right, enough griping. What about this issue.

Well we are halfway through this mini-series and I don't know what's going on. The 'Vs' confuses me in the title although in the end I think the Gold Lantern is going to be a dupe for whoever the bad guys are. That will probably lead to some conflict.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis brings his usual snappy patter to the book. It reads very well with some humor and some solid character moments. In a riff on classic JLA team-ups he has split the teams into small groups. But I just don't know if the plot has advanced enough here for the halfway point. Will this come to a solid conclusion or just sort of peter out?

Scotty Godlewski really is singing here. I love his take on these Legionnaires. And his expressive work and body language is nuanced. You can read the feelings here without them being exaggerated. 

On to the book.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Review: World Of Krypton #6

Work and life in general has been hectic here so I am just catching up on comic reviews. 

Today I'll look at World of Krypton #6 by Robert Venditti and Michael Avon Oeming, an issue which came out 2 weeks ago.

This is the last issue of this mini-series. And let's admit it, as readers we all knew where this was going. There ends with the destruction of Krypton. That's the origin.

And yet, the creators do something interesting, at least for me. I assumed we would be ending this mini-series with a classic shot of Jor-El and Lara looking up as a rocket streaks away from the exploding planet. After all, I just said that is where this story ends. Instead, Venditti ends this mini-series a bit more open-ended. Yes, the planet will explode. But there is still some time left, some stories unsaid. As I have enjoyed this mini-series, it left me clamoring a bit for more. Always a good sign.

I also think that Venditti has done a good job mining the past, picking up pieces of the established history that work, and then crafting this fresh take on things. The mirrors into our own current world are there, no doubt, but not presented in a preachy way. This is more a parable of frankly where we are in the world today. 

Oeming's art is an acquired taste but it has grown on me throughout the series. The use of electronic panel borders still works for me, giving this a feel for some discovered found footage file by Kal on Earth. His sassy young Kara continues to amaze me. And the action sequences, and there are many in this violent filled finale, flow well with palpable strikes.

I am sad to see this series end and wouldn't mind seeing these creators hook up again. Maybe for an old-fashioned 'Tales from Krypton' back-up in one of the Superman books?

I'd be remiss if I didn't include a shot of the variant cover by Cat Staggs showing Kara holding baby Kal. I assumed we would see this sort of thing in the series as well but we just never get there.

I will point out that the outfit Kara is wearing is Staggs' design for the Smallville book. Just a great variant.

On to the story specifics.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Black Orchid Review: Adventure Comics #428

With Supergirl nowhere to be found on the shelves post-Tom King's brutal portrayal in Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow, I have needed to fill some blog space with other content. Recently, I have been looking at Black Orchid, specifically through the lens of the 70's theory that she might be Supergirl in diguise. 

At the recent Wicked Comic Con, I was able to finally purchase Adventure Comics #428, the first appearance of the Orchid. I was pretty pleased to find a copy in decent condition and at a decent price! This has been a smallish grail book for me for a while so I am happy to be able to check that box. 

So what better place to go in my mission than this very issue and see if the clues are there from the beginning. As always, I am trying to fit Kara into the flowery suit so speculations will run wild. So buckle up. And remember, when this book came out, Supergirl volume 1 was on the shelves and half way through it's 10 issue run. So it makes the thought that the Orchid was Supergirl initially less likely.

Let's start with the great cover by Bob Oksner showing the Black Orchid. in the light of the full moon, looming over a dark window filled with gun-toting thugs. Oksner knew layouts and this one is beautiful. It showcases this innovative costume nicely. But there is no way to glean from this image just how powerful the Black Orchid is. This looks more like a Black Widow cover.

Still, it does catch the eye. And I love the font for her name.

'Black Orchid' was written by Sheldon Mayer with art by Tony DeZuniga. This is a moody story for Mayer I feel. But it is right in DeZuniga's wheelhouse. The women are gorgeous. The Noir-ish setting is grungy beautiful. And if looking for some links to the Supergirl theory, It is interesting that DeZuniga did his share of Supergirl stories from the prior Adventure run for the Girl of Steel. Hmm ...

The story opens with this fantastic panel showing her in her glory, flying around an old creepy mansion bathed in the full moon. I love the almost lack of significant detailing on her costume here, giving the Orchid almost a ghostly feel. 

The caption box is actually a summary of the first half of the story.

But 'impossible strength' ... hmmm.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

The Passing Of George Perez

George Perez passed away last week, another legend lost. My condolences to his family, his friends, and his many fans.

When the news broke, my social media timelines were flooded with unbelievable words of respect and love. It was unbelievable and unprecedented. Perez was universally beloved and rightfully so. 

I had the honor of meeting Mr. Perez at the Boston Comic Con in 2013. He was incredibly nice and personable. There was a huge line waiting to see him but he took the time to chat with fans. He was even doing quick sketches for an incredibly reasonable price. I got this sketch from him there.

I told him I was a long time fan. I talked to him about how I loved his art and the times he drew Supergirl. And I talked about how that while I didn't agree with Supergirl needing to die in Crisis that I couldn't have asked for a better story or art for her to leave the DCU in.

He took the time to talk with me and then did the same for everyone behind me. He was one of a kind.