Monday, September 25, 2023

Review: Batman/Superman World's Finest #19

Batman/Superman World's Finest #19 came out this week, the ending of a quick 2 parter looking at the origin of the team. I have really been impressed with the overall cadence of this book. We have 5 parters; we have done-in-ones. Now we have a two-parters. Fantastic.

Kudos to Mark Waid for not stretching out stories to fill a trade. This was a quick little story. I suppose you could have dragged this out 5 or 6 issues. But there is no need. That makes me happy.

Waid continues the 'origin' of the World's Finest pair and I like how the turning point is where Batman learns about how the death of Superman's parents (and the rest of Krypton) is something that drives him a little. There is a commonality between these two that would bring them together. As this is an early take on these two, I like how both are still pretty raw. 

But Waid really got me with a callback to Aethyr, the oversoul of the Phantom Zone from the 80s that has been revisited now and then. You can count on Waid to lean into DC history!

Travis Moore brings a clean take on the art here. This issue is pretty action heavy and Moore cranks up the power, giving us Kryptonians brawling away. 

If the 'done in ones' are an amuse bouche in comics, this was a meaty hors d'oeuvre. 

On to details.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Review: Superman #6

Superman #6 came out this week and was another very solid issue in this new run by writer Joshua Williamson. This time he is accompanied by artist Gleb Melkinov who was artist on the Knight Terrors Superman book which put the title on pause.

So yes, I needed to remind myself that Superman #5 ended with Superman deafened by Silver Banshee allowing Lex Luthor to be brutally stabbed in prison. Thankfully, we pick up right where that left.

This issue continues the breakneck speed Williamson has brought to the book. The back half of the issue introduces us the 'The Chained', a new villain with immense power and a connection to Luthor's past.  We have seen recent villains added to the Superman gallery but none of them have stuck. Remember Ulysses? The Wraith?  Rogol Zaar? Synmar Utopica? I barely remember them. Will The Chained stick? At the very least, he has a compelling visual. 

But I like some of the other character moments we get here. A frazzled Lois realizing being an editor isn't easy. Livewire gleefully podcasting from prison. A Supercorp worker happy creating tech that helps the world. Even an electronic simulacrum of Lex poking fun at our hero. There is a lot of emotional and character depth to the book that makes me happy. 

Melnikov really brings some action to the art. He veers into a sort of Frank Miller vibe here, more than I am used to seeing. It certainly amps the horror of the new villain. And his Superman is appropriately bigger than life. 

Another solid issue. Glad the book is back on track after Knight Terrors. On to details.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

DC Comics December 2023 Solicits

The December 2023 solicits came out last week. Here is a link to all the DC Comics solicits over on AIPT:

December is an interesting month. The Titans Beast War event is here, as a mini-series and in the Titans books but not in the whole DC line. Thankfully, I thought for sure we were going to roll from Lazarus Planet to Knight Terrors to another full slate event. 

Steel and Superboy appear in a couple of books this month. Surprisingly, I don't see Jon Kent much of anywhere.

What I do see is a ton ... and I mean a TON ... of variant covers. I get that this is part of the industry now but some books, standard monthly books, have 7 covers. Seems excessive.

I thought both super-books Knight Terrors mini-series were very good building on themes already present in the main books and not a complete crossover departure. But I'll be happy to not be thinking about some mega-event for the first time since Dark Crisis.

On to the books.

Variant covers by JIM CHEUNG and JORGE JIMENEZ
1:25 variant cover by DANIEL SAMPERE
1:50 variant cover by KAARE ANDREWS
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom variant cover by FELIPE MASSAFERA

A mistake from Superman’s past has returned, and Metropolis hangs in the balance! As the super-family is betrayed from within and stripped of their powers one by one, Superman sets out on a suicide mission into the Multiverse alongside the unlikeliest of allies: Constantine, the demon Etrigan, and—making his return to Action Comics—Bloodwynd!

Plus: During “Beast World” in Metropolis, Dreamer has a run-in with life-changing consequences, and Zod’s son begins to suspect New Kandor isn’t as peaceful as it seems in the prelude to Kneel Before Zod #1!

A mistake from the past? Zod? Someone from the Bendis run?  It seems like Otho is the most likely internal person to 'betray' the team. But I hope not. 

I like the occasional (or even rare) Superman story that leans into the supernatural. Is this Superman's first team-up with Constantine? 

The back-ups sound okay. Yes, Beast Wars is here but in a Dreamer story. That's okay.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Review: Superman Lost #6

Superman Lost #6 came out last week, starting the back half of the series. We are six issues into this series and my feelings for the book have been interesting, rocking between pure enjoyment and sheer frustration. This issue veers more towards the former. This is a good issue.

Writer Christopher Priest has an interesting concept of having Superman having been lost in time, stuck on a planet for 20 years even if the time he was missing on Earth was minutes. Priest has had Superman stuck on a planet that the Man of Steel dubbed Kansas. An obvious stand-in for Earth, the world is plagued with polarized populations and horrific climate change and pollutants. It is dying, much like Krypton, much like our Earth seems to be careening to destruction, and they won't let Superman help them. 

I am one of those people who has felt that politics and activism has seeped too deeply into comics these days. I read comics for super-heroic entertainment not for ham-fisted sermons. Priest walks a fine line here. Yes, this is a political book but told in allegory and shockingly down the middle, skewering all sides in a way. 

But Priest also knows that I need more than that. This is a Superman book. So you see a Superman trying desperately to save his new home. You see him struggle with loneliness. He has a 'villain' to deal with. And we see yet another version of his origin, being rocketed away from a doomed planet. All that ups my interest. It adds to the entertainment. 

Carlo Pagulayan brings a precise and gorgeous art style to the book. There are scenes here that are just conversations that are still beautiful. And the action pieces are wildly energetic. He's a revelation to me here even though it looks like he has been around for a while. 

I am curious what my feelings for this title as a whole will be when it wraps up. On to some particulars.

Monday, September 11, 2023

DC Multiverse Figure From McFarlane Toys

I caught wind of a new Supergirl action figure on a number of sites last week so thought I would share here.

Made by McFarlane Toys and an exclusive (it seems) to Target stores, this is a Supergirl figure based on the DC Rebirth costume.

Given the more recent change of costume for the character, either the blue pantsuit of the Women of Tomorrow mini-series or the jacketed version of recent Action Comics run, I was pretty surprised to see this more 'classic' red mini-skirt look on a new toy.

Not that I am complaining! The red skirt version is my favorite costume. 

It was a little hard to get a solid feel for the figure given this sole image, the only one that had been released at first. No denying the solid sculpt of the head with a lot of detail noted on the hair. The cape in the pic seems to be cloth. I can't imagine that would be true of the actual figure. But a nice look overall.

Then I went to Toy News International and got a few other looks.

Friday, September 8, 2023

Review: Steelworks #4

Steelworks #4 came out this week and was a decent middle chapter as we enter the back half of this mini-series. I have overall been very pleased with this book but this book is built on a plot point that I found a little hard to swallow.

Writer Michael Dorn has been weaving a solid story of John Henry Irons hoping to bring clean energy to Metropolis. A side bonus of this energy would be to install a technological defense system that would make super-heroes unnecessary, including Henry's Steel persona. Embedded into the story are a few character beats. Natasha wondering why John wants to stop being Steel. Lana and John and their love story is unfolding. And, of course, the villains from Amertek wanting to control the energy.

This issue is really focused around the new energy source, fueled by the Genesis stone from Warworld. John wants to use it. The Silver Mist wants to steal it. It has serious side effects to those around them. But there are some problems for me in how it unfolds. John's protection of the zero energy globe is suspect in my mind. The explanation around the side effects has a big plot hole. And even how it ultimately gets in the hands of the villains seems wrong. This was a bumpier ride than the prior issues.

The art by Sami Basri and Vicente Cifuentes continues to be smooth and polished. There are some hyper-stylized expressions But the page layouts and panel shapes really help drive the story forward. I've always like Basri.

So overall, a decent issue. On to the issue.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Back Issue Box: Superman #666

Last week in the Action Comics Presents Doomsday Special #1, Supergirl descended into Hell and fought Doomsday in an effort to keep the monster in the underworld. I loved it.

With that journey into the underworld fresh in my mind, I revisited Superman #666, another time a member of the super-family went to Hades and shook things up. The creative team is legendary. Kurt Busiek is the writer. Walt Simonson is on art duties. Suffice it to say, this 'done in one' issue is glorious. Just drink it in. 

Busiek brings up the concept of a Kryptonian Hell and what would happen to that realm when the planet was destroyed. What if one of the demons lived? And what if that demon corrupted Superman? This issue very succinctly shows what the world would be like if Superman was evil. It is scary, way scarier than what I have recently read of the Injustice Superman or even old stories of Ultraman. Luckily, Busiek knows enough to show us that Superman is above all that ... hopefully. 

I don't think I need state that Walt Simonson is a superior artist. The scope of this issue is insane with Superman traveling from Earth to Hades and bashing his way through any number of friends and enemies. There are splash pages that are glorious to behold. The action sequences are incredible. This was an issue that I flipped through a couple of times to just look at the art. Jaw-dropping in its stupendousness. 

This is definitely worth finding and buying. Pure entertainment. On to the book.