Friday, December 3, 2021

Review: Action Comics #1037

Action Comics #1037 came out this week and was the epitome of the title's name. This was all action. And I ate it up with a spoon. There are few comics which leave me in a pulse-pounding, 'what the heck', giddy mood. This was one of them.

So first off, I have to give kudos to writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson. There is the old chestnut about how creators shouldn't give the audience what they want, they should give the audience what they need. When this whole storyline was just being hinted at, I lamented the idea of Superman being off world for a long period of time. That isn't what I wanted. Now, as this whole Warworld saga unfolds, I realize that this is one of the strongest arcs I have read in a while. I didn't want it but I definitely need it. 

Superman and his new Authority arrive on Warworld to find that the new Mongul and his squad are prepared and ready. That leads to some moments that left me gobsmacked. On top of that, there is a new subplot involving the new United Planets that is a wonderful side angle that intrigues me. How can Superman even survive this issue?

Miguel Mendonca is on art for the issue and brings high energy to the whole proceeding. There are some brutal, gory images in this, perfect for an issue which takes place on something called Warworld and visually shows us what the stakes are. Add to that the hazy, bloody tones of  Adriano Lucas and the whole book sings.

Hope you all aren't missing out on this. On to the details.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Supergirl Show 619: The Last Gauntlet

I suppose it has been nearly a month since the Supergirl series finale was aired, 2 episode (619 and 620) aired back to back.

The two episodes have been sitting on my DVR since then, unwatched. Part of me wonders if this was a sort of Schrodinger's Cat phenomenon in my fandom. If I haven't seen it, it could be very good. (Obviously, it could also be very bad.) Because as this Totem storyline moved forward, it has become more and more erratic. 

While I have simply accepted the idea of totems and the Allstone, it is the character side of this storyline that has been difficult for me. Characters aren't acting the way I would anticipate them to act. The strategies the hero team has set up have been a bit insane or a bit ludicrous. And, despite Melissa Benoist maintaining her high-end acting of Kara, Supergirl has been pushed to the periphery, a bit player in her own series end.

Episode 619, The Last Gauntlet, is unfortunately more of the same. 

I will forever love this show. It brought the idea of Supergirl to the mainstream. Melissa Benoist has been a revelation. Chyler Leigh as Alex, for the most part, has been a nice addition to the Supergirl family. And I got to see my favorite hero on the small screen for 6 years.

So let's just dive into this episode and enjoy the good parts.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Who's Who: Black Orchid

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed the Black Orchid story from Phantom Stranger #36

The reason behind the review? A 70s fan theory that perhaps Black Orchid was Supergirl in disguise. I have heard in a couple of places that Black Orchid had X-ray powers. And that story was the evidence behind that. She used xrays to reprogram a computer.

I was always a fan of Orchid. The mystery. That great costume. It worked for me whenever I ran across her. Only later when I heard the Supergirl rumor did my interest grow stronger.

As old as I am, I bought the first Who's Who off the rack as they off the rack as they came out. I loved Black Orchid's page. Art by Terry Austin! I know Austin as one of the premier inkers in the comic world. But he penciled this!

I love the almost playful pose Orchid is in as it emphasizes the crazy cape she has. And the surprint was supposed always show the character out of costume. So seeing all these different women made sense. Gorgeous.

Did the page bolster or dispute the rumor?

Monday, November 29, 2021

Review: Superman '78 #4

Superman '78 #4 came out last week. We are on the back half of this mini-series and I already miss it. Robert Venditti and Wilfredo Torres just get it. They seem to understand Superman the way I understand him. I cannot tell you how much I love this book.

Venditti captures the voices of these characters in the Donner universe perfectly. From Lois' brashness to Luthor's bombast to Clark's 'aw shucks' Midwest attitude, the book's dialogue sings. In particular, Luthor's narcissism is just spot on. I hear Gene Hackman's voice in my head.

But even beyond those main characters, Venditti has expanded the universe giving us a Brainiac which fits in seamlessly, He gives us an El family which matches the early scenes of the movie. 

Most importantly, he gives us Superman.

Meanwhile, Torres captures the universe just as well visually. His lines are clean. The characters look enough like the actors to make this feel like a continuation of the film universe. Even his new additions, like Brainiac ships and drones all look like something that could have been in the movie. 

Enough gushing. On to the book. 

Friday, November 26, 2021

Review: Checkmate #6

Checkmate #6 came out this week and once again I was wrong in my guess about the big mystery. I also was a bit blindsided by the overall ending here. It came out of nowhere as all beautiful surprises do. I don't think I have processed the ending here. 

This mini-series was troubled from the beginning, the original plot altered when the direction of the DC universe changed. Was this the ending writer Brian Michael Bendis was aiming for? Was this what he wanted to happen to Leviathan? Was this his original choice for 'Mr. King'? 

For me, the most difficult thing about this ending is that a lot of stuff sort of happens that I don't know if I necessarily follow. Things happen. I don't know if I know why. And there are still unanswered questions, questions that I fear will remain forever unanswered. What I'd do for the original manuscripts!

Alex Maleev's art is crisp and bright. But some of the action isn't necessarily clear by the pictures on the page. 

I am still mulling this finale and all of the questions I still have. But my hope is that the wide open ending means more will be someday on the way.

As for who Mr. King is ... well spoilers ahead. As well as a brief breakdown.

On to the book.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Review: Superman Son Of Kal-El #5

Superman Son of Kal-El #5 came out this week, the famous kiss issue where we learn that Jon Kent is bisexual. The reveal was announced last month and was met with the standard publicity buzz. Seems like every pundit on every news outlet had an opinion.

And yes, that kiss happens in this issue. But part of me wonders if there is an aspect to this kiss yet revealed. Even before the sexuality of Jay/Jon was revealed, I felt Jay was something more nefarious than a liberal do-gooder in college. This issue ups the ante on that. Would DC every have the guts to make one of their first bisexual characters and Jon's first same-sex love a villain?? More on this later.

My biggest problem with this book has been the sort of superficial way writer Tom Taylor has been handling the real-life political issues he is having Jon fight. The real difficult parts of these scenarios are left unexplored and happening off panel. This issue is no different. Jon zooms to the rescue but he might be making more problems than he is anticipating. Or Taylor has to think that his readers are content with the feel good moment without thinking of the real life repercussions of his actions. Either way isn't good and why a relentlessly 'ripped from the headlines' super-hero comic can quickly become preachy, ridiculous, or both. In particular, one thing Jon does strikes close to home and probably would make a bad situation worse.

As for the art, no concerns about John Timms who continues to just bring his action and style to the proceedings. I have liked Timms since his stint on Harley so he is welcome here.

On to the book. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

DC February Solicits 2022

The February solicits for DC Comics came out last week. This is an interesting month as we once again get some Legion back on the shelves. It also marks the end of the Tom King Supergirl mini-series. Will there be any Kara to read after this? Who knows.

If you want to peruse the entirety of the solicits, you can head to Newsarama here:

Written by TOM KING
Art and cover by BILQUIS EVELY
Variant cover by JANAINA MEDIEROS

Krem's fate revealed! As Supergirl continues her battle against the Brigands, Ruthye squares off against this most vile villain in hopes of avenging her father and completing their mission. Will justice be served on both accounts? Or will our heroes fail? You won't want to miss thrilling conclusion of the acclaimed miniseries that has changed Kara Zor-El for good!

From the beginning, we have been told that Kara kills Krem. As the whole story is a flashback, I am reserving the hope that she doesn't become a murderer. Although, if you are looking for a reason for her to go pacifist and loner (as seen in Future State), guilt from becoming a killer is a good motivation.

The miniseries that has changed Kara Zor-El for good! But I worry that where she ends up is a bad place and it sticks. Lots to worry about.

Nothing but love for the art here.

Black history month variant by ALEXIS FRANKLIN

Superman has become a force to be reckoned with inside Warworld's arena, and Mongul questions his decision to keep his enemies alive. As Superman's new Phaelosian ally Kryl-Ux teaches him new ways to fight without powers, he starts to win Warzoons over to his cause…but someone within his inner circle finds their allegiances tested. Meanwhile, the elusive Midnighter uses his talents to find the missing members of the Authority.

I'll be sad to see Daniel Sampere go but I have seen Riccardo Federici's stuff on line and I think the title is in good hands.

Perhaps Kryl-Ux is the hooded figure speaking to Superman in last issue? 

And this sounds a little like the movie Gladiator where Maximus gains favor and the Emperor wonders if the captive should just be offed.

This book has been solid for a while so looking forward to this. And love that Todesco cover!
Art and cover by SCOTT GODLEWSKI
Variant cover by TRAVIS MOORE

"The Gold Lantern Saga" part two! Who is the Gold Lantern? And what does his power source have to do with the Great Darkness? Is the Gold Lantern everything it promises to be? The Justice League and Legion of Super-Heroes team up and travel to each other's time periods to unravel the mysteries that have led them to the precipice of this Great Darkness.

Looks like the 'VS.' part of this title is part of the first issue only as the two teams seem to be teaming up here. The power behind the Gold Lantern hardly looked like Oans so I wonder what tie they do have the Great Darkness. And is this Darkness tied to Darkseid?

I liked Bendis' Legion so I am glad we will be getting more.
Written by TOM TAYLOR
Variant cover by INHYUK LEE

Henry Bendix's plans for ultimate control threaten every superhero on Earth. And, in trying to stand against the dictator of Gamorra, Superman makes himself a target of business and world leaders. He is seen by too many as a force that must be stopped. How much can even a Man of Steel stand against before he bends?

Well, it looks like perhaps Tom Taylor is going to show us some ramifications for Jon's actions.

Although I suppose with the tenor of this book, the business leaders and world leaders may very well be painted with a negative brush too.

Interesting that Bendix has some world control ambitions. 
Variant cover by KYLE HOTZ

"Lords of Chaos" part two! The Justice League and Justice League Dark team up to navigate the remade world of chaos. All the heroes must come together to save what's left of the world they have dedicated their lives to protecting. But has Doctor Fate gone bad? Oh no, he has.

I don't mind negative space covers like this. I suppose it shows my own predilections that I immediately think about room for a remarque or for con sigs.

I freely admit I haven't actually been paying close attention to the JLD back-up so I hope that there is a recap.

Written by TOM TAYLOR
Variant cover by JOSHUA MIDDLETON

The arrival of the Els by spaceship 19 years earlier was a pivotal moment for the kingdom, and a prophecy was born! But what were those early years like for the Els, and how did they come to be monarchs of the kingdom? And what catastrophic event triggered everything that was to follow?

I suppose I should have shown it but the Josh Middleton variant showing Harley playing a lute is worth the money.

Looks like this is the 'origin' issue. Mark my words, here is where Jor-El plotting the Wayne's assassination is going to be revealed.
Variant cover by DAVE JOHNSON

As evidence of Krypton's environmental precarity mounts, the ruling council fights even harder to hide behind the myth of utopia. But a refusal to confront the problem is truly a refusal to attempt a solution! Zod is determined to force their hands and turns to his old friend Jor-El for backup, but their methods may be too dissimilar.

I keep forgetting this series is coming out.

I like the idea of Zod and Jor-El being pals who differ in opinion. Pretty sure that is part of the plotline in both the Man of Steel movie and the Krypton show. 

I suppose given the world today so much of Krypton's legacy could be current day allegory.
Written by TOM TAYLOR
Art and cover by BRUNO REDONDO
Variant cover by JAMAL CAMPBELL

Superman/Nightwing crossover! Years ago,when Robin took his first uncertain steps away from Batman as his own hero, Superman stepped in and offered Dick Grayson crucial advice, support, and a name: Nightwing. Now it's time for Nightwing to return the favor. To be concluded in Superman: Son of Kal-El #9 in March!

I don't know if Jon has met Dick before. I like what Taylor is doing on Nightwing a bit more than what he is doing on Superman. Both heroes are working to change the world as much as they are trying to punch villains. Let's see if Nightwing gives Jon some sound advice.

Did I miss anything?