Saturday, June 28, 2008

Jamal Igle and Supergirl

I am really excited to see Jamal Igle's art on this title as of issue 34. (Cover here by Josh Middleton.)

So I figured I would try to whet our appetites by showing some of Jamal's prior takes on Supergirl.

First, these panels from the Peter David Supergirl, issue 71.

This issue took place in the 'Search for Supergirl' storyline, with a somewhat depowered Linda following a chaos trail in hopes of reuniting with the angelic aspect of Supergirl. Along for the ride is Mary Marvel. Here they are fighting an evil spider dream goddess at an ancient Mexican temple. The inks are by Jose Marzan Jr and somewhat rougher than I am used to seeing with Igle's work.

Here is the trapped angelic aspect:

Here fighting the goddess:

And here, some fan service with Mary Marvel.

It's funny in this arc, Marvel was the 'good girl' acting as a contrast to the more jaded Linda. In Final Crisis, it sounds like the roles will be reversed. Kara is the hero, Marvel now an outright villain.

For a more recent view, here is Igle inked by Jimmy Palmiotti in Teen Titans 55. Kara has just been kicked off the team.

And now this piece from Jamal Igle's blog ( ). Simply fantastic!

Igle's work seems dynamic with smooth lines and good panel layouts. His Supergirl is beautiful but not over the top.

I think this new team as going to be as smooth as buttermilk.

The Hunt for Linda Danvers over - Reign in Hell #1; and a poll question from your humble blogger

One week after hinting about the return of Linda Danvers at Heroes Convention, Dan Didio let the cat out of the bag. Here is his response to the same question at Wizard World Chicago.

Q: Linda Danvers coming back?
DiDio: Reign in Hell #1.

This is what I said last week.

5) She appears in Reign in Hell as a major player. She has a angelic background. She hung around with a demon. She was involved in a brief overthrow of Heaven. Who better to be involved in the civil war of Hell? Odds 50:1

So I was a bit off on the odds. At least I guessed it as a possibility.
I am thrilled that the character of Linda Danvers is coming back rather than being doomed to comics limbo. And her presence in Reign in Hell makes some sense given her angelic background in the PAD run of Supergirl. There may need to be some tweaking of her story given that the angelic piece of her was stripped and given to Twilight in issue 74. Maybe she is just a super-powered mortal dealing with Heaven/Hell issues. Or maybe her being a former Earth angel is enough cachet.

That said, she may have more magic in here than we think. In issue 80 (the last issue of that run), Linda's enemy Xenon talks about how women who have worn the S-shield and called themselves Supergirl have been able to call upon the 'mystic puissance' of that symbol and use it for power.

Indeed, Linda calls on that power when she kills Xenon later in that issue. I like how the energy forms an 'S' at it's center.

I love Keith Giffen's work and trust that he will do Linda right. I hope beyond hope they don't make her a villain. Of course, there is no love lost between her and the higher powers, given the abuse she has been put through. Here she says God loves to torment people, like someone pulling the wings off a fly.

Still, in rereading a DC Nation from a couple of months ago they hint about someone 'leading the resistance forces against both Neron and Lord Satanus. That sounds more like Linda than her being an agent for Hell.

This piece of the cover to Reign in Hell 1 could be Linda.

Of course this should have been Linda too. Heck, this *is* Linda in my mind.

But I digress.

Now the poll question.

Technically in the new continuity, Linda was never Supergirl. I absolutely love the character and that run; for me she'll always be a (if not *THE*) Supergirl.

But she is not Supergirl now. So .... should I review Reign in Hell and talk about her character's role in the series on this blog ... a Supergirl blog? I think the answer is yes.

I would love to hear what people have to think. The poll question is there on the right. This is my first poll on the blog so 'vote early, vote often'. And if you want to tell me why you voted the way you did, please leave a post. Thanks !!

Michael Turner passes away

I had hoped to take today off from the blog to soak in the announcement about the new creative team on Supergirl.

Or I thought I might blog later on about the reveal that Linda Danvers will appear in Reign in Hell. There will be a post I promise.

But I just found out that Michael Turner passed away yesterday after a long battle with chondrosarcoma of the pelvis. He was 37. This is completely depressing.

Turner became one of the hot artists in the market after co-creating Witchblade and creating Fathom and Soulfire. He was revered (or vilified depending on your taste) for his stylized drawings of women. His fans said he drew beautiful, sexy, and powerful females. His detractors said his women often looked emaciated with impossible anatomy. I was one of the rare people who was in the middle. I thought his art at times was amazing, but never included him in my mental 'favorite artists' list.

In 2004, he teamed with Jeph Loeb to reintroduce Kara Zor-El to the DC Universe in issues 8-13 of the Superman/Batman title. He updated her costume and gave her a distinctive Turner look which has defined Kara for the 21st century. He simply became the artistic template for Supergirl. The art in that arc was phenomenal guest starring many notables from the DCU and ranging from Gotham to Paradise Island to Apokolips to Kansas.

Many of his drawings of Kara have become iconic, the image people think of when they think of the current Kara. Here are a few:

They have been put on posters.

They have been made into action figures.

They have been put on t-shirts.

And made into statues.

I would be remiss if I did not include what I felt was his best cover at DC, Identity Crisis 4. This is absolutely everything Wonder Woman should be.

For his contribution to the Supergirl mythos, I salute him. With the comic community, I feel a great sadness and recognize the loss to the field.

To his family, I send my condolences.

Rest in peace, Michael Turner.

Friday, June 27, 2008

New creative team announced: Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle

At the DC Nation panel at Wizard World Chicago today, DC announced that the new creative team for Supergirl would be writer Sterling Gates and artist Jamal Igle.

I have seen Igle's work in that past and think his stuff is clean and beautiful. If the cover above (their first issue, 34) is any indication, he is going to hit the ball out of the park.

I know little of Sterling Gate's work and the GL Corps issues he has done were sold out at my LCBS. That said, his interview with Newsarama after the announcement makes me very optimistic, and I might add gave me a bit of deja vu. More on that later.

The entire interview is worth a read and available at .

I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

Here are some clips (in blue) and my comments.

Newsarama: How did you get the job on Supergirl?

Sterling Gates: I had an idea and a take on Supergirl that I thought would be great for her. I talked to Geoff Johns about it in great detail, and he had some words of encouragement and some advice and ideas that got me thinking even harder about that character and how to approach her and incorporate her more into the DC Universe.

Sounds like he is coming at it from the right place. He had an idea that including incorporating her more into the DCU and after talking to Johns, he pitched the idea.

Here Newsarama is commenting on seeing him with Supergirl back issues at Wizard World LA months ago.
NRAMA: Were you buying those issues as a fan? Or were you preparing for the pitch?

SG: Both. I'm a Supergirl fan anyway, and I was trying to fill in some holes in my “Daring New Adventures” run, but I was also doing research. I was into the character when I was a kid, because of the Supergirl movie with Helen Slater.

Wow. So a comic professional is filling his holes in the 'Daring New Adventures' run. He's a Supergirl fan!! He's a fan even of the spotty late Silver Age stories. And he likes Helen Slater! Already he sounds like he has a love of the character. And I never got that vibe from anyone on this title but Puckett.

He does say he realizes that many of those stories were not epics but that was more a sign of the times. He says he has big things in mind, not just 'saving the neighborhood cat.'

NRAMA: What is it about Supergirl that you like so much?

SG: I love that Kara is a growing, real person. I know she’s had times where she’s been cold, she’s had times where she’s smoked cigarettes and some readers really reacted negatively to that. But that kind of thing makes her more like a real teenager to me, all fury and rebellion and angst and anger and change. Constant change. And she’s grown out of some things, and she’s embraced some others, just like any of us did when we were teenagers.As we watch Kara grow and learn and develop into the hero we know she’ll be, I hope reader’s respect and admiration for her will grow, as well.

Another good answer. This is on the money. At the very least he is not completely ret-conning some of the lower points of the title so far. Instead, he is saying Kara has grown and moved on. I got this vibe of the Puckett issues too.

NRAMA: Since you did research on the pre-Crisis Supergirl, are you wanting to bring some of the characteristics of that Supergirl into this new character?

SG:When this new version of Kara Zor-El came along, though, she was polarizing to fans. No one was ready for Supergirl to have this semi-bitchy, hard attitude, and people came to react negatively towards it. I think it’s important to try to find a nice balance between those takes on the character.

Another great response and for a couple of reasons. One, he immediately points out the 'elephant in the room'. This current Kara is polarzing, even amongst die-hard Kara fans. Some liked the 'semi-bitchy' hard attitude ... I did not, feeling there was nothing heroic about her. That said, we don't need to go to the sweet as pie, innocent Kara either. Our heroes need to be a balance of those extremes.

These are difficult times and that means our heroes will be conflicted. But they will still be heroes.

The Kara from issues 1-19 was simply not heroic.

(Of course, no one was more conflicted or struggling to be heroic than Linda Danvers/Matrix. But you guys are probably sick of hearing me talk about how much I loved that title.)

NRAMA: Can you tell us anything about who might be appearing in the Supergirl title? Is she going to have a supporting cast?

SG: Part of what made it a hard book to follow as a fan, and I'm speaking purely as a fan, was her lack of supporting cast members. So in my first issue, in the first three pages, I set up a foil for her in Cat Grant. And Cat Grant will be a regular supporting cast member, as will Lana Lang.

Deja Vu #1: On message boards and on this very blog I have spoken about how lack of a supporting cast and a rogue's gallery is a huge weakness of the title. Not that you need a degree in literature to make those realizations.

Here's a sample quote of mine.

"3) While it fits this story in particular, the number of guest stars in this title is staggering. What I wouldn't give for a supporting cast and a rogue's gallery!" ( )

Deja vu #2: Cat Grant as a foil! I looked in the crystal ball a bit when I talked about Cat's comments in Action 866 in this posting ( ).

Hah! It's cool to be on the money every so often.

Here is the famous panel.

NRAMA: Anything else you can tell us about how the books will tie together?

SG: We're going to bring back the numbered "S" diamonds on the covers of the Super-books starting in October.

Deja Vu #3: Wasn't I just talking about those triangles when I heard Supergirl was being 'integrated' into the Superman titles? ( )

At the very least, the triangle is a visible reminder that the book is part of the super-titles. At its best, it will bring in Superman readers who are completists.

NRAMA: What can you tell us about your first issue in October?

SG: The first issue starts with the opening salvo of Cat Grant's media war against Supergirl, which Geoff has been hinting about in Action Comics. Cat Grant takes her first big shot at Supergirl, and Kara is completely devastated by it. In the midst of this media attention, Kara faces off with one of my favorite supervillains, the Silver Banshee. I think she's one of the best visuals and one of the scariest villains to come out of the first few issues of John Byrne’s reboot.

Cat Grant and the Silver Banshee. Should keep Kara busy.

I also like Silver Banshee a lot. I really liked her in Walt Simonson/Dan Brereton's Worlds's Finest miniseries.

Of course, she tussled with the Linda Danvers Supergirl early on it that series.

It was a nice bit in those issues that she was not killed when Banshee yelled Supergirl because that was not her name; her name was Linda. That storyline of discovering who she was, her humanity, was such a key part of the Peter David run.

NRAMA: Is there a plan to give Supergirl some villains of her own?

SG: Yeah, one of my goals that I put forward in my pitch was developing Kara’s Rogues gallery. Since the relaunch of the character, no one has extensively focused on her villains.

Deja vu #4 about deja vu #1: Kara needs her own rogue's gallery.

This guy Gates is really saying all the right things.

NRAMA: And after that, your series will be part of a larger story with Action Comics and Superman?

SG: Yes. Kara Zor-El will play a huge, huge part in this big crossover we’re going to do that I’m not sure has been announced yet. She’s going to be the linchpin to a lot of things that we have plans to develop, and Supergirl is going to be a key title to read.

The linchpin of things to come; a huge part of a big crossover; the cover star on Final Crisis 3.

(gasp) Could this actually be a good time to be a Supergirl fan?

NRAMA: How has it been working with Jamal on this series?

SG: I had a list of one ideal artist, essentially, when I pitched this. And it was Jamal. And we got him. I think he's one of most talented pencilers in the business right now. He does great character work, and expressions, and action, and layouts -- I mean, the guy’s the whole package to me. I don’t think I could ask for a better artist, really.

I think Jamal's style is perfectly suited for the title.

This is going to be great!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sterling Gates to be new Supergirl writer?

My thanks to 'bizarro98' for posting this news in the DC Comics message boards.

Seems like news that Mr. Gates was going to write Supergirl was leaked on the internet and then subsequently removed.

A little sleuthing on my part shows the following:

1) A quick search for 'sterling gates supergirl' comes up with this match. Sorry for the crap-tastic quality of the jpeg.

2) When that link is fired, you get sent to Geoff Johns blog site with no accompanying news.

I don't know much of Gates' work. Looks like he has done some recent work with Johns on the Sinestro Corps:Superman Prime book, the Sinestro Corps Secret Files book, and the recent Alpha Lantern issues of Green Lantern Corps.

I'll re-read the Prime book and try to grab the Corps issues to get a sense of his style. It does bode well that Johns trusted him to work on key GL issues.
Now we just need to wait for this to become official and hear who the new artist will be.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Hunt for Linda Danvers - week 1

Just this last weekend at Heroes Convention, this exchange happened at the DC Nation panel.

Q: When will we see the Linda Danvers Supergirl again?
Dan Didio: This month.

Since then, the message boards, blogs, and comic websites have all been asking the same question. Where will we see the Linda Danvers Supergirl? I even laid down odds where I thought she would end up.

If you take Didio literally, that 'this month' means *this* month (that is June), then she appeared somewhere in this week's comics. Of course, he may have not been so literal and may have meant 'within the month'.
Anyways, I thought for sure that if it was this week that it would be in Final Crisis 2.

Although I pored over the issue, I didn't see Linda anywhere. This issue has already been dissected on numerous sites. Suffice it to say this was a better issue than number 1, moving the plot forward enough for the reader to get a glimpse of what lies ahead, but hazy enough to make me clamor for more. Turpin as Darkseid? Sumo-San as Orion? Barry Allen's return? A god-killing time travelling bullet? Too yummy.

This blog being this blog, two things did stand out.

One is this panel, which shows the doodles of a mystery character who seems to be able to see the different universes and is searching for his 'magic word'. Looking at his notebook, I saw a Dr. Manhatten looking guy as well as an 'Overgirl', a sort of evil Supergirl. Intriguing.

Here is a close-up (I love my high-res scanner).

And then this picture from the next issue box. (Have I mentioned I loooove my high-res scanner?)

Man, JG Jones is a great artist. I once had an opportunity to get a commission from him, but his list filled 2 minutes before I got to him. Is next issue the brawl between Kara and Mary Marvel?

So moving on in my search for Linda, my eye caught this cover, done by Ryan Sook.

As 'Reign in Hell' is one of the places I thought Linda might end up, I figured I would pick this up. The issue is a reprint of 3 Superman issues showcasing the Satanus/Blaze relationship. Supergirl (here Matrix, pre-merge with Linda) has little to do here. So, alas, no Linda here.

What this issue did do is prove to me what I felt would be true. Ryan Sook draws a great Supergirl.

He also draws a great Zatanna. This was a great mini-series.

The last issue, and no where on my list of where Linda might show up, was Superman 677.

This was James Robinson's first issue and is a decent opening chapter. We get a scene with Hal Jordan and Krypto which reinforces Supes' optimism. We get an introduction to Metropolis' science police. We meet the villain Atlas.

We also sort of meet the leader of the science police, a woman in shadows. Could this be Linda?

Well, if Didio was being literal, it just might be. And why else keep this woman in shadows? Who else could she be? And Linda's father was a policeman in the PAD series. Maybe she is following in dad's footsteps.

Whether or not I like this being Linda (if it even is) remains to be seen.

Guess we still don't know where Linda Danvers Supergirl is. But keep your eyes peeled!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Questions, questions, questions

So many questions to think about when it comes to this current Supergirl title. The underlying truth is that this title has struggled and underperformed. This is not the Kara I want to read (although the recent issues have come closer than the earlier ones). The two biggest questions are:

1) Who are the new creative team?

Hopefully they give Kara a better life and better stories.

2) Where will Linda Danvers show up?

If the answer to the second question is Final Crisis #2, then we should have a Linda-fix tomorrow. If anyone has guesses for either question, I'd love to hear them.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dan Didio at Heroes Con

Heroes Con is happening in Charlotte NC as we speak and Newsarama posted a report and partial transcript from the DC Nation panel. During the panel embattled editor in chief Dan Didio mentioned Supergirl a couple of times. Below are the excerpts (in blue font).

First off, some older news:

Moving on to Superman, DiDio announced that there will be a new creative team moving on to the Supergirl title shortly, and that the series will tie in more directly with Action Comics and Superman in the future. A major storyline that will encompass the three titles will begin, according to DiDio, in October.

Again, the new creative team was not named, although it was made clear that neither Geoff Johns nor James Robinson will be the writer. Instead, they will work with the Supergirl team to present a consistent character more integrated into the DCU and the Super-family.

Anyone have any thoughts on who the writer and artist will be or should be?

Maybe that is a seperate post unto itself.

Then, some other older news:

Q: When will we see Mary Marvel again?
DDidio: Final Crisis – Mary Marvel vs. Supergirl

I knew this already for some reason, although I can't remember exactly where I read it. Maybe in an interview with Grant Morrison?

I have to say I am intrigued by this. First off, Mary Marvel has undergone some dramatic changes in Countdown (please don't tease me for collecting it). She is now a pretty evil character, and pretty powerful too. Here is the famous Ed Benes' fan service cover.

She renounced her evil powers briefly near the end of Countdown only to re-accept them via a deal with Darkseid in Countdown 4.

And then there was this unintentionally funny line from Mary in Countdown 1 ... "Mary Damn Marvel". Yeesh.

Still, I get the sense this is going to be a pretty big scene in Final Crisis. And any time Supergirl is spotlighted I am happy.

Of course, we have seen versions of this fight as recently as 2002.

But then again that was a depowered Supergirl and a "Power of Shazam" level strength Mary. And they were being deceived magically to not recognize each other. In the end (despite the panel below), it was sort of a draw.

But then came the neutron bomb of an announcement ...

Q: When will we see the Linda Danvers Supergirl again?
DDidio: This month.

I have been pretty clear here that I loved the Peter David Supergirl. His Linda Danvers character was such a great conflicted 'trying to do good but often coming up short' hero. I thoroughly enjoyed his Earth Angel arc and was surprised it was not better received.

And her ending words from Supergirl 80 just capture that pathos so wonderfully. Here are some selected passages. Earlier this year, Didio himself said that the Matrix Supergirl (and thus the Linda Danvers Supergirl) were retconned out of continuity. How that is easily explained since she was in soooo many Superman arcs was not discussed.

Man that was a great title.

But now we get this (worth repeating) ...

Q: When will we see the Linda Danvers Supergirl again?
DDidio: This month.

So what exactly does this announcement mean?

It could mean many things. Here are my guesses. Anyone want to add to this list or vote for one of these options? I added my odds for fun.

1) It would be easiest to have the current Kara adopt the Linda Danvers name. Given the obvious love of the Silver Age Supes stuff by Johns this would seem the most likely. And this would keep the Danvers/Matrix Supergirl still out of continuity. Odds 3:1

2) She appears in Final Crisis. Since there are anomalies and multiple worlds and general craziness, she can appear without much explanation. We know that a Supergirl fights Mary Marvel. Maybe it's Linda. Plus, if he literally meant this month, June, it is the best fit. Odds 5:1

3) She appears in All-Star Superman, since that is out of continuity. The title already has a strong Silver Age feel. We have already seen 'Nasty' Luthor in the title. Why not throw a 'hot pants' wearing Supergirl into the mix? Odds 10:1

4) She shows up in the Supergirl title as a mentor for the current Kara. This was the intention behind Peter David's 'Blonde Justice' idea .. a comic with a raw Kara Zor-El and seasoned Linda Danvers (he also had Power Girl in there). I doubt that Didio would agree to this. Odds 25:1

5) She appears in Reign in Hell as a major player. She has a angelic background. She hung around with a demon. She was involved in a brief overthrow of Heaven. Who better to be involved in the civil war of Hell? Odds 50:1

If I had money, I would put it on number 3 (I like a big payday). But number 1 seems the most likely.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Kelley Puckett off Supergirl

My thanks to 'blok' on the DC Boards for pointing me to the Superman Home Page for this bit of news. This is taken directly from the 'Ask Matt' question session with Superman editor Matt Adelson.

Q: Thanks for taking the time to answer our Qs every month (or when you can)! I was wondering if Johns and/or Robinson will be named the writer(s) of SUPERGIRL, since her book is going to be integrated into the Superman books if I read it right, or if it's even too early to announce a change from Puckett to another writer?

Matt: There indeed will be a new writer coming aboard, Glen, though I'm not yet at liberty to reveal who it is. I can say that it isn't Geoff or James, but that this person will be working VERY closely with both of them as we make SUPERGIRL a partner with equal standing in the SUPERMAN line.

Well this is a little disheartening. Hopefully it will be offset by naming a great new writer.

But I think I have been pretty clear that I liked the Kelley Puckett run on Supergirl.

For one thing, there was immediate change in the feel of the book. Gone was the spoiled, angst-ridden, basically unlikeable petulant girl. Instead we had a strong-willed, inquisitive, stubborn young heroic girl. But she was heroic!

And all those traits were encapsulated in the 'Save Thomas' storyline. She was going to save Thomas no matter what it took, no matter what anyone said.

And Puckett erased the awful 'kill Kal-El' back story. For that alone, Kelley Puckett should be praised.

So counting forward to #33, written by James Peaty that means in 33 issues we have had 8 writers (Loeb, Rucka, Kelly, Palmiotti (with Gray), Bedard, Puckett, Pfeifer, and Peaty). Eight writers in 33 issues! Eight!? How can any title survive with that many writers? How can any title have any momentum with that many?

It really kills me to see this title languish like this and I can only hope that the Robinson/Johns promise of integrating Kara into the Superman titles and putting the title on par with them happens.

I think back to the 1996 Supergirl title. Do you know how many writers that title had in the first 33 issues? One - Peter David. Do you know how many writers it had for its entire 80 issue run? One -Peter David.

Now that was a Supergirl title!