Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More News About Wednesday Comics

I have to say the more I read about Wednesday Comics the more interested I get. The talent that has been organized for this project is formidable. A few more teams have been announced. I read somewhere that Ryan Sook will be doing Kamandi.

Anyways, with a Palmiotti/Conner Supergirl strip in the mix, I thought I would continue to discuss what I have read. Here is the latest article on ICv2 talking about the book with Mark Chiarello. Here is the link: http://www.icv2.com/articles/news/14627.html

As always the whole article is worth reading. Here were my highlights.

How are you going to package this for sale?
The publication size is 14” x 20” so it’s really oversize. It will be shipped folded twice so it folds down to the size of a traditional American comic book.

14" x 20"? That's huge. Folded twice to get to the size of a standard comic! I think the key is going to be page set-up. If you get enough content on the page but still take advantage of the dimensions to have some nice splashes, it should be a great format.

14" by 20" ... I think that is bigger than the old Treasury style comics I used to get as a kid.

That’s where the comic book size came from in the first place, isn’t it?
Oddly enough yeah, absolutely. And it’s nice that even though it is an oversize publication, comic shop owners and managers will be able to rack it very easily—they won’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to displaying and selling the comic.

I am glad that it is coming folded so I don't have to do it to store the thing.

One thing mentioned in the article is that DC is hoping to market it to other places than just comic stores. This format would be a great cross-over style to bring in new readers. Styled like Sunday comics, this might be a way to bring in a new generation of fans, folks or kids that wouldn't otherwise get comics. And by throwing a bunch of different characters and styles, it provides a smorgasbord of DCU.

Do you know what it’s going to be priced at?
They haven’t locked it in yet, but it will probably be the price of a regular comic book.

Hopefully $2.99 and not $3.99.

Do you know when the first issue is actually coming out?
First week in July—it will be in stores in the first week in July.

Nice for the summer. Again, it is such a familiar format to a non-comic audience that I can imagine people buying this for their children during the summer to read at home or on the beach. I think having it available at newsstands or book stores might reach the biggest audience.

Anyways, I really think this is going to be a fun 'comic' to read. You can't always say that these days.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Middleton On Supergirl #41 Cover

Over on his blog, Josh Middleton does a nice job of breaking down the creative process behind the creation of the cover of Supergirl #41. Here is the link:


I think I have said it before, but one thing I really like about this blog is the 'behind the scenes' discussion that Middleton pours into his posts. This post, in particular, does just that as we see the evolution of the cover.

Middleton started this cover with a blue pencil drawing of the primary figures: Supergirl and Superwoman. He does a nice job of explaining the process of blue pencil to graphite to inking and how that can change depending on the cover composition.

One thing I like about this up close shot is that you can see the early sketch marks as well as some erase marks. Look close at the fist. See how originally the arm was a bit longer. It shows the work that goes into making a perfect end result.

I figured I would just quote Middleton for the next bit.

In the second image the blue pencil drawing is nearly done, save for Supergirl's skirt, which can be difficult to draw, although I generally enjoy drawing drapery. Maybe it is because her skirt is too short to allow for many folds, or because I often have to bend the rules of physics to protect Supergirl's modesty, but for whatever reason, the skirt is often drawn last. As you can see, I drew her entire body even though the skirt will cover her pelvis- it is very important to always "draw through" your images. You can see that Supergirl's leg is drawn through Superwoman's body as well.

I find it fascinating that Supergirl's skirt is so tricky to draw that it is done last. I think Middleton draws it just a little bit shorter than the length Jamal Igle gives it in the comics. The 'bending the rules of physics' around her skirt used to amuse me back in the early issues of the title when the skirt was very small. Of course, in those issues we also saw some gratuitous panty shots too.

I also like how Middleton shows how he 'draws through' on the cover so you see all of Supergirl's leg even the bit behind Superwoman. I suppose that allows the artist to make sure that the anatomy stays correct.

For this cover, since color was more important than inking details, Middleton did not use graphite pencils or heavy inking over the blue pencil image. Instead he went straight to line drawing with ink.

I am probably massacring the process ... it might be better to read his entry.

One thing I did find amazing was that the drawing bit of the cover is really limited to the two characters. The clouds and ground are all added via computer.

I hope Middleton continues to put up these 'evolution' posts on his blog. One thing I would like to see is the step even before the first one here ... the step where he decides exactly what the cover layout will be. Maybe some thumb nail sketches from which he decides on the final design.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Review: Superman #686

Superman #686 is the first issue for this title in the 'without Superman'. It was an appealing opening chapter as written by James Robinson and drawn by Renato Guedes.

Unlike Action Comics, which clearly has a set storyline to tell, Superman really follows the story of a Metropolis without Superman. This title could be called Superman Family. While it is obvious that Mon-El and the Guardian will be the main players, I sense we will also get storylines for other notable Metropolis citizens. On the cover we see Zatara, Steel, Black Lightning, and Atlas. I also think that Jimmy Olsen will play as big a role here as I think Lois will be doing over in Action.

Don't ask me why I get such a kick out of these little origins logos, but I do. I figured I would post them.

One thing I did like artistically about this issue was that Robinson shows us Superman readying the city for his departure. We see Kal visiting the people he needs to protect the city while he is gone.

But in a nice cinematic touch, we never see Superman's face. In some ways, it gave the sense that he was already half-gone. I also think that keeping him faceless, he takes on a bigger than life feel ... a sense that he is like a protecting presence, watching over the city and talking to its people. These scenes almost have a twinge of people conversing with a deity. It is touches like these that remind me why enjoy comics so much, that perfect mix of pictures and words.

Here we see Superman asking Mon-El to take his place.

And then asking John Henry Irons to don his armor again and patrol the city as Steel. It is nice that Irons gets dubbed the 'Anti-Luthor', the scientific benefactor of Metropolis.

As one of the 'Reign of the Supermen', it was genius to include him in the supporting cast of this title. Steel has lived like this before.

Superman even gives Jimmy a little chuck in the arm before leaving. Superman tells Jimmy that he has grown up recently, become a man. It is time that Jimmy realizes what he has become and stop thinking of himself as a copy boy.

To keep the Metropolis situation stable and Jimmy safe, Kal gives Mon-El a signal watch to give to Jimmy. Jimmy is neck deep in the Project 7734 mystery. Now Mon-El is only a 'zee zee zee' away from some adventures together.

And then the last Superman sighting in the book. He visits The Guardian and Rachel at the Science Police. I do think it is interesting that he promises the SciPo that he will bring in the Kryptonian murderers. He must have been giving Alura some lip service on New Krypton when he said that was in the past.

He tells the two of them about Mon-El and asks that they accept him and help him establish a secret identity within the Science Police ranks. I suppose that is as good a place as any to hear about impending disasters.

And that is the last we see of Superman. The city is now Mon-El's to defend. I also think that switching the guard mid-issue was also a nice touch. No cliched last panel wave goodbye from Superman. He is simply gone.

And here we see Mon-El's first encounter with a supervillain. He has to take down Rampage. I love this panel because it so wonderfully shows the size differential between Rampage and Mon-El; she simply dwarfs him.

Notice those Science Police camera drones buzzing around? Look just like the Project 7734 drone that caught Kara on tape in her last issue. Hmmmm ...

Mon-El ends the battle dramatically, flying Rampage above the cityscape and spikes her into the street. He seems a bit satisfied with himself.

The next interaction is the best scene of the book.

Despite the fact it ended in victory, The Guardian calls Mon-El on his battle technique. Did Mon-El know Rampage would survive? Did he make sure no one would be crushed by her? Had he thought about all the variables before he body slammed her?

The Guardian is clearly a no nonsense guy. He is by-the-books. And he should call Mon on this. Mon-El is new to the planet, new to the role. He needs to think things through before he simply acts. It sets up the dynamic between the two men for the coming year.

I also like how Steel shows up to try to clear the air and smooth things out.

The city seems to be in good hands, but I wonder if everyone is going to be able to work together to accomplish the goals of safety they have before them.

And it does look like Lane is getting a direct feed from the SciPo drones. And we finally get an Agent Assassin sighting. I think this is the first one since the early issues of New Krypton.

If Lane hates Kryptonians, he most likely hates Daxamites as well.

At last we see Mon-El's introduction into the Science Police ranks. He is going by the Jonathan Kent name but he is supposedly from Britain. He also meets Jamie Harper, the niece of the original Guardian, who has joined the ranks.

While Action Comics has a very clear direction (avoid Ursa and capture sleeper agents), Superman does not necessarily have so tidy a story arc. This is more like a standard Superman book, just starring Mon-El. So while this issue nicely showcases the main players in the city, it is hard to know exactly where we go from here.

I will say that Robinson seems to have a fleshed out idea of all these characters. Each seems to have a unique voice. I didn't think I would ever be interested in the Guardian. Now I want to see just how he and Mon-El get along.

Art-wise, I thought this was one of Renato Guedes' stronger issues.

Overall grade: B+

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wizard Magazine #211 - Interview With Super-Writers

This month's Wizard Magazine has a nice interview with the four writers of the super-titles: Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, James Robinson, and Sterling Gates.

The interview covers a lot of topics about the next year in the Superman family. It is definitely worth reading in it's entirety as some hints (albeit vague hints) for the upcoming year are slipped in. I thought that I would post some of the more Supergirl-centric comments.

I think we all saw the re-imagining of the 'secret weapon' status when the UN decree was enacted post-New Krypton. I hope that doesn't mean we have a year of Supergirl skulking around. I would rather see her operate openly but then slip away as Linda Lang.

Since I was fairly vocal in my support of a secret identity, I have to say I am excited to see Gates explore this new aspect to Kara's character.

Lastly, I do find it somewhat intriguing that Gates says "people already don't like [Kara]; now they really don't like [her]." One thing I am hoping will eventually come out of the new team's direction is some recognition by the world that Kara is a hero. Of course this reinventing of herself is part of her feud with Cat Grant and isn't helped by New Krypton. This turning of popular sentiment won't happen overnight. I expect it to be an undercurrent in the title for a while.

Okay, it's not a Supergirl comment. But I am glad that Lois is not being lost during the 'year without Superman'. I feared that Lois might become a very minor character in all the titles, appearing sporadically.

When I saw that inquisitive look on her face in Rucka's Action Comics #875, I knew that someone was going to be writing a strong Lois.

We also know she will have a reasonably important role in Supergirl as part of the 'Agent Liberty' murder investigation.

It's hard to know when this interview was done; I wonder if it was completed before the release of the Origins and Omens piece in Supergirl was released. Johns hints about something big happening to Lana in Supergirl and I have to assume it is her illness.

I do like the fact that the Lana/Kara relationship is not like an ersatz mother/daughter one. It should be more mentor-like. Like my interest in Linda Lang, I also look forward to seeing more of this interaction.

The interview turns to the topic of villains including who will be in Johns' Secret Origin mini-series.

As for Supergirl, we hear that Reactron and Silver Banshee are pretty established now as Kara rogues now.

But 2 more villains? One known and one new?

I know the known villain ... that doll in Supergirl #38 spoke volumes ... it has to be The Toyman!

I am glad to hear a new villain will be added too. Supergirl needs to start building her own history and rogue's gallery, not just a shuffling of Superman enemies.
And then Rucka drops this bomb ... Supergirl as a villain in the pages of Action Comics?

I can think of that happening in 2 ways. One would be Alura sends Kara out to bring in the Thara and Chris as rogue Kryptonians living on Earth. Unlikely, since I think Kara probably escapes from under Alura's thumb at the end of the Superwoman arc.

My guess is that some classic 'misunderstanding' between the Kara and Thara has them think they are at odds with each other only to eventually team up and stop the bad guys.

Overall, it sounds like the teams have a pretty tight understanding of all they hope to accomplish over the year. When projects are well-thought out in advance, the product is usually good. I am pretty optimistic about these titles for the upcoming year.

As for the rest of this Wizard, it sports a somewhat psychedelic 'face melting' pulling-off-the-mask Spiderwoman cover by Alex Maleev and has an article about the upcoming Spiderwoman comic/web comic. I have a cool Maleev Supergirl commission that I will probably post when the Spiderwoman title gets released.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Boston Comicon and Paul Gulacy Commission

I am pretty excited about the upcoming Boston Comic Con, a mere 10 days away! Here is their link for anyone local: http://www.bostoncomiccon.com/

As a Boston guy with tough commitments, it is pretty hard for me to get away to the big conventions. Even a day trip to the NYCC is difficult to pull off.

So I am pretty pumped about this new convention which has been going on for the last couple of years. I have met some big names in the past here: Jim Steranko, Carmine Infantino, and Bernie Wrightson to name a couple. I also have met a lot of local artists like Paul Ryan, Norman Lee, and Scott Wegener to name a few.

The good news is that this Boston convention seems to be growing. Next month's is 2 days!

And look at the big name guests! Something for everyone! Here are some brief resumes.

Mike Allred is most famous for Madman but also has done X-Statix.

Whilce Portacio has done Spawn, X-Men, Wetworks, and other WildStorm issues.

Jim Cheung has done New Avengers, Young Avengers, and The Illuminati.

Paul Gulacy is most famous for his run on Master of Kung Fu but has also worked on Batman and Catwoman.

Add to that a lot of other guests and it looks like I might need to moonlight a bit to make some extra cash to spend.

I really like Jim Cheung's art and so I am going to head to the con early in hopes of grabbing a commission from him.

Of all the guests, Gulacy is my favorite. I have always loved his art. Here is a commission of Supergirl that I already have from him.

This is probably the most cheesecake-y commission in my collection. It is not the usual style for my collection but I would expect nothing else from a master of the female form like Gulacy. This is really a great piece. The scan does not do it justice. The shading and grey tones really give it a 3-dimensional feel and some energy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wednesday Comics Supergirl Team Announced

I have been wondering just who the creative team for the Supergirl page of Wednesday Comics will be. Over on CBR, in Lying in the Gutters, the team was named. Here is the link: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=20531

This is just the brave, creative experiment that companies like DC should be taking and they are to be applauded for it. And with the likes of Kyle Baker on Hawkman, and Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred on Metamorpho. Adam and Joe Kubert on Sergeant Rock, Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso on Batman, Sean Galloway on Teen Titans, Joe Quinones on Green Lantern, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner on Supergirl and Ben Caldwell on Wonder Woman, and John Arcudi, Lee Bermejo, Dave Bullock, Kurt Busiek, Dave Gibbons, Paul Pope, Ryan Sook, Walt Simonson… well, it’s one hell of a sell.

So we finally learn the Supergirl team for Wednesday Comics ...

Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner.

So what do people think?

I was really hoping for Walt Simonson or Ryan Sook.

But Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner ...

I certainly didn't like their first take on Kara ... the much vilified 'rave dancing' issue, Supergirl #12, what I consider the worst issue of the current series. And that says something since there is an issue with Kara killing her classmates on Krypton.

As I have said before, it seemed like that issue was written more to build up Terra at the expense of Kara. Supergirl was really portrayed as apathetic to the common man and more interested in hedonism than heroics.

I saw Palmiotti was writing Superman/Supergirl:Maelstrom but I went in with an open mind. While I felt that there were some fine moments in the mini-series overall, and despite mind-numbingly beautiful art by Phil Noto, I thought it didn't quite satisfy. I will say again that each issue of that mini improved over the last. It may have been an upgrade from Supergirl #12 but the characterization of Kara was just off.

I am really really going to hope that the third time is the charm. I truly enjoy Palmiotti's work in just about everything non-Supergirl ... Jonah Hex, Uncle Sam, etc. My gut tells me that I am going to be impressed with this effort.

One thing I am not worried about is the artwork.

Amanda Conner really has a fun upbeat style perfectly suited for Power Girl. And she has always done a cute 'girl next door' Supergirl. Remember this piece in support of saving Jerry Siegel's home?

Given the other names and the format, I am definitely going to get Wednesday Comics. I am just hoping the Supergirl pages are a high point.

So what do you guys think of the announced team?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

June Solicits For The Super Titles

The early June solicits for DC featured the super-titles and it looks like the 'Year Without Superman' is heating up a bit.

Written by Greg Rucka

Art by Fernando Dagnino & Raul Fernadez
Cover by Andrew Robinson

Nightwing and Flamebird, meet Nadira Va-Dim and Az-Rel, the Bonnie and Clyde of Krypton. They’ve got all of your powers, but absolutely none of your morals. Good luck!

Two more of the six sleepers are being hunted down and it looks like Thara and Chris will have their hands full. The first issue of this run was solid so I am looking forward to Action this year. That sad, it is too bad that Eddy Barrows is off art in this issue. I hope it is only for an issue.

Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Pere Pérez
Cover by Renato Guedes

Discover the origin of Nightwing and Flamebird! The new dynamic duo is busy rooting out General Zod’s sleeper agents in the present, but how did they find out about the sleepers in the first place? What exactly is their history with Zod? How did they meet? What is their connection to the original Nightwing and Flamebird? Find out these answers and more in this all-new annual!

I like the fact that there is going to be a link with the legendary Flamebird and Nightwing and the current team. I also will be interested to see if they flashback to anything we saw in the New Krypton storyline that should have tipped us off. Lastly, I really hope they explain the flame powers and 'tactile telekinesis' the current team used when we first saw them. Seemed like a way to get Linda and Kon fans worked up.

Written by James Robinson & Greg Rucka
Art by Pete Woods
Cover by Gary Frank
Variant cover by Howard Chaykin

A new planet suddenly appearing in any space sector would demand the scrutiny of the Green Lantern Corps. When the planet in question is New Krypton and the space sector is 2814, it means Kandor City gets a visit from Hal Jordan and John Stewart, with Daxamite Sodam Yat along for good measure. But what starts as a good-will mission soon becomes a manhunt for some of the Phantom Zone’s most deranged and dangerous criminals and leads ultimately to dire conflict between the Corps and Zod’s Military Guild – with Superman caught in the middle!

It never occurred to me that the GLC would have a vested interest in the sudden inclusion of New Krypton in sector 2814 but it makes perfect sense.

And let's face it, a battle between 100,000 Kryptonians and the entire Corps would be a galaxy shattering war. The cover by Gary Frank is just sweet.

Written by James Robinson
Art by Renato Guedes & José Wilson Magalhães
Cover by Andrew Robinson

What’s a young man to do when he’s told he’s going to die? See the world while he can, of course! Experience a whistle-stop tour of Earth with Mon-El as he tastes life and fights crime with some of DC’s international cast of Super Heroes.Meanwhile, back in Metropolis, a media mogul takes to the airwaves. His goal: the banning of all alien life on Earth. His name: Morgan Edge. And just what is the Prankster planning?

I still don't know how I am going to feel about this run but I trust Robinson to pull it off.

And a re-introduction of Morgan Edge. It warms my Silver Age bones. I hope he is just an arrogant newsman again and not a villain with Intergang ties.

Written by Sterling Gates
Art by Jamal Igle & Jon Sibal
Cover by Joshua Middleton

Supergirl has answered the question “Who is Superwoman?” but there’s more to the mystery! In this dramatic epilogue issue, Supergirl must deliver devastating news to one of Superman’s closest allies! And something strange is going on with Lana Lang – can anyone help her before it's too late? Back on New Krypton, Alura is none too happy with her daughter – leading to some drastic consequences for our Girl of Steel!

Nice to see Jamal back on art and inked by Jon Sibal too! Spectacular!

Hmmmm ... the fact that Alura and Lana are both mentioned in the solicit makes me think that neither is Superwoman (although a clone of Alura would still be okay). I have to figure that this is the issue where Kara finally says 'I am going to live on Earth.'

But devastating news to one of Superman's closest allies? Any ideas? Is that a clue to who Superwoman is?

And it also sounds like Lana begins to manifest whatever illness we saw in 'Origins and Omens'.

All sounds good to me!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Wednesday Comics Starring Supergirl

DC announced their latest weekly comic idea in a couple of articles over on Newsarama. I bought 52 and thought it was pretty good. I bought Countdown and was disappointed. I shied away from Trinity. But this idea is called Wednesday Comics and I have to tell you, I am pretty interested in the idea ... even before I heard that Supergirl is going to be featured. Here is the link to the first article: http://www.newsarama.com/comics/030919-Wednesday-Comics.html
And here are the interesting parts.

The publisher today officially announced Wednesday Comics, a new 12-part weekly series launching this summer that will be presented in a 14” x 20” broadsheet format and will have to be unfolded and opened to be read. The "Wednesday" part of the title refers to the fact new comic books go on sale at comic book stores nationwide every Wednesday.

In essence, DC is shipping out weekly 'Sunday Comics' except on Wednesday. Oversized, no staples, folded ... just like a newspaper. How the heck am I going to store these things?

It is pretty innovative. I will be interested to see the finished product.

Of course, format is one thing but content is crucial.
Looks like DC knew that it will take some special material to get people interested enough to buy. They have lined up some serious talent here to create stories for a wide variety of characters.

Characters coming up in the pages of Wednesday Comics include: Hawkman (already linked to creator Kyle Baker art for which can be seen here), Batman, Adam Strange, Metamorpho (linked to Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred), Catwoman, Demon, Deadman, Kamandi, Superman, Sgt. Rock, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Teen Titans, Supergirl, Flash and the Metal Men . Each story will have its own full-page installment each week for the 12 issues. The stories may be standalone stories with each installment, or a 12-part serial – the choice was left up to the creators.

DiDio listed off names of some of the other creators joining Baker, Gaiman and Allred on Wednesday Comics: Brian Azzarello, Paul Pope, Walt Simonson, Dave Bullock, Dave Gibbons, Ryan Sook, John Arcudi, Lee Bermejo, Joe Kubert, Ben Caldwell, Kurt Busiek, Eddie Berganza, Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner and Karl Kerschel. More will be announced at a later date, along with an official pairing of creators and characters.
That is a great list of creators.

Azzarello and Risso are linked to Batman. Andy and Joe Kubert are linked to a Sgt. Rock story. Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred are doing Metamorpho. Paul Pope is doing some sort of sci-fi story.

So bloggers, of the names above who would you like to see do Kara's adventures. I think I would weep if Ryan Sook was named artist for the Kara storyline. I love his art.

But I would also be very intrigued to see Walt Simonson's take on Supergirl I doubt it will happen. Given Simonson's love of Jack Kirby's characters, my guess he is on Kamandi or the Demon.

Another article talked to Mark Chiarello, DCU Executive Editor, and he really sounded passionate about the idea.


The publication size is 14 inches wide by 20 inches tall, so it’s big. That’s the front page – so when you open it, it gets 28 inches wide, so it’s an enormous page. So for 12 weeks, that “cover” will be an installment of the Brian Azzarello/Eduardo Risso Batman story. Page 2 will be Sgt. Rock, and so on. So essentially, it’s 12 big-ass pages. Each story takes up one whole page, with no staples. It’ll be just like the Sunday funnies you read as a kid.
He also talked about how the creators all picked the material that interested them rather than DC asking them to write a particular character. Chiarello talked about how that process led to the successful series Batman:Black and White and Solo. Any time the creators are invested in the characters, you know the product will be good.

Anyone else think they are going to get this?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Review: Supergirl #39

Supergirl #39 came out yesterday and is the penultimate chapter of the 'Who is Superwoman?' storyline. The issue was written by Sterling Gates and the bulk of the pencilling was done by Jamal Igle.

One thing to note is that inking was done by Jon Sibal rather than usual inker Keith Champagne. Sibal seems to use a finer line and adds more detailing and cross-hatching than Champagne does. It gives the Igle pages a crisper feel than we have seen before.

Also, we see a couple of pages done by Talent Caldwell, the scheduled artist for next issue. Caldwell's art is stylistically similar to J. Scott Campbell of Danger Girl fame. It is a departure of the feel Igle has given the book this last half year, a bit flashier.

As for the story, this was a very interesting issue with some new clues revealed about Superwoman's identity and some suspects essentially eliminated. But as important as these revelations were, what I liked about the issue was the continuing growth of supporting cast and some smoldering subplots.

We had already been privy to the opening scene from the book last week in a preview. Just a quick recap. Superwoman is able to stop Reactron from killing his ex-girlfriend Lori Murphy. We see that her heat vision is a little different from the usual straight lined lasers.

In a startling development, Superwoman states that she has saved Murphy because she needs Murphy's death to look like a accident. She then rips open a gas line and creates a conflagration in the apartment.

Early in the story I actually wondered if Superwoman was a good character forced into doing bad things, someone where the ends justified some questionable means. All those feelings of sympathy go out the window here. To kill an innocent woman like this puts you in the realm of evil regardless of blackmail by General Lane.
In the meantime, Kara has recovered enough from her battle with Superwoman to continue her mission to apprehend Reactron. She flies through Metropolis at high speed so she cannot be seen. She is essentially an outlaw on Earth now given the UN edict that Kryptonians are not allowed here. That message is trumpeted on the Planet billboard to the right, the Cat Grant 'Kryptonians Go Home' headline right in Supergirl's face. It's a very nice and dynamic splash page.

Kara calls upon the one human she knows she can 'absolutely trust', Lana, to help her. It is an interesting line since we know that Lana is hiding her illness from Kara. Will this deception harm their relationship, make Kara question the trust she has given Lana?

Lana is researching the addresses of all the Lori Murphy's who reside in Metropolis. Kara has hunted down 6 of 8 of them, none of them the one linked to Reactron. She is given the address for our unlucky victim, an apartment on the corner of Binder (named for Otto Binder, writer of the first Supergirl story) and Mooney (named for Jim Mooney, legendary artist of Supergirl in the 60's).

I did like this interaction between Lana and a planet worker where she shows some protective maternal instincts. When the gentleman describes Linda as hot in a 'sexy librarian' way, he is quickly chastised by Lana.

Unfortunately Kara arrives only in time to see the emergency crews picking up the rubble. She lingers long enough for a military surveillance drone from Project 7734 to film her.

In the meantime, we cut to Inspector Henderson who is still working on the Agent Liberty murder. It's a quiet moment which gives us some insight into his character. He talks about how unsolved mysteries haunt the police. His old Captain used to lament an unsolved murder of young boy killed by the sound of a woman's voice.

Hmmmm ... sounds like Silver Banshee to me. I like how the Banshee is slowly becoming more of a Kara rogue than a Superman villain.

Henderson is informed that Liberty's suit's memory has been recovered.

With Murphy dead and no new lead to follow, Kara heads back to her and Lana's apartment. Reluctantly, she contacts Alura to report. When Kara tells her mother that she was stymied in her mission by Superwoman, Alura begins her usual rant of emotional torture.

Alura tells Kara that she has 'one more chance'. That this mission was a test to see how 'useless' Kara is. She tells Kara that her best 'isn't good enough'. Bullied and frustrated, Kara tells Alura to shut up, smashing the communication device.

We have seen Alura be this cruel in the past. But this is a pretty concentrated dose of bile questioning Kara's worth. Alura's is a very conditional love, if it is love at all.
The result of this negative barrage is for Kara to finally break down and cry. She voices the horrible thoughts she has been thinking, wishing that Reactron could have killed Alura instead of Zor-El.

Some critics will lambaste Kara's tears as further evidence of her weak character. And I have to say if I don't see Kara cry for a year I'll be pretty happy. That said, tears make sense here. Kara thinks her parents are dead. They are found miraculously alive. Then her father is killed before her eyes. And now her mother has descended into madness and sadism.

On top of that despair, she finds herself wishing her mother was dead.

Or course tears will come.

It is nice to see that Kara has Lana to lean on for some support.

Somewhat jarringly, we switch to the Caldwell pages. We see Superwoman in Project 7734. She tells a soldier that her suit blocked Reactron's kryptonite blasts as she thought it would. She also says she hopes she never finds out what would happen if the suit didn't hold.

Sounds to me like she is worried about Kryptonite. So I think her 'who said I was Kryptonian?' line was a little subterfuge. She is Kryptonian!

She is given her new mission: work with Reactron to capture Supergirl!

Here is a good example of Caldwell's version of Kara.

Inspector Henderson contacts Lois Lane to send Superman to Police HQ to discuss the Agent Liberty murder. With Kal off Earth, Lois sends Supergirl instead.

When a police officer attempts to arrest Kara for violating the UN edict, Henderson tells him to stand down. He knows Supergirl wasn't involved in the deaths of the SciPo officers. And he needs some help. If Superman isn't available, Supergirl will do.

I think Henderson is going the become the 'Commissioner Gordon' equivalent of this book, working behind the scenes with Supergirl despite the new laws.

He shows Supergirl the new evidence he has found. The last image Agent Liberty's suit recorded was Superwoman's face, red eyes smoldering.

Since she is wearing the family crest of the House of El, it makes sense to question Superman or Supergirl about who she could be.

Before Kara can answer, Lucy Lane comes storming in. She was tipped off by someone that Supergirl was at the Police Station, that Henderson was harboring an illegal alien.

Lane thinks Supergirl and Superwoman are working together. After all, Superwoman has just been seen flying in Metropolis with Reactron. It is too much of a coincidence that both Supergirl and Superwoman are together.

I do think it is interesting that Lane doesn't seem to know about Superwoman and Reactron's mission. Maybe Lucy isn't aware of all of her father's nefarious plans.

It also is pretty clear that Lucy is not Superwoman. She can't be in two places at the same time.
This news of Superwoman and Reactron working together is all that Kara can stand. She prepares herself to meet them. Next issue, Superwoman's identity is revealed.

This was another very solid issue as we careen towards next issue's conclusion.

The Superwoman mystery is close to bubbling over. With Thara eliminated and now Lucy Lane eliminated, the list of suspects is smaller than ever. Add in the implied weakness to Kryptonite and I think we are looking at some version of Alura or Kara be it clone, Black K creation, or time split duplicate. My very first guess was Kara evil clone. I switched a while back to Alura clone. I am sticking with that guess.

I also liked the increasing presence and growing characterization of the supporting cast. The scenes with Lana and Inspector Henderson really fleshed out who they are and what their current relationship with Supergirl is.

Sterling Gates seems to have a great handle of Supergirl's voice as none of her lines seem stilted or forced. While I would have been fine without seeing Kara's tears, I think they fit the moment.

The art really continues to sizzle. I have said before how I think Jamal Igle draws the best facial expressions. This issue is no exception. You really can sense what characters are thinking just from the look on their faces. He also adds a kinetic energy to the action sequences as well. You really can feel the force behind punches, the heft needed to carry Reactron, etc. I have to admit I like Jon Sibal's inks a smidge more than Keith Champagne's. But I always prefer a thin lined approach.

So, with Thara and Lucy seemingly out of the running, is it worth running one more 'Who is Superwoman' poll?

Overall grade: A-

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

February Sales Review

The comics market in February did not slip as much as it had the month before. The 9% freefall in January trickled to a 2% decrease in February. Numbers were still a bit falsely bolstered by another month dominated by the Obama Spiderman issue which held the #1 spot for a second month selling just under 150,000 books.

As for Supergirl, despite the overall sales dip, the book continues to hold its own. Here is the ICv2 link to check out sales: http://www.icv2.com/articles/news/14518.html.

Supergirl #38, the second part of the 'Who is Superwoman?' arc and sporting that mesmerizing Josh Middleton cover sold 34,225 issues, logging in as the 47th best selling title in the market.

Supergirl #37 sold 34,060 issues. This month actually saw 165 more issues sold. Okay, in essence the book's sales remained the same. But in a dwindling marketplace, this has to be looked at as good news.

Supergirl #38 was also the second issue post-New Krypton. People buying the book are buying the book on its own merits, not any crossover bump. 34,000 in sales is solid and 25% more in sales than the last issues of the Kelley Puckett run.

Supergirl:Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade #3 showed a slight dip in sales selling 6,222 issues.

The second issue sold 6,488 meaning sales slipped around 5%.

I don't have a good feel for what DC considers to be 'good sales' for a Johnny DC book but hopefully they think the product is as great as most of us think it is and green light a sequel. I have to think that the DC editorial board must be tickled to see Cosmic mixed in with the other titles selling this much.

Despite solid sales for both titles, word of mouth and good press helps. I try to talk up both in my local comic store.