Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

I guess Supergirl won't be walking through any haunted houses tonight if a spider makes her this terrified.

Nor do I think I she'll be handing out the candy tonight if a Cowboy costume scares her this much!

"The Frightened Supergirl" was the main story in Adventure Comics #401. Written and drawn by Mike Sekowsky, the story involved Nasty Luthor slipping a fear potion into Supergirl's water making the Kara run amok from fear.

In the end, the whole story turns out to be a dream.

Hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Review: World's Finest #1

Back when it was a monthly comic, World's Finest contained stories starring both Superman and Batman. So, given the current upheaval in the Bat and Super titles, I thought it was a clever idea to resurrect the title and have it star the other members of the two hero families. And the current families provide a number of very interesting combinations.

And Sterling Gates had much to say about the book on a recent Newsarama interview found here:

Here is what he had to say about the Supergirl/Batgirl team-up in issue World's Finest #3.

Stephanie and Kara have had tough lives as super-heroines, and I thought they’d get along really, really well. They both look as they leap, rather than exercising a lot of caution or analyzation. They’re both trying to live up to the families that have accepted them. And the pair of them really hit it off. Two old friends who didn’t know they were friends yet. Through Issue #3 – and even through some of #4 – you see their relationship and their friendship blossom.

Sounds like that will be a great read. But back to the review:

World's Finest #1 starred Nightwing and Red Robin. Both characters are the 'sons' of Superman and Batman. Both are using hero names used by others. And both are currently on well defined missions - Nightwing to gather up Zod's sleepers, Red Robin to find Bruce. There would be a lot of material to mine just from this pairing. Heck, you could probably do a monthly starring just these two.

The book is written by Supergirl writer Sterling Gates and he seems to have a pretty good take on the character's motivations and voices. The story moves along very quickly, a done-in-one episode that could easily have been stretched out over a couple of issues.

Unfortunately, the two star only in this issue. To be honest, I would rather read another issue of them instead of next month's Guardian/Damian team-up. Those two are my least favorite characters of the hero families.

The issue opens in Amsterdam with Red Robin fighting some crooks on motorcycles.

It is clear that Tim Drake has become a bit more dark, a bit more physical in his new identity of Red Robin. In this fight he comes across much more like the brooding Batman, taking down these thugs in violent and painful ways. It reminds me of that scene in Dark Knight Returns where batman runs through all the ways he can disable the crook he is fighting. Some kill, some disarm with minimal pain, but Batman picks the one that hurts the most.

For example, Red Robin stops this bike by jamming his staff into the wheel. There were probably a dozen ways to get the rider off the motorcycle. But he chose the way that sends the rider flying onto the street at high speed. Tim then screams to the now bloody and unconscious driver that this is 'no time for sleep'. Tim seems to be the one Robin to totally embrace Bruce's methods.

I thought the panel above was pretty slick, the bike and rider clearly looking awkward as they tumble while Red Robin looks almost graceful as he soars through the sky. It just was a visual showing of how in control Tim was here.

Despite that, Red Robin does need a little bit of help. Nightwing dispatches the last crook by telekinetically dissassembling the bike he is riding.

When faced with this new Nightwing, Tim braces for battle. Tim has no idea who is under the mask until Chris removes the helmet. He asks Tim for help.

It is another nice touch to have the moon shining off of Nightwing's armor as it conveys the light/dark contrast between the Superman and Batman families.

It becomes very clear why Tim needs his help.

In Gotham City, we see that Thara has been captured by the Penguin and the Kryptonite Man. As usual, the Penguin is hoping to make a quick buck by selling Thara to the highest bidder. An auction is quickly put together.

Now that we know the crux of the matter, Chris fills in the exposition with Tim.

During one of their sweeps looking for a General Zod sleeper agents, Nightwing and Flamebird stumbled into the Penguin's nightclub. They went in essentially blind as the building is set up tp thwart X-ray vision. Once they entered, they were subdued by the Kryptonite Man and the Penguin's flunkies. An explosion blasted Chris several blocks away but Thara did not escape.

With no one else to turn to, Nightwing sought out Red Robin to help him.

I think it is interesting how Red Robin finally decides to help. After refusing at first, Tim hears about the Nightwing/Flamebird mythology. How the two need to be kept together to love one another or catastrophe ensues (such as the destruction of Krypton). Somehow this legendary pull on the heart convinces Tim to put his mission aside.

A quick flight across the Atlantic later, Tim is infiltrating the Penguin's club, noting the lead enmeshed into all the surfaces, in essence scrambling X-ray vision.

Suddenly discovered by one of lurking henchmen, Red Robin springs into action.

But even Tim would have a hard time dealing with the Kryptonite Man who can hurl beams of radioactive energy.

Luckily Nightwing shows up in the nick of time. He douses the Kryptonite Man in the liquid lead used in the building, nullifying K-Man's ability to attack.

Once Thara is freed, the three heroes quickly depart. This wasn't a mission to shut down the Penguin. This was a retrieval mission. Their goal was to free Thara and once that happened they left.

I thought that was an interesting turn to the story. I can imagine that other heroes would have tied up the villains and left a calling card for the police. But Chris and Tim have bigger things on their minds. Maybe they are more alike than they realize in their commitment to the big picture.

And just like that the heroes split up to move onto their seperate goals.

Thara and Chris are going to head to Metropolis.

Tim found a letter from 1809 that is another clue in his search for Batman.

This was not a warm and fuzzy team-up. This didn't end with a wink or a joke. This was a speed bump on their paths. Both heroes have a near zealous adherence to their beliefs and neither seem like they are completely of a sound mind.

And it is that almost strained ending that made this not a straighforward team-up book. It has been said that Superman and Batman would not be easy friends. You can see that in this interaction of their proteges.

While the Nightwing/Red Robin story is over, we get one more scene that makes me think there is a story that will weave it's way through all four issues.

The Kryptonite Man was nowhere to be found after his fight with Nightwing. We see him awaken on an operating table, a creepy appearing masked child waving a knife in his face.

This 'Toyboy' speaks like a robot, an automaton made by his 'father' The Toyman! I was really hoping that the Toyman would end up in Supergirl's rogues gallery, especially given his history with Cat Grant.

Overall, I thought this was a fast-paced and quick read. The highlight of the book for me was the interactions between the stars. In some ways their ends are similar but their means to those ends are quite different. I meant it when I said that this would be an interesting duo to see guest star again.

Julian Lopez did a competent job on art. His strongest art here were the action scenes. The quieter moments in the book were pretty average.

Overall grade: B/B+

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Review: Superman Secret Origin #2

As a Superman fan and a Legion of Super-Heroes fan, I thought that Superman Secret Origin #2 was an absolutely wonderful issue. As I have said countless times before, Geoff Johns seems to have an uncanny ability to take the best ideas from the Silver Age Superman mythos and brush them up for the 21st century. This issue continued that trend.

Now I don't know how this series is playing out with newer readers. I don't know if the homages to all the older stories are readily appreciated. And I don't know if this patina of Silver Age goodness is too saccharin or 'old fashioned' for comics right now. But for someone like me who has read (in reprints) the original first meeting between Superman and the Legion, I thought this was fabulous.

While I understand the angst against yet 'another' Superman reboot, there is no denying the quality of the first two issues.

The issue starts with a dramatic Superboy rescue. A drunk Mr. Luthor suddenly finds his brakes are inoperative and flies off a mountain road. Luckily Superboy was flying nearby and was able to gently lower the car to the ground. Luthor, babbling about a flying boy, is thrown into a jail cell to sober up. When Lex is notified of the miracle, he seems less than pleased. It is clear he cut the brake lines.

I thought the brake line episode was a nice start to the issue. First off, 'brake line accident' was part of the John Byrne history for Lex Luthor. While it was 'never confirmed', it was pretty evident in Byrne's run that Lex's first financial boon was his father's life insurance policy after a fatal car accident. So even though it didn't happen here, it felt like a wink to the Man of Steel era.

I also loved the splash page above. What a dramatic page, no background to distract the eye ... just Superboy hoisting a car.

Clark flies home, entering the secret tunnel in the woods to enter into the Kent basement. The secret tunnel in the woods! I haven't seen that in decades!

I like how we see the legend of the 'super boy' growing ... Ma starting her scrap book. It is these scenes that are very important in showing how Clark became the man he is.

I also like how ridiculous it is that they have asked Clark to stay out of sight but have him dressed up in bright primary colors.

And I think it is humorous but realistic that Clark clearly feels uncomfortable in his suit right now. Who would feel comfortable?

One thing that is clear is that Clark still feels alone in the universe. We see him peering out into the night sky with his supervision. And somewhere out there we are shown a Kryptonian rocket, it's programming stating 'Test rocket connection established. Rerouted.'

That sense of being alone is shown again in this scene in the library. Clark is shown reading the book 'Are We Alone' by Dr. Erdel. He is hoping that he is not the only 'alien' in the whole universe.

At the same time, we are shown just how grandiose Lex's plans are. He is looking through an atlas of Metropolis trying to figure out where he will eventually build his building. Lex's disdain for the small town charm of Smallville is apparent as he disparages everyone who lives there. That said, he isn't delusional. We know he does eventually build that building.

Johns doesn't necessarily follow the Silver Age playbook letter for letter though. In the Silver Age, Lex and Clark were friends. Here Lex sees no reason to 'hang out' with Clark. I wonder if (as in the Silver Age) Lex and Superboy will be friends. Will Superboy 'be responsible' for Lex's hair loss as he was way back when?

And we again get that sense of otherness when Clark talks to Lana. Clark laments the fact that all his old friends are no longer asking him to play football or anything else. His concerns for hurting someone, his excuses to beg out of playing, have changed their friendship.

Lana says she will help him and gives him a peck on the cheek. While she knows that Clark has powers, she doesn't know he is an extra-terrestrial. Clark holds her at arm's length telling her he isn't like her. He doesn't want to necessarily get romantically close with Lana knowing his alien origins. Unfortunately all it does is push her away even farther.

If he felt alone before, he certainly is feeling that way now. Johns really does a great job of conveying that.

Alone until he meets the original three Legionnaires.

This is just another great page by Gary Frank. I really felt a little wave of nostalgia seeing the three founding Legionnaires in their original outfits talking to a young Clark Kent. They thank him for being their inspiration and tell him that things will get better. Somehow Clark convinces them that they should take him with them to the future.

The future Johns paints is an interesting place. We see the paradise we saw in earlier Legion stories, the shiny windowless building, the flying cars, the interlac signs.

But we also see the xenophobic element of some Terrans. Remember, this isolationism was a strong theme in Johns' Legion story in Action Comics a couple of years ago. In this way Johns is building his own history for the Legion.

Superboy joins in the fight against the terrorists even coining the term 'Long Live the Legion'. Long Live the Legion!

But Johns builds this new history within the context of the pre-existing Legion history. So we see Phantom Girl and Triplicate Girl in their original costumes. We see the confident Brainiac talking about how foolish it was for the founding members to bring Superboy here where anything he learns could alter history.

The way Brainiac talks here is exactly the way I picture he would speak.

When they return Superboy to the present, Clark asks hopefully that he will see them again. In the skirmish with the terrorists, he was beaming a huge smile. I think it might be the first time we have seen him smile in the book. Surrounded by other super-beings, he suddenly felt like he wasn't alone.

The three Legionnaires decide they can bring him back to the future assuming they can hide all accounts of his future from him. And look at the list of doozies that Cosmic Boy rattles off.

Doomsday ... okay.
Kandor ... fine.

General Zod and the Earth/New Krypton war? What?! We all thought this was going to happen, proably as next year's big event. But to see it in print felt like a confirmation.

The Super-sun? Is that a reference to the tyrant sun from DC 1,000,000? Or something new?

The death of Lex Luthor? Hmmm ....

Either way, it was a nice way to re-cement the idea of Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes into the DCU.

Since the Legion can show up at any time, Clark decides to begin wearing his Superboy suit under his clothes. It is these tiny flourishes explaining the minor details of the Superman's origins that really flesh out the book.

As if finding friends wasn't enough, the Kryptonian test rocket we saw earlier lands on the Kent Farm. Krypto has arrived giving Clark another playmate. Look at the joy on his face.

The book however ends on a more chilling note.

The elder Luthor is found dead. Lex blames his father's weak heart despite his clean health record.

Lena be sent to live with her aunt.

Suddenly Lex is free. And a quick shot of the insurance policy shows that he also has his first financial windfall.

In case I haven't gushed enough, I loved this issue. One thing I think the series does is streamline the origin into one that I think even casual fans can latch onto. There was a lot in the prior reboots (Lex as business man in Man of Steel, Superman with 'life aura vision' like in Birthright) that just wasn't what the mainstream comics reader was aware of or that seemed right. Someone picking up a their first Superman comic in the Byrne era might not get that Luthor isn't a mad scientist. That said, Johns is able to update the older ideas he is reinserting to make them more reasonable for the more modern reader.

Gary Frank continues to supply absolutely incredible art here. I love his retro-Legion!

Nothing but goodness here.

Overall grade: A+

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sterling Gates And World's Finest

There is a nice little piece on the DC blog about Supergirl writer Sterling Gates which promotes both Supergirl and the upcoming World's Finest miniseries. Here is the link:

The post does a good job of talking up Supergirl so hopefully this will intrigue some people enough to pick up the book. But I also think it was great to see Sterling get a little publicity as well. Most of us here think that his work on Supergirl has been fantastic. Here is some of the DC post.

Sterling Gates is far from a newcomer to the DCU — but he’s certainly one that’s on the rise. With his work — alongside artist Jamal Igle — redefining and stabilizing Supergirl, Gates has made a name for himself for his tight plotting and knack for strong and precise characterization. All of which can be seen month-in and month-out in the pages of the Girl of Steel’s ongoing series.

The Source also talks about World's Finest and gives some preview pages of the first issue. Here is the publicity.

The first issue kicks off with Gates and artist Julian Lopez bringing Red Robin and Christopher Kent/Nightwing together to help track down a missing Flamebird — but as readers have come to expect from Gates, things are rarely that linear, so fans should be in for a treat.

And here are some panels I liked. I thought Lopez did a good job on his issues of Action Comics so I think he will have a good handle on the Nightwing character.

Here is a good panel of Chris taking apart a motorcycle with his telekinesis.

But I liked this page even more with Tim not knowing that Chris is under the helmet. Very moody art.

I think the whole idea of this mini-series is fantastic. And when you add Jamal Igle art on the Supergirl/Batgirl issue and Phil Noto art on the Superman/Batman one it puts it to the next level.

I plan to review World's Finest here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Boston Comic-Con Roundup Part 1 - Tim Sale

The Boston Comic-Con was this last weekend and it was an absolute blast. As work has been crazy busy for me, it was a much needed weekend of fun and spending. It is a good thing these things only happen twice a year up here or I would be broke.

This convention ( ) has really been growing over the last years, attracting more and more comic celebrities. This year had the biggest group of creators and I was able to rub elbows with them all briefly. I will be posting about this convention over this week as I was able to grab a couple of commissions.

My biggest goal of the convention was to be in line early enough to get a Tim Sale commission. That meant standing in line early on Saturday with my buddies awaiting the doors to open.

Sale does a set number of commissions each day (on my day he did 10). He also does it in an interesting way. He gives those 10 people a time to be at his table. That allowed me some time to shop while I waited for my slot (as opposed to waiting at the table). He does the commission over 15 minutes (he has an old-fashioned hourglass timer) although he ran over a little on a couple of pieces to finish them. He charged $150. But if you are a fan of Sale and you get a commission as spectacular as the one above, it is totally worth the money. I couldn't be happier.

I asked about his Supergirl story in Solo, wondering if he was a closet Supergirl fan. He answered that he had absolutely no interest in doing a Supergirl story. He wanted to do a romance story with Diane Schutz and she chose Supergirl.

I also got commissions from Jim Calafiore and Khoi Pham, so those will be posted soon too. And it was great to meet Walt and Louise Simonson. It was great to talk to Louise Simonson about her time on Superman:Man of Steel and about the Supergirl character a bit as well.

As for comics, I was able to find the elusive Adventure Comics #405 and #407 completing the my collection of the Supergirl issues. Next on my list, the remainder of her adventures in Superman Family.

As I said, this convention keeps growing. Next one is in April and some guests have already been announced including Mike Mignola, Jim Starlin, and Jim Lee.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Review: Blackest Night Superman #3

Blackest Night:Superman #3 ended the mini-series and provided some interesting fodder for the upcoming finale of the main event. In some ways, it answered some questions that I think we all have been thinking about. It also supplied some info about Black Lanterns that I found pretty interesting.

In other ways it may have irked Supergirl fans. But more on that later.

Perhaps the thing that has worked the best in this mini-series was Eddy Barrows ghoulish art. As I have said before, when Barrows is on his game, his stuff is fantastic. So it bothered me that we had some fill-in pages by Allan Goldman. Not that Goldman's art is awful. It is perfectly fine. But their is a clear difference in style and it took away from the experience.

The book opens up right where last issue ended.

The second page is this 2 page near splash of Supergirl going toe to toe with Black Lantern Zor-El. As I said with last issue, I love Barrows' interpretation of Supergirl's uniform with the enormous S-shield on a near full shirt.

And as I said last time, it is great to see Kara overcoming her fears and actually fighting here. It would have been very simple for Robinson to write Kara as being emotionally devastated by Black Lantern Zor-El's lies, to crumple on the floor crying and helpless. I am positive other writers would have done that. So to see her first be 100% will and then a mix of rage and will as she fights was refreshing.

And Superman continues to battle the Psycho Pirate-controlled Conner above Smallville.

Another thing I have liked in this mini-series (in all the Blackest Night books really) have been the emotional spectrum gauge we see with the characters. How interesting to see all 7 colors of the ring spectrum shown in this panel. Superboy is being forced into avarice and rage. Superman showing the rest as he copes with both Conner and the carnage around him.

While Psycho Pirate can induce rage and avarice in Conner, he doesn't force the 'flavor' of those feelings. I think the lines we read Superboy saying are really buried deep within him. I think we are seeing his own personal demons finally bubble to the surface.

And Ma Kent is trying to fend off Black Lantern Lois in the corn fields behind the Kent farm.

In one of the more ghastly spreads, we see Krypto rip the ringed hand off the zombie and play keep away with it as it tries to reattach to Lois. It is this sort of horrific art which really adds to the feel of this book. It should be frightening on all levels ... not just psychological but visceral.

Krypto finally blasts the Lois lantern with his heat vision, dropping her into a nearby gorge. With Ma momentarily safe, Krypto is able to join the main battle over Smallville.

Now one of the questions I know I have been asking myself is 'how does Blackest Night and New Krypton work together?' In other words, what effect do 100,000 Kryptonians have on the current War of Rings. Will they join in the war? Shouldn't they? You can't ignore their presence in the universe.

So Robinson comes up with an answer on why the citizens of New Krypton will be left off the playing field of Blackest Night. The scientists on New Krypton have scanned the zombie Zor-El and have been able to put together some shielding technology that will repel the Black Lantern energy from the planet. Unfortunately, it also means that whoever is on New Krypton will be forced to stay on the planet. The shield works both ways ... keeping Black Lanterns from coming in and keeping Kryptonians from leaving. If activated, Superman will be unable to return to his new home.

Alura makes the tough but right decision. She tells the scientists to activate the shield after she helps Kara defeat Zor-El.

In some ways it is a convenient way to explain the lack of the Kryptonian military in Blackest Night as well as explain why Superman (who promised to stay in new Krypton) is back on Earth. In other ways it is a bit deus ex machina that the scientists could put this together so quickly. It read a little like Silver Age issues where the scientists in Kandor could do almost anything.

While the shields in space, the battle rages on in Smallville. Kal-L joins the enraged Conner in combat and seems seconds away from ripping the heart from Superman.

Amazingly, Conner is able to shake off the Psycho Pirate madness. Suddenly feeling hope, love, fear, and rage Superboy defends Kal-El by using his tactile telekinesis directly on Kal-L.

Again, Barrows does a chilling job here showing bits of flesh flying off the undead Superman.

Nice to see Conner show some emotional fortitude here.

And above New Krypton, Alura arrives just in time to save Supergirl from having her heart ripped out.

I actually thought there was a lot to like in this scene but only if you have been following Supergirl as a title.

For one, Alura has constantly badgered Kara and at times has seemed to dislike her daughter. So to see her rush off to defend Supergirl was nice.

But more importantly, Alura has basically said all the things the Zor-El zombie has said ... calling Kara a disappointment and failure. I wonder if Alura notes the irony there.

Alura grabs Supergirl and flies back towards New Krypton just as the shields are activated, severing Zor-El's hand off in the process. Zor-El is now trapped outside.

But more importantly, Supergirl is now trapped inside. Does that mean the Kara play no part in Blackest Night? I don't think I will be very happy if that is true. Hence my concerns about being irked above.

Now I suppose that some might say this is another case of Supergirl needing to be rescued by someone else. But I wasn't too upset about it here. For one, if Kal-El needs all the help he can get with Black Lantern Kal-L then Supergirl should not be able to defeat Black Lantern Zor-El alone. Secondly, it was nice to see the mother/daughter team-up here.

Throughout the Blackest Night books we have been shown how emotion can both attract and repel the zombies. Those people with 'clear heads' or even spectrums (like Dove in Blackest Night:Titans) or multiple emotions (like Superman in this series) have been able to do the most damage against the Black Lanterns.

In an ingenious move, Superboy grabs the Medusa Mask from the Psycho Pirate and forces Kal-L and the Psycho Pirate to 'feel'. Not feel one emotion, but feel them all.

The resulting emotional backlash seems to inactivate the Black Lantern rings forcing the zombies to fall lifeless.

I think I have said before here (and at least discussed with my friends) that a White Lantern wielding all the rings is going to happen and that pure emotion will be the ultimate weapon against the Black Lantern Corps.

So overall I felt that this was a very good mini-series. It really brought the Blackest Night war down to a person level for the super-family. I thought the characterization throughout was spot-on and especially liked how Kara was able to face her own fears of inadequacy as she fought her father's abomination.

While I thought the use of the Medusa Mask as a weapon against the zombies was inspired, I thought the New Krypton shielding seemed a little too easy of an answer. I remain hopeful that Supergirl isn't kept on the bench of the biggest DCU crossover in several years because James Robinson stuck her there.

And the art work was tremendous in those pages Barrows did. I believe he is scheduled to be the artist on Blackest Night:Wonder Woman. Hopefully he can keep up on his deadlines there.

Overall grade (issue): B+/B
Overall grade: (miniseries): B+

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Review: Tiny Titans #21

Okay, I was originally planning on reviewing Blackest Night:Superman #3 today. But how could delay reviewing another Tiny Titans issue that involves Supergirl.

Tiny Titans #21 is the 'All Pet Club' issue and with a whole bunch of super-pets, Supergirl gets to join in the fun.

One thing I have always like about Tiny Titans is that while it is clearly written for kids, Art Baltazar and Franco both throw in enough 'grown-up' DCU references to make this a fun comic for adult fans too. I think a lot of the DC jokes ('Battle for the cow' ... 'Finals Crisis' )fly right over my supergirls heads. Easter eggs are always welcome in my book.

So I really liked the cover of this issue which clearly is a riff on the closing shot of the Justice League Unlimited cartoon intro. That shot was even re-referenced once in the JLU comic book, Supergirl standing front and center.

Still it is cute to see the flying heroes in the background be pets on this cover. I especially like seeing Streaky carrying Ace the Bathound.

The plot is a basic one. All the Titan seem to have pets now so Pet Club keeps growing. Here we see Starfire, Blackfirem and Cyborg join.

The youngest supergirl at home thought it was a riot that Blackfire had a pet named Poopu (which I pronounced as poo-poo).

Looks like romance between Supergirl and Freddy Freeman might be blossoming in all corners of the DC universe. And Freddy joins pet club with Hoppy.

Seriously ... any time I have the opportunity to see Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, I take it.

And I also like how Supergirl is surrounded by the super-pets: Streaky, Krypton, Beppo, and Comet.

But it is this sort of humor that works on all levels of comic fandom.

I always thought it was silly that Captain Marvel Junior could never introduce himself because he would change back and forth. So to see that played out for once was hysterical.

Finally he tells the Titans that they should just call him Freddy.

The Atom's kids, Blue Beetle, the Ant ... everyone brings their pets to Pet Club.

And that's a lot of pets. The treehouse is filled.

Pet Club is going to have to be held elsewhere.

I have no idea about the cow dressed up as Wonder Woman in the lower right corner.

In prior issues, Pet Club have demolished Wayne Manor and the Batcave (to show some internal continuity panels from these stories are shown ... continuity in TinyTitans! Aw yeah!).

With no where to go, the Titans start looking at new venues.

Unfortunately, the Wayne Manor and Batcave incidents are well known to most of the super-hero community. Superman denies them access to the Fortress. How cute to see Supergirl shouting 'Aw man!'.

Mera denies them the use of Atlantis for their meetings.

Suprisingly, the JLA is not up on current events and Green Lantern lets them use the satellite. That is ... he lets them until he sees the elephant and cows in the group.

One giant green hand later, the Titans are holding Pet Club on the moon.

As always, it is hard to grade Tiny Titans issues. But Supergirl was in it, Streaky was in it, and I got reminded how silly Freddy Freeman's name problems were.

On top of that, the supergirls at home giggled throughout. That is the best publicity of all in my book.

Overall grade: A

Friday, October 23, 2009

Review: Supergirl #46

Supergirl #46 came out this week and was the conclusion of The Hunt For Reactron. It was a pretty wild ride with lots of great scenes. Going into the arc, all the creators talked about the wild and huge action scenes and they weren't kidding.

And surprisingly I was right about something for once. We did get to see another manifestation of the Flamebird entity. And it/she did play a huge role in the eventual ending of the story.

But the best thing for me is that we are nearing the closure of the Reactron storyline. He has been kicking around since the early days of New Krypton. And while he has been a great villain for Supergirl ... murderer of her father, specific powers to thwart her ... he has been a bit overexposed.

But I am getting a bit ahead of myself here.

Remember that the last chapter ended with Thara, Chris, and Supergirl shackled in red sun fetters and powerless before a raging Reactron.

Luckily, at the beginning of this issue Chris realizes that his tactile telekinesis is uneffected by red sun radiation. He is able to disassemble the devices on both himself and Thara, leading to close quarter combat that temporarily disables Reactron. They then release Supergirl from her chains.

I wish that a more thorough description of Chris' powers comes soon because it is getting a bit too confusing for me to anticipate what does and does not effect him. So green Kryptonite has been shown not to effect him as much as a usual Kryptonian. But gold Kryptonite does effect him. And red sun radiation does depower him ... except his telekinesis. It just seems like the rules are a bit loose with him and may be bent a bit to help move the story along, to fit whatever situation he is put into.

Also I like that Reactron's sadism ends up being a big part of his downfall. He had a chance to simply eliminate the 'Metropolis Three' when he fried Squad K. Instead, he seems to revel in his abilities, talking about how he wants to take his time and savor his pounding of the heroes. And that gives the heroes time to react.

I thought this was a funny little moment. Chris and Thara are sizing up Reactron and how they will square off against him. They body language makes them appear much more analytical as they discuss the range of the gold K blasts and how they will proceed.

And then Supergirl appears between them and shows none of the calculating restraint that they do. She pounds her fist into her hand and talks about 'kicking his butt'. It is a great for a couple of reasons. One, it shows just how confident Supergirl is in this fight. But more importantly, in contrast with Flamebird and Nightwing, it shows that Supergirl has a much greater personal stake in this fight. She has reasons besides clearing her name to get her hands on Reactron.

Despite having three Kryptonians fighting him, Reactron does remarkably well. He points out the upgrades that have been made to his suit since the last time they fought.

For one, the gold Kryptonite seems much more solidly embedded in him, to the point that Chris' telekinesis is unable to remove it. Furthermore, he is able to know shoot a gold Kryptonite beam from his chest rather than simply expose Kryptonians to the rock. Suddenly he has a very powerful and debilitating range weapon.

I love the Supergirl panel above where she is starting to use her heat vision. That is just a great heroic pose! Arms flexed, cape billowing, eyes glowing ... just wonderful. Unfortunately she is unable to immolate Reactron with it. He shoots her with the gold K beam, stripping her of her power.

Thara actually jumps in front of Reactron's next nuclear bolt, a killing shot aimed for the suddenly vulnerable Kara. It is of such power that it knocks Thara out of the fight.

During the battle, Lois actually shows up to witness and report the fight. With Thara out of the mix and Chris and Kara depowered and unconscious, it looks like Reactron is going to murder four more people. No one seems to be able to stop him.

I have to say I think the part of this fight where Lois engages Reactron in combat and actually wounds him by jabbing her pen into his neck seems out of context here. It may have been done to showcase Lois' bravery but instead it somehow weakened the threat of Reactron. Much like Chris it is hard for me to get a true sense of Reactron's powers. Sure I get the gold K and nuclear blasts. But is he even semi-invulnerable? Would a bullet to the eye kill him? Does the suit give him protection thus making the parts of his body uncovered (like where Lois jammed the pen) vulnerable? The fact that he is able to shrug off some Kryptonian attacks but can get hurt by a pen seems incongruous.
And hey ... the bike shorts are blue this issue. Was this a decision by the creative team? Or a coloring error?

And finally one of my predictions turns out to be correct! (Okay, technically I predicted the Flamebird entity would be what freed the three from the red sun chains, but this is close enough).

With Reactron about to kill Chris and Kara, Thara suddenly transforms into the Flamebird avatar. And she is one angry goddess.

With relative ease, she turns the tables on Reactron easily defeating him. She even seems impervious to gold Kryptonite! She yanks the rock from Reactron's chest and turns it to ash. I guess demi-gods don't need to worry about radiation.

This was a great splash page and a intriguing scene. It appears Thara cannot control when the Flamebird entity decides to manifest. The two times we have seen it have before have been when Thara or Chris have been in imminent danger.

Once the shoe is on the other foot and Reactron is suddenly helpless, he starts singing like a canary.

Suddenly some big pieces of Project 7734 are revealed ... and revealed with a respected member of the press in attendance. Lois now knows about Metallo, Mirabai, and the fact that General Lane was behind the sewer system bombing.

Between the bravado, sadism, and cowardice, I have come to really dislike Reactron. He is a true villain. There does not seem to be anything redeeming about him.

And Flamebird feels the same way. She wants to kill him right there.

What I great response from Supergirl! What a great way to show how mature she has become over the last months.

She knows that Zor-El would not want revenge.

Zor-El would want justice.

And with Reactron now powerless, Supergirl can bring him back to New Krypton to answer for his crimes. Sure, Alura will probably condemn him to death but at least there would be a semblance of due process.

Reactron is imprisoned in a crystal much like To-Var was at the beginning of the Flamebird/Nightwing arc.

And so there isn't much left to do except tie up the loose ends.

Thara and Kara have a nice moment where they forgive each other and restart their friendship. Kara apologizes for not believing Thara that she was Flamebird. Supergirl also thinks that this tangible proof of the old Kryptonian gods means that Zor-El may be in a better place. I am glad that the two have reconciled and hope that their friendship is explored for as long as Flamebird remains active in the DCU.

And yes, Supergirl is seen crying again but this time it makes sense and does not seem to have been done for a cheap emotional punch.

And it is fun to see how easily they slip back into a comfrotable and amicable relationship. I thought this was a nice moment as the issue nears its end, showing how they can joke and kid with each other. Just last issue they were trying to beat up each other. Too fast to be such chums? I don't think so.

It does seem a little breezy given that Kara's father's killer is trapped in a little crystal just a room away. But you can't be heavy and morose all the time. I like the Supergirl/Flamebird friendship. So it was a good little exchange to show them acting like friends.

Before Thara leaves though, she reveals to Supergirl (off-screen) just what is wrong with Lana.

So the issue ends on something of an ominous note. Supergirl is going to New Krypton with Reactron. But when she comes back, she will have a talk with Lana that 'won't be pleasant'. That's weird.

Okay, let's start hearing the guesses about Lana's illness again. This issue Lana says she has been having headaches, nosebleeds, and has been vomiting. My initial guess is brain cancer. But it has to be more than that right?

Anyways, I thought this was a nice ending to the Hunt For Reactron storyline ... a brief arc which moved both Supergirl's and Flamebird's stories forward. I look forward to seeing what Alura's idea of justice is.

Overall grade: B+