Wednesday, July 31, 2013

New Sterling Gates And Michael Alan Nelson Interviews

In a nice confluence of Supergirl goodness, the current writer Michael Alan Nelson and the past writer Sterling Gates were both interviewed for the magazine Mass Movement in the MM36 issue. Here is the link:

The magazine is an interesting mix of music and comics news and interviews. I firmly believe that comic creators are rock stars of a sort. So this mix feels like chocolate and peanut butter, two great tastes that taste great together.

The magazine as a whole is worth scrolling through and there is an interview with Talon writer James Tynion IV as well. So enjoy. But I'll focus on the Gates and Nelson stuff.

The Sterling Gates interview starts on page 86.

Gates talks about Supergirl, Vibe, and his favorite trades of all time. It is definitely worth reading in its entirety.

I thought this section of the article was great where Gates revisits his time on Supergirl, discussing his favorite story moments as well as the best 'real life moments' while on the series.

This was like a sort of highlight reel for me as well as some of Gates' favorite moments in the series match some of my own. The use of Klukor, the introduction of Linda Lang, the Legion annual, and the gut-wrenching scene with BizarroGirl all rank very high for me in that run.

And I can only imagine how cool it must have been to hear that Helen Slater would be working on the trade as well.

He also comments on Vibe and emphasizes what I think is the best part of the book. Cisco is a good kid who is trying to do what's right. Of course he is working in a corrupt system. Will this challenge dim his optimism? Or will it make those around him question their own morality?

I have loved the Vibe comic, a throwback of heroism in a grim DCnU.

Michael Alan Nelson also is interviewed. His piece starts on page 100. There is a fair amount on his beginnings, his work on Fall of Cthulhu, and his work on Supergirl

Again, you should read all of it. Well worth it.

This is too small to read as is so you'll need to open up the picture. But this question talks about Nelson's thoughts about taking over for Supergirl and who he thinks she is.

It is a great answer. He acknowledges that Supergirl has her 'legions of fans'. Hey! That's us! He does say that he couldn't feel pressured by what her fans want. As there are factions of Kara fandom, I am glad he said this because there is no way he could satisfy everybody.

But he also says he wants to stay true to her character and tell good stories. That sounds like simple common sense and yet it is very reassuring to me. Others have tried to force Supergirl to be something she isn't. I have been pleased with Nelson's approach so far. I think he does have an understanding of who Kara is.

Supergirl's past and future in one magazine! Fantastic!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The New And Awful Super Best Friends Forever

I suppose I should no longer be surprised when DC Comics or DC Licensing does something idiotic.

I have disappointed lately in the comics and in the movies. So why not the toys?

And so I provide this link to The Outhousers and there story covering a new look at the Super Best Friends Forever:

And the above picture is that new promotion for the characters.

The horror. The horror.

Did we really need to morph the BFFs into Bratz-style girls? Giant eyes. Microscopic waists. Smothered in pink. Donna's jumpsuit becomes a mini-dress.And Batgirl looks like she is leaning against a stripper pole.

It is the most generic and most depressing interpretation there could be.

What is this for? Dolls? Party favors? A new cartoon series (shudder).

I hope they aren't calling them the Super Best Friends Forever. Because this look is about as far away from that interpretation of the characters as possible.

It just doesn't make sense.

Especially when Lauren Faust's real Super Best Friends Forever is out there. It was wildly popular. People are clamoring for more. And we have a variety of body types and not a drop of pink. It has a more classic interpretation of the characters' costumes.

And we have seen these characters in stories. In five brief shorts, we got to know their personalities.

Why not leverage the popularity of this existing interpretation? It is beloved.

Smack that face into your palm SBFF Supergirl!

You wouldn't be happy seeing that first picture either!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Bullet Review: Batman Superman #2

I don't think I'll be reviewing Batman/Superman every month but last week's second issue really was something special enough to warrant some coverage here.

I didn't cover the first issue because I thought the story was a little convoluted. Even though I knew from solicits that a trip to Earth 2 was going to happen to the young versions of Prime Earth's heroes, it was a bit hard to grasp that at the end. Certainly the early part of that issue when a young Clark talks to a young Bruce was great. But overall I was hoping for a little more story-wise in the premiere.

One thing that did impress me in the first issue, and definitely in this issue, is Jae Lee's art. From panel construction that reminded me of JH Williams III to a feathery pencil style in bright pencils to a murky feel in
darker scenes, his art just absolutely sparkled. And that certainly is true here as well.

One thing I like about Lee's art here is that there is a dream-like quality to the art, whether it be idyllic fantasy or nightmare, his art seems almost surreal. Even hair looks like ink spreading out in water, ethereal, eerie. And in this universe bending story where a chaos demon (I assume) is pulling the strings, it works.

But the other thing that stands out in this issue is Greg Pak's story. Now on Earth 2, we get to see just how brash and untrained the Earth 1 Batman and Superman are. And we also get to see what accomplished and heroic the E2 Batman and Superman are. Remember, on Earth 2, these heroes were beloved ... the Wonders ... trusted. We haven't seen any of that in Prime Earth stories ... at least not in Superman.

So when we see the Earth 1 Batman tussling with his the Earth Catwoman, it is interesting to here her call their emotionally charged battles 'the good old days'. I also love how Lee never lets us get a good look at Catoman. She is always in the shadows. That is how a thief should act. Their is something very cinematic about this scene.

And that feeling carries over to the Smallville scenes where the Earth 1 Superman has throttled the Earth 2 Batman. The sepia tones of the background always work in Smallville, giving an old photograph feeling to the setting.

But I love our Superman's response to seeing Pa again. Taken aback by seeing him at first, but then ashamed at Pa's scolding and fear, you see just what an influence the Kents are ... or rather what they should have been on Earth 1, if they were still alive to help Clark be ... well ... Clark.

When the two Batmans meet they of course spar to a stalemate (although I would think the more seasoned Earth 2 Batman might get the better of the younger version).

And Catwoman just watching along, commenting on how idiotic this all is, is perfect. Again, her shadowy appearance works, letting my imagination fill in the details while stressing her stealth.

I also love how she allowed herself to be tied up by the Earth 1 Batman to be 'interrogated' although she was manipulating him all along. Reminded me of the first Black Widow scene in the Avengers movie.

And when the Earth 2 Superman comes and is ready to brawl with his counterpart, they are stopped before any foolishness can commence by one of the most powerful women in the DCU, Ma Kent. She can tell that a Clark this quick to fight, this angry can't have the Kents in his life.

I have heard how Lee's use of silhouettes has been criticized. But for me it works. I can tell Superman is crying in that first panel. I can tell how much love there is in that hug in the second issue. But by letting me fill in some of the details myself, it is powerful. I might have one tear rolling down the cheek. Someone else might have him flushed without tears. Someone else might have him bawling. We can tell the emotion here and we all get to fill in the gaps.

I love that Pak stresses just how important the Kents are to the Earth 2 Superman. The New 52 Superman at times has not acted in ways I think Martha would be proud of.

Heading to Metropolis, the elder Superman introduces the younger to his wife Lois Lane.

I think it is natural for a young Superman to be floored by the appearance of Wonder Woman. But more importantly, I love how the older Superman tells Lois that he has only ever had eyes for her. As someone who misses the Lois and Clark couple, as someone who misses a steafast, heroic, mature Superman ... this scene was incredible. It really shines a spotlight on the differences.

But again, Lee just shines here. That is one dramatic entrance for Diana. And the paint brushed clouds makes her majestic, feel classic.

Good story. Great art. I enjoyed this issue a lot more than the first. And look forward to the rest of this arc.

Overall grade: A

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Boston Comic-Con Is One Week Away

The re-scheduled Boston Comic-Con is happening a week from today and I am so psyched to be able to go. The 'new' show feels even bigger than the one original planned for early April that was derailed by terrorism. Here is the link to the show:

As always, I am interesting in grabbing commissions, meeting and chatting with creators, grabbing some autographs, and attending some panels.

Here are the commission plans:

I have lined up a commission with Aaron Lopresti, an artist whose work I have always loved, especially his run on Wonder Woman with Gail Simone. This was a huge win for me as Lopresti is someone I always hoped to meet and grab a sketch from.

I also lined up a commission with Joe Eisma whose work on Morning Glories has been spectacular. Can't
 wait to see his take on Supergirl.

With those two commissions lined up, it is sort of a crap-shoot as to who I will run into in time to get on their commission list. In the best of all possible worlds I would be able to get any 2 of the above 5 artists who will be attending: Mark Bagley, Phil Jimenez, George Perez, Amy Reeder, and J.K. Woodward. And there are so many others there who I would love to get. As with many things, time and money will be the constraints.

I will be running into Bagley and Woodward at other cons, so I may be able to hold off on them. I figure I will plop myself into George Perez's line first thing on Day Two in hopes of being near the beginning of his line of Sunday.

But outside of commission hopes, there is a lot for me do here. I would love to chat with Scott Snyder about Superman Unchained. I suspect his line will be out the back door. I would loooovvvee to talk to Dan Didio about Supergirl and the DCU in general. I would love to talk to Tony Daniel about his brief run on Action Comics. And one of my favorite creators of all time, Howard Chaykin, is coming back to Boston. On top of that there are some great panels planned and an original art auction too!

I have a bit more tech on my side this year so I may try to do more 'live' posting. We'll see if that is possible.

Hope to see some of you all there!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Review: Superman #22

Superman #22 came out this week, another good issue for writer Scotty Lobdell, a trend that has been true for this title since H'El on Earth played itself out. The Psi-War brewing between HIVE and Hector Hammond is certainly an engaging plot, one that Superman isn't well-equipped to deal with. But even within this arc, each issue has slightly improved from the last. It has been a while since I have looked forward to the Superman title. Right now, I am.

It helps that this issue actually gives us some time with Clark as well as with supporting cast members Cat Grant and Jimmy Olsen. Yes, Lois is completely absent from this issue. But I hope that means in the future she will get good moments like Cat and Jimmy get here. It also helps that Lobdell recaps the story so far by having Superman review the events in his head. It brought me up to speed and helped clear up the initial confusion of why H.I.V.E./Hammond are fighting when the last time we saw them (in Action Comics) they are allies. I knew that flash forward in Action would flummox me.

The art in the issue is done mostly by Eddy Barrows. I have always liked Barrows art but I have come to realize he just can't get things done on time. This issue is no difference. While Barrows does the bulk of the art, recent Smallville artist Daniel HDR pencils pages 13-15 and Geraldo Borges who did art on some of the Legion issues of Adventure Comics filled in on 16-18. Hat tip to blog friend Mart Gray of the great
Too Dangerous For A Girl comic review blog for the art breakdown. HDR and Borges style is cleaner, with less line work. But it is all good.

As usual, Kenneth Rocafort does stellar work on this cover. The whole point of the Queen is she is supposed to seduce you or fill you with honeyed word so you will obey her. This image works for that feel.

Last issue Hector Hammond was kidnapped by H.I.V.E. and brought to their headquarters. Unfortunately, Hammond's powers have been augmented by a sudden surge of electric energy. Still, the H.I.V.E. headquarters is Queen Bee's domain. Her troops surround Hammond and she demands that Hammond recognize his role as a mere tool in her plans to dominate the world.

I love this panel structure by Barrows. With the Queen apparently in charge, the panel is shaped like a honeycomb. The point of view here, looking up at the Queen gives her the feel of power, as if we are kneeling before her as well. Nice.

That art riff is flipped on its head on the next set of pages. It turns out the gun-wielding drones were psionic illusions by the Queen, a feint that Hammond saw through quickly.

Suddenly, the ordered honeycomb panels give way to round bulbous panels, not unlike Hammond's head. Suddenly the perspective is different, the Queen looking much less larger-than-life. As always, when art and words complement each other, comics are at their best.

I also have to say, I love that Hammond needs his own slaves to help him with even the most menial tasks. To see this soldier propping up Hammond's arm as he chokes the Queen added a slight element of humor to this scene.

As fun as this mini-skirmish was, the following scenes of Clark and the supporting cast were even better.

We get to hear Superman talk about how ill-prepared he is for a psionic war. He can't punch or heat vision a telepathic attack. And if it weren't for Orion's defenses, he would be helpless.

There is something about this sequence where we see multiple images of Superman turning into Clark that smacks of old-school comic fun. I thought this was great.

Lastly, I am glad that Clark seems to get the same weird vibe off of Dr. Veritas. She studies him closely. She makes veiled double entendres at him. She seems to know more about his capabilities than he does. I wouldn't be surprised if she becomes some New 52 version of Maxima or Rampage.

Clark meets up with Cat Grant., the revolutionary news blog site the two are trying to set up, is struggling. I love how Clark notices the small things about Cat that show she is hurting a bit financially. An empty Starbucks coffee cup and cheap shampoo. That doesn't sound like Cat.

But more importantly, it adds a bit of character to Cat Grant. This is the first incarnation of Cat I kinda-sorta like. She isn't vapid or hateful like prior versions. It would be easy for Cat to give up on this dream when things got tough but she isn't walking away. I am pretty sure the old Cat would never stick it out this long, let alone do this to begin with. Kudos to Lobdell for tweaking her character like this.

Now we can talk journalistic integrity at some other point but Clark decides it is time to break a big story on the site ... specifically a story he learned via his super-powers.

After last month's tip on The Twenty, Clark does some digging. It turns out that STAR Labs is holding some powerful young super-powered individuals as 'test subjects'. These are part of this mysterious Twenty.

Now I don't know if I like STAR Labs being turned into another big bad corporation instead of the upstanding research firm it has always been. Holding people against their will and experimenting with 'treatment'? Sounds nefarious. And knowing the DCU, it will turn out the military is funding this.

Lastly, I thought for sure the Twenty were going to be something mundane like The Hundred or Intergang. We learn that the Twenty are Twenty people who went missing during Brainiac's attack on Metropolis (as seen in Morrison's run). How the heck didn't more than twenty go missing? Are these people still missing? Or known to have been missing and then found? Since they are a legend ... how did that start?

Back at HIVE, we are again shown that Hammond is suddenly much more powerful than anticipated. The Queen is only able to escape by flashing an image of Hammond being shot by guns into Hector's head. There is a page of Hammond being literally blown to bits by guns that all turns out to be illusion. It is one of the things that I like about this story so far. I have to keep on my toes a bit because I might not be able to believe everything that I see.

The bottom line is Hammond suddenly has all that is H.I.V.E. at his disposal.

In a bit of a stretch to set up a scene, Superman decides to 'check in' on Jimmy. Last issue, Jimmy manifested Superman's personality trait of feeling utterly alone. (Now I don't think Superman ever feels that way ... but whatever).

Jimmy is living it up on his parents dime. Last month we heard they were dead and Jimmy inherited their billions. Here we learn they are famous and have 'gone missing', like many famous people do. There has to be more than this here.

My guess? The elder Olsens are 2 of the Twenty.

The conversation is broken up by a sudden earthquake as tentacles like those seen in Brainiac's attack on the city suddenly spring from the ground and start shaking the block apart. And then Superman's brain seems to overload and he crashes through the ground.

Did that tentacle attack really happen? Or were they also more illusion?

That is two references to Brainiac in this issue. We know from the solicits that he is on his way back to Earth.

Superman crashes right into the arms of the Queen Bee on the run.

And from her we learn even more about the Twenty. She is one of them. She (or they) has been preparing for Brainiac's return. She seems to have a lot of anti-Brainiac sentiment here. So she is an enemy of an enemy. Heck, she says she is trying to protect the city.

We should start ticking off the members of The Twenty we know of/suspect. Queen Bee. That actor from last issue. That ninja women from last issue. The Olsens. What about Dr. Veritas??

As for art, I love this sort of anti-pieta. Sure it looks like Michaelangelo's Pieta. But that is one evil looking Queen Bee. And I doubt she is supposed to be comforting/mourning Superman. It is a dark reflection of the classic Pieta and that works here.

So overall an entertaining issue on all levels. The PsiWar plot proceeds with Hammond and HIVE duking it out. We get some quality Clark/Cat moments. We learn Brainiac is enmeshed in this whole thing. And the art was solid throughout.

Not bad.

Overall grade: B/B+

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Original Art From Supergirl Cosmic Adventures

I can't believe that I somehow have not posted about this before now. Since I recently talked about a self-gift I got for my birthday, I thought I would showcase my holiday self-gift.

Back at Christmas (!!) I contacted artist Eric Jones to inquiry about the original art from Landry Walker and Jones' Supergirl Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade. The original purpose was to buy a page for the oldest supergirl at home who has a nice little collection of original art pages. I was lucky enough to pick up a great page for her which had Supergirl and Lena talking in the foreground while Streaky mauls Belinda Zee in the background.

Now that series is beloved by me and so I couldn't help but ask about the above page for myself. And so I got myself one of my favorite pages and favorite moments from the book.

It is a great page with Supergirl, Supragirl (from the future), and Belinda Zee. And, in that last panel, we see Belinda become Superior Girl!

This is one of  my favorite panels in the comic and includes one of my favorite lines.

"Minions! Do minion-type things!"

That is perfection.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Review: Legion Of Super-Heroes #22

Legion of Super-Heroes #22 came out last week, the penultimate chapter of this series which may spell the end of the Legion for some time. With no new Legion book being publicized, with JLA3K taking its place as a future team, and with all avenues of re-energizing the franchise explored (reboots, old boots, bringing the band back together) and failed, it might be time for the Legion to take a breather.

It is sad for a Legion lifer like me to say that. I have been saying 'Long Live the Legion' since I was in elementary school, since Imra was in a pink bathing suit and Vi had an intricate green/black jumpsuit. But this book has been on a sort of treadmill for a while, probably since Waid's threeboot for me. I can't remember the last time I was excited to read a Legion comic. And that's depressing.

So we come to this issue where the Legion has to fight and defeat the Fatal Five in 20 pages in order to set up next issue's denouement, swan song, finale. As a result, the action is relatively fast with some quick defeats on the parts of the villains who have been destroying the universe unscathed for the last handful of issues. For an old-timer like me, it was great to see some of the original Legionnaires and the original Substitute Legionnaire playing such a big part.

That said, there is a fair amount of stuff left unsaid. Paul Levitz doesn't seem to have the space here to satisfactorily tell the tale of this final battle. And the art by Jeff Johnson is fine but it felt like an understudy playing the lead in a play. Shouldn't the end of the Legion get more than this?

Last issue ended with Tharok deciding to take on the Legion personally, bringing himself, the Persuader, and the Emerald Empress to Earth to execute the remaining Legionnaires. Luckily Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl arrive. As always, Imra is in control and impressive. Here she simply shuts down the Persuader's mind.

I find it weird that the Persuader, who has battled Lightning Lad countless times, felt the need to explain the properties of his axe to Garth. I am pretty sure he knows it can cut through anything.

Imra is unfortunately caught of guard by the Emerald Empress which breaks her hold on the Persuader. Just as it looks like he might behead Lightning Lad, Lightning Lass shakes off the cobwebs from last issue's fight and blasts him.

I add this only because I am a giant Lightning Lass fan and this may be the last time in a while we see her do anything. She hasn't really done much in this storyline or this book for that matter.

So if this is the end game, and Tharok wants the Legionnaires dead, why didn't the Empress just blast Imra to ash when she had the chance? Why drag her away by her hair??

Regardless, I loved this sort of Spaghetti Western close up of the combatants eyes with Saturn Girl saying that after facing off against Darkseid nothing can scare her. Nice moment.

And, as with the Persuader, Saturn Girl simply turns off the Empress' mind. Quick and easy. Too quick?

With the tides possibly turning, Tharok uses his powers to teleport everyone to the fifth member of the Fatal Five, the Promethean Giant. This seems like a copout. The Giant isn't in on this. He is like a tool Tharok is using. I thought for sure Glorith was going to return as a baddie. And whither poor Mano? Is he in comic limbo?

So this was more of a letdown than an exciting moment for me. I also have to say, there is a lot unsaid about Tharok. How did he get these new powers? How do they work? Which 'Legion witch' was the only one who could defeat him, the one he is glad he banished? I don't get it.

Now Levitz does have a sort of 'out of left field' surprise for us.Sensor Girl arrives at the Promethean Giant in a cruiser and uses her powers to clear the Giant's senses so that it can see clearly. Freed from Tharok's control by her power, the Giant rebels. Okay, that is actually a decent use of Sensor Girl's powers ... I think. I didn't know she could do that.

But even crazier than that is Sensor Girl's co-pilot. That's Karate Kid, he supposedly dead husband!

Everyone remembers his death at the hands of Nemesis Kid in the fourth issue of the Baxter series Legion. Because of his death, Princess Projectra killed Nemesis Kid, invoking her royal status to execute him, a law higher than the Legion constitution. She then left the Legion, immersed herself in mysticism, and then realized she could see beyond senses. This Sensor Girl was born.

Now another Karate Kid was brought back in Countdown but to be honest I don't remember how his story ended. Is this a *different* Val Armorr? Another dimension's Karate Kid? The original resurrected? Will we ever find out?

Pretty crazy twist.

The Empress has been shut down by Saturn Girl. The Persuader has been fried by the Ranzz twins. Validus in floating in space. The Giant is free. That leaves only Tharok.

In a nice use of his powers, Polar Boy brings Tharok down to absolute zero, a state where no energy can exist.

I will say I thought it was great that the Legionnaires who seemed to impact the ending the most were Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl, 2 of the original three, and Polar Boy, the substitute who made it to the big leagues.

But just like that, the universal threat is over. The Five are defeated.

And the only thing that's left is recovering.

Until Brainy says everything that has happened is his fault. Could he somehow be responsible for Tharok's new powers?

So there have been a bunch of deaths. Some members have left this dimension. The galaxy lies in ruins. And we have one issue to wrap everything up.

It is somewhat sad to think that this is the end of the Legion as we know it. Will we hear enough of all the Legionnaires to feel like we have said 'goodbye'?

Anyways, the fight with the Fatal Five ends pretty quickly. And Karate Kid returned!

And I will ask again ... whither poor Mano?

Overall grade: B-

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

SDCC 2013 Wrap-Up: Superman/Batman Movie In 2015; Not Man Of Steel 2

San Diego Comic Con 2013 wrapped up and it has take a while to sift through everything that was released and to try to come up with any Supergirl news that came out of this huge event. There really wasn't much.

This year also marked the 75th anniversary of the Superman character which meant a lot of attention was given to the character. And, perhaps, the biggest Superman news that came out of this event was that the next Superman movie will actually be 'Batman/Superman' and is actually rumored to be 'Batman vs. Superman'.

So I will bring up the Supergirl news briefly, provide some links, and then rant about this movie decision. So be aware, a rant is going to happen.

One thing that I absolutely love is that Molly Quinn, who did the voice of Kara in Superman:Unbound, has become a tremendous proponent of the character. Quinn was on the stage of the Superman 75th Anniversary Celebration panel with such major names as Henry Cavill, Grant Morrison, and Tim Daly. Here is Newsarama's coverage. And here is the quote from Quinn who sounds like she has become a Supergirl fan.

Quinn calls Supergirl "such a complex character," and "every day I discover more and more about her, even when I'm not voicing her. I'm thinking about her. She's a character who really sticks with you. And I love her."

I love that! I hope Quinn gets the opportunity to play Supergirl again sometime and somewhere.

As for the comic, not much true news was added. Writer Michael Alan Nelson was  part of the Superman The New 52 Era panel. Here is Newsarama's coverage of that panel. Unfortunately, most of what he said was stuff that we already knew.

And here is what we learned:
Over in Supergirl, Kara is trying to stay alive while Brainiac and Cyborg Superman are battling over her. "If you think you know who Cyborg Superman is, you really don't, wait till you see the New 52 version here," teased Berganza. Nelson, meanwhile said she has a major decision to make, "if she can have everything she ever wanted - but at great cost, would she do it?" and he really doesn't know what he'd do in the situation. Kara also sees her mom in the preview pages, perhaps teasing who Cyborg Superman is.

I do wonder what link Alura has to the Cyborg, if any.

And as far as I know, that's it for Supergirl stuff. There was a statement that a female artist will be on a Super-book soon. With Mahmud Asrar leaving, I wonder if this new artist will be on Supergirl. Nicola Scott? Emmanuella Lupaccino?

So the big news was Zach Snyder dropping the bomb that there won't necessarily be a Man of Steel 2. Instead the next movie will be Batman/Superman. Lots of places cover the story but here is the Wired article.

The announcement was made while a line from Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns boomed over the speakers. The line: “I want you to remember, Clark, in all the years to come, in your most private moments, I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you.” In fact, there is a rumor that the movie will be called Batman vs. Superman.

I think this makes little sense unless you think that this needed to happen to make a Justice League movie become a reality quicker. And I don't know if that is a good reason.

You see I had major issues with Man of Steel. Major issues. And while I don't want to pick at the scabs, let's boil it down to the ending ... the destruction of Metropolis and the killing of Zod.

But I held out hope that maybe ... maybe ... those issues would be discussed or rectified in the sequel. I thought Superman might come forward, say that killing Zod effected him greatly, how he now recognizes even more the sanctity of life, the need to protect people. I thought there was a chance here to answer for the ugliness of the end of the movie. And slowly, people begin to fully accept Superman, be inspired by him. All of this would lead to a confrontation with Luthor who continues to see Superman as a threat. In the meantime we see more of Clark, more of Lois, more of the Planet.

DC must realize what a hot-button issue the death of Zod was. How controversial. And they could answer that with hope, a turn to the light. They could make Man of Steel 2 feel like a Superman movie.

But instead, they make it dark again, an implied battle between the heroes. And even if that is overdone ... even if the two almost immediately become friends and work together, it still robs the movie of being a Superman vehicle. The presence of Batman means some of the story has to be Batman's. We won't get all the Superman things we didn't get in the first movie. Will we actually get a Superman who is a symbol of hope, an inspiration, someone dramatically effected by what happened to Metropolis and Zod? Will we see more of Clark? More of Clark and Lois?

I know I am getting way ahead of myself. Maybe everything I want will be there. But this just felt like a '2 for 1' special to bring the JLA movie that much closer. And that means we get less Superman. And more Batman. As if we don't have enough Batman already.

Oh Grant Morrison. You saw the future.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Review: Vibe #6

The comic world seems to be missing out on something special because DC Comics Vibe is one of the best super-hero books on the market right now, a fun, fast, classic-feeling take on the teenage super-hero struggling to come to grips with his powers and doing what is right.

Vibe #6, which came out last week, continues this trend. While maintaining a solid theme of family fidelity, Gates continues to show just how difficult it can be to do what is right in this cynical world we live in. Moreover, he shows that sometimes it is the young and optimistic who can remind the older and jaded that they can return to light.

But what truly amazes me about this book is the breakneck speed that Gates is bringing to the book. The main action in this book is a breakout at the Circus. It is spurred on by Vibe fighting against A.R.G.U.S. And we have the return of a character we thought dead. All that in six issues! In standard comic timelines, the first 6 issues would be Vibe's first mission, the next 6 would his questioning of ARGUS, and the third issue would be the revolt and escape from the Circus. But why wait!

Part of me wonders if some of the pace is being dictated by sales. The book isn't doing well and maybe DC needs some part of Vibe's story to play out before cancellation. It is a shame. Maybe it is the very idea of Vibe that has kept people away, thinking he is the parody break dancer from the 80's. But the truth is this book is a bright spot in the bleak tapestry of the DCnU. Here is a young hero with ideals and morals and optimism inspiring people! If you are complaining about how dark DC is, you need to be reading this book.

Last issue, Vibe helped Gypsy escape and as a result was captured and imprisoned by A.R.G.U.S. It was clear that Cisco was not going to be able to abide by the rather draconian view of breachers that Amanda Waller and ARGUS espoused.

The idea of family love and protecting your loved ones has been a thread running through this book. Cisco feels compelled to do good because of the sacrifice of his brother. Cisco then tries to protect his father and brother Dante from any of the fallout from his life as a JLAer.

Now the tables are turned a bit. With Cisco dropping off the grid, Dante decides he needs to help his brother for once. And the best person to turn to is Dale Gunn. Gunn is a great foil for Cisco. He also works for ARGUS but has allowed his fear harm befalling his loved ones (protecting his husband) to tarnish his ideals and maybe fall in line and follow orders a bit too much. But you can see the sympathy for Cisco's ideals and some need to do what's right bubbling under the surface.

Now why Dante thinks he needs to shatter a window with a soccer ball to get Gunn's attention is a stretch. I suppose ringing the doorbell wouldn't be as dramatic.

As for Gypsy, we heard a snapshot of her origin last issue. Even then I wondered why Waller is so keen on keeping her trapped and has labeled her such a huge threat. Gypsy seems to be just a marooned young woman.

There must be more to her story to garner such close attention. And Waller teases us with this statement. What is Gypsy's true story?

Amazingly, Dante convinces Gunn that they have to rescue Cisco. They sneak in with Dante dressed up as a 'dog soldier' breacher.

As I said, that idea of family is such a strong undercurrent here. Armando, Vibe's older brother who died in the Apokolips invasion, is considered the first subject, the first breacher because he absorbed some of the vibrational energy.

Despite their stealth, Gunn and Dante are discovered. So rather than a quiet rescue mission, Dante blasts Cisco's prison tube apart.  I love this quiet moment amid the chaos as the two brothers reunite.

Again, Dante is portrayed as something of a slacker. So to see him risk all this for Cisco shows how his brother's heroism is inspiring.

I also love ... love ... that we hear that Cisco's middle name is Paco (that being the original Vibe's name).

Gates' turns things up a notch when the A.R.G.U.S. troops arrive to contain Vibe. Dante is shot in the chest. Nice dramatic panel here by Pete Woods. You can feel the impact here. There is no way a 'normal' human could survive a bullet through the middle of the chest like this. Dante does get to say a few more words but I have to assume he dies here.

Is this a 'great power, great responsibility' moment? How will Cisco react to this? How will he avenge his brother? Will this make him turn more to the light to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else? Or will he become mired by this evil and respond in kind. This is a reminder about how difficult and dangerous it is to do what's right. It would be easy to turn to the dark side. Fight not monsters Cisco, lest ye become a monster.

Unfortunately,  I moved past Dante's being shot (and presumed death) pretty quickly when I saw all the other Circus prisoners who have been let loose by Vibe.. The DC geek in me let the drama and power of that Dante moment melt away in the excitement of seeing a bunch of beloved characters.

Abnazer, Rath, and Ghast!
The Nebula Man!
The Warlock of Ys!!

We even see more of the Scissormen and Gates has them talk in their peculiar speech. Adumbrate the breadfruit!!!

There are even a couple I don't recognize.


Vibe's powers continue to ripple out and we see again the fabric of the world torn by his vibrations. Glimpses of other dimensions peek through the tears in space.

More intriguing is Vibe's dialogue. Voices in his head. Drums beating. Echoes. Is someone from one of the other sides trying to communicate with Cisco?

Again, great art by Pete Woods here.

Amazingly, Dante seems to still be alive, held up by Cisco here. Hmmmm.

Before I could dwell on that, the weakness in the dimensional fabric is cut from the other side by a scythe-wielding  warrior called Rupture.

And, as hinted at, we hear a bit more about Gypsy's story. I said last issue it was a bit of a risk for Cisco to simply take Gypsy's Cinderella origin story as truth. Maybe she was hiding something. She knows that there is a someone named Mordeth - a mass murderer bent on controlling all dimensions. And Rupture is Mordeth's hound here. Gypsy assumes he is her for her.

Hmmmm again.

It sounds like her father was battling Mordeth. Maybe he tucked her away on our dimension to keep her safe. A bit more plausible than the 'wicked step-mother' line she gave last issue.

Could an inter-dimensional story be coming up? Vibe vs. Mordeth on another plane of existence?

Then Gates blows the doors off the joint.

Rupture unmasks to show he is actually Armando, the presumed dead older brother!

Whoa ... nice cliffhanger!

What did I say above - fast, fun, and classic. I love the adherence to 'doing good' by the characters here. Gunn going against protocol to save Vibe and Dante acting grown-up and trying to save his brother show the effect Cisco has had on them. Immense action here with a bevy of DC dimensional characters was the highliight for me. But the addition of Armando and the villain in hiding 'Mordeth' is probably the biggest news for this title. Seriously, more story has happened in 6 months of this book than in the 2+ years of many of the DCnU books.

I'll ask those who haven't read the book to try it. I'll ask those who read the book to talk it up. This is a winner!

Oh yeah ... and LADY QUARK!!

Overall grade: A