Saturday, February 28, 2015

So Much Supergirl Show News! Kreisberg and Winter! Leigh and Harewood! Slater and Cain!!!

It seems like almost every day, news about the Supergirl show is breaking. Thursday was something of a blockbuster day as announcements about talent behind and in front of the camera were announced. And the news continues to make this Supergirl fan smile as there hasn't been a clunker among them

Behind the camera, we from Newsarama learned that Andrew Kreisberg, no stranger to writing and producing comic characters, has signed on to be the executive producer of the show. And from ksitetvArrow, Flash, and Smallville director Glen Winter has signed on to direct the pilot of the show. I like the works of both of these guys so this makes me think that the behind the scenes work will be superb.

And then Deadline broke the big casting news. Chlyer Leigh will play Alex Danvers and David Harewood will play Hank Henshaw.

 Chyler Leigh has the right look for Alex as she has been described: Kara’s gorgeous, brilliant, science-minded foster sister. Growing up, Alex was partly jealous of her sibling yet also fascinated by her abilities, prompting Alex to learn as much as she could about alien anthropology, sociology and culture. Today, Alex works for a secret government organization and, alongside her heroic sis, will face many challenges, both mundane and super.

I didn't watch Grey's Anatomy, Leigh's biggest role to date, so will have to start searching the internet for scenes. But the buzz on line has been overwhelmingly positive. I was hoping for Alexandra Daddario but Leigh sounds great. 

David Harewood is another actor I haven't seen before. His biggest credits are Homeland and the short-lived Selfie. Despite not seeing him in action, every picture of him from Homeland oozes the character of Henshaw, described on the show as a onetime CIA agent who now runs the Department of Extra-Normal Operations, which tracks extraterrestrial threats on the planet Earth.

Both seem right on the money. Excellent casting again by the David Rapoport Agency!

And then this bombshell from yesterday on TVline:

Helen Slater and Dean Cain ... Supergirl and Superman ... will be in the Supergirl pilot!

Everything about this show is gold. It looks so good!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Review: Danger Club #7

Danger Club #7 came out this week and floored me. I have sung the praises of this book before but with each issue, the scope of this book grows and my appreciation continues.

Writer Landry Walker and Eric Jones have been telling a Crisis-style story in this book, of universal threats, of heroes banding together, of timelines being rewritten. And they have been letting us peek into the past each issue, showing us some snippet of lost timelines. We have seen the Danger Club working outside the expanses of reality as they plan their strategy. And we have seen the world disappear and reappear numerous times.

But it finally hit me this issue. This isn't just a compelling super-hero story. This is a look at the history of comics.

Walker and Jones have been giving us the opening pages which add to the current story. But they also have clearly been representative of some age in comics. Most have had a Silver Age vibe. But The American Spirit one from Danger Club #5 feels like the Golden Age. Last issue's opening page was clearly a Kirby/New Gods riff, evocative of early Bronze Age. And throughout this story we have had glimpses of these characters and how they have evolved over 'time' or timelines.

And then it really hit me. Danger Club .... D.C. Maybe Walker and Jones are giving us a view of the History of the D.C. Universe, either this one, or the other DCU.

Last issue we saw the titan Chronos revealed as the universe killing entity corrupting the American Spirit. We also saw, for the second issue in a row, a member of the Danger Club yelling 'Apocatostasis', some incantation which Kid Vigilante states will save everything.

But did it work?

Because now rather than looking into the past, the opening page shows what the Danger Club has become after yet another universal rewrite. We have been brought into the 90's. Does anything say 1990's like this Liefeld-esque group? From Jack Fearless' half-robot face and huge gun arm, to the endless pouches on Kid Vigilante, to the miniscule waists and near nudity of Ladybug, to the grit teeth on all the characters ... this screams of the early days of Image, a time when heroes began careening towards a darker path.

The Earth has once more been rebuilt. But it hardly looks like Earth. This is more like some alien landscape filled with the spirits/souls of those the American Spirit has once again recreated.

The Danger Club are there, in the form of those 90s Image costumes. The Magician is providing us with the narration and even he recognizes that in these forms, the Club are a 'sick parody' of what they were. They have become 'monsters, demons, servants of a dark force.'

And that sums up much of what I feel about comic heroes and characters now, what they started to become in the 90's. They are almost unrecognizable at times. As I read Forever Evil, as I see heroes deconstructed and made into killers, as one 'event' comic after another comes out and tries to top the last with more and more gruesome acts, I wonder where the inspirational heroes have gone.
Way back in issue #5, we saw The Magician inoculate himself with Apollo's blood and enter a sort of hypertime, looking into globes of energy revealing different time lines.

Here we see just what that means. We see him holding three different versions of the Danger Club. The top looks like a Golden Age version, based solely on the look of Robot 9. The bottom looks like the team we are used to seeing. And there is that gritty grim 90s team in the center.

Finally after all the universal reboots by the American Spirit, the current world is the perfect world for Chronos, a place where everyone worships him, a place where he can consume everything.

Since I know think this series is some commentary on comics, I keep wondering if this scene means something more. Is Walker trying to say that comics are eating themselves alive by becoming more and more vicious? Becoming a purely hellish environment?

The American Spirit finally become possessed by or morphs into or becomes consumed by Chronos.

What a great design! Nothing but a giant mouth, a gaping maw just consuming  everything.

Frightening! But just the perfect image to convey this universe-eating dark god.

But the Magician ... that is the one we have been reading in the beginning of this book, the one who was in hypertime ... takes over the Image-esque Magician's body. The threads of each incarnation are somehow linked to each rewrite. And so this version overwhelms the 90's version and gains control.

The Magician then once again shouts 'apocatastasis', exploding in energy.

I have said that my thinking is that the spell is some mix of apocalypse, catastrophe, and stasis. So what are these adjunct spells or synonyms.

Ekpyrosis? Some type of rebirth by fire?
Palingenesis? Some creation after destruction?

As we saw at the end of Danger Club #5, and #6, Danger Club #7  the universe winking out of existence and being recreated. So what is this new Earth like?

Will it be recreated as the Earth we saw in the first issues of the book, as planned for by Kid Vigilante and The Magician? Or is this a completely different timeline now? And if we have seen the Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age, and Modern Age, what age is this book set in? The current age? Some other time?

This book has been an incredible. It could be read as a superhero story unto itself, a book about heroes fighting cosmic villains. But it wasn't until 2 issues ago that I first glimpsed what was happening here, how those initial flashback pages were prior timelines, simpler times. And now I am thinking this is a comic about comics, about how characters can be mutated and corrupted over time.

I love that the Magician talks about how the core of the characters remain intact despite the rewrites and perversions. I have said it before about Supergirl ... you can try to write a warped version of her but the true version always reasserts itself.

So what will this new world be?
How will this all end?

What type of super-hero book is Danger Club? All the types?

I am still trying to devour all of this. But I know I love it.

Overall grade: A

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review: Superman/Wonder Woman #16

Superman/Wonder Woman #16 came out last week. This book has always been teetering on being dropped off my pull list. And this issue took it one baby step closer to the axe. I have been trying to give the new team of writer Peter Tomasi and artist Doug Mahnke time to get settled and a feel for the two stars. I have been trying to see if they can make sense of this relationship. But so far, this first arc with Clark and Diana fighting Circe and Magog has been a bit of a mess. The super-villain plot seems even more inane than most super-villain plots. And the relationship seems even odder than it did before. It makes even less sense here than it did under Soule.

While the relationship remains an enigma, Tomasi has a decent handle on the characters when they act solo. His Superman reads true, almost too immaculate. His Wonder Woman is in synch with the Azzarello continuity and acts like a God here.

The art is split between Doug Mahnke and Ed Benes. Mahnke's stuff is strong throughout with the usual flair of action and expressiveness. But the art win for this issue is the Francis Manapul Harley Quinn variant cover. Just beautiful.

My biggest issue with this arc has been the inclusion of Magog.

It just feels forced.

First off we have his origin as a young boy whose family got killed in the Apokolips invasion from Justice League #1. We saw much of this last issue. So to devote 3 more pages to it seems like a bit of wasted space. I don't think this added much more to his backstory than last issue's piece.

Second, how young is this David. He looks about 8 here. That would make him 13 now. But he seemed more like 18 when he was Wonderstar. And as Magog he looks full grown.

Am I being nit-picky about trying to wrap my head around his origin/age?

Remember, last issue ended with Superman stuck holding a bridge's cables to keep it intact while Wonder Woman faces off with Circe. 

But the inclusion of Magog here, first as Wonderstar, is hard to comprehend. Circe talks about how she uses a complicate spell to make David into Wonderstar so he could get close to Superman and Diana. Then she could drop the glamour to make him Magog.

Why the complicated spell and subterfuge? He was Wonderstar for a nanosecond! Circe isn't exactly stealthy in her appearance or attack. Why not just make David into Magog and show up to battle?

This overly complex origin and insertion into the story seems too weighty for the story. Maybe if Wonderstar was in the book for half a year before the reveal I might feel like Circe was biding her time. But this seems off to me.

Wonder Woman is encased in stone and teleported away by Circe so the sorceress can have her revenge. Meanwhile Magog just hammers away on Superman who has to take it because he is in the iron cross position holding up the bridge by the severed cables.

Here was the one panel that made me interested in Magog. He looks at Superman as the villain of his story. Magog is the hero in his own story. That reversal of perspective (mixed with the great scowl by Mahnke) is interesting.

We then get a hint of what has to be the next arc after this one.

Whoever loosed the Atomic Skull and Major Disaster wants them sprung. Behind his wall of screens, he sends Multiplex (I think) to free them.

It has to be the Calculator. But why is he gunning for Superman and Wonder Woman.

Hmmm ... will this keep me buying this title?

After spending the first half of the book being pounded on while holding up the bridge, Magog finally gets close enough to get kicked and heat visioned. This let's Superman fix the bridge and become more than scenery.

Nice display of power here by Mahnke. And the 'stay down' command works here.

We have no history with this Circe so it is up the Tomasi to fill us in with a bit of villain monologuing exposition.

Remember the controversial aspect of Azzarello's Wonder Woman? That part where Amazons get pregnant by seducing sailors, then kill the sailors? That part where if the baby is a male they would kill them until Hephaestus made a deal to use the baby boys as workers in his forge in exchange for weapons?

Yeah. Not a high point of that series.

Anyways, Circe offered a similar deal. She'd give weapons to the Amazons and then use the male babies as part of her ani-men army. Hippolyta actually agreed to that! But then squelched on the deal and went with the Hephaestus one instead.

Boy, that paints Hippolyta in an even worse light than before! I thought that would be impossible!

But this slight has angered Circe forever! Is it a strong enough reason to harbor an infinite axe to grind?

I will say that I collected the Azzarello Wonder Woman and liked it. I read it as an Elseworlds Diana and found it tight and consistent. I don't know if I want that Diana as the main DCU one. But here we are.

At least Tomasi acknowledges that history. Wonder Woman shatters her bonds and stands there unbowed before Circe. She is the God of War. She is above the Circe/Hippolyta feud. She is part of Olympus now.

That is a great panel.

So does it make sense for Circe to take on the God of War? Wouldn't she be worried about the wrath of the rest of the Gods?

In his fight with Magog, Superman snapped Magog's staff in half. That teleports Superman to Circe's stronghold. And since he is a man and vulnerable to magic, he quickly succumbs to her magic. Circe decides what better way to test Diana than to have her battle someone she loves.

I'll give Mahnke his proper respect. This is a great splash page.

I highlighted to panels and parts of the book I liked. But overall I continue to have some problems with this issue and arc. The pages devoted to Magog's origin, the almost unnecessary Wonderstar subplot, Circe's motivation, the idea that Circe would attack the pantheon, and even Superman literally hanging around for some of the issue ... it just puzzled me.

Oveall grade: C/C-

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

More Supergirl Show News: Calista Flockhart As Cat Grant

News about the Supergirl Show is being released pretty regularly now and I have to say, every single thing I have read and heard about this show so far has been nigh-perfect.

Greg Berlanti, Ali Adler, David Rapoport and all the folks setting up the cast and tone of the show are just knocking it out of the park. And as a lifelong Supergirl fan, I am thrilled with the news and love the more wide-reaching excitement I am sensing around the character.

And now the latest news ... another great casting decision ...

Calista Flockhart will be playing Cat Grant. I first saw this on Deadline and here is the link:

Here is the description of Cat from the original publicity releases:
Cat is described as a woman in her 40s and the founder of media conglomerate called CatCo. The casting information says the producers are open to any ethnicities for the part, which is described as "J.Lo by way of Anna Wintour." Kara Danvers, Supergirl's civilian identity, will be Cat's personal assistant when she's not saving lives.

Flockhart just seems like a big win.

I am interested in seeing just how the show's Cat relates to Supergirl.

Will she be a supporter? Helping to promote Supergirl?

Will she attack Supergirl in the media the way the Cat in the last incarnation of Supergirl did? Slinging the mud on her in social media?

Or will this be a self-serving Cat, promoting or attacking depending on the public sentiment?

This is one more excellent announcement about this show!

Now we need the casting of Alex, Wynn, and Hank. And we need to see the costume!

Kudos to all involved with the show. This Supergirl fan is happy!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

New Supergirl Swag

I am always on the lookout for new Supergirl merchandise to add to my collection. IGN released information about this statue, a product of Diamond Select Toys. Here is the article:

And the official Diamond Select Toys information:
A Diamond Select Toys release! DST is finally entering the world of the DC Animated Universe! Their first release takes them all the way to Metropolis, the home of Superman: The Animated Series – and the adopted home of Superman’s “cousin” from Argo, Supergirl! Supergirl rests atop a rocky outcropping, ready to hurl herself at the next foe to threaten her favorite city. Measuring approximately 9 inches tall atop her sculpted base, Supergirl comes packed in a full-color window box, and is in scale with other Femme Fatales PVC statues. Sculpted by Steve Varner Studios.

It has been a while since a 'white shirt' Supergirl has had merchandise. And this one is beautiful, smiling and ready for action.  And it is pretty affordable at only $45. Time to start saving up.

But that's not all!

Comic Vine posted an article about new DC collectibles that will be released. Here is that link 

And one of the things release is a plush Streaky!

I can't tell if there is a lightning bolt on the side. And this seems more based on Tiny Titans than 'classic' Streaky.

But still!


I really think I need to sit back and marvel at just how much Supergirl has become a vital part of the DCU. She's everywhere ... sort of.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Review: Batman/Superman #19

Batman/Superman #19 came out last week, the next chapter in the 'Superman's Joker' storyline. This is another one of those arcs where writer Greg Pak is putting Superman into unfamiliar territory, making him uneasy in his skin, and therefore ramping up the suspense. How would Superman fight against a maniac like the Joker, someone attacking Superman not only physically but also psychologically? While I miss a more classic Superman, Pak's stories have kept me on the edge of my seat. And when I am a rapt reader, I am happy.

I also love the fact that Supergirl is such an important part of this story involving Kandor. This impacts her just as much as Kal. Maybe more given that she actually grew up on Krypton. To exclude her would feel off.

But as great as the story is, what I really appreciate is that Pak uses this story to wrap up a number of lingering plot lines that have irked me for some time. Most of them arise from Doomed, which was an awkward clumsy overlong arc with a number of feints and dropped plot points. Pak somehow is able to clutch a few and weave them into a nice story. Nothing seems forced. And it still keeps up the suspense.

The art here is by regular artist Adrian Syaf. Syaf gets a chance to stretch his legs a bit here with the alien terrain and mix of large panels including a double page spread revealing our villain. I think this is Syaf's strongest issue so far.

And we start out with a very chilling sort of opening.

There is narrator extolling all the virtues of Kandor, the impressive people that lived there, the beauty of the city, the strength of their police. But then we get a recap of Brainiac stealing the city. We see Superman rescuing them from Brainiac (although the narrator paints Superman as going native, caring for Earth more than his people).

And then we see Kandor as it is now, what has happened at the hands of whoever this narrator is.

It is in ruins.

It is a very engaging opening sequence running the gamut from praise and beauty to fear and destruction. In many ways, it tells the tale of a failure by Superman. And when you add this picture of a destroyed city with that feeling that Superman couldn't stop this from happening ... well that is a rare place to be as a Superman fan.

This hooked me.

From the subatomic headquarters of S.H.A.D.E. (I forgot this even existed), the heroes from last issue look upon Kandor, discovered to be in a field in Iceland. They see it in ruins, with evidence of battle throughout. There was a fight here.

Using some Ray Palmer tech, the microscopic heroes will grow and stabilize to Kandor size and will investigate. Supergirl, Superman, and Batman will head in, even though Kal and Kara will quickly lose power in that environment and Batman will struggle with the gravity there.

I like how Lois wants to go. But, as has been the case throughout the New 52, she is left on the sidelines. They don't have enough equipment to let her go.while I would say that makes sense, I am so aching for Lois to be involved I wouldn't have minded if she went.

Now people might remember that early in Doomed, Scott Lobdell showed us that the Kandorians had awoken, banging on the bottle. So what happened? At the very least, Greg Pak is answering that question ... something which has been in the back of my mind.

Once inside, the heroes decide to head to Supergirl's friend Tali's house. They have been hunted on Earth by the Kandorians and are looking for someone they can trust. And Tali is the only person they know in there who they feel they can trust.

But this is not the 'normal' Kandor. Soldiers walk the streets in perfect synchronization, as mind-controlled automatons.

And outside Tali's house, Superman trips an automatic hologram which provides some exposition for the villain. He has come to Kandor, the land of Superman's aunt and maternal grandmother, and taken over.

Now wait a minute. I know Kara is on the El side of the family. But wouldn't she know that her Aunt's mother lived in Kandor? Maybe not.

And then this 'King' fed the citizens a ton of lies. Jor-El set off the explosion of Krypton when people didn't believe him. Kal could have saved them but decided to keep them like pets.

This villain has captured the comatose Kandorians, brainwashing them, reviving them, and setting them up as the ultimate Superman revenge squad.

Superman cast as the villain? Interesting. Cast as a villain in a way that seems plausible if you don't know anything about him? More interesting. Cast as a villain in a way that seems plausible to tiny super-powered brainwashed Kryptonians? Very interesting.

And nice art here by Syaf, making it seem like negative propaganda, a monstrous Kal towering over the city.

While the video plays, Kandorian troops show up to confront the hated Els.

In another showing of how diabolical 'Superman's Joker' is, the troops all explode, rigged to self-destruct. Superman has to witness the death of some of his people ... painful even if they are not in their right minds.

This is a Batman villain move, taunting Superman, bringing in family, all in hopes of unnerving him and making him easier to defeat. This is why Batman is better suited for this mission. He understands what this villain is trying to accomplish.

So the heroes decide to split up.

Superman won't take the bait. He'll send Batman to stop the brainwashing center, saving Superman's aunt and grandmother.

Superman and Kara will head to the platform that lets the Kandorians head to Earth. They can't let these super-assassins get out and murder more innocents. Nice teamwork by the super-cousins! And nice big art by Syaf!

But you know how this is going to play out. The longer the super-cousins are in Kandor, the more of their power they use, the more of their power they will lose. After a display like this, you know they will be vulnerable.

And then the reveal. The villain behind all of this, Superman's Joker, is The Phantom King, Dr Xa-Du!!

Now this makes sense! Thank you Greg Pak.

Xa-Du was the first criminal sent to the Phantom Zone. He has a grudge with the Els. He has an axe to grind with Kal-El.

And he was another one of those hanging plot threads from Doomed. The heroes freed him to try to get his help with sending Doomsday back to the Zone. But then ... poof ... he was gone. As if the writers forgot they wrote him in.

He is a big enough threat, with a big enough psychological hang-up about Superman, to do all this.

One question though ... is that just an image of him? Or literally him, giant before the tiny Kandorians?

Like the Joker though, it is as much a mental attack as a physical. Even though Batman stops the conversions in the tower, three brainwashed people are ready to attack ... Aunt Mara-Van, Grandma Dame Kela-Van, and Kara's pal Tali. This can't be easy for Superman or Supergirl!

What could be more hurtful than needing to fight your own family? Potentially to the death?

Nice cliffhanger, the perfect bookend to the slow build of the opening sequence.

I know that most of my New 52 rants about Superman have been about the lack of a 'classic' Superman, fighting his rogues, working at the Planet, being an inspiration. And I know that Pak's stories seem to veer away from that (although Pak portrays Superman and his ethics perfectly).

But ... they are gripping! They are entertaining. They are compelling.

I have read a lot of Superman stories in my time. When I read a story that feels fresh, that feels like Superman is out of his element, that things aren't easy ... that is a win.

I almost feel like DC should let Pak run Action, writing stories just as he has been. Let Superman be the 'classic' book (as Johns seemed to be doing). And Batman/Superman can be a wild card.

This has been very good arc, well-paced with both big action moments and smaller, powerful character moments too.

Overall grade: B+

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Supergirl Show: Alura Has Been Cast

 There has been lots of news coming out about the Supergirl television show, everything from leaked audition tapes to confirmation that a cape will be part of her suit. I have yet to hear anything that seems off.

But yesterday some official news broke and it is fabulous! Iybwas announced yesterday that Laura Benanti will be playing Alura! Here is the link from Deadline:

And the blurb:
Nashville standout Laura Benanti has been cast in key recurring role in the CBS pilot Supergirl. She will play Alura Zor-El, the birth mother of Kara (Melissa Benoist). A strong noblewoman, Alura sends Kara to Earth to escape Krypton’s destruction. Her wisdom and guidance echoes across space and time, proving invaluable on Kara’s journey toward becoming Supergirl. 

Now there is a lot that I like about this announcement.

First off, I love that Alura will have a recurring role in the show. Alura has been a much more important part of Supergirl's life in recent years. It all started when Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle made her a key part of their run. And more recently Tony Bedard had Alura be a protectorate of Argo City, a peace officer. So to have that relationship highlighted in the show is wonderful.  I think it is great that Kara's role model is her mother, a strong woman in her own right. (Although I hope that the Danvers are a key part to the show as well. And I hope that Alura is not some semisentient interactive hologram computer like Jor-El has been in other places. Leave her to flashbacks or video diary entries.)

But secondly, I love the casting!

Benanti is a talent. She is the only actress I know who has made me feel the tiniest twinge of compassion for the Baroness in The Sound of Music (she played her on the NBC live version as seen above). I actually semi-understood why the Captain might like her! And I have never felt that way before. So you know Benanti has some acting chops!

It also adds this nice little wrinkle of another singer in the cast. Could a musical episode happen? (Maybe Season 3.)

And she looks the part. Regal. Strong. And she looks like Melissa "Supergirl" Benoist ... she could be her mother!

So far I think producers Greg Berlanti and Ali Adler are producing gold! what do you think of the casting?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Review: Supergirl #39

Supergirl #39 came out this week, the penultimate issue for this arc, creative team, and title. It is hard to believe that I finally have a New 52 Supergirl that I want to read, a Supergirl who has consistently been a hero, and ... just like that ... DC has decided to pull the plug. It is almost ironic. After completely shedding the angry, loner, disaffected, 'Hell on Wheels' persona that DC forced on us at first, Supergirl is being canceled.

Ah well, enough lamenting the ending of this book. Instead I should be praising the work that the creative team is doing here. Writers K. Perkins and Mike Johnson, artists Emanuela Lupacchino and Ray McCarthy, and colorist Hi-Fi have been putting together a wonderful book here. It is interesting, engaging, beautiful and bright. Crucible really has been a superb arc. In fact, the only knock on this issue is that it reads fast, as if the creative team realized they needed to sprint to the finish line to effectively finish the story. There are plot threads which I think would have percolated for a bit longer if this team had more time on the book.

Perkins and Johnson also write a great Kara. She is smart, brave, strong, optimistic, and loving. She also is a bit brash, one of the things I love about a young hero learning the ropes. It is sad that we won't be reading more of her.

Oops ... I said no more lamentation! On to the book.

Last issue Supergirl returned to Earth and fought off Roho and his gang, stopping them from kidnapping Superboy. Despite that win, Kara's ally Maxima turned on her and tried to do the same thing. Superboy is of some importance to Crucible and the different factions there.

One thing that I have liked about this new run is the internal monologue that Kara has. She has seemed to not only accept but embrace a new path in life as a leader and a hero. But there is also this sort of resiliency. Even here she notes that life continues to throw her curve balls. It seems as if her life will never be stable. The idea that Crucible might bring some order to her life is wrong ... but she rolls with it. Instead of sulking, or bemoaning her life, she decides to be pro-active and try to improve it.

Just jaw-dropping art by Lupacchino and McCarthy here. And the colors really pop.

Most importantly, we see growth in Kara. I said before she was embracing this new life as a hero. Does anything say that more than her leaping to the defense of Kon? Remember the Lobdell version of Kara calling him Abomination and vowing to kill him? Now we get her protecting him.

Even when she is called on her past actions with him, she feels regret. She says she realizes that he is a person and worth saving. And look at her expression here. Sort of an apologetic look on her face as she looks at Kon, knowing that she was so bull-headed and biased before. Such strong work by Lupacchino.

It is so important for me that Supergirl is a true hero, looking for the best in people, and rising ... sometimes passionately and fiercely ... to help them. We have that here. And I like that Perkins and Johnson are acknowledging the stuff from Kara's past rather than sweeping it under the rug.

I also have been pretty rough in my assessment of the New 52 Superboy here. He has been a 'living weapon' and out of control. He has been a bank robber, covering himself in bling. He has been a blank slate, someone who could be controlled. He has never quite been enough of a hero for me.

In this book we have seen Superboy doing some soul searching too, trying to reach some sort of understanding of who he is. He actually agrees to go with Maxima to Crucible. Maybe Crucible holds the key to him finding himself. He and Maxima teleport away, leaving Supergirl on Earth to give Comet time to heal.

We have seen tremendous progression in Kara over this last year under Bedard, Perkins, and Johnson. I am glad to see Superboy on this same journey.

But remember how I said that this issue felt like a bit of a sprint. Here is where I felt it the most.

The Crucible plot goes from simmer to a full boil quickly. We had the sense that Korstus was up to know good, mobilizing the Crucible students into an army. And we knew that Amata seemed to have nobler goals. My guess would be that the plots of these two would have been slowly unveiled over the next year.

But the creators don't have the luxury of time.

So instead Amata is attacked by Korstus, who is in cahoots with Roho and his band. Korstus is going to seize control of Crucible and force it into his image.

Meanwhile, Kara brings Comet to the place she feels is safest on Earth ... Michael's apartment.

This is a brief scene but you can feel some sparks fly between the two. Whether it is Michael saying he would be there for Kara, or her telling him Comet is just a friend, or the peck on the cheek she gives him when she heads back to Crucible, this is a relationship I have loved see grow a bit.

Over and over, we have heard creators who come to Supergirl say that this book needed a supporting cast. That's hard to do when the initial concept is Kara being a loner in an isolated Sanctuary on the bottom of the ocean. Thanks to Perkins and Johnson, we finally got one - Michael, Maxima, Comet, Tsavo, Amata - only to have the book dropped by DC.

Oops ... no lamentations.

Back at Crucible, Supergirl finds that Korstus has changed things dramatically and quickly ... maybe unrealistically quick? Again ... there is that feeling that things are being rushed a bit.

Think of how dark Hogwarts became when Snape took over. It's like that. The school is in shutdown, with curfews and defense robots and deserted halls. As soon as Supergirl arrives, she is attacked by drones for being out of her dorm.

I guess that means it is up to Supergirl to free the school and save the day!

During her fight through Crucible, Kara comes across Korstus and attacks him. But he is able to shut down her powers with a failsafe switch, something Crucible has built into every student. (Nice negative coloring here by Hi-Fi to show the effect.)

Crucible is a high school of incredibly powerful teens. I remember the roughhousing that happened in my high school. Here, with super powered students, that could be extremely destructive. So it makes sense that the faculty would be able to shut people's powers off. But you would think the students would have to agree to that ... or know about it.

I liked how Kara was able to activate her armor during the fight.  I am normally against armoring up but it works for me. There have been nice little touches to this run, many of them artistic. I love the subtle changes we have seen in her costume, changes which have improved it tremendously. And having an armor costume for defense is a nice addition.

Then we get to the cliffhanger. Korstus has decided to make Crucible into an army. Why train the students and hope they become heroes when they graduate? Why not create an obedient attack force and make order happen?

And what better way to churn that army out than to clone a clone! This is why Korstus wanted Kon.

Nice set-up into next issue's story finale and series finale!

With the book ending, Perkins and Johnson do have to rush to this ending. This could have unfolded over the usual 6 issue 'ready for trade' length. But I would rather have a rushed ending than no ending at all. I suppose I should be very happy that the team had enough forewarning to try to wrap things up. But I would have loved to explore Crucible for a bit longer.

I was going to write a long list of things that I think would have been introduced into the book if it was going on but I said from the beginning that I would not lament the passing of the book. I come to praise this issue. (Lamentations might be coming next review.)

Suffice it to say, I have enjoyed this Perkins/Johnson/Lupacchino/McCarthy/Hi-Fi run. It has been bright, fun, action-packed and filled with great characterization. We have a heroic passionate Kara. It has given us a supporting cast. What more could Supergirl fans want?

Overall grade: B+

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

May Solicits

By now, hopefully everyone is aware that DC is doing a soft reboot of their universe in June, reimagining characters, being less beholden on continuity, and stripping 'The New 52" label from their books.

To get us there, the company is doing a two month pause with the 'Convergence' event, with characters from all prior universes interacting. Last week, DC released the solicits for May, the second month of convergence. Here is a link to the complete solicits:

Included in that is the above image, an exclusive for Entertainment Weekly, which shows a parade of Superman death scenes. It is an interesting image, with a Superman in the right lower corner looking at all these. And it is 'historically accurate' as we see scenes from older issues where a Superman dies. We see:
Superman #75 - the famous death of Superman at the hands of Doomsday
Infinite Crisis #7 - the death of Kal-L, the Superman of Earth 2
Superman #149 - an imaginary story where Luthor kills Superman with Kryptonite while his friends are forced to watch
All Star Superman #12 - dead again from a Luthor plot, but in the sun with machinery, saving the star
Kingdom #1 - Magog on his dark throne with many Supermen dead at his feet


On to the Super-titles in May

Cover by MIKEL JANIN/ Variant cover designed by CHIP KIDD
STARRING HEROES FROM CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS! Superman and Supergirl’s journey through the Phantom Zone takes a tragic turn as one of the most devastating moments in DC’s history is revealed! Supergirl could save herself – but only if she sacrifices Metropolis to the marauding intelligent apes from Kamandi’s world!

I don't know if I want Marv Wolfman to write Supergirl again. But in this mini-series, it looks like once more he will put her on the path to dying at the hands of the Anti-Monitor. Of course that Kara won't sacrifice Metropolis to save herself.

Beautiful cover by Janin.

Cover by HOWARD PORTER/Variant cover designed by CHIP KIDD
STARRING HEROES FROM ZERO HOUR! Supergirl and Ambush Bug fight against…uh…we don’t really understand what Keith Giffen is doing here, but we trust it’ll work out great!

Should I be happy that Matrix Supergirl is getting her own mini-series? Or should I be worried that it looks like an insane book built on humor? I  grew to love this version of the character as she went on her own hero's journey, eventually merging with Linda Danvers. I think this is just going to be a silly book overrun by Ambush Bug.

Again, nice cover here by Howard Porter, a riff on Action Comics #252.

Written by FRANK TIERI
Cover by MARK BUCKINGHAM/Variant cover designed by CHIP KIDD
STARRING HEROES FROM THE PRE-FLASHPOINT DCU! Witness the brutality of the battles between worlds as Flashpoint Aquaman proves to the Justice League how far he’s willing to go to protect his kingdom.

This is the Kara/Jade/Jessie/Donna League that was fun to read when James Robinson was at the helm. Looks like this issue is going to be wall-to-wall brawl. Kara and Donna were the muscle of this League so hopefully they'll shine a bit.

Written by DAN JURGENS
Cover by LEE WEEKS/Variant cover designed by CHIP KIDD
Flashpoint Kal-El has kidnapped Lois while she’s in labor! Will Superman reach them in time—or will Flashpoint Batman have to deliver the Man of Steel’s only child?

I am thrilled I get to see some Clark/Lois somewhere even if it is in this multiverse event. Putting the scrawny Flashpoint Superman into the mix is an odd choice. But I trust Jurgens to pull it off.

Cover by WALTER SIMONSON/Variant cover designed by CHIP KIDD
STARRING HEROES FROM ZERO HOUR! Will Steel be forced to murder the Gen13 kids in cold blood? Well, what other way is there for him to save Metropolis?

Louise Simonson is writing Steel. Sold!

Add in June Brigman art and a Walt Simonson Gen 13 cover and it is doubly sold.

Written by JUSTIN GRAY
Variant cover designed by CHIP KIDD
STARRING HEROES FROM CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS! Will Superman and Power Girl meet their demise at the hands of Red Son Wonder Woman?

How great will it be to see an old school Earth 2 with Kal and Karen together? I miss that world of Infinity Inc and the JSA tremendously

But even without the inside material, the cover by Amanda Conner might have been enough to entice me to buy! 

Cover by BABS TARR/Variant cover designed by CHIP KIDD
STARRING HEROES FROM ZERO HOUR! Superboy and Kingdom Come Superman face off over Metropolis – but can these two find a way to work together and save both their worlds?

A Conner I like to read! It has been a while. The New 52 version was something of a disorganized mess. So seeing the original makes me smile!

Putting the fun-loving, surfing Metropolis Kid together with the dour, world weary Kingdom Come Superman is genius. It's like a Kryptonian Odd Couple.

And love that Babs Tarr cover!

Written by STUART MOORE 
Cover by PIA GUERRA /Variant cover designed by CHIP KIDD
STARRING HEROES FROM CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS! Brainiac 5 and Superboy are from one of the most advanced worlds under the Convergence dome, but nothing can prepare them for the all-out war they now find themselves in against the Atomic Knights!

And lastly, some Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes. This is the title that sparked my life long love for comics so it will be nice to read them one more time. I couldn't care less for the Aromic Knights. But throwing two possible futures together could be a fun read.

It will be fun to re-visit these older versions of characters I have loved all my life. I just hope these comics do them justice. And there are others that intrigued me besides these. So what are you thinking of buying?