Wednesday, September 30, 2015

December Solicits

The DC Comics solicits for December were released last week and there were the usual surprises, mostly in omissions.

For those looking to see all the solicits, here is a link to Newsarama:

This was a somewhat weird month to consider given the recent announcement of books being cancelled and some creative teams being changed around. This also is a book heavy month with annuals and such. So this might be a time for me to consider putting some holiday gift money I get towards comics.

Art and cover by AARON KUDER
The ebony powers of the woman known as Wrath are unleashed on Superman. Will the Man of Steel fall to the dark side?

So you are going to see something of a theme in many of the Superman solicits for this month. They all are about him getting darker and darker. We have seen Wrath both emit wrath and absorb power from the anger of people.

I like Kuder's art and this cover, a mix of deep blacks and burning oranges in colors looks good. But this should be a Halloween cover!

Art and cover by HOWARD PORTER
Variant covers by LEE BERMEJO
What would happen if the powers of all of Superman’s foes were contained in one villain? You’ll find out when you meet the Amalgam of Composite Superman Foes—and this is one nightmare a semi-powered Man of Steel may not survive! Join series writer Gene Luen Yang and guest artist Howard Porter for an unforgettable new epic!

Composite Superman is a silly character.
The Amalgam of Composite Superman Foes? Sounds insane. Like an Amazo of Superman villains? Let's start rattling them off!

This won't be the cover (clearly JRJR) but it also has a sort of 'Little Match Girl' feel to it. Woe is me!

“Man of Tomorrow. Man of Yesterday.” Superman and Vandal Savage have been on a collision course for centuries. As Kal-El struggles to survive against this barbarian’s attacking hordes, we reveal the events that led to Vandal Savage’s creation—and his unexpected connection to Krypton. Immortals gather to put an end to the Last Son of Krypton so Earth may live!

A line from Batman/Superman last week was a villain saying they had been waiting 2000 years for revenge. So could this be the story where Superman fights Savage in the past? Where that revenge is born?

I like to think of Annuals as the end of arcs, not middle chapters. Will I be that lucky?

Written by GREG PAK
To defeat Vandal Savage and his barbarian hordes, Superman must become more and more brutal. And when he reaches the point of no return, it may be up to Red Hood to take him down. Plus, Gordon makes a shocking discovery about Savage’s ultimate plan!

So first Superman is getting dark in Action.

Now in this book, he is getting more and more brutal. So much that Red Hood is the hero of the book.


Written by PETER J. TOMASI
It’s the team-up you never expected, as Superman and Parasite take on those other energy suckers, the Pale Riders, to free Firestorm! Meanwhile, Wonder Woman fights an unstoppable behemoth that can contain—and consume—her powers!

I do like the name Pale Riders as energy suckers!
And including some old school Firestorm is always welcomed.

Add Mahnke and Paquette art, I'm happy.

Forged in the fires of battle, their union is one the world fears and hates—and some have tried to tear it asunder! Now witness the trials of the romance of Kal and Diana, and how it all came to be. See the first kiss and last breath of Superman and Wonder Woman in this epic tale that recounts the most dangerous love story of all.

I am wondering if this Annual will be a retrospective of the relationship because it has ended.
The background faces seem to say that despite the 'Jim Lee'-esque kiss in the foreground.

The book still sells well. So I doubt it will go away even if the relationship ends.

Written by DAN JURGENS
Who—or what—is Blanque? What is being held in this Superman’s Fortress of Solitude? And what is Intergang, and why is their discovery dangerous to Lois? Whatever the answers, neither Clark nor Lois want their son to learn the truth...

We haven't read any of this series. I don't now what Earth this couple is on, etc.

But a new villain? Intergang? Jurgens and Weeks? That cover by Segovia?

I am hopeful and happy!

Art and cover by HOWARD PORTER
The world is overrun…and we lost?! For the past few months, they’ve slowly taken over the U.P. space. Now they’re simply exterminating any and all threats in their occupied territory. No one is safe. And we mean NO ONE!

So last issue's solicit was that someone was going to die.
Now no one is safe?
I keep looking at these solicits waiting for the 'Final Issue' blurb.

But once again we have no sight of Supergirl on the cover or mention of her in the solicit.

Cover by ANT LUCIA
Having defected from Russia, Supergirl and Stargirl arrive on the Western front. In Berlin, Batwoman has to learn that she can’t fight every battle, while Zatanna consults her favorite rabbit, the former John Constantine. Meanwhile, Harley and Ivy race across France, taking on every Nazi they encounter.

I have enjoyed the Bombshells comic immensely.
It was only a matter of time until Supergirl and Stargirl were going to defect. So happy to see them on the side of the American Way.

Can't wait to see the addition of Ivy.

And Selena on the cover! Wow!

Cover by ANT LUCIA
Presenting the Batgirls! While Batwoman is away in Europe, a group of young women decide to pick up her mantle and protect the streets of Gotham City themselves!
New allies are recruited throughout the city as the girls uncover an orphanage that’s imprisoning children and using them to help build deadly weapons to aid the Nazis. Do these raw recruits have what it takes—or are they out of their league?

I love the idea of Batgirls. But no Stephanie??

Still ... can't wait for this issue!

In these stories from SUPERGIRL #0-10 and 12, Kara Zor-El, Superman’s cousin from Krypton, adjusts to her life on Earth, crossing paths (and trading blows) with the JSA, the Teen Titans and the Outsiders along the way. But while she’s facing off against other heroes, her cousin’s nemesis Lex Luthor has uncovered a truth that could change the Girl of Steel forever!

Let's see ...
She is angry. She dislikes Superman. She fights all the heroes. She abandons Candor. She wants to dance instead of being a hero. I don't know if the 'Kill Kal-El' theme starts in these issues but their roots are here.

So let's reprint these stories in anticipation of the positive looking show being a hit.

And let's not have a monthly comic despite all the press about the character.

This makes no sense to me.

No sense.

Anyways, I will look to the optimism of an impending new year. Let's stay hopeful. Hopeful that Superman becomes Superman again. Hopeful that a Supergirl book comes out. Hopeful that good comics find their audiences and survive.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Jim Lee On A New Supergirl Book

We have been waiting for information on a new Supergirl book since the last one was cancelled before its time. And finally ... finally ... we have a little.

Over on IGN Jim Lee was being interviewed about a number of topics including a new Hush collection, his work on Batman, and comics in general. And, surprisingly, the topic of Supergirl came up.

IGN: One last question. The Supergirl show is coming this Fall, but there's no Supergirl comic book on the shelf. Are there any plans to bring Supergirl back with her own solo series?
Lee: We'd be remiss if we did not use that as an opportunity. If you look at all the shows, we've tried to do things that both tie in directly into the core mythology of the show itself. But a lot of times you see the best stories featuring, let’s say Green Arrow or The Flash, those are the ones which see the greatest lift when a show becomes a hit. I think you'll see an interesting mix of Supergirl content come out, some of which will closely mirror what's going on in the show, but there's some of the great stories that we publish that we will put out.

I think it's exciting to see one of the key franchises lifted and showcased and we have really high hopes for it.

Now it isn't much. But at least we know that DC is thinking about the character and wants to take advantage of the opportunity the show is providing. I think it is interesting that Lee talks about trying to tie the concept of the book with the tone of the show. He even brings up Arrow and Flash. But then he talks about publishing stories that don't mesh at all (hence the New 52 reprint and the resolicit of the Loeb trade).

So are they waiting for the show? Are they waiting to see the response of the show? Are they waiting for the right creators to show up? Wait until the mess of DCYou settles down to decide if this is going to be 'meat and potatoes' or 'Burnside mash'?

I have to say that I find it frustrating that despite the incredible buzz of the show, despite the consistent failure of the darker interpretations of Kara, DC still feels the need to try to shove a bitter take on Supergirl to the readers. Why not revisit the Gates/Igle stuff? Cosmic Adventures? Why not release a Showcase book of the Daring New series? Why not do a show-related digital book with the same upbeat hope of the show? Why not embrace the Supergirl who wants to do good and inspire, who strive to be like Superman?

Why not?????

Anyways, at least Supergirl is on the minds of the higher ups at the company. Now we just need the right book!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sales Review: August 2015

A couple of weeks ago, the news was released that DC was cancelling five titles and changing the creative team of another. Included in that list was Justice League United, a book headlined by Jeff Parker and bringing a classic 'team-up' feel to a DC book. Also in that list were recent DCYou offerings Doomed and Omega Men. (I am pretty sure I called Doomed and Omega Men being short lived titles when I lamented the cancelleation of Supergirl.)

That news was followed up with the usual coverage of comic sales over on ICv2. Here is a link looking at the top 300 comics for August:

In what is becoming so common that it isn't news anymore, Marvel dominated the market. But looking at the numbers, it might explain, at least a little, some of DC's decisions. Still, I worry about the quick axe for some of these more experimental titles. There was little time for buzz to build. 

Looking at the Superman books, all seemed to get a modest bump in sales last month. I wonder how much of that might have been secondary to Bombshell variants. Those covers all sold out at my local store. Still, Superman #43 was the issue where we saw Lois' reveal Clark's identity. I wonder if that brought some new readers or some new orders from comic stores.

 Superman sold just under 50000 units, a number I don't think it has reached in a long time.

And Action Comics, my favorite of the bunch, sold just under 42000, a bump from the usual mid-30s I have seen the book languish in for a while. This is orders, not sales, so I have to think the Bombshell stuff has to factor in here.

I was a big fan of the Justice League United concept from the beginning. While I worried about idea that Supergirl was a 'bull-headed loner', Jeff Lemire won me over with the inclusion of Silver Age characters as well as bringing back a true Legion of Super-Heroes.

Lemire left and Jeff Parker took over and had the brilliant idea of combining a core team of heroes with rotating guests. I mean, this is probably the only place a new DC reader (do those exist) would meet Sgt. Rock, Enemy Ace, and the Doom Patrol.

A mere three issues into the new direction, DC pulled the plug. Surprisingly, the book was still selling over 24000. This reminds me of the cancellation of Supergirl. Here was a book that was selling solidly if not prolifically. And yet, the plug was pulled.

The only place we can get a Supergirl these days is in Justice League 3001.

And given the cancellations and murmurs of a rebranding close after the DCYou rebranding, I am worried.

JL3001 sold just under 19000.

That is a scary number.

Knowing DC, they'll blame Supergirl for the sales.

I am not a comic business person. I don't have inside knowledge of the economics. But I am confused by the apparent lack of direction of DC right now. It feels rudderless.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Bullet Review: Justice League 3001 #4

Justice League 3001 has been something of a revelation for me. I was not expecting to like this book figuring it was going to be the same old dark, dingy dystopia that I has plagued DC the last decade. Instead, I have found it to be a sort of love letter to DC Universes past. Sure, the main characters are caricatures of the 'real' heroes, flawed genetic copies of the original. But we also are getting a brilliant and spurned Lois. Members of the 'Bwa-ha-ha' League even though that universe is gone. We have a pure Silver/Bronze Age Supergirl showing up like a ray of light. And we have the usual sort of irreverence that I see in the best of Giffen/DeMatteis collaborations. In many ways, it reminds me of the recent Giffen Doom Patrol book. In that book, Giffen simply acknowledged all the versions of the Patrol as 'real'. We saw Rita, Crazy Jane, a Negative Man who remembered all his incarnations. Brilliant.

Justice League 3001 #4 came out last week and pumped the brakes on the title a bit. This is a flashback story of this League's Flash, a story which we are told took place between the end of JL3000 and the beginning of JL3001. While a mere 4 issues in might be an odd place to put a 'rest' issue, the story builds on the universe that is being built here. Giffen and DeMatteis are fleshing out the threats in this universe while giving us a closer look at Teri as she grows in her role as the super-speedster of the team.

Art is by Scott Kolins rather than usual title artist Howard Porter. I'm not the biggest fan of Kolins' work and with Porter moving to Superman I wonder if Kolins is on board as the title's artist now. I was hoping to see more of Porter's Supergirl.

The issue starts with the Flash heading off on a solo mission, answering a distress signal on a remote ice planet ironically called Nirvana. This was set up by Batman, feeling that the Flash needed to get some real life experience. There is no distress signal, just the Flash having to use her powers to survive.

When Ariel reminds Batman that plenty of Robins died in similar situation, Bruce denies it.

Of course, Ariel is really the evil Lois Lane. And I love how she knows more about Batman than even Batman knows. She remembers all the Robins who were endangered. Nice.

Meanwhile, the Flash is running all over the world and ends up running across the Mirror Master.

Once more we start to see just how deep Lois' machinations go. She has been approaching all super-villains to join her Injustice League. If she is amassing an army, she is a bigger threat than ever. She is doing more than sending the League on near-suicide missions. Of course, the League doesn't know that Lois Lane is alive, let alone she is in Ariel. 

This Mirror Master didn't want to join and so went to this place to lay low.

He also says he is the actual Mirror Master, the one who fought Barry Allen. Boy, a lot of people have survived 1000 years! But he gives a great riff on the famous Lloyd Bensten speech. "I knew Barry Allen.He was my arch-enemy. And lady, you are no Barry Allen." Fantastic.

An avalanche ends up burying the two in the building and the Mirror Master as to remind the Flash that she can dig them out at super-speed.

I thought this panel was also fascinating. In JL3000, Teri was the smartest person in the room. She was a brilliant scientist. As the Flash, she has acted more like a hyperactive teen. Even she recognizes that since the DNA merge, she isn't as smart. Is that because Barry was not as smart? Was that because her mind is racing?

Another interesting point to ponder about this bag.

Once freed from the snow, the two have to battle weird piranha/polar bear life forms. And  the Mirror Master eventually acknowledges that he is happy the Flash came by. He was starting to feel isolated, being alone on this ice ball. He has been too worried that 'the others' would find him. Again, we are reminded that this villain army, this Injustice League is out there.

But it around this time that Teri realizes that there was no distress signal, there was no mission. This was Batman testing her. And it is only dumb luck that she stumbled across the Mirror Master. And she is not happy. She almost throws a tantrum. 

Throughout this issue, we have been seeing the subtle changes we have seen in Teri. The sort rapid fire speech pattern, the desire to go on this mission, the realization she isn't as smart as she was, her throwing a tantrum when she learns of Batman's deception. Now she admits she was attracted to the Mirror Master.

It all sounds so adolescent. And I think it is brilliant.

Anyways, this was a Flash-centric story and we learn much more about Teri here. This also helps fill in some information for any readers who jumped on board for 3001 and didn't read 3000.

But I keep hoping for more Supergirl.

Overall grade: B

Thursday, September 24, 2015

DC Essential: New 52 Supergirl #1

It was announced yesterday that a Supergirl Essential issue will be released the week before the premiere of the show. Boasting a price of just one dollar, the issue is a reprint of the New 52 Supergirl #1. Here is a link:

CBS's Supergirl series debuts October 26, and DC Comics is rushing to get a Supergirl comic book on stands to take advantage of the extra attention and potential for increased popularity.

The publisher has rush-solicited DC Essentials: Supergirl #1, a reprint of the "New 52" Supergirl #1 from 2011, for publication on October 21. Priced at just $1.00, retailers have until September 28 to place orders.

I am thrilled that the character is getting such promotion and publicity right now. And while I think the New 52 Supergirl had its ups and downs, there is no doubt this is a dynamic first issue with beautiful art by Mahmud Asrar.

But there certainly is a lot to nit pick about this decision.

One, this is a rushed announcement and solicit, almost as if DC didn't recognize the show premiere as an opportunity. And you might think that an ongoing book, a show prequel issue, a digital series ... that anything might be the right promotion.

Also, the tone of the initial New 52 run ... the alien Kara, with no friends, who remains distant to Superman and doesn't want to be a hero ... is about as far away from what we have seen of the show. There is a disconnect tonally here.

But rather than write another 1000 words, wailing and gnashing my teeth, complaining at DC's blighted efforts with the character, I will instead give a short list of other comics that I think could also be considered 'Essential Supergirl' and might fit in a bit more with the efforts of linking the comic to the show. In chronological order and with links if I have reviewed the issue here:

Action Comics #285 (Jerry Siegel/Jim Mooney) - This is a pretty big issue in Supergirl lore where Superman finally reveals her existence to the world. No longer will she be the secret weapon. She had done her job, training to use her powers, and doing her own secret heroics. Now was the time for her to be recognized as the second Kryptonian hero of the world. You see how earnest she is in her desire to help. And we see her save the world on her own. If you want an essential from the Silver Age, this is it.

Superman #376/Daring New Adventures #1 (Paul Kupperberg/Carmine Infantino) - An extra-sized issue as it includes to Daring preview from Superman. The preview story is Supergirl talking to her cousin, discussing her desire to go back to school, to be her own person, to become the hero she should be. The first issue shows her work/social life as well as nice action against Psi. This is 'girl power' at its finest. This is a young hero ready to step into the light and help people. And she is a young woman dealing with life and love as well. This feels like the show.

Supergirl #5 (Peter David/Gary Frank) - Matrix had just linked with Linda Danvers, a mortal girl with dark inclinations. And this amalgam was still trying to figure out what it was. Was she alive? Did she have a soul? Was she good? She met an odd sort of reflection in the suddenly sentient Chemo. There are hard philopsphical questions asked. This was a young woman trying to define herself as a hero. And it is a stand alone issue in an otherwise long   form book. Matrix might not be Kara. But writer Peter David injected pure Supergirl-ness into this book.

Supergirl #34 (Sterling Gates/Jamal Igle) - This was the beginning of the Sterling Gates/Jamal Igle run, and it also was a shift in direction for the character. After nearly 3 years of anger, bitterness, high school massacres, vanishing skirts, and panty shots, Gates and Igle rehabilitated the character. She needed to redefine who she was. She might not be perfect. But she wanted to do good, be a hero, and strive to be better. She was growing, maturing. And part of that was adopting the Linda Lang identity. If there is one run (or one issue) that the show seems to have imprinted on, it is this one. I mean Linda in the show looks just like Linda Lang.

Superman/Batman #62 (Mike Johnson and Michael Green/Rafael Albuquerque) - Something of a left field pick but it has a Bat-family member which might lead more people to read it. Green and Johnson wrote the New 52 Kara but this one is much more classic in approach as the retell an early adventure she had with Robin. And in this story you see the gamut of Supergirl's emotions, all displayed as she strives to bring good to the world and save people. It is a brilliant microcosm of the character and how she thinks and what she tries to do. And it is beautifully rendered.

Supergirl #33 (TonyBedard/ Emanuela Lupacchino and Jeff Johnson) - It might seem odd to pick the last issue of a multititle arc (Red Daughter) as the Essential. But the issue again highlights the parts of Supergirl's character that I love. The fierce need to fight for justice. That love of Earth, her home. And she finally rids herself of all the negativeness of the earlier issues, set up perfectly in the form of a Red Lantern ring.

So those would be my essentials. Those would have been my choices for DC. And, of those, I would have picked the Gates/Igle Supergirl #34 would far and away have been my choice to market the character in conjunction with the show.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Back Issue #84: All Supergirl

Last week, a true treasure appeared in my folder at the local comic book store.

Back Issue #84 came out, an issue 100% dedicated to Supergirl in the Bronze Age. Given the 30th anniversary of Supergirl's death in Crisis on Infinite Earths, it makes perfect sense for this issue to be published. And it is chock full of great stuff for any Supergirl fan.

We start out with the cover, an obvious homage to Adventure Comics #397 where Kara peruses a bunch of costume variations.

The inside of the magazine has great articles about her stories in the Bronze Age, the movie, Superwoman, merchandise from back then from podcast friend Chris Franklin, an Alan Brennert interview from Aquaman Shrine's Rob Kelly, a brief look at Matrix ... it is all good. Any Supergirl fan should purchase it from TwoMorrows.

Just a couple of samples, a mere scratching of the surface.

After reviewing pretty much all of Supergirl's stories from her Adventure Comics through Daring New Adventure and talking to a ton of the writers from those books, there is a nice summation at the end of the article.

It is clear that each writer basically tried to wring Supergirl into a shape that fit their vision. Thus we saw the all the professions, all the locales, all the personality quirks. And yet, it is all of that sort of change which actually grabbed me as a kid. It felt like Supergirl was trying to figure things out. For me, it made her relatable.

There is a very fun comic in the middle by Karl Heitmueller Jr. focusing on her costume changes. I love it.

In the coverage of Crisis on Infinite Earth #7, there is a portion dedicated to fan reaction.

After being a sort of forgotten part of the DCU, it was interesting for me to see just how much backlash there was to her death. There was no internet then. I didn't read a lot of fanzines back then. So seeing how much ill will it brought about was interesting.

"Some heroes appear bigger or more important when they pass away - that is exactly what happened here with Supergirl."


And then there is Rob Kelly's Alan Brennert interview. The classic story 'Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot' is touched upon. I love hearing how Brennert disliked Supergirl's sacrifice (and even existence)  simply being forgotten. So I love that he decided he needed to repudiate it. And, after vilifying Dick Giordano a bit for his role in Kara's death, it was fascinating to hear how he grabbed to story to draw himself.

And I love the hand-wringing from the current creators who were told Supergirl could not be referenced. Hearing how they tried make this vision be an astral projection of Power Girl made me chuckle. Interestingly enough, it was Giordano who shuts them up with the simple statement 'guys, it's just a nice Christmas story'.

I love Back Issue. And I love this issue in particular.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

New Supergirl Trailer

Last night was the beginning of the new CBS season with the airing of several premieres including Big Bang Theory and Scorpion. But for me, the big CBS news was the release during Scorpion of a new 'sizzler' reel for Supergirl! And boy, was I floored. Here is the link, you may as well bookmark it as you are going to be watching it a ton:

But there is a lot to review about this preview. And here are a 'few' of my thoughts. We start of with Melissa Benoist in costume, walking to the screen and looking up hopefully.

Next we learn that Fort Rozz, a space prison for the worst criminals has crash landed on Earth. The person walking away is Vartox (we know that from the prior footage released). So we have an explanation for the 'villain of the week' premise as well as why these disparate characters are all on Earth at the same time.

Of course, Fort Rozz in the comics was a Kryptonian military base that at one point was in the Phantom Zone. So I wonder if somehow Kara (whose rocket we know languished in the Phantom Zone in the show) coming to Earth dragged the prison to Earth.

And then we get the villains.

Check out the absolutely frightening Hellgrammite, who sports a rather Predator-y grin!

And then Reactron!

I mean .... how awesome is this shot. The nuclear powered villain! There is a great shot here of Supergirl holding back a beam with her hand that looks straight out of the comics!

I can't believe what I am seeing!

That is a live action Reactron!!!


But we also see Supergirl fighting a flying female.

We know that Livewire is going to be on the show. But this doesn't look like Livewire. No lightning effects. So who could this be? Black Flame??

Any thoughts??

We also see the whole gamut of Kryptonian powers.

We see heat vision. We see super breath. And here, I think we see super-hearing, Kara listening and tuning into something before streaking off to the rescue.

I also loved that we got to see a lot of the supporting cast. We see Cat Grant with Maxwell Lord. We see Adam Grant.

I loved this brief scene where we see Alex training Kara, tossing her around an octagon style fighting arena. This Kara has hidden her powers all this time. She has lived as a gopher for Cat. She shouldn't know how to fight. So I thought this made perfect sense. And I love it is Alex doing the training. It shows the sister relationship.

The preview ends with Jimmy and Win learning that both know Kara's secret.

I love the shock on both of their faces.

Throughout the preview, Benoist just radiates. She smiles. She seems hopeful. She grits her teeth in determination. She tosses punches and kicks. Benoist *is* Supergirl in these shots.

We are a short 34 days away. I can't wait.

Monday, September 21, 2015

All Female JLA 3001!

When DC first announced that Supergirl was going to be in JLA3001 I bristled a bit. I hadn't really read the prior 3000 series but I new that it was something of a wild amalgam of DC continuities with a darker look at the future and the League. This seemed to be the opposite of my beloved Legion of Super-Heroes.

It didn't help that Keith Giffen had just done the Convergence Matrix comic where Supergirl was something of a joke.

Anyways, this was going to be the only place to read Supergirl and the initial pictures of her in her Silver Age costume (as rendered by Howard Porter) got me interested. I went out and bought back issues of the older series and put 3001 on my pull list.

Something surprising happened.

I loved the book.

And I loved the characterization of Supergirl. She seemed more heroic and more mature than many in the League. She definitely outclassed the  Superman in the league, both in virtue and in powers. She seemed like she might be the natural leader of the team. I was glad the book was on my reading list.

Recently on Newsarama, Keith Giffen commented on the book and some of the changes that are happening within it. It is definitely worth reading the whole interview so here is the link:

And here is the blurb worth repeating here.
Nrama: You've also just added Supergirl to the team, so I assume she's going to be part of the book going forward?
Giffen: Oh yes! Oh yes, yes, yes. That's definite. Supergirl is going to be around for a long time. And I'm not even going to tinker with her that much.
We may tinker with her look, because it's the 30th Century and she is wearing a, like, I-just-came-out-of-the-spaceship-from-Krypton costume.
But I just like the idea that here are these… it's Justice League, and their DNA has been written over other people. They're flawed. They're all flawed. Their powers aren't complete. And along comes Supergirl…and it's Supergirl!
And she's got all the powers. And also, she's kind of a couple steps above them.
By giving her as close to the personality as she had back in the late '70s and early '80s as I'm capable of doing, we've got a character that, I think, encapsulates all the good things about Supergirl and yet we can move her in a direction and change her a little bit so she's not mistaken for a Supergirl who might show up in the "New 52" or in Geoff Johns' Justice League or whatever. She becomes our character that way.
And I love having that character around. I will really fight to keep her in the book.
And this is, like, the first time I've ever written Supergirl. Yes, I know I did this thing with Supergirl in the Convergence thing, but it's not really Supergirl. This is the Kryptonian Supergirl. It's really the first time I've ever dealt with the character for an extended period.
And the good thing is, at least to our way of thinking, this Justice League is one of the many, many, many, many varied earths — we're not even putting a number to it; it's out there somewhere — we can have the character come in and do what we wants. You know, if it's not "New 52"'s Earth, we get to pick and choose the things we like about the character and put the character in there.
So in a way we're kind of cheating, but it's fun cheating.
It seems pretty clear that Giffen has a different feeling towards this Supergirl than he did with the Matrix version. I like that he recognizes that she's 'a couple of steps above' the rest of the team. And he seems to like he a bit. She seems to be the Kara in the Superman Family/Daring New Adventures time period, a time when she was a bit more established. I suppose the costume puts her earlier than that but her attitude seems more early 80s Supergirl.

She isn't the New 52 Supergirl. She's Kara Classic.

This interview made me even happier. Supergirl hasn't been on any of the solicited covers or issue descriptions. Sales are pretty low. I hope this book doesn't get the axe. Because I want to read this version of Kara for a while.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Review: Superman/Wonder Woman #21

Superman/Wonder Woman #21 came out this week, another chapter in 'The Truth', another issue where I again try to understand why these two are in a relationship. Things have been awkward in the past. Things have been tense in the past. In this issue, things are outright volatile.

Since 'The Truth' started, I have had problems with Superman's personality. His reliance on the solar flare power, knowing it would weaken him, seemed misguided. He has been downright stupid dragging Jimmy into danger and blaming Lois for his problems. And he has been overly angry in almost all his books.

This issue seemed to showcase many of the flaws in Superman's character these days. Diana and Lois come across much more caring and rational here. It is even mirrored on the cover with Superman, bathed in fire, brow furrowed, glares off the cover. Meanwhile, Diana looks calm and collected.

Peter Tomasi advances the story, introducing another of the big villains and driving a wedge deeper between Clark and Diana. We also reach the point in the story for the 8-page post-Convergence preview for this story. But we also have a similar path as last issue, lots of talking punctuated with a semi-needless brawl at the end.

Thank goodness for penciler Doug Mahnke. Aided by a bevy of inkers, Mahnke continues to bring sharp art to this book. In particular, a new element of the villains attacks, energy sucking black hole creatures, look monstrous.

 The issue starts with a look at Mr. Bend. He has to run off to a meeting with the President. But before heading off, he heads to what looks like a classic villain's headquarters, complete with a wall of monitors. Bend has located Firestorm and sends the hero's coordinates off with the order to 'ingest'.

Who is Mr. Bend?

Well, my guess he is Angelo Bend, the Angle Man. I usually think of Angle Man as a Wonder Woman villain, making his presence here appropriate. But he has been more of a D-lister in the past. Here he feels more like the Calculator in the pre-New 52 universe.

 And his orders are carried out.

We see Firestorm lured into a rescue mission that is a trap. The 'victims' morph into these black hole looking creatures, beings that turn into a huge mouth and glom onto the nuclear man.

Just like that, he's gone.

Now I think of Firestorm as a pretty powerful character. So defeating him like this, draining him and then 'ingesting' him, sets the stage that these things are powerful.

After that opening scene, we head back to the government prison where Diana is interrogating Clark's friends.

Lois has the best moments here. She might be forced to answer the questions because of the Lasso of Truth, but she doesn't have to do it nicely. She talks about how she is a reporter. It is her job to report the news, like Superman.

And yes, she understood the backlash her story of Superman's identity would bring. She answered that question truthfully. What they didn't ask her is why she did it.

But when it gets to questions about her relationship with Clark, it is getting personal. Even Diana knows they are going off the ranch.

I have to say, Lois shines here with her righteous indignation. 

Now one of my problems with last issue was Diana's decision to interrogate Clark's friends. I assumed it was Diana's way of trying to ferret out people who were going to betray or try to hurt Clark. Others assumed it was to help speed up this process. The truth would come out, satisfying the government, and freeing the people.

Tomasi lets people like me off the hook. Diana was doing this to help free Lois and everyone else. Now it is a blunt way of doing it. It isn't foolproof. Someone might say something she wasn't anticipating.

But I feel like, in her way, Diana's heart was in the right place.

 The Superman arrives. And he isn't happy.

We then get a couple of pages of Superman chastising Diana for not listening to him, for using the lasso, for not understanding his feelings. Even when she explains her thoughts ... how she asked everyone if they would allow it, how she wanted to get this over with, how she wanted to free these friends to help Superman.

But boy, this is an angry Superman. He could say 'I understand why you thought this would be good but I don't agree with you.' Instead he just berates Wonder Woman.

 He frees all his friends and we get to see Jimmy, Lana, and Lois all hug Superman and thank him for coming. It seemed too warm a response from Lana given her recent unhappiness with Clark. And we get a great moment where Cat Grant tries to get a little too close.

But it is Perry's response that stuck with me. He stops Clark from talking. Perry is still ticked off. Remember when Geoff Johns seemed to be setting up Perry as the confidante? Was making Perry a source of wisdom? Now we have a grumpy old man.

Deeper in this place, we see that the government has a bunch of super-villains in stasis pods. Why would they bring Superman's friends here? With all these villains? It seems like putting a blowtorch near explosives.

 Sure enough, the black hole beings blip in. They free all the villains and begin 'ingesting' all those that have energy powers (like Livewire). Mahnke really shines in this battle, showing the beings shift into a shape that is mostly mouth. Brrr ...

Again, Superman wants to protect everyone so he asks Steel to shepherd everyone out. But Superman isn't the old Superman. He can't fight these things on his own these days. They kick him around a bit, almost swallowing him whole.

And, as before, Diana feels like she needs to be with Clark to protect him. She is angry that Steel would let this depowered Clark try to win this fight alone.

 Everyone ends up returning to the fight to save Superman. This includes a ridiculous panel of the Planet staff lined up shooting giant energy rifles at the monsters. Are they trained? I don't know if I think the quaint Smallville folks would know how to operate these things.

Anyways, this is Diana trying to protect the man she loves. This is Superman's friends trying to protect him.

But throughout this story we have seen Superman still trying to be a self-sufficient hero. He doesn't want anyone to put themselves in danger for him. And looking around, he sees everyone he cares about in danger.

Here is the rub. Did he think about this when he kept flaring like mad? Did he think about how he was making himself weak every time he used it instead of his other powers>

Plus, this seems a little selfish. He doesn't thank them for saving him. Instead, he gets angry ... at himself as well as them.

Frankly, I am a bit sick of it.

And then, the last straw for me.

He tells Lois she betrayed him by telling the world his identity.
He tells Diana she betrayed him by going to this place to help his friends.


That is a powerful word. It leaves no wiggle room for understanding why they did what he did. It carries a weight of disappointment and anger.

And it is wrong.

We know that by heading to the JLA satellite, he is flying that ship near the sun to try to recharge. This is the lead-up to the 8 page preview where he tells Diana he doesn't love her any more.

The issue ends with Mr. Bend joining Vandal Savage and Wrath in that interdimensional room.

Whew ...

So I don't think I quite agree with Diana's methods here. While fraught with danger, it was effective. And her intentions were good.

I loved Lois' attitude during the interrogation.

And the addition of Angle Man and these energy leeches is a nice wrinkle to this big villain plot.

But the character of Superman here just felt off to me. This is a far cry from the Superman in Action Comics. It is closer to the less than rational guy in Superman. And I suppose a lot of this stems from self-loathing. He knows he did this to himself. And now everyone else is paying the price.

More than ever, I am wondering why these two were together to begin with. This has never felt like love.

Overall grade: C+