Thursday, March 31, 2016

Back Issue Box: Adventure Comics #334

Back in the middle of March, the Supergirl episode 'Fallen' explored a Kara influenced by Red Kryptonite. In this instance, the Red K made her evil and uninhibited. In the past, I have looked at prior times Supergirl has been effected by Red Kryptonite. But I like Red K too much to let another opportunity to review a back issue about the unpredictable stuff again.

And so I present Adventure Comics #334, a story of the Legion of Super-Heroes. People should know by now that I love the Legion and this issue has the bonus of including the Silver Age Supergirl as well. But the biggest mystery of the comic is who is the Unknown Legionnaire? Who is he? And why is he the 'greatest super-hero of all time'??

Now trust me, this is a wild story. One of the things that amazes me is how jam packed these Silver Age stories are. I mean, this is a dense story with plot twists and major turns and multiple scenes changes. This would be a 6 issue arc in today's books and here it was told in a crisp 17 page story.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Supergirl Episode 18: Worlds Finest

Supergirl Episode 18, titled 'Worlds Finest', aired this week. The episode was the much anticipated crossover with the Flash television show and was about as close to a comic book I have seen a show be. This was the classic 'heroes team up to beat villains who have teamed up' trope I have seen in comics over the years. And it nailed that storyline completely.

But more than that, this was an episode that seemed to embrace the notion of comic books. There was joy here. There was ice cream and races and quips. There were hugs and superhero nicknames.There was mentoring and friendship. There was smiles and fun. There was sunlight and lens flares.

And this couldn't have been aired at a better time, as another hero 'team-up' is being shown on the big screen. The dark, dour, depressing mess of 'Batman V Superman' stands in stark contrast to this near perfect illustration of what makes comics wonderful. I can't help but wonder if Greg Berlanti and Ali Adler were looking at the calendar and planning this out from day one.

Much of this rests on the shoulders of the actors. Melissa Benoist and Grant Gustin have such easy chemistry throughout the show. They are similar heroes, hoping to inspire and driven to do good. They interact so effortlessly. I love that The Flash is the veteran hero here, giving Kara pointers and being a role model.

We still await news of a second season for Supergirl. But I will repeat what has become a mantra for me. This show has been everything a Supergirl fan could ask for. And this episode might be the jewel in the crown.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Review: Justice League 3001 #10

Justice League 3001 #10 came out last week and, as we are nearing the end of this book, the plots are sort of rushing to the end. Amazingly, the creative team continues to add elements to this book despite knowing that the finale is only a couple of months away.

Writers Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis have been playing in the DC toybox, picking and choosing who they want to write regardless of continuity. The result has been a weird, wild book which has been incredibly entertaining. So imperfect clones of classic JLA, a Silver Age Supergirl, a Bwa-Ha-Ha JLI contingent are all fighting universal threats and an evil Legion of Super-Heroes. In this issue, despite a full cast of characters, they add a couple more. Now G'Nort and Larfleeze are in the mix! I would love to know how the two decided who was going to come into the book.

The art for the last few issues has been split between Scott Kolins and Colleen Doran. Both bring an appropriate sensibility to their stories. Kolins has a grimy, raw feel to his pages which works well with the League scouring planets which have been leveled. Meanwhile, Doran brings a more polished look to her story involving Lois Lane and Ariel Masters trying to defeat Lady Styx from behind the scenes.

Monday, March 28, 2016

#Rebirth Supergirl

At WonderCon this weekend, DC had a major #Rebirth panel. In a nice move for all their fans, they streamed the event so I was able to watch right along with those in attendance. It opened with a nice short film highlighting key moments in DC's history which included two Supergirl moments, Action Comics #1 and the Supergirl #1 cover by Micheal Turner.

The panel was moderated by Jim Lee, Dan Didio, and Geoff Johns. For the most part, the message was clear. Lee talked about wanting to keep stories vibrant and exciting. Didio talked about DC losing its way and losing their fans (a pretty big admission since he is a driving force on all recent changes). He said the company had to recommit to their fans. And Johns came out and talked about how something was missing in the DCU, and that something was legacy. DC needed to reclaim all that has made it great. That overall message was well received by me since I have been complaining about the lack of legacy and positivity in DC books for the last several years.

Later we heard about the Rebirth Special (cover seen above) which will explain how all this unfolds. Who do we think the 'mystery hand' is reaching out to touch the New 52? I say the Monitor.

After that opening all the books and creative teams were announced and that included Supergirl.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Review: Superman Lois And Clark #6

Superman Lois and Clark #6 came out this week and this continues to be the most consistently well done Superman book being produced these days. Writer Dan Jurgens and artist Lee Weeks shine as they give us this story of Clark and Lois hiding out in this new world only to see their world collapse around them. Things are getting dangerous and leading an undercover life is becoming impossible.

If I recall correctly, this was initially supposed to be a 12 issue maxiseries but was truncated to 8, meaning we are nearing an ending. With #Rebirth around the corner, this could be a true ending, with these characters from the pre-Flashpoint world simply disappearing from all continuities. With only a couple of issues left, Jurgens is bringing all the plot threads together. I have been enjoying this book immensely. And outside of a couple of wonky moments, this issue does push this book closer to a finale. And yet, despite that push, we do get a couple of moments where Jurgens slows down to give the story time to breathe a bit.

I can't help but thank DC for giving Jurgens and Weeks this opportunity to give us this book. This was a good decision and good decisions are rare with DC these days.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

DC Superhero Girls Special

Last Saturday, an hour long DC Superhero Girls special aired on the Boomerang channel. Prior to this special, we had met most of the main characters in shorts aired on the Superhero Girl website. This was also the introduction of the Supergirl of this universe.

Overall I thought this was a very good story with a nice message of believing in yourself and trusting in your friends.

Supergirl and Batgirl are showcased the most in this episode. Kara has arrived to Earth just weeks earlier and is still trying to figure out how to use her powers safely and efficiently. She is almost clumsy at first, falling, tripping, and smashing her way through the scenes. Luckily, she has been taken in by the Kents (voiced by Helen Slater and Dean Cain, a nice nod to the CBS show.) She is intimidated by the more polished heroes (especially Kara's idol Wonder Woman) and thinks she should quit the team until she is taken under the wing of IT expert (but not student) Barbara Gordon.

Barbara feels she is destined for something more than being a simple clerical worker but she is held down by the nastier students for being a 'nonny', a non-powered person, on campus. (I suppose 'nonny' is the equivalent of 'mudblood' in this world.) She also is being pressured by her father to quit the school and settle into something 'safe'.

And this is crucial to the story. A plot percolating in the background is that someone is trying to break into the school's boom tube room. One boom tube goes to Korugar. Another Apokolips. Long time fans can figure out the villain pretty quickly when it is revealed that the school librarian is Granny Goodness.

Meanwhile, pushing each other, Supergirl and Barbara improve dramatically in their skills and their confidence. We get a nice montage of the two training and helping each other. Babs and Kara! Together again for the first time!!

While acting sweet, we all know Granny is evil. She tricks Supergirl into opening the boom tube, allowing the Female Furies to come to Earth. Granny also uses an evil mother box to tap into the school's 'power crystal' to brainwash all the student body.

How crazy is it that we live in a world where I get to see Stompa and Mad Harriet in a cartoon!

Donning a Batgirl costume, Kara and Supergirl team up to save the day. They break the mother box's control letting the other heroes team up to capture the Furies and save the day. Brimming with confidence, Babs and Kara rejoin the school as the newest heroes.

This is a sweet story about perseverance and having faith in yourself. I like that it rekindles the Supergirl/Batgirl friendship. And it truly is nice to see all of the characters - Wonder Woman, Bumblebee, Poison Ivy, Harley, Shiva, Katana, and even the Flash and Beast Boy - working together but skewed young. Even a Trinity of sorts is made!

But the show producers must now that putting in Easter Eggs and homages will help older viewers get roped in. Giganta is robbing Eclipso's Jewelry store. Supergirl is contemplating going to Korugar for training. Gorilla Grodd is the Vice Principal. Parasite is the janitor. Wildcat is the gym teacher. Supergirl has pictures of Krypto and Comet hanging in her dorm room. It is crazy how much fun this is.

And I love that Big Barda is clearly conflicted with her Apokoliptian training when she sees how people are treated at Superhero High. Here she grabs a pamphlet about the school which she brings with her to  Belle Reve prison.

I think absolutely the best bit is, when first putting on her costume Babs saying 'I'm Batgirl' in a deep, grumbly voice. Then she says she has a frog in her throat, clears it, and says 'I'm Batgirl' normally. I laughed out loud.

Hopefully, we get more of these specials. This was too much fun.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Supergirl Episode 17: Manhunter

Supergirl Episode 17, titled Manhunter, aired this week and was a wonderful world-building episode, bulking up the back stories of the primary cast while pushing some the current plot lines forward. We see this all the time in comics. After major plot lines, the creators will often take an issue to tell an 'untold tale of ...' to build up characterization while setting the stage for something coming up. For me, after the gut punches of "For the Girl Who Has Everything" and "Falling", I needed a chance to catch my breath. And this episode gave me that chance to pause, reflect, and understand the characters' motivations a bit better. So the plot of Supergirl being mistrusted by National City is mentioned but not really moved forward.

This episode is instead all about beginnings or new phases in people's lives. So we see a school age Kara just arrived on Earth. We see her first day at CatCo. We see a college age Alex. We see the 'real' Hank. And J'onn in hiding. We meet Jeremiah Danvers. These scenes add so much depth, helping us understand how everyone got to the point they were in episode 1.

As great as those flashbacks were, it was the ending that got me. Alex, Hank, and Lucy are all in very different places at the end of this episode than where they were at the beginning. I believe they are in better places, or at least more interesting places. Especially Lucy. I worried about her character arc a lot these last few weeks. But the writers and producers did something that made me cheer. I suddenly like Lucy even more than I did before.

Lastly, the ending of this episode seemed to be a set-up for a Season Two, something that we still don't know we will be getting.

I seem to say it each week. But I couldn't ask for a better show for the character of Supergirl.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Review: Adventures Of Supergirl #5

Adventures of Supergirl Chapter 5 came out this week, the finale of Supergirl's battle with Vril Dox. For me, my biggest questions about this chapter was going to be how it was going to be able to be told from a fresh viewpoint when so much of it seems to happen down the line in the Indigo episode of the aired show. Dox historically is from Colu and is attacking the internet, much as Indigo does on the show. So how could this have happened before but the characters seem surprised by her then.

I shouldn't worry too much. Writer Sterling Gates smoothed over any concerns I had about the plot as well as putting in a nice line which hints about something I criticized in the episode when it aired. As a result, both stories seem better. And, as usual, there are a ton of homages and Easter eggs for those who are looking for them.

This chapter also introduces a new character who I wouldn't mind seeing again either in this book, the #Rebirth book, or the show itself.

Everything is neatly wrapped up at the end of this chapter, making this a faster paced story than Rampage. As a result, much of the fallout is given as exposition at the end. We don't get much Alex here, but that may be on purpose given the semi-falling out the sisters had at the end of Rampage.

The art here is done by Pop Mhan who I know mostly from Spyboy way back in the day. His art is a sort of a more standard house style. After the electric art by Bengal and then Jonboy Meyer, it did make the book feel more classic and less stylized than usual. This felt a little old school in a good way.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Adventures Of Supergirl Heading To Print!

When Adventures of Supergirl was announced, I was puzzled that it wasn't going to be solicited in print form. After all, Smallville, Flash Season One, Bombshells, and all other 'digital first' books get issues on the rack as well as the eventual trade collection.

But Adventures of Supergirl was going to be digital only until the trade. It was so odd that it made me, a 'digital never' reader, set up a Comixology account and get the book electronically.

Well, probably because sales have been brisk, DC has reversed course. They announced last week that the book will be released in print form. Here is a link:

And a blurb:
Due to popular demand, DC Entertainment will now be offering The Adventures of Supergirl as a limited-run six-issue periodical, prior to the collected edition release this fall. The Adventures of Supergirl will now ship twice monthly for three months, beginning with The Adventures of Supergirl #1 (collecting Digital First chapters 1-3) on May 11th, 2016.

The Adventures of Supergirl is a fun, accessible, exciting comic featuring an optimistic and positive heroine going up against some huge threats,” Gates told Newsarama in a recent interview. “There are so few books like that in the current comics marketplace, in my opinion, and given the show’s popularity, Supergirl should be leading that charge.”

The words 'popular demand' linked to a Supergirl book? And a digital Supergirl book? These are great days my friends! And a Supergirl book being shipped twice monthly?? Incredible.

 More from the article:
Paralleling but not duplicating storylines from the Monday night TV show, The Adventures of Supergirl introduces fans to Kara Zor-El, who is determined to grow into the super-hero her powers promise. But are dark forces pushing her to improve faster than is safe? As Supergirl faces classic DCU villains like Rampage, Vril Dox and Psi, she’s got no reason to suspect that their attacks have been coordinated, but when the final battle comes to a head, she’ll need to use all of her training, her DEO contacts, her friends’ talents and her sister’s love and support to get through it all!

We see the covers of the first four issues including the one above.
My guess is this issue (the cover above is for Adventures of Supergirl #3) is where Kara fights Psi. The glowing eyes in the background are very Psi-like. But the rest of the cover is a mystery. The left side looks like the Kryptonian armor Kara wore in the Crucible arc. But the right side? White pants? Is that an Iron Munro version of Supergirl?

And what's up with the cowled cat? Is that an updated Streaky?

And the screaming DEO agent? Is that an evil Alex? She looks sort of like Domino in the X-Force.

 And this is the cover for Adventures of Supergirl #4.

This is clearly a reflection of Supergirl in the face of someone crystalline. I don't think it can be Bizarro as this story takes place before that episode (in this Kara's timeline). So this one makes me very intrigued. Is this the 'dark force' pushing her?

Anyways, given that Cat Staggs is coming to Boston Comic Con this year, I'll probably get the floppies so I can get them signed. I going to have these books in digital, print, and trade?

Regardless, this is great news showing how popular Supergirl has become. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Review: Superman #50

Superman #50, the finale of the 'ground-breaking' storyline The Truth, came out this week. And like an untrained runner finishing a marathon, this book wheezes its way to the end.

I have been critical of The Truth over the last year. The idea of an exposed, powerless, brooding Superman was never embraced. It was never written well enough to make me want to explore this version of Superman. Superman was aloof and angry. He pushed his friends away. He wrestled for money. He battered shackled villains. It wasn't Superman.

On top of the premise, the arc seemed to lose its way about 4 months ago. It was clear than an ending was looming closer than expected. So suddenly, diverse plots were woven together into something that made little sense. The characters changed motivations and personalities quickly. And other plots ended crazily. Suddenly Smallville being razed is forgotten. Suddenly Wrath, an avatar of ire, became a sympathetic character trying to find her family. Suddenly

As a result, the ending is Superman and Vandal Savage having a philosophical debate, contemplating if might makes right. I doubt that writer Gene Luen Yang had this as the final act when he pitched it to DC. He wanted this Superman to be the new baseline.

But Superman fans want him interacting with his supporting cast. They want him to be powerful but restrained, an inspiring figure of hope. And the character in this arc was none of those things. The monster in Doomed isn't that guy. The jerk walking across the country isn't that guy. The guy who left Earth to head up the military guild on a New Krypton isn't that guy. None of the recent mega-arcs have leaned on Superman's strengths. Instead, the creators are trying to make Superman into something he isn't. And maybe those creators aren't the right people to be on these books.

The art on this book is lovely. We have Howard Porter, Patrick Zircher, Adrian Syaf, and Jon Bogdanove bringing great images.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Sales Review: February 2016

#Rebirth is right around the corner meaning that DC titles feel like they are in a 'lame duck' sort of time flux. Will these stories 'matter' in three months? Are things going completely away? Or just being polished up a bit?

The bottom line is that now is the perfect jumping off time for people who have been wavering on DC books in their pull list. And DC doesn't need that sort of sales slump given that they are struggling to begin with.

The sales numbers for February have been released and ICv2 is my place for information. Here is a link to their sales reports:

It seems like DC rebounded slightly last month but is still woefully behind Marvel in sales.

On to some salient points.

I have been struggling with The Truth and the overall arc of the Superman books for a while now. To be honest, if you remove Morrison's run on Action Comics and the Pak/Kuder Action Comic issues which weren't mired in crossovers, I might say I have been struggling with Superman books for almost a decade.

That's sad.

 Superman, Batman/Superman, and Action Comics all sold below 40K each.

 To put that in perspective, that means that the top three Superman books combined ... combined!! ... sold less than Star Wars #16.

Something is wrong with that.

I can only hope that #Rebirth fixes the super-books.

I have to give DC some respect though. It has tried to branch out its offerings. I found DCYou to be mostly successful giving me Black Canary, Martian Manhunter, Starfire, and Justice League 3001.

Unfortunately all of those books are disappearing with #Rebirth.

Justice League 3001 #9 sold just below 13K.

It is probably my favorite DC book coming out right now, the right blend of classic heroes, humor, multiple continuities, and Supergirl.

Perhaps the biggest thing for me right now is the lack of information about #Rebirth. Why announce it if you don't know creative teams, what it entails, what you want people to know.

I recall being confused with the first year of the New 52 when books were being canceled, creative teams being changed, books tones being modified. It all felt like DC didn't have a clear plan or path with that major upheaval. And, until I hear more, I worry #Rebirth will be the same thing.

That's sad.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Episode 16: Falling

This won't be the typical 'recap and commentary' show review that I usually run here. Because this week's episode was so powerful, it needed a different sort of piece. So settle in for more of an opinion piece than a recap.

Episode 16 of Supergirl, titled 'Falling', aired this week and was one of the strongest episodes of the season. And, while I seem to say it every week, this was my favorite episode of all. I say that as a long-suffering Supergirl fan. I say that as an older comic reader who actually longs for the days when superheroes were heroic and good and didn't have feet of clay. I say that as someone who bemoans the fact that there are people out there whose only exposure to Superman is the city-wrecking, neck-snapping one from Man of Steel. Because this episode seems to be dealing with all of these feelings of mine and on all levels.

As a long-standing Supergirl fan, I have always understood the complexity of her character. People who read this blog will know that I speak of how she needs to be bright and optimistic. She needs to see the best in people and thirst for justice. But she also is young and learning. She can be fierce, maybe even hot-headed, when she sees a wrong that needs to be righted. She has to strive to be worthy of the S-shield of her family and cousin. And she might feel a little unworthy of it. On top of that, she has this absolutely tragic background which she submerges internally so that her brightness isn't dimmed. She is all those things mixed into one. She is someone growing, with self-doubts, but always looking to learn and do what's right.

Unfortunately, there is a segment of people who only think of the beginning parts of that paragraph. They complain that Supergirl is too perfect, too sunny, too sweet. They don't know or don't care about the other elements of her character. They say she is cartoonish and saccharine.

In the comics, those 'complaints' have led DC to publish versions of Supergirl which are unrecognizable. She has been cold, dark, aloof, angry, uncaring, arrogant. No new fans showed up. Old fans felt wronged. The books floundered. The character was rehabilitated.

Now you might say, what does any of this have to do with the show.

Well, from the beginning the same criticisms of Supergirl's character have plagued the show. Even before it aired, it was felt to be too sunny, too much like a romantic comedy, too sweet, too generic, too two-dimensional, too silly. Compared to the grim, dark, psycho-drama of Jessica Jones, this was a kid's show. People felt that the message of feminism and 'girl power' were overly simplistic and too on the nose. Lost in those criticisms were the finer points of the show. That Supergirl was a symbol of hope in a weary world. That people like narcissistic Cat Grant, self-doubting Winn, quasi-evil Max Lord, and cold, calculating Alex could be changed by that.

Whether this episode was an intentional response to that criticism or not, what we got in 'Falling' was a revelation. You want a dark, brooding, angry Supergirl. Let's shove one down your throat and see if you like it. And let's make sure that viewers know that there are undercurrents in this show that are being explored even if you don't know it. But most importantly, let's actually show what the aftermath of a 'grim and gritty' life would be - no friends, mistrusted, alienated, friends literally imprisoned.

A side theme is that we see just how difficult this life Kara leads is. Let's show you how easy it would be for any of the things in her life (tragic early childhood, overworked at 2 jobs, fighting family, etc) to overwhelm her and make her negative. And then let's remind you that she hasn't allowed it to. She has remained bright and caring, hoping to spare others her pain. Maybe she needs to unburden herself of some of these feelings though. Maybe she needs to lean on others. Maybe her relationships need more work, even though they are strong.

That is a lot of stuff to unpack for this one episode. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

DC Animated Supergirl Bust

I have been floored with the amount of Supergirl merchandise which has been hitting the market lately. Certainly the popularity of the show has thrust the character into the spotlight a bit. But from action figures to statues to plush toys, she is everywhere.

And I thought I was on top of it.

Somehow a Diamond Select Supergirl:Superman The Animated Series resin bust slipped through the radar. So I was surprised to head into my comic store and see this beauty on the shelf. I couldn't resist.

I have always been a fan of the Timm-verse Supergirl and this statue captures her spirit nicely. The clenched fist and hand on hip shows how she was sort of sassy, impetuous young hero in the shows. Her expression is a bit serious but the body language is nice.

The pedestal is also nice, a sort of art deco building cap which also works nicely.

For this version of the character I don't mind the short cape. There is some energy to this with the cape blowing to the side.

And I love the hair pulled back in the black headband.

I have always wondered if somehow Bruce Timm 'Jedi mind tricked' me into liking this incarnation even more by giving her classic Gwen Stacy hair.

There isn't anything special about the box although the yellow dots are a little suggestive of classic Who's Who pages.

The back has the origin of the animated Supergirl.

Remember this was Kara In-Ze from the planet Argo.

Another addition to the collection. An unanticipated one!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Review: Batman/Superman #30

Batman/Superman #30 came out last week and was such a wonderful issue. There is action. There is camaraderie between Batman and Superman. There is something of a throwback to Silver Age World's Finest stories teaming up these two. There is an unexpected guest star! And there is an emotional ending which hit me more than it should have.

Writer Tom Taylor really brings a classic sense to this flashback team-up book. I said last month that I was wary of Taylor writing this book as he was most famous for Injustice. But he has completely turned me around these last couple of months. For one, this story was sheer joy. And I have been reading All-New Wolverine and I have loved that book as well.

And Robson Rocha is on art again and does a wonderful job. This is elegant line work with a lot of detail. And Rocha is able to shine in all the environment of the story: deep space, on a space ship, and back on Earth.

Truly, this felt like a modern version of a Silver/Bronze age story. And that is a high compliment.

Last issue ended with Superman attacked by the 'Kryptonian' he had just saved from a life as an energy processor. This issue ends with Superman now attached to the engine.

In a bit of a switch, the 'Kryptonian' turns out to actually be a Daxamite named Si Bar. He was promised freedom if he helped capture Superman.  He speaks Kryptonian because he learned it in his youth. But it is clear he has been in this machine for some time. He doesn't know that Krypton has exploded.

And he is dying. The years over absorbing energy from scorch space is destroying his cells.

So this whole plot thickens. The discovery of the dead alien pilot. The message scrawled on the moon. Lobo after Batman. How much of this was premeditated.

I am glad that Si Bar isn't a Kryptonian. There are too many of them around.

Meanwhile, Batman is racing into space to meet up with Superman. He has figured out that the male alien on the moon is part of this plot. Lobo is probably going to be hunting him down. So he decides to phone a friend.

He calls Hal Jordan and says he needs a favor. It is a nice moment, building on the 'banana muffin' line from last issue. I love that this Batman says he is working through the problem of asking people for help.

But this is still sort of the 'Bat-God' of the current DCU, a man who retro-engineers the comm-system of Green Lantern rings.

I suppose that makes this a nice mix of the old and the new of Batman.

Realizing that he has been duped, Si Bar decides to help Superman. Why would he sentence someone else to life as an engine? So he releases Superman and lets him bathe in the Scorch space sun. Instantly Kal is super-recharged.

I am such a sucker for images of Superman bathing in sunlight to juice up. I had to include this.

I'm not a huge Batman fan but I have to say the characterization of the character here is spot on to the Batman in my mind.

Superman begins racing to meet Batman in space and is ready to fight Lobo and mop things up. But Batman is the Dark Knight Detective here. He needs closure to this mystery. And so he tells Superman a different plan.

Batman demanding answers and thinking of bringing a criminal to justice is great!

Or it seemed to be a good idea until Lobo catches up to his ship, enters, and kills Batman by holding him in the vacuum of space.

Nice splash!

Lobo brings the body back to the ship on the moon so he can collect the bounty. To no one's surprise, Batman is actually alive. He pushes the giant lizard for answers.

The alien's species needed Superman as its new engine. They sent his daughter to play on Superman's compassion to lure him into deep space. But his daughter realized what was happening and needed to be killed. In fact, it was this alien, her father, who killed her!

More interesting is the idea that this alien hired Lobo to kill Batman because she left the message for the Dark Knight. I guess Batman's reputation is so great that this guy didn't want the detective hounding him. That is some rep!!

The alien's confession is heard by the waiting Green Lantern corps. Lobo is tossed into deep space.

Batman turns out to be Superman!

The idea of the two heroes swapping costumes to get out of predicaments is a wonderfully daffy Silver Age trope. I love this classic ruse used to save the day! Perfectly nostalgic!

The Corps comes in and arrests the pilot for murder.

The book ends on a truly emotional moment.

The Daxamite is dying. On Earth, he wants to watch the sunset. Ironic in that he faced the Scorch Sun for years. Poetic in the multiple layers of the meaning of sunsets.

Batman and Superman won't make him face this alone. They sit on the hill next to him and watch the sun sink over the horizon. And with the darkness, the Daxamite dies.

It is a wonderful moment. This is something that Superman would do, providing support for someone who needs comfort. But for me, the best thing was that Batman would join them. This isn't the grim avenger who needs to get back to Gotham. This isn't someone who is cold and vicious and driven to the point of being inhuman. He takes the time to join his friend and help this alien who has suffered. That is what the World's Finest should do.

I wasn't expecting to like this story as much as I did. In fact, I loved it.

Yes, Superman and Batman are different. Their motivations are different. Their power levels are different. But they can be friends. They can work together. They both have the same goals. We haven't seen that much these days where everyone wants to do an homage to the end of Miller's Dark Knight Returns.

So thanks for Tom Taylor for showing us that World's Finest relationship again!

Overall grade: A

Friday, March 11, 2016

Review: Action Comics #50

I strive to be a decent comic reviewer, looking at story and art and trying to come up with a grade. It isn't always easy.

Case in point: Action Comics #50.

I have never hidden the fact that I have loved what Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder brought to this book. There was a synergy to the storytelling when the two cut loose. And when they weren't hampered down by crossover arcs, the stories were masterful. I could sense it would be like that from the beginning in Action Comics #25, when a young Superman released a primal scream when he failed.

And there is a lot of that crackle in this issue. It was as if Pak and Kuder (as co-plotters) finally got to get back to the Superman they have wanted to write, the smiling, positive, optimistic hero. So throughout this issue, we really get a lot of pure Superman sentiment. And that makes me want to give this a high grade.

But this isn't just a love letter to the character. There is a plot happening around him. Vandal Savage is trying to get bring the comet which powers him to Earth.  We are running to the end of The Truth. And #Rebirth is around the corner. As a result, there are so many wonky plot turns in the book that seem inane that I want to give this a lower mark.

Even with the plot contrivances, I enjoyed this book very much. It was great to see Kuder providing art on some of the pages. A whole bevy of artists fill in including David Messina, Javi Fernandez, Bruno Redondo, and Vicente Cifuentes. Part of the problem is that the styles here vary from a Chris Sprouse-ian fine line to a Scott McDaniel inky look. As a result, the book doesn't read as smoothly as I would hope.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

DC Superhero Girls On Television

It's hard to believe but the  DC Superhero Girls Initiative was announced almost a year ago. Since then there has been a slow but steady release of Superhero Girls content. We have the website (including shorts), games, books, and merchandise.

But all along I have been wondering about a show or a movie tie-in.

Well, earlier this week, DC Comics announced an Superhero Girls hour long special called 'Super Hero High' is going to air on March 19. Here is a link:

The plot sounds fun, a sort of mix of Teen Titans, Tiny Titans, and My Little Pony:Friendship Is Magic.

Super Hero High is buzzing with excitement over new student, Supergirl. But when Supergirl crash lands into the cafeteria, it's evident that though she has incredible power, she has a long way to go before she becomes a Super Hero. Too intimidated by the other supers to ask them for assistance, Supergirl turns to helpful I.T. girl, Barbara Gordon. Barbara takes Supergirl under her wing and introduces her to the sweet, old librarian, Granny Goodness. As Barbara helps Supergirl learn to harness her powers, Wonder Woman joins them and becomes a mentor and friend to Supergirl. Meanwhile, the Junior Detective Club (The Flash, Bumblebee and Hawkgirl) investigates a mysterious rash of security breaches centered around the teleportation “Boom Tubes.” Could it all be because of reformed Super-Villain and Super Hero High Vice-Principal Gorilla Grodd – or something far worse? 

I am thrilled that Supergirl and Batgirl are going to become friends in this incarnation of the characters. It has been a while since we have seen that version of World's Finest together. Supergirl has been described as sweet, adorkable, and  fun-loving. I think that her needing help to learn how to use her powers makes sense and adds that 'hero who is learning' element to the character that I love.

I do find it interesting that super-villains are on faculty. "Sweet" Granny Goodness? I suppose I already know who is using boom tubes. And Gorilla Grodd as vice-principal? Weird.

Of course, the student body includes 'villains' as well.

Supergirl hasn't appeared in any of the shorts on the website so this will truly be her introduction to this continuity.

We did hear about a 'Kryptonian rocket' and its 'female passenger' back in Episode 10 'Clubbing'. The Metropolis Junior Detective Club (members Batgirl, Hawkgirl, and Bumblebee) were trying to figure out where the whereabouts of the pilot.

It sounds like an all star line-up of voice actors as well.

The Super Hero High television special stars Anais Fairweather as Supergirl, Mae Margaret Whitman as Barbara Gordon and features an all-star voice cast of DC Comics universe veterans, including Greg Cipes, Tara Strong, Ashley Eckstein, John DiMaggio, Tom Kenny, Helen Slater and Dean Cain. Jennifer Coyle (Bob’s Burgers) is the television special’s producer and director. Sam Register (Teen Titans Go!) serves as executive producer. Shea Fontana (DC Super Hero Girls) serves as writer of the television special and animated shorts, as well as the DC Comics graphic novel.

I don't know Anais Fairweather so I look forward to hearing how she handles Supergirl. But John DiMaggio has been in everything. Tara Strong has been in everything. Greg Cipes is a Titan veteran. But I was most intrigued to see Helen Slater and Dean Cain on the role call. Could they be playing Supergirl's parents? A sort of tie-in to the CBS show?

Can't wait to see this! 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Supergirl 'Probably' Renewed

The news hit the internet around 1230p yesterday. 

Supergirl had been renewed for a season 2!

For many of us waiting to hear something, this news was joyously received. For me, the show has been even better than I anticipated. How could it not be renewed?

So I got on line and started clicking away heading back to the source article, this one from Deadline:

CEO Les Moonves was at the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telecom Conference and said the following:

“We have about five new shows on this year. Of those five, I believe all five of them will be renewed, and we own four of them.”

"I believe all five of them will be renewed."

'Believe will be renewed' and 'will be renewed' are two very different statements.  He didn't even name drop the series.

Still this has to be considered good news, right?  

Luckily, Deadline did a little more for fans and asked for a bit more information.

We have reached out to CBS for clarification: The network has introduced five freshman series so far this season — Limitless, Code Black, Life in Pieces, Supergirland Angel from Hell. Three of them — Limitless, Code Black and Angel from Hell — are owned by CBS. Angel from Hell has been canceled. Two other shows are debuting this spring — Rush Hour and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders; CBS owns Criminal Minds. That means that there are three CBS-owned series in contention for renewal — Limitless, Code Black and Beyond Borders — and likely at least one outside series of those already on the air – Life In Pieces and Supergirl — tipped for a pickup too. 

So there are indeed five new shows this season, Supergirl being one of them, and if Moonves believes five will be renewed, that is good news.

Somewhere along though, the math gets fuzzy for me. One of the original five has already been canceled. Two other shows have been introduced. That kicks us up to six new shows. 

Still, that means Moonves believes that five (of six) will be renewed. I like the odds.  

 The show has been solid. It's ratings are steady. It has had action sequences and emotional beats. The show runners seem to understand Supergirl as a character. This has been *my* Supergirl. It is can't miss television for me and the Supergirls at home. 

I am hopeful this means we'll see more.

But there are times that I am a 'glass half empty' sort of Supergirl fan. Until I get something more concrete, I'll just have to believe that she show is returning.