Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Supergirl Episode 208: Medusa

"Medusa" aired this last week, the first part of the 4 part CW Superhero crossover event. And while that crossover promise was trumpeted as the main draw for this episode, it really played a minor role. In some ways this was more the 'first scene' of the crossover.

Instead, the main plot of this episode was Cadmus and the threat of Project Medusa. And surprisingly, that plot line is tied up pretty quickly. In fact, several subplots are sort of pushed forward or finished within this episode, some of them almost too fast. It is as if there is another major storyline that is coming around the corner and so much of what has happened so far needed to be wrapped up. I am still trying to get my head around some of these choices. Are things moving too fast? Or is it better than dragging something out? Or is it the *how* things are resolved that seems to be my issue?

While that main plot is the foundation on which this episode is built, it is the smaller, more personal character moments that shined. This seems to be a recurring mantra in my reviews. The character building this season has been very strong. And the acting has matched these moments wonderfully. So we get a lot of Alex progression here, coming out to her mother who she has feuded with in the past. We get some Mon-El progression. J'onn acts truly heroic, willing to sacrifice himself for others. We see significant character development with Lena and the Luthors. And we see some further maturation with Kara. The idea of family and mothers and the support they can provide was a nice nugget of contrast for the main characters. It really is a great episode from that perspective.

And yes, we see two major kisses and the Flash. As is also becoming a recurring mantra, when this episode was over my youngest looked at me and said 'too intense'. Awesome.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

February 2017 Solicits

The DC solicits for February were released a while back but it has taken me a bit to finally get to cover them. The solicits here sound like February will be an excellent month for comics. And luckily, given the usual lack of funds in the post-holiday time, there weren't too many surprises.

Here is a link for all the solicits over on Newsarama:

As for the super-titles, I am excited for any number of reasons. Let's jump right in.

Written by STEVE ORLANDO • Art and cover by BRIAN CHING • Variant cover by BENGAL
“REIGN OF THE CYBORG SUPERMEN” finale! Argo City is on a collision course with Earth and the Girl of Steel is the only hero that can stop it! Cyborg Superman and Kara Zor-El clash in a cataclysmic final battle that leaves only one standing!

The first arc of the Orlando/Ching Rebirth look at Supergirl comes to an end. We have seen the idea of Argo City being crashed into Earth before way back when so it'll be interesting how that plays out in this more modern time. But for me, I will be glad to see the Cyborg Superman arc put behind us. I look forward to Kara declaring Earth her own home and dealing with her father.

I love the cover. Kara looks like she has been through a fight, looking determined and holding what seems to be an injured arm. Nice look.

Written by MARIKO TAMAKI • Art and cover by JO√čLLE JONES
Midvale has been torn apart by a devastating earthquake, and the death toll has hit Kara Danvers hard. As she begins to put the pieces of her life back together, Kara’s developing powers kick into high gear, and her memories of a world that shouldn’t exist begin to surface.

I didn't realize that Being Super was bi-monthly but if that gives Joelle Jones time to get the art done, so be it.

I like the idea of a natural disaster somehow spurring Kara into a heroic ideal. As you may have heard, with great power comes great responsibility.

But the line about her having memories is the line that grabbed me. Was Kara a baby when she was rocketed to Earth? A toddler? Was there an Argo City? Hmmm .... 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Review: Action Comics #968

Action Comics #968 came out last week and was a decent middle chapter to the Godkiller arc. While the main thrust of this issue were the tremendous action sequences which pitted Superman and Alex against the crusaders of L'Call and his partner Zade against Superman and Lex, it was the smaller moments giving us some insight into the characters that I appreciated the most.

Writer Dan Jurgens certainly can write the big super powered sequences well, having the combatants slam there way through Metropolis. These are the sort of scenes that made me fall I love with comics to begin with. And artist Tyler Kirkham continues to bring his A-game, bringing a great energy to fights while also making sure his expressive work impresses.

But for me, it is the subtle character nudges that that made me want to read the next issue already. L'Call hints at an interesting back story. Jon continues to win me over with his exuberance and desire to jump into action. Lex continues to ooze smugness, reminding me he shouldn't wear the S-shield. And the new Clark again shows that maybe he isn't a mild mannered reporter but something more nefarious. These are the moments, more than the haymakers and body slams, that grabbed me.

I'll say again that Kirkham shines here. I love his Lois and his Jon. And there are a couple of panels where his art complements the words perfectly.

On to the book.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Sales Review: October 2016

In the States, the Friday after Thanksgiving is known for its crazy store sales so I figured why not review last month's sales numbers today.

Also it is a pretty dry topic and on a day when I suspect traffic is going to be low, this isn't a big post to miss. As always, I think the coverage is best over on ICv2 so I will provide the link:

The idea of Rebirth had fueled a nice bump in sales for DC and they actually led the market throughout the summer. October saw Marvel reassert itself as the top dog. But DC still was pretty robust in sales. That said, the novelty of some of these titles might be wearing off and books are slowly receding to what I think are expected numbers.

You might recall that the Supergirl Rebirth Special sold over 100K and Supergirl #1 sold just over 90K. These were incredible numbers, maybe too good to be true. But with the popular show on the small screen and the rejiggering of the character in the book to sort of mirror the show's themes, maybe this was a sales bonanza that could be maintained?

Supergirl #2 came out in October and continued the Cyborg Superman arc, a story which (I assume) will once again have Supergirl declare Earth as her new home and put Krypton behind her. Of course, the problem is we already have had this as a story in the New 52 ... maybe even twice within that run. So this Rebirth has a little more of a reboot feel.

So how did it sell?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Mike Maihack Supergirl And Batgirl Political Comic

Happy Thanksgiving to all the Americans celebrating!

I have long been a fan of Mike Maihack and his Supergirl/Batgirl one page comic strips. They are whimsical, poking fun at the optimism of Supergirl and the faux grittiness of the Babs Batgirl. Neither have escaped being the object of some simple teasing. But always ... always ... the core of these characters as friends and heroes comes out.

It has been a while Maihack produced one of these so I was thrilled when one came across my feed last week. And given the biggest current world news story, I wasn't surprised to see this one have a political angle.

Either playing on Donald Trump's victory or riffing back to actual comic continuity from the late 90's, Lex Luthor has one the presidential election. Babs can't believe the bad guy has won ... even joking about if this is an aftershock from some Flashpoint event. That alone is a killer joke, especially given the current Flash TV show.

Supergirl seems to take it in stride. Lex is Lex and will eventually show he is a villain and get ousted. After all, everyone loves Superman and Supergirl. When Lex attacks, the people will side with the super-cousins.

But If it was the Joker in the Oval Office, people wouldn't care if  he went after the Bats. No one likes them. The country wouldn't remove the Joker from office. The United States would be doomed!

This again teases Babs for how 'oooooh scary' the Bat family tries to be. I think Kara's over the top response in the last panel shows me this is pure razzing in her part, poking Babs a bit.

I love these Maihack strips. The art here is just delightful. I like Kara being in her show costume, This was a fun retort to the election and a welcome Thanksgiving treat.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Supergirl Episode 207: The Darkest Places

Supergirl Season Two has been very entertaining so far. Between the Superman visit, the personal growth of the character, and the very strong performances of the cast, the show has been gripping. I have had my minor complaints, no doubt. Some of the political messages have been delivered in a very heavy handed manner. Some of the character beats (specifically James deciding to be a costumed hero) has seemed rushed. But overall things have been fantastic.

'The Darkest Places' aired this last week and was one of the strongest episodes of the season so far. There are basically 4 plots happening, one for each of the major characters. Each plot pushes these characters' individual stories forward, some of them nudged, others pushed forward rapidly. But, for me, the biggest thing about this episode is that it also pushed the overal season's story forward as well. We have known about Cadmus before. But now we get a sense that they have a big plan. And they have an enforcer. And they are willing to do whatever they need to do to achieve their goals.

Now this isn't a perfect episode. Nothing is perfect. I think the Maggie/Alex storyline was advanced almost too quickly here. After last week's emotional ending, I almost wish this subplot was left alone to let Alex's issues sort of simmer a bit. Instead, we get a bit too much progression. And both Supergirl and The Doctor seem to make classic comic book mistakes which are hard to dwell on. Sometimes, you can't think too hard about plot points or suddenly you realize how ridiculous these things can be. But these were minor issues.

But overall, this was an action-packed, quickly paced, powerful episode. When watching with my youngest, she looked at me and said 'this is too intense!' That is definitely a good sign!

On to the details.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Supergirl Being Super Preview

Back in September, DC Comics announced Supergirl Being Super, an out of continuity mini-series telling Supergirl's origin. Written by Mariko Tamaki with art by Joelle Jones, the book promised an 'updated look at Kara Zor-El's earliest days on Earth'.

Now I have been a fan of Joelle Jones' art since I first discovered her work. So I was going to be in for this  project no matter. I have not read anything of Mariko Tamaki yet but I have read the glowing reviews for her work all over the internet and so I am intrigued.

Last week preview pages for the mini-series hit the internet and I think it teases what the underlying theme is going to be in the book. Here is a link to the pages as posted on Newsarama:

Just based on the creators and the out of continuity nature of this, I could knew this was going to be a bit more modern and perhaps a bit more progressive. After all, without the weight of 50+ years of continuity and fandom memory, the shackles are creatively off. So I am interested to see where all this is going.

In what seems to be the opening page, we get a simple origin page.

This basically looks like a retelling of the Superman origin, doesn't it? Rocket to Earth, in the breadbasket of America, discovered by a passing car. I have to assume that there isn't a Superman on this Earth. So already it is a whole new world.

Look at that page again and remove the words from the balloons. You would assume this is a Superman origin page, wouldn't you?

It is the  voice over that shakes things up a bit though. These are the words of a teenage girl, lamenting cheesy narration. But the theme is right there. She says you need an origin story so you can learn 'who I am'.

Like many origin stories, this is clearly going to be one of self-discovery and forging your own identity.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Review: Superman #11

Superman #11 came out last week, the second part of the introduction of the Super-Sons duo and subsequent book. It is a rollicking time, pure simple good fun. And it sold me on the prospect of the concept that a Damien/Jon will be a book to pick up. Sometimes you need to smile and I think these two will get me to do just that.

For the last 30 years, DC has been struggling with how to make Superman and Batman be friends.  The Dark Knight Returns had a Superman was mockingly called (and still referred to as) a boy scout and a school boy. Batman became an overly prepared, paranoid, grim being. Right or wrong, it wouldn't be easy for people presented that way to be besties. So for years we have had a vestigial memory of the World's Finest pair creeping into comics with either Batman or Superman always saying 'Despite our differences ...'

What I wondered was if the youthful exuberance of Robin and Superboy make the scions be friends more easily? Or would the heightened experience of adolescence make their differences all that more difficult to overcome? Maybe that is the whole concept of the book. Can someone less entrenched in a way of life reach out to someone different and compromise?

This issue shows how it won't be too easy for Damien and Jon to just suddenly become quick friends. But the potential is there, perhaps nudged forward by proud fathers. And maybe, just maybe, that common ground of being dads will nudge the World's Finest closer. Maybe ...

Creative team of Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason seem to be having a fun time in this issue, putting the super-sons through their paces, plopping them in crazy situations and making them flail a bit to get to safety. Gleason's art is perfect for this style book whose premise lends itself to the wild pizzazz he brings.

On to the book!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Rhode Island Comic Con 2016

This last weekend was Rhode Island Comic Con, the last convention of my 'con season'. That means winter is coming.

This is still a young con and therefore still suffering from some growing pains. Looking back at my last posts about this con it seems every year there is some snafu on how the thing is being run that irks me. And, as I have always said, the thrust of this con is on celebrities (ranging from A to D list) with the comic part being only a small part of the happenings.

Now overall, I had a very good experience in the one day, Saturday, that I was there but let me get the administrative difficulties out of the way.

The con has basically grown exponentially over its life so now it actually is held in two buildings - the Rhode Island Convention Center and the attached Dunkin Donuts Center (an arena for concerts, basketball, and hockey). The buildings are connected by a narrow 'sky ramp'. Last year this was the bottle neck as people were going in both directions.

My main goal in this con was getting a signature from Stan Lee. I prepurchased a 'ticket' for an autograph. A buddy of mine went on Friday and told me that Lee was in the Dunkin Donuts Center so I wanted to run there early and get in line. The line for the con formed outside the Convention Center and at 830a I was there, awaiting for the 10a opening.

Well, it turns out that two lines were forming. The one I was in at the con center. And another at the Dunks. When I entered, I headed towards the skyramp only to be told that the ramp was made 'one way' this year, heading into the convention center. If I wanted to get into the Dunk, I needed to exit and reenter there. So I had to leave the building, badge out, head outside, and then find the 're-entry door' which was around the side of the Dunk and barely marked.

Once inside, I ran to the floor and had to wait in line to turn my ticket for the Lee autograph in for another ticket. This seemed counter-intuitive and I wouldn't have done it had I not been warned by my buddy. Then I waited in line for Lee ... for 2.5 hours. I was around 40th in the general population line, and the VIPs got to go first. I am lucky it didn't take longer.

All of that said, this all seems confusing and weird. This could still be run more smoothly ...

On to the fun stuff.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Review: Superwoman #4

Superwoman #4 came out a week and a half ago and I have been remiss in taking this long to get to this review. I have completely enjoyed this comic since its debut. It is complex and dense. You get your money's worth with this book. And the conflicted and unstable nature of the title character is fascinating.

You knew there was a but coming ... right?

I think this issue was the weakest of the title so far. And part of that might be my own inability to read the book's nonlinear timeline and have it make sense to me. We know that Lana is battling PTSD and anxiety. We know she is on medication. And we know the loss of Lois has been debilitating. In this issue, we learn that Lana is having some visual hallucinations, interacting with her Lois, the one who died as Superwoman. These visions happen in Lana's farmhouse. And so, throughout the book, the scene of the book switches to the farmhouse. It is jarring. It took me out of the story as a reader. I switched back and forth so many times I was trying to figure out if the visions were happening as the book progresses or a flashback. The conversations don't flow to give a clue. The whole thing felt disorganized. And maybe that is on purpose? Maybe we are supposed to feel as unsettled as Lana?

But I have to say, I flipped pages back and forth a bunch of times, wondering if I skipped pages or missed a dialogue box, while I was reading. It was, frankly, confusing.

Emanuela Lupacchino is on art here and her work is quite lovely. Lupacchino brings a beautiful panache to all the characters. I love Lupacchino's Lana! Just lovely. But the book still read like a Phil Jimenez book with a lot of panels per page and a ton of story told in the issue.

On to the book.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Supergirl Episode 206: Changing

'Changing' aired earlier this week and was a very strong episode. As has become the norm this season, there are great action moments and those are fantastic. But more importantly, there are truly incredible character moments. Each of these characters is going through an arc. No one is being shuttled to the sidelines. And every character's story is compelling.

The title of this episode - Changing - is so appropriate. Yes, Rudy Jones is changing, mutating into the Parasite. But most everyone is changing. James is becoming the Guardian. Winn is becoming more confident and is acting as James' partner. Mon-El is trying to changing his selfish ways and become a hero.

And the biggest change is Alex finally realizing she is gay and coming out. And it is a very emotional arc even in this one episode. She is nervous revealing it to Kara. She is afraid Kara disapproves. And just when things seem bright, the rug is pulled out from under her. It is truly a gut punch. After not getting much sister moments this season, we get three separate scenes with the two in this episode!

None of these stories could work as well as they have if the acting isn't there and everyone shines here. In particular, Chyler Leigh's performance as Alex this episode is phenomenal. Because we have scenes of her showing her strength, showing how she became a leader in the DEO, being stern to M'Gann and Mon-El. And at the same time we see her at her most vulnerable. I'll also say that Jeremy Jordan is showing how much Winn has changed.

If I have one minor complaint, it is that it is clear that the show has a progressive agenda in mind this season. We saw the idea of refugee amnesty early on. Now the enemy is climate change. The Parasite is the villain but he is fighting 'evil, well dressed men' who are denying science. Even if I agree that climate change is a problem, I don't need such a ham-fisted way of being told it.

On to the episode!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Review: New Super-Man #5

New Super-Man #5 came out last week and continued a very entertaining and interesting opening arc. Writer Gene Luen Yang and artist Viktor Bogdanovic continue to introduce us to the broad world of super-heroics and politics in China as seen through the eyes of young Kenan Kong. And I have been impressed.

One of the things I have touted about this book has been the nuanced look at Kenan himself. He is a high school bully with a heart of gold. He carries some pain over the loss of his mother and hides that away. He has a strained relationship with his father. And he simultaneously wants to do what's right with his new powers while also hoping to cash in with fame and fortune. It can't be easy to write an annoying character like Kenan but make him likeable enough to headline a book. Impressive.

This issue takes those inconsistencies and ratchets them up a notch by adding two more layers - politics and Kenan's growing relationship with his father. Both seem to be having a hard time resolving conflicting purposes - loyalty to a cause and love for family. They seem to flip-flop a bit throughout the issue, making this a very engaging character study. Throw in Starro and you know you have a winner.

Viktor Bogdanovic's work is growing on me more and more. I thought this was his cleanest issue, with smoother lines and powerful splash pages. Some panels really pop out and I'll share.

On to the book!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Review: Action Comics #967

Action Comics #967 came out this week and started the 'God Killer' storyline which focuses on Lex Luthor. When the #Rebirth titles were announced, I was worred when Action was labeled the Luthor book, the superbook where Lex would be the star. That hasn't been true. This is clearly a true Superman book, even if Lex calls himself that now. But while he isn't the star, Lex is basically a cast member of the book now. Gone are the days of Luthor attacking Superman now and then. He is a part of the machinery now.

All that said, this issue clearly focuses on Luthor and the ramifications of some of his recent actions. There is some mystery here, some new plotlines which had me stroking my chin. And we are again reminded of Luthor's history, the foundation on which his ethos is built. While Lex is in the spotlight, we get a lot of Lois here as well. Some 'Other Clark'. And some great Clark and Jon moments as well. Writer Dan Jurgens really understands these characters. These quiet scenes are my favorite part of the book.

Add to that the burgeoning threat of the God Killers, and this was a winner of the book.

Tyler Kirkham is back on art and really sparkles. There are several splash pages in this book, moments that deserve big art. But Segovia does a great job of using smaller inset panels on the non-splash pages to make sure the meatiness of the story moments is kept. And the art in panels of all sizes shines wonderfully.

On the the issue.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Review: Supergirl #3

Supergirl #3 came out this week and was a very solid issue for this new title. I have said all along that I'm not a big fan of Zor-El as the Cyborg Superman which made this opening arc something of a tough sell for me. But writer Steve Orlando did the miraculous and actually had me care for the Cyborg Superman, sympathize for him. It is clear that this Zor-El simply wants to do anything he can for his daughter. But the path to Hell is paved with his good intentions.

And Kara really shines in this issue as a teenager coming to grips with her new life, her new role as a hero, and someone still in mourning. She runs the gamut of emotions here and is proactive in fighting against injustice and abominations. There are great moments between her and the Danvers and her and her birth parents which provide some nice grist for the literary mill. It is a nice contrast to play up. And both sets of parents are thinking of her as their daughter and want to care for her.

Add to that a nice new wrinkle in the Cat Grant arc and overall I was very pleased. This is the type of story I am hoping to read in Supergirl. I closed the book and was already wanting to read the next installment.

The art is done by Brian Ching and his style is slowly winning me over. It is rougher than I thought it would be. His expressive work is very good. But his not drawing any face on smaller renditions irks me a bit. And I had to include the Bengal cover as it really emphasizes the pressure Kara is feeling. It reminded me of the classic scene in Spider-Man #33 where Peter is buried under wreckage.

On to the story!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Supergirl Episode 205: Crossfire

Supergirl episode 205:Crossfire aired earlier this week and was an incredible episode for character growth. Obviously, the biggest moment was Alex basically coming out to Maggie Sawyer. But James, Mon-El, and Winn also had great moments as well.

In fact, I think this episode is encapsulates what the overarching theme of this season seems to be about. Self-discovery. Kara is trying to find herself as a journalist. Jimmy wants to be more than a publisher. Winn is happy and confident in his new role in the DEO. Lena wants to shed the negativity of the Luthor name and become something new. J'Onn is trying to grow into the role of mentor for M'Gann. M'Gann is trying to be a Green Martian because she is ashamed of her White heritage. And Alex ... well Alex is dealing with the fact that she has denied her sexuality for some time. Everyone is in some state of evolution. And it is incredible.

I also have to say that you need a strong cast of actors to pull off some of this stuff. And everyone of these performers has risen to the task so far.

And all this personal growth is happening with the threat of Cadmus happening in the background. Cadmus is a dark reflection of the DEO, looking to eliminate all aliens from threatening the world. And they are willing to sow the seeds of fear to sway people. Much like last episode, the allegory of fearing the 'other' is pretty big here. It is impressive.

Other than one awkward scene, maybe a personal issue with me, I thought this was the best episode so far. This whole season has been a fantastic. On to the episode details.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Day Off

Recovering from an overnight shift and a late night watching the election results. 

Will resume normal blogging tomorrow!


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election Day Back Issue Box: Supergirl #55

Our national nightmare is soon to be over.

Today is Election Day 2016 in the United States and after a long horrible year of odious politics, it will finally be over.

I have never seen an uglier year in politics. I am one of those people who doesn't like either candidate. I can't believe that these two people are the best we have as possible leaders of the free world. I just can't. And I have been a little repulsed by the muck and hatred that both sides and their followers have slung at the other. 

With that in mind, I thought I would review Supergirl #55 today, a book from early 2001 which touches upon politics a smidge. In this book, Supergirl is disgusted that Lex Luthor is the President of the United States. She wonders just how something as inconceivable as this horrible villain landing in the oval office could happen. And yet, she also is compelled to defend him from an assassin. This Supergirl's conflicted feelings about Lex are well known but adding the layer that he is the Commander-in-Chief is an nice wrinkle.

The art on the issue is done by fill-in penciller Derec Aucoin. His style is similar enough to usual artist Leonard Kirk's that it felt pretty natural. I thought the art here was solid.

A bit of background. This is the Linda who has been stripped of the Earth Angel aspect of Supergirl. She has powers more akin to the Golden Age Superman, leaping not flying, and relatively invulnerable. And she is on a quest to find demons and bring her closer to reclaiming that part of herself.

On to the book.

Monday, November 7, 2016

DC Superhero Girls: Hits and Myths

I caved in last week and bought the DC Superhero Girls second trade Hits and Myths. I will remind people that all ages books are books for all ages, even old fossils like me. I have been pretty floored with the entire concept of DCSHG as it mixes DC history, empowering messages, and fun! And I have been impressed with how writer/creator Shea Fontana gives each character a unique view on life without making them caricatures or two dimensional.

Hits and Myths continued this streak. Fontana loosely bases the long form story on the Odyssey. She also adopts a tried-and-true storytelling format by having the Girls split into teams to investigate a crime. It is shades of classic Justice League.

And, as usual, artist Yancey Labat brings a bright freshness to the art here. I also love his interpretations of some of the quirkier DC characters we get here. In particular, I love the Silver Banshee! But the whole book is gorgeous!

I'll try to keep this review brief, just hitting on some of the highlights that struck me.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Review: Superman #10

Superman #10 came out this week and continued the wonderful run that Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason are having on this book. If any character needed a #Rebirth, it was Superman who seemed to toil for the last decade or so, acting far from the Superman I grew up reading. Now, in this 'new' DCU, I have Superman books I can look forward to, Superman books I am loving. I haven't been able to say that for a while.

This issue reads more like a prologue to the upcoming Super Sons title. But that works for me just fine. For one, I am interested in that book. But more than that, this plays up the differences between the sons and the differences between the heroes. This isn't going to be an easy alliance between these young adventurers learning the ropes. And certainly, Superman and Batman are exactly the World's Finest these days. While this pre-Flashpoint Superman seems open to a more classic friendship, things are strained.

And so, in this issue, we see the senior heroes clench their fists and then calm down. And we see the younger heroes act calm and then clench their fists. We see Superman's optimism and wisdom play out in Jon. And we see Batman's preparedness and quasi-paranoia apparent in Damien. That's solid stuff.

Add to that a healthy dollop of humor and a hypnotic art style by Gleason, and I was sold on this issue. Solid stuff.

Back to the art, earlier in this title, I talked about how Gleason's current style felt a bit 'Rankin/Bass' to me. That it was a bit off, a sort of 'uncanny valley' feel. But over the issues, I have been more and more enamored of it. It is very engaging.

On to the book.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Back Issue Box: Action Comics #674

Earlier this week, on the Supergirl show, Supergirl faced off against Draaga in Roulette's fight club. And, while Draaga was formidable, Supergirl ended up taking him out pretty easily. It made me think that it was time to review Action Comics #674, the prologue to Panic of the Sky and the reintroduction of Matrix Supergirl into the DCU after a prolonged absence.

A bit of history before we jump into the story. The Matrix Supergirl was part of the (in)famous Supergirl Saga in the waning days of the John Byrne Superman run. Supergirl was back in the post-Crisis universe but she was a protoplasmic Matrix from a 'pocket universe' created by the Time Trapper and ultimately overrun by that universe's Phantom Zone villains, still amped up to Silver Age Kryptonian level. In that story, Superman executed the other universe's villains with Green K, thus giving Zach Snyder apologists an easy counterargument against his vile interpretation of the Man of Steel.

After that story, Matrix ... now called Mae ... became a childlike featureless being who was taken in by the Kents and slowly introduced to the new world around her. However, when Superman exiled himself from Earth over his guilt from killing those villains, Matrix used her shape-changing powers to live the life of Clark Kent and Superman. While it protected Superman's secret identity, it did further shatter Matrix's fragile psyche. When the real Superman came back, Matrix fought him in an attempt to keep the Superman identity for herself. After that brawl, the Matrix (now in the form of a gray clad Superman) flew into space to find herself.

Whew ... you get all that?

Suffice it to say, it wasn't an easy time to be a Supergirl fan. The Matrix Supergirl may have had a nice costume but she was a bit of a disaster. And in the end, she was so schizophrenic that she wasn't even Supergirl anymore. Instead she was Matrix Superman! Really?!?

So why does this cover sport the 'Supergirl in Action Comics' title font with a lovely pic of her standing over Draaga? Well, you'll have to read on as I present 'The Past is Prologue' by writer Roger Stern and artists Bob McLeod and Denis Rodier. Stern does a great job of weaving this story and setting up Panic in the Sky. And McLeod and Rodier have a clean house style which works nicely.

And while it was good to see Supergirl again things are going to get worse before they get better for her.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Supergirl Episode 204: Survivors

Supergirl episode 204 was aptly named 'Survivors' as it explored a number of themes around surviving a disaster. There are so many characters on this show that are sole survivors or 'almost sole' survivors and with that comes any number of issues. Whether it is guilt, or self-loathing, or looking back through rose-colored glasses, there is a lot of psychological trauma to deal with.

These themes are interwoven through a plot of an underground alien fight club. And yes, the action sequences are great. But for me the meat of this episode is looking at the lengths people will go through to deal with surviving.

For Supergirl, she has already had to deal with the trauma of being sent away from her planet. She has come to realize her parents weren't perfect. And now she is trying to live up to expectation of her being a leader for aliens, helping them cope with being on Earth. Now she has to come to terms with her own prejudices about Mon-El.

For Mon-El, he is at the beginning of understanding what it means to be completely alone, without a home planet to return to. He is young and brash. And I think he is in a bit of denial, looking at Earth as a playground until he sees that he needs some mentoring.

J'onn is still suffering from all the issues he has had to deal with from the purging of his race to witnessing his family's death. Now he is trying to latch onto Miss Martian as a way to keep his race and their traditions survive.

But Miss Martian has a secret. And that weighs on her to the point that she doesn't think she is worthy of surviving. She is part of the fight club because she thinks she needs to be punished. She wants to forget her past as much as Kara and J'onn want to remember theirs. This is excellent grist for the mill.

And all the other nameless aliens are out there struggling to survive on Earth and willing to debase themselves to do just that. The problem is that surviving by being in an arena only cements the prejudices Earth people have, viewing them as threats.

This is a long intro, proof that these themes were powerful, making this my favorite episode of the season, strong praise given the giddy feeling of the premiere and super-cousin team-ups.

On to some details.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Back Issue Box: Teen Titans #48

With Miss Martian now on the Supergirl show and with a throw down almost inevitable I thought I would take a look back at comics and one of their less friendly interactions.

Teen Titans #48 came out in 2007 and was a tie-in to the much-maligned Amazons Attack crossover event. This also came out when the Supergirl title was in a bit of flux. Joe Kelly's blighted run of an angry, murdering, lost Supergirl was over. Tony Bedard was coming on for a handful of issues to cover the Amazons Attack and Countdown crossovers. And Kelley Puckett's run was around the corner. But the overwhelming feel of this Kara was that she was an angry, reactive, frankly immature young woman. I don't think I could honestly call her a hero back then.

Amazons Attack is not worth reviewing in depth. But the basic plot was the Amazons declare war on the US for having held Wonder Woman against her will. In the end, the Amazons are made mortal and scattered over the world. Themyscira becomes visible. And somehow Granny Goodness was involved.

As for me, I was collecting Titans only because Supergirl was in the book. This doesn't seem to be a memorable time for the team. The roster is pretty interesting - Tim Drake, Wonder Girl, Miss Martian, Kid Devil, and Ravager. But I don't remember too much of this book and that's always a bad sign.

But this issue is immersed in Amazons Attack and some of the fallout from that event. Writer Adam Beechen shows just how impulsive Wonder Girl and Supergirl are in time. Each of them has a bit of a personal stake in this war and decide that fists will work faster than talk. Neither of them shine here.

The art is done by Al Barrinueva and seems a bit inky and rough. The cover is done by Tony Daniel. You can see how Daniel's art has grown over time, comparing this  work to his current stuff. And, of course, appropriate for the times, Kara's dress is more like a napkin.

On to the book.