Thursday, November 30, 2017

February Solicits

The DC February solicits came out a bit ago but comic news has kept me from reviewing. I have to say, thankfully, there isn't anything unexpected on the list here. That means my Holiday-empty wallet will get a bit of a break.

If you want to see all the solicits, I'd advise to head here, the Newsarama post:

I include a non-Super book I am pumped for and I showcase a Supergirl statue I won't be getting. But onto the books.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Supergirl Episode 308: Crisis On Earth X Part One

Hey everyone!

It's difficult for me to know exactly how I am going to break down the review of the CW crossover event 'Crisis on Earth X' here on the site. But as the Supergirl episode 'Crisis on Earth X, Part One' had a lot of Alex/Kara moments embedded in it, I felt I should review it by itself.

In the end, I may review the remaining three parts all in one giant post. Or I may split it if it gets too heavy.

But either way, as I am writing this, we are done and I am thoroughly and utterly pleased with this. As I have said many times before, if you told a young Anj that 4 DC televisions shows would be on at one time, that they would not only deal with the comic characters but embrace the entirety of the DCU, and that one of them would be Supergirl, I would tell you to not talk nonsense.

And yet, here we are.

Nothing says comics more than a crossover. Nothing says DC more than a Crisis. And all of those early JLA/JSA stories were 'Crisis on ____' so this is just a perfect title for an old time comic fan like me.

And I just love the fact that this crossover came with this specific title card, making sure that everyone understands the magnitude of this event.

But most importantly, important things happen in this crossover. Major, show-changing events occur, changing the landscape of three shows definitively while adding thematic progression to the other.

In a time when finding joy can be difficult, I am glad this is happening. Because I am joyous of the whole thing. So far it is just incredible.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Back Issue Box: Superman #173

Strange Visitor is coming to Supergirl and she doesn't look happy.

But who is she?

I have reviewed Strange Visitor's first storyline earlier this month here and here.

So what about the end of her story?

Superman #173, written by Jeph Loeb with art by the dynamic team of Ed McGuinness and Cam Smith, is one of the final chapters of the Worlds At War mega-arc which traveled through the Superman (and other DC books) in 2001. The simple plot is that a Galactus-style galaxy eater named Imperiex is coming to eat Earth. The enemy of my enemy is my friend so Darkseid has brought Apokolips into our solar system to team up to defeat Imperiex. But things look dismal. Simple Imperiex probes have been incredibly difficult to defeat, let alone the main man himself. The heroes need a secret weapon. Someone will need to sacrifice themselves (as the cover says).

So where does Strange Visitor and her electric blue energy come into play. For once, the cover actually mirrors the inside!

On to the issue.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Review: Action Comics #992

Action Comics #992 came out last week and was the epilogue to the The Oz Effect. In this issue, Superman does some soul searching as he comes to terms with the idea that his father is not who he thought he was. It makes sense. This is a life changing event for Superman and therefore should be explored.

It is interesting for me that Superman decides to dive deep into a 'nature vs. nurture' thought process about Jor-El. Clark keeps thinking about what it means for him if Jor-El is not the magnanimous soul he thought he was. In some ways, I suppose I can understand Superman rethinking this deeply. In other ways, it seems like just a little navel gazing. He didn't know Jor-El. He wasn't raised by him. This isn't Pa Kent. Maybe ... maybe ... if Oz turned out to be Pa then this much introspection would be needed. That would be a big turn for Jonathan Kent. But instead, Superman wonders how seeing Jor-El act this way means he might turn as well. Okay ... I suppose I can roll with the idea that this idealized vision of an unknown father being shattered could shake a man.

Plotter Dan Jurgens and writer Rob Williams decide to lean into it. Superman isn't even sure if believes this was Jor-El. But more importantly, they have Superman's friends decide to approach him to help. In this universe, Superman is the inspiration. So I was glad to see so many people approach him given how many times he has helped them. It's great.

And Will Conrad is on art and brings a fine line to the proceedings which gives the whole issue a nice polished feel.

On to the book.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Sales Review: October 2017 - Happy Thanksgiving

Hello and Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrated here in the states. As you read this, I am either preparing or participating in a feast! Hooray for me.

As Supergirl fans, we should be giving a little thanks for the recent uptick in sales. Since Artgerm came on to do variants, or perhaps since the Cyborg Superman/Xa-Du storyline ended, or perhaps since the Mr. Oz/Doomsday Clock is ramping up, the main title has seen an unswing of almost 33%.

The October numbers have been posted over on ICv2. Here is a link to that report.

I have stopped worrying overall about the health of comics long term.

Supergirl #14 was a crossover with New Super-Man. It had Supergirl contemplating ways to control her recently amped up powers. She talks about the inherent desire for people to help one another. She helps a violent misunderstanding become a community building exercise. It was a very nice issue.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate!

Will #goalweight survive a massive Thanksgiving meal? If it doesn't, I'm blaming Red Kryptonite!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Supergirl Episode 307: Wake Up

Supergirl episode 307, titled 'Wake Up', aired this week and really was more of an opening chapter to a major plot which will be running through the season. "Wake Up" has a lot of meanings here from the awakening of Mon-El and someone else in the alien ship to Reign's continuing emergence into Sam, to J'onn realizing he is missing out on life, to perhaps Kara realizing that she does truly need to move on from Mon.

But the real juice of this episode's story was how the concept of humanity is the key theme for Season three. Supergirl and Reign are very similar in origins and concept. They both have been living on Earth and both have been trying to be human. But now Kara is willfully hardening herself, trying to be alien so she can't be hurt. Meanwhile, Sam is less in control of what is happening (it seems) and her human side is being thrust aside for something darker. In the end, I can't help but think that a call to humanity ... a cry to be human and humane ... is going to be a key part of the finale.

Lastly, this might be Melissa Benoist's strongest episode of the season. Her heart is on her sleeve as she runs the gamut of joy in seeing Mon-El again to pain when it is clear he isn't the same person to a sliver of happiness when they relive a memory, back to despair when surprise news devastates her. From the quavering of her voice to her expressions to subtle things like futzing with her glasses, you know the depths of what Kara is feeling. Seriously, I know it is Supergirl but I hope the CW is putting together an Emmy reel for Benoist.

On to the episode.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Strange Visitor Review: Part Two

The last issue of Supergirl ended with quite the cliffhanger. Sharon Vance, Strange Visitor, appeared in National City and was gunning for Supergirl! With Strange Visitor becoming a player in the magazine, I felt a refresher might be useful.

Part one of this review is available here.

Today I present the second half of the story that introduced her to the DCU!

Action Comics #759 and Superman The Man of Steel #94 completes the four parter which made Strange Visitor part of the Superman family. Written by Ron and Randall Frenz, with art by Ron Frenz and Sal Buscema, these issues fill in the gaps in Strange Visitor's origin, both earthly and other worldly.

She faces off against a classic Superman villain. And she strives to keep her powers, linked to her emotional state, under control. It is an electrifying story.

And as I have said before, I like the look of Strange Visitor. The aesthetic of the electric blue Superman suit is solid. It just seems to work on Sharon too!

On to the story!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Review: Super Sons #10

Super Sons #10 came out last week and this book continues to be a hoot. Jon and Damian are clearly learning to be heroes, clearly come from different backgrounds, and are clearly being influenced by each other. Better yet, I can't help but think that their friendship is strengthening the Clark and Bruce one. This makes me happy.

This was something of a rest issue, setting up some new plotlines and new places for the boys and the book. Much like I feel that Supergirl underwent a new focus recently, I think this book is also heading off into a bold new-ish direction. We have established the boys friendship and their partnering. Now was the time to take this to the next level. No more ad hoc adventures. Let's make this a standing relationship.

Writer Peter Tomasi does his usual job of showcasing Jon and Damian's different outlooks on life. It is that friction that brings the juice to the proceedings. However, it is the times we see a little of the other in a character that shows growth. When Damian sounds a little like Jon it makes me happy.

The art on this issue is done by recent pinch hitter extraordinaire Jose Luis. And as this is mostly a non-adventure book, Luis does a great job of keeping my engaged with the story. Much of that has to do with the characters' body language.

On to the book.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Review: Superman #35

Superman #35 came out this week, the third part of the Imperius Lex story arc, as it continues to move our super-family across the desolate wastelands of Apokolips. Last issue focused on Lois. This issue we focus on Jon. But throughout, we keep seeing Superman and Lex both dealing with being labeled the messiah of Apokolips. As I have said for some time, I am having a hard time reading this Lex. His actions have always seemed heroic but his words have occasionally been concerning or troublesome. Is he faking us out with this desire to be the new Superman, a hero?

For me, the Jon portion of the issue was the most enjoyable. Writers Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason bring the youthful energy to Jon, making him act the way I think a tween with super-powers would act. He is growing in confidence. He is trying to emulate his dad. But he is impulsive.

I will also admit to having something of a hard time wrapping my head around the actual status of Apokolips these days. It looks like it is plunged into chaos. And I have to think that Tom King and Mitch Gerads Mister Miracle as well as the Allred's Bug are out of continuity. But it doesn't feel streamlined.

The art on the book is a mix of Travis Moore, Stephen Segovia, and Art Thibert. It is hard for me at least to pick out where one begins and the others end. But overall the book looked crisp and clean.

On to the books.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Supergirl 306: Midvale

Supergirl episode 306, 'Midvale', aired earlier this week and looked at the first time the Danvers sisters teamed up to solve a crime. It was a very interesting look back at the childhood of these characters as we see where they have come from and how everything wasn't always rosy between them. We knew from earlier flashbacks that Kara has always been something of a fish out of water and that Alex was often teased about her weird sister. Here we see just how the volatile cauldron of high school kicked that up a notch.

And while it was fun to see this look back, especially given the very Smallville-y feeling to the proceedings, for me the bigger thing was how this thematically fit into the current series. This season Kara has been all about forsaking her humanity and embracing her alien heritage. She doesn't want to get hurt, she can't be broken. She has to be alien. In this episode we see how that was flipped earlier in her life. In that time period all she wanted to be was alien and instead ends up clinging to humanity.

All this has to be put into a growing timeline. Now we know why Kara hid her powers for years. Now we know how Alex felt in the immediate aftermath of Jeremiah being drafted into the DEO. Now we know when the sisters really realized the bond they have.

None of this would be possible without excellent acting. And the two actors playing the younger Danvers did an absolutely incredible job channeling Melissa Benoist and Chyler Leigh. Izabela Vidovic physically looks like Benoist but also brings the emotional punch of her performances. And Olivia Nikkanen basically is a young Alex as portrayed by Leigh.

On to the episode!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Review: New Super-Man #17

New Super-Man #17 came out last week and continues to push the All-Yang battle to a near conclusion. This feels like it should be the penultimate issue of the series. I have wondered if the axe was nearing for this book which continues to sell less than 20K. But we haven't got a Final Issue solicit yet so I am happy.

Writer Gene Luen Yang continues to weave a nice new continuity of DC heroes over in China. I love the infusion of all the mythology both of China and the DC Universe.  I love the humor which is slyly inserted into the book. And I love the steady maturation of Kenan Kong as he leaves his bully/bratty persona behind as he embraces the mantle of Super-Man. Plus, this issue has the JLC meet the JLA and it is a great introduction.

The art is by Joe Lalich, someone who I have never seen before. The turnstile of artists, sometimes newcomers, also has made me wonder if this book was nearing the end. The art is something of house style, with few stylish flourishes. But it kicks it up a bit when it needs to.

On to the book.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Review: Superwoman #16

Superwoman #16 came out last week, the first issue released since the announcement of the title's cancellation. We are in the midst of the Midnight story arc. Some weird technological being is sucking the population into tiny black holes. Superwoman has teamed up with Natasha, Traci 13, and Maxima to figure things out. But it hasn't been easy.

Lana has also been dealing with the renewed problem of stress and anxiety, a problem she has been dealing with since the beginning of this title. And we even get another nod to the earlier part of the book here as well.

It will be interesting to see how much of this will carry forward past January. When this title ends, will Lana continue to have powers? Continue to have anxiety? Continue to be part of the active Superman supporting cast? I hope the answer to all three questions is yes.

And I hope that K. Perkins finds another title to land on at DC.

The art for the book is by Stephen Segovia and Art Thibert and continues to be slick.

But this title is ending. Will there be a finale feel? Can Perkins wrap it all up?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Review: Action Comics #991

Action Comics #991 came out last week, the finale of the long-awaited The Oz Effect storyline. We have seen Oz manipulating events since the Geoff Johns/JRJR issues. We recently learned he was Jor-El, plucked from Krypton by Dr. Manhattan (we assume). We know that Jor-El knows something terrible is coming to Earth and he wants his family safe, humanity be damned. It all has been steamrolling to a cataclysmic ending.

Unfortunately, it ends with more of a whimper than a bang.

Writer Dan Jurgens ratchets up the contrast between Oz and Superman in this issue, again hammering home the difference in these two men's thoughts. Kal thinks mankind is inherently good. He has hope. Jor thinks humanity is evil and beyond help. There is little place to go from such a difference than a throwdown. And there can be no easy resolution to that either. So we get something of a quick and somewhat unsatisfying ending to this whole thing. Maybe I am being too harsh.

Artist Viktor Bogdanovic is on art here and I have loved his issues on the Superman books. He really captures emotions and action very well. The ending of the book is very dramatic and the images totally sell it. I can only hope we see him again soon.

On to the issue.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Review: Supergirl #15

Supergirl #15 came out this week and was a very entertaining issue defining the new landscape of this book. Over the first year of this book we have seen this Supergirl rise to be the inspirational hero of National City. Now we have seen everything turn; now she is Public Enemy #1. And with the 'regular life' of a teenage girl pulling her in different directions, Kara is probably at her most vulnerable.

Writers Steve Orlando and Jody Houser ramp up the multiple threats that are circling Kara in both her identities. From the DEO to new school rival Belinda to her own uncertainty of what to do, Kara is stressed and rightfully so. And yet, unlike more recent incarnations, instead of lashing out against Earth, this Kara continues to try to rise above, continues to try to help. That thrills me. I have had enough of Dark Supergirl.

You may recall that I complained a bit about this cover when it was shown in the solicits. I complained about 'Dark Supergirl' there. Now I realize the genius of this cover. This is the propaganda poster the DEO is probably circulating, the graphic used on the local news. This isn't Supergirl; this is people vilifying her.

The art on the issue is by the current team of Robson Rocha. As this is a sort of 'day in the life' of Kara Danvers issue, there are a lot of quiet scenes. But the team flourishes with solid expressive work and by turning up the volume for the action scenes.

On to the book.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Rhode Island Comic Con

This Sunday, I'll be heading to Rhode Island Comic Con, the last convention of my con 'season'. This is a huge con with celebrities and comic creators which has grown over the years to now fill the RI Convention Center and the floor of the nearby Providence Civic Center.

I have been heading to this con since the beginning and have grabbed some great commissions and signatures in the past (including Stan Lee!). This year I'll only be there for one day and so I doubt I'll luck my way into a commission. That means that the main goal is signatures. It is a shame because there are some huge favorites of mine that are going to be there, artists I haven't seen at other cons. But, c'est la vie!

Probably the biggest name for me that is going to be at the convention is Chris Bachalo, an artist whose work I have loved forever. For me, he is always going to be the main artist of the Pete Milligan Shade, The Changing Man book from the 1990's. I loved that book!

Bachalo has also done runs on other books in my collection that I love - Death, X-Men, New X-Men, etc. If I could get a Bachalo sketch I would be absolutely thrilled. But I can't imagine it happening. Instead I had to pare down a big stack of books to a manageable size for signatures.

But look who else I'm hoping to meet.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Supergirl Episode 305: Damage

Supergirl episode 305 aired this week, another strong episode focusing on Lena, the mini-boss Morgan Edge, and the evolution of Reign. It also marked the end of Floriana Lima's run as Maggie Sawyer on the show, and therefore the end of the Alex/Maggie relationship. That is a lot to put into one episode but somehow the writers and director Kevin Smith gave each story enough space to breath and progress nicely.

For me, the Lena storyline was the best. All last season, this shroud of 'is she evil?' was on the character. I was waiting to see the heel turn. It never happened. Now in this episode, Lena is suspected of doing something harmful, albeit accidentally. All her doubts about herself, all those 'nature vs. nurture' (or in her case 'nature AND nurture') questions come back. It makes Lena a compelling character.

Lena's antagonist is again Morgan Edge, played with delicious slime by Adrian Pasdar. Edge is everything Maxwell Lord wanted to be, oozing his way through scenes with this superiority complex. For me, there is one big head scratch about his methods in this episode but otherwise Pasdar is spot on fantastic.

The Sanvers dissolution is handled well, perhaps a bit heavy. This show is now into its third season. Most of what Alex says here is fine. But some of her words sound weird when put in the context of 2+ seasons of characterization.

Finally, I do have to say that I needed to suspend my medical disbelief a bit here. The concern is that Lena has made lead poisoning occur in children. And lead poisoning does typically present so acutely. I suppose that ultimately makes sense.

On to the show.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Strange Visitor Review: Part One

Next month, Supergirl #16 comes out with this fantastic Robson Rocha cover showing Strange Visitor maniacally laughing while she seemingly attacks Supergirl. I was pretty impressed with this medium-depth cut of the Superman lore making it's way into the Supergirl book.

But then I thought I shouldn't necessarily be surprised. In this book alone, writer Steve Orlando brought back Lar-On, Psi, and even the extreme 90s version of the Manhunter!

And I really shouldn't have been surprised because back in Supergirl #6 I already noticed that the DEO was housing the Strange Visitor costume.

It does open up a bit of a continuity can of worms. Does this mean the Superman Red/Superman Blue/Electric Boogaloo storyling for the Man of Steel happened in the current DCU? Has the New 52 been erased to this degree? Or is there a new origin for Strange Visitor?

Regardless, I thought that Strange Visitor was a deep enough cut that I should review her character a bit, specifically the four part arc which introduced her from back in 1999.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Review: Injustice #13

I am not collecting the Injustice 2 comic on a regular basis but I wonder if ultimately I will regret it. I wonder if at some point in the future I'll be trawling $1 boxes at conventions to fill in issues. Because what I have read has been excellent. I just don't know if I want to dedicate three dollars a month on a comic built on the foundation of a fascist Superman. My guess is any time Supergirl is mentioned prominently in the solicit or a major part of the cover, I'll be intrigued enough to grab the book.

Injustice 2 #13 came out last week and had what is the ultimate bait for me as a Supergirl fan. It showed Supergirl with a member of the Bat-family with the words World's Finest displayed. I love second generation World's Finest team-ups.

As in Injustice 2 #6, Supergirl really shines in this issue. It seems like writer Tom Taylor really has a solid hold of the Kara character. She has lived through tragedy. She wants to spare anyone and everyone from a similar fate. She is optimistic, faithful, and even a bit shy at times. But when she sees injustice, she becomes fierce. That need to protect others is primary. So, albeit in the two issues of this book I have read, Supergirl really comes of great. It could be enough to lure me into this title ... maybe.

And her team-up with Nightwing, here Damian Wayne, is also intriguing. Like many 'Robins', Damian acts like someone who has been in an abusive relationship. He is trying to do what is right but he is stuck in the orbit of two huge personalities - Superman and Batman. And I love that it is Supergirl that encourages to him to forge his own path. In fact, there is this great scene at the end between the two that is powerful.

Mike Miller does the art here and does a great job showing a Supergirl who hasn't quite embraced heroic poses and iconic stares. She very much is a young, inexperienced kid here, learning the ropes and seeming sort of ordinary in some places.

On to the book.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Review: Superman #34 (or is it #800)

Superman #34 came out this week, an issue also touted as the 800th issue of a book titled Superman (complete with a Superman #233 homage cover), and continued the Imperius Lex storyline taking place on Apokolips.

I am impressed with the tale that storytellers Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason are giving us here. And I can best sum this up by saying that at points in the story I describe it as confusing and compelling. I am confused at motivations and the emotions I am feeling. But I am compelled to read on. I am utterly engaged as a reader. So please read on ...

Lex Luthor is being held up as a Messianic figure to the hunger dogs on Apokolips, a title he isn't sure he wants. Meanwhile, his new relationship with Superman (Lex almost acted like a young Syndrome to Superman's Mr. Incredible last issue) take a fascinating turn here.

But the bulk of the issue is devoted to Lois Lane and I am thrilled by it. Lois shows just how strong and capable she is, even on a hellish landscape like Apokolips. Without batting an eye, and with keeping her need to protect her family in her sight, she wills herself to a place of prominence. Long gone are the days of Lois yelling 'Superman help me'. This Lois is just as ready to pick up a weapon and fight Shai Hulud.

And separating the super-family can only lead to a fun arc. We saw Lois this time. We get a hint of what Jon is going through at the end. Eventually there will be a reunification. But what will the members have to do to get there. This gives Superman, Lois, and Jon all a little spotlight time.

The art is done by Ed Benes and Jack Herbert. And while the usual Benes flair is there, it feels more grounded by Herbert's art. The images really bolster the story.

On to the book.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Supergirl Show: Reign First Look

Two Supergirl show posts in a row? I know! But this was too big not to post and talk about right away.

The CW has released an image of what Reign's costume will look like during this season. And I love it!

There is a lot to like about this but I think I want to break things down a little bit. Because I think there are aspects that just work for me.

Overall the black outfit reminds me of Dark Supergirl as well as Satan Girl. But specifically, the black outfit with the S-shield shape and the wrist gauntlets truly remind me of the Dark Supergirl look from the pre-New 52 incarnation.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Supergirl Episode 304: The Faithful

"The Faithful", the fourth episode of this year's season of Supergirl, aired on Monday and was an exceptionally good entry. There is something about this season which just feels different from last year. It seems like this year everything is working. Many of the supporting cast have their own plotlines bubbling; all the supporting cast have presence and weight. The mini-bosses and the big boss are on their way to final battles.

This episode focused on an interesting idea, one seen in comics before, the idea that super-heroes might become viewed upon as deities. While that plot worked very well on the surface level, there was another level to be mined here. This Kara is struggling with her feelings, shutting them away, declaring herself 'not human'. And in the episode she has to show that she is, in fact, fallible. She isn't indestructible. That is how ultimately the day is saved. That's a nice wrinkle.

I also love that there are callbacks to both the comics and prior seasons. From Alex's rescue in the premiere to the '-hedron' power sources to the upcoming World Killers, there is a lot here for continuity fans to cling to with joy.

As always, the acting is just amazing. Melissa Benoist runs the gamut of emotions here from perplexed to wounded and does so with her usual emotional dexterity. Chyler Leigh has a particularly heart wrenching scene at the end, continuing her amazing work. And Mehcad Brooks has another great episode showing that maybe (if we're lucky) The Guardian will go away and James Olsen can be a force on his own.

On to the show!