Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A History Of Recent Supergirl Cancellations - Always At The Wrong Time

It was recently revealed that Supergirl #20 would be the last issue of the current title.

The book, like Super Sons, has been cancelled, one of the casualties of Brian Michael Bendis taking over the Superman books. Much like John Byrne, Bendis was taking the reins, wresting control away from the current creators, and breaking away to a new direction.

For fans of the current creative teams and the super-books, which is a fair number of us given sales numbers, this has been a lamentable decision.

DC's Clark Bull came out to reassure fans of these books that plans are in place and to be patient.

But I have to tell you, this makes zero sense to me. Because the Supergirl book has finally found its groove. The book has been excellent over the last several months, after writers Steve Orlando and Jody Houser tightened things up.

The book initially was trying to be all things to all people. Supergirl as DEO agent, as student, as adopted daughter of Eliza and Jeremiah Danvers, as CatCo employee. There were too many ingredients and not enough 'egg' to hold the comic omelette together. Moreover, the first arc involved the Cyborg Superman and seemed like a step backwards. And the Phantom King arc was a bit too confusing for me.

But with these in the past, Orlando and Houser concentrated on student Kara and inspirational Supergirl. She chooses Earth to inspire people and to be inspired. She'll always continue to help.

It finally was all clicking!

So of course the book is cancelled.

History tells me, I shouldn't be surprised.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Matrix Supergirl Origins ... From The Silver Age?

For those who didn't know, I was on vacation last week and that meant a pretty deep immersion into comics. Ahhh ... free time. And it was a very zen experience, grabbing runs on books (Morrison's New X-Men), mini-series (hello Legionnaires Three!), and individual issues based solely on memories, suggestions, and mentions in my social media timeline.

One of the issues that I decided to reread, mostly because we are getting the Action Comics Special #1, returning Luthor to his purely evil roots, was Superman #292.

I don't think I can express how important this issue was for me as a kid. I am sure it was bought at a yard sale. While I knew who Luthor was already, this was a primer on his history. Please remember that in a world where there wasn't the internet, Comixology, or a glut of trades, readers only knew hardcore comic history through flashbacks, reprints, and editor's note boxes. This issue taught me who Luthor was and why he hated Superman.

So, you might be asking, why is this post titled 'Matrix Supergirl Origins'? Well ... read on.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Review: Super Sons #13

Super Sons #13 came out last week, the first part of an arc bringing Talia Al Ghul into the comic. After focusing primarily on the sons relationships with their fathers, and after seeing Lois in the mix, it was only a matter of time before the other mother got brought into the title.

I have always been a big fan of Talia. And I was especially happy with what Grant Morrison did with her, making her the head of an international crime syndicate who almost brought down Batman Inc. Now this was a woman worthy of being with the Detective, and very much in line with who Damian's mother should be. Peter Tomasi brings her down a peg or two here which might be in line with what has happened with her more recently. But I still thought it was a shame.

As always, the real grist for the title is the interaction between Jon and Damian. There has always been a difference of opinions between the two, as much as their fathers. But here, the seedier side of Damian's past comes to the surface, bringing in an extra layer of friction. It is one thing to say Damian is moody and conceited. It's another to say he's a killer. This should spice things up.

The art by Carlo Barberi is slick and akin to Jorge Jimenez enough to give the book its usual sheen. I love the school scenes as Barberi really gives us solid kid action.

On to the book.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Review: Superman #41

The Bendis era of Superman is only 4 months away so I am reading all of the remaining Superman stories with a bit of a side-eye as I question if what I am reading will be part of his history or not. I know, it shouldn't matter if the story is good. They all 'matter' that way.

Superman #41, written by James Robinson with art by Ed Benes, is a good story, a riff on Krypton's destruction. Whereas in Action Comics, Superman is debating saving Krypton, here Superman is trying to save another planet. The echoes are pretty obvious from the pair of scientists trying to save their children to the inability for the planet to actually be saved. But into this familiar story is a decent look at religion and hope. Whereas Krypton seemed to 'worship' science, believing their results that the planet was safe, these beings believe their souls are safe.

Into that fervor comes Superman who wants to preserve life to the point of contemplating usurping control of the world. It ends decently enough including an answer to the question 'does Superman believe in God?'

The art is by Ed Benes and without a female character to pose salaciously, Benes is pretty restrained, giving us a nicely rendered alien world.

On to the book.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

May 2018 Solicits - No Supergirl

First off, any bad formatting on this post. I have no interest in reading thr HTML line by line to fix it. I'm too ticked off.

Well, the May solicits for DC Comics came out and ... sigh ... there is no Supergirl listed.

There is Doomsday Clock, there is Superman and Action Comics Specials, there is even a new DC Comics fan magazine. But there is no Supergirl. And there is no Bendis Man of Steel. Super Sons is there but as a final issue.

Here is a link:

We all were wondering what sort of grenade the Bendis move would be to the ancillary Superman titles. What would his taking over, revamping things, starting out with a mini-series named Man of Steel would be.

Bendis said that he wasn't going to restart things. He was going to just build on.

But there is no Supergirl.

I reached out to Clark Bull at DC Comics on Twitter. He said there are plans. There is a theory that there will be some sort of anthology series, a sort of Superman Family, that will take its place. But this seems foolish. Because Supergirl is selling well and actually thriving currently.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Review: New Super-Man and Justice League Of China #20

New Super-Man and the Justice League of China #20 came out last week, a new title for the book while keeping the old numbering. In many ways, I am thrilled the book is still around. Its sales numbers are lower than books usually survive at, let alone get a redirection and renaming. But it has consistently been a fun book to read, a sort of look at the DCU from a different perspective and culture. As all the JLA archetypes were already starring in the book, why shouldn't DC try to capitalize on the name Justice League.

That said, the book isn't named Justice League of China. New Super-Man is still there in big letters. So, despite the new branding, this read exactly like the New Super-Man book I loved. Kenan Kong is still the centerpiece of the action, getting the biggest character beats. The League is there, this time fighting a little known, rather infamous DC villain. And a two new versions of one of the Big Seven are introduced. This wasn't a bold new direction as much as 6 new words thrown on the cover.

Writer Gene Luen Yang is back with penciller Brent Peeples and they bring the same vim and vigor to the proceedings as before. In particular, there is a new quirk in Kenan that I find fascinating and bears watching. And Peeples are on aquatic creatures makes me think he'd be a fine fill-in artist for Aquaman.

New Super-Man #18 read like a final issue. So I wonder if DC is going to give this book a little more time to see if numbers improve. Like maybe on trade worth? I can remember, way back when this blog started, I reviewed the R.E.B.E.L.S. book and wondered every month when the plug would be pulled. I keep thinking that here too.

On to the book!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Ron Randall Interview

I recently heard that comic writer/artist Ron Randall was going to be producing another Trekker project and got pretty pumped about it. I discovered Trekker within the last handful of years (thanks to the excellent Trekker Talk podcast produced by Darrin and Ruth Sutherland) and love the book. Randall has had a long storied comic career and has crossed over into books I love, so I reached out to ask him a few questions. Enjoy!

1) You were the penciller on a number of issues of Supergirl during the period Kelley Puckett was writing the book. I also notice that Supergirl is a frequent commission request for you. Are you a fan of the character? Any recollections of your time on the book?

I am indeed a fan of Supergirl. That can be a bit demanding, as the character has undergone so many revisions/re-imaginings/reboots over the years.  But the core of the character and the concept has always been compelling.  And, I’ve always had a clear idea in my head of my particular “take” on Supergirl—how her character should “feel”—look, actions, movements, emotional responses, etc. In getting to work on that arc, “SUPERGIRL: WAY OF THE WORLD”, I felt my concept of the character fit perfectly. So, it has been one of the most comfortable, fun and rewarding experiences I’ve ever had while working on an established character.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Review: Action Comics #997

Action Comics #997 came out this week, another chapter in the Booster Shot story arc, the last arc for Dan Jurgens prior to Brian Michael Bendis taking over the super titles. Jurgens has certainly shored up the book since Superman Reborn. There has been a classic feel to the stories. And, while not as extensive as I'd hope, he brought in a feeling of super-family to the proceedings.

So it is a shame that this is the arc he is ending on. Because for some reason, this just isn't clicking with me. It may be that the impetus for this time trip is the fact that Mr. Oz turned out to be Jor-El. Not a fan of that. I wonder if the Oz story is going to be forgotten? Picked up by Bendis? Explained in Doomsday Clock? I think forgotten ... which would mean a several year buildup is just swept away.

And then the rest of the story ...  the trip back to Krypton, a story idea that never works for me for some reason. And, of course, Booster ... a character I've never took a shine to.

Here we have a loud, action filled chapter with Superman fighting General Zod, Ursa, and Lor-Zod. It is visually stunning. It is a good battle. But that's all it is ... a battle.

If anything, the subplot of Lois saving her father is the more compelling of the two storylines. That moves forward nicely.

Brett Booth brings a lot of style and zing the the proceedings. But many pages have wild panel layouts which at times made for confusing readings. I had to decide how to read the word bubbles in oddly angled shots. Still, the art was wild.

On to the book.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Review: Supergirl #18

Supergirl #18 came out this week, a crackling issue which moved the current storyline along nicely while also building the foundation of the supporting characters and environment. I don't know if I can say this is my favorite issue of the run but if it isn't, it is near the top.

One of the things that I have bemoaned a bit about comics in general has been the lack of interest in giving books a cast of supporting characters. I also feel that these days, at times, comics forgets to give us scenes with characters out of their costume, showing us the human side, something which allows me as a reader to relate more. In Supergirl, it felt like at the beginning of this run, the character was so busy in various circles that there was barely any breathing room. Whether it was acting as Supergirl or interning at CatCo or going to school or being at the DEO or living at the Danvers, Kara was running around. It felt like maybe the book was being too ambitious.

Writers Steve Orlando and Jody Houser have, in the last several issues, tightened things up a bit. The CatCo stuff is in the background a bit. Cat herself is gone. Supergirl is on the run from the DEO. That leaves just the Danvers and school as locales. Frankly, I have loved the new focus. We really have got to learn more about Kara Danvers, the shy, semi-awkward school girl trying to do what's right. And we get more in depth looks at Eliza and Jeremiah, at Belinda Zee and Ben Rubel, at Agent Ocampo. It all gives me as the reader a deeper feel of who these characters are.

That doesn't mean the action is lessened. The DEO is present as an antagonist. Villains are being sent to stop Supergirl. So you get characterization and super-heroics. It is just the perfect mix.

The art here sizzles too. First off, we get the Robson Rocha cover which has the feel of a 1940's horror movie or murder mystery. Then you get the Artgerm variant riffing on the cover of Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #1. And on inside art, you get Carmen Carnero. Carnero drew some of my favorite chapters of the Adventures of Supergirl digital series and seems very comfortable with the character. Everything is spot on, from the battles to the slow dances.

All in all a very satisfying read. On to the book!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Sales Review: January 2018

The numbers for January sales are out and posted over on ICv2. Here is a link:

It is the usual combination of gloom and doom and interesting tidbits. DC and Marvel seemed to be in dead heat, splitting most sales and most dollars. DC took 6 of the top ten but that was Doomsday Clock or all-Batman.

But we are here to talk about Supergirl sales.

And Supergirl panic ...

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Supergirl Valentine's

Happy Valentine's Day to all who celebrate!

I was pretty thrilled to see Supergirl appearing on a Valentine's Card when I was shopping the other day. This is in a pack of Valentine's meant to be handed out in schools, one of 4 stickers included in the pack.

This is a bit of a giddy find for me. We live in a time when Supergirl is popular enough to be one of four characters highlighted in the pack. Amazing. This seems to be some standard merchandise image because it looks very similar to the Supergirl on the Chef Boyardee pasta can.

Amazing. Supergirl on Valentine's cards and pre-fab pasta cans.

Hope you have a high-flying day!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Amazing Heroes #78: Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 Review

I said it just last week ...
Every time I think I am done with covering Crisis on Infinite Earths #7, I get pulled back in.

Blog friend Greg Araujo (@garaujo1on Twitter) recently got a mess of old Amazing Heroes magazines and in that block was Amazing Heroes #78 from September 1985. No big surprise, based on the cover date, the book reviews the issues of Crisis on Infinite Earths which were still on the spinner racks at the time.

My how time flies.

Reviewer R.A. Jones takes a look at Crisis on Infinite Earths #7-9, discussing the major events. And these were the issues where people started to really sit up and take notice. It is one thing for Kid Psycho and the Crime Syndicate to die. It is another thing all together for Supergirl and The Flash to die. The stakes were suddenly real. World would live and die. And some characters would stay dead ... at least for a while.

Part of my research on the topic of Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 has always been the fallout. There was no social media then. The decision that Supergirl was unnecessary and unloved seemed absolute back then. *All* the DC higher ups thought so, right?

So reading reactions and reviews from around the time help me get a wider pulse of what it meant to the comic world for Kara to be killed. Here, Jones does a wonderful job of putting the event into context. And Jones is much more sympathetic than his staff mate Dwight Decker, who wrote a 'damning with faint praise' hatchet job four months earlier.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Artgerm Supergirl #20 Variant

I have been pretty impressed with the variant covers that Artgerm has been producing for the ongoing Supergirl title. While it is abundantly clear that Artgerm is a 'good girl' artist, the pieces are so beautiful I can forgive if they occasionally veer to cheesecake.

And in particular, I have loved his more recent covers showcasing the different costumes the Supergirl character has worn over the years. I spotlighted the 70's hot pants cover for Supergirl #18  here. And didn't share the equally gorgeous 'white shirt' costume cover he is putting on Supergirl #19.

But when this variant for Supergirl #20 was out on the internet late last week I had to show.

People who have been coming to this blog for a while know that the belly shirt costume designed by Michael Turner is, without a doubt, my least favorite costume for Supergirl. In particular, when it was taken to it's extremes, growing ever tinier, I cringed.

But there is something about this cover that made me smile. So I want to tip my hat to Artgerm for honoring Michael Turner here. Because this pose by Kara is pure Turner.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Review: Superman #40

Superman #40 came out this week, starting a new storyline by writer James Robinson and artist Doug Mahnke. We all have heard the news of Brian Michael Bendis going all-Byrne on us when he joins DC, taking over all the Superman books. Knowing a bold, new direction is just around the corner, I'm not surprised to see a side story in the book. Why would Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason continue to world build if they aren't holding the reins anymore?

And Robinson's story feels quite familiar. There is a Silver Age sentiment to the idea of Superman saving a planet about to suffer the same fate as Krypton. Back in those days, this would be told in 18 pages or so. Now it is an arc. And, as we are now in 2018, I anticipate that it won't be as black and white or cut and dried as those simpler stories. Here there is a clear science vs religion component. And my guess is that the 'protagonist' isn't going to be pure. These are cynical times.

I've talked up Doug Mahnke for years here and have loved his work since first discovering it on Major Bummer. But what I love in this issue is his treatment of Jon. Jon looks like a kid. He's all gangly with limbs all awkward and everywhere. Jon has great kid expressions, from fear to snark. I wouldn't mind seeing Mahnke on a Super Sons issue at some point.

On to the book!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Who's Who Laurel Gand

I have been a long time fan of the Fire and Water Podcast Network. And in particular I have been a big fan of their Who's Who show, even joining in as a guest host on several Who's Who in the Legion of Super-Heroes episodes.

Starting next week, Rob and Shag will begin their look at the 'loose leaf' Who's Who from the early 90s and I am very excited. I collected these when they were released so can't wait to relive them. Unfortunately, my binder of M-Z has been lost to time!

Anyways, to honor their hard work in this endeavor I thought I would review a Who's Who loose leaf page. But I already have reviewed the Supergirl one. And if you look hard enough here, I have also reviewed the Silver Banshee and even Maxima.

So this time I thought I would review Laurel Gand, the Supergirl analogue for the 5YL Legion run. For those who don't know, I reviewed the first 50 issues of the 5YL Legion over on the Legion of Super-Bloggers. I loved that run and I loved Laurel. Even though Matrix was around, I thought Laurel really captured the spirit of Supergirl.

And I love this Keith Giffen art. She is tall, proud, powerful. And I love how the red cape is a bit more of a darker, less primary red color. She was the muscle of the team. And that Darkseid head in the background has to be referencing the Great Darkness.

Just gorgeous.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Supergirl Episode 313: Both Sides Now

Supergirl episode 313, titled Both Sides Now, aired this week and continued to do a fine job of both propelling the Reign storyline as well as building up the internal theme of humanity, that is being humane, as being a strength required in these days.

This time the focus of the story is on Purity, the second of the World Killers, and how more in tune she is with her human side. Throughout the story we see a struggle between those halves, about who is in control.

And we also see how anger and fear and feeling worthless can lead someone down a path to being a monster. This time the magnifying glass is on Alex. In a sort of turnaround, it is Kara who is espousing the importance of reaching out and being human now. And it is Alex who is acting the cold, calculating, cruel agent. That is not what we saw in the early episodes of the season. Of course, Kara is healing now. And Alex is was with Maggie then. I suppose this is a way the writers can show that we are complex creatures with complex feelings. And it is only through love and support that we will remain compassionate, lifting each other up as we all stumble through life.

Not that this episode was all just a philosophical exercise in love and hate. There was a ton of action in this episode that kept things brisk.

Lastly, I must sound like a broken record by now but Melissa Benoist and Chyler Leigh continue to crush it week in and week out. In this episode in particular Chyler Leigh shows us the hardened soldier who is denying her feelings as she metes out what she thinks is justice. Just powerful.

On to the show.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Supergirl Curse of the Ancients

This news is somewhat stale. But sometimes that means people who missed it the first time around will see it! So why not post.

The second Jo Whittemore novel based on the Supergirl show was previewed over on Entertainment weekly a while back. That included a look at the cover as well as several pages of the text. Here is the link:

I reviewed the first novel Age Of Atlantis here and very much liked it. So I'll be glad when this one comes out. I love how much writer Jo Whittemore packs into the pages, from references to inside jokes to action. Even in the handful of pages that were previewed we get some fun.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Back Issue Box: Supergirl Annual #2

When Brainiac 5 was added to the Supergirl show's cast, I was thrilled. The Brainy/Supergirlromance is such a big part of her history. For many (including me), Brainy is her true love, her destiny. So to see it potentially played out on the small screen is a treasure.

Usually on this blog, I try to build on current Supergirl news by looking into similar stories in her past. So I wanted to cover some aspect of the Querl/Kara romance here. There was a problem though. When you have been blogging about Supergirl for nearly 10 years, you cover a lot of material. I have already covered much of this romance already. Just click the Brainiac 5 link and you'll get a ton of posts about Brainy and Supergirl, from his earliest appearances to team-ups and smooches in the Legion to his response to her death.

So with all those stories already covered, I decided to look at their relationship during a different sort of time in the DCU. Supergirl Annual #2, from 1997, was one of the PulpHeroes Annuals. These annuals riffed on the classic pulps in some way, whether it be pot-boiler hard-nosed mysteries to old school Sci-Fi to lurid romances. This issue focused on the latter, labeled Young Romance and looking at Supergirl's romantic relationships. What makes this interesting is that this is the Earth Angel Supergirl and (I believe) the Archie Brainiac 5. These two don't have the history of the Pre-Crisis pair. This isn't the classic Kryptonian Kara. And this is a Brainiac 5  stranded in the (then) 20th Century. It takes place in my ten years away from the Legion post-Zero Hour! So how could these two be in love?

Turns out they really aren't. The creative team of writer Tom Peyer and artist Anthony Castrillo play on the historical aspect of their romance by giving us a sort-of romance story. For old timers like me, at the time, it was like finally scratching an itch. I got to see Brainy and Supergirl together again.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Post-Crisis DC And Supergirl's Death: Mike Gold and Legends

One of my favorite DC mega-crossovers ever was Legends, the first crossover after Crisis on Infinite Earths. The purpose of Crisis was clear; it was designed to redefine DCU, streamline it. Legends was a different story, it was a Crisis of the Soul (I believe one of the first potential titles for the book). But it also was the fertile soil of the new DC, a place from which a ton of highly successful, highly creative titles grew from. The 'bwa-ha-ha' JLA, the Suicide Squad, the Wally West Flash, the Ted Kord Blue Beetle, the George Perez Wonder Woman ... all of them popped up from this book.

And what a murderer's row of creators to be working on the book - John Ostrander, Len Wein, John Byrne, and Karl Kesel! That is an insane amount of talent to be on one book. And each of them went on to have a big part in many of the new titles that followed in the aftermath of Crisis.

I hadn't reread Legends in some time. The promise of it being reviewed on the new DCOCD podcast as well as having store credit at a bookstore after a holiday return, I decided to purchase the 30th anniversary trade.

While I loved the mini, it is important to remember that this was early in the post-Crisis DCU. There was no Supergirl in the universe, not even a memory.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Supergirl Episode 312:For Good

Supergirl episode 312, titled 'For Good' came out this week and was a decent episode, nudging the Reign storyline forward and showcasing Lena Luthor in a very interesting way.

Ultimately though, I think I will sound rather blase about this episode. Not that this was a bad episode. But the prior two episodes were big screen thrillers, filled with comic book action and definitely building on the season theme of humanity and compassion being important for heroes. This episode did the same but writ small. So there was a bit of a let down feel. I suppose that's a good thing as it means the prior episodes shined so much.

And that's a shame because as a Lena episode this is fascinating. Remember last season where we all ruminated over her holding up a chess piece, wondering what that foreshadowed? Well, this episode gives us much more to chew over. The title 'For Good' probably was meant to assure us that Lena is now working for good permanently (or for good .... nice play on words). But, for me, it raised the specter of her going bad once more. Maybe season four?

Finally, I think it is a shame that Morgan Edge was taken off the board as a bad guy so quickly. There is a lot more story for someone like him in this season. He, and guest star Lillian Luthor, represent the inhuman human, the normal people who lack the compassion that Kara displays, that will win the day in the end.

I haven't even mentioned my favorite scene in the episode so I guess that's my cue to get down to it.