Friday, February 28, 2020

Review: Leviathan Dawn #1

For anyone who has frequented this site for the last year, you know that the mystery surrounding Leviathan plagued me. I had a Leviathan Theory and I was sticking with it. But I also considered other candidates. It consumed me.

I enjoyed Event Leviathan very much, even if my guess was wrong and I was glad when DC decided to further cement Leviathan as a threat by promoting the villain and continuing his story.

The first chapter of that came out last week with the Leviathan Dawn #1 special. Written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Alex Maleev, the special is both an epilogue to the Event Leviathan mini-series and a prologue for what is to come. And the book delivers, bringing together a ragtag group of characters to battle Leviathan under the name Checkmate. It also continues to deepen the character of Mark Shaw and his group Leviathan. With a very good cliffhanger, this definitely served the purpose of making me want to read the upcoming Leviathan Checkmate mini-series.

For me, I find the character and motivations behind Leviathan interesting. In theory, it all sounds like a good idea. But the means seem wrong and the aftermath seems to lead to chaos. Leviathan sounds at time like a populist hero at other times a benevolent dictator and still in others like an evil megalomaniac. I like complex characters in Mark Shaw, for now, is pretty complicated.

Bendis has always been a master at dialogue and he has these characters talk like normal people would even if they are in extraordinary circumstances.

Add to that Alex Maleev's incredible art. Maleev really brings a dynamic feel to this book. There is a lot of action here which flows very well. And the rich color, each scene dominated by one shade, really adds to things.

On to the book.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

January Sales Review

Well, the news about the cancellation will make my covering Supergirl sales a bit of tradition rather than noting fluctations. I suppose it will be interesting to see how precipitously sales drop now that the stories 'won't matter' any more.

January sales have been reported. Here is the link to ICv2 coverage:

January's top selling comic was Wonder Woman #750. Glad to see Diana top the charts!

As for Supergirl?

She's battling Diana albeit as the infected lunatic.

I can't talk about this story any more.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Dan Didio Leaves DC Comics

The news broke last week that Dan Didio was out as publisher at DC Comics. Here is a link to where I read it first - The Hollywood Reporter of all places:

I am in the medical profession and I know nothing of the inner workings of publishing. I never wish ill on anyone.

What I do know is that under his tenure, I often didn't recognize the DC Universe I was reading. It was often a very dark place. The overall feeling was often dark, grim, dismal, depressing.

He would say things like this.

Heroes shouldn't have happy personal lives. They are committed to being that person and committed to defending others at the sacrifice of their own personal interests,” he said, according to reports. “That's very important and something we reinforced.

Heroes can't be happy. They can't be married. They can't have families.

He would promote books like Heroes in Crisis where a beloved hero, the hallmark of hope in the DCU becomes a killer.

"I do believe you need that visceral impact in a story," DiDio continued. "Heroes In Crisis is really going to be a book that I think will really reclassify and redefine what it takes to be a hero again in the DC Universe."

Visceral. As if you couldn't have a story where a hero could do good because it was the right thing to do. Where a hero could be happy about being a hero. Where it wasn't all hands being cut off and offal.

It was a universe where evil was relative. Where you might have to root for something evil because it was the lesser of two evils.

Is that the DCU we know?

And then there was Supergirl under his tenure. Of all legacy characters, of all characters with a history, Supergirl was one who was a beacon of hope and optimism and brightness. I don't think he understood her at all.

Within her first arc, she was sexualized. She was turned evil. She was doubted by Batman.

In her solo title's first arc, she became Dark Kara.

In her title's second year, we learned she was sent to Earth to kill Superman. She had shot up a high school on Krypton with her deranged father.

All this darkness was rejected by long term Supergirl fans. People who want angsty characters won't read Supergirl. Supergirl fans don't want her angsty. It is a recipe for disaster. In 3 years they tried it three times. It never works.

Thankfully, Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle came on and righted the ship. But then that universe went away.

In the New 52, she was angry. She hated Superman. She wanted to be left alone. She was willing to blow up Earth with H'el to save Krypton. She left Earth and was killed by the Cyborg Superman (she got better).

Not dark enough?

They made her a Red Lantern.

As always, it didn't work.

Then Rebirth happened and after some rough spots we were in a good place. Supergirl was the hero of National City. She accepted Earth.

So of course the plug was pulled. She was made the Mistress of the Axe. She was a near killer.

Not dark enough?

Let's infect her with the Batman Who Laughs and make her a villain.

Guess what, it didn't work. The book was canceled.

Welcome to the wash/rinse/repeat cycle of Supergirl darkness. If something dark doesn't sell, we should only make it darker. Until sales plummet to the point that we either redeem or cancel. And then, a couple of years later, we'll try the darkness again.

It is like Supergirl is a microcosm of the warped view we saw over and over under Didio's watch. 

And yet ...

And yet ...

We got Morrison's Action Comics run.
We got the DCYou revamp with books like Black Canary and Starfire.
We got the Gates/Igle run of Supergirl.
We got Multiversity.

There were high points. But it reminded me of a line from Peter Milligan's Extremist comic. They were like 'perfumed hankerchiefs in a field of sh*t'. Bright spots on a dismal canvas.

And then, on line, I saw many creators, people whose work I love and admire, compliment Didio for his passion and dedication for his work. They talked about how Didio wasn't behind everything but he took all the on-line abuse, protecting his creative workforce.

I often loathed his overall DCU.
But I loved some books under his tenure.
I couldn't help but think someone with a clearer vision and love of the DCU would be better in his position.
But I know nothing of publishing.
And creators whose work I love lauded him.
But Supergirl was misunderstood by him and those beneath him.

Perhaps it is simply too big for me to grasp.

Will the DCU be better under the next regime?
I can only hope.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Review: Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #8

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #8 came out last week and was another hoot of an issue. I find myself grinning like a goof after I read this book. It is tough to follow the big story arcs. It is told in a crazy way. Nonlinear isn't enough to describe it. Random?

But it is all good and I have a solid enough feeling about it to just float along and enjoy.

Like past issues, this issue leans into Jimmy's  crazy history throughout all continuities. We get riffs on Silver Age. But there is also a Jimmy take on the Reign of the Superman which truly made me laugh out loud. Matt Fraction continues to inject humor into this book, both side jokes and funny long form plots. I am going to be so sad when this ends.

Steve Lieber also shines here. The panel breakdown, the pages, the different looks of Jimmy, the expressive work all is perfect here.

I know sales aren't great. But I am going to miss this. Maybe DC can give Fraction and Lieber an annual or a special or something when this is all done? I need the smiles!

On to the book!

Friday, February 21, 2020

Review: Legion of Super-Heroes #4

Legion of Super-Heroes #4 came out this week and finally we got a snippet of the team's origins, close enough to the classic to feel familiar, different enough to feel fresh, suspicious enough to make a conspiracy theorist like me wonder some things.

I loved it.

We are slowly meeting the Legionnaires and this issue we get concentrated doses of the original Legionnaires Three. We got snippets of information about Blok and Triplicate Girl. And we got a sort of newish interpretation of one of my longtime favorites Lightning Lass as well.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis is slowly immersing us in this new Legion mythology. There are some storylines brewing in the background. But mostly it feels like the stage is being set here. As a lifelong Legion fan, as someone who has understood the issue of keeping old rabid fans happy while opening up this mythology to new readers, he really is walking the tightrope. I have to give him proper respect for doing this, a seemingly impossible task.

The art on the issue is broken between Ryan Sook doing his usual stellar work on the present timeline. Mikel Janin pencils the flashback sequences. The whole issue sparkles artwise. I am so impressed by this book. And one particular panel gave me goosebumps. When you strike a chord with a jaded reader like me, you have succeeded.

On to the book!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

May 2020 Solicits

Last week DC released their May 2020 solicits. A look at all the books can be found here at Newsarama:

The big news is the cancellation of Supergirl, a topic I covered here. I keep hearing these rumblings of another universal reboot. I am hearing some behind the scene whispers that Supergirl is going to be left untouched for a bit. I already ranted. Just know it makes absolutely no sense to keep a marketable character like Supergirl on the shelf. Ridiculous.

written by JODY HOUSER
card stock variant cover by DERRICK CHEW

Deemed a threat by the U.S. military, Supergirl is now a wanted villain! General Corvid has come for our hero—and she won’t give up until Kara’s gone for good. Meanwhile, the superstorm rages stronger than ever, while hundreds remain helpless against it. Can Supergirl prove that she’s the hero the people once believed her to be? Or will she let everyone down—including herself? Find out in the pulse-pounding series conclusion! FINAL ISSUE

We go out with a sob. Instead of the book ending with Supergirl as a hero, redeemed the solicit makes it sound like she's a fugitive. That is a far cry from the National City citizens cheering for their hero when she returned from space.

Who can I blame for this complete misunderstanding of a character and the character's fanbase?
I have no choice but to blame Dan Didio who has been in charge for all of these dark takes.

On to the rest of the Super books.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Review: Superman Heroes #1

Superman Heroes came out last week, a sort of anthology book by the current gaggle of Superman writers and artists. Think of it as this season's Leviathan Rising. It is a sort of pulse check on what is happening in the super-books while giving us some back story and future hints about the latest major story arc, the reveal that Superman is Clark Kent.

I found most of the book to be quite enjoyable with solid plot and art throughout. In particular, the sort of reaction pieces, those stories to check in on how the news has hit them. Jimmy's story is wonderful and Superman thanking an old professor is another good tale.There is also a very nice 'wisdom of Pa Kent' story. You know I am a sucker for those.

The art is a nice mix. Scott Godlewski lends a folksy feel to the Pa story. Steve Lieber and Mike Perkins draw the Jimmy and Lois stories respectively, keeping up with their current assignments. And Kevin Maguire and Mike Norton add nice panache.

For the price point, I was very happy with this.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Supergirl Canceled ... Or Why I Should Just Give Up

I was away on a much needed two day getaway when my phone exploded with the news.

Supergirl had been canceled.

Here is a link to Newsarama’s coverage:

I sighed.

Frankly this book has been slowly dying since Marc Andreyko took over, morphing away from everything a Supergirl book should be until it has become an abomination, a villain’s book, a book that is as far away from a Supergirl book as you can get.

So I went to the story and read the solicit.

‘Deemed a threat by the US military, Supergirl is now a wanted villain!’

And that’s just the opening line.

So I thought about how this cancellation was akin to a mercy killing. Better to stop publishing this horrid representation than to carry it forward.

But as I mulled the news over that day I realized what I was actually feeling.


Red hot, pit of my belly, good old fashioned wrath.

Because I’m sick of it.

I’m sick of DC and Dan Didio thinking this is what people want in a Supergirl book only to have it tank. This is now at least the 5th time over the course of this blog’s life that we have seen the creative powers at DC go this route.

It never ever ever works.

So right when Steve Orlando and Jody Houser were hitting their stride, DC puts the book in pause and brings in Andreyko who rights an angry Supergirl, Mistress of the Axe. His Kara would have been a killer more than once if Krypto hadn’t stood between her and her prey.

And if that overly long story wasn’t enough, it’s followed by Supergirl becoming a twisted evil version of herself.

I know I shouldn’t be surprised anymore by this pattern but I thought for sure maybe this time would be different.


Because Supergirl is at the height of her mainstream popularity.

If the CW can get ‘hope, help, and compassion for all’ right, you’d think DC Comics could too.

And you think the could because Brian Michael Bendis writes a great Supergirl when she is in his Superman book. She is often the hero, usually the voice of reason. He is the captain of the super-ship. You think he’d tell DC that the House of El doesn’t roll that way.

In fact, my only hope is that Mr. Bendis saves the day, putting Supergirl under the Wonder Comics umbrella or having her headline a Superman Family book with Lois and Jimmy. Or out her in the Legion for a year or two. If you are reading this Mr. Bendis, please ... help us.

I know this has been rambling. But I’m upset. And tired.

I started this blog 12 years ago ... a lifetime ago it feels ... because I thought DC was telling terrible Supergirl stories and I wanted to celebrate her. Back then? She had just finished an arc where she was a killer on Krypton.

And here I am, a dozen years later, seeing the same ill conceived story ideas leading to the same results.


Monday, February 17, 2020

Review: Superman #20

Hard to believe that we are basically 2 years into the Brian Michael Bendis Superman era and that we are still firing on all cylinders.

Superman #20 is another very good issue in a series of excellent arcs. The issue is basically split in half. As with the Superman title, it focuses on Superman's heroic efforts not only on Earth but also in the intergalactic stage. The United Planets are formed. Mongul is there to crash the party.

But the other half of this issue is dedicated the the Daily Star, the Daily Planet's rival. We have seen a lot of Planet Pit drama in Action Comics. So I think it was an interesting choice to put so much rival newspaper in this title.

And much of this has to do with Superman's recent reveal to the world of his secret identity. Now I admit that I am still not sold on the long term viability of this reveal. But unlike the last bite at this plot apple, I think Bendis' roll out has been better thought out and for the most part better plotted. He is asking or touching on all the things that weren't discussed in The Truth from a few years ago. And at least this time, Superman is the one who made the decision.

Add to that the return of one of my favorite supporting characters in Superman lore and this issue is a winner.

Ivan Reis shines on art as usual. He has always impressed me but the space scenes here, the brutal battles against Mongul, are very well done, in widescreen format.

On to the issue.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Review: Supergirl #39

Supergirl #39 came out this week, another chapter in the "I'm the bad guy" storyline, another issue where I don't think I am reading a Supergirl issue.

I feel for new creative team of Jody Houser and Rachael Stott as they have been dropped into the Hell Arisen/Batman Who Laughs/Year of the Villain arc with a twisted Supergirl trying to save the world by infecting it with an evil virus. Read that sentence again. I can't believe I had to write it.

I have read countless 'Dark Kara' arcs, mostly with a snarky or outright evil Supergirl. I know they are all short-lived. But I am having a bit of a harder time with this one than others. This infected Supergirl keeps talking about how she wants to save the world by infecting everyone with the BWL virus, making everyone care just for themselves. But that doesn't make any sense. There is no logic. You cannot save everyone by making everyone turn on each other.

I get it. She's infected. She isn't in her right mind. But if the whole point of this arc is that Supergirl is trying to do the right thing the wrong way than I can't get behind it. Because I simply don't think she is trying to do the right thing.

The art by Rachael Stott is very solid. At times I felt she was invoking Frank Quitely. Otherwise, the fine lined approach to the art is very good. And she conveys the insanity of Supergirl nicely via expression.

The cover by Kevin Maguire is also interesting, showing Supergirl and Wonder Woman being crushed by a robotic hand. It reminded me of something though.

I don't know if it is an homage. It is interesting that Diana is in both covers. But I was instantly taken to Wonder Woman #105 by John Byrne. My guess is there are countless comic covers of heroes holding up a giant hand. Perhaps this is more trope than homage.

On to the book.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Back Issue Box: Adventure Comics #386

After several days of misery, I thought the blog could use a little bit of levity. And as tomorrow is Valentine's Day, I thought I would review Adventure Comics #286.

"The Beast That Loved Supergirl" was written by Cary Bates and drawn by Win Mortimer and is a brief if silly story showcasing just how endearing Supergirl is. Even a monster would instantly fall in love with her.

I can't help but smile at this story. Bates is able to give us a complete story in an action-packed 12 pages. We get a couple of small moments which put a spotlight on Kara's personality. There is a whiff of Supergirl continuity here, something rare for the time. And the ending is a bit of a shock and totally worth it.

Win Mortimer did a lot of Supergirl's stories in Superman Family. Here he seems to be a bit more vibrant and dynamic. His Supergirl is young and beautiful. And the action is rendered nicely.

On to the book and Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Superman Metal

Well, the plan was to have the misery tour end yesterday but DC decided to double down!

After the downbeat and off-putting ending to his JLA run, Scott Snyder is bringing his latest vision to the DCU, a metal sort of JLA.

Here is Newsarama's coverage:

I keep hoping we will get back to the brief renaissance of good feelings that came with Rebirth but it seems like DC is determined to bring us back to the low depths of the New 52.

A long haired, red-eyed, Bizarro'd up Superman looking like a mix of Claw The Unconquered and Kamandi isn't exactly what I am looking for these days.

So Year of the Villain, Perpetua winning, Supergirl as a one woman insane clown posse, and now this.

Well, I have been looking for ways to save money. DC keeps providing.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Free Comic Book Day 2020

Welcome to the second day of my brief misery tour.

DC Comics' contribution to Free Comic Book Day has finally been revealed.

And I don't think I am too happy about it.

Here is the link to Newsarama's coverage:

The article delineates some of the particulars and where this story is coming from but here is a blurb of the book being done by writer Scott Lobdell and artist Brett Booth.

In order to save his children and the multiverse itself, Wally West makes the ultimate sacrifice, taking his place in the Moebius Chair. Unbeknownst to him, the chair is packing a little extra power, having been imbued with the godlike powers of Dr. Manhattan! Now armed with infinite knowledge – and the powers of a god – Wally West can see the past, present and future of the DC Universe all at once...Including what needs to be changed.

There is so much about this that makes me bristle.

Yet another event that is centered around the Batman Who Laughs, so prominent on the cover.

Another event that seems to further distort any memory of Wally West being a grounded superspeedster. Hey, if making him a delusional murdered in Heroes In Crisis wasn't enough, let's merge him with Metron and Dr. Manhattan.

The weird aftertaste of Doomsday Clock has barely left my mouth and already we have another Dr. Manhattan sighting and another scrape at the Watchmen cash cow?

But perhaps the most off-putting of this announcement was that Lobdell was writing it.

Because putting a guy whose cipherous skills peaked in the extreme 90s in charge of yet another potential universe rewriting doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to me. That isn't looking forward. That's looking back.

Anyways, at least there will be a Blade Runner book out for FCBD.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Hell Arisen: Lobo Vs. Supergirl

Welcome to day one of a brief tour of negativity.

I knew that at the back of the books was a preview of Amy Reeder's Amethyst book and I was excited to see what that book was going to look like. I have been calling for Reeder to do an Amethyst book since 2015.

Unfortunately, before I got to that preview, I was faced with this.

It turns out that the there is going to be an issue of Hell Arisen at the end of the month where the infected Supergirl will take on Lobo in 'the brawl for it all'. I like what James Tynion has done at Justice League Dark. I like Steve Epting's realistic art so I wonder how that will work here with these two garish characters.

Now I admit I am not enjoying Year of the Villain. I am not enjoying this infected Supergirl. I am not enjoying anything with the Batman Who Laughs. So I know this book isn't being written for me.

But I can't help but be a bit bummed that the only time DC seems to be promoting Supergirl is when she is somehow going down a dark path.

The last full ad was when Marc Andreyko took over. It showed Supergirl wielding Rogol Zaar's axe. Now we have the pro wrestler look of the Infected Kara blazing fire from her eyes.

Will I get this issue to help be follow Kara's story? Probably.

I can only hope that when this infected phase of the story ends that DC does Supergirl a solid and promotes her solo book.

And I can only hope that all this darkness goes away.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Review: Lois Lane #8

Lois Lane #8 came out this week and introduced the character 'The Kiss of Death' into DC continuity.

I open this review with that fact because the book was sold out at my comic book store when I got there 3 hours after opening. I only got the issue because I have the title on my pull list. It turns out that first appearance got the attention of comic speculators! Who knew they still existed! And didn't we see Kiss of Death last issue?

Anyways, the issue continued to pace of this title. There is an action sequence. There is a scene with Lois and Superman talking. There is one little plot point which ties into one of the storylines writer Greg Rucka is simmering slowly. I definitely keep hoping we get some plot momentum.

Mike Perkins provides the art for the book. I will say overall I am so impressed with Perkins work on the book, in particular the martial art sequences with Renee. He really should be doing a monthly Question book. But at times his expressive work can seem off. In this issue a panel of Renee smiling is just a bit jarring.

I like this book. But I keep thinking about the dwindling time and space to wrap up all that is happening. I hope it all comes together.

On to the book.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Back Issue Box: Supergirl #48

With Supergirl currently infected by the Batman Who Laughs and thinking she knows what is best for humanity, I decided to comb through the back issues find a similar tale from the past.

Amazingly, despite having blogged about Supergirl for nearly 12 years, I hadn't covered Supergirl #48 by Peter David and Leonard Kirk. This is one of my absolute favorite issues of this run so I can't believe I haven't reviewed it before.

The first 50 issues of David's run is a compelling story of faith, sin, humanity, religion, and redemption. And at this point, Supergirl, an Earth Angel, was feeling pretty good about herself. She was comfortable with her powers. She was accepted as a hero ... even worshiped by a group of people who recognized her as a true angel. And she was heading home after an adventure to get reacquainted with her boyfriend Dick Malverne.

Of course, it is when people are at their zenith that they are brought down to their lowesr. And this is that point. This Supergirl learns a lesson in pride and humility. And it almost brings a Hell on Earth.

This story is incredibly powerful. It starts with this powerful cover of a grieving Supergirl, small and faceless, nearly engulfed by the empty space.

But for me, the big point of the issue is that Supergirl immediately understands that her haughty position is wrong. The problem is she loses hope. And that can't happen. Let's get into the story.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The Shrine Redux

When does a residence become a home?

Well, after being in my new place for 3 months the time was right to establish a place for the Supergirl shrine.

That also meant deciding that this book shelf, initially meant for trades, would be repurposed.

The open top means that larger statues have room to breathe a bit.

And the lower shelves have a lot of space meaning there is room for more stuff!

There isn't much rhyme or reason here. I did my best to put pieces of similar costumes together. But spacing and size made it more difficult here than at the old site.

Anyways, I am pretty pleased with how this turned out.

And having the Shrine rebuilt definitely makes this place more of a home.


Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Bullet Review: Green Lanterns Blackstars #3

Green Lantern BlackStars has been something of a metatextual commentary on comics in general. No surprise give that Grant Morrison is writing it.

Last issue we had Hal Jordan confront Superman with the fact that every month seems to be some grim punch 'em up with anthropomorphic universal powers.

But I was a bit intrigued how Morrison was going to wrap this whole thing up. BlackStars was a 3 issue mini between 'seasons' of Green Lantern but the story seemed to have as wide a scope as Year of the Villain and The Batman Who Laughs and Event Leviathan. The Black Stars, the agents of Lord Mu were taking over the universe. They even recruited Jon Kent, Superboy, into the fold.

We had one issue left ... Black Stars #3. Would it all come together? Or would it be another Morrison 'what the heck' story?

I leave you to be the judge.