Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Supergirl Comic Box Commentary Is 12 Year Old !

A dozen years!

It is hard to think back that far but way back on April 29, 2008 I decided to run a Supergirl centric fan site.

I named it the rather tongue twisty 'Supergirl Comic Box Commentary' and set about promoting my favorite comic character during a time when I felt she was being overlooked or (even worse) misrepresented and underutilized.

This was a time when an angry, surly, barely dressed Supergirl was trying her best to save a boy named Thomas. She had just been through relatively horrid stories where she went evil, smoked, dated a way older guy, got into an abusive relationship, was revealed to have shot up a Krypton high school with Zor-El, and then was on a mission to try and kill Superman.

She needed someone to point out the good things about her and I was up for the challenge.

In these 12 years I have had a lot to cheer for. Her character has had some amazing arcs, was a prominent player in the DCU, and has even had mainstream visibility with a hit TV show. And this site is here to cheer and promote those moments.

In these 12 years I have had a lot to moan about. She has gone evil too many times to count. She has had creators attached to her comic who don't seem to like her. And I am here to point out my difficulties with those stories.

So what about the last 12 months?

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

A Little Bit Of Kandor: Candor Pt 1 Supergirl #6

Welcome to part one to a week long look at Candor, the second arc in the Supergirl solo series from the early 2000's. As I said in my prologue post, I did not like this story at all. So if you don't want to read something relatively negative, you can jump off here. I will try to point out the high points. But there aren't many.

Remember that this is a reintroduction of Kara Zor-El as Supergirl in the DCU. It is clear that DC felt the best representation of the character was of a bratty, angry, angsty teenage girl. And, as if to double down, they have given her a motivation of being sent to Earth to kill Kal-El. This is a far cry from the other Kara. It is a far cry from really any hero.  I was still willing to see if this was going to be a redemption story ... remember I love PAD's Supergirl series. But this seemed wrong. Toss in hyper-sexualization of a 16 year old character and I was struggling to get behind this new incarnation.

I will also remind you that it was this run of Supergirl that was such a terrible misunderstanding of the core of the character that it spurred me to make this blog to celebrate her.

But enough retreading old sorrows.

Check out the cover by Ian Churchill of Kara and Karen as Nightwing and Flamebird, the Dynamic Duo of Kandor. That pose, as the tease of it was, is an homage.

An homage to the real dynamic duo, Batman and Robin.

I'll also point out that Greg Rucka was announced as the writer of the Supergirl book starting here and so I had pretty high hopes. So let's dive in!

On to the book!

Monday, April 27, 2020

A Little Bit Of Kandor: Candor Prologue

Okay folks, settle in.

Because of the lack of new books coming out and an utter wasteland of news about Supergirl in the current DCU post-cancellation, I have been combing the backs issues for suitable reviews. And I have been focusing a little bit on Kandor given the recent storyling in Batman/Superman.

That has led me to this Candor storyline and I feel it needs to be reviewed even if I honestly say that I detest it.

But it certainly fits the bill for a decent deep dive for a number of reasons.

First off, it definitely involves Kandor, the post-Crisis city which in this storyline is a mishmash of alien beings and Kryptonian survivors. (I think the city was re-established as a Kryptonian city in Superman Birthright ... perhaps another review idea.)

But more importantly, it shows just how wrong DC can get Supergirl. Remember, right now in the DCU Supergirl has been on a downward path of being rage-fueled and then rage-infected. The book is very dark. And that doesn't work for Supergirl.

Unfortunately, DC never seems to learn the lesson. And so we have storylines like this one, early on Supergirl's reboot. You will see as this story unfolds how they make Kara very angry, actually murderous, and not exactly heroic. You will also see how DC hyper-sexualized her despite saying she was a 16 year old girl, something which is totally cringe-worthy. Perhaps worst of all, this is smack dab in the middle of the 'my destiny is to kill Kal-El, my father is mad Zor-El' nonsense.

Yes, just about everything is wrong here. And Sterling Gates/Jamal Igle's salvation was about 2.5 years in the future.

Still, this was very early. I think people were still a bit giddy that we had a Kryptonian cousin around and were still willing to give this a fair shake.

To put in context, Candor happens right after Supergirl #5 in which we see Jeph Loeb (the architect of the Kryptonian Kara reboot). And that isn't a winner either. Nude Kara prancing around her father while saying she'll kill Kal. Dark Kara coming out of her and being generally evil. And a rather inscrutable ending.

Well, we go from inscrutable to impenetrable ...

Friday, April 24, 2020

Elseworld’s Finest Supergirl & Batgirl Epilogue

It took me almost 12 years but I finally reviewed Elseworlds Finest Supergirl &Batgirl this month. (Review posts part 1 and part 2 available.)

I always remembered liking this Elseworlds a lot. But as often happens when I read a book more critically, I was even more impressed. This is truly an Elseworlds with a lot of the usual DC continuity shaken up. The story beats work very well. And the art is stunning.

As I usually do, I tweeted out the link to the review and was thrilled to have Barbara Randall Kesel herself make a few comments which I thought I would share here.

On the art work:

Thursday, April 23, 2020

A Little Bit Of Kandor: Superman #107

I continue my brief look at Kandor stories with a look back to Superman #107 from 1995, a middle chapter in the overly long and mediocre Trial Of Superman arc.

Remember, when John Byrne took over Superman, he made him once again the Last Son of Krypton, the only survivor of the exploding planet. So Supergirl, the Phantom Zone villains, and the bottled city of Kandor all went away.

But that IP is too good to waste and so we got new, different versions of these characters. Remember, this is the time of  the Matrix Supergirl!

On to the book!

The appropriately named 'Bottled Up' was written by Dan Jurgens, with art by Ron Frenz and Joe Rubinstein.

Briefly, in the Trial of Superman, Superman is being tried by the intergalactic Tribunal for the crime of being responsible for the destruction of Krypton. Apparently, one of Kal's ancestors was somehow responsible for the people of Krypton being unable to leave the planet. So Kal, through the generations, is going to be the stand-in for his familial crime.

Team Superman, including Alpha Cneturion, bands together to head into space and rescue the Man of Steel.

So this issue starts out with a nice shot of the Super-family cruising on an asteroid, following a trail to where Superman went.

I like this group shot as the body positions tell us a bit of the characters' personalities. Love the upright Eradicator and somewhat youngish, demure Supergirl.

I like the concept of Team Superman.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The Double Mourning Of Con Prep During Covid

It is supposed to be school vacation week here in the Boston area.

As my youngest two are still of an age where that matters, I routinely take the week off from work.

One of the tasks that I usually do in this week off is begin thinking about convention season, looking at guests who are coming to cons I go to and start pulling books.

And usually the best way for me to start pulling books is to go to and search for creators while limiting the search to books I have in my collection.

Well ... it's 2020 and so there are some things happening in the world which makes a lot of the above routine impossible. Thanks global pandemic!

First off, it isn't really school vacation week. The COVID-19 pandemic closed schools about a month ago. Everyone has been home since  then. And the kids are getting on-line assignments.

The pandemic has also impacted shows. San Diego Comic Con just canceled. My con season happens in August but that is just around the corner. So I don't think they'll be happening.

But just in case, I thought I'd look.

Boston Fan Expo hasn't any guest listed.

Plastic City Comic Con, a smaller local con, has two excellent guests lined up: Roy Thomas and Jerry Ordway. I have seen both a couple of times at other cons so don't have too much to get signed.

And Terrificon, usually my heavy lifting con, has a smattering of guests announced but I have to imagine this is the tip of the iceberg. Some of them are people I haven't seen before and would be very excited to meet. Denys Cowan, Marguerite Bennett, Bart Sears, and John Ostrander are all new for me which would mean lots of potential books to pull. But also some favorite creators who I have met but would love to talk too again are also going. Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, Dan Slott, and Steve Rude (as well as others) are also announced.

Now I have an idea of the Ostrander books I'd get signed as well as the Cowan ones. As for sketches, Amanda Conner is always a grail piece. I'd love to get a piece by Cowans and Sears. And if prior shows are a template, this is the tip of the ice berg of announcements.

But will this show happen? Who knows.
If it doesn't, I will be very sad.

But wait, there's something else to change this con season. ComicBookDB is gone.

Now I can't easily search my collection for books these creators have done to bring for signatures. I need to rely on my memory!

I know I can search the internet and get lists and try to cross-reference. But it won't be easy.

I miss ComicBookDB. I would have paid for that service!

Look, I get this is a very myopic post. This is a pandemic and I know people will be dramatically affected by it. For all I know, I will be dramatically affected.

But I look forward to cons as a nice diversion from my busy life. It'll be a blow to my morale if they don't happen.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

A Little Bit of Kandor: Supergirl #2

We are in a new world with the COVID-19 pandemic, with no new comics and very little comic news coming out. With no new reviews in the queue, I will start doing some back issue reviews, trying as best as I can to lean into recent storylines or plot points. That has always been my M.O. here at the site, not doing index reviews but celebrating the rich history of the DCU.

Recently, I covered Batman/Superman #8, a story reintegrating Kandor and setting up the Kandor Compromise. It is definitely a fun issue.

With that book in my mind, in particular the rather rapid reintegration of Kandor in current continuity given that Rogol Zaar had just smashed and stomped it to bits about 2 years ago. So why not take a little look at Kandor?

This won't be comprehensive at all. 'A Little Bit of Kandor' will be like 'Matrix Monday' was here, a side look at some stories that intrigue me or that build a little history. And I thought I'd start with 1973's Supergirl #2,

Now I am a fan of Supergirl. And I tend to be a tad forgiving for her stories.

But this story is crazy.

I mean 'did the creative team drop acid' crazy.

I know that late Silver Age/early Bronze Age stories are stuffed with story elements. How often do I say that a 10 pager in this time period has as many plot elements as current 6 issue arcs. But this story is filled not only with plot elements but significant inconsistencies to continuity, odd off-the-cuff major details, and insanity that I am surprised everyone agreed to do it.

In the end I wonder if the writer basically asked people what they wanted to see in a Supergirl story, got a list of things, and fit a story around those elements. It is the only explanation I can see.

Let's not forget the reason I am reviewing this now. Kandor is a huge part of this story. But I also feel like the rules and landscape of the bottle city we see in the tale are just a bit off as well.

At the very least, I also have to tip my hat to the medicine in the issue. We get a brief message of sickle cell disease. I suppose that is the educational element that was sort of demanded at the time in comics.

On to this story. Strap in!

Monday, April 20, 2020

Event Leviathan Hardcover

I walked into my local comic store in the day it was destined to close as part of the COVID19 pandemic. All non-essential businesses were asked to close their doors. And for some unknown reason, comic stores were deemed non-essential.

It was a good week for books. I had 9 on the pull list so I knew I would have at least a good amount of new stuff to parse out while waiting out the social distancing mandates.

But then I saw this on the shelf ... the Event Leviathan hardcover collection.

I wanted to help my store. I knew I needed some new stuff (or at least new format of stuff) to read.

And, let's face it, Event Leviathan was a big deal for me this last year.

 Who is Leviathan?

It was a question I was determined to answer. Or at least to think about. Or investigate.

I looked at all the clues. I had my main Leviathan Theory. But I also had others. And I tried to back up my claims. I tried to get Brian Michael Bendis to weigh in or maybe give something away on Twitter.

I was pretty obsessed with the mystery.

So I decided reward the engagement of the mini-series as well as my store and bought this collected volume of the Leviathan Rising special and the mini-series itself.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Review: Elseworld's Finest Supergirl & Batgirl Pt 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my review of 1998's Elseworld's Fines Supergirl & Batgirl. If just jumping on board, you can read my Part 1 review here.

I am reminded that this was 1998. We are deep into Matrix country for Supergirl at this time. In fact, at the time this issue came out we were more than 2 years into the Peter David run. The Earth Angel Supergirl was about to have a run-in with the protoplasmic remnants of the Matrix base.

But that means we were also over a decade removed from a Kryptonian Supergirl being anywhere on the racks. The very idea of a Kara Zor-El seemed forbidden. So this stands out as about as true an Elseworld's for the time as anything.

I gave Barbara Kesel kudos last review but more are needed here. Kesel throws in Easter Eggs for Supergirl and Batgirl that made me smile. And there is a key plot point that I can remember being shocked at the first time I read this book. I love when I am completely surprised by a plot turn any time I read a comic. And the ending seems like it is poised for a sequel, the two heroes friends. Alas, we never got one.

Matt Haley continues to really shine on art. I am impressed with the action sequences here. The work he does on expressions is impressive. I have never seen him on a con circuit but I would definitely want a commission from him.

And Tom Simmons colors reflect and complement the art perfectly as you will see.

On to the conclusion!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Bendis Tweets About Supergirl

The recent past has not been good for Supergirl.

She was sent into space to investigate Rogol Zaar. She became an axe wielding, rage fueled brawler. Thank goodness Krypto was there. This isn't Supergirl.

She returned home and reclaimed her role as the beloved hero of National City for one issue.

Then she was infected by the Batman Who Laughs and became this mockery of the character, a  Heavy Metal, clawed demon interested in infecting the world in order to save them. This isn't Supergirl either.

No surprise. Supergirl's title was canceled.

Once that announcement came out, along with the issue solicit which described Supergirl as being on the run from the American military, I began to wonder. What will become of Supergirl?

Will she be turned into a villain, embittered by her fugitive status?
Will she simply disappear from the DCU, ostensibly 'in hiding'?
Will her fans not see her?
Will her fans have to wait for some sort of reboot? Or wait some months for the property to be deemed safe again to start up?

I really started to worry that I might not see my favorite character for some time, in a sort of comic limbo because her character was dragged through the mud, becoming unrecognizable, and ultimately creatively toxic.

I posed the question on Twitter'

And Brian Michael Bendis answered!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Supergirl Episode 516: Alex In Wonderland

Welcome back to my 'better late than never' reviews of Supergirl season 5. Today I'll be looking back about a month at episode 516 'Alex in Wonderland'.

I have been crowing about this season for a while now and my compliments have been based on a couple of key things. One, the overall plot has been moving forward nicely throughout the season. There don't seem to be any of those 'after school special' episodes miring things down which occasionally happened last season.

Two, the show has really leaned into it's own history this season, calling back to plots, timelines, prior episodes, and even minor characters. It has reached back to the CBS season one even. Doing that, especially in this post-Crisis new world, gives the show a continuity that long time viewers must love. For a comic fan like me, continuity is a backbone. I have loved that.

This episode does both of those things pretty well. The plot is really just nudged forward. We don't get too much advancement there. But the history stuff is here in great quantities. The main catalyst of this episode is the death of Jeremiah Danvers, a plot thread left untugged for some time. And to see Alex's response to that as well as how it impacts her virtual reality holiday was fascinating.

The one sad thing is that I think the main focus of this season is that people shouldn't pull away from each other but instead lean on each other to get through problems. That seems a bit weird in the current world stage of self-isolation and pandemic. Who could have foreseen that?

On to the episode.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Back Issue Box: Supergirl #70

There's a global pandemic!

We just passed Easter and Passover!

There are no new comics on the shelves!

So today I bring you a back issue review of Supergirl #70 from 2002! It encompasses all those things! Plagues! Supergirl heroics! Fun!

This was an odd time for Supergirl to say the least. Where the first 50 issues of this Peter David run hold up as an amazing super-longform look at religion, redemption, and sacrifice, the following 2 year run (which this issue is near the end of) was a bit rougher.

Linda Danvers, a deeply flawed human who is trying to be better and has come far from her darker past, is trying to reclaim the angelic portion of the Supergirl Earth Angel. She has been depowered, having the abilities of the earliest Superman (leaping not flying, bursting shell invulnerability, etc). She is following a chaos stream to Hell to find that aspect. She needs Buzz, a demon turned human which she loves/hates to get her there. Meanwhile, Lilith, the original wife of Adam, is on a revenge tour against Supergirl. Supergirl defeated her son The Carniverean, the first vampire in those forst 50 issues. To torment Supergirl, Lilith is sending demons to fight. Luckily, Linda has Mary Marvel as a pal who can see demons even when they are disguised. It's a road trip!

Whew ... a lot of back story there.

But an underlying theme here is that Linda is unsure if she is worthy of her powers or the angelic nature of Supergirl. Does she deserve to be reunited with that holy being. And Mary, while helpful, is so pure that Linda is constantly reminded of her own shortcomings. No doubt there is a twinge of inferiority and of self-loathing here.

God, I miss this Linda Danvers, as complex a character as you will find. Peter David was really at the top of his game here.

 The art is done by a guest penciller, Todd Nauck, whose style goes well with the youthful heroes. You may notice the cover being signed by Nauck when I saw him at a con in 2009.

On to the issue!

Monday, April 13, 2020

Review: Batman/Superman #8

Batman/Superman #8 came out what feels like a lifetime ago.

This is the last 'new comic' I will be reviewing on this site until the whole global pandemic and comic book industry sorts itself out. And, I'll be honest, it isn't a bad one to go out on. It isn't great. It doesn't seem to value continuity. But it is a sharp read. It has beautiful art. And it includes one of my more favorite recent panels.

Writer Joshua Williamson gives us a different sort of look at General Zod and I appreciate that. I am usually quite content with my villains being evil because they are evil. But here Williamson gives us a little sliver of Zod back story that shows why he is so hellbent on this mission to resurrect Kandor. There is also just a whiff of Eradicator here, that need to continue the Kryptonian culture.

But the star of the book is artist Nick Derington. Derington's art is in that sweet spot where at times he invokes a Toth-ian minimalism and at other times I am impressed with his flair for detail. His facial expressions are just perfect. And I want to see him on another Ra's Al Ghul story ... like right now.

Thankfully, this is the end of this arc so we won't be left with a cliffhanger.

Here is hoping for new comics soon ...

On to the book.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Review: Elseworld's Finest Supergirl & Batgirl Pt. 1

I have been running Supergirl Comic Box Commentary for nearly 12 years now. When I first came up with the idea for the site, I knew that one of the things I wanted to cover was the many incarnations and little odd corners of Supergirl's history. Immediately I thought about 1998's Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl.

Here we are 12 years later and I still haven't covered it before today. And this despite promising several frequenters of the blog that I was planning to do it.

It isn't that I don't like the story. It is a fine Elseworlds book. Writer Barbara Kesel gives us a new universe where Barbara Gordon is a hard as nails, very Batman-like Batgirl who runs a very tightly controlled Gotham. Bruce Wayne is more of an Alfred role, helping her coordinate. Superman doesn't exist. Supergirl is a huge hero. And the main hero group is the Justice Society, led by Wonder Woman but with some interesting members and new characters thrown in. The story introduces us to this world, showcases the somewhat abrasive relationship between our title heroes, and throws in a powerful turn at the end.

The art is done by Matt Haley and is a visual feast. Haley definitely has a cheesecake style at times but also has all our heroes rather muscular fitting their vigilante adventures. Certainly his Supergirl is something to behold in her form-fitting bodysuit.

So why haven't I covered this?

Mostly I think I was daunted by the size. It is a full 64 pages. I wanted to give this the review and summary it needed. And it felt impossible to do in one going.

With the COVID19 pandemic happening and no new comics on the shelves, I thought it was time to finally get to this review. To ease the burden, I thought I would split the review into two parts running on consecutive Fridays. So off we go!

Get ready to see our heroes taken from their usual settings and put into a strange place and time!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Review: Amethyst #2

Amethyst #2 came out 2 weeks ago in the last delivery batch before the pandemic put a pause on the business. It is a shame for many reasons. But one of the reasons is that I want to read more of this book now and it is unclear when the next issue will be in my hands.

I have always been a fan of Amy Reeder. Her art has always has this fluid feel to it. There is a sort of real feel to the emotions of the character even if the expressions sometimes are just outside of realistic. I was mesmerized with her work on Rocket Girl. That book's jet-packed hero had an almost balletic feel to her flights. Here in Amethyst there is a truly magical feel to the proceedings. Things are astounding. And they should be. This is a mystic world.

The plot is also a bit of a mystery, something that I love as well. As a long time Amethyst fan, I am used to her land being one of the protagonists of the Gemworld. They are the heroes. Last issue, we saw that House Turquoise treated Amethyst with some disdain. That plot deepens here. What is the reality of House Amethyst in this world?

Put the art and the plot together and you have a title to linger over. Just sumptuous.

On to the book!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Mike Maihack's Love Is Sharing Candy

Last week I covered Mike Maihack's comic on social distancing.

Today I cover another Maihack comic, this one his Valentine's Day comic which I missed called "Love is Sharing Candy". Here is a link:

I wonder if there was any unneeded blowback about this comic.

The comic opens with a look at three of DC's biggest power couples sharing candy on Valentine's Day. We see Superman giving some to Lois, Catwoman giving candy to Batman, and Harley bringing candy to Poison Ivy. No mistaking these are examples of romantic love.

The book ends with Kara bring candy to Batgirl. Initially Batgirl seems to bristle. Doesns't Supergirl know what that usually means? But Kara says it is sharing candy with people you love.

The two end up sharing the sweets while a lovelorn and broken-hearted Robin looks on.

Do you think Maihack is saying Supergirl and Batgirl love each other romantically? It works.

Do you think Maihack is saying Kara loves Barbara as a friend? It works.

Decide what you want.

I love it both ways.

I hope Maihack continues to put out SG/BG comics at this rate. They always make me smile!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Review: Superman #156

I continue to navigate the current COVID-19 world of no new comics by dipping into the collection and covering interesting back issues. If they include some sort of infection, it's a bonus.

A couple of weeks ago, I covered Action Comics #366 in which Superman being cured from his infection with Virus X, So I figured why not cover Superman #156, 'The Last Days of Superman', the first appearance of Virus X, as far as I can tell.

It is a classic Silver Age story, deemed on the cover to be 'Not a Hoax' and 'Not a Dream' but real! The cover is certainly a grabber. Superman is in some isolation booth, saying goodbye to Supergirl, Krypto, and the Kandorians. he is dying from Virus X. And he needs his friends to heed his last wishes. His will is unfurled before him. You can see the concern on Kara's face, This is a winner by Curt Swan.

As for Virus X, it is as deadly as it seemed to be in the other story. It cannot be destroyed by heat, cold, the vacuum of space, or time. It is impervious.

One thing that I love about this issue is that Supergirl is really the star here. You will see how she is in charge of enacting Superman's wishes, executing his will, and still working tirelessly to try and cure her cousin. Kudos to writer Edmond Hamilton for giving Kara the space here to shine.

Can you figure out how Superman survives this before the ending?

On to the book.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Review: Legion of Super-Heroes #5

Legion of Super-Heroes #12 came out a couple of weeks ago and is probably the strongest issue of the title so far. This really felt like a Legion book, something I have been waiting for, it seems, for some time. It has it all/ Some origin story. Some action. Some secrets revealed. Some people joining. I ate this issue up with a spoon.

Brian Michael Bendis writes a great team book with great moments for a number of characters. But this issue is stolen by Brainiac 5. We get to see Brainy in his home element, hear about his powers, see him stop a violent altercation, and see him eek out a secret, one that is a classic Legion secret with a nice update. And we are starting to see some of the individual personalities of the team start to bubble up. In particular, while brief, this sounded like Ultra Boy! Hooray!

The art is done by Ryan Sook and continues to be glittery. I love Sook's art and this issue is no exception. It all just seems flawless. Just go look. My words won't work.

I also love how this book might also be a little backdoor History of the DC Universe title, with just a dash of meta-commentary. So much goodness.

If you are an old school Legion fan, I think you'll love this book. This old timer does.

On to the book!

Friday, April 3, 2020

Review: Adventure Comics #414

Last week, at the suggestion of Mart Gray, I reviewed Adventure #410 and the story in which Supergirl becomes a sort of foster mother to a super-powered alien tyke named Judy. By the end of that story, Jusy was revealed to be the vanguard of an alien invasion, was turned to the light by Supergirl's love, and then was stripped of her powers. Judy's stepfather, the invader, was killed by the good old American Air Force.

But what ultimately happened to Judy?

Well,flash forward 4 issues to Adventure #414 and the back up Supergirl story in that issue. Trust me, many of these Adventure Comics are bonkers and this issue gives us a heady double dose of insanity. The cover story, with Vortex, is bizarre.

But let's get back to our little angel Judy and her guardian angel Kara. Settle in, insanity happens!

"The Kidnapping" was written by John Albano with art by Bob Oksner, the same team that brought us the first Judy story. It is filled with the standard lush, and occasionally Good Girl, art that Oksner excels at.

But we are dropped right into the action.

As Linda Danvers, dressed in a mod outfit that Peggy Lipton would crave, heads for home, Judy is being kidnapped.

Now, you might ask yourself 'why would Linda leave an alien kindergarten-aged moppet home alone while she went shopping. But I don't think you'll come up with a good answer.

Also, it seems almost random. Why did the kidnappers hone in here?

Again, we can't dwell on the details. We have to just accept and move on.

Even worse, when the crooks ransacked the place, they discovered Kara's costume. He knows she is the Girl of Steel. And unless Kara does any number of crimes, Judy will be hurt.

She has to knock off a bank, grab some jewels, and bring a mink coat too.

Ahh ... the seventies.

The whole idea of the costume hanging in the closet revealing a secret identity is such a trope.

Now you would think that in this pre-Crisis universe, a time when Kryptonians can drop kick planets and conquer time, that Supergirl would simply scour the planet with her super-senses and find Judy.


Instead, her play is to get into a form-fitting Catwoman-esque body suit and go through with the crimes!! Now that seems silly.

If that isn't enough, her boss from the TV station, bohunk Jeff, calls to tell Linda that a UFO has been reported in the area. Linda needs to be on call for some reporting should something come of it.

The details of the crimes were clear. Supergirl was to drop the loot off at a certain place and then check out a phone booth for more details.

Inside the booth is a picture of Judy proving the little girl is still healthy and safe.

Now you would think the easiest thing for Supergirl to do would be to watch the loot from the upper atmosphere and follow whoever picks it up to where Judy is hiding.

But this is the 1970's. So instead she is able to make out a phone number written on the inside of the matchbook in the picture. Then, super-speed scanning the phone book, she is able to find the address of whom the phone number belongs.

Wow. That reads so dated. Matchbooks? Landlines?

Seriously, the clue on the inside of a matchbook is a pretty dusty plot point, right out of bad films noir.

The number leads to the kidnapper's girlfriend's apartment. And there is Judy, tied to a chair.

But check out the girlfriend. Smoking! Halter top! Bellbottoms! So seventies chic!

Supergirl busts in and confronts the woman. Initially, the woman reacts with violence reaching for a gun. But then she pleads she is an innocent in this ploy. At least Supergirl isn't buying the 'babe in the woods' routine.

But look at a brief peek at a dark Kara in that first panel. She is *aching* for a chance to take this woman apart. Grim and gritty stuff.

Okay, so far this is reading like a standard somewhat convoluted 70's Supergirl story.

But then things get a little crazy ...

The kidnapper returns but is basically cut in half by a laser beam shot into the apartment through the window.

I mean, that is pretty graphic. And it came out of nowhere.

Oksner throws in a little of his good girl art in that last panel letting us see Supergirl's assets as she turns around to look for Judy.

But who shot the man?

Well, whoever they are, they also gun down the girlfriend, perforating her in the middle of the street.

That's straight brutal!

And then the bloodthirsty murderers turn out to be ... Judy's grandparents! They have been looking for her!

Look at how middle america, tray of cookies cooling, sweet they seem. And Judy runs right into their arms. She is ready to go home. (I like how Albano includes a line about their ship jamming radar. Remember, Judy's father got killed by Air Force fighters when he entered US airspace.)

As sweet as they look, the grandparents just bisected 2 people in cold blood. I find it strange that Kara so easily lets these two killers take Judy away so quickly. But this is the seventies and this short story and this Judy plot need to be wrapped up.

In fact, the next day, Linda is still thrilled that Judy is home. She is smiling to the point that Nasty Luthor wonders just what is going on.

Now, you can take a step back and say that in many ways, the beginning of Judy's story was like Kara's. A young girl, rocketed away from a doomed planet and sent to Earth. So maybe she is thrilled that Judy could go back to her family unlike Kara herself. But still, so fast ... and so bloody an ending.

I am glad I got to review this. I owe Martin an extra thanks for getting me to smile again about Supergirl in these weird times for her character and our world.

This is a low importance issue for a Supergirl collection. But as always, worth a buy if you find it cheap.

Overall grade: B

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Review: Action Comics #1021

Action Comics #1021 came out this week, the ending of the Metropolis Doom arc and the end of the Apex Lex/Scott Snyder Legion of Doom/Perpetua storyline as well. For me, that is a good thing. And thankfully, we finally get a line where the timeline of all the events in the Superman lines are settled a little.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis stuffs this issue with a lot of plot amid the major super-powered brawl in Shuster Park. There is the mystery of the original Young Justice and Conner Kent. There is the enigma of the Red Cloud and her loyalties. And there is that Legion of Doom/Perpetua plot hanging over everyone's head. (I will admit that I was on board for the Snyder story until that ending.)

But I don't want to bury the lede. For me, the biggest thing Bendis did in this issue is, again, show how complex and interesting Leviathan is as a villain. There is a populist feeling to his rhetoric. He is calling out to the common person in the DCU to join him. And while he initially said he wanted what Superman wanted, my guess is Leviathan is growing tired of Superman's reluctance to join the future. I might have been wrong about who Leviathan was but I love the character.

As usual, my biggest complaint is the Romita Jr. art. I know he has his fans but his work doesn't work for me. As a result, the issue which could be a big win falls just a little flat.

On to the details.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Starfire Comic Box Commentary

What do you do when your favorite character is misunderstood by the comic book company in charge of her stories?

What do you do when your favorite character isn't on the stands any more?

What do you do when you want to run a blog about a strong woman character, learning the ropes, and trying to do what's right and your favorite character no longer embodies that?

What do you do when you like blogging as a creative outlet and want to continue to do so?

Well, you change the focus of the site to a different character.

So welcome to Starfire Comic Box Commentary ... no not that Starfire.

Welcome to a blog dedicated to the 1970's sword and sorcery spitfire Starfire! Written by many writers but drawn exclusively by Mike Vosburg, this Starfire makes her way through a strange land,  and discovering her independence and inner strength.

I will miss Supergirl, But I can't say that I'll miss covering her exploits given how she was portrayed the last couple of years.

So instead, get ready to hear crossed swords and laser fire. It's a whole new world!

Starfire #1 was a great find from the dollar box and was worth the price for any number of reasons.

First off, writer David Michelinie (who I know mostly for Iron Man and Spiderman) casts a pretty unique star in the book, especially given the time it was published. Starfire is half-asian and a woman. Certainly that must have stood out in 1976.

Second, artist Mike Vosburg really shines here. Starfire is beautiful and attractive in her barely-there off unitard. But there isn't that much overt cheesecake in her renditions in the book. She comes across as athletic and strong more than anything else. And the theme within this story, of Starfire taking control of her life, realizing that slavery is utterly wrong, is nicely conveyed here.

Lastly, I am always into the explosive combination of science and sorcery whether it is Thundarr the Barbarian, Thundercats, Mento and the sorcerors in Alan Moore's Swamp Thing #50, or here in Starfire. What could be a better cover than a sword-wielding warrior woman towering over an ogre, while spear wielding monsters and spaceships litter the background. Slick.

Lastly, you should notice that there is no Comics Code Authority seal on the book. While I have read that it was an oversight, the content of the book - especially the end - might have been a bit tough for the CCA to approve.

On to the story.