Friday, July 31, 2020

Supergirl Radio Guest Appearance

I had the honor of talking Supergirl with Rebecca and Morgan over on Supergirl Radio this week.

Head over and take a listen as we deep dive into Supergirl's history.

Here is a link:

Thanks for listening!!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Back Issue Bin: Superman Family #215

Right now in Action Comics, Brian Michael Bendis is giving us The House of Kent storyline. In that arc, Superboy (Jon Kent) travels back from the future and meets Superboy (Conner Kent) in the present. 

With that plot wrinkle in mind, I thought it would be a good time to review Superman Family #215 in which a Supergirl from the future comes back in time to meet our Supergirl in the present.

As I have said in the past, the late 70s and early 80s are an interesting time in Supergirl's life. It was clear that DC kind of didn't know what to do with her and each writer put on the strip would go in their own direction. In short order she went from college grad/TV news team member to acting student to guidance counselor to soap opera star. In a couple of years from this issue, Paul Kupperberg puts her back in school as a grad student studying Criminal Psychology. Whew!

While the Linda Danvers aspects of the character were a bit malleable, it was clear in these stories that Supergirl herself was well established as a capable hero. No longer do we have her as a kid learning her capabilities. She isn't training any more. And New York City has embraced her as their hero.

Given that, I like this story for showing how Supergirl has a legacy, even in the far far flung future. Sure there are some Bronze Age leaps you need to make to have this story work. But otherwise, this is fun.

On to the book!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Supergirl An Origin Story

As I mentioned before, this month is my birthday month and one of the small gifts I got for myself arrived last week.

Supergirl: An Origin Story is written by Steven Brezenoff with art by Scooby Doo artist Dario Brizuela and is a children's book retelling how Kara came to Earth and became Supergirl.

This is a big book, think Tintin and Asterix size. And it is a good story which truly gives us Supergirl's history and establishes her on the planet.

I got this on a whim but am so happy I did. Because after reading 2 years of dark and brooding and evil Supergirl, I was amazed at how easily this book showed me, again, just who Supergirl should be. Any creator who goes to DC editorial and has a pitch for a Supergirl book should be given this to make sure they get just who Kara is. Kudos to Brezenoff for being so pithy and true.

I love Brizuela's art in the Scooby Doo books DC publishes so no surprise I love the work here. I especially like seeing the artist's take on Krypton. It is interesting that we get a DCAU look to Kara here, albeit with a full white shirt. Perhaps this is the look DC is going for in these kids books. It is the same costume that we saw in Supergirl is Patient .

On to the book.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Review: Amethyst #4

Amethyst #4 came out last week which means we are turning the corner and heading into the home stretch of this 6 issue miniseries. As such, I was expecting there to be something of a big reveal or turn in this chapter. I thought we would learn some big secret, even as the cliffhanger, so that issue five can deal with it, and thus lead into a final issue finale.

Instead, I think this issue sort of tread water instead of moving us forward much. Yes, we do get some interesting scenes with Dark Opal. Yes, we continue to simmer this reveal that perhaps House Amethyst isn't as magnanimous as Amy believes. But otherwise, not much plot gets revealed here. I don't know if I leave this issue knowing more than I did coming in. As such, I kind of finished the book and felt less enthusiastic as I have prior.

That is something of a shame because as usual, the art and coloring in the book is unbelievable sumptuous.

Creator Amy Reeder is able to just captivate my eyes with all the things she does visually. And up to this point, as an Amethyst fan, I was on board with the story. And maybe if this was an ongoing or a monthly, I would let this issue slip by. But I am stuck thinking about the thin 40 pages we have left to wrap things up and hoping we can get there. I know I shouldn't think about things that way ... but I can't help it.

On to the book.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Review: Action Comics #1023

 Action Comics #1023 came out this week and was a standard middle chapter in an arc, this one being The House of Kent. The pieces are in place. Conner has joined the family. The Invisible Mafia is not so invisible. Everyone knows Clark is Superman. That's some turmoil. A middle chapter should nudge the story along but also let us know what the stakes are. And this issue does that in a big way.

We have seen throughout writer Brian Michael Bendis' run that The Red Cloud is a serious threat. In this issue, we see she is a deadly threat. It has been interesting to follow the story of Robinson Goode who has gone from young hotshot reporter to supervillain in training to demonic presence willing to leave a wake of dead bodies behind her.

And Bendis does a good job hearkening back to prior elements of this Invisible Mafia story, giving us a little bit of closure. He also has to balance a story with one Superman and two Superboys. Conner is a bit gruff in this issue, maybe a bit grittier than I am used to. But it is a good balance in comparison to Jon, returned from the squeaky clean future.

The art is by John Romita Jr. Overall, the work is standard Romita work. There are lots of scenes with Red Cloud with fog and tendrils. Romita just doesn't jibe with me. But there is nothing terrible about the work.

On to the book!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

DC Comics October 2020 Solicits

The DC Comics solicits for October have come out and I can't help but wonder just what 2021 has in store for fans. Here is a link:

There is a ton ... A TON ... of Death Metal stuff.
There is a ton ... A TON ... of Joker.
Not surprising, there is a ton of Batman.

And there are cancellations! Batgirl, Justice League Odyssey, and Red Hood.

My guess is that with so many books going away and with all this Death Metal stuff, we are on the verge of yet another reboot. Rao, help me.

But here are the super-books, including the variant cover for Action Comics #1026 as seen above.

art and cover by JOHN ROMITA JR. and KLAUS JANSON
variant cover by LUCIO PARRILLO
Wonder Woman 1984 variant cover by FRANK CHO

This issue, it's the Superman family versus everybody! In this blistering conclusion to the epic "House of Kent" saga, huge choices are made to defend the great city of Metropolis. Plus, amid all the chaos, the new owner of the Daily Planet is revealed—and it's...Jimmy Olsen?! Guest-starring Jonathan Kent, Conner Kent, Supergirl, and the Legion of Super-Heroes.

I can't help but be happy that Supergirl is part of this arc. And I trust Bendis to treat her the way she deserves to be treated.

Kara as drawn by JRJR? I am ready to shudder.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Back Issue Box: Supergirl #58

This week in Superman #23, the Man of Steel calls upon Dr. Fate for a mystical checkup.

With that guest spot happening, I thought I would take a look back at Supergirl's interactions with the good doctor. Now a comic with a version of Fate helping Kara with here psychiatric issues occurred in the excellent Superman/Batman Annual #5 from way back in 2011. But I covered that way back when!

So instead I thought I'd dip into the Peter David run on the title again and look at Supergirl #58 in which Linda calls upon Fate to help her with Buzz.

Okay, a little background. At this point in the book, Linda has been stripped of the Earth Angel aspect of Supergirl and basically has the powers of the 1938 Superman (jump far, relatively invulnerable, relatively superstrong). She is following a chaos stream to try and reunite with the angelic spirit. And Buzz, a demon who has vexed her throughout the book, is now human, mentally tethered to her, and her guide. He senses the stream and finds the path.

In the issue before, Buzz was poisoned by his daughter, also a demon. He is dying. And if Linda wants to become the Earth Angel Supergirl again, she needs Buzz to live. Enter Dr. Fate.

This is an interesting issue because it gives Buzz a sympathetic back story. Before, he was all Constantine-cool with his evil intentions. Here we see how he fell and became lost. In many ways, this second long arc in this volume is a redemption story not only for Linda (again) but for Buzz.

On to the book.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Review: Young Justice #16

It has been a crazy week and I am just finishing up the reviews from 2 Wednesdays ago today. A wee bit of vacation was snuck in there admittedly. A much needed vacation.

Young Justice #16 continues the deep dive into just what is going on with this old/new team and where the heck have some of them been all this time. Between the Superman books commenting on different universes and calling back to pre-Crisis stories to Lois Lane publicly talking about universal fracturing in her own book and the (presumed since I am not reading it) continuity reset in Death Metal, there are a lot of anomalies running around in the DCU. And for folks like me, who have lived through umpteen reboots, it is getting confusing.

Enter writer Brian Michael Bendis.

Last issue, Impulse told how he discovered the multiversal shenanigans and was able to find Conner and bring him back to reality. This issue we learn that Bart has been witness to more than that. In fact, given the lessons from Flashpoint, maybe he is the cause of all this.

I've never been a huge Impulse fan but I liked him in this issue. He clearly is worried about all he has seen and is just trying to survive. He is a sympathetic young hero here, in over his head a bit.

Add to the the solid pencil work of Scott Godlewski, who seems to be veering into the John Timms/Jorge Jimenez, hyper-style, and you have a winning book. Not many mysteries are solved here. But the enigma stew is getting thicker and more delicious.

On to the book.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Review: Jimmy Olsen #12

 Comics used to delight me.

That is the best word for it.

I would read a comic and I would get giddy and excited and I would look up new vocabulary words and I would learn about right and wrong.

I'd be delighted.

Of course, you become an adult. You've read comics so it is harder to be giddy. You have a good vocabulary already. You realize the world if mired in shades of gray.

It takes more ... a lot more ... to get me back into that magical world of being a kid reading a comic.

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, by Matt Fraction, Steve Lieber, and Nathan Fairbairn, delighted me. And with the release of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #12 it is over ... far too soon.

I should probably end the review here. There is really nothing more to say except thank you to the creators for making me laugh and think and puzzle and grin and fall in love with comics all over again. I owe you.

But on to some specifics.

 The Daily Planet is closing, the board of trustees shutting the doors given the reveal that the paper was owned by the Leone Mafia.

But wait, if you need a miracle why not ask Jimmy Olsen and his merry band of friends.

Unlike the recent Lois Lane series, Matt Fraction indeed brings together all the plot threads and shows us the outcome.

 Police officer Jim Corrigan and the Porcodillo head to the Olsen mansion to accuse Julian Olsen for attempting to kill Jimmy.

Meanwhile, Jimmy and Janie are already at the mansion to confront Julian for bankrupting the family.

It is clear Julian is on the way to the airport to leave town, leaving Jimmy to stop the plane.

He parks Jix's spaceship on the runway.  It ain't gonna be easy.

I'm not sure why the professor is dumping trash out the port side but Bugles? A Thighmaster? The Dial H dial? A wiffle ball?

Ah! The insanity that surrounds Jimmy.

Great stuff by Lieber.

 Enraged, Julian decides to take matters into his own hand.

But before he can pull the trigger, the Porcodillo unleashes his croc attack and then bullrushes the elder Olsen.

I died laughing when the Croc was part of the Porcodillo's 'Batmanesque' origin. So I was tickled to see it back again.

 But that doesn't change the bottom line. The Olsens are bankrupt.

Fraction reminds us that the beginning of this maxi-series delved into the earliest Luthors and Olsens in the frontier America. And insetting the pic of Jeremiah brought all that back.

But it is Jimmy's line that he has seen infinity that really got to me. Jimmy probably has seen infinity at some point.

 But then a bomb.

The secret box in the cornerstone of the Monarch of Metropolis contains information that the current Luthor and Olsen families are related. (Remember that mini-arc in the book?)

And Miss Tessmacher, upset that Lex wouldn't listen when she explained how important this was, turns it over to the Olsens. Jimmy now sits on LexCorp's board and can block every move Lex tries to make.

Hmmm ... Luthor related to Jimmy? Brilliant? Or heresy?

 Jimmy then goes to confront Lex and makes a reasonable deal.

If Lex funds Janie's plays and the Daily Planet without any oversight, Jimmy won't block his moves on LexCorp. Win/Win right?

Not for Lex who then says that he was the real mind behind the Jimmy murder. He set into motion all the events which led to Julian having to kill Jimmy for the inheritance.

It was all Lex!

I love that first panel, Lex (in his own mind) towering over the city. That is how he feels.

Alas, a screamed confession out of pride is still a confession if taped ... which Jimmy was doing.

Front page of the Planet!

 That leads to Jimmy now being the Publisher of the Planet! I mean he funds it now so he is the chief.

How I love panels of the Planet Pit. Lombard doinking a guy with a football ... awesome.

And then a quiet moment between pals.

Jimmy gets a new signal watch. But Superman knows that his pal can take care of himself.

Look, there are tons more panels, jokes, craziness and brilliance in this one issue I could have scanned.

This book is a winner. Fraction and Lieber took what looked to be scattershot weird episodes and out of that weaved a story that became more integrated until suddenly you realize you indeed are reading one big arc. And if you haven't been reading it, you missed out on greatness.

I am sad knowing I won't be getting more of this book.

It delighted me.

Overall grade: A

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

75 Years Of DC Comics: The Art Of Modern Mythmaking, Courtesy of Mart Gray

One of the things I am most thankful for about this site (and social media in general) is that it has led to many friendships.

One of my closest friends has been Mart Gray, one of the finest chaps on the planet. And certainly one of the most generous. For my birthday, Mart sent me 75 Years Of DC Comics: The Art Of Modern Mythmaking by Paul Levitz.

This is an amazing tome of a book. It is massive and chock full of information, covers, panels, ads, and more. There is a timeline and discussion about the current DC continuity, editorial fiats, and changes in characters.

I mean I have just started to thumb through this book and I know I am going to be amazed when I do a deep dive. It seems like a treasure trove of knowledge and images.

Of course, the first thing I did was hit the index and look up Supergirl. And there is some interesting tidbits, some of which I have covered here. But others were new to me and that made me tickled pink. Figured I'd share a few.

First off, there is a fold out inner timeline of the DCU and there in 1959 is our Kara's debut.

But wait, there's more!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Review: Lois Lane #12

Lois Lane #12 came out last week, an odd finale to an odd comic that I don't think really knew what it wanted to be.

At its heart, it seemed like it wanted to be a Renee Montoya Question book. Renee has all the big moments in this book. Certainly, her page count is a considerable percentage of this book. And writer Greg Rucka loves her, bringing in other characters like Elycia who only have a connection to Renee.

There have been plot lines brought up early in the story - the apparent suicide (or was it murder) of a Lois-like reporter in Russia, the kickback scheme about for-profit detention centers, the personal internment of Lois' maid - that have gone nowhere. And in this issue they are wrapped up basically off panel.

And then there is the sudden 'the universe is fractured and other versions of this place are bleeding in' plotline. It suddenly became *the* plotline. Here is the thing. This plot is a big one and we have seen it in books like Superman, Young Justice, and Legion. But this is the first Lois Lane book in decades! Let it be ground level. Let it be her investigating. Leave the multiverse out here so Lois can shine ... not the mangled DC continuity.

The art by Mike Perkins is its usual solid fare. This issue is mostly people talking with one action sequence in the middle. He holds up his end.

In the end, I don't think I can call this a Lois Lane book. More like a Birds of Prey riff ... 'Birds of Prose'? With Lois as Oracle?

On to the book.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Review: Superman #23

Superman #23 came out last week and was another winner by writer Brian Michael Bendis. Once again we see just how hard it is to be Superman. And as a result, we are that much more impressed with the Man of Steel.

Perhaps most interesting for me is how this issue shows you just how crazy life is within the DC universe. We get a pretty specific timeline here letting us know just how compressed the insanity in Superman's life is.

But on top of that we get a follow-up to an off hand one panel line in Superman:Heroes. In that comic Dr. Fate says he needs to meet Superman in the Tower of Fate. And this issue picks up from that. It is hard to read the emotions of Dr. Fate at times given the blank helmet. Then I read it as an almost threat or order. Here we learn it is simply to help.

We also get a new villain, Xanadoth, a sort of Lords of Chaos version of the more Order-ly Dr. Fate. Fate having an opposite number makes sense. And I can't help but hear the word 'Thanatopsis' when I hear Xanadoth, making me feel all the more death-tinged dread.

As for the art, it is a joyous mix of John Timms' stylized action and Kevin Maguire's expressive mastery. Usually two artists on the same book can pull me out. But given Timms' work on flashback sequences and Maguire's present day material, it works beautifully.

Feels like the Superman books are firing on all cylinders these days. On to the book.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Action Comics #251

I recently celebrated a birthday and my older brother promised me an excellent gift.

In his card, he talked about how he wanted to buy me Action Comics #252 but he couldn't afford it. (I mean, who can?) So he decided he would get me the next best thing.

What is the next best thing to Action Comics #252?  Well, Action Comics #251 of course.

And it turns out for a Supergirl fan it is a great gift because there are some great things inside.

We'll start out with the ad inside promoting Supergirl's arrival in the next issue.

While I usually like the red skirt on Supergirl, it looks too strange here. Probably because I am so used to seeing the classic blue skirted Kara emerging from her rocket in this iconic scene.

But the ad also has great tag lines.

The heroine thousands of DC readers have been requesting for years!

And that yellow box wondering how she survived and will she be an ally?

Yes, thrilling answers in a brand new feature will happen the next month!

This ad is just fantastic history for a Supergirl fan!

But wait, there's more!

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Back Issue Box: Supergirl #32

My copy autographed by Peter David, Sean Phillips, and Leonard Kirk
I have been thinking a lot about Supergirl's legacy lately.  Who is this character in DC Comics right now? If you started reading comics 10 years ago, do you have an coherent sense of who Supergirl is and what she means? Do you find her heroic? Inspirational? Do you even like her?

This line of thoughts reminded me of one of my favorite issues in the Peter David run, Supergirl #32. By this time in the comic, Supergirl was embracing her 'Earth Angel' persona. She was looked on as a hero. And she was starting to inspire people.

Pride cometh before the fall. This confidence in Supergirl in her new role needed to be broken by The Carnivean, a demon trying to take over heaven and the universe. And the best way to do that was by perverting Supergirl's legacy and make her doubt herself. Of course, this comes to fruition in the classic Supergirl #48. But we needed to see that erosion of Supergirl's self-worth. Some of that comes with a tarnishing of her legacy.

Peter David had the long game in mind with this book and this issue is an interesting stand alone chapter. The story here, of Supergirl freeing young girls from self-trafficking is wonderful and timely. However, you can see how even the best of intentions and lessons can be perverted.

Perhaps the best thing about this issue is the art. The cover, by then regular artist Leonard Kirk, tips off the them of the story, a backlit Supergirl, in shadows from her flame wings and sporting the red anger eyes, is being led by a band of young armed girls. It is the internal art that makes me giddy. It is drawn by one of my favorite artists Sean Phillips. The fact that I get Sean Phillips drawing Supergirl in one of my cherished runs still amazes me.

On to the book.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

I have been blogging about Supergirl for 12 plus years here.

I know ... hard to believe.

During that time, I can't help but notice the cyclical nature of things involving Kara. Mostly, it seems that DC doesn't know what to do with her. Inevitably they lead her down a dark path thinking it will be all grim and moody. Ultimately, that dark path fails and Kara gets a redemption and a cancellation.

How cyclical is this? Well, 2 years ago I posted about it here.

I find it fascinating that DC thinks that a Dark Kara is 'bold' or 'gritty' when it has been done so many times before. Talk about the antithesis is a 'new direction'. I also find it odd that they don't cultivate the 'young hero learning the ropes' theme that seems to work so well for characters like comic darlings Ms. Marvel and Naomi.

And I am baffled that we have a television show with millions of weekly viewers and DC still can't put a book on the market to try and entice those viewers into the comic store. The Kara in the current book hasn't been recognizable for almost 2 years.

But here we are in the repeat part of the 'darken, cancel, repeat' Supergirl cycle. It is a perverse 'lather, rinse, repeat' that has happened too many times over the last decade.

Perhaps saddest of all is the 'redemption' at the end of this volume. Usually we get some sort of 'I choose Earth and I will be a hero' moment. Here, Kara, in essence, says 'Earth isn't Krypton, I don't want to be human or live a human-like life, but I guess I'm stuck here so I'll do stuff.'

Because that sounds like an inspiring young hero you would want to read about.

Usually, as in that link from last year, I bemoan the cancellation saying the book had just righted itself. Here, I am not so sure.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Death Metal Supergirl By Artgerm

By now this news is everywhere, including the comment section of this very blog.

But the Artgerm variant cover for Death Metal #3 is of Supergirl.,

And it is a very powerful looking, very determined appearing Kara. It is a stunning image.

I also think that the flames and the way her hair looks like fire can't help but bring up thoughts of the Linda Danvers flame winged Supergirl. So it feels a little nostalgic.

Now I have been staying away from Death Metal. I honestly have no interest in it.

But will I cave and buy this variant?


Just beautiful.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Review: Supergirl #42

Supergirl #42 was released digitally last week, the last issue of this volume of the title character, born from the brightness of Rebirth and ending in darkness.

I don't know what to say about this pattern with Supergirl in DC. I have seen her go dark and need to be redeemed too many times to count. But this one, given how it began with the 'return to classics' zeitgeist of Rebirth stings the most. Since Supergirl #21, when Marc Andreyko had her abandon Earth out of bloodthirsty revenge, through Supergirl #42, Supergirl has been mistreated. There have been a few bright moments mixed in. But mostly these last 21 issues have been her nearly becoming an ax-wielding murderer and then becoming a Goth villain.

Supergirl #41 and Supergirl #42 was a chance for the creative team of writer Jody Houser and artist Rachael Stott to redeem her and set her up for the next bold new direction. But instead, even their 'redemption' reads like a lack of understanding of what Supergirl fans are looking for.

Add to that some wonky art and some convenient story telling and you limp out of this volume. And given how this all transpired, I wonder if DC is even remotely interested in putting a new volume on the shelves.

Supergirl fans should be used to this. And maybe I am not surprised. But it still bothers me.

On to the book.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Houser And Stott On Supergirl

I'll be reviewing Supergirl #42 here on the site next week. Happy 4th of July weekend everyone (who celebrates)!

After almost no publicity support for the title, I found it a little interesting that the creative team spoke to Newsarama about their time on the title here:

It's a brief interview with some stock questions. I'll include some of the interview here but recommend heading over to the site to read it in its entirety. In some ways I feel like this would be a team I wouldn't mind seeing back on the character in a different circumstance when they could write a true Kara. But some of these answers also make me wonder if I should be careful what I wish for.

Newsarama: Jody, to jump right in, what was it like tying into this over-arching DC storyline for Supergirl? How do you feel it affected her overall character arc?

Jody Houser: It was a fun challenge writing a character who still thought herself the hero no matter how dark she got. We obviously didn't want Kara to do anything completely irredeemable, so we made that struggle between her normal and infected selves the heart of the story, one that had repercussions that led into our finale.

I just wish there was some acknowledgment here that Houser was handed this mess. Or that Houser recognized that Kara was a hero with good intentions and writing her as dark was challenging.

Glad the line of 'irredeemable' was held.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Suicide Squad and My Leviathan Theory

There are so many new comics out there and the price point is so high these days that a new title has to grab me almost immediately to keep me interested. Gone are the days of me giving a book 6 months to establish a tone.

When a new book has a creator on it I trust, I will sometimes give book a little longer.

Suicide Squad #1 came out 6 months ago. I have liked the concept of the Suicide Squad since Legends way back in 1987. This new book was written by Tom Taylor, a writer whose work I loved on All New Wolverine. And Deadshot and Harley Quinn were both still on the team. This team should have had a few issues leeway.

But after the first issue I left.

This truly felt like a bold, new direction for the concept of the team and I was looking to slip into the warm bath of familiarity.

So I never picked up the second issue.

And then something funny happened. Two very good comic friends, Martin Gray, from Too Dangerous For A Girl, and Paul Hicks, from the Waiting For Doom podcast, both highly recommended the book to me. And when two comic friends you trust highly recommend something, you listen.

And Paul even hinted that there might be a little Leviathan Theory intrigue in the book. So you know I was in!

I went out and bought the next 5 issues, catching up on the title. And no surprise, Mart and Paul were right, this is a great book.