Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Back Issue Box: Superman #108

When the concept of Synmar was introduced in Superman #25 I was intrigued with the concept that there were members of that race willing to judge and execute young Kal even before he landed on Earth. His crime? Potentially becoming a 'light god'. 

It led me to think about other times Superman was judged in some way, leading to the review of Superman #247.

I figured I would be remiss if I didn't include something from the 1990's storyline The Trial of Superman. While Synmar and the Oans were contemplating judging and silently judging Superman respectively, in The Trial, Superman is brought to court and found guilty. The crime? The death of all Kryptonians. 

The Tribunal feel that since it was an El family member which tied the populace to the planet, that the El family did not allow the race to escape. As a result, despite being generations apart, Superman needs to pay for the alleged crime of his ancestor.

In the course of this storyline, Superman has to escape prison, inspire other criminals, beat back the villain behind the new Kandor, get some help from the Superman Rescue Squad (the super family), and even face off against the Cyborg Superman. 

But after escaping and being brought back to the court setting, we are just about at the end. 

This near-ending chapter was written by Dan Jurgens with art by Ron Frenz. Let's jump right into this issue where the words, the art, and the action is all big and bombastic!

Monday, September 28, 2020

Review: Action Comics #1025

Action Comics #1025 came out last week, the next chapter in The House of Kent story arc. 

This may be a bit of a scattered review for a number of reasons. 

First off, I have enjoyed this overall arc and continue to do so. I like the Invisible Mafia antagonist. I like how some hints from early on in the Bendis run are being paid off here. I like how the super-family is together, supporting each other. And I have always liked the Daily Planet part of Bendis' Action Comics run. It remains strong here.

But there are two things that stick out that somewhat detract.

One, in this issue we are again introduced to a mega-powered new bad guy to brawl with Superman. Between Rogol Zaar, Synmar Utopica, Apex Lex, and now this new bad guy it seems like I have had a belly full of 'the next big threat'. 

And two, the art of John Romita Jr has never clicked with me but this certainly issue seems even more sloppy and ugly. 

So how do you reconcile the overall excellent story with (for me) an overused plot device and shoddy visuals?

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Supergirl Show Ending With Season Six


The news broke yesterday on multiple sources (like Variety) that the Supergirl show is ending after the sixth season. 

This sounds like it was a mutual decision between The CW and Warner Brothers and Berlanti productions. 

And my guess is this is multifactorial. 

Certainly some of the stars contracts must be nearing an end. Melissa Benoist seems poised to be a mega-star everywhere and so now might be the time for her to get off the serial television schedule and rocketship herself to new endeavors.

Benoist on Instagram had a lovely statement where she discussed how much she has enjoyed playing Kara, the impact it has had on young girls, and how she was glad the show will end on its own terms. 

As you can imagine, I am processing this news.

The show has been a delight for me, bringing my favorite character to millions of eyes and introducing her to folks who didn't even know she exists. Melissa Benoist has been a supernove, embodying the core traits of Supergirl in a way I didn't think possible. The new characters of Alex, Nia, and Winn were revelations. And the show did its best to inject Supergirl mythos like Psi and Reactron into the mix. Heck, we got a live action Legion!

So I am very sad that the show is ending. I couldn't have asked for a better representation of Supergirl in regards to Benoist.

And it is sad because I know that from week to week I might think that Supergirl was lost in her own show, a part of the ensemble rather than the star. Some episodes it seemed we barely saw her. I know that all the CW superhero shows are ensembles but there is never any doubt that The Flash and Arrow were the stars.

 Also, I have to say that at times the stories weren't stellar. At times it felt like the agenda drove the story and not the other way around.

All that said, if you asked me 6 years ago if I ever thought that I would be a Supergirl live action show at all, let alone one with this quality, I would have said you were high. And if you said someone would embody Supergirl as much as Benoist has, I'd also say you weren't grounded in reality.

I really hope that this last season crushes it. I'd love to see this end on a spectacular high note. And, of course, there is an easy way for this thing to end without crippling the Arrowverse. She heads to the future and the Legion.

But I wonder if this is it for live action Supergirl. Will someone 10 years from now think the world needs a reboot?

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Back Issue Box: Superman Family #201

Last week I reviewed Superman Family #197 in which Supergirl finds herself smitten with Peter Barton. 

So what became of Peter Barton? Just recall that Supergirl has never had much success with romance in the present. And in this story, you see that Barton isn't someone that Supergirl should be so enamored of. His views on women isn't exactly woke, even if this is a story from 1980. 

But she is, as seen on this beautiful cover by Ross Andru showing Supergirl gazing into the clouds and thinking of Barton while she also almost crashes into a plane. Lovesick Kara ... a classic trope for the character.

Let's jump right into the story!

"The Face on Cloud 9" was written by Jack C. Harris with art by Win Mortimer and Vince Colletta.

And the story matches the cover art! That doesn't always happen!

Sure enough, Supergirl is flying in the clouds and just thinking about Peter Barton. She can't shake him from her thoughts. But I love how Mortimer has her flight be a series of pirouettes. She is literally twirling in the clouds as she thinks of him. It shows how this is really more of a crush-like, almost adolescent infatuation more that a deep romance.

She is so caught up in her thoughts that she doesn't see the small airplane whose flight lane she has flown into. She has to actual rescue plane who has to swerve out of her way and nearly crashes. These invasive thoughts about Peter are almost dangerous.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Happy 61st Birthday, Supergirl


According to the DC Comics 1976 calendar, September 22nd is Supergirl's birthday.

It has been a weird year for the world.

It has been a weird year for Supergirl.

But at least for today, let's think only the best of our hero. My hope is we will see a great version of her in the comics soon enough.

As for me, 2020 can end any time it wants to.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Bullet Review: Detective Comics #1027

Detective Comics #1027 came out this week, a jumbo issue with a heavy $9.99 price tag, another major anniversary issue just 2 plus years after the mammoth Detective Comics #1000. Of course, this is the 1000th issue with Batman starring in Detective and so I suppose it deserves a bit of accolades.

I think the last Batman book that I collected monthly was Batman Incorporated. (Folks who come here know my love of Grant Morrison ... more on that later.)  I honestly don't know what is happening in the main Batman continuity and even when I hear snippets, I don't think I am missing out.

As a collector though, I love anniversary issues. And I find issues like this, a sort of anthology of short stories by terrific creative teams, to be joyous celebrations. Usually these stories are sort of touch points on themes of the character, a sort of primer on concepts and philosophies. And this issue was no different. 

I wasn't sure if I was going to bullet review this but there is 'blink and you'll miss her' Supergirl sighting and since those aren't common these days I felt compelled. But almost every story in this book is fun. I'll cover just my favorites here but if you have an extra ten bucks, this book is worth it, thick enough to be on you trade shelf.

With a ton of covers to choose from, I picked the Jim Lee 'World's Finest' cover. Hey, in my mind, these two are good friends.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Back Issue Review: Superman #247

Last week I reviewed Superman #25, the first chapter in the Synmar plot which marks the end of the Brian Michael Bendis run on the character. In that pilot, we see a race of aliens called the Synmar who seem to live in judgment over the universe. In fact, there is a brief discussion about stopping Kal-El's rocket before the baby Kryptonian can become some sort of monster.

The idea of some alien race sitting in judgment over Kal-El certainly stirred up memories of 'The Trial of Superman' storyline from the diamond era. But it also made me pull out Superman #247 in which the Guardians of the Universe wonder if they should curtail Superman's actions. They sort of sit in judgment over him as they try to impart a hard lesson.

"Must there be a Superman?" is one of the more famous Superman stories and certainly is a 'must reprint' in any Bronze Age or Seventies Superman collection. And it is an interesting thought exercise. What should Superman do? And what shouldn't he do? 
Perhaps most interesting is that the Guardians of the Universe espouse a very Luthorian view of Superman in this book. Luthor always screams that Superman is holding humanity back. Here the Guardians say much the same thing.
And the narrative boxes are also somewhat novel told in the second person, as if you the reader is Superman. 
On to the book.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

DC Comics Mug

It has been a while since I found something with Supergirl on it to buy for the Shrine or personal use.

Let's face it, 2020 hasn't been a lot of fun!

So imagine my surprise when I stumbled on this pretty sweet oversized DC mug in my travels, and for a mere $6 American!

There are a ton of tiny head shots of many characters including Supergirl so this was a no brainer.

I am of two minds with its usage though.

It is the perfect 'three cups of coffee in one' sized mug for those overwhelming caffeine needs. But I often find the coffee has gone cold by the time you reach the bottom.

It also is a nice size for portable cereal eating, for the couch or the balcony. I most likely will use it for that purpose.

But to be honest, they had me with the inclusion of Supergirl on the mug.

Every so often you need to spoil yourself. This mug made me happy. And I was glad to get something new with Supergirl on it.

I'll tweet a pic with it filled with Crunch Berries soon.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

DC Comics December 2020 Solicits

The December 2020 solicits for DC Comics came out last week. Here is a link to the Newsarama (or GamesRadar) coverage: https://www.gamesradar.com/dc-december-solicitations-covers/

In the aftermath of a ton of firings at DC and a cut in titles, I was waiting for these to drop to see what DC had in mind. We still get the flagship books. But the bulk of solicits are either Dark Metal or a one month event called Endless Winter. It almost feels like the DCU is on pause a bit as they get their stuff together.

Of course when I read solicits for books like Dark Nights: Death Metal: The Last Stories of the DC Universe #1 which includes the line  'These are the stolen moments detailing the last stories of the DC Universe.' , I wonder if we are simply headed for another universal reboot. While JIm Lee recently said the 5G reboot isn't happening, I'll wait and see.

I am also sort of burying the lede for this month's solicits and this site in particular. Brian Michael Bendis' run on the Superman books ends here. Sure, we might be facing a new universe so why not bring in a new creative team. But I have enjoyed his works on these books and for the last 5 years or so between the Rebirth teams and Bendis, we have had great Superman books. Nothing gold can stay. I am sure I'll write a requiem for his run when it ends.

Here are the solicits.

art and cover by JOHN ROMITA JR. and KLAUS JANSON
card stock variant cover by RAFAEL GRAMPÁ

The powerhouse creative team of Brian Michael Bendis, John Romita Jr., and Klaus Janson wrap up their run on Action Comics with “House of Kent: Epilogue”! With the final fate of Metropolis’s underworld revealed at last, it’s time for each member of the House of Kent to face their unknown futures head on, including Lois, Conner, Jon, Kara, Jimmy, and, of course, Clark Kent! This standalone Superman story connects threads from Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Superman, Justice League, Legion of Super-Heroes, and other unforgettable series in epic—and unexpected—ways!

An epilogue to the House Of Kent book. We get a one word mention of Kara and at least she is on the cover. 

Will this give these characters directions to follow in upcoming stories? Or is the 'unexpected' connection the reboot?

And I have to admit that ending this series with JRJR art is kind of a drag.

At least Supergirl is on the cover.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Review: Superman #25


It's hard to believe but we are over two years into the Brian Michael Bendis era on the Superman books. 

That's two very solid years of Superman books on the shelves. As someone who loved the preceding teams of Dan Jurgen and Tomasi/Gleason, I think Bendis has surpassed them. Yes, not every story has been perfect. But this has felt like Superman. And for the first time in a while, I feel like the supporting cast has been loved as well. 

But apparently all good things must end. Bendis has said that his time on the Super-books is nearing a close. In fact, Superman #25 was the initially planned swan song. But we are going to get a few more months ... thankfully.

Now Superman #25 is an interesting issue. First and foremost, at least for me, it brings Lana Lang back to the super-books. I am an unabashed Lana fan and so seeing her in this book, still working for the Globe, still friends with Clark, still with a history as Superwoman. So that half of the issue is brilliant for me.

But the main story is the introduction of Synmar, another galactic level threat to square off against Superman. Bendis run began with the introduction of Rogol Zaar. We've had Mr. Oz. We've had Mongul. We've had Apex Lex. Now we have Synmar Utopica. If there is one thing that I wish we had seen in the Bendis run is a re-invigoration of some of the classic Superman villains. What would I do for a Prankster story!

Synmar at least seems like an interesting character. Bendis dubbed him the anti-Superman somewhere (or something like that). And there is an interesting wrinkle in his background seen here that makes me intrigued. More on that later. 

The art in the issue is just incredible. Ivan Reis and Danny Miki really outdo themselves with the unique look of Synmar as well as the Earth-level Lana bits. But it is Alex Sinclair on colors that really deserves a medal here. The book's colors sing, especially the bright Synmar segments.

Okay, on to the book.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Back Issue Box: Superman Family #197

Welcome to the future when it may be that I review stories on a whim!

I pulled Superman Family #197 out of the long boxes because I wanted to reread the Private Life of Clark Kent, ' A Mynah Dilemma', one of my favorite stories ever. (Perhaps I should review that one at some point.)

While I had it out, I thought I would reread the Supergirl story. I was amazed. This is one of those  'buckle up your chinstraps' Bronze Age stories were so much happens in the span of 12 short pages that you are pummeled with ideas as a reader. Seriously, when I review the plot points, I want you all to consider just how many issues it would take to tell this story in the current market.

It is a very solid Supergirl story with her using brains and brawn. There is solid subplots and supporting cast moments. And she is clearly a well established and confident hero. Throw in some timey-wimey nonsense and a potential ghost, and you have a winner of a tale, neat and sweet in a dozen pages.

Oh, and it doesn't hurt to have Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (praised be his name) doing the cover art. JLGL always draws a great Supergirl!

On to the book!

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Fandome And Argo City

I missed the first DC Fandome so I was very happy to see that a second one was being put together. 

I don't think much has been announced about this next all day virtual convention. But I am hoping that more attention will be spent on the comic side of the DCU whereas the first seemed to be concentrating on movies, television, and other media.

Maybe it is here that we will learn about anything regarding Supergirl.

Although with recent changes I doubt we'll hear about new titles.

And hat tip to Mart Gray for pointing out the aesthetics of the poster. While I am sure that the different floating cities represent different aspects of the DCU, you can't deny that they sort of have an Argo City vibe to them. 

A while ago I took a deep dive into Argo, looking at its history in all the different ages of the DCU. If you dig deep enough here, you can get some of those posts: http://comicboxcommentary.blogspot.com/search/label/Argo%20City

Suffice it to say, Argo's destiny is usually tragic.

I might actually be able to 'attend' some of this Fandome. Let's hope we that we get some Supergirl news.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Review: Young Justice #18

Young Justice #18 came out this week and was something of a rest issue for this book although taking a good look at the relationship of Spoiler and Tim Drake, a couple I like seeing together. For me, I have been a Stephanie Brown fan forever, loving her time as Batgirl written by Bryan Q. Miller. So seeing her close off part of her past and rekindle her romance with Tim is wonderful.

But this book was just announced to be canceled in the near future and with so much of 'how and why are the key members back in this universe' still unanswered, even a Drake/Spoiler issue feels like space that could have been devoted to the main storylines. Of course, this issue might have been read many months before the decision to cancel was made.

One of the bigger complaints I hear about this book is that it has seemed to meander a bit, always hinting at a bigger, universal story but never quite getting there. I am sad to see that it is being canceled before writer Brian Michael Bendis crosses the finish line. Because I have enjoyed this book. I like all these characters and how Bendis handles them. And I hope that the book ending doesn't mean this team is ending. Come on DC! Give us a special now and then.

The art is an interesting mix by Michael Avon Oeming and Scott Godlewski. Oeming pencils a fight scene at the beginning which is a flashback and brings a sort of 'Batman the Animated Series' energy to the fight with great panels showing the brawl. The remainder is drawn by series regular Scott Godlewski who grounds us more in the feel of this book and also gives us a great melee scene as well.

On to the book.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Review: Batman/Superman #11

Batman/Superman #11 came out this week, the conclusion of the Ultra-Humanite story that writer Josh Williamson has been crafting. For me, these quicker stories (this one just three issues) make for much needed relief in this era of mega-storylines like the ones I have seen recently in Justice League and other books. 

One thing Williamson has been doing in this title since the beginning is use the plots to examine the friendship between Superman and Batman. Sure, things like The Batman Who Laughs and The Ultra-Humanite are bringing them together on adventures. But what keeps them together. I have been liking what has been going on here as both characters at times question the camaraderie, wondering themselves why they are in it together only to have the other reaffirm the friendship.

And the Ultra-Humanite plot here is pretty silly fare, wrapped up a bit too quickly and neatly. But under that is another look at how the DC universe is reacting to Superman's reveal that he is Clark Kent. I don't think it should get under the skin (as it were) of the Ultra-Humanite as much as it does here. But whose to say. When you think your best recourse in life is to live inside the body of an albino gorilla, maybe I shouldn't expect mature emotional responses. Most interesting is that it is the exact opposite to the response of another Superman villain, The Toyman.

The art by Clayton Henry is crisp and lovely, bringing this whole story to a decent enough conclusion. 

And thankfully, my questions on the Ultra-Humanite's powers are answered here as well.

On to the book.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Review: Amethyst #5

Amethyst #5 came out last week, the penultimate issue of this Wonder Comic re-imagination of the character. Writer/artist Amy Reeder is sprinting to the finish line a bit. But of all the issue of this title so far, this one had the most emotion. And this has been an emotional series.

I worried that last issue didn't bring the story forward enough. This issue made up for that by giving us a huge exposition scene where all the things Amy has been trying to learn is revealed to her. She heads to House Diamond, the rulers of the Gemworld, and asks them. It makes me wonder why she didn't do that from the beginning.

But that scene does show us that perhaps House Amethyst isn't the perfect example of heroism that Amy was led to believe. Reeder has been hinting about that this whole time. But now we learn the details. And they aren't pretty.

The real win here is Amy's reaction to learning about the news. Between the stress of her journey with Phoss and Maxixe and this revelation, we see how this affects out princess. And Reeder's art perfectly portrays the emotions Amy is reeling with. 

As I have said before, I wish I could eat this art it is so delicious. While some of Reeder's expressive work might be too stylized, for me it just works. There are a couple of perfect panels in this book.

And thanks to the Diamond scene, I think we are set up for this book to come to a satisfactory conclusion next issue. Last issue's pause was made up for with this issue's velocity.

On to the book.