Friday, October 30, 2020

Review: Action Comics #1026

Action Comics #1026 came out this week and was another extremely entertaining issue in the House of Kent storyline. This is the last story arc in Action Comics for writer Brian Michael Bendis. His time on Superman is coming to an end. I will be sad to see him go. His Superman has always been the shining inspiration that the Man of Steel should be. He is the friend, here to help, and  the moral and heroic star to guide our ship.

But also I am going to miss his take on Supergirl. While Kara has been mistreated and misrepresented and downgraded in her own title, Bendis understands her. She is a young woman, bright and optimistic, smart and strategic, and a natural leader. Who defeated Rogol Zaar in Man of Steel? Supergirl. Who figures out how to defeat the Parasite in this issue? Supergirl. I can only hope somewhere down the line Bendis gets to write Supergirl again.

John Romita Jr's art remains a blocky, scratchy tableau for my tastes. But one thing I love about this issue's art is the layout of the book. This is mostly a knock-down, drag-out fight between the Superman Family and this Uber-Parasite. And with such a tremendous fight, you need to feel that chaos, that action (apropos for the title). The book unfolds with pages tumbling, with vertical two page spreads that will literally have the reader flipping the book over in their hands. In my mind it was the equivalent of a frenetic hand held camera shot in a movie. You are part of the action.

There is more to this issue than just the fight as the Invisible Mafia arc is nudged forward with the Red Cloud and mob boss Leone still trying to get the upper hand.

Buckle up. Here we go!

Thursday, October 29, 2020

2020 Jack O'Lanterns

Happy Halloween everyone!

As many know, I love to carve jack-o-lanterns around Halloween time and try to challenge myself with semi-complicated designs. 

I am no artist but I am always chuffed with the results. And I have recently decided to try and do a Legionnaire when I decide on doing a comic related carving. I will post pics of those below.

This year I thought I would celebrate the new Legion of Super-Heroes by picking one of the new recruits! So here is my attempt at a Monster Boy carving.

No one will know who this is on the block. But I don't care. I am pretty happy. 

And Arune Singh (who Monster Boy is based on) and Brian Michael Bendis were pretty pumped when they saw this on Twitter.

I also decided to do a Bride of Frankenstein carving this year and this also came out pretty good. 

I don't think there is mistaking for anything but the Bride! 

My hope was to do a Frankenstein one as well but as of this posting I haven't got to it yet.

From 2016, here is Wildfire!

From 2014, here is Sensor Girl!

Have a safe Halloween in this pandemic 2020!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Back Issue Box: Justice League #141

I continue my deep dive into Mark Shaw Leviathan by looking at his second major story in Justice League #141.

Last week I reviewed JLA #140 in which Mark Shaw, Manhunter brought Green Lantern into custody. It seemed Hal had destroyed the planet Orinda and that galaxy was demanding justice. With GL, Green Arrow, and Black Canary held at the Manhunter stronghold as hostages, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Flash went out to see if the claims against GL were true.

Out of this crazy story spins a pretty important piece of DC history. The Green Lantern Corps was not the Guardians first attempt at an inter-galactic peace force. Instead it was the android Manhunters they sent out with small green energy batteries and stun pistols. These guys have been plaguing DC for as long as I have been reading comics so it was truly fascinating for me to read this issue for the first time.

I assumed these android Manhunters predated the 1st Issue Special Manhunter issue. I thought Kirby was tweaking a known property. I also didn't realize that the Paul Kirk Goodwin/Simonson Manhunter even predated that. In my head, the Manhunters created by the Oans were created somewhere in the early GL issues.

So for me this was a true revelation. 

And it shouldn't surprise me that Steve Englehart is the writer here, forming this new legend for DC. After all, he was the writer for Millennium, the mega-crossover which brought the Manhunters and their agents back in a big way. 

But how does all this reveal impact Mark Shaw? Well, this might redefine the Manhunters but it is only the first chapter in Englehart's look at Shaw. So more to come ... for sure.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Lesla Lar On Superman And Lois!

Hat tip to my excellent friend Martin Gray for sending me this link about an upcoming character on the Superman & Lois television show, Leslie Larr!

Here is the link:

Here is the pertinent blurb:

The CW's Superman And Lois has cast Degrassi star Stacey Farber in the recurring role of Leslie Larr, a possible Silver Age DC villain.

According to The Wrap, Farber's character of Leslie Larr is described as "the right hand to one of the most influential people on the planet, she's gone from a young, idealistic dreamer to a hardened, world-worn dream killer. Athletic, strong… and oftentimes heartless." The name "Leslie Larr" could be a slight variation on the Supergirl villain Lesla-Larr, created by Jerry Siegel and artist Jim Mooney in 1961.

Now there is a bit to unpack here. (First off, CBR initially listed Lesla as a Bronze Age character; they quickly corrected it to Silver Age. Also, there isn't 2 r's in the character name.) And the name doesn't always mean an exact copy of the comic character on these CW shows.

But a heartless dream killer named Leslie Larr? That has to be a riff on Lesla-Lar.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Bullet Review: Teen Titans # 46

Teen Titans #46 came out this last week and with Jon Kent prominently displayed on the cover, I thought this would be a good purchase and a chance to catch up on this book. I had been reading this book when Adam Glass and Bernard Chang were on the book. But somewhere around Teen Titans #41, the title dropped off my pull list. I honestly think it was a victim of the pandemic. I hadn't put the book on my official pull list, just buying it off the shelf when it came out. I suppose this is my folly.

I was surprised to see Glass off the book and instead see Robbie Thompson on as writer. As a huge fan of Marvel's Silk book, I was pretty excited to see what Thompson brought to the book. I wasn't disappointed.

What I don't know is if Superboy is here as a guest in hopes he'll punch up sales. I am pretty sure the book is already canceled given the DC purge of 2020. 

Jesus Merino is on art and I have always been a fan of his work. He recently did pretty stellar work on the Wonder Woman book. His figures are a bit thin in comparison the Bernard Chang's but no one looks sickly or stretched out like Ian Churchill figures. And I like the playfulness he brings to the more private scenes with the characters.

As for Jon ... well ... it is a moment. 

On to the book.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Back Issue Box: Supergirl #20

DC is in the midst of Metal, an event I am not reading after slogging through the very long convoluted Justice League lead-up. I have no idea what truly is going on there. But at the very least I know it is a big crossover with heroes fighting giant unworldly beings to save the world.

I honestly don't even know if Supergirl is in Metal ...

But it jogged my mind to see if there were any mega-events that Supergirl took part in that I haven't covered here. So today I'll review Supergirl #21 from the Peter David run which was part of the Millennium Giants crossover.

This is a pretty decent 'done in one' crossover with Supergirl clearly the star. At this time in the series, Supergirl's flame wings had just started to manifest. She had heard the words 'earth born angel' but had no idea what that meant. She had just revealed she was the Matrix/Linda Danvers amalgam to her parents, driving her mother back into alcoholism. And Superman was split between Red and Blue!

So a lot of backstory in this 50 issue mega-arc is starting to swirl here and David uses this issue, an event crossover, to nudge those things forward. And, as usual, there is a heavy emphasis on struggling to do what is right, faith, and belief mixed through this. I appreciate that effort making this still feel like a Supergirl issue despite the trappings.

Leonard Kirk is the penciller and had an impressive run on this book. His style suits the action nicely as he switches from scenes of ordinary folks and then gigantic monsters stomping through the ocean.

On to the book!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Back Issue Box: Justice League Of America #140

I continue my little trek through Mark Shaw's history by looking at Justice League of America #140 cover dated March 1970.

This book came out just about 2 years after 1st Issue Special #5 and I believe marks just the second appearance of this Manhunter.

I grew up trying to buy the JLA book of this era as much as I could. Even as a kid, I could differentiate Dick Dillin's art from others. And since I imprinted on the book around this point, Dillin is the quintessential Justice League artist for me.

What I truly love about this story is that writer Steve Englehart really folds a lot of DC continuity, making that Kirby one-shot into something intergalactic. I had always assumed that in comics the robot Manhunters predated Mark Shaw but it turns out I was wrong. 

I do wonder if Kirby would have been happy with the thing Englehart twisted his 'Shan' into. The text piece in 1st Issue Special #5 talks about the unwavering ethics of the Manhunter in pursuit of justice. Here, his organization becomes something different.

And as a fan who is doing this deep dive because of Leviathan, I was happy to read this issue and (at least in my own canon) carry some of it forward.

On to the book.

It all starts off with a bang!

'No Man Escapes the Manhunter!' was written by Steve Englehart with art by Dick Dillin.

And we start out at, of all places, Wayne Foundation!

Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Green Lantern are waiting for an emergency JLA meeting with Batman when the Manhunter busts in to get Green Lantern.

In an impressive display, the Manhunter quickly dispatches Arrow and Canary. Green Lantern doesn't fight back saying he deserves to be taken in and allows Manhunter to knock him out.

The Manhunter scoops up the three unconscious bodies and takes them to the roof of the building.

Now honestly, why would Batman convene an emergency meeting at the Wayne foundation when everyone can teleport up to the satellite? Isn't it a bit risky to have JLA members having a conversation in the Wayne building?

And even more impressive, when confronted by the Dark Knight Detective, Manhunter takes out Batman too. And pretty easily I might add! He tosses Batman off the building, seemingly to his death ... if not for a handy dandy flagpole.

That last panel is pretty weird. It looks like Manhunter suddenly grows in size even though we know he is just a normal human in a suit.

But this level of power and discipline is interesting to apply to Leviathan.

Manhunter throws the three unconscious JLAers into his ship. But Batman had triggered the alarm. Now the big guns of Superman and Wonder Woman show up.

Amazingly, the ship is able to teleport away without even Superman being able to stop it or figure out where they went.

Now this really leans into the current Leviathan storylines where the Leviathan army being able to teleport in and out of places with ease and without being followed is a huge part of their strategy.

Back at the Manhunter headquarters, the Manhunter agent, Mark Shaw, apologizes to his Grandmaster for not following the edicts of the Manhunters. He should have been able to grab Green Lantern without Arrow or Canary seeing him, let alone being stuck taking them along. 

This is quite a mission for the Manhunters as well, as they have been asked to bring in Green Lantern from a group outside the solar system, a far cry from Public Defender Shaw using his Manhunter powers to stop organized crime.

But the Leaguers are thrown into a cell, captive for now.

Interestingly, the rest of the JLA meet and Flash is able to use his ability to sense vibrations to figure out that the Manhunter teleported the other Leaguers to the Himalayas.

But once there, even this vaunted set of super-heroes are also quickly subdued and thrown into a cell.

Perhaps most impressive is that when Superman tries to break out he is battered by a concussive blast strong enough to floor him. The Grandmaster talks about how secretive and hidden the sect is. And how they also have power beyond measure, even things call annihilogram.

Again, this all just lends credence to the Event Leviathan story where this organization was able to exist without anyone knowing it and strike with great power, enough to floor Superman. 

I did like this sequence where Superman and Flash realize the need to double vibrate the Flash to allow him to escape the crystal cell. 

Nicely drawn by Dillin.

Once free, the Manhunter Grand Master yields. 

We then get a little bit of their back history, much of which leans into Kirby's imagery.

They have existed for 1000 years. They use the Pride of the Lion totem to help choose their agents. And they seek out justice.

And while Batman thinks they are just bounty hunters, the Grandmaster says they only crave justice.

It is then that we learn from Green Lantern why he is being pursued. 

Traveling through space, Green Lantern saw a number of exploding meteors all placing nearby worlds in peril. The meteors were being detonated by the magnetic waves of a nearby moon circling planet Orinda.

When GL tries to quell the moon's energies, his lantern beam bounces off the moon and destroys Orinda like the Death Star.

What is up with Green Lanterns inadvertently destroying planets. This predates Jon Stewart and Xanshi by around 10 years. Reeling from guilt, Green Lantern basically allows his ring to run out of power and turns himself into the Manhunters.

The free JLAers demand the ability to do their own investigation on Hal's supposed crime. Green Arrow and Black Canary agree to stay with the Manhunters almost as hostages to ensure the JLA don't try any chicanery.

So Superman and the others head to Orinda's system. There they see a Guardian of Oa getting harassed and almost overrun by a mob.

And the governor of the planet relay that they are the ones who put out the request with the Manhunters to capture Green Lantern.  Hal destroyed their sister planet and they aren't happy.

But what the heck is this Guardian doing out there? Why does he seem so powerless such that a mob is an actual threat? 

This seems weird.

Meanwhile on Earth, another Guardian materializes in the Manhunter headquarters.

Another Guardian! Not another Lantern! But a Guardian.

He arrives with a spare battery and uses a ring to knock out the distracted Manhunter. The Guardian then demands that Hal recharge his ring and escape so that they can analyze the situation with the Manhunters.

Okay ... one Guardian I can roll with. But two??

That means this story is going to take a big leap in scope.

Also, it seems based on this issue that Manhunter needs his whole costume in place, including his mask, to have access to all his power. With the mask off, he isn't nearly as strong.

Out in space the heroes head off to the magnetic moon to again continue their investigation about Green Lantern's purported crime.

On the moon they all fight what seems to be an indestructible, all-powerful dinosaur type creature.

It is only Batman who realizes that it is an illusion! And also, what is this moon orbiting if the planet is destroyed. The whole thing is fishy. Orinda must still exist.

So Green Lantern didn't destroy it!

The alien governor had joined this team.

When this deception is uncovered, he drops his guise as well-meaning politician.

He was part of a long standing plot to discredit the Guardians. He is, in fact, another Manhunter. And knowing he has failed this piece of the plot, he teleports away.

You almost feel for Mark Shaw here. He continues to struggle with his mission. He truly sounds like he wants to help people. He wants justice. But somehow he has been consumed by the mission of the sect, not his own desires.

And now all this interplanetary, Guardians nonsense is cropping up.

But looking at this 1970's story with Event Leviathan in mind, you do get a sense for just how advanced the Manhunters were and that is before folding in all the other spy agencies with their weapons.

I look forward to sharing the next part with you all soon!

Monday, October 19, 2020

DC January 2021 Solicits

The DC Comics solicits for Jaunuary came out last week and I have to say, I have never been more fatigued with DC than I am now. And remember, I have lived through a lot.

I don't even know if I can adequately explain or even want to. But because of METAL (which I am not reading) the DC Universe timeline is again ripped to shreds. And DC is taking two months off to give us some sort of Elseworlds mash-ups before we get back to continuity storytelling.

It feels like Convergence all over again and just a handful of years after Convergence!

Here is a link to the Superman solicits and my thoughts: 

But seriously, another reboot? I think we are number 4 in the last 20 years?

card stock variant cover by ALEX GARNER

Kara Zor-El, Superman's hot-tempered cousin, has finally found peace and purpose away from Earth and its heroes. Now known as Superwoman, she watches over the Moon and the refugees from across the galaxy who have congregated there. But all of that is about to change when a spaceship piloted by a runaway alien crash-lands and turns Kara's world upside down! Does this fugitive come in peace? Or does this arrival bring war to our hero's front door?

Why not start out with something that totally irks me ... this Future State Kara.

When the creative team of Bennett and Sauvage was leaked I was actually excited. They wrote a pretty good Kara over in Bombshells. And I thought at least she wasn't ignored in the event.

Then the solicit dropped. 

Hot-tempered. Away from Earth.



Why must DC always default back to an angry Kara who abandons Earth. That isn't Supergirl. 

Moreover, in this future state world she is at odds with Jon. So now she wants to fight her family again.

This take never works. And I am just sick to death of it.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Review: Superman #26

Superman #26 came out this week and was another example of why I will miss Brian Michael Bendis when he is off the Superman books. Because this one had it all. Clark and Lois moments. Huge action superhero sequences. A scene with Jimmy. A scene with in the Daily Planet pit. A scene in the Fortress. And all the time showcasing why Superman is simply the inspiration the world need.

If you want a primer on what a Superman issue should be, this is a pretty good one.

All good things must come to an end.

Now the main plot line here is the Synmar Utopica coming to Earth to fight Superman. I am not sure I quite understand the motivations behind this. It could be that he assumes it was Superman who killed the Synmar council last issue. But I also wonder if it is that Utopica looks at Superman as what he should be and hates himself for it. And the best way to deal with hate is to transfer it.

Of course, we know Superman didn't kill the council. Which leaves the real unanswered question ... who did? And is that threat around the corner?  Are we going to see Superman and Utopica team up in the end to fight a bigger enemy? That is about as classic a comic book trope as there is.

Ivan Reis and Danny Miki and Alex Sinclair continue to dazzle on art. The pencils and ink are tight. And whether we are in the bedroom or the boardroom or the Phantom Zone, it all looks crisp and slick. Sinclair's colors go from the dim lighting of the nighttime apartment to the dazzling reds and yellows of Utopica's skin and just makes the art sing.

This is a middle chapter and it did what I need a middle chapter to do. It moved the plot along. And it made me want more immediately.

On to the book!

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Back Issue Box: First Issue Special #5

 I was riding high on the Event Leviathan wave when the world turned.

Whether it was the pause in comic production because of COVID or the regime change at DC which led to a massive decrease in editors, the Event Leviathan:Checkmate mini-series that was supposed to come out this summer has been delayed ... hopefully not shelved.

I have heard interviews with Brian Michael Bendis in which he has said it is going to come out. But because of something it was 'building to' has changed, he has had to alter it. 

Now you probably know if you come here that I was obsessed with solving the Event Leviathan mystery, posting Leviathan Theory articles and laying odds on the suspects. I was all in. And this delay for a book I was looking forward to was disappointing.

During that same downtime, I tried to support my comic store by buying supplies and trades. One thing I ordered was the 1st Issue Special hardcover, collecting that offbeat series. And 1st Issue Special #5 was the first appearance of Jack Kirby's Manhunter ... that is Mark Shaw ... that is Leviathan.

I read that issue for the first time and it once again whet my appetite for the Leviathan series. So I figured I would do a brief look at the history of Shaw and the Manhunters. Please note that the screen shots of panels here are from a digital version.

On to the book! Prepare to meet Leviathan!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Review: Young Justice #19

Sometimes life happens.

And so I am writing my review of Young Justice #19 nearly a week after it came out.

We know that Young Justice #20 is the last issue of the series and so this issue feels like writer Brian Michael Bendis shining the spotlight on Wonder Girl in an effort to tell her story while he has time. Certainly the plot that runs through this story is quick paced, almost rushed. This would have been a fine 3 issue mini-arc. 

And I think it is a shame because I feel like this was a nice appetizer to Cassie picking up the 'team leader' responsibilities. But with one issue left, I don't think we'll get to see much of it.

The art is by Scott Godlewski who has grown in my mind. This is a bombastic issue filled with double page spreads and splashes and insane action with a couple of more human interactions sprinkled in. His style brings a sort of freshness to the proceedings. These are young adults who look like young adults. And John Timms cover is a great shot of Wonder Girl.

On to the book.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

MIke Maihack Inktober

For some time now I have talked up Mike Maihack and his wonderful take on the Batgirl/Supergirl relationship. It is always a treat when Maihack creates new content for my favorite World's Finest duo!

For the month of #inktober Maihack has promised a new small sketch of Supergirl or Batgirl or both!

What a sweet treat for this Halloween month.

We are early so I only have a couple of pics to share but they are standard Maihack awesome.

Here is a trick-or-treat scene with Kara in a spooktacular costume.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Review: Superman Family #202

Last week I reviewed Superman Family #201 picking up on Supergirl's romantic feelings towards Peter Barton. That issue ended with a cliffhanger! Supergirl's super-hypnosis granted Barton super-powers. But he could never love Supergirl as that would be an insult to his male ego. So he uses his powers to become Dynamic and try to force Supergirl to retire.

The whole idea is ludicrous. 

As always I am amazed at how much could be told back in the day. In a mere 12 pages, we get a complete resolution to these problems. 

But mostly this shows that Supergirl's romantic problems are evergreen. How could she ever love someone like Barton. Yeesh.

If there is one thing to laud this early run of Supergirl stories in Superman Family by Jack C. Harris is that he did his best to inject Supergirl mythos into the stories. Remember, he brought back Lesla Lar. In this issue, he gives one nod to her Action Comics early adventures. I appreciate flourishes like that.

On to the story.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Who's Editing!


I don't always cross-promote my rare podcast appearances on this site but I had such fun with this that I felt I wanted to share. Head here to listen:

I was the guest star with Siskoid over on The Fire And Water Podcast network on his show 'Who's Editing?' On this show, the guest and Siskoid create a line of DC books but only from the heroes (and 1 villain) within an issue of the famous DC Who's Who book from the eighties.

I got the sixth issue which includes many Doctor characters.

For this show for the characters I picked a creative team of writer, artist, and variant cover artist. I made an elevator pitch for the book and then mapped out the overall idea.

What will I do with Dr. Occult? Who did I have Sterling Gates write? Who will Chris Samnee draw? Which villain gets their own book?

I like getting the creative juices flowing and this was a blast for me. If you want to see how my comic mind works, this is a good place to start! 

Thanks again to Siskoid for inviting!

Monday, October 5, 2020

Review: Batman/Superman Annual #1

Batman Superman Annual #1 came out last week and was a fun standalone story in the mold of Annuals of my youth. Nothing like a Bat-Mite/Mr. Mxyzptlk argument to lead to an entertaining, comical story. Amazingly, the book ends with a message that should be sent far and wide in the DC Comics editorial offices.

I have been very impressed with writer Joshua Williamson's approach to heroes, especially his amazing run on the Flash. One thing he does over and over is support the heroic ideal these heroes should be living and inspiring people with. Williamson has our heroes fight in this book but basically rubs our nose in how silly the concept is. And then he sticks the landing.

The art chores are split between Clayton Henry, Gleb Melnikov, and Dale Eaglesham. Each brings a nice style to their parts. There is a lot of action here and these artists are up to the task. Melnikov gives his part a semi-cartoony look perfect for the 5th dimension.

There is even a small part that reminds me of one of my favorite stories from my youth, transporting me to summer days at the beach with a comic folded in my bag. Ahhh, nostalgia!

On to the story!

Friday, October 2, 2020

Review: Legion of Super-Heroes #9

Legion of Super-Heroes #9 came out this week, the second part of the Trial of the Legion of Super-Heroes and another fantastic art jam piece written by Brian Michael Bendis.

There is so much to love about this particular issue that you should know it was incredibly difficult to pick which pieces of the book I wanted to post here. For a Legion fan, every page is a delight.

Bendis uses the backdrop of the Trial to once again show us audition vids for various members of the team. This technique not only gives us background information on the team members (establishing new origins for some established characters) but also shows that the Legion has never wanted to be the lapdog for the UP. I guess 'eat it Grampa' could be invoked. And then he drops a bomb hinting at an upcoming storyline. Boom!

The art is crazy good with a veritable Who's Who of artists each showcasing a different Legionnaire. Too many names to drop here. Just go buy the issue.

I have been enjoying this book a ton! And these last two issues have been electric.

On the book.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Review: Batman/Superman #12

Batman/Superman #12 came out last week and was an interesting issue for a few reasons. 

For one, it is as much a Batwoman/Steel issue as it is Batman/Superman. I always like these semi-World's Finest team-ups when they happen. And seeing these two working together as more grounded members of their specific teams made for some interesting interaction.

The actual plot involving Batman and Superman is also entertaining. It took me a bit to wrap my head around exactly what was happening. But in the end, seeing our heroes being put through what seems like an endless wringer should make for some wild super-heroics in the upcoming chapters.

And lastly, there is one very brief Supergirl moment which can be read two very different ways and I am interested in hearing what you all think. Should I be an optimist or a pessimist?

Writer Joshua Williamson continues to write snappy dialogue and quick moving plots, something I appreciate in this world of endless 12 parters. And the art by Max Raynor is really gorgeous. I wouldn't mind seeing him on either a Steel book or a Batwoman book in the future.

On to the details.