Monday, November 30, 2020

Review: Action Comics #1027

Action Comics #1027 came out last week, the penultimate issue of both the House of El story arc as well as the overall Action Comics run by writer Brian Michael Bendis. I will be sad to see him go. 

This issue pretty much wraps up the Invisible Mafia plot which has been running through this book since Bendis first took over. I have to say that things wrap up almost a little bit too quickly, a little bit too easily. Is this because of the whole Future State/5G/DC Bloodbath? Did Bendis need to clear the decks quickly and so the villains needed to get taken off the map rapidly? Or was this always the plan?

But I might be burying the lede a bit for the focus of this site. As always, Bendis treats Supergirl exceptionally well. She is clearly 'second in command' of this group and in prior issues might be looked on as the strategist. She clearly cares about her cousin and her extended family. And there is a moment that makes me optimistic of her future. I can't always say that. I can only hope that Bendis has something to do with a reinvigoration and reimagination of  Supergirl in the near future.

Also, there are two pages in this book which really made me smile. In the midst of the action there are two 9-panel grid pages. The story being told on those pages turns on the center panel, almost like that is the axle the sequence shifts on. That is clever.

John Romita Jr. is on art and his stuff is pretty rough for me. He has a lot to do here with shifting scenes of huge actions amid quiet interrogation scenes. I don't care too much for the stuff. But the layouts are actually quite nice.

On to the book.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Black Friday: Future State Magazine

 Yesterday I had some optimism, giving thanks for a couple of new Supergirl trades being released in the summer and hopeful for a new monthly.

Today I talk about my pessimism, specifically about how history seems doomed to repeat itself. Because we hear a little more about the upcoming Future State 2 month event at DC. The company released a promotional magazine found here: 

 Now there is plenty of information in this about all the titles and the Superman books. So it is worth perusing if this intrigues you.

 And we get some nice art including this design pic of Supergirl's (or Superwoman's) future costume by Marguerite Sauvage.

But it was the words of Marguerite Bennett, writer on the Superwoman book that gave me pause. 

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving - Supergirl Trades

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone here in the states and those that celebrate.

It has been a while since I have had Supergirl content on this here Supergirl blog so I am thrilled to give you this news (and hat tip to excellent friend Mart Gray for sending it my way!).

There are two new Supergirl trades coming out in the near future! 

Here is a link to Bleeding Cool's coverage:

Now the trades themselves are great, showcasing most of the Supergirl stories in the DCAU comics, those based on the Bruce Timm animated shows. 

But for me, and maybe I am grasping at hope or maybe I am looking to give thanks for something, but I have to wonder the timing. Why release two Supergirl specific trades in the near future?

And the only thing I can think of is that there is a new monthly on the horizon. 

How better to promote a new Supergirl book than to put out Supergirl trades showcasing her.

I can dream, can't I?

Even if there isn't a new monthly, I will definitely grab these books. I have covered some but not all of them here over the years.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Back Issue Box: Secret Origins #23

 It was the late 80's and mega-crossovers in comics were still in their infancy.

In 1985 DC had given us Crisis on Infinite Earths, redefining the DCU.

In 1986, DC gave us Legends, a wellspring of ideas and excellent new comics and characters.

In 1987, they gave us Millennium

The concept seemed sound. The Oans and the Zamarons were going to leave the universe in the hands of New Guardians. Their old foes, the Manhunters, were going to stop them and take over instead. And to go about this task, the Manhunters were going to activate sleeper agents they had sprinkled throughout the universe. Who was actually a Manhunter? It was a mystery.

Unfortunately, the actual event fell flat. How flat? Flat enough that I must have given away Millennium at some point. It is no longer in my collection. (And I still have Countdown!)

But one of the things DC must have realized is that the Manhunters as a group weren't well known. How could they be a universal threat? Who the heck were they?

So to bolster the main event along with the crossovers, Secret Origins #22 would focus on the group giving important background information. 

And this is where I come in because this was the post-Crisis reintroduction of Mark Shaw, ultimately Leviathan. With the Crisis behind us, changes could be made to continuity. Who was Shaw? Did things play out the same?

Let's find out.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Who's Who XVIII - The Privateer

In my quest to review the history of Mark Shaw as (hopefully) the sequel to Event Leviathan is around the corner, I recently showcased his story in the Justice League of America comics from the late 1970's. 

Within a year, writer Steve Englehart and artist Dick Dillin had rolled the Jack Kirby 1st Issue Special Manhunter idea into Green Lantern mythology. He then re-introduced Shaw as the Privateer only to have him turn villain.

That was 1977!

So where did he turn up next?

Well, in Who's Who, the Definitive Handbook of the DC Universe.

For 9 years Shaw stayed in comic limbo.

And even when he showed up, it was only as an entry in this, not a story. The art is by Stan Woch and is a decent representation of the Privateer identity. I do like that the surprint shows us Shaw in his Manhunter gear as well as the Star-Tsar.

It wouldn't be until Millennium in late 1987 that Shaw shows up again, predominantly in Suicide Squad and then his own book. 

No surprise it is Millennium we see him again. It is, after all, a Steve Englehart story about Manhunters. I'll be looking at Shaw's Secret Origin one more time as well as his time on the Suicide Squad.

But as I dive in so much of Event Leviathan begins making sense. His speech pattern. His claiming to be a hero. His hatred of secrets (maybe hitting too close to home?). His talk with Plastic Man. 

This has been fascinating and I think I have just started peel back the onion.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Back Issue Box: Superman #371, Private Life Of Clark Kent

Hard to believe that I am double dipping on an issue but today I will be looking at Superman #371 again. This time I'll be looking at the back-up story, a Private Life of Clark Kent feature by writer Bob Rozakis and artist John Calnan.

In my early years of reading comics, I loved these Private Life stories, whether in Superman Family or in the main titles as back-up features. These were usually stories with Superman outwitting someone but in his Clark Kent persona. It often involved Steve Lombard getting a come-uppance. But as a kid I liked how Superman occasionally needed to use his wits instead of his fists. 

They also were nice little palate cleansers after the more usual super-heroics that existed in the rest of the issue.

In retrospect, it is interesting that little Anj liked these quiet stories so much.

Now in the last issue of Superman, our hero was depowered and offput by being under an orange sun. So I thought the Private Life of Clark Kent in this issue would be fun to look at.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

February 2021 Solicits

February's DC Solicits were released last week. While there is a glut of Future State books, the second of this two month experiment, there are a few other books out there worth peeking at. But this is a Supergirl blog so here is a link to those books: 

Now I don't think I am going much of this side trip to future worlds. In fact I am way more interested in seeing March's solicits. That will be the new norm for DC after the recent layoffs. And looking at the Future State books I do worry that these are books that have agendas. It takes something special to make books with an agenda be story-driven and not agenda-driven.

But here we go.


card stock variant cover by ALEX GARNER

The moon colony built around Superwoman's Fortress of Solitude is under siege! Shape-shifting aliens have come to this place of peace in search of Lynari, a refugee from their homeworld. It's a bad move on the part of these intergalactic bad guys: if Kara Zor-El offers you sanctuary, there's no way she's going to let anyone get their monstrous hands on you. Let's just hope this gamble is worth it, because Lynari's secret—the one that got her in trouble in the first place—could mean bad news for everybody!

So perhaps this is an agenda book about refugees, undocumented aliens, and the need to welcome people running to freedom from oppression.

The question for me is 'will this be a Supergirl story'? Or is this a story about refugees and undocumented people?

We shall see.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Back Issue Box: Justice League Of America #150

Get ready True Believers because I am about to finish the first leg of my deep dive into the character of Mark Shaw, aka Leviathan, as I prep for (hopefully) Event Leviathan Checkmate

This leads us to Justice League of America #150, cover dated January 1978. This is the big turning point for our character. It is here that I feel you get the foundation of his turn to Leviathan. Of course, hard to know if any of this actually happened in current DC continuity. But the overall feel of the character is there. 

This also is the beginning of Mark Shaw's comic book hiatus until 1987!

Interestingly enough, this is also the end of Steve Englehart's run on Justice League of America. I don't know if this was by choice or by edict. In some ways the Shaw story here is wrapped up exceptionally quick which makes me wonder if Englehart wanted to draw this out that plot a bit more.

As usual, the art here is done by JLA veteran Dick Dillin. You get the feeling that Englehart put some bonuses in here for Dillin given it was the writer's last issue and it is #150, a sort of Anniversary number. But there are also parts of this story which are completely bizarre, allowing Dillin to open up a little bit.

So ... what happens to Mark Shaw aka Manhunter aka Privateer ultimately Leviathan. Let's find out.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Review: Superman #27

Superman #27 came out this week and was another example of why I will be missing Brian Michael Bendis when he is off the super-titles. Throughout his run, we have seen Superman as a symbol of hope and goodness and this issue is a perfect example of that. You want to root for this Superman. You want to be this Superman. 

All that characterization is folded into the Synmar Utopica storyline. While this arc is an interesting way to compare and contrast the concept of super-men analogues, I haven't warmed up to the Synmar character yet. I don't quite understand his motives. I don't understand his powers. I don't know what happened in the conclave of his people that spurred this whole thing on. (Although I have a theory I will share at the end.)

I have complimented Ivan Reis and Danny Miki before on their art on the title. But they continue to stun me. This is a crazy issue in choatic dimensions and alien environments. This is a slugfest. And then in the middle we have a quiet scene between Lois and Lana. It all just sizzles on the page. Once again, I have to mention Alex Sinclair's colors. Synmar is vibrant. His halo energies dazzling. And there is one sequence of space travel which is just brilliant.

Just one more month. Will this all get wrapped up?

On to the book.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Marie Javins Named Editor-In-Chief


The DC bloodbath was a couple of months ago. At the height of the pandemic,Dan Didio and senior editors were shown the door. Comics were canceled. The '5G' future was scrapped (sort of ... you can't convince me that Future State isn't some grab at material already produced). And I began to wonder if DC was in trouble.

It didn't help that there was no inkling at all about what is happening post-Future State. Will we pick up where we left off? Is Death Metal a death knell for the Rebirth timeline? 

Finally, this week, some good news came out. Marie Javins was named Editor-In-Chief. Here is a link to Variety's article: 

 For me, this was a great announcement. It might sound dramatic but I thought to myself 'this is a great move'.

And the article and a quote from Javins only bolstered that feeling.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Back Issue Box: Justice League Of America #149


Today I continue my look back at the origins of Mark Shaw Leviathan by reviewing Justice League #149. I have been looking back at this year in Justice League as writer Steve Englehart and artist Dick Dillin were doing some mind-blowing stories. Honestly, there may have been drugs involved.

Englehart really was diving deep into the DC mythology in this run, both bringing back old villains and adding new wrinkles to DC history. He brought Commander Blanx into continuity, changing the JLA's 'first mission'. He made the Manhunters part of the Green Lantern history. He brought back the Key and Snapper Carr. And, most importantly for this run on the blog, he brought back Mark Shaw Manhunter, a one-shot wonder by Jack Kirby who now was enmeshed in League business.

Since Justice League of America #140, Shaw had been showing up in the books. After learning the Manhunters were a corrupt group, Shaw dons pirate gear and becomes The Privateer. While not a League member, he sure pushes himself into their business. In fact, he get close enough that some even consider bringing him on board. Others aren't so sure.

In this issue, we again see Shaw sticking his nose into League affairs, showing his mental capabilities and his fighting prowess. We even get a truncated take on his origin with some new tidbits. 

It is all fascinating and we are approaching another turn.

Dillin continues to dazzle here. The main villain here is Dr. Light who has many different weapons which have bizarre effects. He seems as much the Mirror Master here as Dr. Light. And Dillin brings it, bring some almost Ditko-esque insanity to the proceedings.

On to the book.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Review: Young Justice #20

Young Justice #20 came out this last week, the last issue of this title which I am very sad to see end,  I have enjoyed almost every book under the Wonder Comic imprint but this book, to me, had the most promise.  There were old school characters - Superboy, Robin, Wonder Girl, Spoiler,  and Impulse. There was a reimagined Amethyst and Wonder Twins. And there were new characters - Teen Lantern, Jinny Hex, and Naomi. They each had unique personalities. There were mysteries and back stories. And most importantly there was chemistry. This book crackled.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis brought a lot of fun and snark and witty repartee to the proceedings all while dancing around the main mystery ... how did the main characters exist when the countless recent reboots seemed to erase them. I loved every issue of this series even when I wished the underlying plot would move along quicker.

And now, before we even get to answer to the mystery, the book is ending. DC is purging and cancelling in rapid fire. We have another '2 months off' event after Dark Metal finally rusts and crumbles away. And who knows what the future holds? 

In the end, like many books, I have to just be thankful I got what I got and return to it when I can.

The art in this issue is by Scotty Godlewski and his style (like cover artist John Timms) is perfect for the book. I love his take on these characters.

On to this series' finale, chock full of goodness.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Review: Batman/Superman #13

Batman/Superman #13 came out last week, the next part in the Planet Brainiac arc. I liked the first part in this story as it gave us a sideways World's Finest pairing of Batwoman and Steel. And the art by Max Raynor was very polished.

The overall plot is intriguing. Batman has written a program to predict where super-villains will strike so he and Superman can be more pro-active rather than reactive. But then a Brainiac program worms its way into the program and decides that to be the best prediction tool it needs to understand both the villains and the heroes. On the dark side of the moon, Brainiac pits Batman and Superman against a never ending parade of robot versions of the villains, all while learning.

But the intriguing bit is hearing Brainiac trying to figure out our heroes. He must know that robot dupes won't be a real threat. Instead, he uses them to engage our title characters in a conversation about their motivations and histories. Brainiac wants to know they whys ... why do heroes become heroes and why do villains become villains. And those conversations are pretty well done. Kudos to Joshua Williamson.

Sure there are things about this issue that are wonky. But the action is fast and furious and the dialogue is crackling and the art is slick. I buy comics to be entertained. And I was very entertained. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Back Issue Box: Justice League #143

I continue my look back at the history of Mark Shaw Leviathan with a peek at Justice League of America #143

I recently reviewed JLA #140 and JLA #141 where the history of the Manhunters was upended and retconned by Steve Englehart.  While Englehart was done with the Manhunter androids, he wasn't done with Mark Shaw.

In this issue, we see that Shaw wasn't done with his quest for justice. But he wanted to shed himself of the baggage that came with the name Manhunter and the distinctive armor. He creates a new super-heroic persona for himself. And while not invited into the League, he certainly interacts with the members a lot.

But the bigger story is the League battling a mind controlled Wonder Woman, the Injustice League, and The Construct, Steve Englehart's malevolent sentience of all the communication waves going around the Earth. I know the Construct from JLA #142 (an issue from my youth) and as a Red Tornado rogue (dubious distinction at best). I won't cover the Construct side of this issue too much as I want to concentrate on Shaw.

Dick Dillin is on art and as usual, his stuff is gorgeous. 

On to the book.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Back Issue Magazine #123 - Hey, That's Me!

I have sung the praises of Back Issue magazine in the past on this site. For anyone who loves comic book history, especially of the Bronze Age and Silver Age, this is the magazine for you. 

Maybe this is one time where Back Issue sings the praises of me!

This month's issue is the Superhero Romance issue with articles on superhero weddings, Batman's love interests, and Star Sapphire just to name a few.

But there is also a retro-review of Superman #415, a Crisis cross-over issue which prominently features Supergirl.

Remember, Supergirl had just died saving the universe in Crisis on Infinite Earths #7. There was a feeling that maybe this was a last chance to tell a Supergirl story, so Cary Bates and Curt Swan put together this issue.

I started this blog in April of 2008. Superman #415 was one of the first back issues that I reviewed on this site. Here is a link:

I never revisit those old posts. I didn't know what I was doing back then.

Now I have friends who have had articles in Back Issue, with a byline and everything!

But I was still pretty chuffed to see my name mentioned in the article.

I stand by my assertion that this issue is best forgotten. This isn't the capstone we want for Kara's life. The story doesn't make much sense. 

Still, pretty cool to see "Anj" mentioned in a Supergirl article!

Monday, November 2, 2020

Review: Legion of Super-Heroes #10

Legion of Super-Heroes #10 came out this week and was a great walk around the team as we explore several plot lines which have begun in the book. The recovery of Earth's ocean is behind us. The 'Trial of the Legion' is behind us. We have met a lot of the Legionnaires through the last two issues page-by-page storytelling. The future is now.

And there is a lot to unpack in this issue. The romance between Superboy and Saturn Girl and their side mission to find Mordru is here. The current state of Rimbor's politics is here. The impending Great Darkness and the current state of Oa is here. And boy oh boy is New Krypton here. And each of these storylines throw in a lot of hints and clues for the future that whets my appetite for more.

I also love how my favorite Legionnaires get some screen time. Lightning Lass has always been a favorite and her scene in this issue might be my favorite.

Ryan Sook provides the art here and his work is just fantastic. There is so much fun here. The breathy ethereal landscape of the mind's eye of Imra's telepathy is beautiful. Monster Boy's minotaur is fun. Cham pretending to be Krypto and Streaky when on New Krypton is a hoot. He might have based a character in here on a British actor. It is just beautiful. 

Get ready to dive in because I have thoughts and ideas!

I am so happy that a good Legion book is on the shelves!