Monday, October 18, 2021

Review: Superman And The Authority #4

Superman and the Authority #4 came out last week, the last issue of this quirky mini-series that I have unabashedly loved.

I shouldn't be surprised that Grant Morrison could pull off such a series. Somehow this series is both in continuity and seems out of continuity. It started with Superman meeting Kennedy. It ends with Superman heading off to Warworld, sliding into the current Action Comics arc. It is seems to include metacommentary on social media, comic fandom, and comic property creators. It throws in some intriguing lines that probably will impact the entire super family. All this while being massively entertaining. Morrison grasps who Superman is. 

Mikel Janin is also amazing on this book, bringing us such polished art that I want to inject it into my eyeballs. His older, graying Superman is just dazzling. His Lois Lane is feisty and sort of scary. The  
action sequences include very palpable hits. 

But it is the droll ending of the big villain arc that is the can't miss moment here. It has to be seen to be believed.

On to the book.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Supergirl 615: Hope For Tomorrow

The latest episode of the Supergirl series, titled Hope For Tomorrow, aired this week. These episodes are getting to be a little bit tricky to break down and critique. 

It is my usual intro here. This is another fun episode for this back end of the final season with the Super Friends battling the 5th Dimensional Imp, Nyxly. There are super-heroics. Supergirl is at the center of the action. We see totems and gauntlets. And Alex and Kelly become moms. All of that works.

We get the further progression of Lena as a sorceress, something I am still getting used to. Her neophyte powers going toe to toe against a Mxyzptlk-ian level power isn't helping me get used to it. And we get a tactical decision by our heroes that is so bizarre that I am scratching my chin over it. 

But overall this felt like a super-hero show with Supergirl at the center and the good guys using their powers to hopefully save the world. Given some prior episodes and seasons, I have to be happy with that.

On to the particulars.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Mart Gray Supergirl Stamp Gifts!

I'll get by with a little help from my friends.

Long time friend Mart Gray sent me a wonderful gift from across the pond. So here are some UK stamps from the Royal Mail Group! Royal Mail Group is a British multinational postal service and courier company, originally established in 1516 as a department of the English government.

 Here is some internet coverage about this from Bleeding cool:

There is a lot to love about this sheet. Love that it is the Justice League with Wonder Woman front and center. I think it is great for Jessica Cruz as the Green Lantern. 

And, of course, how great that Supergirl is on the sheet. I think it is great that Supergirl is part of this Justice League, even if it is just on some merch.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Review: Superman '78 #2

I love the 1978 Superman movie. It had action. It had charm. It had humor. And it had a Superman I could believe in. Not just that he could fly but that he was truly good.

When Superman '78 was announced, I wondered if it could capture that magic. Two issues in and I can say yes.

Superman '78 #2 came out this month and made me smile. Writer Robert Venditti captures the spirit of the movie so well. From Superman earnest nature to Lois' spunk to Luthor's subtle evil mixed with wry humor. He even brings in some Superman II nods. It all just sings. 

Perhaps most interesting is how his Brainiac feels like the Brainiac we know but also is different enough to feel right for this univers.

Wilfredo Torres brings exceptional art here, evoking the actors who played these roles without being overly photo-realistic. His Superman really looks like Christopher Reeve. And his action sequences flow nicely. 

If you like the movie, you should be reading this book. On to the details.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Review: Batman/Superman #22

Batman/Superman #22 came out earlier this month, the last issue of this title. It's a shame to see another version of a World's Finest title fade away. Yes, this one started as basically a side series for the Batman Who Laughs mega-arc. But throughout the book, the heroes have been partners and friends. I am always glad to see Batman and Superman working together.

Writer Gene Luen Yang has been on the book for a while and as is his fashion, he gives us a quirky story with a meta-textual peek at comic books in general. His Auteur.IO story riffed on comics and fandom. This issue is even crazier.

Yang is almost a gimmick writer at times. You couldn't do something like this as a title long term. But Yang can inject some fresh air and some humor into books. Think about his 'choose your own adventure' Terrifics book or his 'flip book' Annual on this title. 

This issue has a Mxyzptlk-powered Calendar Man learning he is in a comic and taking advantage of the panels and gutters. And it is funny and cute. Why not do something like this in a final issue?

Artist Paul Pelletier brings solid story telling to the insanity. I like how he breaks the rules here. 

The only thing missing is an Ambush Bug cameo!

On to the book.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Supergirl Show 614: Magical Thoughts

This week Supergirl episode 614, 'Magical Thoughts' aired. It was another fun super-hero episode with the Super Friends working hard to stop Nyxly from uniting a universe-threatening weapon.

We are in the back 9 of this show so I am glad that we are ending the show on a wild ride. This is a sort of cosmic level threat that is fitting for an ending arc. Thankfully, the show is giving Melissa Benoist some extra time and extra drama on screen. She will be missed.

But given this is the last hurrah, I like how the show is pulling out all the stops. This episode made me actually kind of like and respect William. That is no easy feat. I don't know of I like Lena becoming a sorceress but why not. We may never see her again. 

I also love the character of Nyxly as she is portrayed by Peta Sergeant. It is such a wild ride of emotions, moving from despair to joy, and always chewing up the scenery. Perfect for a 5th dimensional imp. 

I still can't believe I have lived in a world where Supergirl got a prime time show. I feel blessed.

On to the show.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Review: Superman Son Of Kal-El #3

Superman Son of Kal-El #3 came out last week and was easily the best issue of this young series. There is some great super-hero action. There is some wonderful Kent family moments. And there is even some fun.

Writer Tom Taylor does inject some of the social justice politics that he has done in the series. It is one good moment in the book. But, as usual, Taylor scratches the surface and really doesn't answer some of the tough questions about these issues. It is easy to write difficult political situations when you make them so clearly easy. But we'll see.

I also like that Taylor treats Jon's new friend Jay a bit more realistically. Before this, Jay has struck me a sort of pretentious know-it-all. At [least here he seems a bit more human. 

I have always loved John Timms' art. His stuff is great here. The super-action is big and vibrant and dynamic. And he is just stylized enough, veering near Humberto Ramos but never getting that crazy. I've liked his stuff since Harley Quinn. 

On to the book.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Review: Justice League #68

Justice League #68 came out last week and was something of an enigma for me. 

As usual, writer Brian Michael Bendis has a way with dialogue. His heroes are quippy and the banter is crisp. He definitely has a grasp for characters and each has their own voice. Artist Scott Godlewski continues to impress me. His work remains his own but reminds me a little of Jim Cheung in places, a solid compliment. You'd think with very good dialogue and art that I'd be happy.

But this really is two issues.

The front end is a Justice League book. But outside the witty banter, it completely wraps up, almost erases, all the consequences of the Synmar Utopica storyline. In the end, it is as if that story didn't happen. Now maybe some seeds for future stories are tucked in there. But it just ends.

The back half is a Checkmate book, almost a back door pilot. And while I like the team and the concept, you think I'd be thrilled that they are being given a spotlight. But this book takes place after the Checkmate mini-series ended. We are told Leviathan isn't a threat anymore. While I figured Leviathan would 'lose' in the mini, I thought he still might remain a threat. But here we learn it has been dismantled. Also, the team continues to do little more than bicker with each other. Wouldn't it be good to see the Checkmate team actually working like a team, especially if they have actually taken out their biggest enemy.

So I guess it is the plot I found lacking. 

On to the book.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Review: Action Comics #1035

Action Comics #1035 came out this last week and was another solid chapter in this Warworld arc. We are moving to the next stage and we are closer to Clark being offworld for what could be a long time given the Future State-ness of it all.

Even though I like my Superman on Earth, I have to give writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson a lot of credit here. He has crafted a very quality story that I am very engaged in. I want to see where this is going. He has written a highly ethical, highly moral, heroic Superman. I want to read more. I want the next issue in my hands right after I finish the current one. 

Daniel Sampere continues to give us stellar art on the title. And Johnson is putting him through the paces, going from major super-power brawls, to crowd shots with the JLA, to a romantic interlude with Lois right before he heads off world. It all shines.

I don't have much to complain about here. But as Superman does his goodbye tour, it would have been great to see him say his farewells to Kara. I worry that we won't see her in this book anymore. Pity since Johnson treated her so well.

On to the book.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Review: Checkmate #4

Checkmate #4 came out this week pushing forward some of the main plot and adding even more mysteries. It reads like the perfect 4th issue in a 6 issue mini-series. There were baby steps on the main plot. But a lot of information was given out for the reader to mull over.

Brian Michael Bendis is a natural writer for dialogue. There might be a touch to many 'curse words' here for my taste but it seems to be the natural pattern for the DCU right now. But I like the interaction between the heroes and the villains, Superman and Lois, and even the members of Checkmate. This all read well. Of note, I love how he writes Damian as a kid who is also truly one of the smartest people in the room. It must be tough to be an accomplished adult and see a child put you in your place.

There are also some nice nuggets to mull over here, some of which hearkens back to DCU history. The blood tests on Leviathan agents. The apparent double agents on both sides. The thought process of Mr. King. Pretty cool. 

Alex Maleev is on art and continues to flourish. There are a lot of cinematic angles and panels here. I never really thought of him as a flashy, super-hero, primary color guy but he is definitely shining here.

Lastly, just thinking back to those clues, it has made me appreciate the deep dive into Mark Shaw I did prior to this series. I am thinking it is going to pay some dividends.

On to the book!

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Supergirl Show 613: The Gauntlet

Supergilr episode 613, The Gauntlet, aired this week and was one of the more enjoyable episodes of the season. This was a high point.

We got progression of the main plot, Nyxly trying to unite magic totems to create a super-weapon. There is a fair amount of action and Supergirl is part of it. The show, as it has done this whole season, leans into its continuity heavily. That all works.

This also is the last chance for these actors to play these characters. So this episode also allows our characters to break from their mold a little bit. They all get courage but it effects them all differently. If you have followed these characters for 6 years, this almost felt a little like comedy. I loved that too. In particular, and in what is becoming a sort of weekly statement, Jesse Rath as Brainy just slays. And, as always, Melissa Benoist is wonderful as Supergirl and Kara, showing hope and relying on her family and friends. Wish we saw some of this in the comics.

And I have to admit that I was wrong in thinking that the characters themselves are the totems. But I will hold on to the hope that I will end up being right in some way. 

On to the details!

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Review: Phantom Zone #4

Today I review Phantom Zone #4, the final chapter of the mini-series which introduced teh concept of Aethyr the Oversoul into the DCU.

As I have said in prior reviews of this mini, this is about as crazy a Superman story as you are going to read. We go to Hell and back, from the lurid to the psychedelic, and then back to Earth for a slugfest. I don't know if I have ever read something quite like this before. And certainly as a 12 year old reading this off the rack, I was both confused and elated.

Writer Steve Gerber does a great job of mixing a weird, almost horror vibe to the story as Superman travels through Aethyr in hoping to get to Earth. Last issues trip through the layers leads to the monster's lair. But, as usual, Gerber provides us with oddly paced side scenes to flesh out the story. From the opening 5 page scene of the nihilistic Nadira and Az-Rel destroying a punk rock club to Faora Hu-Ul doing what she does best, a lot of pages are spent making sure we know who these villains are and what they would do if left to tromp around Earth.

Artists Gene Colan and Tony DeZuniga are on art again and really have had to stretch themselves this whole series. We are in the dingy back streets of Gotham and the surrealistic landscapes of Aethyr. I can't imagine anyone better suited for the job.

And as a side note, once again Supergirl is treated with tremendous respect getting into the main action sequences and quipping her way through clobbering the villains. Just great stuff.

Settle in once more for the weird!

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

DC Comics December 2021 Solicits

The DC Comics solicits for July came out a while ago and as usual, there are some highlights and lowlights. As usual, I advise you take a look at all the solicits to see the whole docket. Here is a link to Newsarama's coverage:

The Elseworlds (are they still called that?) titles sound very interesting. And I continue to be impressed with the Philip Kennedy Johnson Action Comics series and this solicit sounds great. No surprise, the Supergirl solicit has me intrigued and concerned.

Let's get going.

Written by TOM KING
Art and cover by BILQUIS EVELY
Variant cover by STEVE RUDE

The traumatic secrets of Supergirl's past are revealed as our heroine races to the edge of the universe to escape Krem and his latest weapon! The murderer of young Ruthye's father has gotten his hands on a Mordru globe and plans to use it to make our hero disappear forever. Can she save herself and the young girl's future in the process? She'll need the help of her trusty steed, Comet the Superhorse!

Just what we needed, more trauma in Supergirl's past. Tom King certainly knows one note and he sings it well. I just don't understand it. 

Frankly his track record makes me worry that his incarnation of Comet is either going to be something icky or is headed to some depressing end. You know Comet, the goofy part of the Silver Age Supergirl? Let's see if we can make him dark. 

The last issue was just so shockingly depressing that I have little optimism left for this. 

Let's look at the rest of the Super books.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Review: Supergirl Woman Of Tomorrow #4

Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow #4 came out this week and was the best issue of the series and also the worst issue of the series. 

I have talked in the past about my issues with this series. The overly dramatic prose of the narrator. Ruthye as the point of view character in a book which is supposed to star Supergirl. The overly dark and depressed Supergirl, cursing and drinking her way through the book en route to a destiny where she apparently kills someone. 

Writer Tom King likes nothing more than emotionally broken, despondent characters and his Kara fits that same demographic as Mister Miracle, The Vision, and Adam Strange. Heck, even his Wally West was a traumatized murderer until wiser minds retconned things. 

The crazy thing about this issue is that the first half reads much more like the classic Supergirl that I am looking for. You know the Supergirl who wants to help people as much as she can so that they don't suffer as much as she has. Yes, there is trauma in her past but she has moved through it. She isn't wallowing in it. She fiercely wants to stop it from happening again. And for a while, King gives us that Kara.

But about halfway through the issue we take a hard turn into that darker material, And this back half I see a Supergirl I simply don't recognize. And I have been reading her for more than 40 years. I have been a fan of hers for that long. And I have celebrated her her for 13 years. I don't know who this Supergirl is. That saddens me. Because as this is a Tom King book, the (as he put it) 'the little trade that shows you how great she is', I don't know if we will move away from this. I mean when will we see Scott Free Mister Miracle again?

One thing I have never complained about is  the art. Artist Bilquis Evely has serenely powerful strokes,  a sort of  ornate penciling that just sings. Her Kara is angelic. The expressive work is powerful. The alien worlds are unique and odd and well, alien. Add to that Matheus Lopes wonderful color palate, a mix of peaceful oil paintings when needed and garish neon when necessary, makes this book one of the more beautiful books on the racks.

If only I could get behind this story. But I simply can't. 

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Supergirl Show 612: Blind Spots

Supergirl episode 612, titled Blind Spots, aired this week and dealt primarily with racism, discrimination, and the difficulty people of color have getting others to see the problem. Blind Spots is an appropriate title.

As a middle-aged white male, it is hard for me to comment on the topic too much. I try to be the best ally I can be. But obviously I can't empathize with the issues being discussed here. And it will be hard to criticize the execution of this episode with it potentially sounding like I am criticizing the message. I would never do the latter. As such, don't expect too much commentary here. It will me more like a plot synopsis rather than a deep dive.

I will say a couple of things up front. 

This was definitely a 'tell me' social episode, not a 'show me'. There are actually some nice subtle ways that disparity and inequality are shown in this episode, like the councilwoman literally siphoning off the life of the disenfranchised. But a lot of this is in your face. That can work sometimes. 

Second, the Super Friends aren't aware that Nyxly's powers aren't working. They are trying to stop her from putting together a potentially universe-destroying weapon, trillions of lives at stake. So while noble, Kelly yelling at her friends for not helping the 20-odd people sick in the hospital seems a bit short-sighted. But I guess that was the point of this episode. That sometimes you need to see the trees and not the forest.

This was thought-provoking, and maybe conversation-provoking for families watching it. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Review: Phantom Zone #3

I continue my look at the origin of the Aethyr concept with this review of Phantom Zone #3.

It is hard to know where to begin in this introduction. In earlier reviews of this book, I have been saying that this book makes a big turn from superhero action to psychedelic insanity. And this is that book. 

That isn't to say that we don't get great hero action. Supergirl again is on the main stage as is Batman. They are trying to thwart the the freed Phantom Zone villains from running roughshod on the Earth.

But the main part of this book is Superman working his way through the unknown layers of the Phantom Zone. Writer Steve Gerber breaks out his E. Nelson Bridwell, working in some Kryptonian history and some prior stories as we get dive from one bizarre landscape to another. 

Gerber's delve into miasma gives art team Gene Colan and Tony DeZuniga the space to use their skills. Nothing says Colan more than the weird and he uses all the tools in his toolbox. Even the cover, showing a red masked woman becoming a planet that explodes, let's the reader know that this is going to be a wild ride.

And here is the kicker. It was incredibly hard to limit what to post here artwise because every page has something special. There is something incredible and warped on almost every page. I hope everyone can read this in floppy or trade or on the DC app (where I pulled the panels from).

Settle in folks. Things are gonna get nutty.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Review: Challenge Of The Super Sons #6

The Challenge of the Super Sons #6 came out this week, the penultimate issue of this fun mini-series. This is before Jon was aged. This is before Damian went even crazier. This is when two tween heroes could just have some silly fun. 

Writer Peter Tomasi has had a great understanding of these two boys, making me laugh as they bicker and joke their way through their adventures, inspiring each other along the way. This issue has all of that as our heroes escape from the distant path to get back to the 'present' day. I do think this mini-series could have easily been 6 issues, not seven, This side adventure in the past has gone on for maybe just a little too long.

Some of that feeling might come from the art in the last few chapters. Evan Stanley has a nice, fun, cartoony style. But it is hard to jump to that after getting more standard superhero fare from artists like Max Raynor. I wonder how I would feel if the whole book was done in this sort of style. 

Still, there are a couple of great moments in this issue that makes me once again know I will miss it when it is gone. I know I will definitely miss this Jon.

On to the book. 

Monday, September 20, 2021

Review: Superman And The Authority #3

Superman and The Authority #3 came out last week and was another tremendous issue in what has been a very entertaining mini-series. Writer Grant Morrison is telling a story of an aging and weakening Superman forming a team to act on his behalf. But as I have said in the past, Morrison is also weaving in comic history, commentary on comic fandom, and a surprising amount of humor. I think Manchester Black is almost a stand-in for Morrison, calling it like he sees it at times.

This issue concentrates mostly on the recruitment of the Enchantress to the Authority. It involves a true laugh out loud moment. It ends with three different cliffhangers, one as the team is trying to recruit their next member, a new Lightray.

The art is by Mikel Janin and Travel Foreman and the book has a very pleasing polished look to it. I love the new look uniforms for the Enchantress and Nat Irons. And I the wild environment of Fort Superman is showcased nicely with great points of view in wide open page layouts.

If there is one complaint it is that we only have one issue left. The team hasn't even been fully formed yet. We have just learned about the threats the world faces. How is this going to wrap up in one issue? Or is the plan for it to end with the actual formation and take it from there. I wouldn't mind a lot more issues of this title.

On to the details.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Review: Justice League #67

Justice League #67 came out this week, wrapping up the Synmar Utopica storyline while further introducing us to the United Order. It also nudges the Checkmate story a baby step down the road. This is an issue that has a couple of very solid moments. But there are a couple of things about the story that don't sit quite right.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis continues to shine when it comes to Superman and Lois. I love the way Superman is portrayed here. He still wants to convince the villain to reform. He doesn't want to make his enemy suffer. And he can still rally the troops around him. But the defeat of Synmar happens a bit too quickly and a bit too familiarly. I still am rubbing my chin about Daemon Rose. 

The art here is done by Phil Hester and there is an appropriate sharpness to the works. Everything is angular and harsh, befitting an issue that is almost entirely a brawl. And he handles the different alien races of the United Order well.

Still, the Superman stuff is solid enough to nudge this book up a but in the grade.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Supergirl Show 611: Mxy In The Middle

Supergirl episode 611, title 'Mxy in the Middle' aired this week. Going in I assumed I was going to like this episode. With Thomas Lennon reprising his role as Mr. Mxyzptlk, it was going to take something dramatic for me not to like it.

This episode propelled the Nyxly plot forward, giving our villain a sympathetic back story and making her a victim of 'the patriarchy'. As such, our heroes keep giving the 5th dimensional imp the benefit of the doubt, hoping they can talk her down from a life of revenger. I suppose this whole back season is going to be a parade of social issues and this one is women being taken advantage of or forsaken by 'the man'. Who would think that the 5th dimension would have such issues.

And as always, Supergirl is only part of the story. Nia and Brainy have as much to do, if not more, than our hero. In fact, in what is becoming an unhappy norm, she barely has any of the big moments in this episode. She continues to espouse hope and self-improvement. But she throws no punch, defeats no monster.

There is a mega-dose of exposition that will pad out the plot of the remaining episodes, explaining what Nyxly will be up to. But I pity our heroes who can't solve the obvious riddle laid out before them.

Still, Thomas Lennon does a great job as Mxyzptlk, although he isn't allowed to do much magic. Still he is frenetic and silly enough to make me hope we see more of him.

On to the details.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Review: Phantom Zone #2

Today I review Phantom Zone #2, continuing my look at the mini-series that brough the concept of Aethyr into the DC Universe.But I am doubly lucky reviewing this issue because Supergirl is really a star in this issue. With Superman stuck in the Phantom Zone, it is up to the other heroes to deal with the repercussions of the Phantom Zone villains being free. Let me tell you Kara and Wonder Woman step up big time.

As I said in the review of the first issue, the pacing of this mini-series is interesting and almost overly deliberate. Writer Steve Gerber has a lot of stuff to cover. He has to cover all the action on Earth and he takes his time. This issue is mostly the villains initial actions, removing as many heroes as they can. But it isn't enough, Gerber throws in some cold war paranoia. In fact, he barely touches on all the wackiness that is going to happen with Superman in the Phantom Zone.

The art is again wonderfully rendered by Gene Colan. I still don't know if he is the right choice for superheroics but there is enough horror for it to be a Colan issue. Tony DeZuniga on inks seems to ground the work making the more JLA pages a bit more solid and less ethereal than the usual Colan fare. Let's start with this eye grabbing cover of Supergirl supposedly dead while the ghostly Superman looks on. Wonderful!

On to the book!

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Bullet Review: Suicide Squad Annual 2021

Last month I did a bullet review of Suicide Squad #6. I had been a little confused by the quick change in Superboy in this book given how he had just been portrayed in the Bendis' Superman and Young Justice books. In Suicide Squad #6, we got the answer. The Squad's Superboy wasn't Conner. Excellent turn and certainly one that allayed some fears of mine.

Suicide Squad Annual 2021 came out last week and followed up on that story giving us all the answers behind the Superboys and the Squad. It does explain things nicely, calling back a Superboy villain from the 90s, leaning into the new continuity that everything sort of happened. All this worked for me. 

The art is a mix of Dexter Soy and Eduardo Pansica. There are a lot of splash pages and double splash pages in the book. Given the over the top action, I suppose some of these pages were warranted. But there are so many it made me wonder if they were all there just to pad the page count to bring this single issue script up to Annual length. Soy and Pansica both are solid artists and the action is rough and tumble, befitting the story.

On to the book.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Review: Batman/Superman Annual 2021

The Batman/Superman title is leaving us soon, canceled within the next couple of months. It is a shame because I never tire of seeing these two icons working together as heroes and friends.

In particular, once the Infected storyline ended in this iteration of the title, the book has really soared. In particular, writer Gene Luen Yang has done a great job injecting some life and fun into the proceedings. While I thought his last story arc regarding Auteur.IO went on a touch too long, there is no doubt I liked these alternate versions of the characters.

The Batman/Superman Annual 2021 came out a couple of weeks ago (sorry it has taken me so long to get to it) and gave Yang the opportunity to play with those characters one last time. Given they will most likely be lost to comic limbo and that I enjoyed them, I was happy to read this solicit. The concept of the flip book also was interesting. We have seen split pages used with these characters and Yang himself did a 'choose your own adventure' Terrifics issue. So I liked that idea too. The plots are fine, picking up some threads from the prior arcs and padding out the textures of these worlds.

I also liked the artists on the book. Francesco Francavilla has a very film noir style which worked swimmingly for the Superman tale set in the grungy Gotham of Batman's world. And Paul Pelletier's clean pencils also shine in the Batman story in the clean cut streets of Superman's Earth.

I will say the flip book trick wasn't really necessary as the two sides meet in the middle just for a second and neither really is needed for the others story. This could have been just two chapters in one standardly oriented book.

On to the details.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Supergirl Show 610: Still I Rise

Supergirl episode 610, titled 'Still I Rise', aired earlier this week and was another very solid episode for the back end of this final season.  Once more this is a socially relevant episode covering another important topic of gentrification and affordable housing. But unlike prior seasons, this episode showed us the problem, had a plot around it, and didn't just tell us the problem.

We also get a nice push forward of the Nyxly storyline with the imp becoming a much bigger threat. We also get progress with Nia and her need for closure with her family. I also like the role that Brainy is playing this entire season. Jesse Rath is a delight. 

Kara is the straw that stirs the drink here, being a key part of the storyline in both her civilian and superhero identities. She still doesn't have much action to do here. But Melissa Benoist is just stellar in both sides of the character. I have said it before and I will say it again, she is just perfect for the role.

Lastly, I like how the continuity of the show is being leaned into, both from earlier this season and even from the first season. I'll be sad to see this show leave the air.

On to the show.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Back Issue Box: Phantom Zone #1

In a couple of recent issues, both Action Comics Annual 2021 and Wonder Woman 778, we were reintroduced to Aethyr, the oversoul, the entity who actually is the Phantom Zone. I was blown away. As a long time reader, I knew Aethyr first appeared in one of the most brutal and trippiest mini-series of my youth, The Phantom Zone.

There is a lot to unpack in this mini-series. But the first thing to discuss is the creative team. Steve Gerber was the writer on the book. I think of Gerber mostly as a Marvel writer, and usually on the weirder side of that universe. books like Man-Thing, Howard the Duck, and The Defenders. He certainly brings the craziness to this Superman story. We don't exactly get there in issue one. But hold on to your hats.

Gene Colan is on art. I love Colan's art. But I don't know if I would ever think of him as a Superman artist. I don't even think of him as a super-hero artist. I think he is fine on street level books like Daredevil or Nathaniel Dusk. But he truly shines on horror books like Tomb of Dracula and Night Force. His art here is stunning, especially when we get to the more psychedelic aspects of this story. But we have to get through some standard super-heroics first.

Phantom Zone #1 is also a bit of a vestige of a time when there weren't wikis and internet searches and DC encyclopedias at a comic fan's beck and call. This first issue is a primer on the Zone and its occupants. As a young fan who encountered the Phantom Zone villains here and there, to have this issue's role call hearing about all the prisoners and why they were imprisoned, I was in heaven. More comic knowledge to imbibe. We barely scratch the plot here. But what a delightful info dump. Heck, it was this issue I learned about Quex-Ul, a key figure in this story.

Okay, enough preamble. Let's dive into this issue!

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Review: Batman/Superman #21

Batman/Superman #21 came out a while ago, just reaching the top of my review pile today. Pardon for the delay. 

This is the conclusion of the Auteur.IO arc and while I have enjoyed it, I do wonder if this has been padded a bit to fit the trade. I have enjoyed seeing the 'film' versions of Batman and Superman here. This is a classic Batman, actually caring and mentoring Robin. I have liked the this Fleischer-esque Superman. And I have even liked the sort of metatextual look at comics, fandom, and an auteur director trying to force his view of the DCU on everyone. 

But we sort of meandered a bit these last couple of issues. And despite that, the ending in this issue just sort of happens. I don't know if I exactly know who this being is or why what happened happened, despite the expositional origin earlier. 

No complaints about the art. Ivan Reis has crushed it this whole arc. I have loved his rendition of different worlds. The whole film borders and burning panels has been sharp. I'll never complain about Reis' work.

On to the book.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Review: Superman '78 #1

Superman "78 #1 came out last week and it definitely lived up to the hype.

I was a kid when Superman the Movie came out and I believed a man could fly. I think Christopher Reeve was a fantastic Superman and Clark; you believed people would be fooled by the glasses and posture, keeping his identity straight. And I believed that a spunky, independent woman like Margot Kidder's Lois was the perfect match for Superman. Add to that a deliciously snarky and slightly overconfident Luthor by Gene Hackman and you had a universe that I loved visiting.

When DC announced this mini-series, I was champing at the bit to read it. I always wanted to see Richard Donner introduce a Brainiac to his vision. When writer Robert Venditti said that the Coluan was the villain of this book, it made me smile.

And then artist Wilfredo Torres began leaking art, I became even more excited. His stuff evokes the actors from the movies perfectly. I mean, when you see his Jackie Cooper Perry White, you'll see.

Of course the story has to be good. And this is a great opening chapter. A nice wrinkle to the origin seen in the first movie has been seamlessly added. This is a world that isn't filled with super-beings, hero or villain. So seeing how the citizens react to the action and how they will react to the upcoming battles will be fascinating to read. As I said, we get Brainiac too. I'm happy. 

On to the book!

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Supergirl Show 609: Dream Weaver

Supergirl episode 609, titled Dream Weaver, aired this week and was a pretty solid episode dealing with a couple of 'real life' stories as well as setting up an interesting plotline regarding the presumed big bad for the back half of the season.

Of all the CW DC shows, Supergirl has definitely veered the most into social commentary. We have seen individual episodes about racism and gun control, whole seasons about immigration, even discussion on isolation via technology. I applaud the show's approach as it makes Supergirl stand out against the others.

At times the execution of these arcs has been a little bit too preachy or over the top. Sometimes things got a little cringey. It felt for me like the topic surpassed the story and so as a whole those episodes didn't work. 

This episode was the opposite. There are social issues being explored here. The corrupt nature of some prisons is here. The overcrowding of the social services system, leading to some unsavory behavior of workers is here. We clearly get what the show is trying to say. But those are baked into the story. None of this came off as a sermon.

A lot of that has to come from the fact that those plots make up about half the episode. The other half is Nia still dealing with the death of her mother and how she is willing to make a deal with the devil to try and move past that. With the space given to Nia, the other plots have to stay tight, without overly long monologues. 

And we finally get to see Supergirl in action, albeit briefly. She even uses her most powerful weapon, a speech about hope.

So far so good for this back half of the last season. On to the details.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Quick Hits: Nightwing #83 And Wonder Woman #778

While I cover the Super-titles here on the site regularly, occasionally something super-centric will happen in another book that warrants a quick look here.

In the last couple of weeks, we have seen a Superman sighting in Nightwing #83 and a Phantom Zone trip in Wonder Woman #778. I collect both books monthly so I didn't need to seek them out. They fell into my laps. And both scenes are worthy of at least quick coverage here.

I started buying Nightwing when writer Tom Taylor started his current run with artist Bruno Redondo. It is an interesting read given Taylor is also writing Superman, Son of Kal-El. Here Nightwing has inherited over a billion dollars from Alfred and plans to use that money to help solve social wrongs. This is sort of a more stable way than Jon's approach. Add to that a nice side plot of Dick suddenly having a half-sister with the last name Zucco and this has been a good read.

I have been collecting the Wonder Woman title for a long time but was interested to see what writers Michael Conrad and Becky Cloonan would bring to the table. With artist Travis Moore, they have been crafting a great tale of Diana recovering from post-Metal amnesia. We have seen her travel from Asgard to Earth to Olympus all in pursuit of the god/dess Janus who split themselves in two.

I'd definitely recommend both books. Let's see what I stumbled across.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Review: Superman, Son of Kal-El #2

 Superman #2 came out this last week and some of the worries I had about the first issue have only intensified with this issue. This looks like it is going to be an agenda book with Superman and not a Superman book with an agenda. 

I trust Tom Taylor and so I am going to try and stick this out. But it is clear that Jon Kent is going to try and fight 'real world' problems. We are going to hear about all the hot button issues plaguing the world right now. And maybe we all need to hear about them more.

But there are two problems.

One, I already know about these problems. I already think about these problems. These problems already plague me. I turn to comic books so that for the brief time it takes me to read them, I can forget about these problems. I can escape.

Two, there is no simple way for our hero to solve these problems. Well, one way is for Jon to take over the world Elseworld style and enforce his will one everyone. The other is to show how he is stymied by flawed humanity from doing good and therefore become diminished as a hero in my eyes. Neither of those solutions work for me.

Yes, comic books have always been political. And people will tell me this like I don't know it. But for every early Superman story, for every 70s GL/GA, for every Watchmen, there were dozens of other titles with issues of simple fantasy. 

For every issue of Teen Titans looking at the drug problems or runaways, there were issues where the Brotherhood of Evil was hitting them with a de-evolution ray or Brother Blood sent a giant spider after them.

Comics are supposed to be the fun part of my life. And being preached at is rarely fun. If these were the occasional story, I might be able to deal. If this felt like Taylor was writing Superman I could do it. But I feel, at least with these two issues, Taylor is writing op-ed pieces about social issues that happen to have Superman in them. 

Most importantly, and for emphasis, I am not saying comic books can't  or shouldn't comment on social issues. For people who want to read this, I am glad it is here for you. I am only saying that I don't know if this is for me.

I will say that I love John Timms artwork and this is solid work by him.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Review: Checkmate #3

Checkmate #3 came out this week; we are officially halfway through the series. After a couple of issues resetting the chess board and playing with time leaps, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev give us a solid espionage issue. This is for the most part linear storytelling, or at least less confusing storytelling, with plot advancement and solid characterization.

For one, we at least now know, through the deductive reasoning of Lois, what Leviathan is after. I mean, Mark Shaw has demolished all other spy agencies and has his own country now. But he isn't resting on his laurels. He still wants to change the entire world.

While he has this plan in mind, including a few intriguing twists and embedded agents, the Checkmate crew are still getting their feet underneath them as a team. They don't necessarily have a strategy. We hear them debating what steps to take next. And their leader, Mr. King, is basically absent. It all leads to an engaging read where I continue to try a figure out what will happen next.

Which of course brings me to my  #KingTheory. As recently posted, I think Mr. King is going to end up being the Paul Kirk Manhunter in some form. But I have a few back up theories. Expect an odds board soon. 

Maleev is solid on art as always. He seems to do better in the more shadowy scenes than the major super-power blow ups. But the stuff shines. His Superman is beefy and is a presence. His Lois is cool as a cucumber. 

On to the book and some clues.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Review: Action Comics #1034

 Action Comics #1034 came out this week and again was another gripping, highly entertaining issue. This title has really been firing on all cylinders. I have been extremely impressed with this story that Phillip Kennedy Johnson has been crafting here. And that means something when I already know that the end of this arc is Superman off-world, a result I wasn't too keen on.

In particular, there are a couple of plot points that I really like. 

 For one, this is a bit of an angrier, more pro-active Superman than I am used to. You can see how the idea of a planet of tortured slaves existing is such a problem to him, such a horror that he simply can't stand by. He has to act even if it against his usual pattern. From his slamming his fist on the JL table last month to things he does in this issue, he is almost unhinged ... at least for him. 

I also love how Kara is being portrayed in this arc. She is often the smartest and most mature hero in the room. I love how in this issue she calls Superman out for his actions, wondering if there was a better way. This is such a different person from the angry, sulking, loner who feels so disconnected she left Earth to get drunk in the current Woman of Tomorrow mini-series.

Christian Duce is on art this issue. Duce really shines in the action sequences. Also, his expressive work on Superman definitely conveys the frank rage Kal is feeling over some of the politics at play here.

On to the book!

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Supergirl Show 608: Welcome Back Kara

The Supergirl show finally came off hiatus this week. The second half of this ultimate season for the show started with an episode titled 'Welcome Back, Kara'. Given that the first half of the season for the most part had Supergirl trapped in the Phantom Zone, keeping her separated from her Earthly family (while reuniting her with her birth father Zor-El), I was looking forward to this episode, bringing the great cast together and starting the last great arc.

For me, one of the best parts of this show has been the Danvers sisters. I still hold out hope that Supergirl and Brainy will find love. I have loved the dastardly Luthor family, Lex and Lillian, doing their best to destroy the world. And I have missed Melissa Benoist interacting with everyone. She *is* the best part of the show. 

I mean, can you imagine a young girl who has seen Benoist's hero, talking about 'help, hope and compassion', heading into a comic store and reading Tom King's Kara? Two different Supergirls. I guess maybe I needed Benoist and her take on Kara more than ever.

I suppose I would have been a bit more upset about the 3 plus month hiatus if Superman And Lois hadn't been such a great show, filling the need for a super-show on the small screen phenomenally. 

This episode was a nice way to get back into the show again. We have supporting character subplots. We have the end of the Zor-El story. We have Alex and Kara supporting and caring for each other. And we have so many Supergirl standards - couches, balconies, battles, and  hugs. It felt like I was slipping into a warm bath. I will say Supergirl doesn't get the best action moments. But the team does well. Suffice it to say I was a happy fan to have the show back on and to dive into this version of Supergirl again! 
On to the show.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Review: Superman And The Authority #2

 When the Superman and The Authority miniseries was announced, I knew I was going to buy it. I mean I will always buy Grant Morrison books. And Morrison Superman books never fail to entertain. And Mikel Janin on art? Brilliant. 

 It was 'the Authority' part that worried me. I have never had too much interest in the group and never read the book. But the concept of a future Superman putting together a group of misfits to be his away team sounded too good. Manchester Black corralled into being a good guy? This I needed to read.

Superman and the Authority #2 came out last week and was simply one of the best books I have read in a while. What is Morrison's game here? Is Morrison poking fun at the comic book industry? Himself? Is he laughing at us fans? Or with us? 

I don't care.

This book is just seeped in metatextual comic and fandom stuff that I had a silly grin the whole way through.

The team is barely formed and we are halfway through this brief 4 issue series. I hope we get to see them in action. But if all I get are 2 more issues similar to this, I'll be just fine.

The art here is predominantly done by Janin who draws an older Superman looking like sturdy Tom Strong. The internal chapters are done by Travel Foreman, Fico Ossio, and Evan Cagle. The book flows well under these artists, each chapter improved by the style of the artist. 

Let's dive into the fun.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

DC Comics November 2021 Solicits

The November solicits for DC Comics came out earlier this month. 

Here is a link to Newsarama's coverage of the entirety of the DC Comics slate of books:

There are a couple of surprise new books on the docket, one covered here. As usual, there are plenty of Batman books. I recommend perusing the whole list. Lots of interesting stuff out there.

But I am here to cover the Super books.

Written by TOM KING
Variant cover by AMY REEDER

Supergirl steps into an ancient trap, stranding her and Ruthye on a planet of nearly perpetual night. Now, the woman of steel must call on every remaining ounce of strength to combat the monsters left on this world to kill any super unlucky enough to end up on its surface.

We are approaching the end of this mini-series. The Amy Reeder variant is lovely.

I enjoyed the third issue more than the first two so I am hoping this book is moving into a better direction. And I will again trumpet the artwork by Bilquis Evely. Just gorgeous.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Review: Superman Red And Blue #6

Superman Red and Blue #6 came out this week and was a great send off for this mini-series. I have to say, each issue of this thing seemed to get better and better. I am glad DC gave Superman this chance to shine.

This issue finally gave us some Supergirl, albeit in a Streaky story. But the fact that we got a Streaky story made this worth the money. 

Outside that we get a story about the difficulties of being Clark Kent, unable to cover his own exploits as Superman. We get a story about the mainstay of Smallville and how she has witnessed Clark's life  through the years, impacting him more than our hero knew. We get some farm life wisdom seeping into big city life. And we get to see how Superman's revealing of his identity inspires a young man. 

There wasn't much action in this issue. But I don't mind. Many of my favorite stories are about Superman being an inspiration. Or how his Smallville life formed his morality. Or about Supergirl and her super cat. For me, this was the perfect last issue. 

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention this Doc Shaner cover. This should be a t-shirt, a poster, and a mug. This should be everywhere. I love how we get Supergirl, Power Girl, and Krypto right there. Heck, Comet and Streaky are there too. Doc Shaner can do no wrong. 

Friday, August 20, 2021

Review: Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow #3

Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow #3
came out this week. I can say without pause it was the best issue of this mini-series so far.

Now knowing how I felt about the first two issues that isn't exactly the highest praise. I believed then, and still believe, that this really isn't a Supergirl story. 

But at least here, there are places that I see a Supergirl a recognize. A defender of justice who sometimes gets fierce. Someone inspired by Superman but maybe not as polished. Someone who cares. I see that here. Yes, she still curses way too much for me (that just doesn't ring true for the Kara I know). And I don't like how she seems to be denying her history as Kara Zor-El and embracing only the Supergirl identity. But there are some good things here.

It is the plot of the issue that seems a bit off. There is the tiniest bit of progression for the main plot of this mini-series. But this really feels like a side mission or a 'done in one' issue in an ongoing. This is a story about prejudice and genocide, about violence and horror. That is Tom King's sandbox. But I don't know if this is needed for this mini-series. The only thing that 'happens' is Ruthye starts to see how terrible the universe might be. My guess is in the end you can skip this issue in the trade and the story will read fine. 

One thing that has been consistent in this mini-series is the artwork. Bilquis Evely's line work is breathtaking. I am just gobsmacked each issue with just how gorgeous the art is. From the action to scenes like diner eating, everything is just sumptuous. And the colors by Matheus Lopes really give this a pastel, Western movie feel. The variant cover by David Mack is equally striking. Just unreal. 

On to the details.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Checkmate: Who is the King? #KingTheory


Settle in.

Hard to believe it was two years ago that Event Leviathan was on the stand and 'Who is Leviathan?' was a mystery that consumed me. 

I had my Leviathan Theory. I was wrong. 

Then about a year and a half ago, Leviathan Dawn, a one-shot epilogue to Event Leviathan hit the shelves, moving Leviathan's plans forward and introducing us to a new Checkmate and the announcement of a Checkmate mini-series.

 That led me into the deep dive into Manhunters and Mark Shaw as I waited for the new book to hit the shelves. In retrospect, were there clues to point me to Shaw?

Then Checkmate #1 hit the stands and I realized that there was a new mystery to solve! Who is the King in this new Checkmate? 

Unlike Leviathan, where clues were sprinkled in the Superman books for months before the actual Event Leviathan mini, King was introduced in the Dawn special and has only been seen on a couple of pages of the Checkmate series. I needed at least a few clues and a few ideas before I could come up with my King Theory.

Alas, he didn't appear in Checkmate #2. But after rereading the above issues and doing the last dive into the Manhunter pool I have decided on who King is.

Read on.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Review: Challenge of the Super Sons #5

Challenge of the Super Sons #5 came out last week and was another fun chapter in this all too brief mini-series. As always, writer Peter Tomasi has a great handle of the interactions of these two characters at this stage of their lives. Just as fun is the way people react to them at this time period too.

We get another mini-adventure as they, sight unseen, rescue a Justice Leaguer from the curse of the Doom Scroll. That side of the issue also has a very nice cliffhanger/plot twist. I am very interested to see where that leads. The art on the front half is done by Max Raynor who has brought an incredible style and energy to the storyline. I can only hope that DC gives him regular work somewhere. His stuff is electric.

The back half is in the distant past (you might recall that the boys were teleported to ancient time and faced off against Felix Faust and Vandal Savage there). In this chapter, Rora shows her true colors and says how she has been inspired by them to be a hero. The art here is by Evan Stanley and has a very cartoon, almost My Little Pony feel to the proceedings. It is a little jarring to go from Raynor's classic comic book action to this. But it is a feel good chapter so the art seemed to complement the story.

On to the book.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Mega Bullet Review: Suicide Squad #6

I have been reading Suicide Squad since the relaunch earlier this year. 

I had read Robbie Thompson books in the past and enjoyed them. So this seemed like a no-brainer.

But I had one problem become pretty evident in the first issue.

Conner Kent, back in jeans and a black t-shirt, was on the team and under the thumb of Amanda Waller. I wasn't sure how he got there. Or why he would join. Or what Waller had on him to keep him there. And he seemed like a different character than the eager young hero I read in the Brian Michael Bendis Superman and Young Justice books.

But the book was solid. There is dark humor. The characters are interesting. And it seemed like Conner was almost on a secret mission within the Squad so continued to buy.

Glad I stuck it out.

The last issue had the Squad invade Earth 3.

Superboy is a bit unhinged on the world. He seems addled. Waller says he needs to leave the planet and definitely needs to take some 'medicine' when he returns to Earth 0 to heal.

She gives him a pep talk about how he isn't a killer, even for her.

He leaves the battle and teleports home.

Again, at this point, I was relatively annoyed that one more Super character was being darkened. It seems like these days only Jon gets any love.

Then I hit the last page!

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Bullet Review: Crime Syndicate #6

Crime Syndicate #6 came out last week, the end of a very interesting and new take on Earth 3. I came to this mini-series on the recommendations of friends. I leave this mini-series greatly saddened.


Because it seems that Supergirl fans can't really catch a break.

You might remember that last issue, Ultragirl was introduced. I was thrilled because this was a heroic Supergirl analogue, fierce and almost overly exuberant in her pursuit of goodness. In fact, I found it odd that she would be so good on a world where the heroes were evil. Did that mean something? (Writer Andy Schmidt said it didn't.)

In a world where the main Supergirl became a pawn of the Batman Who Laughs, then disappeared, and now is sullen, drunk, and sleepy as the supporting character in her own book, I was delighted to see a heroic Supergirl somewhere, even if it was Earth 3.

But Supergirl aren't supposed to be happy it seems. Because all that comes to an end rather abruptly.

I really liked this mini-series. I did. Schmidt created a world that wasn't as simple as 'evil is good and good is evil'. This was a place where the entire world seems gray, most people being closer to the evil side of the midline. And Kieran McKeown definitely put a great artistic feel to the place. Heck, even the overall story is great ...

Except for the Ultragirl part.

Read on...

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Review: Justice League #66

Justice League #66 came out last week continuing the United Order story arc pitting the UP version of the League against the freed Synmar Utopica. It also is a sort of side crossover with the ongoing Checkmate book as well. 

It is always hard to judge an arc by a middle chapter. The plot has to be nudged along. There has to be action. Writer Brian Michael Bendis gives us a decent chapter. We learn the motivations of the bad guy. We see how powerful he is, adding some uncertainty to the proceedings. And we end with a very solid cliffhanger.

And I think there would be a major moment in this issue, the first time we see Naomi unleashing her power. But I think a page snafu muted it to the point that I don't know if I saw what I saw. And the Checkmate side plot sort of has an odd moment within it that makes me wonder about those characters.

The art is by Phil Hester and he brings a sturdy realism to the proceedings. The flow and movement of this issue felt better than the recent Superman story Hester did. There is a tangible feel to the fights and the damage. 

Still, I am a bit reeling from the ending and that Naomi page. Help me out.

On to the book!

Monday, August 9, 2021

Bullet Review: The Other History Of The DC Universe #5

 The Other Side of the DC Universe #5 came out last week focusing on Thunder. It was an interesting capstone on the series since we started with a look at Black Lightning and his dealings regarding race. Now we see the look from his daughter who is dealing not only with race issue but sexuality as well. Kudos to writer John Ridley and artist Giuseppe Camuncoli for putting this issue and this series together.

As a big fan of DC history, I have found this to be an excellent series overall looking at the history of this comic universe from a different perspective. Hey, I am still learning. And as steeped in DC lore as this was, I could appreciate the story angles as it pertained to the cultural issues.

I don't know if I like hearing Black Lightning is a homophobe. That seemed a bit out of left field. But I did like seeing him as an overprotective dad. That I empathized with 100%.

I will freely admit that the Outsiders is a sort of blind spot for me. So I don't know if I knew any of the story references in here. I do wonder what people who read all these stories thought of this.

But I come here today to wonder once again if John Ridley is a Supergirl fan. She had already been mentioned pretty significantly in both Other History #1 and Other History #2. And here in this issue, she is name-dropped.

And as this is a story from the 90s, we are probably talking Matrix here.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Terrificon Wrap-Up

 Last weekend was Terrificon, my first con since 2019 and I had a blast.

I had been looking forward to the return of conventions for a long time and the guest list was great so I knew I would be going. And I am definitely glad I went.

This definitely was a unique con. COVID isn't over so it did impact the con experience a little. I am vaccinated but this was indoors so I wore my mask inside the con pretty much all the time. There seemed to be fewer guests and fewer exhibitors than in the past. Some creators were masked, others not. I figured no harm in me wearing one if it helped others feel more protected.

This was also a con I went to alone. My usual con-buddy partner was unable to attend. Half (if not more) of the fun at cons is the camaraderie as you wait in lines with each other, share stories, and show each other what you bought. Without my pal, I was basically all business, in early and out early.

That said, I feel very grateful for meeting a new friend, Clint from Maryland. He was very much a kindred spirit with sketch books and organized issues for signature. I waited in line pre-con with him on Saturday and Sunday and the time went by quickly. He isn't much for social media but if you read this Clint, cool meeting you.

But let's not bury the lede!

 I finally got an Amanda Conner sketch!

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Review: Batman/Superman #20

Batman/Superman #20 came out last week, the next chapter in the Auteur.IO storyline of a visionary being/story god who is looking to create the 'perfect' universe in a multiverse where that isn't possible.

It has been a fun ride with writer Gene Luen Yang giving us a Fleischer Studio style Superman with a Silver Age Batman and Robin teaming up with other alternate versions of DC heroes. Meanwhile, the 'real' Batman and Superman remain trapped in Auteur.IO's Phantom Zone crystal.

I have really enjoyed this arc. Yang has really used the other Batman and Superman to give us a very classic feel to the heroics. They read like the heroes of my own youth. He also has been giving us a sort of meta-commentary on current comics and movies. Whose vision is 'the' vision? Which is the 'perfect' vision? Does there need to be one take on these characters? Does the audience get to dictate the story? All things that I find fascinating.

As a double pleasure, Ivan Reis is on art and his stuff remains impeccable. As we are traveling from one film universe to another, Reis has to jump from environment to environment. Sci-Fi? Western? Horror? Metropolis and Gotham? It all looks great. And when you add in the film reel motif of the story, you get a difficulty multiplier. Seriously, there are two double page spreads in the middle of this issue which must have induced either a migraine or a hand cramp or both.

It makes me sad to know this book is ending. Because it has been a real treat on the shelves.

On to the book.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Review: Superman Son Of Kal-El #1

Superman Son of Kal-El #1 came out this week, a move which puts Jon Kent as the headliner of one of the primary super books on the shelf. Born out of 5g and Future State, the aged up Jon is now Superman, his father presumably off world.

I have been a fan of Jon's both as the Super Sons tweener rascal and the older Legionnaire. But does he have enough characterization to shoulder his own book? I was unsure. 

When the creative team was announced, I was definitely buoyed with some enthusiasm. Tom Taylor has written some of my favorite books out there. His run on All-New Wolverine is a favorite of mine. His take on Supergirl in the Injustice books has been great. And even his new run on Nightwing has been a 'feel good' oasis in the sometimes dark world of comics.

John Timms on art has had an incredible run on books for me including stints on Harley Quinn and Superman. His stylized work flows beautifully. I love the energy he brings to the pages.

Then I read the issue. And I am a little worried.

It is clear that Taylor is going to bring a socially conscious bend to this book. His Jon is going to fight for a better world, and that means taking on big problems, not just the Toyman. And I am not against socially cognizant stories. 

The thing is I just want good stories. I am fine with stories that have an agenda. When people have an agenda that they force into a story, it reads flat and preachy. When taken to extremes it twists the idea of heroism into something worrisome.

Please understand, I know all about Superman's history. I love Superman. I know about the early stories where he fought war mongers, slum lords, and mine owners with poor working conditions. I read all the PSAs as a kid and learned from them. 

But this is a tightrope to walk. I hope Taylor and Timms are up to the challenge. 

 On to the book.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Review: Checkmate #2

Checkmate #2 came out last week, the second part of the 7 part mini-series putting Leviathan on the map as a DCU threat and re-forming the counter-terrorism Checkmate group. 

I am ready to love this book. I want to love this book! But this issue was just okay. And I crave so much more.

The cover is a brilliant red showing ... someone. Is that Mark Shaw Leviathan? Is it Ollie? Is it Merlyn? Is it Daemon Rose? I don't know. Someone tell me. The cover also says "Who is Daemon Rose" but we learned that in the last issue of Justice League and Rose isn't in this issue at all. So this isn't an auspicious beginning.

The story inside is told in a nonlinear timeline labeled 'weeks ago', '2 weeks ago', and 'now'. But I am having a bit of a hard time following all of these timelines as what is happening in each isn't distinct enough to be obvious. (I am thankful for the bylines so I can try to orient myself.) It also makes me think I need to reread last issue to place that issues timeline into place with this one ... and the Justice League events. Maybe I will scan all the issues at some point and put them in chronological order. There is one turn of events where I thought I was missing a page, never good.

Outside of the way the story is told, not much happens here. We get a reveal about a potential weakness in Mark Shaw. Damian gets put in his place a bit. But otherwise, we sort of tread water a bit. Mysteries from last issue aren't progressed at all. And a lingering Event Leviathan mystery is only tangentially touched on.

One thing not to quibble about is the art. I like Alex Maleev's art and he brings the action here with a number of in close fighting sequences. The colors are brilliant, showing us nighttime scenes, dark scenes of fighting in dimly lit rooms, and brilliant daytime sequences.

Still, I enjoyed the book because I enjoy the overall story. I just want to be floored. On to the details.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Review: Action Comics #1033

Action Comics #1033 came out this week and was another tremendous issue in what is becoming a signature arc for writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson. As Marvel used to say this one has it all!

The thing that grabbed me the most about this issue is how proactive and sort of demanding Superman is in this book. Usually Superman leads by example, uncomfortable with forcing his opinions on others. But here, faced with a Warworld filled with slaves, some of whom could be Kryptonians, he can't sit back. He can't listen to Earth-based squabbling. And if he has to insert himself and solve a problem now so that the fight on Warworld happens sooner, then he will. I mean it, there is one moment in this book which I will show where I said 'whoa' out loud. I haven't seen a Superman like that before.

But we also get this look at Thao-La and how she is handling meeting her hero, knowing she is supposed to kill him, and seeing her dealing with her own trauma. I love the different reactions we get out of the other super-family members too. This is a compelling story and seeing the different ways Thao-La's dilemma is being processed by the supporting cast adds to the depth.

I'd be remiss not to mention Daniel Sampere's art here. I have always liked his work but this has to be the best stuff I have seen by him. It is stunning. From inspirational splashes to solid expressive work to awkward meetings, the work complements the story phenomenally, really adding to the story.

On to the book!