Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Leviathan Wednesday: Manhunter #20 And Manhunter #21

We are nearing the end of the Manhunter series from the late 80s. And that means another chapter in Leviathan Wednesdays is going to come to a close. 'Saints and Sinners', of which Manhunter #20 and Manhunter #20 are the middle chapters, is the last story arc of the title with and extra epilogue issue finishing the series. 

Writers John Ostrander and Kim Yale keep the action going and Grant Miehm's art really gets dynamic and innovative as this story proceeds through these chapters.

This storyline and indeed this blog post takes a bit of a turn at the end. Throughout this Manhunter title and indeed in the first 2 chapters of this arc, Manhunter has been a relatively grounded book. Mark Shaw is a bounty hunter with some advanced skills and tech. But he is still a bounty hunter without true super powers. 

The plots have been fertile ground for someone like me who is looking at this title through the lens of Shaw's ultimate destiny as Leviathan. The stories revolve around spy agencies, masked killers, duplicity and charisma. As I have said more than once ... and as I will probably say later this post, no wonder Shaw became Leviathan. He is forever embattled by the things he loathes and hopes to destroy in the present as Leviathan. 

But the 'grounded' part of this book? Well, that is about to end. So buckle up, there is a lot that happens here so the post is long and things are about to get weird.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Review: Batman/Superman #16

Batman/Superman #16 came out last week, the first issue with the new creative team of Gene Luen Yang and Ivan Reis. And, to be honest, it felt more like the first two issues as Yang spins a tale of two new worlds, each with one of our titular characters acting as a super-hero. Then, just before the end, Yang splices the stories together and gives us a glimpse at our actual DCU heroes and how they are going to get pulled into the mix. 

I like this issue a lot. While Yang's run on Superman wasn't a favorite, his New Super-Man and Terrifics work was stupendous. He seems to have a good handle on fun, super-hero adventures. He also is quite creative in his story-telling approach. While not as wild as the Terrifics 'Choose your own adventure' issue, this issue's double plot was interesting, so much I read the book twice in a row, utilizing both ways of reading the layout.

Ivan Reis is on art and just shines. Reis work was spectacular on Superman with Brian Michael Bendis so I am glad he remains on a semi-super-book. He really embraces the weird new worlds and the very structured panel layouts. Just great stuff.

And a solid cliffhanger ... maybe three cliffhangers ... to leave me wanting more.

On to the book!

Friday, March 26, 2021

Review: Action Comics #1029

Action Comics #1029 came out this week and was a decent middle chapter in 'The Golden Age' story that new writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson Last issue we saw how Jon thought this 'breach' fight was Superman's last known mission. Jon was dealing with the fact that his father was no longer infallible or immortal. And just as importantly, Jon was dealing with having to step into the role of Superman if his father did die. 

This issue builds on all those fears. Another battle rages. Jon does his best to protect his father. And when it is all done, there is some home spun Pa Kent wisdom and we all learn something. Oh, and we get a cliffhanger leaning into the Future State books. 

Phil Hester remains on art and again does a great job conveying the action with an economical, clean style. He does a good job distinguishing Jon and Clark, something which could be an issue when the two are flying in tandem in battle. 

While I did like the message of the story, in essence that it is Jon's time to grow up and shine on his own, I wonder if this was a great arc as a 'jumping on' point with a new creative team/ Do we really want to see Superman being old, sick, dying in the first story? This was not the palate cleanser I was hoping to get after Superman Red and Blue #1 gave us stories of a sad Superman mostly failing or worse, people blaming Superman for not solving their own problems.

On to the book.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Leviathan Wednesday: Manhunter #18 & Manhunter #19

Welcome to Leviathan Wednesday, a side project where I look at Mark Shaw's history in comics and then forward project what I see onto his ultimate move to becoming Leviathan.

We are approaching another key moment in his history. 'Saints and Sinners' is a 6 part arc occurring at the tail end of his solo series in the 80s. While he remained a bit player in Suicide Squad after this, the end of the Manhunter book put another pause on his comic career.

But what better way to end this run then by having Shaw take on a version of Dumas, the villainous assassin we met in the first arc. I'll probably cover this in three posts but settle in. This one gets a bit wonky.

The creative team remains consistent. John Ostrander and Kim Yale plot. Yale scripts. And Grant Miehm is on art. This is a relatively action packed story and touches on a lot of the characters and plots and history of Shaw so this is a solid read for Leviathan buffs. Miehm really stretches himself nicely here, giving us innovative page layouts and dynamic fight scenes. I feel he is starting to feel it here.

Onto the book.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

DC Comics June 2021 Solicits


The June DC Comics solicits have been released and are available around the net. Here is a link to Newsarama:

It is an interesting month for sure with an Infinite Frontier mini-series, a Wonder Woman Black and Gold color mini, and other goodies.

Alas, the one glaring thing is no Legion book mentioned anywhere. Has the book been cancelled? Shelved? Awaiting another <gasp> reboot? (Please no!) I wonder why there is no news anywhere. I did see on Instagram Ryan Sook say he was done working on the characters. So it doesn't sound promising.

Of course, I am burying the lede. There is a Supergirl book on the shelves this month.

Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #1
written by Tom King
art by Bilquis Evely
cover by Bilquis Evely
card stock variant cover by Gary frank
blank variant cover

Kara Zor-El has seen some epic adventures over the years, but finds her life without meaning or purpose. Here she is, a young woman who saw her planet destroyed and was sent to Earth to protect a baby cousin who ended up not needing her. What was it all for? Wherever she goes, people only see her through the lens of Superman’s fame. Just when Supergirl thinks she’s had enough, everything changes. An alien girl seeks her out for a vicious mission. Her world has been destroyed, and the bad guys responsible are still out there. She wants revenge, and if Supergirl doesn’t help her, she’ll do it herself, whatever the cost. Now a Kryptonian, a dog, and an angry, heartbroken child head out into space on a journey that will shake them to their very core.

I wrote my thoughts on the topic already here

One thing I will add is that I have read a bit of King's comments here and there and heard him on Word Balloon. He kept referring to his Superman run, one I haven't read. He keeps saying he wants to show how strong and good Supergirl is. And he spoke in depth about Supergirl's origin. It was interesting that he referred to the Silver Age original origin - Argo City, kryptonite ground, lead shielding, meteorites destroying lead shielding. I mean that hasn't been around for a while. 

He kept saying that he was drawn to Supergirl because of that tragic background (he kept saying how she had lost her world three times in that origin) and how she is a survivor. 

But he never said anything about her hope, optimism, or brightness.

I am still approaching this with some trepidation. But at least he seems to have done some homework.

On to the rest of the books.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Review: Superman Red And Blue #1

Superman Red and Blue #1 came out last week, the first issue of the prestige format mini. The anthology series sports interesting creative teams and each story will only sport hues of the titular colors.

When the series was announced, I was over the moon. There have been umpteen Batman Black and White series. Maybe it was time for the Man of Steel to get his own prestige book sporting big names and cool color schemes.

Maybe I went in with super high expectations. I so desperately wanted this to be a great book. Now hear me out, it isn't a bad book. But it felt like every story wanted so desperately to be so inspirational and so progressive. And when you pack a book with that much targeted story telling, one after the other, I couldn't help but feel preached to. 

Now I am all about Superman being a symbol of hope, an inspiration. He wants to help everyone. He sees the best in us. Perhaps one such story in each issue would have felt right.

And perhaps I am just a wee bit too cranky. Perhaps the best thing to do is not read the next issue in one sitting but instead read one story each night.

On to the book.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Review: Justice League #59


With Future State and Infinite Frontier behind us, it is time for DC to move forward with their next era. One of the books that I was most eager to read was Justice League by powerhouse creative team Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez.

Justice League #59 hit the stands yesterday and was a fun opening chapter, setting up the established team, giving us a peek at future members, and starting out the threat that the team will be facing. I have to say that it is the make-up of the team that grabbed me the most. I am not a big Black Adam fan so I want to see if Bendis can sway me. I am interested in seeing Hippolyta on the team, hopefully as a foil to what Diana would be doing and saying. And I have been a Naomi fan since her title hit the stands. So put them on a standard team and I am in.

I am late to the David Marquez game seeing his art first in the the recent Batman/Superman book and I was floored. So seeing his smooth polished style on the Justice League seems all win. The page layouts here are very imaginative. And the action sequences show some rough edges which standout from the otherwise perfect art giving us a sense of the power. Love this wraparound cover too! This seems more like a peek at the new universe as a whole and not just the JL.

Add to that a great Justice League Dark story (which I won't cover) and this is a very solid opening issue.

But frankly, I just want to read more Bendis Superman. So if this is where that was happening, so be it.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

QPosket Supergirl

Every so often I am reminded just how great the community of comics friends I have made through social media is. I really feel like this group is such a positive group, wanting to share in each others' passions. 

And I am humbled about their generosity.

The latest friend to thank is Herman, on Twitter as @IntoWeird, who sent me this QPosket Supergirl figurine from the other side of the world. He saw it; he thought of me. He bought it and sent it on its way.

That is amazing and really shows the positive power of social media. 

This figure is completely adorable, in case you couldn't tell from the box.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Leviathan Wednesday: Manhunter 16 and 17

 With announcement of a June Checkmate comic, it looks like Leviathan Wednesdays will be cutting it close to when a new Leviathan comic is on the racks. Manhunter volume 1 ran 24 issues. There is a handful of the Kate Spencer Manhunter book I'll need to cover as well. The timing might be perfectly right. I love it when an ad hoc plan comes together.

Today I'll review Manhunter #16 and Manhunter #17, two 'done in one' issues both which play into my deep dive into Mark Shaw nicely. Both issues build on this significant ongoing narrative I have been uncovering as I try to decipher why Shaw turned into Leviathan. 

In Manhunter #16, Shaw is again faced with a case where lies and misinformation have led to tragedy. But it also shows Shaw's passion for justice. We are reminded of his history as a public defender and how that passion led him to the Manhunter cult to begin with.

In Manhunter #17, Shaw and Batman tangle. And while Shaw has a thirst for justice, he definitely has a thirst for cash. And that life as a bounty hunter isn't going to endear him to Batman. No wonder these two have issues in Event Leviathan.

Two more significant steps on the way to Leviathan. 

On to the books.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Checkmate In June!

Back in 2019, this blog, and indeed my mind, became obsessed with Event Leviathan. I was going to solve the mystery about who was behind the Leviathan mask. I had a #LeviathanTheory and I was sticking to it.

Turns out I was wrong.

It was Mark Shaw behind the mask. 

But the Shaw reveal made sense with what I knew then. I followed Leviathan from the mini-series into the Superman books. I bought the followup one-shot, Leviathan Dawn, which was to lead into Event Leviathan:Checkmate, a sequel mini-series.

In this, many of the main players in the Event Leviathan hero squad teams up with some new faces to take down Leviathan.

I was ready. 

I found Leviathan so interesting, a sort of populist revolutionary asking everyday people to rise up against the insanity of shadow organizations and superhero/supervillain nonsense. Sure, his methods skew a bit warped. Maybe he is more anti-hero than super-villain.

I was ready.

Alas ... the best laid plans. The administrative and creative changes at DC Comics put the book on the back burner. 

So I waited. And waited.

I stoked the Leviathan fire, reviewing the history of Mark Shaw through First Issue Special to Justice League to Suicide Squad to his own book, Manhunter

And then, the news broke on Friday.

Checkmate is coming out on June 22.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Review: Superman #29

The Philip Kennedy Johnson era of Superman officially began this week with the release of Superman #29

Johnson wrote the Future State books of Superman:Worlds of War and Superman House of El. I thought both books were solid and showed that Johnson seems to have a very good understanding of Superman is. How Superman is always going to help and always puts others ahead of himself. Suffice it to say, I was relieved. And as a result, I was looking forward to these books.

Then Infinite Frontier #0 came out and Johnson's story was all about Jon and how the Spectre seemed to think Jon was on a dark path to being a tyrant. 

Suddenly I was less excited. Hasn't Jon been through enough? Haven't we had enough 'dark takes' on super-family characters?

Superman #29 seems to build on that, focusing on Jon. We see him back from the Legion future and dealing with the knowledge that he gained there. He's withdrawn, upset, and seems poised to have some emotional turmoil send him spiraling. While Jon's concerns are valid, I thought this was just a little off.

Artwise, the book is very solid. We start with this tremendous wraparound cover by John Timms showing the extended family and a bunch of villains. I really love Timm's Supergirl so I was happy to see it one last time. Inside art is done by Phil Hester who brings an economy of lines that allow the story to unfold perfectly. It really has an energy. And his expressive work is brilliant, showing so much.

On to the book.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Leviathan Wednesday: Manhunter #15

 Welcome again to Leviathan Wednesday, a look back at Mark Shaw, Leviathan. In this blog series I have been looking at Mark Shaw's comic history from Manhunter to Privateer to Manhunter again. We also look at his history from hero to criminal to hero/bounty hunter.

I have to say I have been enjoying this look back as I try to piece together why Shaw becomes Leviathan. Today I look at Manhunter #15, one issue in the late 80s solo series. 

Now I have been amazed at this series as it has been, so far, an appropriate foundation for the Leviathan turn. Every issue has been showing Shaw being lured into missions by spy agencies, betrayed by spy agencies, discovering hidden information, or glomming onto new tech. No wonder he became Leviathan.

But another thing that has become more and more evident is the physical beating Shaw has taken in these adventures. It is one thing to be duped by shadowy cabals. It is another thing to be battered and nearly killed over and over. Shaw, as Leviathan, says he is trying to protect humanity from hidden information, super heroes and super villains, and the different spy agencies in operation. Some of that has to come from his own brushes with death at the hands of these people.

Nothing shows that more than Manhunter #15, an issue by John Ostrander, Kim Yale, and Grant Miehm. Shaw is basically dying in this issue, pummeled by a supervillain after being clobbered by others just the issue before. No wonder he wants the world to change.

On to the book.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Review: Future State: Superman Vs Imperious Lex #2

Future State Superman Vs Imperious Lex #2 came out 2 weeks ago and continued a sort of political allegory look at Superman vs a very Trump-like Lex Luthor.

I thought the first issue of this mini-series was a bit heavy handed. The truth is I went into reading that first book expecting to be bludgeoned by political overtones. Maybe I was prepared to be preached to and as a result I was waiting to be underwhelmed.

I think I came into this issue a bit more accepting and a bit more ready to be entertained. So while the political overtones and metaphors are pretty evident, the book unfolds nicely and the plot is entertaining. Maybe I am maturing.

Writer Mark Russell does a good job at unpacking how someone of power like Lex could dupe everyone into believing he is a savior when it is clear that he is ruining the planet and the people. And even when you think Lex might be seeing the error of his ways, it turns out he is a self-serving villain.  What I really love about this issue is that Lois is the hero.

Steve Pugh's art is solid work here, giving us an older and wiser Superman, a smart Lois, and a crazy alien world. But the real art win here is Yanick Paquette's cover. This is a propaganda poster at it's best with Lex clutching a Lexor child, shielding him from Superman's evil boot which is trying to stamp out Liberty. This is how Lex is portraying things, as him being the last hope against a monster trying to remove freedoms. Just pitch perfect.

On to the book.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Bullet Review: Infinite Frontier #0

Every time I think I might be getting too old for this comics thing, that I am complaining too much about comics wishing they were more like 'my comics', I am reminded that this is still a great medium filled with great stories and great characters.

Case in point, Infinite Frontier #1, a sort of stroll through the upcoming new DCU continuity. The issue gives us quick peeks into upcoming storylines and titles, catching up the reader on what happened after Metal (because some of us skipped it) and where this is all going.

I knew I should buy it to get a sort of foundation on this new omniverse, megaverse, whatev-verse is going on. But after so many reboots, Rebirths, and rejuvenations in the last decade, I was pretty exhausted.

The book sat on my pile until Sunday morning. I burned through a stack of bargain bin books before reading it.

And yet, when I finally sat down, almost of all of what I read seemed interesting and intriguing. I suppose that is what this is supposed to do! Make me interested in what is coming up. But more importantly, it calmed me down. 

Wonder Woman, the true hero of Metal, is offered a spot in the Quintessence. She is afraid to ascend because there is some darkness lingering she can feel. The Spectre takes her on  walkabout through the new DCU to show her all is well.

There is a lot of 'let's get back to the good stuff' here. There is a lot of 'the new stuff is going to be good'. I might even say there is a bit of 'everything old is new again'. 

I'd advise buying the book as a sort of primer of the new DCU. I am only going to show some tiny bits here which grabbed me.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Review: Future State Batman/Superman #2

Future State Batman/Superman #2 came out last week, finishing a two part story set in the near future. I thought the first issue was a decent story by writer Gene Luen Yang (who is taking over the book once Future State ends), showing his thoughts on the pair, having their thoughts contrast and setting up what they think of each other.

This issue seems to push that a little bit further in a direction I'm not exactly happy with. While last issue it was clear that while fundamentally different, the two work together well and like each other. This issue again veers into the all two common realm of breaking the two apart. I mean, these are the World's Finest and should be best friends. But here Batman can't even be honest with Superman, even if the lie is to protect his friend.

I am hoping that this doesn't continue in the main book once Yang takes over. I'd rather see the two be buddies working together. But that might be too much to ask these days.

One thing that is interesting is that I feel that Yang likes Superman more than Batman (no surprise given prior works) as the Man Of Steel's character really kind of shines here.

The art is a hodge podge with Scott McDaniel doing breakdowns and Ben Oliver and Stephen Segovia splitting the hard work. Segovia and Oliver's art complement each other. The book feels seamless. And the art is gorgeous. But I wonder who couldn't meet the deadline.

On to the book.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Leviathan Wednesday On A Thursday: Manhunter #13 and #14

Welcome again to Leviathan Thursday (pushed back a day given Supergirl news)  as I look at Manhunter #13 and Manhunter #14, delving into Mark Shaw and his descent from Manhunter to Leviathan. 

As I have said before, the title is a sort of standard super-hero book. But Shaw is a fascinating character. And as I have said before, the stories all involve technology, spies, and lies. Shaw is immersed in it. But he is also impacted by it, often detrimentally. So no wonder he walks down the path to Leviathan.

This will be an odd post covering two issues. One is a stand alone silly issue. One is a middle chapter in a huge crossover story and I am only covering this issue. But both have interesting bits which continue to pave this road to villainy.

Writers John Ostrander and Kim Yale do a great job keeping this book a mix of adventure, snappy dialogue, and intrigue. The first issue has art by John Koch who has a house style standard approach to the affairs, almost borderline cartoony. The second issue brings back Doug Rice. His art remains stylized and energetic, working well with the action.

Settle in. I'll try to be pithy!

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Tom King And Bilquis Evely On Supergirl

Well ... ask and ye shall receive again.

Just yesterday I posted Bleeding Cool's rumor of a Supergirl book coming out in the summer. I wondered who would be at the helm. And I was concerned that once again DC would come out with a dark version of Supergirl.

A mere 4 hours after my post went up, CBR posted an article confirming the next team on Supergirl. Here is a link:

Spinning out of Infinite Horizon, we are getting a Supergirl 8-issue maxiseries titled Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow

DC had this to say:

Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow "promises to be a character-defining masterpiece the likes of which has never been seen before for DC's Maiden of Might."

Now I know that this is PR from DC. They have to make this sound big. But Supergirl has been around for more than 60 years. There are some pretty impactful stories and runs that she has been in. I feel like statements like that denigrate prior creators. 

Here is the solicit:

Supergirl: Woman Of Tomorrow #1 

Written by Tom King
Art and cover by Bilquis Evely and Mat Lopes

Kara Zor-El has seen some epic adventures over the years, but has recently found her life without meaning or purpose. Here she is, a young woman who saw her planet destroyed and was sent to Earth to protect a baby cousin who ended up not needing her. What was it all for? Wherever she goes, people only see her through the lens of Superman’s fame.

Just when Supergirl thinks she’s had enough, everything changes. An alien girl seeks her out for a vicious mission: her world has been destroyed and the bad guys responsible are still out there. She wants revenge and if Supergirl doesn’t help her, she’ll do it herself, whatever the cost.

Now, a Kryptonian, a dog and an angry heartbroken child head out into space on a journey that will shake them to their very core!

And here are my thoughts.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

New Supergirl Book On The Horizon?

Ask and ye shall receive. 

Last week I posted the list of official upcoming DC titles coming up in the future and I lamented the lack of a Supergirl title.

 That very day (maybe I spurred something?), Bleeding Cool posted an announcement. Here is a link. 

And here is the key blurb.

Bleeding Cool has learned that DC Comics is to launch a new comic book Supergirl: Woman Of Tomorrow #1 in June as part of the continuing DC Infinite Frontier books.

 Now I have to admit that seeing a Supergirl book is on the horizon is always good news.

But that title really worries me.

Really worries me.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Review: Future State House Of El #1

When Future State and it's books were announced, I circled the Phillip Kennedy Johnson books as must haves. In the new Infinite DCU and post-Bendis, Johnson is taking up the reins of the super-books. While these stories are in a possible future, the Johnson Future State super-books would at least give me a sense of his take on the character.

Future State House Of El #1 was labeled as the continuation of the Future State Superman Worlds Of War mini-series. But we are once again flung into some future, with some time having passed since the cliffhanger of Superman WoW and left to fill in the gaps.

Now I was pretty impressed with the Worlds of War book for the take on Superman as an inspirational figure, always on the side of truth and justice. If this is where Johnson is going I'll be fine. And truthfully, this one-shot seemed to continue that feeling. We are generations removed from Superman but his family, in all their incarnations and with all their mixed lineages, all continue to espouse his ethics. In fact, even the freed peoples from Warworld, recognizing Superman's role as freedom fighter, have stuck around and fight under his crest. Their mantra is ‘Truth and Justice’. What’s not to like about that.

There are some great new characters here. Ones I hope we see at some point in the future. But it is the plot that I liked here. Superman's inspiration continues.

The art is by Scott Godlewski and is truly gorgeous. It seems to be on the outskirts of Ed McGuinness, although a much finer line. But the scope of this outer space brawl is vast. The characters are many and all dressed in different regalia. It all comes of beautifully. Give this artist a monthly!

On to the book.