Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Review: Superman #32

Last week, I reviewed Action Comics #1032, written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson. I raved about it.

Superman #32 was also released last week, also written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson. And while this was a fine issue, it wasn't as mind-blowing as Action. This story just comes to a sudden sort of ending with a couple of bizarre twists that had me stroking my chin.

Prior Johnson stories have focused in on the father/son relationship of Clark and Jon. There is this known turn coming up where Jon takes up the mantle of Superman and takes over. It seems that the purpose of this Shadowbreed story is to once again showcase that relationship but now with Clark realizing his son is not a child anymore and a worthy successor. It also brings in the relationship of the Qarath family and how Thrakkamites have a different parent/child relationship as well. A contrast will always make the focus that much brighter.

But the story built on that premise is a bit muddy. I don't know exactly what the Shadowbreed is. I don't quite understand the aftermath of their defeat. I don't know why Qarath O Bakkis waits as long as he does to make his play in this tale. I don't know how Superman survives this encounter. 

That's a lot of 'I don't knows' to roll with.

The art by Scott Godlewski is quite good. He has a good handle on Jon, portraying him as a youth nicely. The action sequences are well paced and drawn. And these aliens look ... well ... alien.

On to the story.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Review: Justice League #63

Justice League #63 came out last week, a sort of  ending to Brian Michael Bendis' first arc as writer on the title. I say 'a sort of ending' because it feels more like a pause. The ultimate ending, the defeat of Zumbado and the freeing of Naomi's world, doesn't happen here. Instead this felt like the first round.

But there are other goals here as well. Bendis is making a new team here with some interesting new recruits - Black Adam, Hippolyta, and Naomi. Much like the odd roster of Bendis' New Avengers way back in the day, this team is going to be filled with individual personalities and outlooks. And after a few years of the 'big seven' or a sort of DCAU JLA, it'll be good to bring in some new blood.

And, of course, bringing Naomi back into the spotlight of the DCU given her upcoming appearance on the CW as well as a 'second season' of her comic was another goal. And here she is, graduating from Young Justice to the big Leagues, pun intended.

This issue seems to accomplish those goals in a fast moving, splash page full issue. The front half is crazy action packed. The back end is the coda to that battle with one moment that stands out as excellent.

As usual, the art is by David Marquez and I have gushed about his art on this book before. But here, the battle sequences are even more spectacular. The art is eye candy and probably worth the cover price alone.

On to the book!

Friday, June 25, 2021

Review: Action Comics #1032

Action Comics #1032 came out this week and was another interesting character in this storyline bringing possible Kryptonian refugee survivors into Superman's world.

This arc is connected to Mongul  and seems to be leading directly into Superman leaving Earth to fulfill his role as rebel leader on Warworld in the Future State books. I don't specifically know if I am keen on Superman leaving Earth for a long time so I entered this run with some trepidation. But this chapter at least gives me a good reason for that eventuality to happen.

Moreover, Kennedy does a good job here of including all of the immediate super-family in the proceedings. Lois, Jon, and even Kara have some role to play in this mystery. Is Thao-La a Kryptonian proper? Or some offshoot? Or something else all together? How does she know Kryptonian historical figures and dialects? And is she working with Mongul or against the villain? 

Throw in the Source Wall chunk that was on Thao-La's ship as an enigmatic plot point and you have a couple of decent puzzles for our heroes to figure out.

I'll say I am enjoying this title more than the Superman book and part of that has to do with the more Earth-bound nature of the adventures and the inclusion of the key supporting characters.

I'd be remiss not to mention Daniel Sampere's detailed and lush art work here. Once more, he gives the quieter scenes some gravitas. But the big win is the kaiju fight in a rainstorm at the back end. You will see that those pages just sizzle.

On to the particulars.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

September 2021 DC Comics Solicits

The September solicits for DC Comics are out. Here is a link of all the comics that'll be on the shelves:

As usual, Batman and Bat-books abound in the month. Also, there are plenty of Suicide Squad books coming out. No big surprise there given the upcoming movie. But the super-books are holding their own. It does seem like the futures seen in Future State are coming to fruition in the present. 

We also have now sampled Tom King's Supergirl book. Having read that opening chapter, I am now looking more closely at the solicits for that book. 

Writer: TOM KING
Variant Cover: ROSE BESCH

Supergirl sets her sights on the Brigands, a group of dastardly nomads hell-bent on slaughtering all they come across. Now she must follow their path of destruction to find the fugitive they've been hiding who set her on this intergalactic journey in the first place!

Since we know that King borrowed liberally from True Grit in the opening chapter, I am wondering which Western this might be leaning into. The Magnificent Seven with Calvara's horde? 

It seems the Brigands are hiding Krem and Supergirl is on the trail. 

Hoping this book somehow rights after that first issue.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Supergirl S-Shield And Sasha Calle In The Flash Movie

Back in February, the world learned that Supergirl will be in the upcoming Flash movie, played by Sasha Calle. Given the rumors that the plot of the movie is Flashpoint, I can see this Supergirl being on the main DCEU Earth or in one of the other timelines opened up by the Flash's time trips.

Last week, director Andy Muschietti gave us the smallest of peeks at Supergirl's S-shield in the upcoming movie.

That sort of textured rubberized Henry-Cavill feel is definitely present, as is the Kryptonian scripts curling through the body of the S.

There are some subtle changes in theglyph itself, the lower portion of the S curving up lower and also tapering to create a new feel.

But the big thing for me is the prominence of red above the shield, a look many Supergirl fans probably recognize. And then, some shots of Calle in the costume leaked.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Review: Superman Red And Blue #4

Superman Red And Blue #4 came out this week and was another fun issue in this mini-series. After the somewhat glum first issue, the series has turned it around giving us some excellent stories about Superman, his villains, and his influence on people.

In fact, this series seems to have few stories about Superman himself and more about how he has impacted or influenced other people. I think in this time of grim and gritty story-telling, where Supergirl is drunk and murderous, I need to hear that Superman still inspires.

This issue also includes a trope that I never get tired of even if others have. We get some Pa Kent wisdom told in flashback and still powerful in the present. I can't get enough of it!

And it was interesting to see two Bizarro stories make it into this one volume. You think they could have been spaced. The tone of the stories are very different so I suppose they are fine together.

Finally, it was nice to see Mark Waid get another shot at the Man of Steel. His story is my favorite of the book. Why hasn't this story been done before? And the ending is just pure perfection. Put Waid back on a DC monthly!

On to the book.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Review: Supergirl Woman Of Tomorrow #1

Where to begin this review of a book which is visually gorgeous, a super-hero rendition of True Grit to the point at times it feels like plagiarism, and a slap in the face to long time Supergirl fans?

Where to begin?

Well, first I'll ask you to settle in as this might ramble a bit.

Second, I'll say that this is an extremely well drawn and well colored book. I think Bilquis Evely is a revelation and Matheus Lopes coloring makes this feel like a pastel western movie come to life. I have no objection to the art in this book which is frankly stunning.

I advise everyone who hasn't read the novel True Grit or seen the movie to do so (both film versions are fantastic). But this seems like an absolute lift of that story. The extremely well spoken young girl (Mattie Ross in Grit/Ruthye here) seeks revenge for her father's death at the hands of a bandit (Tom Chaney/Krem). She heads into a town on her own and full of gumption. She tries to convince a bounty hunter to help her because she needs a man of certain skills (true grit/ruthless). The initial hunter tries to steal the bounty she is offering. The person she wants to help her (Rooster Cogburn/Supergirl), ornery and drunk, initially tell her to move on.  But to show her own grit, our main character (Mattie/Ruthye) braves an expanse of water to finally make their point. I mean, if I taped a picture of Hailie Steinfeld over Ruthye and Jeff Bridges over Supergirl, this could read as True Grit.

But let's move beyond that because maybe this is just an homage.

The real opening point here is that this isn't a Supergirl story in any way.

This is a Ruthye story. Just like Mattie is the protagonist of True Grit, this is Ruthye's tale to tell. She does the narration. She drives the story. Supergirl is a part of Ruthye's story. She doesn't appear in the book until page 7. She is once again a guest star, a plot point, in someone else's story. And that is sad when you consider that King said this is THE Supergirl story to define her moving forward.

It also is not a Supergirl story because this isn't really a Supergirl that I recognize. Yes, in places, she mentions things that show that at some level she understands what it means to be a hero. But this is a self-destructive Supergirl going to a red sun planet solely to get drunk. She is violent. Her only reason for getting to this planet is to wallow in her own sadness. Yes, Kara has witnessed trauma. But she has always used that to fuel her desire to help others. Not drown in it. Also, this Supergirl (if we say this is still the New 52/Rebirth one) has already left the planet angrily to realize she needs to return, become a Red Lantern and learned from her rage, gone to Crucible to recognize her worth, dealt with her father's trauma, etc. She chose rage and went into space to hunt Rogol Zaar only to once again 'choose Earth'. From a history point of view, she has dealt with this before ad nauseum! If we chuck in the Omniverse, she has gone 'dark' innumerable times in the last 20 years, always realizing it isn't right. Why tread this again?

And I am not saying (nor have I ever said on this site) that I want a squeaky clean, saccharine Supergirl. I like that Supergirl is complex, relatable, fallible. But I also like that she is bright, optimistic, and has risen above.

But this isn't a Supergirl story because it doesn't need to be. If you removed Supergirl and put Titan's Starfire here, it reads the same. Put in Jessica Cruz and it reads the same. Put in Stalker or Renee Montoya or almost anyone else and it reads fine. Put in a brand new Red Sonja character and it reads the same.

Lastly, a lot of this reads like King trying to hard to make this book seem 'mature'. Having Kara curse 6 times and vomit in her post-binge hangover is an attempt to show how gritty this book is. But these are superficial ways of making this seem adult.


On to the specifics.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

The Problem

My review of Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #1 will be up tomorrow.

When I went into the comic store yesterday, I wasn't shocked to see a good number of the book on the rack with both covers available. After all, Tom King is a draw and the Bilquis Evely art is gorgeous. Heck, we even got a Gary Frank Supergirl cover.

I unfortunately wasn't shocked to see how the store is promoting it.

I find it sad that the word 'Supergirl' is the smallest word on this little promotion on the rack itself. 

I am also not surprised to see that the new characters that King has created are being trumpeted here as if they are the stars.

This is the problem.

It seems like Supergirl is often the guest star in her own book. We saw this in the Future State book. 

And we have seen it in how DC has promoted this book in their solicits.

Given in interviews King seems to have completely missed who Supergirl is, I will not be surprised if this isn't truly a Supergirl story but a Ruthye story.

Wouldn't it be great if  DC promotes a true Supergirl book where the promos and solicits trumpet her role in the story as the star? Or am I asking too much?

Lastly, it seems to be widely recognized that this book's plot is cribbed from True Grit. You might recall my post from a month ago.

Okay, off to read Ruthye #1. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Leviathan Wednesday: The Justice Principle

8 months ago I reviewed First Issue Special #5, the first appearance of Mark Shaw, Manhunter. I had decided that I wanted to take a deep dive into the character to see if I could chart his course to becoming Leviathan. Were the clues that Brian Michael Bendis planted in Event Leviathan present in the past stories? Did it all make sense?

This was all in preparation for the upcoming Checkmate miniseries, the new book which picks up where Event Leviathan and Leviathan Dawn left off. Checkmate starts next Wednesday.

And so we come full circle.

With no other stories to look at, I decided to go back one more time to First Issue Special #5

In the back of that issue is a thinkpiece by Jack Kirby, Manhunter ... The Justice Principle. And in this piece we see some aspects of Mark Shaw Manhunter which still inform his character as Leviathan. This is a sort of credo by Kirby, one of comic's best prophets. And it is worth a read. 

But let's look at some good parts closer.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Tom King Interview On Supergirl Radio

Congratulations to Supergirl Radio for getting an interview with Tom King about his upcoming series Supergirl:Woman of Tomorrow

Here is a link to the site and the interview: http://supergirlradio.com/episodes/supergirl-radio-season-6-tom-king-interview-supergirl-woman-of-tomorrow/

It was interesting no doubt. It is definitely worth listening to.

King talks about liking Supergirl for being a survivor. He talks about going back and reading her earliest stories in Action Comics, the stuff done by Otto Binder. And he does seem passionate about the character. But there was stuff he said that also worried me.  

Let's start with his stating that Kara is harsher and more cynical than Superman.

He stated this as though it was fact. And I wish that I was on line when he said that so I could ask him to discuss that more. Because I think that while Kara is fierce in her pursuit of justice and her hope that others don't suffer, I don't think of her as classically cynical. I think of her as optimistic.

And harsh? 

He keeps saying that she just 'kicks ass' and that he just wants to right stories where Kara goes out and 'kicks ass'. And I don't mind a Kara who is proactive. 

But 'harsh and cynical' isn't really 'hope, help, and compassion for all'. So I don't know where he gets that.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Review: Challenge Of The Super-Sons #3

Challenge of the Super Sons #3, the print version of the digital first comic, came out this week and continued to be a glorious romp of a story. As always, the juice of the story is the interaction between the young Bat and Super, who are very different and also close friends.

Writer Peter Tomasi has had a good handle on these characters for some time now so I am no longer surprised when I grin while reading. He gives Jon an earnest 'aw shucks', 'we need to be the best we can be' enthusiasm to his heroics. Contrast that to Damian's hard-nosed, occasional 'ends justify the means' approach and you have fertile character soil to be mined.

What I like about this book right now is that the characters are involved in two mingled storylines, one in medieval times and one in the present. Of course, to them it is one timeline but for me the varying locales keeps the book fresh.

Art on this books is done by Jorge Corona and Max Raynor. Both have a style which is befitting the action of the title. I feel like Corona is a mix of Jorge Jimenez and Ken Rocafort. And that stylized approach is perfect for the shenanigans of the action. Raynor is a extremely polished visual storyteller and his work with the other JLA members in the book is stunning.

On to the book.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Leviathan Wednesday: Wonder Woman #23.1

Welcome to the last installment of Leviathan Wednesday, a side project I started last October with First Issue Special #5. The purpose of these Wednesdays has been to review the history of Mark Shaw and chart his path to Leviathan. 

And so we come to (as least as far as I know) his last appearance before Event Leviathan. Today's installment is Wonder Woman 23.1, from the New 52 era. This was one of what seems to be endless 'villain months' DC puts out in which the enemies of the title heroes take the reins for a month. This month occurred before the Forever Evil month. 

This issue stars the Cheetah, giving us the New 52 origin of Barbara Minerva and her transformation into Diana's arch-enemy. But most importantly, at least for my purpose, it guest stars Mark Shaw. This is the New 52 Shaw so it is hard to know if any or all of his prior history has happened. 

But if consider that some amalgamation of all the Shaws in continuity made up the one that became Leviathan then there are a couple of things that happen here that are interesting. Can you foresee this Shaw becoming Leviathan based on this one issue? No. But mix it up with everything else? Sure.

Shaw becomes Leviathan. And now I will have covered all his history. Now we know why.

On to the book.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Who's Who: Krypto (And A Little Bit Of Action Comics #500)

Over the last several years, Krypto has more and more become Supergirl's pet. I don't know if it is that Superman is too old to be romping with a dog or if Streaky is way too Silver Age for people to take seriously but we have seen a lot of Krypto and Kara. And that relationship is only going to get stronger with the Dog of Steel heading into space with the Maid of Might in Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow.

With that in mind I thought I'd share the Krypto page from the original Who's Who. Just fun art by Colleen Doran and Rick Magyar!

I had forgotten some of this history, specifically the timing of things. I knew his rocket went up before Kal's but I thought he was in suspended animation and delayed in getting to Earth. But instead he was floating in space for about a month until Krypton blew up and Kal's warp dragged him through too.

Some of this is downright silly especially his relative names. I love that he became 'Skip', Clark's dog with the big black spot for a while. 

But for me, I love that Krypto just always loved frolicking in space. That part makes his leaving with Kara every time someone has her leaving Earth makes sense.

Krypto is a good boy and a good friend. We learned that in the historic Action Comics #500.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Bullet Review: Crime Syndicate #4

One of the best things about this site has been how it has connected me to a truly excellent circle of comic folks on line. If you have been on here for a while you know I have become pretty great friends with Mart Gray of the Too Dangerous For a Girl comic review site. 

Mart has great taste and when he gushed about the Crime Syndicate mini-series, I knew I had to pick it up. It is a complete hoot. 

Yes, this is Earth 3 and these are villainous versions of our heroes. But unlike other recent takes on these characters which has been unrelentingly dark and vicious, this series doesn't sink that deep. Instead there is almost a sly, black humor to the proceedings. 

From silly nonsensical editorial boxes asking us to look for nonexistent back issues to the villains conniving to conquer even as they unwittingly become 'good guys' saving the world from Starro, I have loved this. You can have a villain book that is fun not horrific torture. So judos to writer Andy Schmidt and artist Kieran McKeown.

But this is a Supergirl blog and we know from upcoming solicits that Ultragirl shows up in this series in the final issue. I think we got a peek at her here.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Review: Justice League #62

Justice League #62 came out this week and was another interesting middle chapter of this storyline exploring Naomi's version of Earth while simultaneously building a new team. 

Brian Michael Bendis is no stranger to team books and certainly no novice at putting together unconventional super-hero squads. His New Avengers was a hodgepodge of characters like Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Spider-Woman and Wolverine ... certainly not the classic Avengers we were used to when that book first came out.

And as someone who doesn't mind a little bit of a shake-up in JL teams (I am a big fan of James Robinson's Legacy JL team from a decade ago), the addition of new voices like Black Adam, Hippolyta, and Naomi adds a little new spice into the staid team of big sevens. Bendis writes characters well so seeing these members interact is great reading.

Add to that David Marquez near flawless art and you have a solid beginning to this era. Marquez is a master showing movement and energy. And this issue, predominantly a big splash page brawl across a devastated landscape lets  him cut loose. From maces to faces, sonic screams, and giant tanks, it is all magical. But his expressive work in the character scenes also shines.

It has to hang on the plot. I have been waiting for answers surrounding Naomi and her world and we are now 4 issues in and I still don't think I know much. So overall success is going to be in how this wraps up.

On to the book.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Leviathan Wednesday: Manhunter #16, 17, 19, 21, 22, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30, And 34

How close are we to the end of Leviathan Wednesdays?

Well Checkmate #1 is out in 2 weeks. So we are really close. 

Today I basically wrap up what happened to Mark Shaw in the remainder of the Kate Spenceer Manhunter series. The last storyline in Manhunter, reviewed here, wrapped up the major Mark Shaw plot. In that, we learned that Mark Shaw had been programmed by the DEO to have two personalities, his own and Dumas. Much of the Manhunter history was fiction. The DEO had created nanites that when injected could rewrite someone's personality, making them think they were Mark Shaw and encoding his skills. That tech was then enhanced to create the OMAC warriors. Shaw is damaged. And the DEO is the cause. Hmmm ...

Shaw remains in the Manhunter series, showing up now and then. What happens to him is worth reviewing as it shows how Shaw is a victim. It shows why Shaw is a bit unhinged. And it shows why he would be on the road to becoming Leviathan. 

These issues are written by Marc Andreyko with art mostly by Javier Pina and Michael Gaydos. What is amazing are the array of cover artists for these issues including but not limited to Howard Chaykin, Arthur Adams, Kevin Nowlan, and others. Amazing.

But the thing is after this deep dive, I feel like Shaw has been abused by the system and the DCU. Now wonder he wants to lash out.

On to the books and a quick peek.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

DC Comics August Solicits

The DC August solicits have been released and despite some corporate turnover and turmoil, the company seems to be firing on all cylinders. Here is a link to Newsarama's listings:https://www.gamesradar.com/dc-august-2021-solicitations/

There are a lot of great books out there and the Superman family remains a pretty big presence on the docket. I better start saving my pennies. There are a couple of the periphery which I may not get. But overall, it looks like a good month. Let's look at the books.

Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow #3
story by TOM KING
art & Cover by BILQUIS EVELY
variant cover by DAVID MACK

Supergirl's journey across the cosmos continues! Her hunt to bring the killer Krem to justice brings her and the young alien in her care to a small planet, where they discover that there are still some very small minds, even on the outer edges of the galaxy. The cold welcome the locals give the Woman of Steel makes her suspicious enough to go looking for secrets they want to keep buried, and what she finds is nothing short of horrifying. Can she and Ruthye get off the planet alive now that these deadly sins have been exposed?

Can't get over that David Mack cover. Just stunning. And the Evely cover is also lovely.

Nothing in particular in the solicit itself. This sounds like it might be a 'planet of the month' series. But the thing is I wish there would be more mention of Supergirl herself in these solicits. What is she thinking? Feeling? Hoping?

I am sure this'll sell wildly.