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!

Thursday, July 29, 2021


Just a heads up!

Tomorrow I am winging my way to Terrificon!

Hope to run into some of you there!

And I'll try to send updates in social media.

More importantly, I might not be responding to comments here as quickly as usual!

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Review: Superman Red And Blue #5

Superman Red and Blue #5 came out last week and really was a great issue. This series has really grown on me as the stories have recently become much more Superman-centric and less about other characters or political issues du jour. Yes, Superman can be political but he still should be the hero in his own stories.

This issue also has a great array of creators. I mean, they sort of had me with Daniel Warren Johnson, the creator of the recent Black Label Wonder Woman Dead Earth book and the current Beta Ray Bill book, both worth reading. But through in Mark Buckingham, Chris Sprouse, Joshua Williamson, G. Willow Wilson, and others and this is a true smorgasbord of talent.

It also doesn't hurt that one of the stories echoes a moment in Action Comics #500 that I just love. And it happens to involve Krypto, currently suffering and maybe dead in Tom King's Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow book. Another is a perfect encapsulation of 'Pa Kent wisdom', another trope I love.

I also love this playful cover by Amanda Conner featuring the dog of steel as well. Looks like the pup is going to get a nice treat from Superman.

Probably just best to jump into it. But I think this would be the issue I would recommend to people if they wanted to try this series out.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Review: Superman And The Authority #1

Superman and The Authority #1 came out this week and by the time I reach the bottom of this review I hope I have a grade in mind. Because I am a bit befuddled by the concept but I enjoyed the issue.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by this. Grant Morrison is the writer of the mini-series. And with so many Morrison works, I probably will need to marinate in this one for a while. I sometimes just have to let the experience wash over me and hope I will appreciate all of it via osmosis. But one thing I know about Morrison, he never fails to impress. And in particular, his take on Superman has never failed me. 

Here we have a Superman on some Earth trying to make sure that he has a team of operatives who can act on his behalf when his powers fail him. But this is a Superman who was alive in the 60s. He is gray-templed, weakening, wearing a Kingdom Come S-shield, but still dang inspirational. And the first person he reaches out to is Manchester Black, one of his most powerful and deadly enemies. Whew .. some opening act.

The art here is by Mikel Janon, whose work I have always loved. Clean lined, dynamic, and lovely, his work sings here. His middle-aged appearing Superman looks like a movie star. The action scenes are fun and frenetic. And the colors by Jordie Bellaire only bring a layer of beauty to things.

But in a current DC world trying to work its way to a Future State, where the super-family has been shaken up a bit, is there room in my mind for the Superman of Earth-?. Well, as long as it entertains, yes.

On to the book.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Review: Justice League #65

Justice League #65 was released last week and as it has a strong crossover feel with Checkmate. That makes me happy.

The book basically has two plots running concurrently. One is Black Canary and Ollie hashing out his involvement in the new Checkmate and the reveal of Daemon Rose's identity. There is some great dialogue here. And the Daemon reveal is quite the eye-opener. There is even a super-villain sighting and a small mystery.

The second plot is the attack by Synmar Utopica on the JL. This also has some great dialogue and some fun moments. It once again shows how Synmar is a worthy foe of Superman as he brings down the house around the team.

I very much enjoyed the issue. So I won't bury that fact. I read comics to be entertained and I was very much entertained. But it felt to me like this was an extension of the Checkmate book and that the Synmar plot was sort of a filler to keep the rest of the League present in the pages. I don't mind that at all. But I wonder about others.

Steve Pugh is again on art and brings a lot of energy to the action here. We get both street level scuffling and super-powered throwdowns and both flow nicely. 

On to the book!

Friday, July 23, 2021

Review: Supergirl Woman Of Tomorrow #2

Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow #2 came out this week and was a better issue than the first issue, by a smidge. There are some moments in this book where I actually felt like this was Supergirl. A few brief moments. And there is also an homage to the Peter David run with the Matrix/Earth Angel character, something which will always make me smile.

But these are just a few rays of sunshine breaking through a blanket of dark clouds that is this story. 

Once again, it is clear that this isn't a Supergirl story. It is a Ruthye story. Everything happens through the lens of that character, clearly Tom King's pet project. The whole True Grit homage feel to this remains unbroken as this story is written when Ruthye is much older, remembering this adventure. Her overly verbose style sometimes overwhelms the reader when faced with pages of long internal monologues. Plus, Supergirl is asleep for a 7 of the 24 pages here.

It also isn't a Supergirl story because this doesn't feel like Kara. It's like King wants to make Supergirl 'cool' by having her curse like a sailor and throttle people without talking to them first. That isn't her. This could very very easily be Starfire from the Titans. She IS quick-tempered and she also has had to deal with tragedy. This could very very easily be Power Girl. She IS brash and heck, she has seen her universe die! But when I read this I wonder which Supergirl stories King read for his research.

Honestly, look at the issue (or the panels here) and in your mind's eye substitute Kory. The book reads the same.

Add to that some missteps like (nearly) killing Krypto and some questionable continuity and I just can't behind this book. At least not yet.

Once again, I will say the art is absolutely stunning and raises the grade of this book by a whole letter. Bilquis Evely brings a gorgeous look to all the scenes here from brawling, to quiet moments, to jaunts in space. I don't know how to explain it but it is both polished and raw at the same time. And it sings. Mat Lopes colors are wonderfully muted in places like the dank ferry they are on. But also the pastels in the landscape scenes are spectacular. 

On to the book. Settle in. This book is a big deal and so I am going to go over it with a fine tooth comb and give you all my thoughts.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

DC Comics October 2021 Solicits

The October solicits for DC comics came out this week and are available to review in their entirety at the usual places. Here is a link to Newsarama (now Gamesradar) and their post:

It is an interesting month.

For the purposes of this site, there is no Supergirl solicited. Perhaps she is taking a break from her life of battle and woe. There are the usual Superman books solicited including the last issue of the Challenge of the Super-Sons book. I'll cover them in a second.

But this is a big Wonder Woman month with an 80th anniversary special, a Nubia book, the much anticipated DeConnick/Jimenez Amazon Historia book. If you are a Diana fan like me, there is a lot to get excited about in October.

And there is the usual glut of Batman books.

But onto the super-family issues.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Tom King On SyFy

I keep trying to be optimistic about this Supergirl:Woman of Tomorrow mini-series.

I keep trying.

Tom King was interviewed by SyFy about the book and he is trying to make me think better of his approach. But even when he is saying words that you would think would raise my optimism, it just doesn't seem to work. 

Here is a link to the interview. Please read it in its entirety:

Let's start with SyFy calling it a 12 issue mini-series. Remember, it was King who said in interview (and I paraphrase) that "Supergirl doesn't sell well enough for a 12 issue series." We know it is 8.

King starts out by saying that he channeled the overall feelings of 2020 into Rorschach and Strange Adventures, books which look at the darker side of life.

King says that Supergirl comes from someplace different.

He says that his ideas about Supergirl were inspired by a glimmer of hope.

You would think that his words - words like hope, optimism, and heart - might make me think better of this book.

But the words are meaningless when you compare that to the basic heartless, pessimistic, hopeless tone of that first issue. Where is it?

A few more blurbs to mull coming up.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Review: Challenge Of The Super Sons #4

Challenge of the Super Sons #4 came out last week and I continue to be tickled by this book. 

Writer Peter Tomasi has a good handle on these young characters, having written them so long. As always it is their interactions, showcasing how they are different but can still work together, that brings the juice. 

The overall story is a hoot too. Superboy and Robin have to secretly save Justice Leaguers from a cursed magic scroll. So they have to put one over on their elders ... all for a good cause. That adds a little extra wrinkle of fun to the proceedings. On top of that, the scroll was activated by Felix Faust and Vandal Savage who are hunting the boys through time. That is a solid foundation.

Now some of the details are a bit preposterous. But this is a book that wants the reader to remember thrilling comic adventures of yesteryear and smile. So I don't mind a little zaniness.

Max Raynor is on both parts of the issue and I have become a big fan of his work. Our heroes look like kids. And the action looks great. I love his Jon, a mix of earnestness and anxiousness to get down to it.

On to the book.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Review: Action Comics Annual 2021

The Action Comics 2021 Annual came out this week, a nice mix of current storylines and the Future State future peeks. Much like the Future State House of El one-shot, this was a very entertaining read by  writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson with art by House of El artist Scott Godlewski and with Siya Oum providing the framework story.

I was very impressed with all that Johnson pulls off here. The framing story really builds on the current Phaelosian storyline working its way through the main Action book. This framework is from the past as we see the current teenage Thao-La back when she was more of a young child. This section gives us some backstory as well as a new mystery to unravel.

We then move well into the future as we hear another tale of the House of El. This one predates the House of El one-shot. We get some Supergirl here, learning what she did before she sulked off to the moon in her own Future State mini. These characters descended from Superman are interesting. I like seeing them fight together as a group. And I like the glimpses we get of their culture.

And on top of that, we get a nod to a mini-series from the early 80's, one of my faves and one I have not truly reviewed here on this site. So maybe that will be a little blog mini-project to start up. I am all in favor of the direction Johnson is taking us with the Phantom Zone.

As for the art, Godlewski slips us into the Future State world easily. His pages are mostly battles and he brings us into the fray expertly. I like the designs of the various Els. Siya Oum's pages are the framework and non-Phantom Zone pages. There is a more angular and slightly stylized look to these pages but there are solid moments there as well.

If I have one quibble, it is that many pages are devoted to the Els fighting there way to the center of the Phantom Zone. I think that part could have been told in about half the pages, making this more like a regular issue. No complaints about the art in those sequences. Beautiful.

On to the particulars.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Andy Schmidt On Ultragirl

In my review of Crime Syndicate #5 earlier this week, I wondered if Supergirl appearing to be a hero on the backwards morality driven Earth 3 was some sort of commentary by DC Comics on how they think of Kara.

I freely admit that I sometimes overthink things regarding Supergirl given my passionate fandom. 

I also know that I am probably still reeling from a Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow #1 issue which did not work for me at all. 

I posted the review and sent out the tweet link, including writer Andy Schmidt on the tweet. And amazingly, I got a response about my concerns.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The Passing Of Robson Rocha

DC Comics artist Robson Rocha passed away earlier this week from complications from COVID-19. 

This news was staggering especially when learning that Robson was only 41 years of age, I feel like I was lucky enough to discover his art early and therefore could follow him to the books he was on.

But he will always be most fondly remembered by me as being the artist on the back end of the Supergirl Rebirth book. In those books you could really see his art blossom. 

He had that uncanny knack to be able to bring energy and movement to action sequences, tremendous expressive work to the characters, some gravitas to the quieter moments in Kara's life, and still show Supergirl's joy.

No cover better captures all that than the cover for Supergirl #20.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Bullet Review: Crime Syndicate #5

Crime Syndicate #5 came out last week continuing a fun and entertaining look at the new Earth 3. Writer Andy Schmidt and artist Kieron McKeown continue to weave a story where the heroes and villains we are accustomed to have switched roles.

As I have said before, what I like about this book is that there is sly humor woven into the story of evil triumphant. Yes the Justice League analogs are murdering scum. But the book isn't an incessant trip deeper into darkness. I don't think I have seen one person have their hands cut off. Not one blood soaked brawl. Instead we have silly editorial notes and a ragtag group of heroes trying to save the day.

Not to say this is a happy book. We do get a barn full of dead people. It just doesn't feel like it is titillated by the evil. The tone is just right.

And I shouldn't bury the lede. Kara is in this book too. But more on that in the main review.

The art is done by McKeown who brings a crisp feeling to the action. The figures are lovely and the action dynamic.

On to the book.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Review: Justice League #64


Justice League #64 came out last week and was another great character issue in this new run by Brian Michael Bendis.

 "Character issue" doesn't describe it fully. There is a new plot nudged forward. We do get the new United Order, a sort of Guardians of the Galaxy of the just started United Planets. And that is an interesting team to break down.

We get the return of the Synmar Utopica, one of the more puzzling villains introduced in Bendis' run. I don't think I ever quite understood its motives. 

We get the ripples of Checkmate into the League and specifically with Ollie.

But as usual, it is the quieter moments between the action where Bendis really shines. I like his Black Adam. I like the simmer of Naomi's powers and family (although I hope it comes to a boil soon). It is the on-again Ollie/Dinah romance and how cute they are as they flirt and fight. 

Steve Pugh is on art and gives a fine-lined, angular feel to the proceedings. This is a bit different from the smooth, organic offerings we have seen her by David Marquez. But the art does work. In particular, some of the panel layouts are slick. We do get several splashes as well.

On to the book.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Terrificon Prep

I cannot tell you how giddy I am to be posting a convention prep post. And for my favorite comic convention no less!

That's right! At the end of this month I'll be heading to Terrificon!!

As usual, show runner Mitch Hallock has put together a fantastic roster of guests. You can check out the entire show's slate of guests and panels here:

As I have said in the past, Mohegan Sun is a great venue for the con. The Expo Center is huge and spacious. The casino has every possible level of food options within from the finest dining to the quickest of food courts. It is easy to find and there is free parking. It is a dream.

But the pull is always the guests. And there are plenty of mega-stars I can't wait to meet. I have started the process of pulling books for signatures, figuring out which books I should get signed for friends, and contemplating commissions. I was truly hoping that the site would garner me a press pass but alas no such luck.

One of the interesting things about this year's con is that I anticipate it will be a bit more relaxed for me from a commission standpoint.  Here is the list of guests I already have a commission from: Tim Sale, Dan Jurgens, Pat Broderick, Dave Johnson, Khoi Pham, Jerry Ordway, Mike McKone, Matthew Clark, Jim Calafiore, and Joe Rubinstein.

That doesn't mean I don't have a few hopes and dreams out there.

At the top of the commission wish list is Lee Weeks. 

I have been a longtime fan of Weeks work. But I loved his Convergence: Superman and Superman Lois and Clark mini-series which introduced us to Jon Kent.

He will be the first table I go to in hopes of snagging a sketch. Fingers crossed.

(As a side note, I hope to get some of those issues signed by him and Dan Jurgens who is also attending.)

Monday, July 5, 2021

Review: Batman/Superman #19

Last week we learned in DC's September solicits that the Batman/Superman title was ending. I was surprised and a bit dismayed by the news. Since taking over the title, writer Gene Luen Yang has made this title one of the most fun and entertaining book on the shelves. It has been fun to see our heroes sort of romp through adventures as pals.

Batman/Superman #19 came out last week, the next chapter in the Auteur.Io storyline looking at different 'universes' as written by the insane movie mogul. This book hasn't really starred out main heroes. Instead we have followed a Superman from a Golden Age movie serial and a more Silver Age Batman complete with boy wonder. In this chapter, Yang decides to delve deeper into the filmography of Auteur.Io and the DC Universe. And so we have Alanna Strange and El Diablo in the mix as well.

I also see that Yang is talking about some creative loss here. Auteur.Io is trying to create the perfect world. But it seems impossible in the current world where everyone has an opinion on how everything could be better. No longer can people just enjoy a story, foibles and all. Instead they have to comment. Heck, I do that almost every day here. But you can't please everyone and as a result, the stories become muddled messes. And great stories might be scuttled because some audience might find it horrible or offensive. I find the theme fascinating.

Alas, Ivan Reis has the month off here. Instead we have a smorgasbord of artists. It is quite a row of talent. Emanuela Lupacchino, Darick Robertson, and Steve Lieber are all top notch talents on their own. So to see them bring their styles to the various landscapes here is an added bonus.

On to the book.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Review: Checkmate #1

I had a Leviathan Theory and I was sticking to it. In Event Leviathan, I thought for sure that the villain behind the mask was going to be Ted Kord. 

Turned out I was wrong. Leviathan was Mark Shaw. And that led me down the rabbit hole. Who was Shaw exactly? And how and more importantly why did he become Leviathan? I scoured his comic history.

And so we are here, with Checkmate #1, the sequel to Event Leviathan. I have been waiting for this. For one, I find Leviathan an interesting sort of villain. In some ways, he's like Robin Hood, hoping to help out the little guy by opening up the world to honesty. Plus, I have to say that after reading all the history of Shaw, I can see why he has become Leviathan. He was used, abused, brainwashed, and manipulated by espionage agencies in the DCU. Why wouldn't he want revenge?

So maybe I am going to be somewhat of an biased reviewer. 

But I thought this first issue was fantastic. 

Writer Brian Michael Bendis sets the table nicely in this opening chapter. First off, we get some far flashbacks showing how Shaw got into the original Leviathan organization. I need to see some of this backstory. I need to see how Shaw took over that place from the inside out.

Then we see a more recent flashbacks of Talia Al Ghul trying to wrest things back.

Of course, we then get to the present day when the new Checkmate is just starting to get organized in hopes of stopping Leviathan from whatever he has planned next. It was good to see this team together again. Plus, the Checkmate leader Mr. King is somewhat of a mystery himself. Who is this guy?

We even get a reminder that we don't know what Sam Lane meant when he told Lois to find the Snowman Ticket at the end of Event Leviathan.

But best of all is a deep cut DC character who shows us just how Leviathan might convince people to join him. 

I would, of course, be remiss if I didn't mention Alex Maleev's moody art. From the opening flashback to the ending cliffhanger, everything is laid out wonderfully and gripping. 

On to the book!