Thursday, December 30, 2021

Supergirl 2021: A Year In Review & Best Of Comic Moments #5 - #1

For many reasons I can say that I am thankful that 2021 is coming to an end. This has been a more trying year in my life.

I can also say as a fan of Supergirl, this has been a trying year for me as well. I have not always agreed with the creative directions that DC has chosen for the characters. In fact, looking back at 2020, I'm not sure I liked the creative directions then. At some point will I no longer be able to say I am a current Supergirl fan?

Yesterday, I began my 2021 Year in Review for the character, including the back end of my top ten comic moments. Today I will finish that list.

One thing that I didn't mention specifically yesterday is the double edged sword of Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow. Writer Tom King is a hot commodity these days. His work on Batman, Rorschach, and Mister Miracle have been lauded. I haven't heard as much praise for Strange Adventures and Batman/Catwoman. But he is a top name in the industry right now and his books sell well. So having his name attached to Supergirl is a good thing in that he will bring new readers to the character. Of course, the downside to that this vision of Kara as a complete emotional wreck whose life is one of eternal spiritual turmoil will probably 'stick' for a bit. If you like that, great. If like me you don't, it means some harm has been done to the character.

On to the top moments of 2021.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Supergirl 2021: A Year In Review & Best Of Comic Moments #10-#6

I have been running this site now for over 13 years. And each year I put together a year in review series of posts including the ten best moments for Supergirl in comics over the year. 

I am a huge fan of Supergirl. But I understand I have a particular vision of who Supergirl is and what she represents. So I will say up front, this has been a tough year for me as a fan, particularly with how she has been presented in the comics. Luckily we get some moments in Phillip Kennedy Johnson's Action Comics run that are wonderful.

Today I will review some non-comic stuff as well as start my top ten comic moments from comics. But to be honest, I really had to look to find 10.

On to the review.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Review: Son Of Superman; Part 3

I begin the last week of 2021 by completing my review of the 1991 Elseworld's OGN Son of Superman.  As I have said before, I find it interesting that 30 years ago, a Jon Kent, left-leaning and politically active, picks up the mantle of Superman. That story is playing out in comics now. 

This was a 100 page giant so the review was split in three, Part 1 and Part 2 are up earlier this month.

The thing is after rereading this, I wonder if this should have been something more. Who knows if DC was interested in trying a longer mini-series back in 1991. But some of the bigger topics here - the differences between Jon and Clark's views of the world, the role of media and influence, a corporate run America - they're all just scratched at here. I would have liked to read more.

But give writers Howard Chaykin and Dave Tischman some credit here. They sprint to the finish line but in an impressive way. They introduce a lot of concepts and character beats here so most of the characters feel fully formed. If I want more, that is a good sign.

The art is detailed and slick by JH Williams. I like his take on Jon's costume and the new-look JLA suits. The action is energetic. And the page layouts are innovative and engaging.

Hope you liked this book as much as I liked reviewing it.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Supergirl Show 620: Kara

On November 9th of this year, the last episode of Supergirl aired, episode 620, titled 'Kara'.

Here we are 7 weeks later and I am just getting around to reviewing it.

Why has it taken so long?

Well, I will admit that these last two months of my life has been about as hectic as my life has ever been.

Also, I have been trying to figure out how to review this episode which stands as both the season finale and the show finale.

In the end, I am probably more forgiving of this episode than I should be, particularly the end of the Nyxly/Lex story because it is the end of the show.

One thing that I think is thought provoking about this episode is the theme that Kara has felt weighed down with having to defend the entire world. She wants to empower and inspire people to be their own hero (good idea). She wants to lead a full life for herself (also a good idea). 

But it makes it sound like she finds being Supergirl a burden. It is hard for me to feel like she has felt that weight given she is one of 7 heroes on this one show! Plus there is Superman, Flash, and the Legends. But okay, maybe it is being the 'premier' hero that weighs on her. And I also think while it is great to empower people this way, I don't know if she can feel less pressure because people are stepping up if the world is facing a threat like the Anti-Monitor.

I suppose one of the central themes of this entire show has been discovering who you are, accepting yourself, accepting others, and thriving. So I suppose this final idea hammers it home. I just wish we had one more season (or even a half season) to explore this new reality of Kara.

Lastly, I am glad the show runners and writers made sure to stuff this finale with cameos and history,

I am sad to see this show go. Melissa Benoist captured Kara perfectly. She will be missed.

On to the details.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Christmas 2021

Merry Christmas to all those who celebrate! After a rough stretch at work, I have several days off around the holidays and that makes me happy! I hope everyone can celebrate a little.

And what better early gift than the annual Supergirl/Batgirl holiday strip by artist Mike Maihack. 

I have gushed about these strips before. They are too cute, too funny, too adorable. 

I love how Supergirl is always cheery, bright, and energetic. I love how Batgirl is always trying to be serious but is often stymied by Supergirl being extra.\

Here they are garbed in the most holiday-based variants of costumes. But, as always, it just isn't enough for Kara. She has to decorate the Babs-tree. 

The banter is wonderful. Their friendship is undeniable.

This is always a palate cleanser and given the current take on Supergirl, it is much needed.

I always appreciate what Maihack does for the holidays. 

But wait! There's more!

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Review: Supergirl Woman Of Tomorrow #6

With the Christmas Holiday looming, I decided to get this review out quickly. So welcome to the review of Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow #6 by writer Tom King, artist Bilquis Evely, and colorist Mateus Lopes. 

To be frank, I have not liked the story in this series. While the art is spectacular, the crass, drunken, utterly despondent Kara is not the sort of Supergirl I want to read. The overly verbose Ruthye has dominated the page and much of the plot making this a 'sort of' Supergirl book. This relentless misery isn't what I traditionally look for in a Supergirl book.

But credit where credit is due. This issue is the best of the series so far. It showcases a strong and resilient Kara who has lived through such trauma it is incredible she is even walking. And yet, here she is. 

That doesn't mean that I don't have some serious issues with it. 

King has clearly read Supergirl back issues. In this issue he brings Comet back. But while the super-horse serves a purpose in the plot, King doesn't give us much to work with here. It feels like prolonged fan service, like him putting flame wings in a prior issue.

Moreover, King has read the Supergirl origin stories in the past. He gives us her origin here. The problem is this is King's version of Kara's origin. King thrives on having his characters have PTSD, having witnessed trauma and having them suffer. For Supergirl, King picks and chooses the worst parts of her history and forces her into the middle of the events. But this is the first time any of this happens the way King says it does. That means he changed her origin to make it more traumatic for no other reason than to amp up the violence and death she has seen. I'll explain more in the issue review itself. But having King reconfigure the origin to serve his purpose of darkening Kara's story seems self-serving. Her origin was traumatic enough. 

As always, I have little bad to say about the work Evely and Lopes bring here. The issue is a cosmic horse race intermixed with flashbacks of the dying Krypton. Evely and Lopes make it all just powerful to witness.

On to the book.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Back Issue Box: Son Of Superman; Part 2

Last week I presented the first part of Son of Superman, an Elseworlds super-sized trade from 1991.

I bought this off the shelf but haven't read it in forever so it has felt very new to me. In fact, I specifically split the book into thirds and have each section separately. So I haven't finished it yet! It will all be a surprise. 

I decided to review this Chaykin, Tischman, William, Loughridge product because it echoed what is happening in comics now. In it, Jon Kent, the son of Superman, has taken on the mantle and is much more of a social conscious here than his father. 

Chaykin and Tischman never shied away from controversy or pushing boundaries. Chaykin in particular writes complicated characters. No one here comes across as completely pure. So seeing Jon skew left and even linking himself to some questionable characters is no surprise. Having Superman skew a little right is no surprise either.

What is interesting is how the writers make lots of other characters be varying shades of gray for the political sides operating on Earth in this 'future world' from 1991.

JH Williams art is gorgeous throughout. Again, this is a mix of moments of personal reflection as well as high action. Williams brings it all together beautifully. There is one scene with the Justice League that really shines. 

On to the middle section of the book. It is interesting to me that this 100 page story has very obvious story breaks on page 33 and 66, making this breakdown easy for me. But almost too easy ... I wonder if this was meant to be a 3 issue mini-series instead of being packaged like this.

Monday, December 20, 2021

DC March 2022 Solicitations

The DC solicitations for March 2022 came out last week. 

To peruse all the listings you can head here, the Newsarama coverage:

Let's not bury the lede. There is no Supergirl to be found. It will be interesting to see if there is any return for Kara in the near future. Who knows how Tom King's mini-series will end. But that story has Kara aged and off-world and miserable. It is doubtful she will show up in Action to help Kal or in Superman to help Jon given that send-off. 

Now there is a new title on the shelves this month which looks like it will be a lot of fun so my pull list will grow slightly. And there is the Legion book. But otherwise, DC's reliance on Batman books and new Earth-3 mini-event aren't grabbing me.

Let's get to the books!


REMATCH! Superman puts what he's learned on Warworld to the test as he faces Mongul's unstoppable, reanimated warrior known as the Unmade. But it may be too late for Mongul to salvage his empire before an ancient prophecy is fulfilled. One of Superman's inner circle will fall, another will be resurrected at a terrible cost, and the Authority's traitor will be revealed in the conclusion to part one of the Warworld Saga!

I have been loving this title so far. This solicit sounds great. I am going to assume that it is Apollo who is resurrected. I hope Natasha doesn't die. And who is the traitor? Enchantress might be the easy guess but I am going with Lightray.

Nice cover too. The S-shield made from chains is great.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Back Issue Box: Son Of Superman; Part 1

It's been a while since I combed the back issue box to review an issue which echoes current books.

With Jon currently acting as Superman in his own title, Superman Son of Kal-El, I thought it would be interesting to look at Son of Superman, an Elseworlds from 1999. 1999! This is a story where Jon Kent, son of Clark and Lois, becomes Superman and decides to fight for social justice! Sound familiar?

This Elseworlds one-shot was written by Howard Chaykin and David Tischman. These two collaborated a lot in the late 90's so no surprise to see both names here. But this is clearly a Chaykin book. Now I understand that Chaykin is an acquired taste but I love his books. The plots are intelligent and complicated. (Yes, they occasionally wallow in sleaze but not here.) Chaykin's politics skew left but he also understands that neither political side are 100% perfect. We see that here. There is also a sort of Frank Miller style of story-telling here with frequent plot advancement made by news reports, many seeming more like entertainment reports. 

The art is luscious by J.H. Williams. As this is set in the future, Williams gets to give us some updated costumes and fashions. I have always been a fan of his work. Really beautiful stuff.

Finally, even though this was a one-shot, it was a thick 100 pages. So I'll be covering this in three parts. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Review: World Of Krypton #1

World of Krypton #1
came out last week and was a wonderfully unexpected holiday present. I didn't know I wanted this. I wasn't sure I'd like it. But let me tell you, this first issue was a winner. 

I am a middle-aged man who has been reading comics for more than 40 years. I have read many versions of Krypton's history. I have even read prior mini-series called World of Krypton. Was I ready to hear another take? And remember, Brian Michael Bendis even rewrote some of this just a couple of years ago, shoving Rogol Zaar into the mix.

I shouldn't be surprised that writer Robert Venditti just nails it. I have liked all the stuff I have read of his. The Superman '78 book is a joy. His take on Krypton's history feels classic and fresh at the same time. How wonderful to see Jor and Zor friendly with each other again. I have one of those nagging 'Anj mystery' feelings about something happening here. And I get the sense this might be the best recent interpretation of Kara in a long time.

Michael Avon Oeming is on art. He has a style which works for me even if I know he is an acquired taste. I like how his Krypton feels like Byrne's aesthetic albeit with a bit more flair. His take on the Kryptonian landscape is slick. And the action plays out very well.

No complaints here. None. 

On to the book.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Review: Superman Son Of Kal-El Annual 2021

Superman Son of Kal-El Annual 2021 came out this week and was a very entertaining read. We know that Jon has picked up the mantle of Superman. That means he probably is going to have to deal with his father's rogues. And no one is higher on the totem pole than Lex Luthor.

One of the things that I have been struggling with regarding this comic is the injection of real life social issues into the stories and the rather easy way that writer Tom Taylor has been dealing with them. There has only been superficial looks at complex issues. This issue also tangentially touches on a world crisis and the story-telling approach is different. More on that later.

But the bulk of the issue is looking at Lex. We see Luthor's relationship and interactions with Clark. And then we get the first interaction with Jon. Moreover, we see just how different Jon's dealings with Lex are from his father's. This would be something I would love to read every month. One thing I loved about the old Super Sons book was the contrast between Jon and Damian. Why not explore how Jon is different from his father when dealing with other heroes, villains, and the world.

The art is split by Clayton Henry and Steve Pugh. Henry covers a flashback that shows Kal dealing with Lex. The art is bold and vibrant and bigger than life. It works for the story. Pugh's work is more fine-lined and refined. I do like his take on Jon who looks young here.

Overall a fun read. On to the specifics.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Review: Dark Knights Of Steel #2

Dark Knights of Steel #2 came out this week and was another wild issue pushing the plot forward at breakneck speed and adding a mystery for me to contemplate. This is a 12 issue mini-series but last issue we had the death of Jor-El and this issue we have another assassination. Can this pace be kept up for the whole story? I can only hope.

Writer Tom Taylor really shines here as I have a solid feeling for this world and these characters already. It is hard to bring that sort of depth so quickly. Yes, we 'know' who these characters are but they are also very new. I also appreciate that Taylor is able to bring some echoes of classic DC history into these new proceedings. I won't bury the lede ... there is a sort of Supergirl analogue here. But once again Kara (or here Zala) isn't shown in the kindest light. 

Yasmine Putri brings a lushness to the art here. From medieval action to the drama of the court to dungeons, the work really shines. Things are moody and have the feeling of being torchlit with the colors of Asif Priento. The whole book has the feel of tapestries and oils. 

Two issues in and I am pretty engaged. On to the details.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Back Issue Box: Super Friends #31

Welcome to another segment in my look at Black Orchid and the fan theory that she was Supergirl in disguise. While I haven't  been able to discover the origins (or even the publication) of this theory, I have found it intriguing. 

So far I looked at the original story where Orchid purportedly used X-rays to reprogram a computer. Next I looked at her Who's Who page where the use of X-rays was swept away as hyperbole.

Today I look at Super Friends #31. While Super Friends has never been considered in continuity, writer E. Nelson Bridwell was a continuity wonk and often wove elements of DC history into his story. No big surprise, Bridwell beings in some Black Orchid continuity into this story and definitely touches on the rumor I am exploring. The cover screams it! Orchid is weakened by Kryptonite. But why is Superman unaffected?

Ramona Fradon brings her clean style to the proceedings. While her Orchid isn't as exotic as the original stories or the Phantom Stranger backgrounds, there is a certain elegance. 

As for the ultimate answer to the rumor, this issue might answer it ... if you think Super Friends is in continuity. 

On to the details!

Friday, December 3, 2021

Review: Action Comics #1037

Action Comics #1037 came out this week and was the epitome of the title's name. This was all action. And I ate it up with a spoon. There are few comics which leave me in a pulse-pounding, 'what the heck', giddy mood. This was one of them.

So first off, I have to give kudos to writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson. There is the old chestnut about how creators shouldn't give the audience what they want, they should give the audience what they need. When this whole storyline was just being hinted at, I lamented the idea of Superman being off world for a long period of time. That isn't what I wanted. Now, as this whole Warworld saga unfolds, I realize that this is one of the strongest arcs I have read in a while. I didn't want it but I definitely need it. 

Superman and his new Authority arrive on Warworld to find that the new Mongul and his squad are prepared and ready. That leads to some moments that left me gobsmacked. On top of that, there is a new subplot involving the new United Planets that is a wonderful side angle that intrigues me. How can Superman even survive this issue?

Miguel Mendonca is on art for the issue and brings high energy to the whole proceeding. There are some brutal, gory images in this, perfect for an issue which takes place on something called Warworld and visually shows us what the stakes are. Add to that the hazy, bloody tones of  Adriano Lucas and the whole book sings.

Hope you all aren't missing out on this. On to the details.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Supergirl Show 619: The Last Gauntlet

I suppose it has been nearly a month since the Supergirl series finale was aired, 2 episode (619 and 620) aired back to back.

The two episodes have been sitting on my DVR since then, unwatched. Part of me wonders if this was a sort of Schrodinger's Cat phenomenon in my fandom. If I haven't seen it, it could be very good. (Obviously, it could also be very bad.) Because as this Totem storyline moved forward, it has become more and more erratic. 

While I have simply accepted the idea of totems and the Allstone, it is the character side of this storyline that has been difficult for me. Characters aren't acting the way I would anticipate them to act. The strategies the hero team has set up have been a bit insane or a bit ludicrous. And, despite Melissa Benoist maintaining her high-end acting of Kara, Supergirl has been pushed to the periphery, a bit player in her own series end.

Episode 619, The Last Gauntlet, is unfortunately more of the same. 

I will forever love this show. It brought the idea of Supergirl to the mainstream. Melissa Benoist has been a revelation. Chyler Leigh as Alex, for the most part, has been a nice addition to the Supergirl family. And I got to see my favorite hero on the small screen for 6 years.

So let's just dive into this episode and enjoy the good parts.