Monday, October 3, 2022

Review: DC Vs. Vampires #9

DC Vs. Vampires #9 came out last week marking the halfway point of the second arc of this book. As this second arc has Supergirl as a main character and ... gasp ... a hero I felt the need to grab it and review.

I have admitted in the past that books like this or zombie titles don't usually get my attention. I am probably not the target audience here. But I will also admit that I am a sucker for Elseworlds and that I have been enjoying this book so far.

Writers James Tynion IV and Matthew Rosenberg are doing what they should do in books like this, introducing us to the broader DCU in the context of this vampiric wasteland. Now I didn't read the first 6 issues so I don't know how or why so many heroes got turned to the dark side. But I like the ragtag group of uninfected heroes who are still trying to save the world. Steel, Jayna, Green Arrow, Batgirl, and a depowered Supergirl sort lead different factions on different quests. There is a very nice surprise in the middle of the issue which I didn't foresee which also made me happy. 

Perhaps the one thing that I worry about is that there are three very different plot lines happening in this book meaning each issue is sort of sliced into thirds. I am far more interested in the Batgirl and Supergirl plots than I am the Green Arrow one and so I wonder if so many plot lines are too many for a book this length. 

I love the art as well. Guillem March's covers are horrific and dynamic. I loves seeing Supergirl front and center fighting fanged Atlantean warriors. Otto Schmidt is on interior art and brings his somehow both loose and polished look to the inside. I really like his work.

All three plots are nudged along in this issue so let's get to the details.

Friday, September 30, 2022

Review: Action Comics #1047

Action Comics #1047 came out this week, the first part of the 'Kal-El Returns' arc. It was fantastic.

Phillip Kennedy Johnson has just come off the Warworld epic, a barbarian rebellion story where Superman leads and overcomes. Throughout that action filled tale, we had wonderful character moments showing us just who Superman is and just how he inspires.

I feel this issue serves two purposes, both epilogue to Warworld and prologue to the upcoming arc. So there isn't much action. But boy is there characterization. Superman continues to inspire. Luthor is chilling. Lois is supportive and loving. Metallo is forlorn and withdrawn. And the Super-family proper is ready for battle and thrilled to see their mentor returned home. They act like a family!

The whole book just sings. It is almost a primer for what Superman and his supporting cast should be. In particular, I haven't been this afraid of Luthor in a long time. There is something about this vindictive, deluded Lex that is more frightening than any 'merged with J'onn' Apex Lex ever was. Lex is evil but pictures himself as a humanist. Brrrr ...

Add to all these powerful moments, the fantastic art of Riccardo Federici sizzles here. It is emotive and lush and flowing. I love it. David Lapham continues to shine in the back-up feature showcasing the entire Super-family. I really like his take on Kara. Add the 'movie poster' cover by Steve Beach and you have a winner all around. 

On to the book.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Review: Justice League Vs. The Legion Of Super-Heroes #6

Justice League Vs. The Legion of Super-Heroes #6 came out this week, the ending of the mini-series, the ending of Brian Michael Bendis' time at DC, and probably the end of this version of the Legion. This mini-series has sort of tread water and limped along the first five issues. So I shouldn't be surprised that it sort of limps over the finish line as well.

Yes, I am not surprised. But I am disappointed.

I have been a Legion fan for most of my life. I have been waiting for what feels like decades for a solid Legion product to be on the shelf. And when this one was announced, with a name writer like Bendis and a solid artist like Ryan Sook being on the book at the beginning I had high hopes. When Bendis spoke about the Legion as a dream project, I had even more hope.

But the main book never seemed to gel. There were plenty of Legionnaires who never saw action or said dialogue. The book seemed to peter out a bit after Sook left the book. And then Future State pushed the book even further into the future.

Suddenly I lost hope.

Still, there was this mini-series happening. It was a Justice League book. It had a solid artist, Scotty Godlewski attached to it. And it riffed on The Great Darkness. How could it go wrong?

Well, for one, not much happened plot wise in the book. There were some nice character moments. But the plot seemed to drag. There never was much of a VS in this book as the team played acted as allies the whole time. And now we have the finale which just sort of happens. 

I should be used to Bendis setting up something immense as a threat only to sweep it under the rug quickly. But I still feel cheated.

Godlewski's art is wonderful here which makes the lack of story that much more vexing. His Jonah Hex (I know ... how did Hex get in this) is really a scarred revelation. And he draws these new Legionnaires so well. 

Perhaps the latest Crisis will bring about yet another Legion. I feel this one never got a fair shake.

On to the book.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Back Issue Review: Adventure Comics #394

It has been a while since I reviewed a back issue from Supergirl's history here. Recently my mind has been thinking about Adventure Comics #394

When I was reviewing the Black Orchid stories here recently, I noted that in one story the Orchid implied she had been in prison in the past. Was it referencing this?  Why not take a closer look at this story?

Now I have to say that this is one crazy story. Written by Robert Kanigher, it takes one insane plot leap after another. This is a classic Silver Age story where an insane amount of things happen in a mere 13 pages. It even ends with a bit of a mystery! So settle in and be ready for a roller coaster as Supergirl tries to save the universe from a doomsday weapon from within an interstellar prison. 

The art is by Kurt Schaffenberger and it is just gorgeous. In this story, with all the wild turns, we get to see the breadth of Schaffenberger's skill, from action to angst to drama to campus silliness. Over the years, I have come to really love his artwork. This is a shining example.

On to the book. 

Friday, September 23, 2022

Review: Batman Superman World's Finest #7

 Batman Superman #7 came out this week, another fabulous issue in what has been a fabulous run so far.

With this book set in the unclear past, writer Mark Waid is able to write a book that is both classic and modern. Waid pulls from the past with homages and references that bring that patina of DC legacy. He has a Superman and Batman who are friends. Not begrudging partners. Not darkness and light. True friends. Waid's Robin is a Dick Grayson just starting to show some independence, just starting to sow some oats. It all works great. Throw in some of the other denizens of the DC world and you have the mix for a great book.

This new arc brings us a sort of Superman analog from a lost world. We have already seen that Supergirl in Waid's world is an established hero, no longer being mentored by Superman while still being inspired. So I like the idea of Superman perhaps getting a sidekick of his own. There is a lot of emotion in this issue, most notably from Superman who sees himself in this new kid. And I love it.

Dan Mora remains on art. I have said that the biggest compliment I can give Mora is every new character I see him draw makes me wish he drew that character's book. Put him on Supergirl. Put him on Doom Patrol. Now put him on a classic Teen Titans book. Donna hasn't looked this great in forever. But it is the emotional heft he brings to the issue that really shook me. DC better lock him up to an exclusive contract. His stuff is perfect. 

This is my favorite book on the rack these days. On to the specifics.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Was Black Orchid Supergirl? What Is The Verdict?

Over the last couple of months I have been running a series of posts looking at the pre-Crisis Black Orchid stories through the lens of a fan theory that she was Supergirl undercover.

The stories have all been reviewed here, each one dissected to see if the tale bolstered the theory or weakened it. I know this is all just a fan's musings but it sure has been a lot of fun. And whether intended or not, a strong case could be made that the Black Orchid was indeed Supergirl. 

But with the evidence all submitted, it is time for closing statements. And then the verdict is in your hands. 

So let's review some of the high points.

Monday, September 19, 2022

DC Comics December Solicits

The December DC Comics solicits came out last week and there are a few notable issues this month including the 'anniversary' Action Comics #1050 as well as the end of Dark Crisis. I also can't help but notice that there is an insane number of covers this month so folks who speculate variants. have at it!

Here is a link to all the books from Newsarama:

And now on to the books that grabbed me.

1:25 variant cover by JONBOY MEYERS
1:50 variant cover by AL BARRIONUEVO
1:75 wraparound variant cover by ALEXANDER LOZANO
1:100 variant cover by STEVE RUDE
1:250 variant cover by MICHAEL ALLRED
1:500 variant cover by ARIEL COLÓN
1:1050 inks variant cover by JIM LEE
Foil variant cover by ALEX ROSS
Team trading card variant cover by VARIOUS
DC Holiday Card variant cover by JIM LEE, SCOTT WILLIAMS, and ALEX SINCLAIR

The Dark Crisis is over, and a new dawn shines on the DCU! In the wake of cataclysmic battles with Mongul, Henry Bendix, and Pariah's Dark Army, Kal-El is back on Earth and here to stay. And the people of our planet are ready to look up, up, and away into a brighter tomorrow. Well…most of the people. Clark Kent's reunion with Lois and his son, Jon Kent, proves fleeting when strikes the ultimate attack from Superman's greatest adversary: Lex Luthor. But this time something is different…Luthor has stolen something from Clark's life, something so important that it will change the very planet itself! If you think you've seen the biggest battle between Superman and Lex Luthor—think again! This clash will rock the course of their lives forever…and it's only the beginning.

Two years' worth of Superman stories come to a head in this oversize anniversary issue with all-star talent that launches Superman and the DCU into an exciting new era!

I was a huge fan of Phillip Kennedy Johnson's Warworld run on Action so I am thrilled he is sticking around after. And now we get to see his take on Superman on Earth. I am trying to figure out what Lex could steal from Clark ... The Planet? A Superman trademark? I don't know what could change the planet itself ... The Eradicator?

What does strike me is the insane number of variant covers out there. A 1:1050?? Insanity!

Friday, September 16, 2022

Review: Superman Son Of Kal-El #15

Superman Son of Kal-El #15 came out this week, the ending of the first arc of the book. Fifteen issues.

I have had some problems with this book no doubt. The politics are pretty obvious and often ham-fisted. The social justice scenes always make the problems look easy to solve without looking at any ramifications. And the Gamorran plot hasn't been interesting enough to prop up the rest of the book. This really has been a book sort of treading water.

Finally this issue, the Gamorran threat ends. Much like the political scenes feel a little too easy, the defeat of this President Bendix and the Gamorran government seems a bit too simple. I shouldn't complain. At least this revolution didn't take more than one issue. But I wonder if writer Tom Taylor will follow up the victory by showing any fallout. Superman led a group of known murderers into a country and overthrew the government. You can't tell me that other governments are going to feel thrilled about that.

Now that doesn't mean there aren't some good moments. There always are. Maybe just maybe Jon's unique physiology has given him a new power.

As for the art, Cian Tormey continues to shine here. There is a fluidity to everything here. The action flows well. 

On to the book.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Rest In Peace Eric Jones

On September 10, I found out that Cosmic Adventures of Supergirl and Danger Club artist Eric Jones had passed away. The news came from longtime collaborator Landry Walker. 

I cannot tell you how saddened I am by this. I loved Jones' art on Cosmic and in Brave and the Bold. I loved how he changed his style to fit the universe/time in the different issues of Danger Club.

But most importantly, he just seemed to love the job. I got to interview him a couple of times and got to read articles about him and you could just feel the passion oozing out of him. 

While I never got to meet him in person, a buddy ran into him at the NYCC in 2009 and got me this commission sketch. It is cherished by me. 

I look at one of my favorite pages from Cosmic Adventures every day in my office. I got the original art from Jones back in the day. He was even nice enough to fill in the blacks on the paper so it all popped.

I so hoped I would be able to meet him in person to just thank him for the joy he brought to this comic reader. I hope he is doodling in heaven right now.

My deepest condolences to friends and family.

Here is link to his obituary.

God speed.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Review: Dark Knights Of Steel Tales From The Three Kingdoms

Dark Knights of Steel: Tales From the Three Kingdoms came out last week, a one shot of side stories set in the Dark Knights of Steel universe while that mini-series waits to restart.

I have really enjoyed the main title so when I saw this solicited, I was pretty excited. One thing Tom Taylor has done in the mini-series is quickly build a fully formed world. The main characters all feel pretty three dimensional. What I like about this one shot is it seems built only to further flesh out this world. In three stories, you get some history and some characterization which builds on what we already know. 

In the first story, you see a young Batman and the Els uncover an evil within the kingdom. But you also get to meet some new characters as interpreted in this world. In the second story, we learn the origin of the Robins but set in a fun carnival setting. And the last story shows us an important moment in Bruce Wayne's history, showing where his loyalties lie.  World building wonderful stuff.

We get a different artist on each story, each with a unique style. From loose to detailed, the styles fit their respective stories nicely. In particular, the carnival story is just gorgeous. 

I have been waiting for the next chapter of the main book to come out. This was a nice little morsel to keep me sated for a bit.

On to the book. 

Friday, September 9, 2022

Review: Dark Crisis #4

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #4 came out this week, pushing us into the back half of this universe-defining mini-series. 

I can't tell you the number of reboots, soft reboots, and resets of the DC universe I have read since the first Crisis on Infinite Earths. So, in many ways, I would love for this series to be tremendous and to set the DCU up for success in some way. Maybe this continuity will stick for a little longer than a handful of years? 

So I am rooting for this series. 

But so far I feel a little lacking. We are 4 issues in and I feel the entirety of plot that we have been given could have been done in one. Maybe two. But once again, in this issue, we have Pariah cackling about his plans, Deathstroke and his army attacking a group of super-powered beings. The heroes sitting around stroking their chins, wondering what it all means, and then a cliffhanger.

The best thing this series has done is give us pretty powerful moments which nudge the plot but don't necessarily move it. Writer Josh Williamson is leaning into the history of DC here. So we get solid character moments and good set pieces. Last issue we got the ka-pow moment of the JSA return. Here we have really good scenes between Alan Scott and Dick Grayson. We get Hal and Barry. We get a call back to Alan Moore's American Gothic. All really great. But without a plot to hang these moments on ... well that's like saying we got sprinkles and hot fudge sauce but no ice cream. 

Daniel Sampere's art is really wonderful here. He is channeling his inner Perez here giving us big action scenes with big crowds. There is a precision to the work, detailed and fine lined, which works well here.

This is a solid read for sure. For long time DC fans like me, there is enough sizzle to keep me reading. But I want some substance too, especially if this is going to re-define things again.

On to the book.

Friday, September 2, 2022

Review: Superman: Warworld Apocalypse

Superman: Warworld Apocalypse #1 came out this week, the ending of the Warworld Saga. It was brilliant. 

Writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson has given us a story arc for the ages, one were Superman inspires the masses to do good, who infuses people with hope, and who despite being depowered wins the fight. Call me impressed. I was blown away by this book. Even in the scenes where Superman isn't physically present, he is felt. While the super-family remain on Earth, the Authority is here. And each member has a moment in the sun. Remember, there are some bad folks on this team. Somehow Superman has turned them into agents of good. And there is a moment in the middle of the book where I honestly got goose bumps. That is writing.

Moreover, this whole saga reminds me of my cardinal rule. I want good stories. When this whole thing was announced, with Superman off world and Jon taking up the mantle, I was against it. I wanted Superman in Metropolis, interacting with his supporting cast. It became clear that this was going to be an incredible Superman story early on. Don't give me what I want. Give me what I need.

The art is a mash-up of artists who have been doing Action issues recently - Will Conrad, Miguel Mendonca, Brandon Peterson, and Max Raynor. Because we have seen their work throughout the arc and because they each deal with one subplot, the art sings. Everything is big and bold, like a finale should be.

Let's get into some of the specifics I loved.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Black Orchid Wednesday: DC Super-Stars Society Black Orchid Chapter

I am trying to figure out how to wrap up the Black Orchid side mission I am on. For the last several months I have been looking at pre-Crisis Black Orchid appearances through the lens of a fan theory that the Orchid was Supergirl in disguise. It has been a fun run. Ultimately, I think there needs to be a wrap-up post. But I'm not ready to finish this side mission just yet.

One of the best things about this deep dive has been hearing from other folks who are big fans of the Black Orchid. I also love hearing from people who are way more creative than me.

I already owe Isamu something because he gifted me the Black Orchid Pop Figure.

Now he sent me a high-gloss printed entry for a 70's style DC Super-Stars Society application, specifically a Black Orchid chapter.

This sings to my soul. How I wish it was real! I definitely would have sent in the four bucks and joined. (Although I probably would have joined the Supergirl chapter.)

Serious props to Isamu. Keep reading to see more fun.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Review: Justice League Vs Legion Of Super-Heroes #5

Justice League Vs. The Legion of Super-Heroes #6 came out last week, the penultimate issue of this mini-series. That means we have one more issue to wrap up this story which for the first 4 issues seems to have been treading water. Entering this issue, there is still a lot unknown. We haven't seen the two teams fight. We don't know why the Gold Lantern is so key to the plot. We don't know who or what is behind the Great Darkness. 

Penultimate issues are always tricky for me as a reader. Because I am always judging them to see if the story is set up in a way where a reasonable conclusion is probable. This book has had so much sort of non-movement and this issue still has so many unanswered questions, I just get the sense I am going to be disappointed.

Brian Michael Bendis knows his strengths for sure. There is fun dialogue here with some interesting character moments. But there isn't a lot more for me to go on. The villain is finally presented but in a way that makes me think we won't learn the how's or the why's of his machinations. 

Scotty Godlewski's art continues to shine here. Part of the fun is the aged up and aged down heroes, some dramatically so. This is definitely aided by colorist Ryan Cody bringing in the grays and bright colors. 

But in the end, I wonder if this is going to be a quickly forgotten mini, saddled by being overshadowed by Dark Crisis and the 'real' Great Darkness. It would be a shame if this incarnation of the Legion is dropped and forgotten.

On to the issue.

Friday, August 26, 2022

Review: Action Comics #1046

Action Comics #1046 came out this week meaning the Warworld Saga is drawing to a close. No big surprise, this is another great issue in what has been a fantastic long form story. From the main story pushing the Flame of Orglun plot thread forward to the back up story of a complete super family pounding Conduit, this thing just sang.

Writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson has really been weaving an incredible arc here. This issue the spotlight is completely on Superman. There is nary an Authority in site. Johnson has been world-building here so things like The Flame of Orglun to Kryptonian puzzle boxes, stuff mentioned in the past, all come round to give this a deep richness. His Superman is inspirational and heroic, a key to his success both in the rebellion and in the heart of the Necropolis. And the extended super family members all sound spot on.

And I have to add here, that Johnson laid down enough clues for me to figure out who the traitor was in the rebellion. I actually get to say 'this time I was right'!

The art on this whole arc has been stunning. And while it seems that no artist can stay longer than 4-5 issues, none of them have been a let down. Here we get 'new to me' artist Fico Ossio on the main story. There is a detailed feel to the proceedings even though it is high action in the topsy-turvy environment of the Necropolis. David Lapham brings a chunkier feeling to the back-up which also works well with Conduit. And the Steel focused cover by Lucio Parrillo is gorgeous. 

Another winning chapter! On to the details.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

DC November 2022 Solicits

The DC November 2022 solicits came out recently and there is a lot happening this month worth talking about here. 

One thing is that Dark Crisis is churning its way to an ending and so that means several one-shot tie ins to try and grab readers. It is interesting that all the main titles of DC aren't really acknowledging the reality changing event. I mean Superman is dead and returning from Warworld all now!

Anyways, here is a link to all the solicits courtesy of Newsarama:

On to the books!

Backup art by DAVID LAPHAM
Variant cover by NATHAN SZERDY 

"KAL-EL RETURNS" PART 5—THE EPIC CROSSOVER BETWEEN ACTION COMICS AND SUPERMAN: SON OF KAL-EL CONTINUES! We're only one month away from the mammoth Action Comics #1050, and tensions between the Super-Family and Lex Luthor have never been higher. Meanwhile, in the Fortress of Solitude, Steel, Supergirl, and Kong Kenan repel an alien invasion!

Superman is back. Lex is the bad guy. And the Super-family ... including New Super-Man ... are together!

I love this solicit. I love the cover!

Monday, August 22, 2022

Review: World's Finest #6

Batman Superman World's Finest #6 came out last week and was another excellent issue in this title, continuing the classic DCU feel that the first arc had.

Writer Mark Waid wraps up the one major outstanding plot thread, Robin being lost in time, in this one issue. It really is a rest issue giving Waid the opportunity to put Dick in the main role. No surprise, Waid has an excellent feel for Robin's voice. We are placed into a mystery in a circus ... what better plot and setting can you get for Dick ... and we see Robin be the star. Yes, Superman and Batman show up. But this is Robin's tale. Still, everyone gets to sparkle a little here.

Travis Moore is on art and brings a softer or more shaded style than Dan Mora did in the earlier issues. It works well for a story set even farther in the past than whatever time the main story is set in. And Moore has to stretch some legs drawing circus tents and big cats. Dan Mora is a huge talent and I can only hope he returns to the title. His work on the cover is fantastic. On first blush it looks like Robin is simply standing in the spotlight, arms out. But on closer look, the actual orientation of this upside down. Dick is plummeting from the highwire, the circus tent above. That makes the smile and confident look that much more meaningful. And having Batman on a tightrope and Superman floating above (or below depending how you're holding things) is bonus.

As this is a Supergirl blog, I'd be remiss if I didn't also showcase this variant cover by Terry Dodson showing us another World's Finest, Kara and Babs. I'm lucky that my LCS knew I'd want this and put it aside.

On to the book.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Review: Superman Son Of Kal-El #14

Superman Son of Kal-El #14 came out last week and I have to admit, it has taken me some time to muster the energy to review this book. Because, I have been having a hard time enjoying this book with its plodding pace. And this issue, while there is plot progression, has some many small things which bother me as a reader that it truly feels like a failure.

Writer Tom Taylor is trying to make this book into a social justice take on Superman. And that is fine if the story is up to snuff. But as I have said before, he seems to drop the fallout of some of the actions that are happening from that angle, never showing us what ramifications there can be. In this issue, Superman invades another country. And while Gamorra may be enslaving people, they are still a nation. Invasion never seems to be the right answer these days with sanctions being a more palatable response. But not here. To think that a hero called Superman is leading an incursion into a nation seems insane but we are there. What will every other country in the world think when they see a hero based in America taking down their government? But I doubt we will see that. It would ruin the 'feel good' part of this.

But almost worse than that is Taylor making Superman a guest star in his own book. It is clear that Taylor really wants to write a book about Jay Nakamura and the Revolutionaries (the group he introduced in Suicide Squad). So they get all the action and the best lines. Taylor jokes on line how he is confused with Tom King. Here it rings true. Jay is to Superman Son of Kal-El as Ruthye is to Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow

It is a shame because artist Cian Tormey is doing solid work here. This is a mix of action and tense dialogue scenes. But he isn't given much Superman to work with here.

There are other things in this issue that don't make much sense either. So let's get to it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Black Orchid Wednesday: Pop Figure

Last November, I stumbled across the Black Orchid story where she supposedly uses X-rays to reprogram a crime computer.  It lit a little creative fire in me to hunt down the rest of the Orchid's pre-Crisis stories and look at them through the prism of a fan theory that she was actually Supergirl in disguise.

I have really loved this side adventure as the stories are top notch, moody, mysterious, and always beautiful. It was also educational as I learned that Black Orchid only had 15 pre-Crisis appearances, one of which was in Super Friends #31, the other as a sort of humor addition to the Blue Devil Summer Fun Annual #1

Yes, since that time her presence has grown in Suicide Squad, her own Vertigo title, and Justice League Dark. But back then, and I'd say even now, she is a minor character.

So imagine my surprise when last Earth Day, April 22, Walmart released a Black Orchid Exclusive fun pop. 

I was thrilled when I heard about it. And I thought maybe just maybe someone saw my coverage here and it gave them the idea. I mean, is anyone else covering her right now?

Monday, August 15, 2022

Terrificon Recap 2: Rick Hoberg, Gerry Conway, And Others

Welcome to my second Terrificon recap!

Terrificon is a couple of weekends in my rear view mirror but I still am feeling the joy of heading to a fantastic comic convention and rubbing elbows with some creators. Last week, I talked about my great interactions with Gene Ha and Robert Venditti. Today I'll review the other notable moments.

I had two commission goals for the con: Ha and Rick Hoberg. Hoberg is mostly known for his work on Star Wars and on the Jane Foster Thor What If? issue. But for me, he is known as the artist for Supergirl's last adventure before Crisis on Infinite Earths #7. With that hook, I thought a Supergirl commission by him would be cool.

I dropped of my book with him within hours of the con opening. Unfortunately, Hoberg was unable to get it finished over the three day con. As a result, I have a half-finished commission in the book. He was very apologetic about the whole thing. He even offered to take the book back to his studio and ship it. But I have something like 60 sketches in the book. I couldn't risk that being put in the mail.

It is a bit of a shame because it sounds like he had a grand vision for this with Supergirl in space, Earth below, blocking this ray. It is also a bit of a shame because I specifically asked if he could get it done over the course of the con and he said on both Friday and Saturday that he could. Had I known that he wouldn't finish, I probably would have sought out another artist for a commission. 

Ah well, what might have been.

I did get some signatures from him including DC Comics Presents #86, the last non-Crisis Supergirl story, as well as the first two Power Girl issues from her first mini-series.

As much as the commission was something of a downer, the con had so many more ups ..

Friday, August 12, 2022

Review: DC Vs. Vampires #8

DC Vs. Vampires #8 came out last week but I am just getting to the review right now. 

This is a 12 issue series seemingly told in two halves so we are in the second issue of this leg. While the first issue put the players on the board, this issue moves them into position. We end with a clear idea of three plot lines that will be moving forward. I think that sort of set-up needs 2 issues to get to where we are and so I'm glad we didn't rush. I think it is crazy for a human army as small as remains on Earth to split itself into thirds. But the characters leading these plots all spell out their reasons well enough.

Writers James Tynion IV and Matthew Rosenberg clearly have a good grasp on these characters as everyone feels right. Ollie and Dinah are clearly in love but in disagreement. Barbara can't get Nightwing out of her mind. And Supergirl has just the right mix of inexperience and confidence, that fine line she needs to walk, that it all works.

The art by Otto Schmidt is wonderful. There is a sort of grindhouse rawness to it that works. The fight scenes are appropriately monstrous. And yet, there also romance scenes and more poignant scenes that soften and shine off the page. I love his work.

On to the book.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Black Orchid Wednesday: Phantom Stranger #32

Welcome to the latest edition of Black Orchid Wednesday, in which I look at the pre-Crisis Black Orchid stories through the lens of a fan theory that she was actually Supergirl in disguise.

This has been a wonderful and most welcome diversion here on the blog. I have always been a Black Orchid fan so covering these stories has been a revelation. I also had to track down these issues so it gave me a little side mission in comic stores and conventions.

But mostly I have loved doing this because the stories and, in particular, the art on these Orchid tales are quite good. There is a sort of Film Noir aesthetic to most of them. And the Orchid is so mysterious that each story is satisfying. It also helps that there have been lots of nuggets in these stories to bolster the theory. So many, in fact, that I am starting to wonder whether or not it was true.

Alas, there were only 15 pre-Crisis Black Orchid issues and today's book, Phantom Stranger #32, is the last one for me to cover. But I think there was some Cosmic Comic Karma going on because this issue has one of the best panels to either bolster or break down the theory. So we are ending with a bang.

I'll probably have one or two more posts on this topic to wrap it all up. 

And it would be wrong to not at least mention the amazing cover to this book by Luis Dominguez. Definitely has a Fantasia feel to it!

On to the book!

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Supergirl Through Two Different Lenses

I have been blogging about Supergirl for 14 years now, always with the intention of celebrating her as a character. There are so many aspects of her character and her history that I love. One of them is that I think, despite the tragedy in her life, she is bright and optimistic. She wants to help people. 

While I think that is the true foundation of the character, DC doesn't always agree. And over the course of my time blogging I have seen editorial fiat turn her jaded, dark, depressed, emotionally bereft, and empty. 

So when I see something which captures that quality I have to applaud.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Terrificon Recap 1: Gene Ha And Robert Venditti

The 2022 con season opened up with my favorite con, Terrificon, a couple of weekends ago. This will be the first of two recap posts as I go over interactions and purchases.

Terrificon has always been the best comic book focused convention in this area of the country and I love it. The show runner, Mitch Hallock, always brings in a great guest list of legends and current stars. And the set-up in the Mohegan Sun Casino convention hall is just perfect. The con is a short 90 minute drive from where I live so I happily attended all three days. And thanks again to Mr. Hallock for bestowing a Press Pass to this little site. Meant I had a little more money to spend on books and sigs.

There is definitely an energy to the place as you have a great comic creators, celebrities with ties to geek culture, and more vendors than I could count. I just love the feel of this convention.

The guest list was again incredible and I am always curious to see which one garners the longest lines. There were some guests that were new to me and folks I am a big fan of. So I definitely had a couple of missions in mind.

Today I'll cover two of the folks at the top of the list: Gene Ha and Robert Venditti.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Review: Dark Crisis #3

Dark Crisis #3 came out this week and was another sort of deliberately paced issue nudging us towards what is supposed to be a multiverse changing storyline. I am still a little befuddled about what exactly is going on here but I suppose there is still time for this series to turn the corner and reveal.

At the recent SDCC, writer Joshua Williamson declared Dark Crisis as the direct sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths, a crossover event I remember fondly. At this point in Crisis (let's say the middle of issue #5 percentage wise) we hadn't even learned about the Anti-Monitor. So if I can let COIE unroll at a certain pace, perhaps I should give this book the benefit of the doubt.

Still, in COIE, there was a feeling of momentum. We knew the threat. We had seen it. We knew what the Monitor was trying to do with his tuning forks. Here, I am still trying to hash that out in my head. This issue sort of helps. But not really. And the same nitpicks I had about last issue are still here in this issue. Why aren't the heroes more organized? Where is the great JL that Jon formed at the end of the first issue? 

One thing that is clear is that Williamson is up on his DC history. He seems to be rolling lots of major crossover plots into this one, making this the ultimate hash. There is obviously COIE. But there are whiffs of Blackest Night, Kingdom Come, Zero HourLegends, and even Forever Evil in this book. 

Daniel Sampere's art remains tremendous throughout. There is a nightmarish splash page near the end which could be a poster. And his fine line brings out the emotion you need for some of the more personal scenes.

We're rounding the corner here. On to the specifics.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Black Orchid Wednesday: Phantom Stranger #31

Welcome back to Black Orchid Wednesdays, where I look at the pre-Crisis appearances of Black Orchid through the lens of a fan theory that she was actually Supergirl undercover.

I am down to the last two stories I have yet to cover, the Orchid's first two stories after her initial run in Adventure Comics. Today I will cover Phantom Stranger #31. Next Wednesday I'll cover Phantom Stranger #32. After that, I think I will have one or two more posts on this topic.

I have really been enjoying reviewing these Orchid stories as they all have been artistically incredible. They have a sort of film noir aesthetic. And the added mystery of who the Orchid is and what her powers are bring in another layer of complexity. How these haven't all been bundled into a nifty little trade is strange. 

As for this story, it doesn't add much to the Supergirl theory other than a passing word here or there. It follows the same format of the other stories. Someone in the tale is Black Orchid in disguise. What this issue does hint at is a possible weakness, something that would detract from the fan theory. But we'll get there. On to the story itself. 

"The Island of Fear' brings the original Black Orchid team of writer Sheldon Mayer and artist Tony DeZuniga back together. 

The Orchid is seen flying over an uninhabited tropical island. On the shore, a desperate woman is trying to get a message in a bottle off to sea in hopes of rescue from the hated Mr. Barstoe.

As usual, DeZuniga's art is spectacular. The Orchid looks like a flower cruising in. And the woman is gorgeous. 

As for the theory, the opening text description of our hero is interesting. She appears like an avenging angel. Back in the Silver Age, Supergirl described herself as a guardian angel to the kids in her orphanage and the town of Midvale. 

We again see the text describing her strength as that of 'a regiment' but with the sweet appearance of a flower. These are pulled right from the Adventure stories.

Monday, August 1, 2022

Review: Superman Space Age Book One

Superman Space Age Book One came out last week, a big 80 pager at the hefty cost of $9.99. It is an interesting book, a sort of Elseworlds. But I don't quite know if it is my cup of tea. And at nearly $10 a book, I was hoping I would really love it.

Writer Mark Russell gives us an Elseworlds look at a DCU where the heroes ascend in the early 60's. As such, you can put it in the same category as New Frontier. But there is a different feel to this one. The Superman here isn't the Superman I know. The origin and the upbringing is starker. And as a result, there is a void in this book of love and even hope. In particular, Pa Kent is very different here, almost Snyder-esque. And that pains me. This is the first book, of course, so maybe things will get better as Superman enters the prime of his career. The best bits are seeing Lois as a reporter in the changing times of the Sixties.

Russell is a known commodity and so if you like his works this probably will work for you. I have found him a bit hit and miss and right now I am on the fence here.

One thing I can say is the book is beautiful. Mike and Laura Allred are at the top of their game here. I suppose Allred is also a known commodity. If you like his art, which I do, you'll love this book. 

As always, this is an alternate reality, an alternate Earth. So I don't have to worry about these things sticking. Because, at least after this issue, I don't know if I would be a Superman fan if this was who he is.

On to the book.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

See You At Terrificon

Hey all!

I was at Terrificon yesterday and now I'll be there this weekend!

Hope to run into some of you while there. I'll be in a Supergirl shirt of some sort, perhaps one bearing the blog banner!

Full report on the con afterwards but I'll probably be on Twitter live as well.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Review: Action Comics #1045

Action Comics #1045 came out last week and was another superb chapter in the Warworld Saga. 

I have been very impressed with what writer Philip Kennedy Johnson has been doing in this arc. We are seeing Superman at his most heroic, at his most inspirational, and at his most desperate. Superman is depowered, leading a rebellion, ad trying to free the Phaelosians. Throw in a growing background history of Warworld and the Monguls as well as a heavy dash of Fourth World Kirbyisms, and you have a great story. 

After months of reading Superman and his rebels gaining ground on Mongul, this issue turns the tables. Things suddenly don't look good. This leads to a splintering of a team, never good. We know this story is winding up so no surprise the tension is rising.

Even the back-up feature 'A World Without Clark Kent' is solid bringing in old time villain Conduit (never thought I'd say that) while still tying into the Warworld story. We're back on Earth and the whole Super-family gets involved.

The art for the main arc is William Conrad who brings a sort of soft approach to proceedings. Some of his best scenes are conversations as the stress in the discussions is palpable. David Lapham does the back-up bring his unique style there. 

This book is great. I have loved every issue.

On to the specifics.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

DC Comics October Solicits

The DC solicits for October 2022 have come out and it looks like a fairly starightforward month with one interesting addition to the Dark Crisis mix. Here is a link to all the books:

Perhaps the thing that caught my eye the most this month is the sheer number of variant covers that are out there (I don't list them all in this post) and how many of them are very eye catching. I don't know if the ones I like best are the ultra-rare, expensive ones or not. But there is some very pretty are out there.

Also, this month marks the return of Clark to Earth which means the super-books are due for a shake-up. Will Jon continue to wear the mantle of Superman? Will there be two Super-men on the planet? I can't wait to see.

On to the books.

Backup art by DAVID LAPHAM
Variant cover by DAVID LAPHAM

"KAL-EL RETURNS" PART 3—THE EPIC CROSSOVER BETWEEN ACTION COMICS AND SUPERMAN: SON OF KAL-EL CONTINUES! Superman, Supergirl, Steel, and the rest of the Super-Family have brought the Phaelosian refugees to the Fortress of Solitude, but before they can show the newcomers the ropes of heroics on planet Earth, a sneak attack from above turns the Arctic tundra into a war zone! Plus, the march toward Action Comics #1050 continues when Lex Luthor presents a disturbing deal to Metallo…

The Phaelosians on Earth ... hmmmm. Perhaps they'll be stuffed in Kandor?

I do like that all the Super-family is mentioned in the books. Glad Kara is still in the mix.

And love this David Lapham variant cover. Perfect.

Written by TOM TAYLOR
Variant cover by ARIEL COLÓN

Father and son are at last reunited after the Warworld Saga ripped them apart…and you don't need to have super-senses to know that this is a reunion well earned. As planet Earth becomes reacquainted with the rise of two Supermen, one man stands in their way. Lex Luthor sets his deadly machinations in motion as the march toward Action Comics #1050 continues!

It will be interesting to read these issues. I hope they concentrate on the Clark/Jon dynamic as each discusses what they have been through in their time apart and how they have grown.

No mention of Jay or Gamorra! 

And this cover reminds me a little of Action Comics #285!

Written by MARK WAID
Art and cover by DAN MORA
Variant cover by TAURIN CLARKE

"RECKLESS YOUTH" continues as Superman and Batman struggle to mentor the new Boy Thunder! The Key has drawn the World's Finest team into an impossible dilemma unlike any they've ever faced when the entire city of Metropolis goes into a deadly lockdown!

Definitely a 'Batman' feel to this cover with Superman and Boy Thunder jumping off a roof like the Dynamic Duo. Nice way to add to the feel of the story. 

At least so far the solicits make it sound like this is going to truly be just the World's Finest and not included as many guest stars as the first arc did.

Variant cover by NATHAN SZERDY
1:25 variant cover by JOHN GIANG

The war for Earth takes a decisive turn as the heroes prepare to strike back! Can Supergirl and her team in Australia escape to space? Will the Birds of Prey's infiltration of Gotham City go unnoticed by the Vampire King? Can Green Arrow save the human cattle from the Blood Farm? The shocking answers await!

This series is turning the corner to its finale. Sounds like all three plot lines are still moving forward separately here which is interesting. 

Nice Supergirl cover here.

Variant cover by IVAN REIS and DANNY MIKI

After the shocking events of the last issue, Pariah has won. And now his Dark Army is poised for the invasion of our world. It's up to the Titans to rally the remaining heroes to defeat Deathstroke's ever-growing forces and avert total destruction! An epic war starts on the steps of the Hall of Justice, and only a miracle could help the heroes now.
But all hope is not lost, as the worlds without a Justice League have begun to loosen their grip…but can the heroes return to Earth if it means one member of the Justice League could be lost forever?

This book is also in the final stretch. Not much plot is given away here. I hope by now we know Pariah's plans and how it will be accomplished. It also seems like this will be an all out brawl issue.

Glad the JLA is returning. 
And nice homage cover to Identity Crisis here.
Art by DANIEL BAYLISS and others
Variant cover by FELIPE MASSAFERA
1:25 foil variant cover by STEVE BEACH

During the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, Swamp Thing encountered and formed a truce with the Great Darkness, but this ancient force has been awakened by Pariah and now its influence is felt across the Multiverse. Now the Avatar of the Green must work together with new allies to investigate how far it's spread and why it would work with Pariah. If they want to stop the Great Darkness from swallowing the Green, they need some extra help…ENTER: SUPER SWAMP THING.

And then this little gem.

I remember DC Comics Presents #85 very well where Swamp Thing has to bring Superman back from a fungal infection, a sort of Scarlet Jungle fever. I also remember the American Gothic storyline which ran concurrently with Crisis and brought about the 'Great Darkness' which is supposedly behind this Dark Crisis. This issue feels like a little bit of a mix. We see Swamp Thing has to see how far things have spread (much like his walk through horror in Gothic) and he calls on Superman for help. 

I look forward to this issue a lot. And love this variant cover high lighting some of the darkness in the Trinity - Kara's death in COIE, Jason Todd being killed, and Diana killing Max Lord. One thing Dark Crisis is doing is hoisting up DC Continuity.

So what do you think? Did I miss anything?

Monday, July 25, 2022

Review: Justice League Vs. The Legion Of Super-Heroes #4

Justice League Vs. The Legion Of Super-Heroes #4 came out last week. 

But did it?

I have so desperately wanted to love this book. I am craving a Legion book to love. 

Not much happened this issue. Yes, this is a Brian Michael Bendis book. There are good character moments and snappy dialogue. But the big ending of last issue was to split the teams up and scatter them through time. This issue brings them back together with a sort of deus ex machina. 

We still don't know what The Great Darkness is. We still don't know any of the back story of Gold Lantern. I still don't really know what's going on. There are two issues left!!

Nothing wrong with the art. Scotty Godlewski brings great flair to the proceedings. Nice panels and page progression. He draws aliens well. 

This felt like an hors d'oeuvre when I am ready for a three course feast!!!

Maybe it'll end up fine. But I really felt this was a place holder. A month when nothing really happened.

On to the book.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Review: World's Finest #5

Allow me a little space for some personal reflection. 

When I was a kid, I read comics for escapism and education and ethics. I learned a lot by what heroes did and didn't do. It was a fantastical land they lived in. And I learned a lot of new and interesting words. Hey there 'ablution'!

When I was a teenager and in college, I was a bit angsty. So while super-hero comics were still present, I read much more of the grim and gritty, the weird and Vertiginous, the inspection of the human condition and it's mores.

When I was in medical school and afterwards and when adult life was suddenly thrust on the eternal student, I looked to comics for escapism and ethics again. I was already beaten down by the real world's grimness.  I basically wanted to become 12 year old Anj again, even if it was for the brief time I was reading comics. I wanted to head back into a fantastical world where heroes did what they were supposed to do.

Alas, that niche isn't popular now. Most comics are explorations of gray, a duller world where villains have sympathetic back stories and heroes have feet of clay. It isn't always pretty.

So why this rambling?

Because the current World's Finest book, and this current issue World's Finest #5, is that perfect book. I read what Mark Waid and Dan Mora are doing and suddenly I am that kid again, sitting under a tree in the back yard of the beach house we went to, pulling a folded comic out of my back pocket and losing myself. I can give no higher praise.

I will add that this is probably the best Supergirl book on the rack in the last 3 years or so. Mark Waid just gets Kara. This books sing to me for that reason too.

Add to that Mora's near perfect art as he flies us through the DCU and you have a winner. 

Everyone should be reading this book. Everyone. Because this is what comics are supposed to be.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Review: Dark Crisis World Without A Justice League Superman

Dark Crisis World Without A Justice League Superman #1 came out last week and might very well have the longest title of any comic I own. 

I was really on the fence if I was going to buy this one. We are two months into Dark Crisis itself. That book has been a little bit of a cipher with plenty of moments but an unclear plot. Was I ready to put down $4.99 for a crossover issue? 

Moreover, it is written by Tom King who I think wrote a character assassination piece about Supergirl in the recent past. Who according to others has done a good job on dismantling Guy and Ice from the JLI. Who also has radically changed Adam Strange, Mister Miracle, and the Vision, all in brutally depressing ways? What would he do to Jon?

I have to admit I sort of like what King did here. Of course, this is Tom King so there is trauma and cursing. A B-list character is mistreated, going against their history. But Kong does show us one timeline (or one story) where Jon was not aged up quickly. We get to peek at Jon's adolescence. We see him grow, and rebel, and become his own person. And as a parent of young adults myself, seeing how proud Superman is in the end rang true. I also like that King gives us a Jon who doesn't think Superman is doing enough (like in the current book) but turns that a little on its head. 

The art is by Chris Burnham, whose work I have always enjoyed. The work nudges up against that sort of beautiful/grotesque style that works well, especially in the more gruesome battle scenes. I feel like Burnham is a wonderful mix of Shawn McManus and Frank Quitely. 

On to the book.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Review: Superman Son Of Kal-El #13

Superman Son Of Kal-El #13 came out this week, the debut of the Supergirl TV show character Dreamer into the comic DCU. Outside of that event, the issue seemed to push the Gamorra storyline closer to the finish line even if very little actually happened in this issue.

Tom Taylor teamed up with Dreamer actress Nicole Maines to write the story. We get a fair bit of information on Dreamer to catch up those who didn't watch the Supergirl show (and shame on you if you didn't). As in the show, she is going to have almost too big a power set. But maybe that will be controlled a bit more here. I do like that she seems a bit of a novice here. She isn't the more accomplished Dreamer from the show. She's a newbie. That should be fun to explore.

Using her powers, we get to see the threat that President Bendix is preparing as the Gamorran Rising is just about to crest. As you'll see, Bendix seems to be more organized in the future, unlike the odd random attacks he has done in the past.

Clayton Henry is on art and does a very good job here. Much of the issue is people talking but the expressive work and body language helps tell the story more than the words. And the action we do get is brutal. 

I am growing a bit fatigued of this whole storyline so I am hoping this issue is a bit of an accelerator to bring us to the end. On to the book.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Black Orchid Wednesday: Bullet Review Superman #149

Welcome to Black Orchid Wednesdays where I have been exploring the fan rumor in the 70s that Black Orchid was actually Supergirl. I am nearing the end of this side mission with but 2 more pre-Crisis Black Orchid stories to cover. Alas, while I have purchased said issues, I don't have them yet. 

But I have been a bit more creative recently on this little musing. At first I was looking at ways that the Black Orchid stories could have been Supergirl. But more recently, I have been more intrigued in looking at Supergirl stories from the Silver and Bronze Age that seem to fit Black Orchid's tales.

And so I bring you one of the craziest imaginary tales of all time, Superman #149 and 'The Death of Superman'. Written by Superman creator Jerry Siegel with art by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye, this has one of the most brutal scenes in comics I have read. 

It also has one of my favorite Supergirl moments in it, at the very end.

And, fitting for this, it has a moment that feels like a Black Orchid moment. I will also reiterate that this is an Imaginary Story meaning that applying the events here to an 'in continuity' fan rumor could be considered troublesome. 

I am surprised that 14 years into this blog that I had not covered this story yet. But here we are. This will be a bullet review with brief coverage because this story deserves to be read in full. I'll hit the high points I promise.

And a word of warning, my copy of this is from 'The Greatest Superman Story Ever Told' trade paperback, which has a very tight binding making scans less than perfect. Apologies up front!

On to the tale.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Review: DC Vs. Vampires #7

Anj reading 'DC vs Vampires'.

A sentence I never thought would be true.

To be honest, the whole zombie craze came and went without me ever getting interested. So books like this never really grab my attention. And when I saw that most of the super-heroes I care about  were turned into vampires, I actively looked away. 

And that is crazy because the creative team of writers James Tynion IV and Matthew Rosenberg as well as artist Otto Schmidt are all creators I trust. These are people I usually follow to projects.

So what changed?

Well, the solicits did their job, playing up the role Supergirl is going to have in the second half of this miniseries. And it sported Kara on the cover. With now Supergirl solo title on the market, I am looking for content. So why not give it a shot.

This was a pretty fun issue. Tynion and Rosenberg must have known this would be  jumping on point because they give us a quick and efficient recap. We don't need all the details, just the broad strokes. The world is plunged in darkness, overrun by heroes and villains turned into vampires and running the world like their own little blood farm. We also get a solid action piece where we see just how powerful the threat is as a bunch of c-listers get taken out pretty easily. But best of all, we get to see how important Supergirl is ... not only to the physical fight against the vamps but to the morale of the world. Incredible. It is an excellent opening chapter.

Schmidt's art is wonderul. It somehow walks the fine line. It is minimalist but complicated. His line work is fine and his expressive work is fantastic. The Supergirl in the book is haggard and depowered. I look forward to seeing her drawn by him when she is restored.

Good Supergirl stuff!

So it looks like I'm in for this mini-series back end. On to the issue.

Friday, July 8, 2022

Review: Dark Crisis #2

Dark Crisis #2 came out this week and was a very action-heavy issue, amping up the feeling of dread that the heroes on Earth-0 are probably feeling. The Justice League is gone. The villains are going on the offensive. And people are getting hurt.

All of this leans heavily into Crisis on Infinite Earths with Pariah being the straw that stirs the proverbial drink here. Pariah is pulling the strings from afar, sowing the seeds of chaos in hopes of igniting another Crisis. He is in the mind of Deathstroke who is acting as a sort of field general for the villains on Earth. But who or what is controlling Pariah?

It shows how impatient I have become as a comic reader these days that here we are 2 issues into this series and I am already tapping my foot wanting to know why it all is happening and what the Great Darkness is hoping to get out of all this. A younger Anj read the first three issues of COIE back in the mid-80s without really knowing what the hell was going on, just feeling the increasing dread of those Earths. I didn't know the villain or his plan then either. But I rolled with it. 

Perhaps it is because this is the sort of umpteenth Crisis I have read? Perhaps it is because I have seen so many company crossovers peter out without a satisfying conclusion? 

But I shouldn't let my impatience take away from this issue. We get plot progression. Writer Joshua Williamson is cracking open all the Who's Who and bringing back characters that haven't been seen in a while and making me miss them or like them again. We get to see a heroic Hal Jordan and a solid looking GLC. If you like the wide DCU like I do, you will like this issue.

Add to that Daniel Sampere's great art. The action sequences and fights are brutal and palpable. The page layouts and panel progression are cinematic. The art jumps off the page. 

On to the particulars.