Monday, May 23, 2022

Review: World's Finest #3

World's Finest #3 came out last week and was just another wonderful issue of  super-hero action and character moments. I don't know if I'll be able to easily explain why this works but it just feels like all the fun and insane brilliance of the Bronze Age but polished up for the current world. 

Writer Mark Waid has such easy grasp of character voices. His Superman and Batman are best buddies and trust each other. His Robin  is young and brash. His Supergirl is intelligent and pro-active. But this is also some sort of tour through the DCU. We get the Doom Patrol and their old enemy General Immortus. We have a very classic Wonder Woman battling Dr. Alchemy. The Flash is battling the Mirror Master. And we get a couple of surprises at the end. While Batman and Superman are the hub of the book, this truly is a DC adventure. 

Dan Mora's art is just as important to the story. Every page is beautiful. I love the fact that we get to see Mora's take on so much of the DCU. With every guest star I keep thinking 'DC should put Mora on that book when he leaves World's Finest. I especially love his take on Supergirl and her Crisis-era costume. She looks like a young, healthy, determined, athletic woman. His action pages also sizzle. 

The Devil Nezha story takes a nice bump forward with us learning how the House of Ji defeated him in the past. Given the scope of Waid's writing, I think there is a clue there. Let the guesses start!

On to the book.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Review: Superman Son of Kal-El #11

Superman Son of Kal-El #11 came out last week and was a very good issue in a title that has been sort of hit and miss for me at times. I really feel like this issue sort of encapsulated all of the good things that I have liked about this book into one crisp tale. This felt like a 'done in one' even though it clearly is a chapter in the longer Gamorran arc. And it places Jon in the spotlight as the new Superman, complete with Superman like ethics. Well ... except for one piece which I hope will be addressed moving forward.

Writer Tom Taylor has seemed to make a name for himself by writing 'feel good' heroes who are as ready to fight social injustices as they are to trade haymakers with super-villains. This book and Nightwing both stand out for their progressive stances. He also has a knack of bringing warmth to these characters who for a while have been muddled in the grim and gritty. And perhaps best of all, he definitely leans into the past, building on continuity as he forges forward. This is a Jon who was involved in some tragedy as a kid, who lived in volcano being tortured for years, and is still trying to live up to the ideals of his father. All of that makes him who he is now. Add to that some great new twists involving Pa Kent and Alfred and this whole book really crackled from a character point of view.

Artist Cian Tormey brings solid work here. There isn't anything flashy. But the scenes roll out nicely. Anyone who can bring authenticity to a heart to heart between Batman and Pa Kent is doing the work. Like Taylor, I think it is the character work that sings here as body language and expression really amp up the script.

So bring on more issues like this please!

On to the specifics.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

DC Round Robin 2: Superboy

A tip of the hat to blog friend Mart Gray for telling me about the Superboy The Man of Tomorrow entry into the DC Round Robin tournament. I haven't been following this particular promotion too closely. What I know is that readers vote for which premise seems more promising until finally one is given the cherished 'go ahead' to be produced.

Mart told me I should check out the Superboy entry and I am glad he did. And as a Conner fan, I am glad this one survived and advances.

Times have been a bit tough on Conner. He was sort of shunted off into limbo for a while. (The New 52 did few people favors.) He finally is brought back into the fold by Brian Michael Bendis in the Young Justice Reboot only to have the book get canceled. And with Jon now being Superman Son of Kal-El for the world, there isn't much room for Conner in the DCU. As a fan, I wondered about what the next steps would be or if this Superboy would again fade away into limbo.

Incredibly, that lack of 'space' seems to be the theme of the book. Writer Kenny Porter and artist Jahnoy Lindsay (both new to me) wonder what it is like to be a member in an over-stuffed super family. Maybe the answer is to head into space?

I find a couple of things interesting to comment on before I head into the story proper. One, I like the homage cover here to one of the first images of Superboy from way back in Reign of the Supermen. The title Superboy Man of Tomorrow seems to be akin to the Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow mini which just concluded, another story where a super-family member went into space. But unlike Kara's sob story in her book where she left out of depression and grief, Conner is leaving looking for adventure. Lastly, this take has some resonance with prior Supergirl stories where she wondered who she was in the great scheme of things. All interesting.

On to the book.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Review: Justice League Vs Legion Of Super-Heroes #3

At long last, Justice League Vs The Legion of Super-Heroes #3 came out. It has been 2 solid months since the second issue. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will kill momentum like delays. And for someone starving for Legion material, 2 months felt like 6.

What makes matters even wonkier is that DC continuity right now is pretty soft. Remember when I thought having Doomsday Clock, Snyder's Metal, and Event Leviathan all overlapping was weird? That was a walk in the park. Right now Superman is dead, on Warworld, and in the 31st century ... all at once. It is this sort of overlapping event phenomenon that kind of cheapens or lessens each of them. We have this Great Darkness and THE GREAT DARKNESS in Dark Crisis. Confusing.

All right, enough griping. What about this issue.

Well we are halfway through this mini-series and I don't know what's going on. The 'Vs' confuses me in the title although in the end I think the Gold Lantern is going to be a dupe for whoever the bad guys are. That will probably lead to some conflict.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis brings his usual snappy patter to the book. It reads very well with some humor and some solid character moments. In a riff on classic JLA team-ups he has split the teams into small groups. But I just don't know if the plot has advanced enough here for the halfway point. Will this come to a solid conclusion or just sort of peter out?

Scotty Godlewski really is singing here. I love his take on these Legionnaires. And his expressive work and body language is nuanced. You can read the feelings here without them being exaggerated. 

On to the book.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Review: World Of Krypton #6

Work and life in general has been hectic here so I am just catching up on comic reviews. 

Today I'll look at World of Krypton #6 by Robert Venditti and Michael Avon Oeming, an issue which came out 2 weeks ago.

This is the last issue of this mini-series. And let's admit it, as readers we all knew where this was going. There ends with the destruction of Krypton. That's the origin.

And yet, the creators do something interesting, at least for me. I assumed we would be ending this mini-series with a classic shot of Jor-El and Lara looking up as a rocket streaks away from the exploding planet. After all, I just said that is where this story ends. Instead, Venditti ends this mini-series a bit more open-ended. Yes, the planet will explode. But there is still some time left, some stories unsaid. As I have enjoyed this mini-series, it left me clamoring a bit for more. Always a good sign.

I also think that Venditti has done a good job mining the past, picking up pieces of the established history that work, and then crafting this fresh take on things. The mirrors into our own current world are there, no doubt, but not presented in a preachy way. This is more a parable of frankly where we are in the world today. 

Oeming's art is an acquired taste but it has grown on me throughout the series. The use of electronic panel borders still works for me, giving this a feel for some discovered found footage file by Kal on Earth. His sassy young Kara continues to amaze me. And the action sequences, and there are many in this violent filled finale, flow well with palpable strikes.

I am sad to see this series end and wouldn't mind seeing these creators hook up again. Maybe for an old-fashioned 'Tales from Krypton' back-up in one of the Superman books?

I'd be remiss if I didn't include a shot of the variant cover by Cat Staggs showing Kara holding baby Kal. I assumed we would see this sort of thing in the series as well but we just never get there.

I will point out that the outfit Kara is wearing is Staggs' design for the Smallville book. Just a great variant.

On to the story specifics.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Black Orchid Review: Adventure Comics #428

With Supergirl nowhere to be found on the shelves post-Tom King's brutal portrayal in Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow, I have needed to fill some blog space with other content. Recently, I have been looking at Black Orchid, specifically through the lens of the 70's theory that she might be Supergirl in diguise. 

At the recent Wicked Comic Con, I was able to finally purchase Adventure Comics #428, the first appearance of the Orchid. I was pretty pleased to find a copy in decent condition and at a decent price! This has been a smallish grail book for me for a while so I am happy to be able to check that box. 

So what better place to go in my mission than this very issue and see if the clues are there from the beginning. As always, I am trying to fit Kara into the flowery suit so speculations will run wild. So buckle up. And remember, when this book came out, Supergirl volume 1 was on the shelves and half way through it's 10 issue run. So it makes the thought that the Orchid was Supergirl initially less likely.

Let's start with the great cover by Bob Oksner showing the Black Orchid. in the light of the full moon, looming over a dark window filled with gun-toting thugs. Oksner knew layouts and this one is beautiful. It showcases this innovative costume nicely. But there is no way to glean from this image just how powerful the Black Orchid is. This looks more like a Black Widow cover.

Still, it does catch the eye. And I love the font for her name.

'Black Orchid' was written by Sheldon Mayer with art by Tony DeZuniga. This is a moody story for Mayer I feel. But it is right in DeZuniga's wheelhouse. The women are gorgeous. The Noir-ish setting is grungy beautiful. And if looking for some links to the Supergirl theory, It is interesting that DeZuniga did his share of Supergirl stories from the prior Adventure run for the Girl of Steel. Hmm ...

The story opens with this fantastic panel showing her in her glory, flying around an old creepy mansion bathed in the full moon. I love the almost lack of significant detailing on her costume here, giving the Orchid almost a ghostly feel. 

The caption box is actually a summary of the first half of the story.

But 'impossible strength' ... hmmm.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

The Passing Of George Perez

George Perez passed away last week, another legend lost. My condolences to his family, his friends, and his many fans.

When the news broke, my social media timelines were flooded with unbelievable words of respect and love. It was unbelievable and unprecedented. Perez was universally beloved and rightfully so. 

I had the honor of meeting Mr. Perez at the Boston Comic Con in 2013. He was incredibly nice and personable. There was a huge line waiting to see him but he took the time to chat with fans. He was even doing quick sketches for an incredibly reasonable price. I got this sketch from him there.

I told him I was a long time fan. I talked to him about how I loved his art and the times he drew Supergirl. And I talked about how that while I didn't agree with Supergirl needing to die in Crisis that I couldn't have asked for a better story or art for her to leave the DCU in.

He took the time to talk with me and then did the same for everyone behind me. He was one of a kind.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Black Orchid Review: Phantom Stranger #41

 I have been reviewing the Black Orchid's Bronze Age adventures with a focus on the fan theory that she was actually Supergirl. Today I will be reviewing Phantom Stranger #41, the last part of a 4 part adventure. 

There is a lot for me to like about this story. There is a lot to mine here if you like the Supergirl fan theory. This story directly sets up the Black Orchid guest spot in Super Friends #31. The art work by Fred Carrillo is beautiful and detailed. And it is a fun little adventure spotlighting all the things that made this Orchid so mysterious and intriguing.

This was her last adventure in Phantom Stranger because the book got canceled after this. And after the Super Friends issue, her next adventure in the DCU was actually a quick appearance in Crisis on Infinite Earths #5!

Now I don't think this is the end of my reviews of the Orchid. I still have her original Adventure Comics run to go through.  But let's dive into this!

'Will The Real Black Orchid Please Stand Up?" was written by Michael Fleisher with script continuity by Russell Carley. 

As we saw last issue, a gang of highly intelligent and capable criminal masterminds have decided to imitate Black Orchid to commit their robberies. They even have high-tech gear to mimic the Orchid's powers. 

To rip off the gold bullion in the World Bank, they trick Ronne Kuhn, daughter of the Bank's president, to turn over the plans of the safe. Without blinking, they turn on her, tying her to the vault door loaded with explosives.

This is a very fetching opening panel by Carrillo.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Review: Dark Knights Of Steel #6

Dark Knights of Steel #6 came out last week, marking the halfway point of the maxi-series. And this one ended, as much of this series has ended with a great cliffhanger.

I have been very impressed by this series so far. Sure, this is just another Elseworlds take on the DCU, this time set in medieval times. But writer Tom Taylor has kept his foot on the gas the entire time. Things happen pretty fast in this book, with deaths, plot twists, and declarations of war happening in each issue. Add to that solid characterization and new takes on classic properties. 

In this issue, the fire is stoked for an all out war between the House of El and the House of Lightning. But more and more it is becoming obvious that there is another power lurking in the background, manipulating these two kingdoms into battle. I am still putting my bets on White Martians. We'll see if I'm right. At the very least, it looks like Zala Jor-El, the Supergirl analogue, is probably not a killer. 

Yasmine Putri is again on art and everything is just gorgeous. There isn't necessarily a heavy action issue. Instead Putri gets to show off her expressive work here. The looks of shock, horror, and anger throughout the book are spot on. So much of the story is told by the art here, not words.

And this Supergirl-centric Joshua Middleton cover is just gorgeous.

I am having a ton of fun with this book. It hasn't missed yet. 

On to the details.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Review: Action Comics #1042

Action Comics #1042 came out this week and was another crackling chapter in the Warworld Saga. The plot gets pushed forward. Some crumbs for future plot points are revealed. And most importantly, Superman acts like Superman, defending the helpless, inspiring, and showing how his humble upbringing can lead to the being a hero. 

Anyone who thinks Superman and his ethics and morals and passion for justice is 'boring' needs to read this arc. They will never think it again. That is about the highest praise I can give.

Writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson continues to show us a revolutionary Superman, fighting Mongul on Warworld and calling to arms the slaves and barbarians who have been slowly indoctrinated into this culture. I love the dialogue has Superman saying, showing how much he cares. And, as usual, there is some excellent Lois happening here. She is not forgotten.

Last issue took place over months, such that I thought it was almost an overview of Midnighter's role throughout the story. I was wrong. Johnson has rolled us through those months. Suddenly this story feels like a sprint!

 The art by Riccardo Federici is this wonderful sketchy work which evokes John Carter Warlord of Mars and Gladiator. This issue is a startlingly beautiful mix of monsters and mayhem. Beautiful mayhem! 

This book is one of the best on the racks right now. 

On to some particulars.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Black Orchid Review: Phantom Stranger #40

I am continuing to work my way through the pre-Crisis Black Orchid Bronze Age adventures, looking at them through the lens of the fan theory that the Orchid was Supergirl in disguise. Certainly this has been a fun little side adventure and the stories have made the theory a bit more plausible. 

Last week, I reviewed the second part of a four part Black Orchid epic in the pages of Phantom Stranger. This was her last solo adventure before the Crisis re-wrote everything. 

Today I take a look at the penultimate chapter in Phantom Stranger #40

If there is one thing that I find fascinating about this story is that Black Orchid herself didn't appear in the first 2 parts. Yes, there are plenty of people dressed as the Orchid. But as far as we know, we haven't seen the real hero. Last issue would have been an interesting take on her origin, that many people act as the Orchid to stretch her legend far and wide. But revealing the women saying they were all Orchids as villains at the end of last issue made it less compelling.

Certainly, defining the Orchid's origin as a team would have squelched the Kara rumor completely. But the mystery of the Orchid was probably part of her appeal.

'The Black Orchid Conspiracy' was written by Michael Fleisher with continuity by Russell Carley. Art was by Fred Carrillo. 

We start out with 4 of the criminal masterminds enjoying a celebratory drink, knowing they have duped Ronne Kuhn into being their patsy for some criminal scheme.

One thing you cannot complain about with this story is the art. Carrillo brings such elan to the proceedings. The decorations in this place are so detailed. From the brickwork to the precise end table carving, this is great work. And the woman are all so expressive. 

Monday, April 25, 2022

George Perez Tribute

Earlier this year, George Perez posted that he was dealing with pancreatic cancer. The outpouring of love and admiration for the artist was staggering and appropriate. Perez is a legend in the field. He not only is one of the best artists in the medium, not only been involved with some of the most memorable stories and properties in the business, but he also is just a sweet and kind soul. 

Last week, DC unveiled a celebration they were planning for Perez. In June, the above image will be in all the company's books. Here is the link:

I was floored when I first saw the image. To get so many tremendous artists together in one piece shows you the respect that Perez has. Pieces like this always surprise me. Who knew I needed and Adam Hughes' Harbinger this much! Who knew I needed a Nicola Scott Kole!


Of course Perez drew Crisis on Infinite Earths, the ground-breaking series in which Supergirl died. Of course she would be here, in that era's costume. And there she is!

Friday, April 22, 2022

Review: World's Finest #2

World's Finest #2 came out this week and was another knockout winner of an issue. This issue, much like the last, feels like a love letter to the DCU. It is just about perfect.

I shouldn't be surprised that writer Mark Waid can capture, almost effortlessly, the voices of these characters. And by placing these stories somewhen in the past (and maybe even somewhere in the continuity of the DCU), he has a sort of carte blanche to go classic with these characters while still infusing some of their more current mores.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the issue is his wonderful characterization of Supergirl. I remember talking to Waid about Kara at a Boston Comic Con back in the day. I mentioned how his Supergirl in the Legion was so different from that time's 'current continuity' of Supergirl, the angst-riddled angry monster in the Loeb and then Kelly issues. It was clear in hearing him talk about picturing her smiling and flying that he and I shared an outlook. 

Here we have Waid doing it again. This Kara is there for her cousin, eager to help, capable and intelligent. Once more so different from the 'current continuity' Kara, the emotionally-devastated, angry monster of Tom King.

Seriously, and probably no surprise, the Supergirl stuff was my favorite part of the issue. But trust me, the rest of the issue is tremendous as you'll see. And it is clear that Waid is going to use our World's Finest duo as a straw to stir around the drink of the whole DCU.

Add to it the unbelievable beauty of Dan Mora's art and you have a winner. Last issue I said I wanted Mora on a Doom Patrol book after seeing his take on the classic team. After this issue, I want to see him on a monthly Supergirl book. His art sings, from the medical drama of the first scene to the brutal flashbacks of Devil Nehza origin, it all just leaps off the page.

Buy this book. 

On to the specifics.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Black Orchid Review: Phantom Stranger #39

While the core of this site will always be Supergirl and the super-family, I do like my side missions. The deep dive into the history of Mark Shaw for instance. Or my latest little excursion, reviewing Bronze Age Black Orchid stories and holding them up to the fan theory that she was Supergirl.

Today I'll review Phantom Stranger #39, the second installment in a four part Black Orchid story that starts out like an origin tale! 

The story is scripted by Michael Fleisher with 'script continuity' by Russell Carley.  I am not sure what that job entails. Art is by Fred Carrillo bringing some 70's Alex Nino vibes again to the proceedings.

This is a standard middle chapter pushing the plot towards. As noted before, this ties into the Super Friends issue that Black Orchid guest starred in. E. Nelson Bridwell sure was the continuity wonk! 

While this chapter doesn't necessarily add anything to the Supergirl theory, it leads into that Super Friends issue which directly dealt with it and does add to the Orchid mythos. So off we go!

'The Legion of the Black Orchid'  starts with race car driver , stunt pilot, and member of the international jet set Ronne Kuhn in her home dressed as Black Orchid. We just met her last issue.

She is surprised when another Black Orchid flies into the house. 

Kuhn says she admired the Orchid's adventures and so made the suit on a lark. 

The other Black Orchid says she has something to show Ronne, scoops up the driver, and flies off to a remote headquarters. Is this flying Orchid our hero?

Monday, April 18, 2022

DC Comics July Solicits

The July 2022 solicits for DC Comics came out last week. Here is a link to the entire list:

This is another month chock full of Batman books so no big surprise there. There are a couple of Supergirl sightings, but both in books that aren't necessarily in current continuity. But both look like things to look forward to.

I don't know if I quite understand what Dark Crisis is about but I trust Joshua Williamson so I will at least give it a shot. And there is a new Superman prestige format book coming out that looks great. I am glad that DC continues to give Superman some life beyond the two monthly books. 

On to the books.

Written by MARK WAID
Art and cover by DAN MORA
Variant cover by FRANCESCO MATTINA

THE FIRST ARC OF WORLD'S FINEST CONCLUDES WITH A SHOCKING FORESHADOWING OF DCU EVENTS TO COME! The sinister machinations of the devil Nezha have run ragged the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight ever since he made his first terrifying debut in Detective Comics #1050…but what secrets does this villain hold for the future of the DCU? Clues abound for the next big DCU series in this climactic final chapter to the first arc of World's Finest!

I am glad I didn't make too hard a guess of the horned villain in the first issue. A new villain named Nezha. But a promise of clues for the next big DC series? Color me intrigued. I just love that everyone is smiling on the cover. 

Love that Kara is on the cover here. I suppose I can hope that the new series is a Supergirl book by Waid but given how he denied that exact thing on a recent podcast makes it unlikely.

And now the rest of the books that caught my eye.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Review: Superman Son Of Kal-El #10

Superman Son of Kal-El #10 came out this week and was a solid issue, pushing the overall storyline ahead a touch while giving us some key character moments that raised this up a notch or two.

Writer Tom Taylor is giving us this socially conscious, socially progressive book, giving us a 'new' Superman. At times I have worried that the issues raised are treated superficially. I have said that Jon's solutions often seem too easy, with the book leaving the scene before anything real messy outside of the message gets delivered. 

But the strength of the book has always been the character moments. That is Taylor's forte. And this issue has several great ones, including a splash page that has been appropriately lauded on the internet already. Taylor's Lois is strong and unflappable. And Jon is growing.

I will say the last page's cliffhanger had me cheering, even if for personal reasons.

The art is by Cian Tormey, the new regular penciller. His work with Lois in the issue is powerful. There isn't much action in this issue but the rescue scene in Ireland is well paced. There is one panel progression in that scene which works incredibly well.

On to the specifics.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Black Orchid Review: Phantom Stranger #38

There is no Supergirl book on the shelves. So what is Supergirl Comic Box Commentary to do?

Well, one little side road I have decided to walk down is looking at the Bronze Age adventures of Black Orchid. Back then, there was a fan theory that Black Orchid was Supergirl. So why not take a hard look at those stories to see if that theory held water. 

I covered Phantom Stranger #36, which looked at a famous story where Black Orchid supposedly had X-Ray vision. I looked at Super Friends #31 in which writer E. Nelson Bridwell picked up that rumor and ran. 

In that Super Friends story, the villain was Lisa Patrick, a villain who impersonated Black Orchid. I figured looking at that story would be fun.

And so I present to you 1975's Phantom Stranger #38. The back-up Black Orchid story is the first part of a four part epic. In fact, this is the last story for the Orchid until that Super Friends issue. So does this story turn up the heat on the Supergirl theory? Or cool it down?

'The Secret of the Black Orchid' was written by Michael Fleisher with art by Fred Carrillo.

Like stories did back then, we start with an opening panel which is a taste of the story. And here we see Black Orchid flying in, disarming a crook while bashing him across the chin, while other thugs run away because they are 'outnumbered'.

I love the lead-in caption box stating the Orchid has brought wonder, awe, and speculation! Where did she come from? That line alone would make me think she had to come from somewhere special.

I did not Fred Carrillo before this issue but he has that style that feels similar to artists like Nestor Redondo and Alex Nino, that school from the Philippines. I may need to do some research.

On to the story, with my holding up a magnifying glass to the tale to see if the Supergirl theory remains valid.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Wicked Comic Con Wrap-Up and Ben Templesmith Commission

This last Saturday I went to the inaugural Wicked Comic Con at the Westin Seaport in Boston.

I had a blast.

This show was put together by some of the organizers of the original Boston Comic Con and definitely had a 'primarily a comic show' feel to it. As such, I felt completely at home. I went armed with a heavy backpack filled with books to be signed by the great creative roster at the show and with the hopes of maybe landing a commission or a key book. 

I definitely had a budget I had to keep to and I had not set up any commission beforehand. So this was something of an old-fashioned crap shoot with me heading to the tables of creators I was hoping to get a sketch from without knowing if they were sketching or how much one would cost. 

But I don't want to underplay just how great it was to head to a comic show, meet some creators and talk about their works, and just browse. I'm very thankful.

On to some of the specifics!

Friday, April 8, 2022

Review: World Of Krypton #5

World of Krypton #5, the penultimate issue of the mini-series by writer Robert Venditti and artist Michael Avon Oeming, came out this week and set us up nicely for the inevitable conclusion of the planet. We all know that Krypton is going to explode. So it is really the characters that are going to drive this.

As someone who has been reading comics for over 4 decades, I have read the destruction of Krypton and Superman's origins many times. The buildup has been anything from a few panels to whole mini-series like this. I have read different takes and the main characters have had different motivations and outlooks on life.

One thing I like about this series is that Venditti is really looking at the classic interpretation of the characters but putting something of a modern spin on things. Jor-El is the scientist who knows Krypton is doomed. But instead of being laughed at, his work is being sort of denied or ignored. Lara is still the loving wife but she has agency here and is a true partner to Jor. Zod is still an extreme fascist but this story makes it seem like he is nudged down that path rather than it being inherent. And Zor-El is the loving father just trying to save his family. But that desperation has at least a whiff of the more recent interpretations of Zor as something of a madman. Even Kara here is bright and intelligent with a little sass to her, another welcome return.

In other words, the essence of these characters remain intact here but in a way that makes sense for this 2022 reader. The evil Jor-El who became Mr. Oz never jibed with me. The Zor-El who was seeing phantoms and killing people never made sense. The Zor-El who drugged and rocketed Kara away in the New 52 didn't work for me. And the morose Supergirl, crying in a sun and living in pain, certainly doesn't either.

I guess this is a long winded way of thanking Robert Venditti for this tale. It is clear we are reading an allegory of Earth as it is unfolding right now. But it isn't preachy or overwhelming. 

Oeming's art is an acquired taste. It definitely is a wild style especially effective in the riot sequences in this issue. From embedded panels and action progression, things zip along. It can be 'cartoony' at times. But it kind of dazzles in its own way. I have really enjoyed his take on the young Kara from baby to toddler to school age girl here.

On to the show.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Con Autographs And Upcoming Wicked Comic Con

This weekend I will be attending the brand spanking new Wicked Comic Con here in Boston. 

I'm very excited about the con as it has some of my favorite creators on the docket, some who I have met before and others that I haven't even seen listed at cons before.

As usual, I will hope to get a commission or two, get some books signed for me and friends, and maybe do a little back issue shopping.

One thing that has cropped up over the last few years is creators charging for signatures on books. And more importantly, the price for signatures has sort of sky-rocketed over time.

I don't blame the creators. Their signature probably increases the value of the book, especially if 'witnessed' and then slabbed. Plus, why shouldn't they act similarly to the other celebrities which attend bigger cons, like cosplayers, wrestlers, and voice actors who charge.

In the old days, I would usually pick around 5 issues to bring for a creator to sign, usually some 'big' issues but also I would try to bring a favorite issue. But know, I don't know how many issues to bring, if any. Am I willing to dole out $30 for a signature? $10?

What is even stranger is that there doesn't seem to be a clear landscape on who charges and what. Dan Jurgens was free. Joe Rubinstein was $10. Tim Sale was one for free if personalized, $5 otherwise. 

As a result, with no foreknowledge, I don't know what to pack. And that is irksome.

Bigger cons will often post the price for signatures or photo ops with the celebrities. So why not do the same for the comic creators? That might help me figure out how much money to bring or how many comics to bring.

Then I wondered if I was the only one thinking about such a thing.

As an experiment, I posed the question on Twitter. 'Would you like the cost of creator autographs posted on the convention website?'

98 response. 

84 people said yes.

So what do you say convention hosts? Time to start doing this?

I shouldn't lump this conversation with Wicked Comic Con.

I will be there.

I'll probably be wearing a t-shirt with the blog's banner on it for anyone there. Hope everyone locally heads there. This seems like a con that should be supported!

Monday, April 4, 2022

Back Issue Box: Action Comics #308

Tom King recently rearranging of Supergirl's timeline in Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow mini-series to be a sort of mash-up of her Silver Age original beginnings and some of the more modern turns that have taken place since Kara was re-introduced in the DCU.

With that in mind I have been reading over the back issues to find other points in comic history where her earliest adventures or memories are delineated further.

On that mission, I re-read Action Comics #308 which includes the tiniest little nugget of information about Kara's journey from Argo City to Earth, something which is an interesting factoid which I believe has never been mentioned again. 

"The Super-Tot from Nowhere" was written by Leo Dorfman with art by Jim Mooney and is a typical bonkers Silver Age story with more plot turns in this back-up feature than many multi-issue arcs have in current continuity.

Supergirl is flying over a 'jungle country' when she is astounded to see a young girl falling from the sky. Our hero swoops in and catches the toddler before tragedy strikes. Scanning the skies, Supergirl sees that several planes have passed over the land recently. She assumes this girl, named Candy, fell out of one of them.

But this certainly is a 'thrown into the story' moment. The first panel of the actual tale is Supergirl seeing the girl falling to her death.

I did love how back in this era, the first panel was usually a teaser for the story. I like the exasperation in Kara's words as she realizes being a parent to a super-baby is tough work.

Friday, April 1, 2022

There's No Such Thing As A Black Orchid Blog

It seems almost an annual occasion that I get so disheartened about DC's handling of Supergirl that I wonder if I should keep running this site. It seems like it is always around this time of year I begin to think if I should be focusing on someone else.

The Tom King mini-series completely misinterpreted  the character and how I view Supergirl. Unfortunately, I think this take is going to stick for a while. How can I cover the heroic young woman who is bright and optimistic and fierce in her battle against injustice when currently DC thinks of her as an incredibly damaged and depressed person, wallowing in pain?

At the same time, I have toyed with the old rumor that the original Black Orchid was indeed Supergirl. I have covered some of the foundation of that idea. 

I have always like Black Orchid, a sort of mystery woman in the DCU with an exceptional look.

So why not turn this place on its head and become a Black Orchid blog.

The title of the blog is 'There Is No Such Thing As A Black Orchid Blog', a play on the tag line 'There is No Such Thing as a Black Orchid' used to promote the 1988 Black Orchid mini-series written by Neil Gaiman with painted art by Dave McKean.

This was Gaiman's first major work for DC after a couple of smaller stories in Secret Origins. This was pre-Vertigo but just as the British Invasion was about to explode all over DC. It was a re-imagining of the character. And it seems like the perfect place to start this site. McKean's painted work is brilliant.

There'll be more. The early Adventure stories and the Phantom Stranger back-ups. Her appearances in John Ostrander's Suicide Squad. The new Orchid in JLD. 

But let's jump in right here with Black Orchid Book 1.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

CBR: Supergirl Needs Consistency

No surprise given this site, Supergirl is my favorite comic book character. 
I have a sort of specific view on who she is - a smart, bright, clever, optimistic young hero on the journey. She has her foibles but she is clearly a force of good and justice.

One of the reasons I started this blog was back then she was hampered with an odd storyline where she had been sent to Earth to kill Kal-El, that Zor-El was insane and with Kara's help had shot up a school on Krypton, and overall she seemed disinterested in being a hero or even a citizen of Earth. That went against who I thought Kara Zor-El was.

Back then I asked for her to embrace Earth and become a hero. I hoped she would claim a secret identity and have a supporting cast. She needed to be stabilized.

We had seen that in Paul Kupperberg's run in the 80's. We saw it in Peter David's run (even if that was Matrix Supergirl and not Kara). And we have seen it in Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle's run. We saw some of it in Steve Orlando's run.

But between those runs we have seen such disparate takes on Kara that it is hard to know who she is. Is she the angry young woman from the earliest New 52? The goth villain from Reign in Hell? The moping future version in Future State? The emotionally devastated character in Tom King's run? 

Is my internal version of Supergirl, built on reading her adventures for decades, even valid?

As if on cue, CBR posted an article asking the same thing.

Please read the whole article. My thoughts below.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Review: Action Comics #1041

Action Comics #1041 came out this last week, the latest excellent chapter in the Warworld saga. This is one of the best comics on the stands these days. And this issue, a sort of rest issue within the main saga, continues that trend.

Writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson does something interesting here, taking the spotlight off of Superman and putting it on Midnighter instead. But even though the action is all from the Authority member, Superman as an idea, as an inspiration, is everywhere in the book. In fact, Superman's 'presence' is a great contrast to Midnighter, showing how different leaders rally folks in different ways.

Johnson also does something interesting with time here. I wonder if this issue sort of transcends the timeline of the book. We see that a lot has happened in this issue. But a lot of time has passed. I wonder if next issue we don't pick up right where this one ends, instead heading back. 

As this is a sort of side adventure, we get a guest artist. Dale Eaglesham brings a heavier ink to the tale than the artists who have been the regulars on this Warworld tale. But that thicker line and heavier shading feels more appropriate for a Midnighter story. The art complements the story.

Seriously, this Action book is just fantastic. No one should be sleeping on it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

DC Comics June Solicits

The DC solicits for June 2022 came out last week. Here is a link to look at all the offerings.

If there is one thing I can say about DC these days is that they are diversifying their output in hopes of getting more eyes on their books. Yes, there is the standard glut of Batman books. But there is more. There are young adult graphic novels. There are company wide crossovers and mini-themes like looking back at Flashpoint and Milestone. This is Pride month with an anthology out. Plus we start the Dark Crisis mini-series.

I don't know if I can tell you anymore what is in continuity and what is out of continuity. I don't know if there can be a timeline where the JLA is both dead and yet continuing to headline their own series. But here we are. 

Here are the super-books that caught my eye. 

Written by MARK WAID
Art and cover by DAN MORA
Variant cover by DERRICK CHEW

As Robin and Supergirl race to retrieve the secrets of the Devil Nezha from ancient China, Batman and Superman get more than they bargained for in the present! To save humanity from the fires of the demon, the World's Finest must go toe-to-toe with the protector of Sector 2814...Hal Jordan.

Hey! We get some more Supergirl in Mark Waid and Dan Mora's World's Finest book. 

I would love to see her as a sort of standing supporting cast in this book. Or maybe even headline a 2-parter!

I loved the first issue of this book and Waid rolling in other characters makes me think this is going to be a big win!!

Monday, March 21, 2022

DC Comics Cove Art: 350 Of The Greatest Covers In DC's History

I am always a big fan of coffee table books that discuss comic history and DC comics in particular.

A recent gift I was given was DC Comics Cover Art: 350 of the Greatest Covers in DC's History.

There were several things that I really liked about this book.

For one, it breaks up the book into time periods as opposed to characters. We start with the Golden Age and then move to Silver and Bronze. What I found interesting was that the next era, post-Crisis to New 52, they called the Steel Age. I guess I have called it the Chromium Age in my head but maybe that was a joke I heard along the way that I subsumed into fact. And then 2011 to present is the modern age. But it was a nice way to break it up with some pages giving brief bios of prominent artists from each era.

I also liked that this book really gave a hard look at the covers and picked a very interesting mix. This isn't the 350 'most iconic' covers. You can probably guess some of the most famous covers that are in this book. But it also gives pages towards horror comics, war comics, and other nooks and crannies. There are pages dedicated to Nick Cardy's Aquaman covers and to the Levitz/Giffen Legion books. And some of these are true deep cuts. 

Lastly, it was fun to see how many of the covers in this book I have in my collection. No Golden Age, of course. But I have a decent number of the others.

Since this is a Supergirl site, I'll showcase the issues where she is featured. There are 5 of them. Make your guesses and then click. I know you are going to get at least 2 right.

And apologies for pics. This is a big book, not amenable to scanning.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Review: Batman/Superman World's Finest #1

Batman/Superman World's Finest #1 came out this week, an action packed, nigh perfect comic book which hearkened back to thrilling adventure comics of old. I unabashedly loved this comic. This was like mac and cheese, a comfort food of a comic that made me feel happy. 

The book opens with the pages previewed in Detective Comics #1050 but continues full throttle with an over-sized, no ad book. So I didn't mind paying for those pages again. I wasn't cheated. But I won't review those pages here again. 

Writer Mark Waid does a great job here, flashing back to an early meeting of Batman and Superman as a way to show how they became best friends. And that history does resonate in the latter half of the story so didn't feel gratuitous. But the big win here is the characterization of a young Dick Grayson as Robin. I get the sense that Robin is going to be the straw that stirs the drink. He will be our POV character, the comic relief quipper, and the contrast hero against the megastars of Superman and Batman. I trust Waid to handle the DCU well and he does. He writes the DC that I want to read. It takes place some time in the past and has a classic flavor.

Dan Mora is on art and he just shines here. Mora has a lot to show us here as Waid does a deep dive into the DC Universe already. Poison Ivy. Metallo. The Penguin. The Weaponeers of Qward. The Doom Patrol. The work is crisp and engaging. I hope he stays on this book for a long time. But if he doesn't, please give him a classic Doom Patrol book to pencil. I love his take on the team, one of my favorite properties. 

And I was lucky enough to grab the last copy at my LCS that has the cover by Artgerm which reminded me of one of his early covers on Batgirl #14 . So happy to see Kara and Steph together. Make the poster and t-shirt now DC!

I am going to gush.

On to the book.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Mike Maihack Supergirl And Batgirl St. Patrick's Day Comic

Every so often something wonderful happens.

Like when Mike Maihack decides to drop a Supergirl/Batgirl comic for St. Patrick's Day.

The last time I read a Supergirl comic she was watching a repentant elderly criminal get bashed in the head. I doubt that we will see her in a comic any time soon given that downbeat, horrific mini-series.

So imagine my delight when I saw this magically delicious comic. 

Maihack has always had his Kara be fashion obsessed, changing her costume constantly. So here, to get into the green of St. Patrick's Day, she got herself a dose of gamma radiation like the Hulk. Not exactly the wisest move. She'll only turn green when mad.

And she probably won't get mad given this Kara is always smiling and giggly and just pleased about her new costume. 

Hey. I got to see a smiling Supergirl, giving her friend a gift. and sizzling with Kirby Krackle.

Best St. Patrick's Day gift I could have received.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Review: Superman Son Of Kal-El #9

Superman Son of Kal-El #9 came out last week, the second part of a two-part crossover with Nightwing. It was simply incredible.

Writer Tom Taylor and artist Bruno Redondo are on both issues (the first part in Nightwing #89) and bring together this story which could be read as a standalone even though it is completely enmeshed in current storyline. It is a wonderful, heart-warming story showcasing the similarities between Jon Kent and Dick Grayson, both living in the shadow of the legacy hero they emulate and trying to forge out on their own.

For me, in particular, the characterization of Dick, who has basically shed the sidekick role and has become his own fully formed hero but also someone who still feels Imposter Syndrome when comparing himself to Batman, was fantastic. But when Taylor finally recognized the elephant in the continuity room, that Jon was tortured for 6 years, I smiled. Thank you Tom Taylor.

We even get some good Lois moments and some plot advancement. 

Add to that Bruno Redondo's inventive art conveying action through multiple images and bringing feelings to the stories. The pages flow wonderfully. And several panels stick out as perfection.

I don't know what more you could ask for except for DC to put these two issues together in a little squarebound prestige format so it can sit on a shelf for easy reading. 

On to the issue!

Friday, March 11, 2022

Review: Justice League Vs. The Legion Of Super-Heroes #2

Justice League Vs. The Legion of Super-Heroes #2 came out this week and felt like a sort of set-up issue for the bigger events to happen in future issues. There is some plot advancement, some wonderful character moments, and a decent cliffhanger.

The biggest thrust of the issue is to give us some backstory of Gold Lantern. I get the sense that somehow the 'Elders' who are behind his powers aren't exactly good beings. Could they be behind the Great Darkness threat? Or welcoming it? I don't know. Maybe I am a jaded comic reader always looking for the hidden villains.

What I like is we finally do get to learn a little bit about Kala Lour, the secret identity of Gold Lantern. We learn he is blind, explaining his solid appearing mask. And we learn he is a teacher, more of a pacifist, and a definitely a hero even before he was granted a ring. 

We get some wonderful moments of the Legion meeting the League. I loved seeing the Legion meet their heroes. And I love the League gets a peek into the future, showing them that their efforts in the present are worth it.

We don't learn anything else about the Great Darkness outside of one tiny hint at the end. So truly the plot movement is more of a nudge.

As for the art, Scott Godlewski shines here. There is one of the best Chameleon Boy panels I have ever seen in this issue. There are nice shots of many characters in battle mode. And the quieter moments with Gold Lantern show great 'camera' movement and emotion.

I really liked this issue. I don't mind giving stories room to breathe if what I am given to read is meaty enough to bolster the plot or deepen the characterization. That's what we get here. No surprise from writer Brian Michael Bendis. 

On to the details.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Back Issue Box Review: Supergirl #5

 Today I thought I would dip into the back issue boxes and look at an older story of our hero Supergirl. 

Given Superman's fight on Warworld to free people from their chains, my mind went to Supergirl #5 from her first volume in the early 1970's.

Yes, in this story Supergirl is inserted into a fight between tyranny and freedom. But it is everything else that happens around that which is crazy.

This one has just about everything. 
Depowered Supergirl? Check.
Stern Superman? Check.
Lookalike for Supergirl? Check.
Some ingenuity from Supergirl to save the day? Check.

But the twists and turns and plot leaps beyond even all that will make you dizzy. I don't know if I understand all of the machinations of the villain in this piece. And don't blink or you'll miss a crucial detail. 

All this in 16 pages!

'The Devil's Brother' was written by Arnold Drake with art by John Rosenberger and Vince Colletta. 

Given the time, you can see Rosenberger doing his best to channel Art Saaf's style. There is plenty of va-va-voom in this issue with this very leggy Kara.

As for Drake's story, you get a sense of one aspect of it here on the opening splash. A powerless Supergirl is being tossed around a horned alien that looks like a mix between Brainiac and Dubbilex. 

Whomp, there it is!

Monday, March 7, 2022

Review: World Of Krypton #4

World of Krypton #4 came out this week, the beginning of the back half of the mini-series. And things are getting heated. I am really liking how this tale is unfolding, mixing in classic Superman history with some new elements. For me, the thing that feels very new for me is the overall timeline. Unlike prior stories where it felt like the discovery that Krypton was going to explode happened shortly before the cataclysm. Here it seems like years. And that gives us more time to let the storylines breathe a little.

Writer Robert Venditti definitely is mining current events here on our Earth and using Krypton as an allegory. Krypton is over populated. The people are using dangerous amounts of energy. As a result the environment and the very planet itself is about to reach the brink. The Els carry hope in their hearts, that when the people are notified of the changes that need to happen, that they will comply. The Zods are warriors, used to fighting to survive, and decide that the people must be forced to comply to new rules. Both men want Krypton to survive. It's the means that differ. And we see that emphasized here.

Michael Avon Oeming continues to bring an interesting take on the proceedings. As I have said, the panels look like computer screens making this feel like I am watching a history tape of the events. He has a definite style but I like the fisticuffs he brings us here, good movement. He also brings us a great young Kara.

This is a Supergirl blog. As a side plot, Zor-El working to save his daughter apart from Jor-El leans into Supergirl history and that makes me happy. This isn't the New 52 Zor-El, drugging his daughter and sending her away. This isn't the Loeb Supergirl sent to Earth to kill Kal-El. This is a loving father trying to save his child. Wonderful.

Really enjoying this so far. On to the particulars.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Review: Dark Knights Of Steel #5

Dark Knights of Steel #5 came out this week and was another wild chapter in a series that has been incredibly entertaining and intriguing so far. One thing I have learned about this title is that a surprise death or twist is going to happen in every issue. And this one did not break the trend.

Writer Tom Taylor has done an incredible job putting familiar DC characters into this Game of Thrones landscape. Of course, we have to cement them in this new reality which means new wrinkles and different takes. I was sort of depressed when I saw that Zala, the Supergirl of this world, was a vicious killer. Perhaps I should have waited a second. Taylor shows us that I may need to rethink everything. Even questions that I have asked myself which confused me seem to be answered here. It also looks like I have another mystery to solve. I have a couple of theories already.

After last issue's flashback, we are back in the present. Taylor pushes the plot forward as he has with every issue in this series. I mean, things happen at a breakneck pace. And don't blink or you might miss someone dying.

Also, after last issue's great fill-in by Bengal, Yasmine Putri is back on art. The results are typically astounding. The scene in the forest with Poison Ivy, Harley, and Diana is just lush. The fight scenes are powerfully rendered. And we get solid expressive work. 

I am truly enjoying this book, a fun, fast-moving Elseworlds.

On to the particulars.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Wicked Comic Con

I have talked before about the embarrassment of riches there is in the Boston area in regards to comic conventions. With Terrificon, Boston Fan Expo, Granite State Comic Con, and Rhode Island Comic Con all part of my 'convention season', I feel I have opportunity to meet a lot of creators and shop for key pack issues.

Imagine my surprise and glee when a new comic convention suddenly appeared on the docket. This April 9th will be the first Wicked Comic Con in Boston. Here is a link:

You might recall that there used to be a Boston Comic Con which was very much comic book focused with only a few non-comic guests. Over the years, that con grew from being a handful of creators in the basement of an insurance company to a massive endeavor in one of the premier convention centers in the city. Once Fan Expo bought out the Boston Comic Con, the focus shifted. Suddenly comic creators seemed to be just one of many groups brought in and the spotlight seemed to be on TV and movie celebrities. 

Wicked Comic Con looks much more like the old Boston Comic Con and I, for one, am thrilled. I am very much planning on being there that day and meeting some creators and hopefully getting a commission or two.

And while there are plenty of solid guests, I am highlighting the ones I am most excited to meet.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Bullet Review: The Clubhouse Of Solitude; Bizarro Comics

Last week I talked about a recent post over on Grant Morrison's substack where they talked about DC and the company's ideas on darkening the values and characterization of Superman and Supergirl. I agreed with a lot of what Morrison had to say there. 

In particular, this line about Supergirl stood out:

Why, I say, oh why, is it so hard to simply serve the concept and write the adventures of a smart, creative and kind-hearted teenage girl with superpowers? What purpose earthly or unearthly is served by making this character an embittered space tyrant?


And then this snippet about Supergirl:

When I brought the Maid of Might into the Final Crisis series, my take was very much inspired by the Dylan Horrocks/Jessica Abel story from 2002’s Bizarro Comics anthology book – in my opinion quite simply the greatest Supergirl comic ever. If any version of Supergirl should serve as a template for the character moving forward, this is the one…

Now I had heard about the Bizarro Comic anthology and what a great collection of stories it was. But a Supergirl story that inspired Grant Morrison and how they portrayed her in Final Crisis? This I had to read!

Turns out is a breezy story with some emotional punch. Supergirl, still active as a hero, meets up with Mary Marvel who has retired and grown a little older. There are some wonderful character beats for both. The art is clean and simple giving the story a sort of Silver Age patina. But this is a confident Kara heading out and doing good while remaining smart and kind-hearted. On to the story details. 

"The Clubhouse of Solitude" is brought to us by creative team Dylan Horrocks and Jessica Abel. And from the first page of this short story, you know Kara is going to be treated right.

She has apprehended a villain called The Detonator who has somehow strung up old school bundles of dynamite around the Statue of Liberty.

When Supergirl turns him over to the police, one of the officers calls her 'The World's Most Popular Superhero!'

Spying the time on one of the cop's watches, Supergirl realizes she is running late.