Friday, February 25, 2022

Review: Action Comics #1040

Action Comics #1040 came out this week and was another great chapter in the Warworld Saga. Now this is a saga, meaning many chapters. And this issue read like the beginning chapter of the next arc within the saga. This was a world-building issue, showing us more Warworld culture, some Warworld history, and some great character moments.

Writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson is doing a wonderful job here. The foundation of this story is Superman freeing the slave of Warworld through inspiration and sweat. But there is so much more here. This is like reading history. Johnson is really making this feel like a deep, complex, three dimensional, well thought out universe. I am completely impressed with how fully formed this all sounds. It is just incredible.

Artist Riccardo Federici continues to shine here. There is a soft pencil feel to his work. There is almost a storybook quality to the work which gives this story a feel of grandeur. But like Johnson, I love the world building Federici is doing here. From the alien clothing to the monstrous beasts, this really feels like a fully-formed culture here.

I have been loving the Warworld Saga. This issue is another great link in this narrative chain.

On to the specifics.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Review: Nightwing #89

Nightwing #89 came out last week and was a wonderful crossover with the Superman, Son of Kal-El book. This was about as seamless a crossover can be. Both books are written by Tom Taylor and both tout a progressive political viewpoint. So why not have two great tastes taste great together.

In Nightwing, Dick has inherited billions from Alfred and has set out to make Bludhaven a better place. In this issue we learn that his hope to spread the truth goes farther than his boroughs borders. That is all well and good and makes sense. But the thing that I love about Dick is that somehow he has become the big brother/conscience of the DCU. If you need help or advice or just a chance to decompress, Dick seems to be your guy. That comes across so well in this issue as he helps a troubled Jon deal with Superman's recent issues.

Throw in some solid humor and nifty character beats and Nightwing has become one of my favorite monthly books.

Bruno Redondo has done amazing work on the title as well giving us great page layouts and story construct and panel art. I love the way his Babs looks. And his action is always crisp and kinetic. It starts with this fun cover! Love the laissez-faire feel to Jon cruising downward.

On to the specifics. Hope everyone is reading this.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

DC May 2022 Solicits

The DC Comics solicits for May 2022 have been released and available for review. Here is a link to Newsarama's coverage:

It seems to be a busy month with Flashpoint Beyond books, the Shadow War storyline, the usual glut of Batman books and the beginning of Dark Crisis. I don't know how heavy I'll be getting into any of these outside Dark Crisis which I will sample. 

But this was a month I feared I wouldn't see any Supergirl anywhere. But I was wrong!

Written by MARK WAID
Art and cover by DAN MORA

Great Scott! It's a twisted time-travel tale of titanic tenure! In an attempt to get to the bottom of the mystery of the "demon," Robin the Boy Wonder and the Supergirl of Krypton venture back in time to China circa 1600 B.C.—running headfirst into the ancient superheroes known as the House of Ji! Meanwhile, Superman and Batman are losing a race against time to save their fellow superheroes from the schemes of a new villain…one simply known as the Devil Nezha.

Thank goodness for Mark Waid!

I love Waid on Superman and the super-family. Giving us a Supergirl/Robin issue 3 months into Batman/Superman is more than I could have dared dream. This makes me happy.

How great that we will get some sort of classic take on The Supergirl of Krypton, a throwback to her original moniker on Action Comics #252! And can't wait to see Dan Mora's take on her!

Monday, February 21, 2022

Grant Morrison And Supergirl

Last week I reviewed Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow #8, a dismal take on the Supergirl character, one filled with tragedy and angst, willing to be complicit or participate in murder.

It was another one of those moments that strikes me now and then when I think maybe comics have passed me by. Maybe it is time to move on to another media, another hobby. If my heroes can't be heroes, it might be time to move on. 

Then I read Grant Morrison's substack newsletter about their work on Superman and the Authority. Please, I beg you, go here and read this in its entirety:

In it, Morrison talks about how perplexed they were at Dan Didio's idea to have Superman become a fascist, forming his own Authority to take over the world with an iron fist. It was this inane direction that sort of forced Morrison to write their own take on the idea. (Thank God they did.)

But then we get this from Morrison:

Didio was going to do the same with Supergirl. 

Now that shouldn't surprise me. In Didio's tenure, Supergirl was a love slave of Darkseid, went dark in issue #5, school shooter on Krypton, went dark again in Justice League, became a Red Lantern, and went dark one more time. So why not try her as a fascist.

It is Morrison's rebuttal that got me. Why can't we get the adventures of a smart, creative, and kind-hearted teenage girl with super-powers? After all that is what I want.

We saw hints of this in Morrison's take on Supergirl in Final Crisis, like scenes above where she is shown to be a musician, a fashion designer, a lover of cats, and a hero.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Review: Supergirl Woman Of Tomorrow #8

Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow #8 came out this week. I have been disappointed with this comic since it started. This ending leaves me just as disappointed. 

Writer Tom King has been on various outlets saying how he did a deep dive into Supergirl's history to come up with this story which he felt would be THE story to show how great Supergirl is. But throughout this mini-series, even though we have occasionally seen some bright spots, this Kara has been tormented, depressed, drunk, and complicit to murder. Moreover, it is quite clear that the character King really liked to write was Ruthye, the True Grit young lass learning about the world while endlessly spouting ponderous speech.

This issue continues that trend. Supergirl is something of an afterthought here. There are pages devoted to Ruthye's internal struggles while Supergirl is a side-plot happening in space. There is a scene where Comet has to save Supergirl. There is a scene where it is Ruthye who 'saves' Kara, not the other way around. And the ending either has Kara complicit again with murder or at the very least the beating of a helpless old man. None of that sounds like a book that is meant to have people love Supergirl.

And then there is a twist at the end which calls into question the entire story of the mini-series, an easy 'delete' button when DC decides to recognize this as an insult to the character rather than a praising. It is such an odd turn that it makes me actually wonder if this book ends the way King intended it too or if DC finally tugged on the reins. 

At least it is over.

I have also been somewhat stunned by the river of praise this book is getting from some critics. Many say it is the best Supergirl story they have ever read. Back when Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 came out, I heard the same thing from many comic readers. When I asked them what other Supergirl stories they have read, the most common answer was 'none'. For those who enjoyed this story, I am happy for you. But this isn't my Supergirl. 

And it is a shame that this isn't a great Supergirl book. Because the art by Bilquis Evely with colors by Mateus Lopes has been stellar throughout. In this issue we see Evely's designs of an alternate costume, a Supergirl who is beaten within an inch of her life, and an homage to the classic Crisis #7. Give Evely another book now. 

In the end though, I think this is something of a death knell for my favorite character. This book has taken away the optimism and inspiration of Supergirl and replaced it with tawdry Tom King trauma. Fans of Supergirl don't want to read that (a fact proven by the dwindling sales every time they have 'darkened' her). And Tom King fans won't read a Supergirl book. In essence, this is a dead end for Kara. Which is a shame, because I think Bendis and then Kennedy Thomas understand what she should be.

On to the book.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Review: Justice League 2022 Annual

The Justice League 2022 Annual came out last week and was a sort of fun, done-in-one, maybe has implications for the bigger universe, Silver Age pastiche story that I enjoyed. Sometimes I just want to have an action-packed, roller coaster ride of a story to provide me some smiles and this one did that. I don't know if I totally understood it all. But it held together well.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis gives us a story that Gardner Fox would be proud of. The League hears about a threat and then splits off into mini-teams to confront the villains. In this case, it is to confront the villain who is appearing from different points in their own timeline for a mission of some import. Throw in a big guest star and some good character beats and you have a story worthy of an annual.

The art by Sanford Greene is really a revelation. Wildly energetic throughout, over-stylized when it needs to be, and big when deserving. I would love to see him on an OMAC mini-series or monthly given what I saw here. But I also think this would work for almost anything Kirby 4th world or DC Sword and Sorcery. Dazzling stuff throughout.

On to the particulars.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Back Issue Box: Supergirl #18

I have been thinking a lot about Argo City in recent times given the reconfiguring of Supergirl's origin in the current Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow mini-series. I have definitely looked at the city's history in the past on this site. 

Today I thought I would showcase one of the weirder wrinkles in the city's history, perhaps one best left unremembered. Supergirl #18 has our hero facing off against the Kraken ... a blackmailer, a sorcerer, a pilgrim looking for enlightenment, a scientist ... all in one?

I don't know if writer Paul Kupperberg remembers writing this particular issue. It is a little all over the place. I don't know if it 100% makes any sense. But there is a lot to think about that's for sure. The one thing that I do love about this issue is that is shows the best parts of these Bronze Age comics - subplots and supporting casts. This issue is as much about Linda Danvers and her love life as it is the Kraken. 

The art is by Carmine Infantino and Bob Oksner and they bring some great visuals here. Again, the Linda stuff is the highlight for me. But I also love the innovative panel layouts. Great stuff. And I love the cover  by Howard Bender and Dick Giordano!

On to the specifics!

Monday, February 14, 2022

Dark Crisis

For the last couple of years, I have felt that DC Comics has been a company that has been creatively in a state of disarray. 

The company being bought and sold a couple of times might be the foundation of this issue. COVID delaying things for while didn't help. But leadership changes definitely are a big part of that feeling. There were a number of 'events' unfolding at the same time, overlapping each other, and delaying each other's finales.  The '5G' future that now-gone Dan Didio wanted has been a carcass that DC has picked at for a while. With Future State bringing in 'the future' and introducing us to Jon and Yara as mantle-wearers, it seems DC just didn't know where they were going.

Except for Batman books. They knew they were going there.

Recently the news of the latest event was released. Writer Joshua Williamson is going to write Dark Crisis, a book that he describes as a 'love letter' to the DCU. Art will be done by a recent favorite of mine, Daniel Sampere. There are plenty of stories out there about this but here is one:

Now it sounds like The Great Darkness, perhaps the one that has been hinted at in Brian Michael Bendis' Legion book is the 'anti-God' that was behind the American Gothic storyline waaayyyy back in Alan Moore's Swamp Thing run. Seems odd to have something so metaphysical and religious be the basis of a Crisis but here we are.

Meanwhile, we also got this nugget:

Friday, February 11, 2022

Review: Superman Son Of Kal-El #8

Superman Son of Kal-El #8 came out this week and something is missing.

I wish I could say what it is that just didn't work for me this issue. It just reads somewhat flat. I felt no passion as I read this book which should have coaxed more emotion and energy out of me. There are moments that should have packed a punch. There are emotional scenes that should have tugged at me. 

Writer Tom Taylor is bringing us a different Superman these days, young and socially conscious. This story is a comment on climate change and damage being done to the ocean. Jon is getting more embroiled in an international conflict with Gamorran president Bendix. But even that, including President Bendix's odd world domination plan, seems off. And yes, I am still wondering if Jay Nakamura is not a good guy.

Artist Cian Tormey is back for this second issue and I definitely like his work. There is a lot of water spouts, waves, and splashes in this book. Aqualad is manipulating water. Jon is flying around saving people. It is all visually appealing. Even the drab Gamorra Corps has a great panel. 

I don't know what to say. It wasn't boring by any means. But it wasn't gripping. Maybe someone more articulate than me can help.

On to the specifics.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

DC Superhero Girls: #WhySoBlue

I recently have rediscovered the DC Superhero Girls animated shorts on Boomerang and I have been enjoying them immensely. This is a complete Elseworlds with a brash, opinionated, 'punch first, think second' Supergirl but that works in this universe where characters are mainly defined by one attribute. Supergirl is the 'punk' in the group, right down to being cast as the Judd Nelson character in an episode inspired by The Breakfast Club movie, something I will cover soon, I promise.

What I like about the show is that while one aspect of the character dominates, there is room for growth and some subtlety. Kara loves cute bunnies. She is a bit of a geek, getting into role playing games and video games.

In #WhySoBlue, we see Kara learn a lesson about patience and giving people second chances. She has to keep Ted Kord, who has decided to be the super-hero Blue Beetle, from killing himself. But she isn't sure he is cut out for it. 

I would also love to meet the creators or writers of the show to see if they are big comic fans. I see things that could be homages to comic books but I don't know if I am overthinking. On to the show!

Monday, February 7, 2022

Review: Dark Knights Of Steel #4

Dark Knights of Steel #4 came out last week, a flashback issue to give us some background into The Batman's history. I have been enjoying this book much more than I thought I would. So far it has been a wild ride. Death every issue. Politics a plenty. And some new takes on classic characters.

Writer Tom Taylor continues to push this title forward with this issue. I had some theories about where this book was going and as usual, I was wrong. I thought for sure Taylor would make Jor-El a bit vile. Instead he remains mostly virtuous. I have to say the reveal of who the Green Man is has been the only sort of misstep I have felt so far. We shall see.

Old Supergirl friend, artist Bengal steps in for Yasmine Putri. Given that this is mostly a flashback issue, the artistic change works. Even when this is in a trade, the switch will flow well. I think Bengal has a great smooth style. His work here is great. I love the warmth he brings to characters. And while I haven't been getting the variant covers here, I couldn't resist this Joshua Middleton take on Harley. Fantastic.

On to the particulars!

Friday, February 4, 2022

Review: World Of Krypton #3

World of Krypton #3 came out this week, the halfway point of this new mini-series re-telling and re-thinking the story behind Krypton's destruction. We know the end of this story but frankly things have been tweaked many times since Rebirth, heck since the Crisis. Jor-El has been evil. Zor-El has been evil. Kara has been evilly manipulated by her father. Heck, most recently Rogol Zaar blew up Krypton. All that is in the past.

Writer Robert Venditti and artist Michael Avon Oeming bring a more classic take on the story. Jor-El and Zor-El are friends. Lara and Alura are just as smart. They all care for each other and their world. And they are all trying to save Krypton. 

Venditti is really giving us a lot to chew on. The concern for Krypton's destruction seems to be known for years. Jor-El and Zor-El are doing their best to bring the problem in front of the right eyes. In the meantime, the political environment of Krypton is just as combustible. Zod is trying to bring order to the world, with an iron fist. There are enough echoes of this world for me to see the writing on the world. But so far, it isn't too heavy-handed. This is a story about Krypton, not a preaching about Earth.

The best thing of this issue for me though is a brief look at the precocious dreamer that is Kara Zor-El. If I ever needed to see a clever Kara dreaming under the stars, it is now.

Oeming is a star in this issue. The panels have been intriguing in this book, sort of like computer screens. But everything else is stunning here. The Science Council, Zod's police tactics, the environment ... Oeming is bringing it here. It is incredible. Just impressive.

On to the book.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Review: Superman & Robin Special #1

One of the best things that I feel came out of DC Rebirth was the introduction of a tween Jon Kent and his subsequent friendship with Damian Wayne. The Super Sons was always a great read as it was sort of World's Finest Lite, with the differing personalities of the sons adding nice fodder for plot and characterization. Under the writing of Peter Tomasi, we got to see the two boys grow, learn to respect each other, and get into wild hijinks. 

Brian Michael Bendis took over the Superman books and in the midst of that run had Jon age up about 6 years. This wasn't an instant aging. Jon was stuck in another dimension where he was tortured for what felt like 6 years. Back in the main DCU, only months passed. Suddenly we had a near Superman. Unfortunately that meant that it wouldn't be easy to have anymore Super Sons books. While we did get another mini-series, it was a flashback. You can only go to the well so often that way. And it was a shame because I loved those Sons books.

Last week, Peter Tomasi got one more bite at the apple, coming out with Superman & Robin Special #1, a team-up between Jon and Damian, now in their current DCU forms. In some ways, it reads a little sad because both Jon and Damian realize that maybe it'll be a little weird to hang out like they used to. In some ways it is confusing, as Tomasi includes some dialogue that seems off-continuity or not just right. In some ways it is nostalgic as Tomasi references things he put into his Superman run which his now several years old. But in many ways, it read like a Super Sons story filled with crazy twists and wild action. As such, I enjoyed this.

Add to that the art by New Super-Man artist Viktor Bogdanovic. The boys looks great. The action is wild. And everything flows very well. There is some big action here as well as some quieter emotional scenes. They all shine on the page.

On to the book and the particulars. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Review: Superman '78 #6

Superman '78 #6 came out last week marking the end of this mini-series and making me want a sequel immediately.

Writer Robert Venditti and artist Wilfredo Torres absolutely captured the feel, tone, and look of the Donner Superman universe. They gave us the Lois and Perry and Lex we know from those movies. And they also gave us Brainiac, a villain they made somewhat sympathetic.

But they main thing they did here was give us a Clark that was instantly recognizable. This is a Clark who won't give up, who understands goodness, and who inspires. If you want to give someone a book that epitomizes who Superman is and what he stands for, this is a pretty good book. 

Torres continues to shine, giving us great likenesses and fantastic action. The art definitely brings out the emotions these characters are feeling. In particular, the scenes with Lois just sing.

It all feels like it ended too quickly. How I would have loved 3 or 6 more issues of this team doing this Superman. Maybe this will sell well enough to get us a sequel. And while we are at it, maybe we can get a Supergirl '84 book too!

On to the specifics!