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.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Black Orchid Review: Blue Devil Summer Fun Annual #1

Recently I have been exploring the pre-Crisis fan theory that Black Orchid was Supergirl in disguise.

We are nearing the end of this side adventure as I only have a few more stories I am thinking of covering. And if my goal was to look at pre-Crisis Black Orchid, we are about as close as we can get.

Blue Devil Annual #1 came out on August 1, 1985 the very same week that Crisis on Infinite Earths #8 was on the stands. If you were looking for something to lighten the mood after reading Barry Allen sacrifice himself, this book would fit the bill. It is a complete romp.

In "The Day All Hell Breaks Loose", writers Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn bring a near parody of comic magical battles. It is hard to believe this came out a year before Swamp Thing #50 which would echo the bringing together of 'dark' characters in battle. They lean into some DC history and have some fun with things.

But this is a look at Black Orchid and so I should comment on her appearance in the book. It is, as you might guess, as mysterious as her other appearances. She shows up, lays the smack down, and disappears. There are some things here that actually detract from the Supergirl theory. But the most hilarious thing is that Mishkin and Cohn offer up two Marvel-ous origins, adding to that parody feel.

Paris Cullins is on art and his stuff is always delightful, bright and fresh, just north of cartoony. I love his take on the Orchid, just gorgeous. 

On to the book.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Review: Action Comics #1044

Some life stuff kept me from getting comics in a timely fashion last week so reviews were pushed back a bit. So you get a review of Action Comics #1044 on the Fourth of July holiday. Seems fitting that on the day we celebrate America's independence, we get another chapter of Superman trying to win Warworld's denizens their freedom.

Writer Philip Kennedy Johnson has been doing a wonderful job with pacing this Warworld saga. These are middle chapters but every issue continues to move the plot forward. Every issue has a plot thread nudged, a new thread begun. But we also continue to get a good look at Superman as an inspirational figure. This isn't just action. This isn't just revolution. This is how Superman can change things and change people. 

This issue also has an excellent back-up, 'A World without Clark Kent', looking at an Earth without Superman. In it we get a peek at what the Superman family has been doing. And in particular we get a great look at Supergirl and the respect she has from the other members of the team. We see a caring Supergirl, invested in her family, and caring about others. She also has a great left jab. It's about time we see this Supergirl again. Johnson really seems to have a solid understanding of her.

The art is a wonderful mix. Riccadro Federici continues the horror show of Warworld. Mongul's warriors are part Cenobite from the Hellraiser movies, part Alien Xenomorph, part Venom symbiote, and all carnage. Mongul is vicious and brutal. It sings. Will Conrad draws a flashback giving us the origin of Orphan. And David Lapham brings a grungy style to the Earth back-up. Each part's look fits the story.

I truly feel this is going to be a landmark story for Superman, with a lasting impact. Everyone should be reading it. On to the particulars.