Wednesday, August 31, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 29, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

On to the issue.

Friday, August 26, 2022

Review: Action Comics #1046

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

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

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

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

Another winning chapter! On to the details.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

DC November 2022 Solicits

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

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

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

On to the books!

Backup art by DAVID LAPHAM
Variant cover by NATHAN SZERDY 

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

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

I love this solicit. I love the cover!

Monday, August 22, 2022

Review: World's Finest #6

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

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

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

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

On to the book.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Review: Superman Son Of Kal-El #14

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Black Orchid Wednesday: Pop Figure

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 15, 2022

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

Welcome to my second Terrificon recap!

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

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

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

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

Ah well, what might have been.

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

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

Friday, August 12, 2022

Review: DC Vs. Vampires #8

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

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

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

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

On to the book.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Black Orchid Wednesday: Phantom Stranger #32

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

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

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

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

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

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

On to the book!

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Supergirl Through Two Different Lenses

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

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

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

Monday, August 8, 2022

Terrificon Recap 1: Gene Ha And Robert Venditti

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 5, 2022

Review: Dark Crisis #3

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Black Orchid Wednesday: Phantom Stranger #31

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 1, 2022

Review: Superman Space Age Book One

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

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

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

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

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

On to the book.