Friday, September 30, 2022

Review: Action Comics #1047

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

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

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 Metallo is forlorn and withdrawn.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

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

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

On to the book.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

Suddenly I lost hope.

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

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

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

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

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

On to the book.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Back Issue Review: Adventure Comics #394

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

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

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

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

On to the book. 

Friday, September 23, 2022

Review: Batman Superman World's Finest #7

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Was Black Orchid Supergirl? What Is The Verdict?

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

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

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

So let's review some of the high points.

Monday, September 19, 2022

DC Comics December Solicits

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

Here is a link to all the books from Newsarama:

And now on to the books that grabbed me.

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 16, 2022

Review: Superman Son Of Kal-El #15

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

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

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

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

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

On to the book.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Rest In Peace Eric Jones

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

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

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

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

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

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

My deepest condolences to friends and family.

Here is link to his obituary.

God speed.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Review: Dark Knights Of Steel Tales From The Three Kingdoms

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

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

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

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

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

On to the book. 

Friday, September 9, 2022

Review: Dark Crisis #4

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

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

So I am rooting for this series. 

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

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

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

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

On to the book.

Friday, September 2, 2022

Review: Superman: Warworld Apocalypse

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

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

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

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

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