Monday, October 31, 2022

2022 Jack-O-Lanterns

As many know, one of my favorite Halloween traditions is to carve pumpkins. Nothing better for a creative outlet than figuring out what jack-o-lanterns I am going to carve and then figure out the design. If you use the Halloween tag here, you'll see the pumpkins of yesteryear (as well as some Halloween comic reviews). 

A more recent sub-tradition is doing a Legionnaire pumpkin each year. Over the years I have put together quite a mission team: Sensor Girl, Wildfire, Monster Boy, Quislet, and now this year's addition ... White Witch.

This was a bit trickier than I thought it would be as the long eyelash antennae were a  bit delicate and required some fine carving. But overall, I think this came out pretty good! Welcome aboard Mysa!

But I am more pleased with the second jack-o-lantern.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Review: Action Comics #1048

 Action Comics #1048 came out this week and was another wonderful issue in this great run that writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson. This is part three of the Kal-El Returns arc but really we are still in the aftermath of the Warworld Saga. 

The first part of the issue has the main story, Superman's story, set in Metropolis. The art in this part is by Mike Perkins, who I last saw on the Lois Lane book. The aftermath of Warworld, the legend of the First God Orglun, and the tangential touches on the Fourth World are all at play here. And it all really works. The addition of Otho and Osul Ra is so welcome here, giving Lois and Clark kids to care for. Johnson just adeptly shows how these two are still hurting from the years they lost with Jon. Moreover, all the 'Genesis' and 'Old Gods' stuff comes home with some of the New Gods showing up. 

Perkins just crackles here. His style works well for big battle art. I remember his fisticuffs being a strong part of the Lois book. The New Gods looks huge. And yet, at the same time, the smaller scenes of the kids at the zoo, have just as much polish. His Metallo is robotic and yet somehow forlorn. Wonderful.

But as great as the first part, the back up feature, the second part of Red Moon Rising, with art by David Lapham, is just as great. This is a Supergirl back-up, with Kara showing Thao-La the ropes, teaching her to be a hero, acting as protector of Metropolis, and ready to throw down against Mongul's lackeys. This is Supergirl. I love Lapham's style here, giving Supergirl a sort of classic look, powerful and graceful. 

Everyone should be buying this book.

On to the specifics.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

DC Comics January 2023 Solicits

The solicits for the new year of DC Comics were released last week and I have to say it is an odd month. We are down to one Superman title for now as the new Jon Kent book Adventures of Superman isn't released yet.  But that one book is Action Comics which is becoming a new version of Superman Family. I think that is great!

The Lazarus Planet books sound intriguing but there while there are some interesting bits I don't know if I needed another big crossover right out of the gate of Dark Crisis. Maybe give us a year of building whatever this new universe is before breaking it down?

Anyways, here is a link to the full solicits from GamesRadar (formerly Newsarama):

Cover by DAN MORA


Action Comics #1051 begins a new format for DC's most action-packed title, offering not one, not two, but three epic adventures of Superman and the entire Super-Family! Following the bombshell events of Action Comics #1050, the world's relationship with Superman is forever changed, the upper limits of his supercharged powers have yet to be reached, and the House of El's transformation of Metropolis, led by Steel, has begun. But Lex Luthor has found the perfect instrument with which to undo everything Superman is working to achieve: Metallo, whose hatred of Superman is matched only by his hatred for Luthor himself. Then, in "Lois and Clark 2: Doom Rising," Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks return to tell the tale of young Jon Kent on the farm with his parents, learning about his abilities, coming of age…and battling the Doombreaker?! And finally, Power Girl returns in part one of a three-part story spinning out of Lazarus Planet! This issue marks the first appearance of new characters, new costumes, and a new era of Action Comics! It all starts here!

First off, there are a ton of great variant covers for this issue but I love this main one by Dan Mora the most. Just a great shot of our new Superman Family in a new sort of family uniform. I love it. Mora does such great work. I love his Supergirl.

This turns out to be a sort of Superman anthology so I hope at some point Supergirl gets a solo bit here.

I am glad that Phillip Kennedy Johnson is still on board for the main story. Super-juiced on Genesis and fighting Lex/Metallo is great. Love that the Phaelosian twins are here too!

Way back in DC Rebirth, the Convergence Superman merged with the New 52 Superman. Now we get a Jurgens/Weeks arc looking back at the pre-merge Superman with a young Jon. I'm not against it because I liked those series. But strange to do now. Is this to mollify the 'why did you age Jon' crowd?

And I am glad Power Girl is back. I wonder how this creative team will treat her.

On to the rest of the books.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Review: DC's Terror Through Time

Hat tip, as usual, to friend Mart Gray for pointing out a delightful Super Sons story in the DC's Terrors Through Time anthology which came out earlier this month.

Peter Tomasi has always had a great handle on the tween versions of these heroes. I loved all his series of Jon and Damian learning to be heroes and friends. Their methods and outlook were different enough to bring out contrast and friction. But they grew and influenced each other. There was super-heroics. There was humor. It all worked.

All that has unfortunately evaporated with the aging of Jon to late teen. I still think that was a bad move by DC, robbing us not only of these Sons stories but any true 'Superboy' tales. I would love to hear if DC regrets it. Given the recent promotion and changes to Jon, it is unlikely we'll ever get a de-aging. 

Thankfully, these 'lost tales' continue to pop up now and then. Here, writer Sholly Fisch hits it out of the park. This is a Halloween story. It's a humor story. And it has the classic interplay between our heroes. Throw in the JLA and some of my favorite classic villains and this is a win.

I'll also say that these stories for the most part land excellent artists. In this story, Luciano Vecchio brings a nice style to this, stylized without over doing it. 

On to the story.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Review: World's Finest #8

Batman/Superman World's Finest #8 came out this week, another amazing issue in this utterly entertaining and wonderful title. 

Writer Mark Waid and artist Dan Mora are just clicking here. This is pure creative synergy, bringing back a classic feeling DC Comic while feeling completely modern. Perhaps the best decision the creators have made was to put this some time in the past. This feels like a pre-Crisis world. There are costumes and histories here that don't jibe with the current DCU. Or perhaps this is the new DCU. I can only hope. 

This issue continues the story of Boy Thunder, Superman's new sidekick from an alternate Earth. He might not be as innocent a kid as he let on last issue. It is hinted he may have had something to do with his world's demise. Seeing the entire DCU accept him and help him brings back a feel of a warmer universe where heroes were selfless.

And let me not bury the lede. This is the best Supergirl book out in the last several years. Waid brings back a Silver Age origin. He leans right into how traumatic her history yes. But instead of her wallowing, or getting angry and drunk, or 'living in pain', she has recognized it and grown. If you didn't like the last mini-series Supergirl starred in, this is a palate cleanser. This washes off the grime. Most of this review will be on those pages. Heck ... this is a Supergirl blog.

As for Dan Mora, he is simply perfect. There are subtle homages to classic DC (including the cover, a sort of take on Batman #1from 1940. This book keeps bringing in more and more of the DCU and every time I see his take on someone new, I think 'he should do that book'. Seriously, he hits it out of the park with everything. His expressive work is amazing. I would beg DC to put him on a Supergirl solo book. But as long as she keeps showing up here, I'm happy. 

On to the book. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Review: Swamp Thing #50

Last week I reviewed Dark Crisis:The Deadly Green, a one shot tied to Dark Crisis On Infinite Earths and a definite homage to the classic Swamp Thing #50 from 1986. During the review I wondered if folks not familiar with the source material might not appreciate the issue as much as someone like me, someone who knows this book by heart. 

I love this issue. It came out at just the right time for me, in the middle of my teen years when comics were suddenly akin to literature and not juvenile nonsense. It seems almost silly to sing the praises of Alan Moore's Swamp Thing or the art stylings of Stephen Bissette, John Totleben, and Rick Veitch. But if you haven't read that run, you should. It is brilliant and stands up today.

With the homage fresh in my mind, I figured why not review Swamp Thing #50 here. It is one of my favorite issues of all time and why not shed some light on why I liked Deadly Green so much.

Sit back and prepare to be amazed. Everything about this book sings. It is hard to believe but the character of John Constantine was just a year old at this point. Some of the character aftermath of this issue stuck for years, even today. The art is utterly lush. 

On to the book.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Legion Of Super-Heroes Animated Movie Starring Supergirl !!

Every so often a news item will come out of the blue which just tickles me, having me grin like a loon for the day.

Out of nowhere last week, we learned a new DC animated movie about the Legion of Super-Heroes is in the works, And even better, Supergirl is a big part of it.

Here is the official blurb!

One shot of the movie has been released. It should have Supergirl and Brainiac 5 fans (like me) smiling. That looks like a fantastic Supergirl. Love the look of determination, the hairdo, the hand on Brainy, and the costume. I stared at this thing all day.

And then the details.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Review: Superman Son Of Kal-El #16

Superman Son of Kal-El #16 came out this week, the first issue of Jon's book since Superman has returned from Warworld. It also is the first book out since the news that the title was being canceled and rebranded as Adventures of Superman in the new year.

I call issues like these 'rest issues', a pause between big storylines giving the creative team a breather and the opportunity to showcase some character moments, catch up on lingering threads, etc.

In many ways, this issue was a primer for this book. If you were looking for a jumping on point, this would be it. The Bendix/Gamorra stuff is done. It is sort of a clean slate. If you are looking for a jumping off point and the overly long 15 Gamorran story didn't convince you, this issue shows what writer Tom Taylor envisions for this book. This is an activist Superman. There is some metatextual commentary on fandoms. 

One scene that does crackle is Jon confronting Lex Luthor. We have seen these two battle wits in the past. I like how Jon holds his own here. He isn't Clark so his dealing with Lex isn't like Clark's. The scene has the most energy in the issue even if a super-villain encounter is thrown in. 

The art is by Cian Tormey and Ruairi Coleman. It has a sort of organic feel. There isn't a sharp angle or jagged line in the book. It has a smooth feel which works with the book. The cover has the feel of Action Comics #285 when Supergirl was announced to the world. I like that too.

On to the book.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Superman Family News At NYCC 2022

I have never been able to attend the New York City Comic Con. It is a bucket list item for me.

The con occurred last weekend and one of the cool things to come out of it was a Superman panel teeing up all the things that are going to happen with the Superman books in the upcoming year.

Here is a link to the coverage over on the DC site:

There was a lot to love in the news as discussed by the creators. Most of the upcoming plans sound fantastic. I'll touch on some of the news here but I recommend reading the entire blurb.

Let's start with Action Comics.

“My one-word mission statement for Action Comics in 2023 is ‘Super-Family,’ and I draw inspiration from the 100-page Giant ‘Superman Family issues,” said writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson. “We’re giving everyone in the House of El their own role and personal journey while still keeping Superman at the forefront, and tying all the Super-titles together in a way that’s reminiscent of the Triangle Era. I couldn’t be more excited to be part of this new era of Action Comics, and doing it alongside such a consummate artist as Rafa Sandoval and comics titan Dan Jurgens truly makes it a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

I was a kid when the Superman Family went to the dollar comic format and I loved it. So the idea of seeing something like it again is tremendous. I feel Johnson has had a great handle on the underpinnings of the Superman characters. His Supergirl is spot on. His take on Steel and Natasha is perfect. So I am glad he is taking charge in this way.

On Twitter Johnson said that the book will be 40 pages with three different stories. That is about as close to the classic Superman Family book you can get. I am hoping that eventually Supergirl will get some stories of her own. 

Monday, October 10, 2022

Review: Dark Crisis The Deadly Green

When it was announced that the big bads in Dark Crisis were Pariah and the The Great Darkness, I anticipated that the writers would be leaning into two of the bigger stories that came out in 1985. 

One, of course, is Crisis on Infinite Earths. That would explain all the multiverse stuff and obviously Pariah's presence.

The other though is American Gothic, the Alan Moore Swamp Thing arc that looked at horror manifesting in the DCU during the instability of the Crisis. That arc starts with the formal introduction of John Constantine and ends with a battle on the plains of Heaven and Hell. We see Swamp Thing tangentially touch on the Crisis in Swamp Thing #46. That arc introduces the Parliament of Trees. It ends in Swamp Thing #50 where the Great Darkness is revealed as the shadow of God, the Anti-light. In that issue, Earthbound magical heroes perform a seance to lend what meager powers they have to the side of good. In the end, Swamp Thing is profound, Mento is insane, Zatara is dead, and the Great Darkness has created an uneasy truce with the original Light. 

Dark Crisis The Deadly Green really leans into that American Gothic arc and in particular that issue of Swamp Thing. From a super-hero seance, to a profound character speaking from the ultimate darkness, to Swamp Thing playing an important role, it all resonates. Without knowing that issue inside and out, I wonder if readers pick up and those reverberations. In particular, Constantine speaking to three aspects of the Great Darkness is a sort of inverse of four heroes speaking to the Darkness in that issue, a very sneaky back door homage. Alan Scott almost perishing in flames (like Zatara did) is also a decent echo. 

And a key plot point of the main Dark Crisis book is tucked away here too. 

All that, from the homage to the key plot point, makes me wonder why the creator list of the book reads like a phone book. It sports three writers - Ram V, Daniel Watters, and Alex Paknadel. It has four artists - Daniel Bayliss, George Kambadais, Tom Derenick, and Brent Peeples. I suppose that the number of creators doesn't matter if the story works. But the art styles flipping about did pull me a bit out of the story. 

All this makes me wonder if I should just review Swamp Thing #50 here.

On to the book.

Friday, October 7, 2022

Review: Dark Crisis On Infinite Earths #5

Dark Crisis On Infinite Earths #5 came out this week and I have to say there are some great moments in this book. But I don't know if I quite understand everything that is going on.

Joshua Williamson continues to really plumb the depths of the DCU in this mega-event and that will always make me happy. We saw Body Doubles in a past issue. In this one we see Sideways. So anytime I get the breadth of the DCU I am happy. 

And we also see Williamson leaning into some DC history here. This whole series has been a bit meta with the Pariah enslaving the big bads from prior universal events as his lieutenant. So seeing Kingdom Come images again homaged works well. Gar Logan returning from his injuries with an eyepatch is interesting to me given his long history an enmity with Deathstroke. We also, finally, get the return of the JL albeit in their dream versions. All that works.

But how Pariah is doing all this is still a bit unclear to me. How he corrupted the Great Darkness doesn't make a lot of sense, even from a comic book science viewpoint. And all the stuff about heroes being tied to dream planets and therefore dead but not dead seems weird. I also don't know why everything hinges on Deathstroke? Is it because he is a linchpin or is it because Pariah has made him one.

Daniel Sampere's art is just gorgeous throughout. His battle sequences are gritty. His splash pages work on the 'big moments deserve big art' scale. And his more cosmic splashes are really lush. He is making all this work visually. 

On to the book.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Superman Family At NYCC

Hat tip to blog friend Mart Gray for sending me to Bleeding Cool to see this image and learn about the Superman panel being done this weekend at NYCC. Here is a link to the story:

Now the Bleeding Cool article seems to focus a lot on the lack of capes. But there is more to glean here. 

First off, the art looks like Dan Mora. So no complaints there. 
But lets take a little deeper dive, Let's start out with red and black shoulder s-shields they all are wearing? Nice way of showing immediately that this is a team, a family.

The Breakdown of each costume is pretty interesting too.

Monday, October 3, 2022

Review: DC Vs. Vampires #9

DC Vs. Vampires #9 came out last week marking the halfway point of the second arc of this book. As this second arc has Supergirl as a main character and ... gasp ... a hero I felt the need to grab it and review.

I have admitted in the past that books like this or zombie titles don't usually get my attention. I am probably not the target audience here. But I will also admit that I am a sucker for Elseworlds and that I have been enjoying this book so far.

Writers James Tynion IV and Matthew Rosenberg are doing what they should do in books like this, introducing us to the broader DCU in the context of this vampiric wasteland. Now I didn't read the first 6 issues so I don't know how or why so many heroes got turned to the dark side. But I like the ragtag group of uninfected heroes who are still trying to save the world. Steel, Jayna, Green Arrow, Batgirl, and a depowered Supergirl sort lead different factions on different quests. There is a very nice surprise in the middle of the issue which I didn't foresee which also made me happy. 

Perhaps the one thing that I worry about is that there are three very different plot lines happening in this book meaning each issue is sort of sliced into thirds. I am far more interested in the Batgirl and Supergirl plots than I am the Green Arrow one and so I wonder if so many plot lines are too many for a book this length. 

I love the art as well. Guillem March's covers are horrific and dynamic. I loves seeing Supergirl front and center fighting fanged Atlantean warriors. Otto Schmidt is on interior art and brings his somehow both loose and polished look to the inside. I really like his work.

All three plots are nudged along in this issue so let's get to the details.