Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Review: DC Vs. Vampires #11

DC Vs. Vampires #11 came out last week, the penultimate issue of a series which has stretched my suspension of disbelief the longer it has gone on. 

Writers James Tynion and Matthew Rosenberg have created a world where vampires have utterly taken over the world. But some of the logic doesn't make great sense. Blotting out the sun will work so the vamps can work 24/7. It also would make plant life impossible to grow. How can humans, the vamires livestock, live without food? How can Swamp Thing remain incredibly powerful? Why isn't the world a frozen wasteland? 

Take away that main issue which bothers me like a popcorn kernel stuck in a tooth, you have the overall narrative. There are three separate plotlines. One, Green Arrow is trying to free a human farm in Kansas. Why Hawkman, the vampire lord there, hasn't simply killed Ollie is a mystery. Two, Babs is heading into Gotham to face down Dick Grayson, king of vampires. It is a '6 against a city' battle which seems like a suicide mission ... except Babs has been hiding Vamp-killing ordinance. Why not give it to the main army fighting the vampires? Why hide it? Lastly, Supergirl is on her way to Australia to get into a rocket to head above the clouds. Here we learn that aliens are helping the vamps so they can get off-world. They aren't suitable cattle ... that is, except Martians.

As the last few issues, this one rolls along quickly. You can't think too hard about this world without it unraveling for its lack of internal logic. At least this time Supergirl gets to do something instead of just cowering in the background.

The art by Otto Schmidt is quite nice. I feel Schmidt has amped up the rough or sketchy aspect of his work here. Guillem March's cover is very scratchy for him but it apes Schmidt's work well enough.

On to the book.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Review: Supergirl #69

Two weeks ago, in the aftermath the Black Adam movie, I reviewed the Supergirl/Mary Marvel throwdown from Peter David and Leonard Kirk's Supergirl #68 . Given that issue ended on a cliffhanger and with the fervor for the Marvel family still high, I figured I'd cover the next issue.

As I said last time, this is a long arc of a depowered Linda Danvers Supergirl following the Chaos Stream to try and reclaim her Earth Angel powers, stripped from her way back in Supergirl #50 in the aftermath of her fight with the Carnivean.

The villain of this arc was just recently revealed to us here. It is Lilith, the first wife of Adam and a demonic presence. Later we learn she is the mother of the Carnivean and is our for revenge. And using a variety of shape-changing and faerie glamor, she has been manipulating events. 

But the real plot here is Linda recognizing her own worth and shedding her self-loathing. Linda was a problem child before merging with the Matrix Supergirl. She has touched the Angelic. Throughout this story, she keeps putting herself down and wondering if she is worthy. Mary Marvel is a perfect foil for Linda's thoughts. Mary is pure, innocent, good. And Linda can't help but feel flawed in comparison. 

I really loved this book. I loved the journey Linda was on. I feel this second arc wasn't as strong as the first, longform one. But it is a perfect second act for Linda. 

Leonard Kirk remains on art and brings a very fluid, very organic feel style here. I love his depiction of Linda and Mary, young women who look natural and very real. But there is a fantastical element here he also embraces including an amazing splash cliffhanger. 

On to the book.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Review: Action Comics #1049

Action Comics #1049 came out this week and was certainly an issue to give thanks for. This is labeled Kal-El Returns Part 5 and certainly we are continuing to see what impact Superman and Warworld coming to Earth are having. But this arc here in Action Comics is really a sort of epilogue to the Warworld saga while sowing the seeds for the future.

Writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson is truly weaving a masterpiece in this book. Superman remains an inspiration to the Warworlders. He is a mentor to Otho and Osul. He is the hero of Metropolis. He is truly a hero and the axle of the book with everything rotating around him. 

But the real fun is that the book is really bolstered by the supporting cast we are getting. Lois is strong here. Bibbo is a fun character, embodying someone who is inspired to be a hero by Superman. We are seeing a truly conniving Lex here as well as a semi-sympathetic Metallo. And let's not forget that Supergirl, as well as Thao-La, are well represented here. In particular, this issue where we see a couple of Lex's plans heating up shows me that Luthor is going to be a force here.

Mike Perkins is on art in the main section and his work on the New Gods is a sort if ugly beautiful. It really just grabs the eye and makes you look. We also get some quieter moments and Perkins does something there which is magical. Promise I'll get there. David Lapham wraps up the Supergirl/Thao-La story and continues to give us a clean look with a gorgeous Kara. Give me more!

On to the book!

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

DC February 2023 Solicits

The Dawn of the DCU is finally being seen in DC's solicits. February's books were announced last week and there a few worth focusing on. Here is the CBR coverage:

It seems to me, just looking at these solicits, that the Lazarus Planet is going to be a driving creative narrative for the universe. So many books seem to be springing from those books including a new Doom Patrol by Dennis Culver and Chris Burnham. We also have seen other coverage elsewhere of new books coming out of Dawn of DCU including a John Stewart GL book by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, a Shazam book by Mark Waid and Dan Mora, and a Steel/Natasha book as well. Those sound great. A Mariko Tamaki Hal Jordan book doesn't seem like a good fit but who knows. And Tom King on Brave and Bold? As long as Kara isn't a guest star. 

It has a sort of 'get back to basics' feel to it but with a burst of new books bringing back characters who traditionally have a title on the shelves. Hopefully things stabilize and we get great stories. 

But until we get there, we have February's issues. Here are the super books. I'll start the discussion by saying that all these books have tremendous variant covers. I'll post my favorite but there are others that are just as sensational

• Written by MARK WAID
• Cover by DAN MORA

• The secret behind the Supergirl-Robin feud, revealed! On a day not too long ago, a meeting between the Boy Wonder and the Girl of Steel began sweetly, became awkward, and ended so catastrophically, horrifically, jaw-droppingly, car-crashingly disastrously that, among the Superman and Batman families, it is now enshrined as the world’s finest example of How Not to Team Up!

Back when World's Finest started we saw that Dick and Kara had some horrific date which both were still smarting from. Back when we first heard about that date, I thought we would never see the story. But DC is giving me Valentine's Day gift by giving me the story. I'm bummed Dan Mora isn't on it but I love Emanuela Lupacchino's art so that is fine. I love the cover!


Monday, November 21, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving! A Supergirl/Legion Trailer!

 Thanksgiving is right around the corner and at this time I always hope that there will be some good comic news so that I can once again give thanks for this hobby which has meant so much to me.

As if by magic, last week the official trailer for the Legion Of Super-Heroes movie was released. Here it is on YouTube:

Now there is no official release date, just a vague 'early 2023' tagline on different sites but this looks like a fantastic.

Obviously I am a massive Supergirl fan so the fact that she is headlining this movie is incredible. Putting her in my favorite version of her costume - red skirt, blue shirt - is just gravy on the turkey, if I can use a Thanksgiving metaphor.

But I am also a huge Legion of Super-Heroes fan as well. So a Supergirl and the Legion movie is like peanut butter and nutella, 2 awesome things which are exponentially better together.

There is a lot to love in this trailer and one thing that I am not sure I like. But overall, I can anticipate owning this in some form for repeated viewing.

On to some details.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Review: Batman/Superman World's Finest #9

Batman/Superman World's Finest #9 came out this week and was once again a near perfect comic book. Writer Mark Waid and artist Dan Mora have been hitting it out of the park month in and month out. 

Waid writes the perfect voices for DC characters and this issue there is no shortage of them. From The Flash to the Teen Titans to even the villains, everything sounds perfect. The actions of the characters feel right. But most importantly, he knows how to give us the perfect Superman and the perfect Batman. We see how the two differ in their lessons for Boy Thunder. Given the roles of Robin and Supergirl in the earlier arc, this story about mentoring has some extra juice to it. 

Heck, he even gives me a Joker I'd read. And I have been tired of the Joker for years.

Meanwhile, Dan Mora is revelation. As I say each issue, whenever I see Mora focus on a new character I say 'I hope he does that character's book some day'. From the Doom Patrol to Green Lantern to old school Titans, everyone looks great. That said, I hope he stays here for a long long time.

Everyone should be reading this book. Everyone. 

On to the details.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Review: The Death Of Superman 30th Anniversary Special, Pt 2

The Death of Superman 30th Anniversary Special came out last week and it was chock full of great stuff. I covered the Dan Jurgens story earlier this week. That was a solid tale, a flashback to a time when Jon was still a tweener and learning about the famous Death story. Baked within that was a bunch of homage panels as Jurgens introduces the story to a whole new generation of fans.

What I love about the rest of this book is that it also looks backwards but now to the actual time of the Death of Superman. And it also brings back a bunch of the major creators of the time, allowing them another swing. Even better, it has those creators once more writing some of the characters they are best known for. As an old time fan, and in particular a fan of this classic arc, this was just wonderful.

Jerry Ordway and Tom Grummett give us a story focusing on the Kents. Ma and Pa are witnessing the Doomsday fight and reminisce on a little known aspect of Clark's heroism.

Roger Stern and Jackson Guice give us a Guardian, Dubbilex, and Metropolis SCU story. I didn't know I needed another Guardian and Dubbilex story. I did know I needed to see more Guice art.

Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove give us a deeper look into John Henry Irons origin and how he always has had the art of the hero. 

And if that wasn't enough, we get a bunch of pin-ups, including one I'll highlight below. 

It is a hefty $10.99. But you know what? It was worth it.

On to the book. 

Monday, November 14, 2022

Review: The Death Of Superman 30th Anniversary Special, pt 1

 It's hard to believe that it has been 30 years since the Death of Superman storyline. But it has been and DC decided to commemorate the occasion with an oversized one shot, appropriately named The Death of Superman 30th Anniversary Special. 

It is a wonderful book, bringing together the architects of that classic arc for several stories. The book is too big to cover all in one review so I'll be covering the first (and longest story) by writer/artist Dan Jurgens with inker Brett Breeding.

The story takes place in the recent past, recent enough that Jon is around but not recent enough for Jon to be aged. I am surprised that once more DC is giving us stories of a de-aged Jon. Perhaps they realize that a tween Jon still has story opportunities. Here Jon learns about how his father died at the hands of Doomsday. It is an excellent retelling of the classic story (it was 30 years ago, maybe people haven't read it before) while adding a new character. 

But the joy here is the retelling of the story from Lois' perspective, teaching Jon about how deadly Doomsday was and how noble Superman was in sacrificing himself.

I grabbed the Franscesco Mattina cover because the punched out symbol cover is a nice riff on the similar covers introducing us to the four wannabe Supermen that emerged in The Reign of the Supermen arc.

On to the story.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Review: Superman Son Of Kal-El #17

Superman Son Of Kal-El #17 came out this week. This is a title that is ending next month, switching to a mini-series called Adventures of Superman.

This is also the 4th part of the Kal-El Returns arc, reuniting the senior Superman with his family and the world at large.

One thing about this title is that writer Tom Taylor has made it low on action and high on civics. This is a book that has felt to be more of a Jay Nakamura book with Jon as a guest star than a break-out title for a new Superman. And it has focused more on Jon's sexual identity than his super-heroics. 

I understand full well that Jon coming out as bisexual and being with Jay has been lauded as a breakthrough. But I was hoping that this would be a book where the spotlight would be on Jon's emergence as a superhero, his filling the mantle of the title Superman. But instead that has barely been touched on. 

This issue has Jon coming out to his father. Now I am not saying that this isn't an important topic or discussion. But this title now feels like an 18 month 'coming out' story and not a super-hero book. I am not bemoaning Jon being bi. I am not saying that this shouldn't be. I am saying that I wanted more out of this book and this focus on Jon's sexual orientation has just meant other stories haven't been told.

Here I also take a little exception with Taylor's story in that Jon thinks that his father ... SUPERMAN ... would somehow shun him or disown him for being bi. Superman! I know this might be a metaphor for other children struggling with parents who don't accept them. But don't put Superman in those shoes.

Cian Tormey has settled in nicely in this book. His style fits the tone here.

On to the book.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Review: Dark Crisis On Infinite Earths #6

Dark Crisis On Infinite Earths #6 came out this week, the penultimate issue of this universe redefining epic. 

Can someone explain it to me?

In the 14 years I have been running this site, the DCU has set and reset several times. I must admit I am getting a bit fatigued with these events and these configuring of continuity. In the end, the DCU usually settles down. We usually end up back near classics. But that doesn't mean the telling and retelling and forming and reforming isn't exhausting.

Still, if the story is intriguing or compelling or fun, I am usually on board. Final Crisis made very little sense but it felt big and bold and made me think. 

I don't think I can say the same for Dark Crisis.

I don't quite understand how Pariah is doing what he is doing. How he contaminated a primeval force. What he hopes to gain or what it will bring him. I don't know how he is controlling all the villains. I don't know why he needed the original JLA on dream worlds or why the worlds they were on were their dreams. I can blur my mind and sort of get it. But that is also tiring.

And then we get this issue which sort of ends the main plot before I can say I understood it. There are key points in the plot which are explained via 'comic book science' in small panels to move things along. I don't understand why these things work. And how it brings things to a close.

But then it opens up one last subplot which I understand even less.

There are moments to like here. Writer Joshua Williamson gives legacy heroes, the target of Deathstroke, bright moments. Green Arrow has a nice spotlight scene. 

But overall, this series has left me wanting. I didn't feel there were any really stakes here. That might be more about my event fatigue than anything. But things don't flow here.

All that said, Daniel Sampere is a revelation. His art is spectacular. He gives us big battle scenes and small emotional scenes. The art is crisp and clear and eye-catching.

But we only have one more issue to wrap it up. And then, another 'new' universe.

On to the specifics.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Review: Supergirl #68

Last week I saw the Black Adam movie, a action filled, special effects fueled extravaganza. It was a pure popcorn movie. Maybe a bit long, maybe too much slo-mo. But it was filled with lots of DC lore and I truly loved the entirety of the JSA. And, of course, there was that mid-credit scene which reintroduced a Henry Cavill Superman to the DCEU. With all that in mind, I thought I'd find a Supergirl/Marvel Family crossover to cover. 

Supergirl #68, written by Peter David with art by Leonard Kirk and Robin Riggs, At this time in the series, Supergirl had been stripped of her Angelic presence and powers. Her powers are now similar to the Golden Age Superman, leaping instead of flying, limited invulnerability. She is on a quest to regain that Earth Angel aspect by following the Chaos Stream on Earth. Along the way, she has been tormented by the supernatural, all claiming allegiance to the Demon Mother.

This story arc is solid. Throughout the story, Linda Danvers isn't sure of her worthiness of the powers. The addition of Mary, a glittering example of purity, makes Linda question herself even more.  It all ends well with Supergirl performing the ultimate sacrifice. But we need to get there. And here is where Mary becomes an ongoing supporting cast member. Like many superhero stories, the characters have to fight before they team up.

Leonard Kirk was the main artist on this book for years. He brings a clean style to the book, one greatly appreciated. The characters look young, as they should. The action is slick. There is an element of the fantastical. And the humorous bits are done well.

With no hesitation I'll say I love this volume of Supergirl. This Supergirl/Linda was complicated, flawed, but learning and trying to be a hero.

On to the book.

Friday, November 4, 2022

Review: Dark Knights Of Steel #8

Dark Knights of Steel #8 came out this week and was another interesting chapter in this mini-series. I have enjoyed this book for its exploration of the DC heroes in a medieval setting with all the trappings that comes with. It was a time when combat settled a lot of disputes. So seeing some of our heroes seem eager to raise their sword hand seems right.

The House of El, The House of Lightning, and the Amazons are about to engage in battle, a war of the three major kingdoms on this world. I have suspected for some time that the real villains of this world have yet to be revealed. Some shape-shifters are out there ratcheting up the tension and lashing out in the guise of our heroes. 

The problem is that this also means that the 'real' heroes are bound to return the violence. This issue ends with a brutal death. But I don't think there are any shapeshifters here. I think who ever is pulling the strings has succeeded in making these different factions kill themselves off. 

Tom Taylor does a good job here with characterization as usual. I love the Harley here. I like Diana and Zala- trying to calm things. And I like the budding romance between Ollie and Dinah. 

Another big win is the art. Yasmine Putri is back on the book and her stuff is just gorgeous. Her panel construction and page layouts really help push the story.  Her battle sequences are fantastic. And she seems to have a good handle on the fashion and mores of the time. Just wonderful.

On to the book!

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Review: DC Vs. Vampires #10

DC Vs. Vampires #10 came out last week, inching us closer to the end of this series.

As has been the case with this book, we are basically following three different subplots as it winds through this horrific world. Batgirl is leading an attack squad into Gotham to kill Dick. Ollie is trying to free people from a blood farm in Smallville. And Steel is doing his best to get Supergirl to Australia hoping to get her above the clouds and into the sun.

Writers James Tynion IV and Matthew Rosenberg keep the book plugging along, switching back and forth from  one plot to the other and keeping them all moving forward. There are some questionable plot points here, things which don't make much sense even in the context of a comic book world. But for the most part, it is enjoyable. I keep hoping we'll get something heroic out of Supergirl before the book ends. And I have enjoyed the insanity of Harley Quinn here.

The art by Otto Schmidt is at his most stylized and wild. It crackles along very well. For me, the Gotham pages work the best for his look. I have said before that I'd buy a Batgirl or Birds of Prey book by him. 

I do like the Kara The Vampire Slayer variant cover by Nathan Szerdy. 

On to the book.