Friday, December 29, 2023

Supergirl Best Of 2023 Part Three: Comic Moments #5-1

Welcome to the last post looking back at 2023 and Supergirl's best moments in comics over the year. 

Over the last two days (head here for day one and here for day two) , I've done an overall review of the year, looked at Supergirl's appearances in movies, my commissions this year, and started the 'best of' list including the honorable mentions.

But today is the big day, the top 5 comic moments for Supergirl in 2023. 

I had a hard time truly ranking these top 5 so just know that they are relatively interchangeable in rank in my mind. I'll again say that there were plenty of good moments over the year for the character. But always in the role of supporting player, background guest. 

Some might say these were crumbs. But as a supervisor of mine used to say all the time, 'crumbs make a cake'. There have been years that have been rough for the character, years where I could barely put together a 'best of' list. 

I loved this year for the character. If only her one solo story allowed her to shine!

On to the list!

Comic Moment #5 - Batman/Superman World's Finest #12 - 'I'm proud of you'

We had heard about Dick's terrible date with Kara early on in the World's Finest book. I was so pleased when we actually got to see that lousy encounter in total in the twelfth issue.

Mark Waid just understands the character. During the date, Supergirl simply realized that she didn't like who she was becoming when she was with Dick that night. She is mature enough to recognize her own feelings and act in a healthy way.

But more importantly, I love how she implies how she recognized that Dick was the way he was because he wanted approval, a sort of backhanded way of saying how Batman is screwing him up.

And then most importantly, Superman is proud of her. This is some years ago when Kara is younger and probably looking for Superman's approval (although not as insanely as Dick does with Bruce). It shows they have a more collegial relationship and less sidekick-y. Great end page.  

Comic Moment #4 - Lazarus Planet Alpha - 'No fear'

During the Lazarus Planet storyline, the heroes form a quick team to try and rescue the Devil Nezha to fight King Fire Bull. In the Lazarus Planet Alpha issue, Supergirl is a leader, a powerhouse, and a moral compass reminding the heroes they don't kill even if up against literal devils.

But here was my favorite moment. Supergirl is temporarily dazed by the fear-inducing effects of Golden Horn King. But then Blue Devil reminds that Supergirl doesn't succumb to fear. She steels herself and lashes out.

How great that an established hero like Blue Devil looks at Supergirl as fearless. And how great that she is able to shake off the fear and fight. Brilliant.

Comic Moment #3 - Knight Terrors Superman #2 - 'I know who I am'

In Knight Terrors Superman, Supergirl was faced with her nightmare, a panoply of Karas in all her outfits. With relative ease, she recognized it as a nightmare and battled on, eventually joining Superman in his own horrific visions.

Look at how writer Joshua Williamson just captures the current Supergirl so effortlessly. Sometimes she feels like she is still building a life on Earth like Superman has. That makes sense ... she is still a relative newcomer to this world. 

Also, she knows who she is. She didn't need to be afraid of visions of herself because she is comfortable and confident in her own skin and with who she has become.

How great to read of a Supergirl who is confident but still growing, still learning! 

Not trying to be negative but contrast this to the Kara we saw in her special, the one weighed down by social media, emotionally hurt to the point of inactivity and pettiness, and not having any memories of Krypton. 

Comic Moment #2 - Action Comics Doomsday Special - 'Facing off with the devil'

Which actually nicely leads us into the #2 best comic moment on 2023, in the Doomsday Special. How funny that Supergirl is given a much better show here in this special rather than her own. Kudos to writer Dan Watters and artist Eddy Barrows.

In Hell, Doomsday has died a million times over and is now resurrected to the point of near omnipotence. Doomsday is so strong he is about to upset the power structure of Hell, gaining believers in the lesser demons and about to smash into reality. The powers that be want to remain the powers that be and so recruit Supergirl to fight their battle for them.

How utterly fantastic is Supergirl's response to Neron when he initially proposes the fight. Arms crossed defiantly, she says 'Fat chance, pal. Do it yourself!'

Supergirl just told off the Devil. 

That is totally worthy of being the second best moment of the year. She stood up to and sassed Neron. Excellent.

Throughout these top nine, there has been this running theme of Supergirl being comfortable in who she is - a junior hero, a role model, a scholar, a fighter, a leader. 

So what could be the number one moment?

Comic Moment #1 - Superman #7 - 'Field Commander Kara'

That theme just seemed completely encapsulated in this page from Superman #7, written by Joshua Williamson with art by Gleb Melnikov.

A major new threat, The Chained, has appeared in the skies of Metropolis and Superman has already been defeated by him. It is up to the super-family to defend the city.

In this splash page, we see Supergirl leading the charge. She is the field commander, with Natasha, Conner, and Jon following her into battle. She is the one who deploys them in the city, sending some out on rescue duty while she takes him on herself.

Confident, strong, a leader, a role model. I like this 2023 Supergirl and this page captures it perfectly. This was my #1 Supergirl moment of the year because it was the distilled essence of how she was (for the most part) treated.

I don't know what 2024 will bring us Supergirl fans but for now this one is happy.

And what about you? What moments did I forget? Was my ranking off? And what was your favorite Supergirl moment?

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Supergirl Best of 2023 Part Two - Commissions And Comic Moments #10-6

Welcome to part two of my wrap-up of Supergirl in 2023!

You can head here for part one, a little bit of overall review, the animated stuff, and the honorable mentions for best comic moments.

As I said, this has been a good year for Supergirl albeit one relegated mostly to a supporting role in Superman and Action Comics. Joshua Williamson and Phillip Kennedy Johnson seem to get her as a character. Her powers might be the same as Superman but she is different. She is smart. She is a sort of scholar of Krypton. She is young and a bit brash and heroic. She is still learning.

Interestingly enough, over the last couple of years, I have seen Supergirl sort of settle into a middle generation of heroes. In academic terms, she is like Junior Faculty. She isn't a newbie any more. But she isn't tenured yet either; she is young. But she is older and more experienced than Kenan and Jon and the super-twins. She is a sort of role model for them. And she seems, again in these background scenes and small moments, sort of embraced the role. I love it.

This is character growth that makes more sense than, let's say, getting drunk and crying in the middle of a sun. 

One of my joys every year is heading to comic conventions and doing my best to grab some commission sketches. The last couple of years, I haven't been too lucky. This year I was much more successful getting three great pieces. 

I have always liked Denys Cowan's work and he was the target at Terrificon. I love that commission, Supergirl proud and strong.

And then at Wicked Comic-Con, I grabbed both Eduardo Risso and Adriana Melo. Risso's piece is smoky and noirish, a unique take in my collection. And Melo just loved the 70's costume and gave this beaming, slightly cheesecake-y take on Kara.

Mission accomplished!

But onto the #10-#6 Supergirl comic moments of 2023. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Supergirl Best Of 2023 Part One: Non-Comic Moment And Comic Honorable Mentions

Hard to believe that we have reached the end of another trip around the sun. 

I have to say that 2023 has been a very good year for Supergirl. In fact, I would have rated it an excellent year overall except for a recent event which made things a little less exciting.

But I think back to 2022 and how Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow was still fresh in my mind. That was a drunk, despondent Kara who didn't resonate with me. It worries me a little that Woman of Tomorrow is going to be the basis for the planned Supergirl movie. Thankfully that representation by Tom King never creeped into the main comic universe.

Which brings us to 2023. 

Between Phillip Kennedy Johnson on Action Comics and Joshua Williamson on Superman, Supergirl has been in good hands. She has been a leader, a scholar, a mentor, a friend in those books. She is often the smartest person in the room and the emotional core of the family. That positive character portrayal seeped into the ancillary books like Steelworks, Monkey Prince, Lazarus Planet,  World's Finest, and others. I actually had a tough time narrowing things down to a top ten comic moment. Also, there were so many very good moments that no one stood out as a clear number one. They're all great. 

So today, I'll cover some non-comic stuff, a dishonorable mention, and the five comic moments which almost broke the top ten. 

Settle in!

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Review: Batman/Superman World's Finest #22

Batman/Superman World's Finest #22 came out last week, continuing the 'Return to Kingdom Come' storyline. 

From the beginning, I have had some trepidation about this story because of how much I love Kingdom Come. The more that happens on the Kingdom Come Earth, the more difficult it will be to reconcile the events of Kingdom Come unfolding as they did. 

Here we are on this world. The heroes are worshipping Gog. Our Earth-0 Superman and Batman are interacting with, even befriending the Superman and Batman of Earth-22. Shouldn't all these events be remembered? Shouldn't this impending battle against Gog lead to a more jaundiced eye at Magog? Isn't Gog's failed 'Catacomb' prison similar to the 'Gulag' in Kingdom Come and wouldn't that give the KC Superman pause to make it? And won't our heroes tell these heroes about the witnessed graveyard?

The only thing I can think is that somehow this is Earth-22A, close to the Kingdom Come world but not the actual one. It is the only way to put the genie back in the bottle.

Outside of my concerns, there is a lot to like in this issue. Our Superman's anger over how David turned into Thunderman is powerful. Gog's origin is linked to DC history and the Fourth World. The World's Finest team unites with the other world's World's Finest team. It's all pretty cool.

And, as usual, Dan Mora smashes it on art. We get to see his Supergirl again briefly. He gives us three new character designs. We see his take on some Kirby stuff, some Morrison stuff, the and some Alex Ross stuff. It is all beautiful. 

I am going to try to keep my worries at bay and judge the issue on it's own merits. But it'll be tough.

Monday, December 25, 2023

Merry Christmas And Happy Holidays

Happy holidays and Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!

Hope everyone is relaxing and recharging!

Friday, December 22, 2023

Review: Superman #9

Superman #9 came out this week, a truly entertaining comic that I loved. Writer Joshua Williamson basically put the creative foot down on the gas pedal in this issue, rocketing us through a series of scenes that pushed the main plot forward while hinting at a number of subplots bubbling under the surface.

In some ways, this felt like a very classic comic book. I grew up in a time when there were often A, B, and C plots in titles. There was no decompression. There were mysteries and intrigue. There were emotions and consequences. There were guest stars. Things were fun. And it is all here. Plus, there is a tremendous cliffhanger.

Despite all the subplots that are touched on here, the main plot of Pharm and Graft trying to get their revenge on Lex Luthor takes a turn here. I have started to warm up to the new partnership between Lex and Superman as shown in this book. I don't know about Pharm and Graft yet though. They seem a bit too flat right now. Thankfully, Williamson hints at some things here which add some interesting wrinkles to the villains.

Jamal Campbell gets another issue off. Instead, Bruno Redondo, who has been killing it on Nightwing, fills in here and definitely continues to shine. There is a polish to the book which is appreciated. In particular, the Lois scenes are nicely rendered with emotion. I also found the page layouts suited the action well, adding to the story. Colorist Adriano Lucas does great work here, especially in the Marilyn Moonlight scenes.

As I say often, I wanted the next issue to be in my hand right after I read this one which is always a great sign. On to the book.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

DC Solicits: February 2024

The March DC Comics solicits are out and the month is a fairly standard mix of books. There'll be a new Suicide Squad book out which I won't be getting. Mark Russell and Mike Allred reunite for a Batman book which I won't be getting. Superman will guest star in Tom King's Wonder Woman which I won't be getting. But the Super-books seem interesting.

Here is a link to all the solicits:

Alas, still no Supergirl solo title. It is a sad thing to say that in some ways I am glad since it most likely would have been written by Mariko Tamaki, who totally missed the mark for me with the Supergirl Special. But on to the actual books on the shelves.

Power Girl #7
Variant covers by KEVIN WADA and JAE LEE

The Supergirls are trapped! While tracking down the missing citizens of Metropolis, Paige and Kara have found themselves powerless in the mythical realm of Ferembia. They’ll now have to rely on their wits to find an escape and the brains behind the whole operation before they’re stuck in their own personal dark age!

I haven't exactly been warm to the Power Girl book. And I don't think Leah Williams understands the Power Girl character or the Supergirl character. But usually when the Supergirl and Power Girl character team up, they fight each other. So I am sort of looking forward to this D&D style team up. Who knows if it will be any good. Love the Reeder cover.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Review: Superman Lost #9

Superman Lost #9 came out this week. That means the series wraps up next month. And frankly and I suppose appropriately, I am lost. I am also sorry if I have already used that joke in my reviews.

There is a kernel of a good story here. What if Superman lived on a dying planet he couldn't save? What if he wasn't rocketed away as a baby but lived, loved, and failed? How would he respond? And then let's see that response through the lens of his friends and family by doing a timey-wimey jump, living 20 yrs on the doomed planet but gone only hours on ours. 

That could be a good story! Superman reliving in a way the death of Krypton. Superman failing to save everyone. Superman despondent. Throw in a lot of Supergirl talking about her similar history and there is a great 4 issue mini-series there. Heck, make the doomed planet have similarities to Earth and the current climate problems and you have a 6 issue mini-series. 

Instead, we have a 10 issue series which has had a few too many plot threads to keep the story compact and comprehensible. Luthor giving Lois cancer. Lois tracking down some shady Senate crime. Another time jump Superman talking about his lost Earth. A maniacal love interest. 

And it is all told in a sort of sputtering, short chapter way to make it jarring. I simply don't know if one more issue will tie it all up. As you will see, there are a number of plots that are simply ended in this issue.

The art this issue remains strong. Carlo Pagulayan remains slick here. Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding are also present for some pages. 

On to the book itself.

Friday, December 15, 2023

Review: Action Comics #1060

Action Comics #1060 came out this week, the penultimate issue in the Phillip Kennedy Johnson run, ending in the upcoming Action Comics Annual. It's hard to believe that it has been a nearly 3 year run on the Superman titles for Johnson. I had no idea who he was when he started on the book but I am going to follow him around comics, for sure.

I think one thing I have loved about Johnson's run has been his pacing. Arcs like Warworld weren't rushed but weren't slow either. They felt epic. Each issue pushed the story forward but left you wanting more.

The current Blue Earth storyline has a different feel. I almost wonder if Johnson had to compress the story he wanted to tell. These issues feel a little too rushed. A little too much happens off screen. Reveals and movement happen quick. This is still a very solid story. But the Earth Al Ghul reveal happened last month and we only have one more issue to wrap it up. That's fast.

I also wonder if Johnson isn't taking advantage of his last story to put in all the things he dreamed of. Superman wielding a sword? Done. Constantine and Superman? Bloodwynd? Why not play with the toys while you can. 

I do like that the axle of this story is Osul and Otho. I do wonder if they are going to stick around after Johnson leaves. Surely the Kryptonian myth of their family is foreshadowing.

As has mostly been the case, the back-up stories in the anthology aren't as solid as the main feature. Steve Orlando, Nicole Maines, and Fico Ossio gives us a story of Dreamer being recruited by Amanda Waller. It is pretty impressive how that Dreamer, a character created for the Supergirl show, gets a back-up feature in Action before Supergirl herself. I am pretty sick of Waller. Joe Casey and Dan McDaid give us a prologue of the upcoming Kneel Before Zod mini-series. But I have more questions than answers about what that story will be about. 

On to the book.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Crisis On Infinite Earths Part 1 Trailers

DC Entertainment is planning to release an animated version of Crisis on Infinite Earths in 2024. The whole story will be told over a trio of movies. But the teaser trailer and the official trailer for part one have dropped and it looks pretty good. 

Head here to watch the teaser This one has the most Supergirl content.

There is a lot of classic Crisis iconography. We see the anti-matter wave erasing worlds. We see the Anti-Monitor Shadow Demons. We see the Monitor pulling together the heroes to fight the threat. We even see the Earth-3 villains involved. Their world was the first we saw die in the book. 

The trailer looks pretty good.

Now as many know, I have come to appreciate the Supergirl legacy with Crisis. While I don't agree she was irrelevant and ready to be offed, there is no denying how great the story is and how much her legend grew because of COIE #7.

So will Supergirl face the same fate in the movie?

She actually gets some decent screen time in such a packed trailer. First we see the Monitor say he needs her and her facing the screen (above). 

And then there is a cool action shot of her skimming the surface of the sun!

I like the way Supergirl is drawn in this latest round of DCAU movies. I liked how her character grew in the Legion of Super-Heroes movie. I hope she survives this Crisis. But we'll see!

Catch out the official trailer here:

This one shows much more of the set-up including the presumed destruction of Earth-3. There isn't as much a spotlight on Kara in this one. I think this is Supergirl given she is talking to the Brainiac 5 from the Legion movie. (The costume is a little dark for Supergirl so this could be Black Canary.)

I completely don't like the look of Harbinger here though. This seems like a needless redesign. 

Still, I'll be gearing up to buy this as soon as it is available.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Review: Superman '78 The Metal Curtain #2

Superman '78 The Metal Curtain #2 came out this week and was another fun romp in the Donner-verse. We are picking up right after the last series and I think we are still before Superman II in continuity. If you are a strict continuity believer and this is before the second film, there are some things here that are tough to explain away.

But if you decide that continuity details aren't crucial, and you can let a couple of things slide, you can sit back and enjoy this for the absolute fun that it is.

Writer Robert Venditti has been able to tap right into the feel of the movies, the tone, the charm, the action. But most of all, and most entertaining for me, is that Venditti is able to perfectly capture the emotion of the Lois and Clark relationship as well as the Lois and Superman relationship. Throw in a cold war Metallo and you have a great history piece. Plus, we get an unexpected guest star perhaps expanding this DC Universe.

Gavin Guidry really brings it this issue. I mentioned his strong work on Lois last issue but he exceeds that here. He really brings us an expressive Lois, a nice riff on Margot Kidder. We also get some action here. I like how the Metallo of 1978 is appropriately bulky. No sleek mechanics back then. 

If there is one complaint, it is that these are very quick reads. I'd like a little more story.

On to the book.

Friday, December 8, 2023

Review: Power Girl #3

Power Girl #3 came out a couple of weeks ago and continued to showcase a Power Girl who doesn't seem like the Power Girl I have read for a long time.

Writer Leah Williams continues to show us 'Paige', a hero who is uncomfortable on Earth, feeling out of place and alone, and lacking confidence. This issue shows us how she feels most akin to a dying lion, the last feline survivor of Krypton. This should feel poetic or emotionally powerful but it falls a little flay because it makes little sense.

The main villain of the story is Power Girl's Symbioship program, the computer which fed her an AI history in her trip to Earth. I have any number of issues with this. The first is that there hasn't been much background information about the symbioship in the story. I don't know if I actually knew that it was a villain. Superman talks about having destroyed it in the past ... but when? And what is it? 

If the device that controlled Amalak was a symbioship drone (which I think it is), didn't 'Paige' bring that to the auction from issue #1? Why didn't it attack her then? 

And what is it's goal?

I have read a lot of Power Girl in my time and I am lost here. Add to that a couple of pages of Omen which make me dislike her a lot and you have little going storywise for me.

The art is by Eduardo Pansica and I like his sort of rough scratchy are here. But he has little to work with here in this issue. There isn't much action to let him shine. 

On to the book.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

DC Comics Solicits: February 2024

The February 2024 DC solicits were solicited earlier this month. They include something that made me roll my eyes so hard I might have sprained them. And it's a shame I'm missing a Lois solo story in Brave and the Bold but that price is too hefty for one story in an anthology. 

You can head over to Newsarama to see all the solicits. Here are the super-family ones.

Variant covers by LEE BERMEJO and WARREN LOUW

The Lex Luthor revenge squad attacks! Superman is back from his blast to the past but finds that Mr. Graft and Dr. Pharm have gathered some of Lex Luthor’s greatest enemies with a mission to wipe out Lex and everything he loves from Metropolis. Superman will fight to save Lex’s life but when he learns the truth about Lex’s past…will he want to?

I like the name Lex Luthor Revenge Squad, a nice riff on the old Superman Revenge Squad. That is very appropriate given the current 'are they partners' plot between Lex and Supes. 

But what is the truth Lex is revealing. I hope we don't hear more about his trying to be a superhero.

Written by JASON AARON
Art and cover by JOHN TIMMS

The shocking second chapter of the Worst Bizarro Story Ever! Jason Aaron’s first time writing Superman sees the Man of Steel trapped in a world gone mad, a Metropolis transformed into the City of Bizarro! While Superman struggles to save the lives of people who despise him, he’s also battling the most powerful Bizarro of all…the one inside his own mind!

Hard to know what to say about this given I have little experience with Jason Aaron. 

I do like John Timms' art and seeing him do a crazy Bizarro story sounds great. Timms shined on Harley Quinn and that was pretty zany.
Written by MARK WAID
Art and cover by DAN MORA
Variant cover by DAVE WILKINS

“Return to Kingdom Come” concludes! With no way back to their own Earth, will Superman and Batman have to witness the tragic events that led to cataclysm—or are they fated to take the place of their doppelgangers?

I have to admit that I have enjoyed this peek into the Kingdom Come world more than I thought I would. I suppose I should have faith in Waid. 

I think we all know that 'our' Superman and Batman won't be trapped there. 

I do wonder how their presence doesn't effect the Kingdom Come timeline though.
Variant covers by BRAD WALKER and JEN BARTEL

The citizens of Metropolis are missing! Looking for an escape, many have fallen victim to Avalon, a new street drug that transports you to a simpler era…the Medieval Times! And turns out that it’s not just a trip you take in your mind, people are being physically transported to this magical plane too! Looks like a job for Power Girl and her new bff, Supergirl?!

Okay ... here I am rolling my eyes again.

This sounds like an issue to 'rest' between arcs.

But now Power Girl and Supergirl are BFF's. 

DC has us on a roller coaster. They're jealous of each other. They're friends. They're jealous of each other. They're friends. Now they're best friends.

I have no idea what to expect because writer Leah Williams has shown no sense of Power Girl's continuity. And if she read Mariko Tamaki's recent Supergirl Special, she'll have no sense of Supergirl's either.

Art and cover by GAVIN GUIDRY
Variant cover by STEVE EPTING

Metallo declares war against Superman on American soil! These two men of steel will duke it out in the nation’s capital, and only one can be declared the winner!

We all knew the Hackman Lex Luthor was going to show up in this book. Here he is in all his glory on the cover.

Looking forward to this.

Written by JOE CASEY
Variant cover by LUCIO PARRILLO

The cosmic tragedy of the House of Zod continues, as New Kandor’s first nuclear family truly goes nuclear! With his newly christened homeworld a prime target for alien invasion, General Zod is forced to mine the darkest depths of his own soul in order to defend it. It’s madness and mayhem on a galactic scale brought to you by the star-crossed team of Casey and McDaid!

It has been a while since we have seen Zod in a comic, a much needed breather for the character.

I forget if the planet they put New Kandor on was a yellow-sun planet or not. I mean, a world of super-powered beings probably can defend itself. 

I sort of like DC putting out super-based minis at a regular clip. Steelworks ends, Kneel Before Zod starts. Now if only we got a Supergirl book. 

Variant cover by JOCK
Variant cover by MICHAEL CHO

The cataclysmic crossover between the DCU and Legendary’s Monsterverse continues!

The Justice League have regrouped after their initial losses and discover nefarious plans by the Legion of Doom AND the League of Assassins are underway to use the Monsters for their evil purposes. As Lois Lane uncovers truths about the monster's identities, the League also learns of a beacon that’s drawing all the creatures to one location…the final battle to save Earth is about to begin!

The first issue sizzled. 

I like the idea of villainous groups using the kaijus for their own nefarious gains. Grodd working with Kong should be a hoot. And I suppose Ra's Al Ghul thinks the monsters 'cleansing the planet' of man fits.

Love that Cho variant. And hope Kara remains a presence. 
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Variant covers by DAN MORA and JAMAL CAMPBELL

They’re bad to the bone, ready to brawl, and the sons of two of the deadliest villains in the galaxy: they’re the Sinister Sons and the DC Universe will never be the same! When the son of General Zod was cast off of his adopted homeworld of New Kandor, Lor-Zod runs afoul of a kid on a mission: Sinson is out to prove he’s got what it takes to live up to the family name of Sinestro! But all is not as it seems, and the sons’ journeys will take them into the heart of darkness in this sensational first issue! Superstar Super Sons scribe Peter J. Tomasi returns to the world of DC youth once again—joined by fan-favorite artist David Lafuente—to craft one of the most dynamic debuts of a duo in DCU history!

I think I'll sample this one.

I miss Super-Sons a ton. Writer Peter J. Tomasi had it all going before Jon got aged up. 

But am I ready for a 'sinister' version? I'm not a fan of Lor-Zod to begin with. And a Sinestro son? When did that happen?

Anyways, I trust Tomasi. So I'll try.

Not a bad month. What did I miss?

Monday, December 4, 2023

Review: Steelworks #6

Steelworks #6 came out last week, the last issue of a very entertaining mini-series focusing on John Henry Irons wondering if he should change his life and rid himself of his Steel persona all while dealing with some revenge-driven people from his past.

Michael Dorn, that's right Worf from Star Trek fame, writes a fun story that has pushed John Henry forward a bit while keeping him pretty much embedded within the super-family. John is worried he is becoming Steel and losing himself. He wants to protect Metropolis making the supers superfluous. He wants to create limitless energy. And he wants to marry Lana. In the end, he realizes that perhaps he doesn't need to change things so dramatically. 

But to get there, he needs to fight the former CEO or Amertek. While all the character stuff about Steel is played seriously, Dorn gives me something I realize now that I needed ... an old school villain. Mr. Walker could walk away with the zero energy generator. Instead he loses his mind, screaming insanity, and being hell bent on revenge with a giant mecha. Glorious!

There is some loose comic book science, done to keep the Kryptonians on the sideline so Steel can save the day. But that also felt classic to me.

Sami Basri and Vicente Cifuentes bring pleasing art to the proceedings. Everyone just looks great. If a 'Lana as Super-Woman' story get put in the Action Comics anthology, I vote they be on art. It all looks top notch here. 

I doubt we'll get a sequel but this was worth it. Kudos to Dorn for stepping in. On to the book.

Friday, December 1, 2023

Review: Action Comics #1059

Action Comics #1059 came out this week and was another fascinating chapter in Phillip Kennedy Johnson's last storyline. The secret of Norah Stone is revealed and alas, this time I was wrong. My guess that Norah Stone was a Warworld refugee and relative of Otho-Ra was incorrect.

Stone and her now super-powered Blue Earth are starting a smear campaign against the Super-family as well as bringing a new brand of vigilante justice to Metropolis. While that is happening, the plot to recruit Otho-Ra to the dark side goes into full swing. For me, Otho is the most interesting character of the issue as we see her struggling to decide which road she will go down in life. In a wonderfully subtle moment, you see how she looks to Kara as a role model. But we are heading to a showdown. Which side will Otho be on?

I also think that Johnson must realize his time on Action Comics is indeed coming to a close. So why not put in all the cool things he has dreamed about in the past. Johnson has talked about his love of Superman Annual #10, so why not have Superman wield a sword during his run!

Rafa Sandoval has the month off but Eddy Barrows comes in and brings a very slick issue. Some very powerful moments here. I usually think of Barrows as the artist I'd want for a super-powered brawl. Here, the moments of Otho-Ra battling on a mental landscape really stand out. Strong stuff. 

As for the back-ups, the New Super-Man story by Gene Luen Yang and Viktor Bogdanovic really crackles. It explains why Kenan is on the team now and not in China. It includes a moment which, I think, is a reference to the Jean Claude Van Damme movie Bloodsport. Big win. The Jon Kent story, written by Dan Parent with art by Marguerite Sauvage, is a little too precious and too light on action for me to like. Someone along the way must have felt we needed a romance comic story here.

I don't quite know why Johnson is leaving Action Comics. He will be missed. On to the book.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Review: Justice League Vs. Godzilla Vs. Kong #2

Justice League Vs Godzilla Vs Kong #2 came out last week and was another pretty brisk and fun read, a sort of comic version of a summer popcorn movie. After reading the first one, I was a giddy mess. I never expected to see these two IP's together in a comic. This issue felt a little more like a standard comic. I was less giddy but no less entertained. This issue set up the plot a little more, gave us the first throwdown, and was (unfortunately) Kong-less. 

Writer Brian Buccellato keeps the plot moving, cranking up the threat of Godzilla. Whether this is the kaiju's actual power level or if he has been amplified by the Toyman isn't known. But we see the giant lizard stand toe to toe with Superman. It sets the table for how big a threat these monsters can be. Add to that a couple of nice side moments, building on the DCU's history as it exists on this Elseworld. There are a couple of hiccups but you still have a winner here.

Artist Christian Duce brings a smooth pleasing style to the book. I am sure that some of the close-ups of Godzilla are probably digitally traced from the recent movies. But the super-hero work here is great. Some characters, like Hawkgirl and Batgirl in particular, really look fantastic. 

We get an out-of-the-blue cliffhanger which might need a little explanation but made me wanting more.

On to the book.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Review: Batman/Superman World's Finest #21

Batman/Superman World's Finest #21 came out last week and was another interesting chapter in this arc which returns us to the Kingdom Come world. Or at least I think it does. 

Our heroes have found Thunderman (former Boy Thunder) on a multiverse world which is quite dark. It looks like the Kingdom Come world. Last issue, the heroes saw that world's future, the graveyard from the gulag being bombed in Kingdom Come #4 was evident. 

From the jump, I have been worried about how this story would impact that story. How could Kingdom Come unfold if those heroes have interacted with our heroes, have heard about Thunderman's rage, that they know about a multiverse? 

I hope writer Mark Waid will be able to put the genie back into the bottle and leave this world sort of untouched. In the meantime, he is doing great work showing us how the events of that world impact the main Batman and Superman. I liked the interactions between the Batmen and Supermen. There is a killer cliffhanger. But between those ups is the down of Gog. That groan you heard was me when I see Superman bending the knee in worship. 

The art by Dan Mora remains an unbelievable high point to this book. He really crushes this whole issue from the knockdown fights to the emotional beats, to the more insane moments of Gog being summoned. Mora is just a force.

Could this whole thing be on a world that is close to the Kingdom Come world but not *THE* Kingdom Come world? Who knows.

On to the book.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Review: Superman #8

Superman #8 came out this week and moved along the plot of The Chained quite well while continuing the subplots that have been percolating from the first issue. There is a little bit of a cheat in the action in this issue, the one thing which sort of brings the efforts down. Still, quite a fun ride, a solid middle chapter. 

Writer Joshua Williamson does a good job here of building up the threat of The Chained, tying the villain into Lex's history and Conner's history. The threat feels real. As this is a Lex villain more than a Superman villiain, this battle leans into the new dynamic between Luthor and Superman, forcing a bit of a team-up. And we get quick peeks at the newer members of the book - Lena Luthor, the Countess, Dr. Pharma and Mr. Graft. Still, the ending of the fight with the Chained is a bit of a stretch on a couple of levels. 

The art is a bit all over the place with Gleb Melnikov, Norm Rapmund, David Balteon, and Jamal Campbell all listed as being on art. I really like Melnikov's grungy, energetic art on the Chained battles. There are nice, bigger panels highlighting some of the action. The cover by Campbell conveys the threat of The Chained, Superman weighed down. 

On to the book!

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Bullet Review: Amazing Heroes #56 plus Thanksgiving Joy

Happy Thanksgiving to all the Americans out there who celebrate. 

I have an awful lot to be thankful for this year! At the same time, I'll be glad to put 2023 behind me.

But just on Monday, I was thankful to discover a new comic book store opening right near work, Friar Tuck's Comics & Collectibles. The story literally opened 2 days ago so their website is pretty bare:

More about the store at the bottom of the post but something I stumbled across and purchased there was Amazing Heroes #56, a 'super-heroines' issue with a preview of the Supergirl movie. 

Not a bad copy and a great Kevin Nowlan cover.

Here is a cleaner look, not my copy (which is above).

I don't normally post articles like this in their entirety. But it is just over 2 pages of text.

I pretty sure that most people who visit this site realize what a treasure Helen Slater is. This articles just cements is. Hearing from a 20 year old Slater talking about the process of auditioning and preparing for the role once she got it.

I love the anecdote here where she states she didn't even know that Linda Lee was Supergirl. And then, when auditioning as both parts, she said to steel herself she used a school mantra of 'The Obstacle Strengthens the Will.'

She then said the famous line 'You've had your fun Selena, the game is finished!' and got the role. 

I also was pretty impressed with the in-depth discussion of the Slater's physical regimen.

She had muscular legs from all her dancing but was 'slight' in the upper body and so had to go through 3 months of tough workouts to get into shape. 

While most of the article focused on Slater, we do get some info on all the sets built for the movie.

There is a brief discussion about the cast.

But my favorite line is that the plot has been 'jealously guarded'.

The climax will be 'a spectacle of soaring imagination, stunning surprises, and mind-boggling special effects'. 

Now I am very forgiving of the movie. I love Slater. But even I know it is pretty flawed. I know why the plot was 'jealously guarded'.

As for Friar Tuck's, it is a very posh store. 

I was there for opening day and all I can say is that the back issue section is massive. There are tons of wall books and lots of key issues and older key issues in glass cases. Most of the issues are in very good condition and the price reflects that quality.

As for me, in addition to the Amazing Heroes, I also grabbed Dakota North #3 and #5 to complete that run in my collection. Anyone near Boston or Brookline should visit.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Review: Superman Lost #8

Superman Lost #8 came out this week and was another up and down issue in this up and down mini-series. While this issue had some interesting and beautiful moments, I don't know if it pushed the story forward. Ultimately, that means this issue wasn't 'needed'. And that never sits well with me.

Superman has been back on Earth for 7 issues but lived on that doomed planet of 'Kansas' for 20 years of his time. He has been trying to shake off the trauma of that life and of leaving that planet's citizens to die since being home. But since it felt like a few hours to him, his friends and family are struggling to help him. 

Last issue, Superman went to a therapist Supergirl recommended. There would be some interesting stories to tell there. (I loved the therapy issue after Our Worlds at War for example.) But that isn't explored here. Also last issue, Lois went to Lex to try and figure out how help Superman, a very non-Lois idea. Lex gave her cancer to try and shake Superman awake.

This issue? Superman goes to colleagues for advice - Supergirl, Adam Strange, and Black Adam. They all basically give him tough love. It's time to move on. Lois finally admits that she hasn't been able to help her husband. And Lex stews. 

Writer Christopher Priest has certainly padded this series with side plots, homages, and quick scenes. But from a plot view, this feels like it could have been 6 issues. And things I would like to see (like Lois talking to Clark more, or Superman talking to professionals, or more interaction with the Leaguers) haven't been around enough.

Its' a shame because the art by Carlos Pagulayan is great, including the Supergirl scene. She looks fantastic. And Will Conrad gives an assist on some pages but his style meshes nicely. Even the variant covers (like the Stephen Segovia one above or the rarer Denys Cowan one) are quite appealing. 

On to the book.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Ana Nogueira Named As Supergirl Movie Screen Writer


Over on Instagram, James Gunn posted that the screenwriter Ana Nogueira has been named as for the Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow movie. Here is the post.

"A hearty public welcome to Ana Nogueira to the DC Studios family. Ana is an amazing writer whose screenplay adaptation of Woman of Tomorrow is above and beyond anything I hoped it would be. We’re excited to be moving forward on this unique take on Supergirl in this beautiful, star-spanning tale."

Incredibly, it sounds like the script is already written! This is a movie that is years away from being made. And given the recent downtrend in profits for super-hero movies, I wonder if this will ever come to pass. 

I was hoping that perhaps the movie being based on Woman of Tomorrow might change but that seems set for now. I wonder how Gunn can call that story a 'beautiful, star-spanning tale'. It certainly doesn't help that the picture Gunn chose shows Kara with a bloody sword, but here we are.

But the big news, of course, was that Nogueira was named. I have to admit, the name is new to me. She is mostly known for being an actress on 'The Vampire Diaries'. That is a show that slipped under my radar.

For writing, she is best known for an off-broadway play called
 Which Way to the Stage. It is hard to judge anything based on a wiki synopsis of a play so I won't. I just hope that Nogueira read more than just Woman of Tomorrow when she formulated who Supergirl is as a character.

For more coverage, here is an article over on Variety. It reminded me that Gunn called the movie 'more hard-core'.

Anyways, I'll lean into this community for help. If anyone has seen Nogueira act or has seen the play, please leave a comment!

Monday, November 13, 2023

Review: Superman '78 The Metal Curtain #1

Superman '78 The Metal Curtain #1 came out this week and was a wonderful dive back into the Donner-verse. 

I loved the first Superman '78 mini-series. Writer Robert Venditti perfectly captured the characters in that world. The dorky Clark. The sassy Lois. The ruthless but also surprisingly funny Luthor. AND we got Brainiac ... finally!

So I was thrilled when I learned about the sequel. 

Venditti is back as writer and picks up right where he left off. The issue does just what a first issue should do. We get the main plot set up. Kryptonite lands in the Soviet Union. An American colonel turns out to be a Russian spy and has sent tech to the USSR as part of a Metallo project. And Lois is on the case. So I am ready! A cold war era story, US vs USSR, Superman vs Metallo! It all sounds great and enough has been shown to excite me.

But beyond that, Venditti makes sure the book feels like the movie world. My favorite part of this issue was the Daily Planet scene. Seeing Clark challenging Lois a bit but still being meek. Hearing Perry tell Lois the rules of the road. Watching Lois not slow down in her pursuit of a story. And all have the mannerisms and tone of the '78 film. Pitch perfect.

Gavin Guidry joins the team on art duties. This is my first time seeing Guidry's work and I am impressed. The Planet scenes are just incredible. I love the expressive work and small touches like Clark pushing his glasses up on his nose, Lois' icy glare, and Perry's exasperation. 

Friday, November 10, 2023

Review: Return Of Superman 30th Anniversary Special

Last week, the Return of Superman 30th Anniversary Special came out, a square bound, ten dollar tome looking back at the Reign of the Superman story. DC did a good job getting the band back together. Dan Jurgens, Louise Simonson, Karl Kesel are back writing. Ordway, Jurgens, Jon Bogdanove, and Tom Grummett are on art chores for the flashbacks with Travis Moore doing the framework story. Only Roger Stern and Jackson Guice are missing.

I suppose this book was written for people like me who lived through the 'Reign of' and the 'Return of' Superman. This book looks back at the time when the real Superman was dead, there were 4 Supermen running around, and readers were wondering if any of them were the Superman.

Jurgens handles the framework story of Lois reading from Perry White's journal from that time period and his reactions to the different Supermen. It was quite fun to look back at then the Cyborg Superman, Steel, Superboy, and the Eradicator were relatively unknown. Seeing Perry fall for the Cyborg's pretending to be Superman brought back memories of buddies who thought so too. (I had my money on the Eradicator ... as usual I was wrong.)

But it is the flashback stories where we see those characters in the early stages of their careers that was the most fun. I loved all the Superman books then. I loved the Kesel/Grummett Superboy. So the nostalgia engine was cranked up reading these books.

When it all is said and done, there is a nice sentiment to the story, a reminder that the real Superman is the standard other try to live up to. 

This was pretty pricey but I gobbled it up. 

On to some details.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

DC Comics Solicits: January 2024

The January 2024 DC Comics solicits came out earlier this month. Here is a link to all the books coming out that month.

It is a new year and it is a surprisingly meager month for the Super-family. A mere six books on the shelves! I keep hoping for some Supergirl news. 

Wait ...

I keep hoping for some GOOD Supergirl news. But there isn't any. And not much more that grabbed my attention. On to the super-titles.

Variant covers by LEE BERMEJO and BRUNO REDONDO
1:25 variant cover by LEIRIX
1:50 variant cover by MIRKO COLAK

HOWDY, PARDNERS! Welcome to the Wild West of Metropolis, where the Man of Tomorrow meets the Man from Yesterday! Clark Kent is on a rootin’-tootin’ rodeo adventure alongside the ghostly Marilyn Moonlight as they get to the bottom of why she haunts the night! Get your posse and join us for a hoedown like you’ve never seen before. Yee-haw!

We are three months away from this story. The last Superman issue was chock full of plots and subplots. So I wonder how much is going to be wrapped up with The Chained and the Luthor family before this.

That said, Marilyn Moonlight is a fun new character and I can't wait to read more about her. And Superman as a cowboy! Looks like a hoot. Bring it on!

Monday, November 6, 2023

Review: Steelworks #5

Steelworks #5 came out a couple of weeks ago, the penultimate issue of a very entertaining mini-series.

I have been pretty impressed with how celebrity writer Michael Dorn has crafted this tale. The spine of this story is John Henry Irons looking into mirror and trying to figure out who he wants to be moving forward. He is truly afraid that the Steel part of his life is taking over. Is he still Irons? I wonder how much of this is some personal experience on Dorn's part. Is he Michael Dorn? Or 'the guy who played Worf'? Or even 'Worf'? Seeing the man struggle with the super-man is interesting and has been handled well.

But Dorn has tacked on a revenge plot. Former employees in Amertek are out to ruin Irons ... and ruin Steel. This issue takes a pretty funny turn, an almost silly Bronze Age super-villain move that made me smile and somehow works. 

I don't usually have high hopes for celebrities who come in to write but Dorn has acquited himself well.

Sami Basri and Vicente Cifuentes remain on art and bring a fun atmosphere. I like the art here a lot, just veering to the cartoonish without crossing it. 

I'll be sad to see this end. On to the book.

Friday, November 3, 2023

Review: Supergirl Special #1

Why has this blog survived for 15 years? Because I feel I need to trumpet how great Supergirl is as a character. I need to share her history and talk up why I love her.

Why will this blog keep surviving? Because DC doesn't often seem to share what I love about the character. They either make her dark or a loner or drunk or overwhelmingly sad or unsure of herself. And I have to keep sharing the best aspects of Supergirl to make sure people know that this is recent problem.

Which brings me to the Supergirl Special #1

This is another book that just seems to get Kara wrong. Even worse, it seems to absolutely 100% ignore the most recent Kara stories so it seems out of continuity and out of character. In Action Comics and Steelworks and Superman books recently, Kara is showcased as intelligent, second in command, respected, and sure of herself. She is still learning. But she is established. She has been a big sister, a Kryptonian scholar, and hero. She also has seemed happy.

Writer Mariko Tamaki goes far away from any of that characterization, writing a story that I do not like. This is a Supergirl who has some sort of competitive and unsettling relationship with Power Girl. This is a Supergirl who isn't sure of herself. She is glum in the Kent home. She somehow worries she is going to die when a building collapses on her. This is a Supergirl who struggles with remembering Krypton. She thinks she can never win.   

There is almost too much wrong with that paragraph. Just six months ago, Kara and Power Girl were hugging, accepting each other (in PG's Special ). She is the Kryptonian scholar in Action Comics talking about religion, politics, folklore, and history. She is the heroic field commander of the Super Family in that book and in Superman too. 

How do you reconcile this story with those years of stories? I have no idea how this story made it through editorial. It is in complete conflict with Supergirl's character. 

But let's look beyond that. A special like this is supposed to celebrate a character. It is supposed to raise interest in the character. It should be a pilot to see if there is interest enough for a solo title. 

After reading this issue, who would want to read a Supergirl book like this one? Who wants to read a story about a sulking hero who is trawling her social media and isn't sure of herself. Who seems sad. Who is wandering through life.

There is nothing to celebrate here.

It is a shame because the art by Skylar Patridge is really wonderful. 

As hard as it is to say as a Supergirl fan, I hope a new series isn't born out of this take. 

DC ... please ... get someone who understands and loves the character to write her book.

On to the specifics.