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.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Black Orchid Thursday: Quarter Bin Podcast - Black Orchid #1

I recently was a guest on the excellent Quarter Bin Podcast to discuss the first issue of Neil Gaiman's Black Orchid mini-series from 1988.

Folks should head there to listen to the episode if interested:

Back in 2022, I did a deep dive into the pre-Crisis Black Orchid and touched upon the Vertigo series. I have included at the top of this post the Jenette Kahn Publishorial discussing her recruiting Neil Gaiman to DC and his pitch for the Black Orchid series. 

I am pretty proud of this podcast as I get to talk with Professor Alan about this book, the character and her history, and the Gaiman/McKean creative team. Hope people give it a listen.

And I'll say that Professor Alan has a number of fun comic-based podcasts and all his stuff is worth listening to. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Review: Power Girl #2

Power Girl #2 came out this last week and I have to be honest, I am struggling with this book. 

I shouldn't be surprised. I have struggled with Leah Williams take on the character since the Action Comics back-ups and through the special. This was a character that sort of visually looked like Power Girl but was stripped of most of the history and characteristics I had come to associate her with over the last 50 years. 

Who was this 'Paige' with psychic powers who was unsure of herself and her place in the world? Certainly not the Karen who was the CEO of a customer and pretty confident in her approach to life. 

The first issue was a little better as the psychic powers mostly were gone (outside of 'astral punching') and there was some connection to Krypton and even the earliest PG solo stories from Showcase. But that also included the seemingly standard food jokes, cutesy conversations, cat jokes in the middle of life-threatening combat, and - perhaps worst of all - a mean Superman. 

Now in this issue, I am back to being perplexed. The Power Girl in this book seems to be new to Earth, confused by standard human behavior, unsure of her heroism, needing guidance from Lois, and seemingly anxious about life. 

That characterization is NOT Power Girl. I don't know who this character is. So I wonder if my time ont this book is going to be short.

The art by Eduardo Pansica continues to be a high point here. Pansica's stuff seems to be softened a bit by the inks of Julio Ferreira. The office scenes have a high polish. And the action scenes seem to revert more to what I am used to from Pansica. The cover by Gary Frank is great.

But this isn't what I come to a Power Girl book to read. 

On to details.

Monday, October 30, 2023

Review: Action Comics #1058

At NYCC earlier this month, it was announced that writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson is leaving Action Comics with Action Comics #1060. It is not news that I am happy about because Johnson has been crushing it on this book for three years. He will be missed.

That news stung even more when I read Action Comics #1058 last week, a tremendous issue which continues the Blue Earth storyline. Johnson is firing on all cylinders here. There is a tremendous super-hero throwdown in the Metropolis sky. There is a fascinating mystery involving Norah Stone and the Blue Sky. Is she tech based? Magical? And who are her allies? And he continues to write a superb super-family, especially Supergirl who he treats with utter respect. He knows his super-history too, tossing in some old school continuity. This book sizzles. 

Rafa Sandoval has elevated his art on this book bringing us frenetic, messy action when needed. He also is able to amp up the emotion in the quiet moments. He even gets a little old school Kryptonian history time in this issue.

My theory on who Norah Stone is remains intact and viable for now. In fact, I wonder if this time I just might be right. 

The best thing about this issue? Well, Action Comics is an anthology and all three stories in this issue are wonderfully entertaining. Gene Luen Yang and Viktor Bognanovic get the band back together to give us an interesting New Super-Man story exploring the aftermath of Lex's 'anyone who knows Superman is Clark has a stroke' plot. And new to me creators Greg Hahn and Travis Mercer end the issue with a hilarious super-twins story. 

Tack on a gorgeous Carla Cohen Supergirl variant cover and this book was a winner. On to the details. 

Friday, October 27, 2023

Review: Justice League Vs. Godzilla Vs. Kong #1

I'm a DC Comics fan.
I'm a Justice League fan.
I'm a Godzilla fan.
I'm a King Kong fan.

So when Justice League vs. Godzilla vs. Kong was announced, I was pretty excited. As a reader, I never know what I am going to get with crazy crossovers like this. I want them to be big and loud and fun and bonkers. I buy with the knowledge that it might not fly and I won't continue.

Well, if Justice League vs. Godzilla vs. Kong #1, by writer Brian Buccellato and artist Christian Duce, is any indication, this series is going to be a complete hoot.

Buccellato and Duce really immerse the story in the DC Universe. But this isn't current times. This is, of course, an Elseworlds. An Earth where Clark hasn't proposed to Lois yet. A world where there is still a Legion of Doom lurking out there, being led by an evil Lex Luthor. Heck, it is a world where there actually is a Justice League, something you can't say now.

This opening issue sets the table, showing us a world where our heroes and villains exist with the classic kaiju monsters. It ends with the promise of a fight. Everything in the middle is old school joy. 

Duce brings a clean art style here, crisp and well paced. 

Oh, one more thing.

I am a Supergirl fan. And she is treated very well here. This review, given this site, may focus a little heavy on that. But she is a main character here. That makes me smile.

On to the book.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Bullet Review: Hawkgirl #4

Hawkgirl #4 came out this week and it guest starred Supergirl so I bought the book. 

I have read enough reviews of the book to know that I probably wasn't going to like it. The Hawkman and Hawkwoman and Hawkgirl hardcore fans have said this book doesn't reflect the history or legacy of those characters. They have said that Kendra's attitude is off. They have said that Kendra's history as presented is off. So I have stayed away.

I also have heard that this is a sort of agenda comic. When I say that, I mean that rather than being a comic story that has an agenda, this is a book that has an agenda and it is forced into the comic characters. Perhaps that is why people in the know think the characters aren't recognizable. Writer Jadzia Axelrod is definitely injecting her life view and politics into the book. 

So that is why Hawkgirl #4 is the first issue of this mini-series that I have bought. And not having read the earlier three, I am going to judge this on this one issue. 

I'll start out by saying that I honestly have no idea what is going on in this book on a big level. I understand that I am coming in halfway through. But the old rubric that every comic could be someone's first comic is true. There is no synopsis of who these characters are. I don't know what the plot is. There is a chance that if I could make sense of the story I might be intrigued enough to go back and buy the earlier books. But that isn't the case here. I came to this title because of Supergirl. That's what guest stars do. That drew me here ... this was the writer's chance to keep me here.

Second, that agenda is present and even forced. The cutesy 'everyday slice of life' which permeates so many comics these days is also present here. From a discussion about hot dogs to a talking Corgi dog to a talk about cheering at sports games to political t-shirts, there is a lot of stuff that doesn't seem crucial to the narrative.

And lastly, and rather shockingly, Supergirl is played up here for her good looks in a way that felt wrong. She is also the guest star and taken out immediately. 

The art by Amancay Nahuelpan is really solid so I'll tuck that name in the back of my head as someone to follow. 

On to a few comments.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Review: Batman/Superman World's Finest #20

Batman/Superman World's Finest #20 came out this week, the second part of the 'Return to Kingdom Come' arc. In fact, it's a sequel to the second arc of this book which ended with 'Boy Thunder' heading to the Kingdom Come world, where it was hinted he became Magog.

Writer Mark Waid is revisiting his (perhaps) magnum Opus of Kingdom Come. I often wonder if creators can go home again. Is heading back to that story worth it? Kingdom Come is almost universally revered. If you go back to the well with a sequel and it doesn't shine, does it dull the original work. Maybe I worry too much.

Waid does have the new wrinkle of inserting the Earth-0 Superman and Batman into the KC storylines. We get to see their reaction to that world. This isn't a KC story. This is our heroes responding to what they see in Earth-22. Waid also sets the bulk of the story in the years before Kingdom Come #1. That world hasn't been explored. This feels, at least, a little fresh.

Meanwhile, Dan Mora continues to crush it on art. The first couple of pages show just how well Mora can adapt as he apes a number of famous stories. But this issue is mostly scenes of Batman and Superman talking to each other. Mora shines there too bring the emotions of all that our heroes see.

Listen ... I love Kingdom Come. I love it so much I want it to remain the pure story it is. 

On to this issue.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Review: Superman #7

Superman #7 came out this week and was a stealth #850 anniversary when you count the legacy numbers. This was over-sized and it certainly felt like it with this book being stuffed with A,B, and C plots with new wrinkles and new continuity suddenly in the mix. Whew ... I had to take a breath when this one was done because there is a lot going on.

Writer Joshua Williamson is certainly embracing the Superman mythos. The A plot feels very new with The Chained nearly destroying Metropolis while Graft and Pharma look on. The B plot is a re-imagining of the Luthor legacy, bringing back a couple of family members that was eye-opening. And then the Brainiac threat continues to bubble in the background. That is a lot for one issue and somehow Williamson is able to juggle it all while also showcasing Superman and the Superman family in a whiz-bang action sequence. Given the focus of this site, I have to say Supergirl shines here, acting as the field general of the team. I loved it. And don't forget, there is that D plot of Marilyn Moonlight out there and not seen here. Amazing.

Given the over-sized nature of the book, the art is split up and thankfully in a way that makes sense. Gleb Melnikov continues the Chained plot and really amps up the action here. Really good stuff here. Old school artists Dan Jurgens handles the Luthor pages and brings a sense of history to the proceedings which works given the reintroduction of some history. And then Edwin Galmon brings a sort of computer art feel to the Brainiac pages which just clicks.

This felt like a sort of middle chapter of the bigger picture but it moved things along briskly and in a very entertaining way. That's the job of a middle chapter.  Very good issue here!

On to the details.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Review: Superboy Man Of Tomorrow #6

Superboy Man Of Tomorrow #6 came out last week, wrapping up the mini-series in a satisfactory way. I wasn't sure what to expect from this book but what I got was a decent nugget of self-discovery for a character who has been in the wind the last decade or so.

Writer Kenny Porter started this book out with Conner wanting to find himself. It ends with Conner happy with his life, even adding a new path to explore. He has had to face a sort of dark version of himself along the way. And he again learned what it means to wear the 'S'. I think Conner is truly in a better place now and the idea of his being a sort of inter-galactic S-shield hero opens up opportunity for the character that the other supers don't currently have. Heck, given the Cosmoteers, it could even be a backdoor pilot for a new Legion book. 

Artist Jahnoy Lindsay brings a nice energy to the proceedings. Things have veered towards a manga feel which has worked. There are some panels which feel like homages to famous manga or anime. And I like the way he draws the younger side of the big super-family. 

But I do have two big gripes with the book. One, there is a big emotional scene with Superman near the end. And in the most emotional section, a word balloon is attributed to the wrong character, squashing the moment, and taking me right out of the book. The creators should not be blamed for an egregious editing error but it definitely dimmed things for me as a reader.

Second, this is also diminished by the unfortunate recent Superboy story by Mags Visaggio in Action Comics #1057. All the progress done in this mini-series is wiped away by the angry 'who am I' Conner in that tale. Heck, the bitter 'let me yell at Ma Kent' Conner in that story even has a red streak in his hair ... akin to the villain here, a clone of Conner, in this story. It makes terrible sense in the big scheme of things. Again, this is a bad editing choice. So I shouldn't let this dull the Porter/Lindsay effort but it isn't easy.

On to this story.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Review: Superman Lost #7

Superman Lost #7 came out this week, an appropriate title. Sometimes as a reader of this book, I feel lost. There are two plot threads on this book. 

One is a 'flashback' of sorts. Superman has been stranded on a planet doomed by polarized political parties and climate change. Despite all his efforts ... for 20 years, he cannot save the place. In this issue, Superman has finally escaped that world and is heading home.

The other plot is the 'current' time. Even though it has been 20 years of his time, Superman has only been gone a short while on Earth. He is struggling to acclimate himself back at home, re-engage with friends and family, and save his marriage, strained by his psychological damage.

Writer Christopher Priest has been a little hit or miss on the book as he weaves these two stories together. This issue is something of a miss because he suddenly injects a third plot. Most of this issue is told by a Superman from another timeline, trying to stop our Superman on his journey. It is a lot of pages devoted to an Earth we'll never see again, which has little impact on the story, and doesn't make much sense. I mean it. I have read the section several times and I still don't know what this 'other' Superman is trying to accomplish. It's almost like Priest had an Elseworld story he wanted to tell but had no place for it but here.

And then a fourth plot involving Lex Luthor, hence the stark black and white cover contrasting our hero with his nemesis.

The act continues to be lovely. Carlos Pagulayan does the art for the main story. Lee Weeks is brought in to do the 'Elseworld' portion. Both shine. Weeks brings a grittiness to this other Earth which works well for that world's history.

I'll add that sight unseen, Supergirl does play a sort of key role in the plot progression. 

Still, this issue vexed me a bit. On to the details.

Friday, October 13, 2023

The Passing Of Keith Giffen

How do you talk about the passing of a legend?

I learned late Wednesday night that Keith Giffen had passed.

I had a visceral response, a sense of sadness and loss. I have mourned the passing of other creators in the past but this one hit hard. Because Giffen was a huge part of my comic reading, part of my comic joy, and simply one of the reasons I love comics. 

The Legion. The 5YL Legion. His obvious love of the Supergirl character. His love of Dr. Fate. His reimagining of the stodgy JL as a family/office sitcom. His  Doom Patrol volume! The Heckler! All huge for me.

His art style changing from a slick, organic form to the chunkier later stuff to the wild Trencher stuff. He was always growing. But his storytelling was always stellar. How strong were his layouts? He did thumbnails for all of '52', a weekly book! Insanity. 

He also was a character himself. Irascible. A curmudgeon. An anarchist. A stick in the mud. A raconteur. 

I had the luck of meeting him at Terrificon a few years ago and I am grateful that I was able to tell him all of this in person. Sometimes it is okay to meet your heroes. 

The outpouring of love on social media by other creators and fans has been unbelievable. I hope he knew how loved he was.

Rest in peace Mr. Giffen.

A few more thoughts.

Monday, October 9, 2023

Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 Fallout: Superman #414

Last week, I reviewed the Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 sections of the George Perez Tribute issue of Back Issue. It reminded me of just how in depth my coverage of COIE #7 has been on this site over the last 15 years. By now, I thought I might have covered almost everything. I even have a subset of posts called Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 Fallout, deeper looks at books reflecting closely on the events of that famous book.

So I was shocked, truly, to realize that over the time of this site I have never covered Superman #414, a Crisis crossover issue in the immediate aftermath of Crisis on Infinite Earths #7. This issue came out in September of 1985, 2 months after Supergirl's death in the Crisis.  In many ways, it is an epilogue to Supergirl's life although it takes a long time to get there.

Writer Elliot S! Maggin clearly had a tale to tell, of Superman mourning Kara's death and returning her body to Rokyn, New Krypton and her family. But to get there, he needs to tell a very padded tale of the Superman Revenge Squad causing some havoc. There are a lot of needless splash pages, aerial fights over Rokyn, and home scenes of Van-Zee. In fact, if you removed the Revenge Squad story you could have a tight 8 pager showing the aftermath of Kara's death with a bit more dignity. I get that you need action in comics, especially then, but I would have preferred a 22 pager showing that aftermath. While I am glad we got this epilogue, it still feels like Kara got short shrift here.

To make things maybe a touch worse, the art is a bit muddy. Curt Swan's usual magnificence is rendered crudely by co-artist (inker?) Al Williamson. Even the lettering by Ed King feels a bit wonky. I do like the cover by Eduardo Barreto. Barreto drew the back end of the 1980's Supergirl title. So seeing his take on the iconic COIE #7 cover is a nice touch here. 

On to some details.

Friday, October 6, 2023

Crisis On Infinite Earths #7 Fallout: Back Issue #147

I'm a giant fan of Back Issue magazine and how it looks back at the Silver and Bronze Age of comics. The Bronze Age was my formative era for comics so reading in depth articles on characters, runs, and creators is like comfort food. I consider myself an amateur comic historian so this book only adds to my knowledge.

This month is Back Issue's 20th anniversary and they celebrated with a George Perez Tribute issue. This was a great look back at Perez's career from his time at Marvel through his Wonder Woman reboot and everywhere in between.

For me, I had a particular interest and hope. Surely Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 was going to be discussed somewhere in the book. I didn't agree back then that Supergirl needed to die. But I can't deny that COIE #7 is an incredible and historic issue. It showcased Supergirl as the hero she was. And it cemented her place in the annals of comics. 

Part of the magazine was a look at 20 of Perez's most memorable issues. I really liked this section because mixed in with the historic books (like Crisis or JLA #200) were random issues of Marvel Two-In-One and the Flash, picked because the author recognized Perez's brilliance in some way. 

This piece, written by Dan Johnson, was a nice look at the double sized issue. But there were some things in here that stuck out to me as a Supergirl fan.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Better Late Than Never? The Flash Movie

I had planned to see The Flash movie when it was in the theaters but sometimes life gets in the way. 

Now on streaming, I finally got to see it. I'd give it a C. Given that this is now a 4 month old movie, I won't do an in-depth review.  I'll just touch on the stuff that truly struck out and concentrate a little on the Supergirl side of things. As it is 4 months old, there will be spoilers.

This was a pretty solid adaptation of the Flashpoint mini-series. From Barry trying to save his mother to his lacking powers and needing to recreate the accident that gave him powers, to a Project Superman take on Supergirl, this was Flashpoint. I didn't particularly like that mini when it came out but if you did, this was sort of faithful. 

This was also a sort of love letter, or homage-fest, to comic fans and fans of superhero movies. Michael Keaton recreating his Batman, saying 'let's get nuts', and seeing that Wayne Manor again was fun. Seeing all the cameos at the end was fun (more on that later). But those things were really for people like me. My girlfriend didn't know who the helmeted Flash was or why I was giggling so much about the Thanagarian snare beast. So I don't know if so much time should have been placed on these things which only 1% of the ticket holders would cherish.

But the big thing for me is that this movie seems a bit disjointed in tone. 

There is a very heavy undertone about Barry's sadness about his mother. There is a 'how far would you go' theme. Would you destroy the universe to make your own world perfect or do you sacrifice happiness for the greater good? Seeing older Barry (who has seen things and matured) deal with younger, more naive Barry touches on loss and sadness. And yet, stuck inside this, is a bunch of silliness. Barry eating burritos at super-speed, putting babies in microwaves to save them, losing a tooth and super-gluing it.

If you are a script writer or a director, you have to be masterful if you are going to walk the fine line between goofy humor and heavy themes. And this movie can't pull it off. It is the same reason while Thor Love and Thunder failed for me. You can't effectively have Thor dealing with Jane Foster's mortality while a god killer kidnaps kids all while you have silly humor all around. Or you can if you are a master.

Lastly, the special effects at times looked pretty wonky. Seeing babies which look like they were ripped from The Incredibles definitely snapped me out of the movie.

Supergirl is in this and I'll have more below the break. But I thought Sasha Calle did a very good job as this Kara, the captured, tortured, angry Supergirl trying to figure out what the heck is going on. Having to recognize that General Zod is a Kryptonian but not what she wants to be or want to defend. 

So, it's a C. My guess is I won't seek this out again. But if it is on TV and I am home, I'll probably put it on to watch.

On to some details.

Monday, October 2, 2023

Review: Power Girl #1

Power Girl #1 came out last week, the first issue of an ongoing series following a back-up in Action Comics and a Power Girl Special. These have been new takes on Power Girl, no longer Karen but now 'Paige', at times a psychic counselor but now more traditional in powers, but still finding her way. 

And I am still on the fence. 

As a character, Power Girl has always been feisty and fun, powerful and confident. I don't see a lot of that here. Writer Leah Williams has, at least, veered towards a Power Girl that I think is a little more recognizable than the dream jumper from the Action story. This opening issue does what it is supposed to. We get the background of the new set-up for the character. We get some action with a new enemy. We get the introduction of a supporting cast. And within that were some good moments.

But we also get an overbearing Superman. We get some comments from 'Paige' that seem to come out of left field. We get cutesy humor moments which take me out of the story instead of supplement the action. 

This is closer to what I want than the psychic stuff. But it is still far away from what I think a Power Girl book could be. Still, if I could tolerate Supergirl going from job to job and city to city in the Bronze Age, I should give this more of a chance. At least back then, Supergirl read like Supergirl.

Eduardo Pansica is on art which helped a lot for me. Pansica was on Supergirl for a while and did well there so there was something familiar and comfortable about the art here. His Power Girl looks great. And the superheroics flow well. On to the book. 

Friday, September 29, 2023

Review: Action Comics #1057

Action Comics #1057 came out this week and was a solid read if imperfect. 

As usual, the main story by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Rafa Sandoval is fantastic. The threat of the Blue Earthers and their leader Norah Stone finally manifests itself. Like many zealots, her message doesn't sound completely crazy but there is definitely some malevolence behind her extreme views. There is a mystery unraveling with Stone as well. She clearly is more than human. I have a theory. Johnson definitely knows how to bring the most out of this story. While Stone rants about the threat Superman is, we see him at his most down to Earth, a physical contrast to her words. 

While I have loved the super-family in Action recently, this issue is all Superman and I'm here for it. And it ends on a wild cliffhanger. 

It is the other stories in the anthology that aren't holding up the back end of the book. The Dan Jurgens/Lee Weeks young Jon story sort of ends with a whimper. It seemed like Jurgens realized that he had a handful of pages to wrap things up and so he sprinted to the end. The last story is a Conner story by Magdelena Visaggio and Matthew Clark and once again it is Conner struggling to find his place on Earth. Didn't he just get a whole mini-series? And he's wildly emotional in the story. Almost petulant. There is one thought provoking moment, but the whole thing ends on a complete downbeat note which made it all sour. 

Still, if you are a fan of the Johnson/Sandoval stuff, this book still sings. I am very interested in seeing where this goes. On to the particulars.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Coles Super Hero Builder Supergirl Figurine

One thing that I have been truly amazed at is the generosity and camaraderie of the comic book community I am part of. From trades to packages of comics to sketches, I have been on the receiving end of too many presents to count. And I do my best to reciprocate.

Last week, I received an envelope from Australia from good friends Mike Garvey and Paul Hicks from the 'Waiting For Doom' podcast. Inside was a Coles Super Hero Builders Supergirl figure.

I had never heard of these or seen these. Are these even around here in the States?

But it is the cutest little thing and a wonderful addition to my Supergirl collection!

It stands maybe 2 inches tall and is this tiny chibi looking Kara, all bold and ready for action. 

I have a section of the shrine for mini-figures and this will fit in perfectly there.

This is how it comes out of the package.

Thank goodness for YouTube because I was unable to put it together using my own brain power and needed to find a 'how to' video.

Thanks again to Mike and Paul for sending this my way. It was such a ray of sunshine during a rough week at work! It really is such a cute Supergirl!