Monday, January 30, 2023

DC Comics April 2023 Solicits

The April solicits and the FCBD DC Comic were released recently. There are some interesting books on the racks and I am a sucker for Free Comic Book Day. 

Here is a link to all the solicits:

I won't bury the lede ... and I'll talk about it more below. But we have a Legion of Super-Heroes sighting, at least on a cover. And it looks classic. So I am truly intrigued. I love the Legion. 

Add to that, Superman and Action continue to sound fantastic. And the Conner mini-series promised a while ago is finally coming out.

But first that FCBD book.

$7.50 NET for bundles of 25 (30 cents NET per copy) | 32 pages
Foil Variant ($9.99 US)
ON SALE 5/6/23

Dawn of DC is a yearlong publishing initiative with epic storylines and superstar creative teams that forge the future, one hero at a time. Dawn of DC will shine the spotlight on a number of fan-favorite superheroes and super-villains that haven't been front and center for some time. It's an easy entry point for both lifelong readers and those picking up a comic for the first time to dive into the new stories. Don't miss this special edition featuring an all-new original story plus sneak peeks at upcoming titles.

I *think* this is for FCBD. All these Dan Mora pics were sold as covers for Dark Crisis #7 so seeing them repurposed in one pic seems a bit of a cop-out. Not that I am complaining. I love Mora. 

Will this be like a sampler? 2 pages of this and that? Or one story?

I'll be at my LCS that morning to find out!

On to the rest of the books.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Review: Action Comics #1051

Action Comics #1051 came out this last week, the opening chapter to the next era of the Superman family. In a classic comic trick, DC slapped a big #1 on the cover to try and drum up support. But this book is great enough that it should be selling on its own merits and not because of cover tricks. 

For me, this is the epitome of Superman family. This is an anthology book like the old Superman Family dollar comic. The main story, the Superman-centric one, involves the extended Superman family. It has scenes of the characters acting like a family. And there is this feeling of hope, an essential ingredient in the super books. Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Rafa Sandoval bring it and bring it hard. I loved this story.

The second story is a flashback story to a time before Jon was aged. Given the creative team of Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks, it seems to spring from the 'Convergence' era Earth-1 Superman although that muddy history is wiped away. The Kents are in California, working remotely, in the aftermath of the Doombreaker story in the Death of Superman anniversary. Heck Clark is wearing the black suit. I like young Jon so this also worked well for me. 

The last story is the Power Girl arc by the creative team of Leah Williams and Marguerite Sauvage. The art is great. But this is a pretty big change for Power Girl, one where she has a psychic link to Omen (Lilith) and the two want to use this telepathic connection to help people in psychological pain. Peeg has her powers and uses her powers in the dreamscape. But a psychologist Karen, using her powers within the mind? It is a bold new direction for someone who's bold old direction I loved. Will I love it? I guess I have to wait. The opening chapter just opens the door.

Still, wonderful book overall! On to the details.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Review: Lazarus Planet: Assault On Krypton

Lazarus Planet: Alpha #1 was a brilliant opening to the latest DC event. The story had legitimate stakes, moved at a brisk pace, showcased some of my favorite characters, and had beautiful art. 

Now the aftermath of the Lazarus volcano are being felt throughout the DC Universe. We'll see this in one-shots and mini-series, setting up the next year of stories. Today it is Lazarus Planet:Assault on Krypton. Really it should have been called Assault on the Super-Family. This book takes a peek at Dreamer, Jon Kent, Mercy, and Power Girl, all characters with connections to Superman. 

Each character gets their own story in the anthology. We know Jon and Power Girl will be getting their own stories, in the Adventures of Superman and Action Comics anthology respectively. I don't know where Dreamer and Mercy will end up, although the Lex-centric new Superman book is a good place for the latter. 

The stories themselves are quite solid, each ending on a sort of cliffhanger to get us interested in reading more. The Jon story was probably the best of the bunch, introducing a new villain, charming and irreverent. 

The art includes stories by veterans like Scott Godlewski,Sami Basri, and Marguerite Sauvage. Skylar Partridge pencils the Dreamer story and is a new name for me. Her work is stylish enough to work in the dreamscape. Partridge draws a pretty good Supergirl to boot.

If you're a fan of the Super-Family, I'd say this is worth the $4.99. On to the stories.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Review: Batman/Superman World's Finest #11

Batman/Superman World's Finest #11 came out that week and was a satisfying ending to the Boy Thunder storyline. This was a story about trust and inspiration, about survivor's guilt and rage. We learned last issue that David becomes Magog from Kingdom Come. But what happens between now and then to make the angry teenager become a dark anti-hero?

I'm repeating myself but Mark Waid has a command on the characters of Batman and Superman. He understands their core. So when I read this book, I see Superman writ large; I see Batman. And seeing how he guides these heroes as they deal with David's increasingly violent tendencies is perfect. Robin is also a big part of this series, acting almost like a commentator, pointing out these values in the titular characters. Throw in Waid's usual deep cut of DC history (and even DC movie history) and you have a thrilling tale. Trust me, he puts in a very little known character who I love.

Dan Mora continues to shine on art. The Key is such a trippy character, all hopped up on mind-altering drugs, that Mora injects the pages with enough psychedelia to keep me happy. The action sequences are top notch. But it is the expressive work in this issue, particularly that of Superman, that glitters. Great cover too. 'Thy Will Be Done' is a nice nod to the Kingdom Come link here.

On to the book!

Friday, January 20, 2023

Review: Monkey Prince #10

Monkey Prince #10 came out this week, the second part of his team-up with Supergirl and basically a prelude to Lazarus Planet:Alpha. Monkey Prince is definitely going to have a role in that crossover given the main villains, so I was glad to see that the main cover was adorned with some trade dress promoting it as a Lazarus Planet tie-in. I do think DC missed an opportunity here. Lazarus Planet:Alpha was a critical hit. DC really should have tossed the 'prelude' word on the cover to bring in more eyes. 

Writer Gene Luen Yang does a great job of pushing the title's storylines forward, embedding this story within the Lazarus Planet storyline, and shine a bright spotlight on the guest star Supergirl. Seriously, in some ways this reads like a Supergirl book with Monkey Prince as the guest. I love the interaction between the two as well. Supergirl is definitely the veteran here. She is amazing in this issue and it makes me wonder what a Yang/Chang Supergirl solo book would read like. 

While the Lazarus Planet:Alpha issue was able to stand alone perfectly, this issue truly builds on that story, filling in some of the questions I asked when I read it. So kudos to Yang. 

As always, Bernard Chang delivers beautiful art. This issue (and I assume this book) is a mix of big action and silliness. That is a tough line to walk. And yet somehow Chang is able to deliver monstrous battles and clone dandruff scenes effortlessly. 

If you like Supergirl in Lazarus Planet:Alpha, I would recommend seeking out this issue.

On to the book!

Monday, January 16, 2023

Back Issue Box: Superman #312

When I do back issue reviews here I often try to tie them to some sort of theme or plot that is happening in books currently on the rack.

Sometimes I look at them because I do a deep dive in some aspect of Supergirl's history, like the recent look at Comet's origin.

So why I am I looking at Superman #312?

Is it the great Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez cover, showing Superman and Supergirl teaming up to fight Amalak? Is it writer Marty Pasko's recognizing Supergirl's history or his deepening of Kryptonian lore? Is it the interesting if imperfect teaming of penciler Curt Swan with inker Frank Springer?

All of those would be good enough reasons. But they weren't THE reason. 

It is that recently I saw this picture of Mork reading the issue on an episode of Mork and Mindy.

This is a wild issue. It is a primer on Bronze Age story-telling, covering a lot of plot in a scant 17 pages. It is the second part of a four part story. (I suppose I should cover all of them here.) And while Supergirl is made a damsel in distress in the story, she also is treated with respect by Pasko who makes her act like Superman's colleague, not sidekick or mentee. 

On to the book.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Review: Lazarus Planet: Alpha #1

Dark Crisis is over. Did it really happen? And what happened?

If you're DC, perhaps the best palate cleanser for an underwhelming event is to just roll into the next one and hope for the best.

DC Universe Lazarus Planet: Alpha #1 came out this week and kicked off the Lazarus Planet event which will steamroll through a number of titles. This issue had a coherent story with what felt like real stakes. There were good character moments which came out naturally from the story. Already I feel like this is going to make more sense and have a bigger impact than more recent events.

Writer Mark Waid knows what he is doing here. We have had a nice simmering build up in both World's Finest and Batman Vs. Robin. The Devil Nezha has been introduced as a major villain of some power. And somehow Nezha isn't even the biggest bad in the book. Nezha's rival, King Fire Bull, is the true villain here. Nezha might even be the friend who is the enemy of the enemy. That is a nice wrinkle.

But even more than the premise of demons entering the world, we have the straw stirring the drink. The Lazarus storm is effecting our heroes' powers meaning they need to be on their feet and ready. They need to cope and reel. This might lead to some deus ex machina moments (powers fading or returning just in time) but it makes things a little shaky right off the bat.

Perhaps best of all, Waid returns to a nice comic trope, the big hero team being split into missions to save the day. Gardner Fox is smiling somewhere. But even better than that, Waid only includes Batman as a true headliner. But he is injured and therefore sort of lags. We haven't seen that recently. The other heroes in the spotlight are more sidekicks or B-level. Power Girl and Supergirl are veteran leaders here. Cyborg, Blue Devil, Zatanna, Monkey King, et al are the players on the role. That gives these characters, all great, some much needed love. In particular, Waid just gets Supergirl, intelligent, fierce, determined. And he contrasts her with Power Girl who is more brash and physical. I love that the headliners here are these characters. I love them all.

Riccardo Federici is on art and brings that lush, detailed, penciled look to the pages. This really is a gorgeous book. The action pieces are big and bold and powerful. The emotional scenes are subdued and have an impact. And the ka-pow moments are eye-opening. Heck, he even makes Supergirl's new costume look good!

All in all, this was just the sort of book needed to whet my appetite for this event. To put it succinctly, I added 'Lazarus Planet stuff' to my LCS pull list.

On to the book.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Review: Dark Knights Of Steel #9

Dark Knights of Steel #9 came out last week and was an issues filled with revelations. One I guessed way back in my review of issue #5. Another came out of nowhere but makes a lot of sense. An issue where I was right about a theory AND I was surprised by a twist. You know I liked this issue.

Writer Tom Taylor has been having a war between the kingdoms heating to a boil. There have been significant deaths in all the houses. There have been secret missions and hidden alliances. And now it all comes to a head. This is a blood filled issue of war. Despite the battle pages, there are a couple of real solid character moments which showcase just how fun this book has been. And the twists which explain so much of the mysteries that have happened in the earlier issues. I honestly think that Taylor shines when he writes these Elseworld books. 

Artist Yasmine Putri is back on art. The stuff is just fantastic. The warfare is realistic and brutal. The emotions are raw and palpable. Everything is smooth and slick. I am glad that DC has given this book some time so that Putri can be on the book and finish the issue's she is on. I'm hopeful she rounds out the title.

But this is a turning point. We enter the last fourth of the title and some major twists have been revealed. That is plenty of time for use to get to a satisfying conclusion!

On to the book!

Monday, January 9, 2023

Review: DC Vs. Vampires #12

DC Vs. Vampires #12 came out this week, ending this series ... in a way. Yes, this volume is over. But the book ends wide open for a sequel. And given the side books that have sprung from this, I expect we will see more. Will I see more? I am on the fence.

The story here, as written by James Tynion IV and Matthew Rosenberg, is troubling because plot wrinkles and surprises have been thrown into the mix in these last couple of issues. But when you know those things exist in this world, you wonder why they haven't been utilized before. Why would Barbara have sunlight weapon technology only be used in Gotham instead of everywhere? Why would Ollie resurrect Swamp Thing in the prison and not before in the hero headquarters? In this issue, you will see that there are even more things introduced at the last minute that weaken the story. Mary Marvel? Sunlight bombs? Where were these elements before?

The other issue I have with the story is the 180 of Babs Gordon. How do we get from main protagonist to main antagonist in one issue? As much as Supergirl being a nonfactor in this book irked me, this irked me more. Babs doing a heel turn after some rather purple prose with Nightwing? That's wrong. 

One thing that hasn't disappointed is the art. Otto Schmidt's style is wild and well suited for the book. It has just enough of a surreal feel to it to jump off the page. 

But in the end, I have to think this book sort of failed. The story and the plots don't make a ton of sense, especially when read in one sitting. The fact that it feels truly like a first chapter also feels like the marketing was a feint.

On to the book.

Friday, January 6, 2023

2022 In Review: Best Of Supergirl Comic Moments #5-#1

We have finally reached it! The best comic moments of Supergirl in 2022.

For the last 3 days I have been reviewing how 2022 has treated Kara Zor-El. It was a good year for Supergirl in comics. While she didn't have a solo title on the shelves, she was shown to be a hero, intelligent and competent and passionate, in several books. In particular, she truly shone in Batman/Superman World's Finest and Action Comics.

Day 1, I looked at the non-comic moments and Honorable Mentions.
Day 2, I reviewed top ten moments #10-6.
Today we look at the cream of the crop. 

It was pretty easy to find 'best of' moments this year. Trust me, that isn't always true. As always, it comes down to creators who understand the character and respect her. So when you look at the list of best moments, note the creators. No surprise to see Mark Waid there. He is confirmed fan. But I am glad to creators like Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Robert Venditti are there. Johnson is leading Action Comics which is going to a sort of anthology model now. Hopefully we'll get some solo adventures for Supergirl there. And Venditti wrote the Superman '78 book and is slated for the sequel. We know an earth is out there for that universe that includes Supergirl so fingers crossed.

Let's dive right in!

Thursday, January 5, 2023

2022 In Review: Best Of Supergirl Comic Moments #10-#6

Welcome to day two of my look back at the year 2022 and Supergirl. 

Yesterday, I took a look at the non-comic Supergirl news for the past year as well as the Honorable Mentions for the best comic moments of the year.

Today we begin the look at the top ten Supergirl moments in comics for 2022. I'll cover numbers ten through 6 today and the top 5 tomorrow! As I mentioned yesterday, Supergirl fans have to be pleased that our favorite hero has been shining in World's Finest and Action Comics. So you should expect a healthy dose of both of those titles in this list. Both of those titles have really been stellar this year.

And I'll reiterate that Zala, the Supergirl analogue in Dark Knights of Steel, is not included in this list. I very much like that book. It is worth reading with the best Harley Quinn I have read in a while. 

On to the list!

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

2022 In Review: Best Of Supergirl Honorable Mentions And Non-Comic Stuff

Welcome to day 1 of 3 of my end of year review about Supergirl and the site. 

What a difference a year makes! 

Look back at last year's review (here and here),  you'll be reminded that 2021 was a tough year for Supergirl. The television show was canceled. The main book was Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow, a comic that was beautifully rendered but was a terrible take on the character. 

This year, I got to read two comic books that featured a Supergirl that I truly wanted to read. Mark Waid's Batman/Superman World's Finest showcases a wonderful Supergirl, a strong, pro-active. competent, bright, and caring. We also get to read a Supergirl in Phillip Kennedy Johnson's Action Comics, where Kara is a leader within the El family, a voice in the room, and again a competent hero. Two books!!

Add to that, Supergirl plays an important role in DC Vs. Vampires book. She was a wonderful addition in the World Of Krypton mini-series as well. 

That's a lot of solid Supergirl in 2022. I cannot complain.

I'll say that I hoped she would play a bigger role in Dark Crisis, although her last minute stepping in for Mary Marvel made it unlikely. Also given the muddle nature of that book, it is probably a blessing.

And I'll say up front that I did not include Zala, the Kara analogue in Dark Knights of Steel in this review because technically it isn't our Supergirl. 

Okay, now some business. This will be a three day review because I want to make sure I give all the top ten moments some space to breathe. Today I'll review some non-comic stuff as well as the honorable mentions. Then over the next two days I'll count down the best of the best.

On to the year review!

Monday, January 2, 2023

Review: Action Comics #1050

Action Comics #1050 came out last week and was a great opening salvo to the next chapter of Superman and his family. The cover says it correctly. A new era rises.

Two years ago, Brian Michael Bendis has Superman reveal he was Clark Kent to the world. The sentiment, that someone whose mantra is starts with 'Truth'  lives a lie, makes some philosophical sense. But the reality of that reveal within the DCU didn't work. It diminished the Clark side. It diminished Lois. Surely Lois' journalistic integrity could be questioned. It made Ma and Pa live under a dome. And it definitely put a lot of people in danger. 

So it is time to put the genie back in the bottle. Writers Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Tom Taylor, and Joshua Williamson do so effectively. Who better to disrupt Superman's life than Lex Luthor! Luthor's reasoning behind it is unanticipated. And the consequences of anyone trying to undo it is deliciously evil. 

Bringing the story to life are three great artists - Mike Perkins, Clayton Henry, and Nick Dragotta. In particular, Dragotta's pages sing with energy, bringing a sort of Japanese animation flair to the proceedings. Perkins more shadowy energy works for the darker segments of the story. The book is beautiful.

Add to the main story some previews of the upcoming arcs in Action, Adventures of Superman, and Superman and you have a fantastic intro of the next year's stories. Bring it on!