Monday, February 27, 2023

Review: Superman #1

If you told young Anj that one day I would have 5 copies of Superman #1 in my collection, I'd say you were crazy. But it is true. 6 if you count Superman: Son of Kal-El #1 as part of that. Byrne/New 52/Rebirth/Bendis and now Dawn of DC era Superman #1 all have a place in my collection.

I suppose Action Comics is the granddaddy of them all so the Superman book can be rebranded for a little first issue buzz. The Bendis era wheezed to an end. The Jon experiment was ... an experiment. And Dark Crisis, in theory, rebooted everything. So with Clark's secret identity back in place, the Joshua Williamson/Jamal Campbell era covering Superman begins.

This feels very much like a new start to the proceedings. There is a whole new dynamic between Lex and Clark, one I don't know if I truly understand. But one I am interested in reading more about. Lois is acting as editor to the Planet. There are some creepy villains lurking in the background, one performing experiments on other creepy villains. And, sliding in as a minor detail that surely will pay major dividends, Jimmy's girlfriend moved in with him. Chances she is a creepy villain? 98%.

Williamson clearly is having fun here. He has a good feel for the characters and their voices as everyone sounds right. The pacing is right with action mixed in between the story to keep momentum up. I am eager to read more of his Lois. And let the debate begin! What music does Clark listen to?

Jamal Campbell's art is always lush and beautiful. He really shines here. In particular, the quieter, character moments are filled with such emotion and heart. The art adds so much that it all explodes. I hope there has been enough lead time that Campbell can keep up the pace. 

There is one thing that does bug me a little, about the Luthor plot, but I suppose I can explain it away. I'll get there. 

Friday, February 24, 2023

Review: Batman/Superman World's Finest

Batman/Superman World's Finest #12 came out this week and was a truly wonderful 'one and done' tale of Robin and Supergirl's awful first (and only) date. 

Writer Mark Waid has such a deep understanding of the DCU as well as a clear interpretation of the classic histories of the characters that this issue just sings. This story takes place in some vague past, probably in some other timeline, with a younger Dick and Kara. I would say the two come off as Kara being slightly older than Dick, in my head they are 19 and 17 respectively, but who knows.

What does show is that these two are still new to dating, still learning who they themselves are, and trying to figure out their way in the world. 

Robin seems eager to impress Supergirl, something I can remember doing in earlier years when wooing someone. Or he is desperate for some validation, perhaps a comment of his relationship with Batman.

Kara is clearly trying to adopt the ways of Earth for this date. But she also is a little awkward, something which makes sense for her having only been on the planet for a short time. 

It all comes off great. It is a fun, wild story showing why these two (at least at this point) just don't mesh romantically. 

It is aided greatly by Emanuela Lupacchino's smooth art. Lupacchino has been a sort of designated pinch hitter for Supergirl since her stint as lead artist in the K. Perkins run at the pre-New 52 title. She brings great emotion and expression to the date itself, showing the characters cringing and getting frustrated. But the action sequences are also dynamic and splashy (pun intended as you will see).

And all this comes as a prequel from this page in  World's Finest #2 where we hear the ludicrous details of the date, all of which turn out to be on target.

One last thing I like about this book. I like this format that Mark Waid has done so far. A five issue story completes and you get a done-in-one palate cleanser before you go into the next arc. But these single issues add depth to the characters and build the universe. Keep this please, DC!

On to the book.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

DC Comics May 2023 Solicits

The DC May solicits were released last week and continue to sound very interesting. I have to say, outside of a lack of a Supergirl monthly, the Super-family seem on very solid creative grounds these days. We are really getting a deep dive into all the non-Kara corners of the family.

Here is a link to all the comics:

And onto the Super-books.


• Variant covers by RAFA SANDOVAL and DAVID TALASKI
• 1:25 variant cover by AL BARRIONUEVO
• 1:50 foil variant cover by SEBASTIAN FIUMARA
• AAPI Heritage Month variant cover by BERNARD CHANG
• $4.99 US | 48 pages | Variant $5.99 US (card stock)

• Superman’s true enemy has been revealed: the Cyborg Superman, Hank Henshaw! Everything the Super-Family has built stands on a knife’s edge, and Superman and Metallo become the unlikeliest of allies as they hunt for Metallo’s missing sister. Can they prevent the inevitable devolution of Metallo’s mind and body long enough to save his sister from Henshaw’s monstrous plans?

I am really pumped to see the Cyborg back, especially as Hank Henshaw and not Zor-El (is that even still in continuity?). I am betting that Phillip Kennedy Johnson will do him right. I can't wait to read this. And I don't know which variant this is but love the call back to the Reign of the Supermen.

Unfortunately, no other info in the solicit regarding the back up features. I think Dorado Quick and Yasmin Flores Montanez are on a Steel back-up.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Backstories: Supergirl Daughter Of Krypton

Every so often, the universe shines and good luck reigns supreme.

The other day I was in my local comic book store and decided to thumb through their discount trade boxes, something I rarely do. 

Sitting in there, for a buck (!), was this Scholastic book for young readers: Backstories: Supergirl Daughter of Krypton. Written by Daniel Wallace with sketches by Patrick Spaziante, the book is a chapter book focusing on the first year of the character's New 52 history. 

The core of the New 52, of what Supergirl would become - hero or villain - is all there, right on the back cover.

Now I will admit, that first year in the New 52 was a mixed bag. The angry Kara who just wanted to be left alone wasn't to my taste. The young hero who delved into her history and rallied to beat Reign and the World Killers? More to my liking. 

This book is pretty good at softening some of the rougher edges, making it more suitable for a young reader. Less dark. It actually is quite delightful, especially the ending.

And I'll add that the sketches by Spaziante are really wonderful. Many of them mirror important moments of the New 52 run, some of them lifted right from the books. But they are perfect for the book. 

On to the book itself and some of the highlights.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Back Issue Box: Superman #315

I recently completed my coverage of Superman #311-314 on the site, taking a deep dive into a convoluted story that focused on Superman's code against killing and had some tremendous Supergirl moments.

And while I have the recent Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes movie sitting on my blu-ray to review as well as the Scholastic Backstories novelette to review, I thought I would just finish up this coverage with a bit of an epilogue from Superman #315. And I will end with a question for the audience.

I will start by saying that I will not be reviewing the bulk of the issue despite this winner of a cover showing Superman being defeated by Clark Kent (!!) who has become Black Rock. But it is a bananas story by writer Marty Pasko who was really leaning into his creation of SKULL, a nefarious super-science criminal conglomerate! Instead I'll focus on the first couple of pages which wrap up the fate of Nam-Ek who played such a huge role in the prior arc. 

The art is again by Curt Swan with inks by Dan Adkins. Swan was THE Superman artist in the Bronze Age and he brings his style and solid art foundation to the book. But it is Adkins who brings a real polish to the art here. I wonder if we should have some sort of poll of best Swan inkers (although perhaps we should say 'after Murphy Anderson'). 

But let's take a last look at poor Nam-Ek, the ever-healing, immortal, stench-bedeviled, Rondor mutate.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Back Issue Box: Superman #314

I have been having fun the last couple of weeks reviewing a four-part Superman story from 1977, involving Superman and Supergirl fighting the vengeful space pirate Amalak. The central plot point of the story is Amalak trying to trick Superman into killing. By forcing the Man of Steel to break his ethical code, Amalak knows Superman will be psychologically broken and will retire. Today I cover the finale in Superman #314. 

Writer Marty Pasko has weaved an intricate plot involving a space plague, the return of the Kryptonian criminal Nam-Ek, and a stray dog/alien vector as both the source of the epidemic and a lynch pin to Amalak's plot. Each of these four issues only has 17 pages of plot but Pasko packs it to the brim with twists and turns. All that despite using recap pages to keep readers up to snuff. I have loved the way Pasko has inserted Supergirl into the mix and treated her properly. In this issue, I love his handle of DC lore.

The art is again by Curt Swan and inker Dan Adkins. It is an good mix of fisticuffs between plot points. Swan gets to stretch out a bit, moving from fist fights to Kaiju battles. Adkins gives the work a sort of Schaffenberger slickness, something unusual to how I picture Swan in my head.  But it is pretty slick.

Add to all that some Lois and Clark drama on the last page and you have a winner!

On to the book!

Monday, February 13, 2023

'The Flash' Movie Trailer

The Flash movie is set to come out in June of this year. 

Now usually I would be eagerly anticipating a DC big screen effort. But there have been several things that have given me pause with this one. I haven't been a fan of the overall Zach Snyder movies. Wonder Woman '84 was pretty rough. And the premise of this movie, a take on the Flashpoint story, seemed like a day late given both Into The Spider-Verse and Spider-Man No Way Home already covering a multiverse. DC always seems to be following Marvel. 

The trailer dropped yesterday. (Here is the link:

I have to say ... it looks good! Way better than I thought it would! And way more interesting.

I won't bury the lede.

There is a lot of Supergirl in this trailer and she look pretty awesome. 

I love the suit, the red shoulders reminiscent of the Crisis era suit. I am interested in seeing Sasha Calle's take on the character. And it looks like she is going to kick some serious butt in the movie. So rock on!

But there's more!

Friday, February 10, 2023

Bullet Review: Monkey Prince #11

I recently reviewed Monkey Prince #9 and Monkey Prince #10 on the site because Supergirl was a guest star. I was pretty impressed by those issues for a number of reasons. Certainly, Supergirl was fantastic in the book, given proper treatment. Second, the story was a fun, rollicking adventure with great action and dialogue by writer Gene Luen Yang and artist Bernard Chang. The story had more Kryptonian ties than just Supergirl. Lastly, it was a great tie-in to Lazarus Planet. 

So when Monkey Prince #11 came out this week, I grabbed it. Maybe Supergirl would still be in it. Regardless, the story and art grabbed me in the prior issues and I wanted to read more. High praise and shows what a good guest star can do, introduce you to a new book and make you buy it.

This issue was a bit of a revelation for the book. There is no Supergirl, not a big surprise. But the premise of the book (at least that I could glean from the issues I have read) is that Marcus' father, the Monkey King was thought to be an evil presence. Now that might not be true.

Even more interesting, the origin of our title hero not only feels a little more like Superman's but has some direct ties to Krypton. Very interesting for me!

As always, Bernard Chang just brings it on art here. The panels and action sequences are dynamic, innovative, and crazy in a good way! I really like his work and this seems the perfect book for him.

This will be a quick review!

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Back Issue Box: Superman #313

Superman #313 was released in 1977, the third part in an intriguing four part story with a central theme of Superman's code against killing. A four parter was a rarity back in those days. Folks weren't writing for the trade. The spinner rack was often hit-or-miss. Things were mostly one and done.

Writer Marty Pasko does a lot in this story, bringing in a little known Silver Age villain, bringing in his own Kryptonian creation Nam-Ek, touching on the real life 'Legionnaires disease' outbreak, and even ratcheting up some tension between Clark and Lois. Heck, even Supergirl has a role here. But the real meat is how important Superman's code against killing was back then (and should continue to be). Superman is brought to the brink of despair and madness as personal ethos is put to the test. 

The art is by Curt Swan, the de facto artist of Superman back in the day. But the inking is by Dan Adkins. It is a smoother Swan but feels off. There is almost a Kurt Schaffenberger feel to the art here. It gives Supergirl a familiar feel but it still feels somewhat off. Not as strange as Frank Springer's inks. But not what I picture in my mind when someone says Curt Swan. And such an interesting cover with Superman tossing an alien around, threatening to kill it. Quite the art duo on this captivating piece, Dick Dillin inked by Neal Adams!

So get ready to dive into part three of Amalak and his machinations. (You can read the reviews of part one and part two here.)

Monday, February 6, 2023

Josie Campbell Interview

Last week, we heard from James Gunn that a Supergirl movie was in the works using Tom King's Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow as a template. You might recall that Gunn said Supergirl is 'harsher', 'more jaded', and 'more f**ked up' than Superman. I am not sure that is the right take on Supergirl for a film. 

Later that day, I saw this interview with comic writer Josie Campbell regarding her upcoming animated Legion of Superheroes movie starring Supergirl. You should definitely read the entire interview, especially if you are a fan of those properties. Here is a link:

It is clear that Josie Campbell understands the Supergirl character very well. I read her responses to these questions and they made me smile. Because at least somewhere out there, there are creators who can acknowledge Kara's trauma but then see that historically she has been able to channel it in constructive and not destructive ways.  I'll be showcasing some of those responses below. 

I really liked Campbell's recent New Champion of Shazam mini-series. It was a strong take on Mary Marvel, her growing confidence, and her love of family. It touched on current social issues and mores but in an entertaining way, neither preachy or weighty. 

I have pre-ordered my copy of the movie which will arrive sometime next week. You should expect a review here. But first the interview!

Friday, February 3, 2023

Review: Superman #311

Last week, on a lark, I reviewed Superman #312, the second part of a 4 part story. The response was very positive with folks wanting to hear more about the story itself. Perhaps starting with part 2 wasn't the best choice.

So I am here today to catch you up! Today I cover Superman #311, by Marty Pasko, Curt Swan, and Frank Springer. The issue sports a delightful cover by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. If you are looking for a cover that screams ' buy me' from the spinner rack it is this one. Superman being manhandled by a horned unknown villain. People dying around him from plague! Guest starring the Flash! This one has it all true believer.

Pasko does a great job for an opening chapter, dropping us into the action scene immediately and then catching us up. There are a lot of mysteries here. Who is the villain in the scientist (revealed in #312)? Who is the newcomer in the trench coat? What is causing the new plague? And how can Superman recover from an philosophical crisis? Add to that a lot of supporting cast interactions, including the worst 'Steve Lombard is a jerk' scene on record, and you have a winner! And all that in 17 pages!

As I said in the prior review, Springer on Swan is a weird mix. But the action is brisk and beautiful. It is the more character driven scenes that seem to suffer here.

On to the book!

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

James Gunn And The Supergirl Movie

Over on Twitter, James Gunn, the co-CEO for DC Studios, unveiled his plans for the next slate of DC projects.  Please listen to the clip as there are a lot of things that sound interesting, like Creature Commandos.

But the last project me names is Supergirl, based on Tom King's Supergirl, Woman of Tomorrow.

I have to tell you, my heart sank when I listened to the clip. He loved King's take on the character. Supergirl is 'much more jaded' than Superman. 

It's as if Gunn, like King, doesn't understand the character and her 60 years of existence.

But it got a little bit worse when I read more of what Gunn had to say.

Woman of Tomorrow was a 'wonderful comic'. 

King, someone who never understands a character or their history, is one of the architects in the DCEU room! Kara is much harsher and much more f**ked up than we've been used to this far. 

He says all those things as if they are good things.

I have been very vocal about my dislike of Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow, so no need to drudge up the comic.

But let me put these other thoughts out there.

One of the complaints about the DCEU movies is that they simply didn't understand the character. A Superman who kills, who flies away when the Senate blows up. A Batman who kills. An overly dour tone to all the proceedings. That take failed, resulting in this whole new slate and take on the universe.

So why hire an architect whose whole oeuvre is deconstructing and destroying characters?

Next, we had a very successful take on Supergirl on television, one where she was the primary hero of her world, an inspiration for others. That DID work.

And, unfortunately, Supergirl is always lucky when she gets some a shot in other media. But they are precious few. They stick.

If Batman does a bad animated movie (like having sex with Batgirl on a rooftop), it is a drop in the bucket. Three weeks later, another Batman movie is on the shelf. 

If Supergirl does something bad, she doesn't get second shots that often. If this doesn't work, there won't be a Supergirl movie for 40 years (proof seen in the aftermath of the '84 flick?).

So why break away from the character and what works and try a harsher take? Why do a harsher take when we have seen that a harsher take in the DCEU has failed horribly in the past? And why pick a Supergirl story which isn't even a Supergirl story to base her movie on?

Moreover, let's say it is a success. Then moving forward, Supergirl will be harsher and more f**ked up moving forward. So, the movie will undo 6 decades of stories. That is scary. 

I would rather have NO Supergirl movie than have a Supergirl movie based on that work with that 'jaded' take. 

Me, the guy who has run a Supergirl site for over a dozen years, doesn't want a Supergirl movie.