Friday, March 31, 2023

Review: Dark Knights Of Steel #10

Dark Knights of Steel #10 came out this week and we are starting to tie up all the plotlines as we head to the conclusion. Last issue we had finally had the bombshell drop. The White Martians have been manipulating everyone, forcing the super-powered kingdoms to fight each other and eliminate the super-powered beings on the board, softening the world up for a takeover.

With the reveal out of the way, it is time for some of the background to be explained.

Writer Tom Taylor seems to thrive in these Elseworlds situations. This issue he does a good job of giving us the origin of the Martians arrival as well as setting up the end war. Heck, he even goes back to the original prophecy that is driving the plot, revealing who 'the Green man' is. I have enjoyed how well Taylor is juggling the characters here, giving each of the main characters their own personality, their own backstory, their own worries. We are only ten issues (and one special) in but I feel like I know these versions of familiar characters.

Yasmine Putri continues to stun on art. Our last issue came out two months ago. If Putri's art is what is taking so long, it is worth it. I'd rather have a unified look. The fantastical elements and the quiet moments all work well here. This issue ultimately is a sci-fi issue which shows her breadth nicely.

Best of all, the story has reached the right place for the 10th issue of a 12 issue series. Taylor has 2 issues to wrap it all up. I get the sense this won't be rushed.

On to the book.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Bullet Review: Nightwing #102

Nightwing #102 came out last week. As with #101, there is a back-up feature written by C.S. Pacat with art by Eduardo Pansica. 

Last issue, I was struck by the feature. Once again we see Dick stepping in as a mentor for Jon. Last issue there was a whole bit about Jon not using his strength to fight with villains. Perhaps Dick could give him some fighting tips.

Now I could say that maybe his father ... or even cousin Kara ... could give him some tips on throwing a Kryptonian haymaker. But maybe Jon is too timid ... or even embarrassed ... to ask them. Or maybe you ask your 'older brother' for tips like this. 

That discussion around fighting and strength isn't really touched on in this issue. But once again, we see how Jon and Dick interact. With a mystery of a possible murder at a circus, trapeze ropes cut almost leading to the death of of an acrobat family (sound familiar), Nightwing and Superman decide to investigate.

Now one of my favorite things about Super Sons was hearing Damien and Jon compare and contrast their fathers. Here, we see Jon and Dick compare their parents approaches to mysteries. 

It is interesting, especially when Jon talks of both Clark and Lois. 

A quick review.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Review: Superman #2

Superman #2, the second issue of the Joshua Williamson run on the character, came out this week and continued to dazzle.

Williamson is at the beginning of his world building. So we have an active confrontation with the modified Parasite. But we get a look at the people behind the modifications, just a glimpse, continuing the mystery. We get more of the Lex trying to 'improve' Superman from behind bars, another evolving relationship and plot. And we get the introduction of Marilyn Moonlight, who seems to have mystical powers, time travel capabilities, and a killer look. The book reads quick but is packed with info and scene. But there is still a lot for us to learn here. Williamson is simmering all these plots. The book ends with a great cliffhanger. So storywise, I think this is solid.

Jamal Campbell's art is an incredible array of smooth, crisp art. His art plays out very cinematically. There really is a dynamic nature to the work. A feeling of action. But it is clean and beautiful. This is definitely one of those books that I pause over each page to drink it in a little longer.

So it is so far, so good for this new book which seems to have broken out of the gate and is off and running. 

On to the book.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Review: Batman/Superman World's Finest #13

Everyone should be reading Batman/Superman World's Finest. 

I cannot remember the last time I was so thrilled to read a comic. This title, written by Mark Waid and drawn by Dan Mora, has been a complete treasure. It is a sort of classic look at the Superman and Batman families. It is a little bit of a primer/teaser to the DCU as a whole. It includes deep dive references for grizzled readers like me. And it is fun! Comics should be fun!

World's Finest #13 came out this week and was another rollicking, entertaining issue. We have seen Waid bring in the Doom Patrol, the Teen Titans, and other guest stars here. This time we are deep diving into Metamorpho, the Element Man. Tremendous! Waid throws in a significant plotline, the death of Simon Stagg, that directly impacts one of our title stars. 

Dan Mora is a machine. I think, if you compare this to the first few issues, he is a bit sparser in his details. I am not surprised given the amount of work I am seeing from him out there. From covers to the upcoming Shazam book, Mora must be a machine. His stuff still sizzles. There are a couple of pages in this book that are just stunning. So I am glad that even though he is on Shazam he is still sticking around here too.

Waid and Mora have given us a baker's dozen of winners. Everyone should be reading this book. On to the details.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

DC Comics June 2023 Solicits

The solicits for DC's comic slate for June came out last week and there are some interesting things listed. That includes a couple of cancelations on the Bat side of things. Tom King will be taking over Wonder Woman so I won't be collecting that book for the first time in many years. 

Here is a link to the books:

The Superman books really seem to be firing on all cylinders lately so it looks like I'll have to squirrel away a few more pennies. On to those books.

ActionComics #1056

A shocking new character makes their debut as the thrill-packed “Speeding Bullets” concludes! Superman and Metallo must reluctantly join forces to stop the Cyborg Superman. With Tracy Corben’s life (or at least her humanity) hanging in the balance, the Super-Family fights to keep Metropolis standing. Meanwhile, Lois and the staff of the Daily Planet set out to uncover the mysterious leader—and shocking origin—of Blue Earth!

I'm loving this story so far and the return of Hank Henshaw as the Cyborg is a great move. Is the 'shocking new character' the leader of Blue Earth? Or is it someone we should be making guesses about? Intriguing. Could we see someone like Earth Man in the present?

Superman #5
Art and cover by JAMAL CAMPBELL
Variant covers by JOHN CASSADAY and JORGE FORNES
1:25 variant cover by HAYDEN SHERMAN
1:50 variant cover by MIKEL JANIN
DC Pride variant cover by W. SCOTT FORBES

Silver Banshee is back—and more dangerous than ever! Given a massive power upgrade by Lex Luthor’s archenemies, Silver Banshee’s scream rocks Metropolis, and Superman must stop her from destroying his city while also saving her life. Be ready for the shock ending that stabs this series in its heart!

Silver Banshee as Jimmy's girlfriend is just about as perfect a Silver Age pastiche as you can get. Amazing! Will this be classic Banshee or will we see the New 52 version who was so prominent in the Supergirl book?

And that last sentence? Could the Banshee somehow remember the Kent secret identity and scream 'Clark Kent'? Will she attack Lex?

Batman/Superman World’s Finest #16
Written by MARK WAID
Art and cover by DAN MORA
Variant cover by LEE BERMEJO

Batman and Superman versus machines! A.I. villains and heroes—Shaggy Man, G.I. Robot, Red Tornado, and Chemo among them—have launched a global cyberattack alongside Newmazo’s soldiers. Batman, Superman, Robin, and Metamorpho, the Element Man, are unprepared for the onslaught. With millions of lives on the line, the World’s Finest team must find a way to pull the plug before it’s too late!

Newmazo?? God bless Mark Waid.

I hope that part of the machines include the Metal Men. Because my guess is Dan Mora's Metal Men will look awesome. 

This book keeps on delighting. This sounds appropriately delightful.

Adventures of Superman Jon Kent #4
Written by TOM TAYLOR
Art and cover by CLAYTON HENRY
Variant covers by ZU ORZU and AL BARRIONUEVO

The faces are familiar, but the situation is a nightmare. Jon Kent finds himself on an Earth where his friends and loved ones are at war—a place where his personal heroes fight each other for control of the world. What will he do when he discovers that this world’s version of his father, Clark Kent, is on the verge of becoming a dictator?

I suppose lots of super-titles will eventually get an All-Star Superman #1 cover homage. Nicely done. 

Pitting Jon against evil versions of his father might grow tiresome. But this is a mini-series. 

Hoping this title is a bit crisper than the Son of Kal-El book. 

Steelworks #1
Cover by CLAY MANN
Variant covers by JON BOGDANOVE and SAMI BASRI

The Metropolis of the future is here today, but can it survive a terrorist who’s out for revenge against its builder—John Henry Irons, a.k.a. Steel—and his company, Steelworks…and who possesses secrets that could undo everything John has worked so hard to build?
While John’s professional life is firing on all cylinders, his personal life is even better, as his on-again, off-again relationship with Lana Lang might be back on, permanently. Now he must decide whether it’s time to give up being Steel once and for all. But does John even know who he would be without his superhero identity? How does the other Steel—John’s niece, Natasha Irons—feel about his momentous decision? And does any of that matter if Steelworks crumbles around him when he lacks the superpowers to fight back? Writer Michael Dorn (the voice of Steel in Superman: The Animated Series) teams up with artist Sami Basri (Harley Quinn, Catwoman) to bring you the next chapter of Steel’s saga in this not-to-be missed six-issue miniseries!

I have to admit I was not expecting this. 

I don't know if Michael Dorn has writing chops so hope he has a good editor to smooth out any snags. I have like Sami Basri's art on everything I have seen so that's a nice touch. 

Bringing back Lana made me smile. As a Lana fan I can't remember the last time we saw her for a prolonged period if time. 

Drop in a cover by Jon Bogdanove and I am pretty interested.

Superboy The Man of Tomorrow #3
Art and cover by JAHNOY LINDSAY
Variant cover by RICARDO LOPEZ ORTIZ
1:25 variant cover by TOM REILLY

Superboy’s team-up with the Cosmoteers is yielding rocky results. While they’re taking down many of Dominator X’s labs, their team dynamics leave much to be desired. Can this new quartet pull themselves together when Dominator X unleashes his most monstrous creation yet…the hulking Infinity?!

The Cosmoteers? I guess it's better than Ravers.

I hope Dominator X is truly a Dominator. I'll take anything even Legion-adjacent these days!
Superman: Lost #4
Variant cover by LEE WEEKS
1:25 variant cover by RAFAEL SARMENTO

Can even Superman withstand being pushed past the point of emotional and psychological endurance? Marooned on a comet in uncharted space, the Man of Steel reflects on his humble Smallville origins as crushing emotional fatigue threatens to end his journey back—trauma which results in Lois’s struggle to reconnect with the virtual stranger in her own home.

The first issue of this mini-series really hit home for me. So I am interested to see how Christopher Priest fills in the gap. Superman was gone for 20 years but in the first issue that was one page. Now we get to see this journey. 

I suppose this is a story of hope and determination. I am looking forward to seeing where this all goes.

What did you all think?

Friday, March 17, 2023

Review: Superman Lost #1

Superman:Lost #1 came out this week, a delightful surprise in my pull list.

The book appeared in solicits a few months ago, described as a 10 issue maxi-series by (Christopher) Priest and Carlo Pagulayan with the overall plot of Superman being thrown into space and taking 20 years to return to Earth. I have always enjoyed Priest's stories but this one didn't strike me at first.

I wasn't too interested in reading a story where Superman returns to an aged Lois, a new world order, a (presumed) dystopia. This is why I am not a professional writer.

Because Priest sets the stage wonderfully here and takes the story down a path I wasn't expecting. A great path. Moreover, Priest always ... I mean always ... writes a great Justice League and we get a lot of the team here in this first issue. And then, surprisingly for a story throwing Superman into deep space with a long travel home, he throws in a very engaging Lois subplot. We get a lot of sweet moments of the Kents in their home. I finished the issue and wanted more.

Now what puts Superman into space might be a macguffin but it gets us where we need to be.

Carlo Pagulayan does great work here. The issue is a mix of quiet character moments and high action and his work is just stellar. His work feels almost like a Gary Frank merged with Mike Allred. High high compliment!

On to the book!

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Back Issue Box: Superman Family #165

I am rapidly approaching my 15th anniversary here on the site. That is a loooooong time and that means that I have reviewed a lot of books! It also means that I sometimes forget what I have reviewed and what I haven't reviewed. 

So I have to admit that I was shocked when I discovered that I have never reviewed Superman Family #165, the first original Supergirl story in the Superman Family anthology book. 

This is a crazy time for the Superman books. Back in February of 1974, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen was 'canceled' with Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #163. The numbering for the book was assumed by Superman Family, an anthology book with a rotating original story (noted by the larger image on the cover and the top spot of the character role on the left). Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, and Supergirl would rotate that original story spot during this bimonthly 'reprint' era of the book. 

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane was still being published when Superman Family came about but it only had a few more issues before it was canceled and rolled into anthology. Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #137 was the final issue, in the September/October 1974 schedule. 

The first solo Supergirl book was still on-going, but nearing the end of its 10 issue run. Supergirl #10, the last issue of that volume, was also on the racks in that fateful September/October 1974 shipping window.

Here we have Superman Family #165, on the rack in the June/July 1974 shipping window, meaning for a couple of months folks were getting an extra original Supergirl story to read and enjoy!

Put in the historical context, Supergirl had been part of a mobile news team in her Adventure Comics run, which ended with Adventure Comics #424. That story, cover dated October 1972, had her quit the journalism racket. The next month in Supergirl #1, cover dated November 1972, Linda enrolled in Vandyre University as an acting student.

Now semi-headlining Superman Family, it was time for another change. Talk about a character being a bit in the blender. And things get even crazier. So let's dive in!

Monday, March 13, 2023

Wicked Comic-Con Prep

In about 5 weeks I'll be heading to the latest local comic book convention, Wicked Comic Con. 

Last year, Wicked Comic Con exploded on the scene with their first convention. The place was packed with comic book creators and I had a blast.

Already the convention has grown with the con now at the Prudential Convention Center, one of the preeminent convention sites here in Boston. And like last year, the convention is really embracing the comic side of conventions with a huge creator list. This is comic book focused for sure.

I'll be there both days and have a couple of commission ideas that I might comment on in a later post. I haven't had a ton of luck at recent cons to grab some sketches but I am hopeful. And there a couple of artists in attendance who I think would do a very interesting take on Supergirl. Fingers crossed.

Now I have been to many conventions over the last 15 years so many of the creators in attendance I have seen before, including some favorites like Amanda Conner, Chris Bachalo, and Terry Dodson. But here are some of the folks I am most interested in seeing and hopefully chat with.

And as always, I hope to run into friends there so if anyone is going to be there, let me know!

Let's start with Jeph Loeb, a creator I have never met before. Loeb is a legend in the business with many famous works under his belt. 

For me, he is the man who brought back Kara Zor-El to the mainstream DCU. I have a ton of questions to ask him (hopefully) about his take on Kara. Remember, early in that series she was pretty angry and ready to lash out at people. Batman didn't trust her. Where did all that come from?

I'll have some of those Supergirl issues to get signed and probably a smattering of Red Hulk, Batman/Superman, and Superman For All Seasons with me too.

Who else am I hoping to chat up?

Friday, March 10, 2023

Review: Adventures Of Superman Jon Kent #1

Adventures of Superman Jon Kent #1 came out this week, the first part of this mini-series which will send Jon out into the multiverse with a new set of powers. I am trying to come at this with a fresh and clean perspective. And overall I thought this issue grabbed my attention and wanted me to read more. So kudos to the team.

Writer Tom Taylor is at the helm again, guiding Jon into this next phase of character growth. I admit I didn't love the Son of Kal-El  title. Jon seemed like a background character when compared to Jay Nakamura. Jon seemed extremely passive in the book. It was a badge of honor for Taylor that Jon never threw a punch. The politics were ham-fisted and overly simplistic. So the 'powers that be' decided to end that title and bring us this.

And it looks like, perhaps, the idea is to distance Jon from all that. Jon will not only off-world, he'll be out of the universe. He is going into what looks like a very physical confrontation with Ultraman. It also looks like his power set will change to the Electric Blue Superman. I applaud it all. Jon has a history with Ultraman. There are a lot of supers out there now - Kara, Conner, Otho, Osul - so why not differentiate Jon. I am hopeful.

The art is by Clayton Henry who just brings a smooth, gorgeous line to the proceedings. His work continues to improve. While much of the book is conversational, the book is just wonderful to look at.

Is this a move to phase Jon out of the universe for good? We'll see. 

On to the book.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Review: Monkey Prince #12

Monkey Prince #12 came out this week, the end of this series which I discovered on the back end. I came for the Supergirl guest star but I stayed for the good story.

Writer Gene Luen Yang and artist Bernard Chang continue to bring a tremendous story to life here. I have really been entertained by this young hero learning the ropes, guided by a mentor, finding his place in the DCU. Add to it a super-villain family and a mysterious origin and  you have a great mix of character pieces to build on. 

But there also was a sense of joy here. And a solid sense of humor. Monkey Prince talks the way I would talk if I was a teenager who suddenly had powers and was rubbing elbows with Supergirl. He relishes his powers with a sense of wonder and fun. 

I guess I would say this reads like classic Spider-Man to me. Quips and kicks flying!

I have always been a fan of Bernard Chang's art and he really shines here. I love the mythic aspects and the action. And his Supergirl is just glittering. I loved him when he was on the Supergirl book back in the day so it is great to see his take on Kara again.

In fact, if there is one thing to complain about here, it is the treatment of Supergirl in this last issue. She is taken out ... albeit by magic ... and needs rescuing. She never gives up. She keeps fighting. But it would have been great if she wasn't the weak link.

On to the book ... and then onto the back issue boxes for me to get the first eight issues.

Monday, March 6, 2023

Review: Action Comics #1052 - Part 2

Last week I reviewed, perhaps harshly, the Power Girl story in Action Comics #1052. Today I'll finish reviewing the stories within. Both of these stories I liked much more. 

The main story by writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson and artist Rafa Sandavol continues the Metallo arc. I really loved this story for a bunch of reasons. The art is really powerful. Sandavol brings a sort of scratchy, rough feeling to the proceedings that really works well. The story continues to be intriguing as Metallo seems to be having his puppet strings pulled by someone out of sight (although probably revealed in solicits). Thankfully, this explains away what seemed to be a glaring discrepancy between Action and the Superman book. But more than this action, Johnson really calls back to his Warworld Saga as the ramifications continue to ripple out. And, as Action Comics now feels like the old anthology Superman Family, I am thrilled that Johnson are showing us family moments for the supers. Great stuff here.

Add to that the Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks flashback story with a young Jon Kent. Again, Weeks style works well here as he was the artist for the Convergence story and the sequel miniseries introducing us to this dynamic. The story is just starting but I like Jon starting to come unto his powers. But I wonder if there will be a sort of hackneyed 'don't judge a book by its cover' lesson here.

Overall, these both worked very very well. It all starts with the wonderful Steve Beach cover. I like the washed out, lack of outlines bright blue highlighting the family uniforms.

Bring on the book!

Friday, March 3, 2023

Review: Action Comics #1052 - Power Girl Feature

Settle in. Because I will open up this review with a lengthy preamble. But grant me this introduction because it speaks about a problem I see that is pervasive in comics these days.

Action Comics #1052 came out this week. The book is now an anthology with a main Superman story by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Rafa Sandoval as well as a Lois/Clark/Young Jon story by Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks. As a fan of the old Superman Family anthology I was pretty happy about this new format.

And with writers Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Joshua Williamson (over on the Superman book), there really has been a feeling of family. Everyone has been treated well and with respect. Even this variant cover by Rafa Sandoval shows that closeness. In particular, and given the focus of this site, Supergirl has been treated well by those writers. I'll add Mark Waid over in World's Finest has also been giving us great Kara content recently.

That isn't to say that things have been great for Supergirl recently. Her own book ended 3 years ago after she left Earth (again) and turned dark (again). She was treated as a glum loner in Future State, living an isolated life on the moon with Krypto as her hero. And of course, she was a drunk, sad, angry, traumatized character in Tom King's Woman of Tomorrow. Suffice it to say, things have been rough for Supergirl lately as time and again she was given to creators who don't understand her character or her history or simply don't care about it.

All of this leads to the third feature in Action Comics #1052. There is a Power Girl story written by Leah Williams with art by Marguerite Sauvage. I love the art. 

But the story does not work for me. 

Williams has taken Power Girl, one of the most physical and confident characters, a leader and powerhouse, and made her into a telepathic psychiatrist. She has taken away the physicality of Karen and given her this passive power. And worse, in this story, she has taken away that confidence. Here is Karen, the former chairperson of the JSA, the CEO of a tech company, and made her feel shunned by the super-family and diminished in her own mind in comparison to Supergirl. 

Even worse, Williams has taken Supergirl and made her a sort of narcissist. Someone who puts on airs of perfection. Someone who imagines herself in princess gowns. And also someone who isn't the brightest bulb.

So who is the real Supergirl? The hero with the penchant to go dark? The sad loner on the moon? The drunk, angry, traumatized survivor? Or the narcissist? Or is she the mature, optimistic, bright young hero in World's Finest? Why can't DC figure it out?

And who is the real Power Girl? The one from the popular Palmiotti/Conner run? Smart, sassy, brash? Physical bruiser? Or this one, suddenly someone who is a therapist?

Honestly, this feels like Leah Williams had a story to tell of a hero becoming a counselor for other heroes and decided to bolt that onto Power Girl. Like Tom King bolting suicidality on Mister Miracle. And Tom King bolting depression and anger on Kara. Like Tom King bolting genocidal selfishness on Adam Strange. I have seen it so much lately ... an author bending a character out of shape to fit a narrative instead of writing a narrative for the character.

This isn't how I think Power Girl or Supergirl would act. But here we are. As always, your mileage may vary. On to the story.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Bullet Review: Nightwing #101

This will be an extremely short look at one aspect of Nightwing #101.

Writer Tom Taylor has been writing Nightwing for about 2 years and has injected a breezy feel to the proceedings. Dick Grayson is social justice warrior, using his money to help Bludhaven. Using his heroic activities to fight corruption. Taylor definitely has strong political opinions and he has put them in these stories. Somehow it works here better than in other titles. Perhaps street level stories lend themselves to more realistic stories and issues.

Taylor was also given the keys to Jon Kent in Superman: Son of Kal-El. He injected the same politics into that title. But in a book with someone as powerful as Jon, the political stories felt silly and ham-fisted. 

Taylor also tamped down the super-heroics of the Superman book. Jon seemed like a guest star in his own book. Taylor even bragged about how Superman never threw a punch the entire time the title was running. 

I never quite became embraced with the Son of Kal-El book. It ended when Kal returned to Earth. And now Jon will be heading into his own mini-series getting ready to battle both Ultraman and the Injustice Superman. Might be hard to do that if you don't jab now and then.

So ...