Friday, April 28, 2023

Comic Box Commentary Is 15 years Old!

Back on April 29, 2008, I began this site with a plan to focus on Supergirl. 

Fifteen years ago! 

That's a long time. Over 4,000 posts of time.

In that time I have covered a lot of books, almost 1,800 entries labeled as reviews.

There have been good runs and bad runs. There have been Reborns and Rebirths and re-imaginations. This year has had a re-invigoration in the super-titles. Hoping we see such stuff with Kara soon enough!

This place has been a fun place to run and maintain. It has given me a place to discuss my likes and dislikes about comics and other comic-related media. And it has been a creative bounty for me, a place to stretch myself.

It also has been a great place to meet friends and talk comics.

So thanks to everyone who comes here and partakes in the discussion!

Looking forward to the next year!

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Bullet Review (Kind Of): Superboy: The Man Of Tomorrow #1

 Last week Superboy, the Man of Tomorrow #1 came out. 

The book, by writer Kenny Porter with art by Jahnoy Lindsay, won the DC Round Robin a year ago! As such, half of this first issue was released as the teaser for the premise. I reviewed that part of the book back in last May! Here is that link:

Doesn't seem fair for me to re-review the beginning. I liked the premise then and I like this book so far. So this is sort of a half review where I look at the back end of the book. As a quick reminder, the book has Conner thinking that there isn't much room for him to be a hero in Metropolis because of the Super-family. There isn't much room on Earth either given the number of super-heroes out there. So instead, he looks into space and finds a peaceful planet being overrun by Dominator mutated super-troops. 

Given Conner's crazy history, being dead, in and out of continuity, and basically forgotten, that feeling of being superfluous makes complete sense. So the theme of the book made great sense. Heck, it's why I voted for it then. 

What doesn't make sense is when it is being released. Now, in Action Comics, there is this feeling of of the super-family again. We've seen Conner hanging with the twins, playing video games with Kenan, and helping out.  Thankfully there is an editor's note to say the mini takes place before Action #1050. It is just too bad that the book couldn't come out before that. Truly, it has been a year since the contest.

But this is looks like it is going to be a fun book. Porter gives Conner a lot of enthusiasm and confidence and heroic drive which I love. There is a whiff of 'The Ravers', a reference I hope is made. Lindsay brings a ton of kinetic energy to the proceedings. It has a Japanese anime feel to it, like Dragon Ball. Awesome.

Looking forward to the rest of this. On to the details!

Monday, April 24, 2023

Review: Superman #3

Superman #3 by Joshua Williamson and Jamal Campbell came out last week and was another wonderfully rendered, fast-paced issue setting up this title for the future. 

The foundation of this book seems to be the evolving relationship between Lex and Superman and to be honest I still don't know if I quite understand it. Lex goes from thinking Superman is holding humanity back to now believing Superman has to save everyone? I wish I grasped it more. But I suppose that this is what an evolving relationship is supposed to do ... evolve as we read. 

I think writer Joshua Williamson is trying to get us to a steady state of this new reality between Lex/Superman. We have this plot with evil scientists trying to get revenge on Lex by mutating and upgrading Superman's villains. The Parasite was running rampant last issue. But the Parasite is more like an enzyme in this story, speeding up  the plot. The Parasite plot ends almost too quickly but it does help bring the Luthor storyline forward. There is no decompression here. There is foot on the storyline gas pedal. But by ending the action part of the story quickly, it allows Williamson some space to put in the character moments. And it is those moments that enrich these stories.

Jamal Campbell's art is just luscious. I can't imagine he'll be able to keep up a monthly book with the detail he brings here. But maybe he can do every other arc? This really is a gorgeous book to look at, one of those issues I flipped through immediately after I read it to just soak it in. I keep hoping we'll get more of the super-family in this book. I want to see how Campbell handles them.

Fun book. A quick read for $4.99 but entertaining and beautiful.

On to the book. 

Friday, April 21, 2023

Review: Batman/Superman World's Finest #14

Another month, another excellent issue of Batman/Superman World's Finest!

World's Finest #14 continues to storyline exclaimed on the cover - Who Killed Simon Stagg! This issue does a great job pushing the storyline forward with a lot of revelations explaining away much of the mysteries here but leaving a few out there. I think a few visual clues are out there for future issues so I'll let you know my thoughts in the main review.

Writer Mark Waid is just giving me comic comfort food with this title. These are straight-forward, entertaining super-hero stories set in the 'Elsewhen' of the DCU. So with a young Dick Grayson still acting as Robin and Batman wearing a yellow oval on his chest, we see Batman and Superman investigating the death of Stagg. With Bruce Wayne as the main suspect, Bruce is a little hampered so it is up to Superman and Robin to do the digging. Throw in Metamorpho, the Metal Men, a classic JLA villain, a good murder mystery, and enough DC ephemera to keep this longtime fan happy and this title continues to shine. 

I mean, read that last paragraph. That's what comics should be like.

I haven't even mentioned Dan Mora's art which just continues to sizzle. Waid is putting him to work on this book throwing all the craziness of old DC into this book. The action is spot on with a panel of Superman in this issue just iconic and perfect. But it is the smaller stuff, the heroic poses of the heroes or the joy just oozing out of Robin that makes this even more spectacular. Just fantastic.

Everyone should be reading this book. Everyone.

On to the details.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Review: Supergirl #35

Today I conclude my look at Supergirl fighting the Parasite by taking a deep dive into Supergirl #35, an interesting issue in this title. Last week, I covered the first part.

As I have said in the past, this volume of Supergirl's first fifty issues is basically one longform story of Supergirl/Linda Danvers learning who she is, learning her ties to angelic powers, suffering a lesson in humility, and finally becoming a hero, saving the universe. Fifty issues!

Now that doesn't mean we don't have smaller episodes, like these two issues. But the momentum of the story of Supergirl's confrontation with the evil Carnivean is relentless in this epic.

I love this story but it isn't without it's critics. After all, having Matrix with a very flawed Linda Danvers and ultimately become an angel on Earth isn't going to be for everyone. But I was completely taken in. The problem with such a long and innovative is if you drop into it, let's say at issue #34, you will probably be lost.

And so, writer Peter David gives us this 35th issue which wraps up the Parasite story but really gives us a primer on the issue. David introduces us to the supporting cast individually. He also reviews the angelic arc, rehashing key moments from the beginning of the series. But he also rewards the longtime readers by giving us new information as well as an amazing cliffhanger. So if this issue is new to you, settle in. It is very heavy on the exposition side.

As usual, Leonard Kirk and Robin Riggs brings a wonderful panache to the art. A lot of this issue is two people talking. But the action is solid. And the revelations are wonderfully rendered.

On to the book. And, I mean it, settle in.

Friday, April 14, 2023

Review: Superman Lost #2

Superman: Lost #2 came out this week and was another intriguing read for me. Once again, I have to say that I am of two minds about this comic. In the end, I think the good stuff outweighs the bad and it will get a favorable grade. But I have to be consistent in my critiques and this book suffers in one particular way that probably knocks it down a peg. 

Christopher Priest is a great writer and the overall plot of this book, Superman having been lost in the universe for 20 years (even though he was 'gone' for only minutes on Earth) is an interesting one. By having Superman back on Earth right away, Priest is able to run two plots at once. For one, we see Superman on Earth still suffering some of the emotional trauma of his being gone. We get to see Lois working on a news story. We get to see the League's response to Superman's 'return'. That is a wonderful set-up, especially given the fact that I thought the entirety of the book would be Superman's trip home. By putting half the story in the 'now', we get to see the ramifications of his journey.

We also get to see the actual trip in flashbacks. Superman is in deep space and probably doesn't even know how to get home. There is a lot of deep science here as Superman throughout his interactions with the alien races he comes across talks about his powers and their reliance on both solar energies and gravity. It is another interesting wrinkle to see Superman adapting to the different environs he is put in.

This issue we get to see two legs of Superman's trip, two alien races he interacts with. One of them is a not-so-subtle metaphor for Earth. (The story is called 'Kansas', the name Superman gives the Earth-like planet.) The 'zealots' are face down in their cell phones. Their world is ravaged by pollution and war. They couldn't be bothered with how their planet is dying out from underneath them. No one was willing to cooperate to save the place. Ok ... ok ... I get it. This place is, in some ways, Earth. But this is a pretty blunt metaphor. And it felt a bit fatalistic. And ham-fisted social commentary just always gives me pause.

The book is lifted by the incredibly detailed art by Carlo Pagulayan. From deep space to the Metropolis apartments, the art is just gorgeous. And his aliens and his human expressive work is great as well. Put him on a Lois Lane book and I'd be thrilled. 

We have a long way to go in this book and this is a very solid set-up for a plot. I love Priest's work. So I am hopeful. 

On to the book.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Back Issue Box: Supergirl #34

With the Parasite causing all sorts of mayhem in the Joshua Williamson/Jamal Campbell Superman title, I thought it would be fun to look for times when a Supergirl fought the villain. So let's dive into the back issue box.

Supergirl #34 was written by Peter David with art by Leonard Kirk and Robin Riggs. We are about 2/3 of the way through the longform fifty issue story that David was putting together for this book. Supergirl here is the merged Matrix/Linda Danvers. She has learned she has angelic powers and is finally getting comfortable with those powers. And, at least for this brief moment, things are going well for Linda Danvers. She is an artist and her work has caught the eye of the ex-Mrs. Lex Luthor Elizabethe Perske. 

Linda's art is on display in Paris, setting the stage for this two parter. I swear, knowing David, he did this just so he could make the Parasite/Paris site gag.

But I mean it when I say this is a brief respite for the characters. Most of this mega-story is villains trying to break Supergirl down. The Carnivarean is doing his best to make her doubt herself. So heading back to this story, I was struck by this little respite.

Leonard Kirk did the bulk of this series and storyline and I love the consistency of the look. His stuff has an organic fluidity to it that makes everything flow wonderfully.

On to the book.

Friday, April 7, 2023

Review: Adventures of Superman Jon Kent #2

Adventures of Superman Jon Kent #2 came out this week and I was a bit of two minds about it. There are parts I like but the overall feeling when I was done reading it was sort of lackluster.

Part of that feeling is that I am struggling with the Jon Kent character a bit. I loved his introduction in Convergence. I loved the Super Sons. I loved seeing Clark and Lois being parents, giving their versions of wisdom like Ma and Pa gave Clark back in Smallville. There was an energy there, a vitamin shot to the Superman family. 

And then he was aged. Aged up through trauma. Sent to the Legion where the book never really took off. Came back to Earth and replaced Superman. Was put in an overly simplified, overtly political book where he felt like a guest star in his own title, observing the action around him without joining in. 

I knew who young Jon Kent was, tromping around the farm and sparring with Damian. 

I don't feel I know who this Jon is anymore.

I had hoped this mini-series might solidify that a bit. We were told he would finally confront Ultraman and we would get some resolution to that part of his life, a very important and very personal part his history. And yet, even then, I feel we were denied that moment in this very issue.

Tom Taylor is able to bring us some nice character moments in this book. He writes a solid Lois. But given the events of this issue, I now don't know where this mini-series is going.

It is a shame because Clayton Henry has the chops to bring us some good super-hero action. His characters are fluid and powerful. The poses are iconic. The action has movement and flow. This thing looks gorgeous.

We still have a ways to go. And maybe this will be the book I am looking for in the end. But right now, this just isn't grabbing me.

On to the details.

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Bullet Review: Legion Of Super-Heroes

In February, the DCAU released Legion of Super-Heroes, a new movie written by Josie Campbell starring Supergirl and a handful of Legionnaires.

Supergirl and the Legion are my two favorite IP's in the DCU so this was a no brainer to buy. And sure enough, it arrived at my place within a week of release.

I watched it and loved it! Like LOVED it. It was just the sort of Supergirl I want to see, For fans of the Brainiac 5/Kara romance, it was fantastic. For Legion fans looking for deep cuts of their favorite Legionnaires, it was a smorgasbord.

I realized only last week that I had never sat down and actually reviewed it.

The movie gives us a Supergirl who feels like a stranger in a strange land on Earth. Superman sends her off to the future to train in the Legion as well as be in an environment more like the technically advanced Krypton. She takes a liking to Mon-El who doesn't hide his more fascist thoughts. She takes an instant dislike to Brainiac 5, descendent of the villain Brainiac. But over time she sees that Brainy is just as much a fish out of water as she is. Together the come together to help stop the Dark Circle (and their mysterious leader ... no spoiler alert) and save the universe. And some hugs and kisses occur.

It's really a fun ride and hopefully a sequel is in the works. 

But if you like classic Supergirl and all versions of the Legion, this movie is for you. 

On to some details.

Monday, April 3, 2023

Review: Action Comics #1053

Action Comics #1053 came out last week and was another crackling issue ... well mostly crackling, This is an anthology book so there are three individual stories present here. No surprise, I liked some more than others. 

There is the main story, the Superman Family story with Superman fighting Metallo. This is an excellent story. This Metallo is creepy but also sympathetic. The actions and interactions of the super-family are wonderful. In particular, two moments - one between Kal and Kenan, and one between Jon and Osul - are emotional and powerful. Rafa Sandavol's art feels a little raw but that adds energy to the proceedings. Nothing wrong here.

The Dan Jurgens/Lee Weeks flashback story to an untold tale of young Jon is a solid storyline. There are two plots proceeding at pace here. One is Jon befriending an alien Princess in peril. I think this is a 'don't judge a book by its cover' moment for Jon. There is the Doombreaker plot with Doombreaker looking for the Doomsday spike which created him in the first place.

But it is the last story, the Power Girl story, by Leah Williams and Marguerite Sauvage that I find lacking. Sauvage's art is beautiful in its pastel glory. But the story, a complete demolition of Power Girl, feels wrong. Power Girl has had a solid characterization and a strong foundation for decades. She doesn't need fixing. Here, Williams decides to torpedo everything we know about Power Girl. I don't recognize a Power Girl feeling alone, anonymous, rudderless. If anything, it just makes me want to re-read the Palmiotti/Conner run to read Peeg done right. This feels like another creator coming up with an idea and bolting it onto a pre-existing character. I have got behind new interpretations of characters before and I have given this story some time to see if it would work. For me, it just doesn't.

On to the particulars.