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.