Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Review: Justice League Vs. Godzilla Vs. Kong #2

Justice League Vs Godzilla Vs Kong #2 came out last week and was another pretty brisk and fun read, a sort of comic version of a summer popcorn movie. After reading the first one, I was a giddy mess. I never expected to see these two IP's together in a comic. This issue felt a little more like a standard comic. I was less giddy but no less entertained. This issue set up the plot a little more, gave us the first throwdown, and was (unfortunately) Kong-less. 

Writer Brian Buccellato keeps the plot moving, cranking up the threat of Godzilla. Whether this is the kaiju's actual power level or if he has been amplified by the Toyman isn't known. But we see the giant lizard stand toe to toe with Superman. It sets the table for how big a threat these monsters can be. Add to that a couple of nice side moments, building on the DCU's history as it exists on this Elseworld. There are a couple of hiccups but you still have a winner here.

Artist Christian Duce brings a smooth pleasing style to the book. I am sure that some of the close-ups of Godzilla are probably digitally traced from the recent movies. But the super-hero work here is great. Some characters, like Hawkgirl and Batgirl in particular, really look fantastic. 

We get an out-of-the-blue cliffhanger which might need a little explanation but made me wanting more.

On to the book.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Review: Batman/Superman World's Finest #21

Batman/Superman World's Finest #21 came out last week and was another interesting chapter in this arc which returns us to the Kingdom Come world. Or at least I think it does. 

Our heroes have found Thunderman (former Boy Thunder) on a multiverse world which is quite dark. It looks like the Kingdom Come world. Last issue, the heroes saw that world's future, the graveyard from the gulag being bombed in Kingdom Come #4 was evident. 

From the jump, I have been worried about how this story would impact that story. How could Kingdom Come unfold if those heroes have interacted with our heroes, have heard about Thunderman's rage, that they know about a multiverse? 

I hope writer Mark Waid will be able to put the genie back into the bottle and leave this world sort of untouched. In the meantime, he is doing great work showing us how the events of that world impact the main Batman and Superman. I liked the interactions between the Batmen and Supermen. There is a killer cliffhanger. But between those ups is the down of Gog. That groan you heard was me when I see Superman bending the knee in worship. 

The art by Dan Mora remains an unbelievable high point to this book. He really crushes this whole issue from the knockdown fights to the emotional beats, to the more insane moments of Gog being summoned. Mora is just a force.

Could this whole thing be on a world that is close to the Kingdom Come world but not *THE* Kingdom Come world? Who knows.

On to the book.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Review: Superman #8

Superman #8 came out this week and moved along the plot of The Chained quite well while continuing the subplots that have been percolating from the first issue. There is a little bit of a cheat in the action in this issue, the one thing which sort of brings the efforts down. Still, quite a fun ride, a solid middle chapter. 

Writer Joshua Williamson does a good job here of building up the threat of The Chained, tying the villain into Lex's history and Conner's history. The threat feels real. As this is a Lex villain more than a Superman villiain, this battle leans into the new dynamic between Luthor and Superman, forcing a bit of a team-up. And we get quick peeks at the newer members of the book - Lena Luthor, the Countess, Dr. Pharma and Mr. Graft. Still, the ending of the fight with the Chained is a bit of a stretch on a couple of levels. 

The art is a bit all over the place with Gleb Melnikov, Norm Rapmund, David Balteon, and Jamal Campbell all listed as being on art. I really like Melnikov's grungy, energetic art on the Chained battles. There are nice, bigger panels highlighting some of the action. The cover by Campbell conveys the threat of The Chained, Superman weighed down. 

On to the book!

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Bullet Review: Amazing Heroes #56 plus Thanksgiving Joy

Happy Thanksgiving to all the Americans out there who celebrate. 

I have an awful lot to be thankful for this year! At the same time, I'll be glad to put 2023 behind me.

But just on Monday, I was thankful to discover a new comic book store opening right near work, Friar Tuck's Comics & Collectibles. The story literally opened 2 days ago so their website is pretty bare:

More about the store at the bottom of the post but something I stumbled across and purchased there was Amazing Heroes #56, a 'super-heroines' issue with a preview of the Supergirl movie. 

Not a bad copy and a great Kevin Nowlan cover.

Here is a cleaner look, not my copy (which is above).

I don't normally post articles like this in their entirety. But it is just over 2 pages of text.

I pretty sure that most people who visit this site realize what a treasure Helen Slater is. This articles just cements is. Hearing from a 20 year old Slater talking about the process of auditioning and preparing for the role once she got it.

I love the anecdote here where she states she didn't even know that Linda Lee was Supergirl. And then, when auditioning as both parts, she said to steel herself she used a school mantra of 'The Obstacle Strengthens the Will.'

She then said the famous line 'You've had your fun Selena, the game is finished!' and got the role. 

I also was pretty impressed with the in-depth discussion of the Slater's physical regimen.

She had muscular legs from all her dancing but was 'slight' in the upper body and so had to go through 3 months of tough workouts to get into shape. 

While most of the article focused on Slater, we do get some info on all the sets built for the movie.

There is a brief discussion about the cast.

But my favorite line is that the plot has been 'jealously guarded'.

The climax will be 'a spectacle of soaring imagination, stunning surprises, and mind-boggling special effects'. 

Now I am very forgiving of the movie. I love Slater. But even I know it is pretty flawed. I know why the plot was 'jealously guarded'.

As for Friar Tuck's, it is a very posh store. 

I was there for opening day and all I can say is that the back issue section is massive. There are tons of wall books and lots of key issues and older key issues in glass cases. Most of the issues are in very good condition and the price reflects that quality.

As for me, in addition to the Amazing Heroes, I also grabbed Dakota North #3 and #5 to complete that run in my collection. Anyone near Boston or Brookline should visit.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Review: Superman Lost #8

Superman Lost #8 came out this week and was another up and down issue in this up and down mini-series. While this issue had some interesting and beautiful moments, I don't know if it pushed the story forward. Ultimately, that means this issue wasn't 'needed'. And that never sits well with me.

Superman has been back on Earth for 7 issues but lived on that doomed planet of 'Kansas' for 20 years of his time. He has been trying to shake off the trauma of that life and of leaving that planet's citizens to die since being home. But since it felt like a few hours to him, his friends and family are struggling to help him. 

Last issue, Superman went to a therapist Supergirl recommended. There would be some interesting stories to tell there. (I loved the therapy issue after Our Worlds at War for example.) But that isn't explored here. Also last issue, Lois went to Lex to try and figure out how help Superman, a very non-Lois idea. Lex gave her cancer to try and shake Superman awake.

This issue? Superman goes to colleagues for advice - Supergirl, Adam Strange, and Black Adam. They all basically give him tough love. It's time to move on. Lois finally admits that she hasn't been able to help her husband. And Lex stews. 

Writer Christopher Priest has certainly padded this series with side plots, homages, and quick scenes. But from a plot view, this feels like it could have been 6 issues. And things I would like to see (like Lois talking to Clark more, or Superman talking to professionals, or more interaction with the Leaguers) haven't been around enough.

Its' a shame because the art by Carlos Pagulayan is great, including the Supergirl scene. She looks fantastic. And Will Conrad gives an assist on some pages but his style meshes nicely. Even the variant covers (like the Stephen Segovia one above or the rarer Denys Cowan one) are quite appealing. 

On to the book.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Ana Nogueira Named As Supergirl Movie Screen Writer


Over on Instagram, James Gunn posted that the screenwriter Ana Nogueira has been named as for the Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow movie. Here is the post.

"A hearty public welcome to Ana Nogueira to the DC Studios family. Ana is an amazing writer whose screenplay adaptation of Woman of Tomorrow is above and beyond anything I hoped it would be. We’re excited to be moving forward on this unique take on Supergirl in this beautiful, star-spanning tale."

Incredibly, it sounds like the script is already written! This is a movie that is years away from being made. And given the recent downtrend in profits for super-hero movies, I wonder if this will ever come to pass. 

I was hoping that perhaps the movie being based on Woman of Tomorrow might change but that seems set for now. I wonder how Gunn can call that story a 'beautiful, star-spanning tale'. It certainly doesn't help that the picture Gunn chose shows Kara with a bloody sword, but here we are.

But the big news, of course, was that Nogueira was named. I have to admit, the name is new to me. She is mostly known for being an actress on 'The Vampire Diaries'. That is a show that slipped under my radar.

For writing, she is best known for an off-broadway play called
 Which Way to the Stage. It is hard to judge anything based on a wiki synopsis of a play so I won't. I just hope that Nogueira read more than just Woman of Tomorrow when she formulated who Supergirl is as a character.

For more coverage, here is an article over on Variety. It reminded me that Gunn called the movie 'more hard-core'.

Anyways, I'll lean into this community for help. If anyone has seen Nogueira act or has seen the play, please leave a comment!

Monday, November 13, 2023

Review: Superman '78 The Metal Curtain #1

Superman '78 The Metal Curtain #1 came out this week and was a wonderful dive back into the Donner-verse. 

I loved the first Superman '78 mini-series. Writer Robert Venditti perfectly captured the characters in that world. The dorky Clark. The sassy Lois. The ruthless but also surprisingly funny Luthor. AND we got Brainiac ... finally!

So I was thrilled when I learned about the sequel. 

Venditti is back as writer and picks up right where he left off. The issue does just what a first issue should do. We get the main plot set up. Kryptonite lands in the Soviet Union. An American colonel turns out to be a Russian spy and has sent tech to the USSR as part of a Metallo project. And Lois is on the case. So I am ready! A cold war era story, US vs USSR, Superman vs Metallo! It all sounds great and enough has been shown to excite me.

But beyond that, Venditti makes sure the book feels like the movie world. My favorite part of this issue was the Daily Planet scene. Seeing Clark challenging Lois a bit but still being meek. Hearing Perry tell Lois the rules of the road. Watching Lois not slow down in her pursuit of a story. And all have the mannerisms and tone of the '78 film. Pitch perfect.

Gavin Guidry joins the team on art duties. This is my first time seeing Guidry's work and I am impressed. The Planet scenes are just incredible. I love the expressive work and small touches like Clark pushing his glasses up on his nose, Lois' icy glare, and Perry's exasperation. 

Friday, November 10, 2023

Review: Return Of Superman 30th Anniversary Special

Last week, the Return of Superman 30th Anniversary Special came out, a square bound, ten dollar tome looking back at the Reign of the Superman story. DC did a good job getting the band back together. Dan Jurgens, Louise Simonson, Karl Kesel are back writing. Ordway, Jurgens, Jon Bogdanove, and Tom Grummett are on art chores for the flashbacks with Travis Moore doing the framework story. Only Roger Stern and Jackson Guice are missing.

I suppose this book was written for people like me who lived through the 'Reign of' and the 'Return of' Superman. This book looks back at the time when the real Superman was dead, there were 4 Supermen running around, and readers were wondering if any of them were the Superman.

Jurgens handles the framework story of Lois reading from Perry White's journal from that time period and his reactions to the different Supermen. It was quite fun to look back at then the Cyborg Superman, Steel, Superboy, and the Eradicator were relatively unknown. Seeing Perry fall for the Cyborg's pretending to be Superman brought back memories of buddies who thought so too. (I had my money on the Eradicator ... as usual I was wrong.)

But it is the flashback stories where we see those characters in the early stages of their careers that was the most fun. I loved all the Superman books then. I loved the Kesel/Grummett Superboy. So the nostalgia engine was cranked up reading these books.

When it all is said and done, there is a nice sentiment to the story, a reminder that the real Superman is the standard other try to live up to. 

This was pretty pricey but I gobbled it up. 

On to some details.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

DC Comics Solicits: January 2024

The January 2024 DC Comics solicits came out earlier this month. Here is a link to all the books coming out that month.

It is a new year and it is a surprisingly meager month for the Super-family. A mere six books on the shelves! I keep hoping for some Supergirl news. 

Wait ...

I keep hoping for some GOOD Supergirl news. But there isn't any. And not much more that grabbed my attention. On to the super-titles.

Variant covers by LEE BERMEJO and BRUNO REDONDO
1:25 variant cover by LEIRIX
1:50 variant cover by MIRKO COLAK

HOWDY, PARDNERS! Welcome to the Wild West of Metropolis, where the Man of Tomorrow meets the Man from Yesterday! Clark Kent is on a rootin’-tootin’ rodeo adventure alongside the ghostly Marilyn Moonlight as they get to the bottom of why she haunts the night! Get your posse and join us for a hoedown like you’ve never seen before. Yee-haw!

We are three months away from this story. The last Superman issue was chock full of plots and subplots. So I wonder how much is going to be wrapped up with The Chained and the Luthor family before this.

That said, Marilyn Moonlight is a fun new character and I can't wait to read more about her. And Superman as a cowboy! Looks like a hoot. Bring it on!

Monday, November 6, 2023

Review: Steelworks #5

Steelworks #5 came out a couple of weeks ago, the penultimate issue of a very entertaining mini-series.

I have been pretty impressed with how celebrity writer Michael Dorn has crafted this tale. The spine of this story is John Henry Irons looking into mirror and trying to figure out who he wants to be moving forward. He is truly afraid that the Steel part of his life is taking over. Is he still Irons? I wonder how much of this is some personal experience on Dorn's part. Is he Michael Dorn? Or 'the guy who played Worf'? Or even 'Worf'? Seeing the man struggle with the super-man is interesting and has been handled well.

But Dorn has tacked on a revenge plot. Former employees in Amertek are out to ruin Irons ... and ruin Steel. This issue takes a pretty funny turn, an almost silly Bronze Age super-villain move that made me smile and somehow works. 

I don't usually have high hopes for celebrities who come in to write but Dorn has acquited himself well.

Sami Basri and Vicente Cifuentes remain on art and bring a fun atmosphere. I like the art here a lot, just veering to the cartoonish without crossing it. 

I'll be sad to see this end. On to the book.

Friday, November 3, 2023

Review: Supergirl Special #1

Why has this blog survived for 15 years? Because I feel I need to trumpet how great Supergirl is as a character. I need to share her history and talk up why I love her.

Why will this blog keep surviving? Because DC doesn't often seem to share what I love about the character. They either make her dark or a loner or drunk or overwhelmingly sad or unsure of herself. And I have to keep sharing the best aspects of Supergirl to make sure people know that this is recent problem.

Which brings me to the Supergirl Special #1

This is another book that just seems to get Kara wrong. Even worse, it seems to absolutely 100% ignore the most recent Kara stories so it seems out of continuity and out of character. In Action Comics and Steelworks and Superman books recently, Kara is showcased as intelligent, second in command, respected, and sure of herself. She is still learning. But she is established. She has been a big sister, a Kryptonian scholar, and hero. She also has seemed happy.

Writer Mariko Tamaki goes far away from any of that characterization, writing a story that I do not like. This is a Supergirl who has some sort of competitive and unsettling relationship with Power Girl. This is a Supergirl who isn't sure of herself. She is glum in the Kent home. She somehow worries she is going to die when a building collapses on her. This is a Supergirl who struggles with remembering Krypton. She thinks she can never win.   

There is almost too much wrong with that paragraph. Just six months ago, Kara and Power Girl were hugging, accepting each other (in PG's Special ). She is the Kryptonian scholar in Action Comics talking about religion, politics, folklore, and history. She is the heroic field commander of the Super Family in that book and in Superman too. 

How do you reconcile this story with those years of stories? I have no idea how this story made it through editorial. It is in complete conflict with Supergirl's character. 

But let's look beyond that. A special like this is supposed to celebrate a character. It is supposed to raise interest in the character. It should be a pilot to see if there is interest enough for a solo title. 

After reading this issue, who would want to read a Supergirl book like this one? Who wants to read a story about a sulking hero who is trawling her social media and isn't sure of herself. Who seems sad. Who is wandering through life.

There is nothing to celebrate here.

It is a shame because the art by Skylar Patridge is really wonderful. 

As hard as it is to say as a Supergirl fan, I hope a new series isn't born out of this take. 

DC ... please ... get someone who understands and loves the character to write her book.

On to the specifics.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Black Orchid Thursday: Quarter Bin Podcast - Black Orchid #1

I recently was a guest on the excellent Quarter Bin Podcast to discuss the first issue of Neil Gaiman's Black Orchid mini-series from 1988.

Folks should head there to listen to the episode if interested:

Back in 2022, I did a deep dive into the pre-Crisis Black Orchid and touched upon the Vertigo series. I have included at the top of this post the Jenette Kahn Publishorial discussing her recruiting Neil Gaiman to DC and his pitch for the Black Orchid series. 

I am pretty proud of this podcast as I get to talk with Professor Alan about this book, the character and her history, and the Gaiman/McKean creative team. Hope people give it a listen.

And I'll say that Professor Alan has a number of fun comic-based podcasts and all his stuff is worth listening to. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Review: Power Girl #2

Power Girl #2 came out this last week and I have to be honest, I am struggling with this book. 

I shouldn't be surprised. I have struggled with Leah Williams take on the character since the Action Comics back-ups and through the special. This was a character that sort of visually looked like Power Girl but was stripped of most of the history and characteristics I had come to associate her with over the last 50 years. 

Who was this 'Paige' with psychic powers who was unsure of herself and her place in the world? Certainly not the Karen who was the CEO of a customer and pretty confident in her approach to life. 

The first issue was a little better as the psychic powers mostly were gone (outside of 'astral punching') and there was some connection to Krypton and even the earliest PG solo stories from Showcase. But that also included the seemingly standard food jokes, cutesy conversations, cat jokes in the middle of life-threatening combat, and - perhaps worst of all - a mean Superman. 

Now in this issue, I am back to being perplexed. The Power Girl in this book seems to be new to Earth, confused by standard human behavior, unsure of her heroism, needing guidance from Lois, and seemingly anxious about life. 

That characterization is NOT Power Girl. I don't know who this character is. So I wonder if my time ont this book is going to be short.

The art by Eduardo Pansica continues to be a high point here. Pansica's stuff seems to be softened a bit by the inks of Julio Ferreira. The office scenes have a high polish. And the action scenes seem to revert more to what I am used to from Pansica. The cover by Gary Frank is great.

But this isn't what I come to a Power Girl book to read. 

On to details.