Monday, April 15, 2024

Joshua Williamson On 'House of Brainiac' And Supergirl

Action Comics #1064 came out last week and was a stellar opening chapter to the House of Brainiac story. I was quite impressed with the execution. If the first issue is any indication, this looks like it is going to be a great arc.

Over on AIPT, Joshua Williamson did a very thorough discussion on his approach to Superman and this story in particular. This is a very in-depth discussion on many aspects of the House Of Brainiac. So it is definitely worth reading in its entirety. Here is a link:

One thing that is clear is that Williamson is thinking about all the characters in the super-family and discusses Superboy, Lena, and others.

He also talks about Supergirl. And that is the part I am going to focus on.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Review: Action Comics #1064

Action Comics #1064, the first part of the House of Brainiac arc, came out this week and was an unbelievably fantastic issue on many levels. If there was ever a 'jumping on' Superman comic, something to recommend to friends, it's this one.

This is how you start a mini-event perhaps designed to bring in new readers. Showcase everything that there is to love about the main character - here Superman's earnestness, his geekiness, his heroism. Give a glimpse of the cast of the book. Ramp the action up to 10. Introduce the main villain and have there be a serious threat on the horizon. Sprinkle in some mysteries and you have a crackling open chapter.

Here, Brainiac arrives with a Czarian army to grab 'the smartest personin Metropolis ... it isn't Lex or Superman. Brainiac is looking for some missing piece of information. It is all out mayhem in Metropolis involving the entire Superman family. The book ends on a doozy of a last page. 

But if that wasn't enough, there are small and some big nods to Superman history. Let's start with a 'triangle' chapter number on this cover, so reminiscent of the beloved Triangle Era of the Man of Steel. We are reminded this is a Superman family. There's some mysteries solved and mysteries introduced. Supergirl really shines. It's spectacular.

Rafa Sandoval is on art and he picks up right where he left off when he was on the book with Phillip Kennedy Johnson. The character moments are wonderful and fun. The action sequences are bold and loud. Sandoval does a great Supergirl to boot.

So hang on to your boots for some highlights!

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Review: Action Comics #514

With House of Brainiac starting this week, I thought I'd dive into the back issue box to cover Action Comics #514, on the racks in September of 1980. 

I will admit that this was a recent purchase out of the bargain bins at my local store which had just about filled a long box with very late Bronze Age Superman. I had been on the lookout both for Brainiac issues and issues from this time period, a sort of hole in my Superman collection.

It doesn't hurt that one of the main plot points of this issue is Brainiac returning  since his 'death' in Superman #338, a book I covered on this site nearly 16 years ago. It is also an issue that has one of the most bad-ass Supergirl moments in history. Readers get a decent tour of the Fortress. 

The book also has a pretty wild ending, one that warrants a little more investigation! First off there is a heavy dose of comic book science. And then a crazy turnabout to close things. Throw in some usual Bronze Age insanity and you get a decent issue. 

Art is by the legendary team of Curt Swan and Frank Chiaramonte. Swan clearly is a master, spinning a Superman story that feels like a Superman story. It doesn't hurt that Swan was the Superman artist for me in the formative years of comic reading.

So settle in for some craziness. On to the book.

Monday, April 8, 2024

Review: Kneel Before Zod #4

Kneel Before Zod #4 came out last week and was another interesting and somewhat vexing issue within this series. We are a third of the way through the book and the focus and events keep shifting radically, perhaps showing how chaotic life as Zod must be. But I wonder if all the plot threads and ideas that are being showered on me in this book will ever be resolved.

Joe Casey continues to write an enigmatic Zod. At times he has been his usual ultra-violent militant leader. At other times he has been portrayed as a weary old man perhaps suffering from a mid-life crisis. At times he has been strictly obedient to old Kryptonian cultural norms. At other times, he seems ready to break away from the past. In this issue, Casey ultimately shifts the location of the story and gives me two more mysteries to solve as Zod rampages. The plot seeds intrigue me. But the execution seems lacking.

I'll point to this issue as an example. We are rushed a bit on two significant changes to the world Zod has been building, shown with nary an explanation. And that would be okay. I don't mind mysteries. But the whole back half of the book is Zod tearing apart a space ship. Wouldn't some of those pages have been better served fleshing out the plot?

Dan McDaid remains on art. I think no one shows 'insane anger' like McDaid which serves this book well. He also leans into some Donner-esque takes on Kryptonian science which pleased me. I wouldn't mind seeing McDaid on a more grounded book. His style seems perfect for a gun-toting spy or something like that.

So I feel torn about this book. Interesting ideas for sure. On to the book.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Review: Superman '78 The Metal Curtain #6

Superman '78 The Metal Curtain #6 came out this week, ending this second series of the '78 books. I hope we get a third. This was a hopeful and inspiring ending to the Metallo story, leaning into the Donner universe feel of Superman. But there were definitely some things which felt like they were missing, things I want more of. Therefore, please DC, green light a third installment here.

Writer Robert Venditti has always had a great feel for these characters in this reality. The overly nerdy Clark, the feisty Lois, the fiery Perry. They all work. Superman as a beacon of hope and not necessarily a brawler also worked given where we are. The ending of Metallo played out in a different way than I thought it would but closes the door here. I found it just a bit too quick but we only have 6 issues to get to a finale. But the sheer hope that oozes from every page made this an overall winner. 

What I felt was missing here was Lex. Luthor is such a charismatic bomb in this book. The complete lack of him in this issue was a bit glaring for me. Therefore, please DC, greenlight a third installment! Plus, it is time for us to see some Kara '84 in this universe.

Gavin Guidry continues his great work here. His characters are similar to the actors of the Donner movies but not so uncanny valley to make it weird. His expressive work is just superb, heaping on the emotional punch of Superman's actions. 

I really liked this mini-series and hope we get more. DC, please green light a third installment. On to the book!

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Back Issue Box: Action Comics #549

Last week I was thrilled to review Action Comics #548, the first part of a two-part story that really dove into some Kryptonian history. This was a crazy story which had Vrangs hell-bent on revenge against the world that repelled them, heading to Earth to kill Superman and Supergirl. It has Phantom Zone villains escaping their prison after taking a sacred vow to the Colossus of Hadrad. And it had Clark, Lois, and Jimmy on the trail of some news stories which seemed unrelated.

Action Comics #549 was written by Cary Bates and is just as fun as part one. This one still has a lot of Kryptonian lore in it. We get an in-depth flashback of the Vrang invasion. We get the Phantom Zone villains and learn how they hate the Vrangs even more than the Els. It all ends in a battle in deep space that Superman has very little action in. For a Superman historian like me, this was a big win. 

Now I have to admit that to get to the meat of this story, the Vrang/Kryptonian battle, we have to take a few crazy story leaps. As I said before, this book seems to be padded to fill two issues. So some of the things the Phantom Zone villains do make little sense. But I won't complain.

The art is again by Alex Saviuk with inks by Vince Colletta. But the splash page is inked by Pablo Marcos making me wonder if this was an added page. In last issue's review, Isamu Yukinuri said this story was meant to be one big 46 page story for the European market. That means this second splash would definitely be new material. Saviuk is a fine artist but he feels very 'old school' for a time when people like Perez and Simonson were crushing it on other titles.

If there is one complaint about this story it is the complete lack of Supergirl. A story that hinged on Vrangs discovering Argo City and steeped in Kryptonian lore should have included Kara.

On to the book!

Monday, April 1, 2024

Review: Power Girl #7

Power Girl #7 came out last week, another cutesy, disjointed take on 'Paige', a character that is supposed to be the Power Girl I have known and love for most of my life.

Last issue, writer Leah Williams brought Power Girl and Supergirl to Ferimbia, a mystical fairy tale land in another dimension. That was something of an issue with some fun potential that was wasted. Thankfully, this arc is only two issues, the story wrapping up here.

Here is what I'll say. If you have a long, solid run on a book with a good interpretation of the character, I am more apt to tolerate a two issue cutesy storyline. Just like if you have a solid run with a good interpretation of the character, I am more apt to tolerate a 'silent', 'through the eyes of the pet' cutesy issue as well.

The problem is that this is not a solid run with a good interpretation, And only 7 issues in we have had a silent 'through the eyes of a pet' issue AND a two part cutesy, other world story. That is three off-brand issues out of seven. Too much, too soon, not earned.

This issue also has similar problems that I have had with prior ones on this run. There are too many silly moments about food. There is an insert character who basically saves the day instead of the heroes. (In this case, since Omen isn't around to bail out the title character, we get a new 'Omen' instead.) Even though we are in a fantasy world, there are too many forced 'slice of life' moments. And what could have been an interesting focus of the story (comparing and contrasting Kara from 'Paige') is given exactly one moment.

As I said before, this whole thing reads like Williams wanted to do a Ferimbia story and shoved Power Girl and Supergirl into it.

Marguerite Sauvage is on art here but we aren't treated to her usual style. Since we are in a fantastic, silly fairy tale world, Sauvage gives her art a more cartoony polish. 

But here is the worst thing about this issue. I thought it was going to be my last. But the upcoming issues are tie-ins to House of Brainiac. So looks like I am going to stick around for a bit more. Every time I think I'm out, they pull me back in.

Look, this comic is going to get a bad grade. But if you want to see particulars of the issue, read on.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Back Issue Box: Action Comics #548

Sometimes you find your joy in the bargain bins. 

Action Comics #548 was sitting in my local comic shop's buck box. There was a whole brick of Superman books from just before the Crisis reset. This was a time when I wasn't reading the Superman books. So these were new to me and that meant I bought a bunch.

But of the ones I have read, Action Comics #548, the first part of a two part story, is my favorite. As a Supergirl mythos fan, as a Superman amateur historian, and as a reverb to the ongoing Kneel Before Zod book, this one just hit me. Too much fun.

Where else will you get a story with Phantom Zone Villains, Jewel Kryptonite, Argo City, the Colossus of Hadrad, and Vrangs? Break out the Superman encyclopedia! Luckily, legendary writer Cary Bates gives us a bit of primer on all these things in this story, filling in gaps for people who aren't as invested in lore as me. 

Surprisingly, despite all those things being in this book, the issue is incredibly padded with Superman stopping muggers, Superman saving people from a scientific experiment gone awry, and the Daily Planet staff getting seemingly random stories to investigate.

Artist Alex Saviuk brings a sort of stiff, old school feel to the proceedings. The usual complaint of this era of Superman books is that it feels antiquated. Indeed, the Byrne reboot injected some life in the Man of Steel. Unfortunately, Saviuk's art is a throwback and definitely added to that sort of dusty feel.

Still, for me, this one is a huge win. Even if Kara isn't exactly in this story, as a Supergirl fan and a Superman fan, this was a find.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Review: World's Finest #25

Batman/Superman World's Finest #25 came out last week and was incredibly entertaining, giving us two stories which shined. I love this book and I hope the current team never leaves.

One thing that Mark Waid has done on this book is follow a big story arc with a sort of rest issue, a done-in-one story before the next big plot begins. He also seems to like to explore the concept of World's Finest.  Who could forget World's Finest #12, the blighted date between Robin and Supergirl, a team I have dubbed 'the Next World's Finest'. He did a two issue story looking at the origin of the World's Finest team. And now, this issue, he gives us the opposite .. Lex Luthor and the Joker, The World's Deadliest.

This story compares and contrasts the two villains, their approaches to crime, and their world views. We have seen Waid use the compare/contrast grist to look at Batman/Superman. We get a very fresh peek into The Rock of Eternity, surely fodder for a future story. And, for an old timer like me, I got just a faint whiff of the plot of the Batman Vs. The Hulk treasury.  The art is a sort of realism occasionally tinged with insanity by artist Steve Pugh. If this was the only story in the book, I'd be thrilled.

But we also get a second story by the standard WF team of Mark Waid and Dan Mora. It is a delicious tease to what looks like a bonkers story bringing in the 5th dimensional imps. I'm ready for it!

On to the book!

Monday, March 25, 2024

Review: Superman #12

Superman #12 came out last week, the ending of a yearlong battle Superman has had with Pharm and Graft and their Lex Luthor Revenge Squad. For the most part writer Joshua Williamson has weaved a fun and interesting story. Pharm and Graft have been sending out villains to fight Superman. Superman has been forging an odd alliance with Lex. And then, the Chained and others joined in the fray. Heck, there was even an old West fun story.

But what about this issue?

We have waited a year for the culmination and this issue rushes us there. The whole Pharm and Graft arc ends here, with a sprint and a lot quick explanations to get us there. I don't like decompressed stories, often complaining about glacial pacing. This is the reverse. The story Williamson has been building deserved a chance to unfold at a more deliberate pace to give us a satisfactory ending. I guess DC wanted to get to that House of Brainiac story sooner rather than later.

The art is again by David Baldeon and his style works for me. It is a little stylized, sort of classic, and highly energized. I think it lifts the story here, giving it some pizzazz. I wouldn't mind seeing him other places.

On to the book.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Review: Justice League Vs Godzilla Vs Kong #6

Well, here we are at Justice League Vs Godzilla Vs Kong #6, the penultimate issue of this mini-series which started out like an avalance of fun but has subsequently become bogged down by too many plot line and too much 'over the top' moments. When I reviewed the first issue which were crisp and fun and reined in just a little, I described it like a guilty summer blockbuster movie. Now, it feels sort of like a Michael Bay movie, fun with all the explosions and nonsense for the first 45 minutes ... but then you're wondering how it will end.

It is a shame because writer Brian Buccellato is clearly a fan of both DC and the kaiju everyone is battling. There are still some crazy moments in this book to make me smile and cheer. This issue is basically the brawl we have been waiting for, complete with kaiju and mecha. But there is also a feeling of overdoing it. A few pixy stix candies are sweet and fun. A barrel of them are a tummy ache.

More importantly, it feels like there are too many plots happening in this book to keep my head on straight and invested in all of them. Superman dead. Supergirl and Kong brainwashed. Lex piloting mechagodzilla. Godzilla imprisoned in the ocean. Ra's Al Ghul with his own kaiju army about to waltz in. And oh yeah, Toyman using the dreamstone to make all this stuff happen. How are all of these going to be bundled up next issue? And maybe just maybe one or two of these could have been left for a sequel to tighten up this one. 

The art is again split by Christian Duce and Tom Derenick. I have to say, Derenick is basically becoming a sort of Neal Adams' surrogate. Many of his panels look so much like Adams' work I had to pause. Duce brings his fine line stellar art to the main battle sequence and brings the fun.

In the end, I will probably rate this book a success. The highs are pretty high. But it is a shame the last couple of issues have had a reach that exceeds its grasp.

On to the book.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Back Issue Box: Superman Adventures #52

What do you do when you run a Supergirl comic blog and Supergirl isn't on the stands? You head to the back issue box!

I decided to review Superman Adventures #52 even though Supergirl, Kara In-Ze from Argo, is a sort of plot device, not a major player. Mark Millar is on writing duties here. Always hard to believe that he started on the all ages books given where he has ended up. And he has been in the news recently for his thoughts on the comic market.

But there are some other pieces of this 'done in one' issue that resonate with an old soul like me and made me think it would be fun to review. The main plot deals with Supergirl dying from an ancient and alien infection. It sort of feels and looks like the old Virus X stories from the seventies. There is a plot point in this which remind me greatly of the Superman III movie. There is a scene that reminds me of a Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen cover from the Silver Age.  Lex teams up with Superman (sort of) which lines up with the current Superman title.  And it ends with a sort of homage to a famous Superman: The Animated Series moment. That's a lot of hooks!

Aluir Amancio provides the art which mirrors the look of S:TAS completely. This could easily have been an episode. And the absolute legend Terry Austin is on inks.

On to the book!

Monday, March 18, 2024

Relatively Geeky Podcast Guest

One of the things I am truly grateful for is the community of comic friends I have made on social media. Whether from this site or from other platforms, I have been very lucky to meet some very cool comic fans who I now can call friends. 

One of those friends is Professor Alan who runs the Relatively Geeky Network of podcasts. The professor and I talk about a lot of things including, of all things, sports!

But it was our love of comics that was the beginning of the friendship. I really feel honored to call him friend. And I've been lucky enough to be a guest on his podcasts a number of times, talking about everything from my hometown to Black Orchid. This time he asked me to talk about a topic near and dear to my heart. 

That's right ... Supergirl! And her highlights in Robert Greenberger's DC Super Heroines 100 Greatest moments.

Here is a link:

Friday, March 15, 2024

Review: Action Comics #1063

Action Comics #1063 came out this week, one of the most baffling and therefore unsatisfying reads of recent memory. And because of that, this is going to be, perhaps, a baffling review.

Writer Jason Aaron completes his 3 issue Bizarro story in a story that flips from Superman's mind (for some reason) to the devastated real world as our hero tries to figure out how to save the world without falling prey to possession by Bizarro. So much of the story before this part seemed to come out of nowhere (Bizarro going crazy because he was teased, Bizarro learning sorcery, the world on fire and detroyed). Now this issue is a rapid fire, convoluted finale with our hero literally beating himself up, our hero not really saving the day, and the destructive genie stuffed back into the bottle. And in the most heroic, important moment in the book (a moment given to the Joker not Superman), Aaron uses what I consider one of the worst 'outs' a writer can do.

It is a shame because John Timms' art is quite beautiful. Timms' can give us insane battles, an iconic looking Superman, and some solid story-telling when things veer more philosophical. So maybe the right thing to do is just look at the pictures and not read the words. 

I have been reading comics for nearly 50 years. I consider myself an experienced reader of the medium having read every genre and style out there. This was a rough one. On to the book.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Back Issue Box: Action Comics #339

The latest Superman crossover event 'Queen Brainiac' is right around the corner. The seeds have been planted by Joshua Williamson in his Superman book. And with Jason Aaron's 3-part Bizarro arc mercifully over, the arc will be in the Action Comics book too.

With Brainiac on my mind and (of course) the theme of this site being Supergirl, I thought I'd head into the back issue box and find a Brainiac/Supergirl battle I hadn't covered yet!

Action Comics #339 sports a nifty dual cover with Supergirl getting as much of the spotlight as Superman. Our hero is there on the left, trapped in a Kryptonite cage by Brainiac! Great cover by Curt Swan and George Klein. And you may have noticed the scrawl across the cover. Yes, that is a scan of my copy of the issue, signed by the legendary Jim Shooter.

This was Shooter's first work for DC, back when he was just a teen! You will see that Shooter actually does a wonderful job on Supergirl, showing her resilience, her intelligence, her strength, and her humility. So settle in for a fun story with a true battle between Brainiac and Supergirl, a wonky Silver Age solution and fabulous ending!

On to the book!

Monday, March 11, 2024

Review: Kneel Before Zod #3

Kneel Before Zod #3 came out last week and was a bit of a slowdown of the pace of this book. The first issue laid out about 5 plotlines. The second issue showed us that Zod was going through some sort of emotional turmoil, exhausted with where his life has taken him and perhaps not as bloodthirsty. Suddenly it was Ursa who was the more dominant, more proactive, more violent Kryptonian on the New Kandor. 

This issue is mostly a display of how violent Zod and Ursa are. The Khunds decide to invade and that doesn't go too well. But, no spoilers needed since Bleeding Cool already did a while ago, Ursa dies at the end of the issue. Writer Joe Casey really kind of slow rolls the whole issue. One thing happens this issue - Ursa dying. The rest is just bloodshed.

Dan McDaid does a great job with the gore. Things are played out cinematically, with panels and angles swirling through the carnage. It is a slightly rough style but it meshes well with the story.

Still, it feels like this was 20 pages of gore to just get to the cliffhanger. The story doesn't really move forward outside of that shocking ending. 

On to the story.

Friday, March 8, 2024

Review: Superman '78 The Metal Curtain #5

Superman '78 The Metal Curtain #5 came out this week, the penultimate issue of this fun mini-series set in the Cold War era of the Donner-verse. 

This has been a fun series from the beginning and this issue is no different. Robert Venditti really has a feel for this world. In particular, his Luthor is the most entertaining character on the shelves these days, particularly when interacting with Superman. The threat of Metallo has ramped up considerably since the beginning of this series with that character now much more independent than the representative of the state he was in the beginning. It all reads quick and fun and breezy entertaining. I have a couple of ideas about where the story will end up. More on that later.

Gavin Guidry continues to excel on art here. His expressive work is incredible, especially his work with Lois. The action sequences are crisp and cinematic. And his Superman is wonderfully earnest. I hope we see more of him in DC books after this one wraps up.

But I will say it again. The star in this book is Luthor who just sucks the oxygen out of every scene he is in. Give me a Venditti-written Luthor one-shot. I'd buy it!

On to the book.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Back Issue Box: Superman Family #198

It was a bit of a slow week for new comics and Supergirl news so I decided to just find an old comic to go back and look at. This was seriously a random pull out of the comic box, based on the cover. I had no recollection of the story at all so in some ways it would be new to me. So today I'll be reviewing Superman Family #198 and the Supergirl story inside. 

The story is a fun one, a sort of mystery as a playwright disappears off a moving plane. Supergirl as sleuth is an interesting role for her. Not only does the writer disappear but then 'accidents' seem to happen to try and stop the play from opening. Will Supergirl solve this? I think you know the answer. Jack C. Harris was on the Supergirl strip for a bit and he did his best to bring in a supporting cast and some ongoing plots. But this is a simple 'done in one' story.

But ultimately, there is a panel at the end which I can extrapolate to today's comic market. So even though this was truly a completely random take, it worked for today.

The art is by Don Heck, not a favorite of mine and the monthly artist on the Supergirl at this time of the book. Luckily, Joe Giella is on inks and does his best to smooth out the angular, rushed look I usually think of with Heck's work.

Enjoy the Bronze Age silliness. On to the book.

Friday, March 1, 2024

Review: Power Girl #6

Power Girl #6 came out this week and was just another example of this series not understanding who the title character is and what this book should be about. Last issue was a silent pet issue, too cute and too early for a series trying to find it's legs. This issue, while starring Supergirl, is more of a twee fantasy tale. There actually is some potential in this book, some moments that could have led somewhere interesting. But it abandons them.

Writer Leah Williams continues to make Power Girl a side character in her own book. Yes, Supergirl is a guest star and seeing Kara and 'Paige' team up is usually good fodder for stories, even if to contrast them. But the most action is delivered by ... you guessed it ... Omen, who has become the 'how do I get out of this situation' tool for the writer. She can do it all. Second, it is clear that Williams wanted to write a story of people stuck in a fantasy world and so we rush our characters to get there. And lastly, the heroes are powerless in this fantasy land which means it could have been any characters who end up there - human or Kryptonian. Substitute Spoiler and Batgirl here and the story still works. It makes me think Williams wrote this story and then forced Power Girl and Supergirl into it. 

Marguerite Sauvage is a solid artist and I think her work on this title actually works well. She switches to a more cartoonish version of her art when the story switches to the fantasy world. And the one part of the story which seems perfect to let Sauvage run wild, a scene on a college campus, is left too soon. I do love the Amy Reeder cover.

But I would avoid this issue and this series. If you are a fan of Power Girl (her character, her history, etc.) you aren't going to get that here at all.

On to the specifics.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Review: Justice League Vs Godzilla Vs Kong #5

Justice League vs. Godzilla vs. Kong #5 came out last week and had, as usual, some real fun moments. But this is also the moment where I worry that the scope of this story has become so big (one might say kaiju-sized) that it might be tough to wrap up all the plot threads with only two issues remaining.

Writer Brian Buccellato has a lot of things going on this issue. Superman is still dying. Some of the League are protecting Atlantis. Supergirl is back on Kong Island. The Legion of Doom is still scheming. Luthor is close to activating mecha-Godzilla. Ra's Al Ghul has entered the mix. And Toyman and basically most of the monsters are nowhere to be found.

That is a lot of stuff going on! As a reader I kind of feel all over the place. And when a subplot I don't really care about (in this case protecting Atlantis) takes up a lot of the book, it sort of feels like wasted pages.

The art is an interesting mix. Christian Duce brings this gorgeous, fine-lined art to his pages which shine. Tom Derenick does the non-kaiju plot pages where the hero teams are strategizing their next steps. His is a thicker line. The two styles are quite distinct but given the discrete scenes it isn't too distracting.

I want to love this book and I have loved it. But this issue was the first one which felt a little bit of pause and a little bit scattered. On to the book.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Review: Batman/Superman World's Finest #24

Batman/Superman World's Finest #24 came out last week and was just an absolutely wonderful issue. 

Throughout this arc I have worried that somehow the events of this issue would, in my mind, impact the Kingdom Come world. And indeed, it is hard to know how the JLA that is in this story and witnessed what Magog does here would somehow allow him to go on his bloody purge in that Elseworlds.

But here is the deal. 

I don't care.

Because this issue shows why Mark Waid is such a great writer. It shows why he understands what heroes in comics are supposed to do, supposed to say, supposed to act. I grew up reading heroes who had ethics and morality, who didn't cross lines, who inspired. In this book I get to read that Batman and that Superman again. And even though we see the murkiness of Magog's character, the story ends with hope. 

The story is only raised by the stupendous work of Dan Mora. I have sung Mora's praise this whole book. This issue includes a tremendous brawl, double page spreads, homages to the legendary work of Alex Ross. It all just sparkles with life and energy and emotion. 

I'll still read Kingdom Come as a stand alone story. But I'll appreciate this story too.

On to the issue.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Review: Superman #11

Superman #11 came out this week, the next chapter in the Joshua Williamson era and a chapter moving the 'Lex Luthor Revenge Squad' storyline forward. After last issue's wonderful Western side mission, this issue sort of puts the pedal down on the plot, pushing it forward nicely. It also sharply shines a spotlight on Lena.

One thing that I have appreciated about what Williamson is doing is how he is leaning into older, some might say 'classic' (although that makes me very old) storylines and making them part of this continuity. In this issue we hear about Lena, Brainiac 13, Imperiex, and even Lex's Kryptonite poisoning. I don't know how easily I can squish those into a Rebirth timeline, but here we are.

These references are done to build on this storyline. Finally, the Lex Luthor Revenge Squad is formed and it includes a couple of surprise members. There's even a decent cliffhanger. 

David Baldeon is on art here, bringing a stylized take on the action. There is a hint of anime in his style but nothing overwhelming. It feels sort of classic, a nice resonance with this story. 

On to the specifics.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Supergirl McFarlane Multiverse Figure

In what is best described as a late Christmas gift to myself, I finally got my hands on a McFarlane Supergirl Multiverse action figure

It is a very nice action figure and a solid addition to my collection.

It all starts with the box. The front is nice and clean with a good look at the figure. I like the back as well with a nice Emanuela Lupacchino shot of Kara flying in the city.

It is a wonderful sculpt as well. The face has Supergirl sporting almost a wry small smile, as if she is thinking that the villain doesn't know what they are in for. Like a bit of confidence. I am a bit particular about hair designs and  this is gorgeous. Lots of details. 

It is a small touch but I like that the yellow aspects of the costume are actually gold, even the S shield. It just works. Surprisingly, the full red legs didn't bother me on the figure. 

There is lots of articulation so plenty of poses are possible. 

I really appreciate the clear flying stand that you can pose her in as well.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Review: Action Comics #1062

Action Comics #1062 came out last week, the second issue in the Jason Aaron run.

I had never read Jason Aaron before so went into last issue with a little apprehension. After reading Action Comics #1061, I was generally happy. The Bizarro World story had some interesting wrinkles. It ended with a cliffhanger. The John Timms art was slick. So I went into this issue with less worries.

I should have remained worried.

Because the optimism for the book and the arc sort of eroded over the course of the issue. There are plenty of moments in this book that did not work for me. And there was one set of pages that completely broke me. By the end of the book, I felt all the good will the first issue gave me was not only gone but the needle had moved into the negative. Even the cliffhanger made me roll my eyes a little.

Talk about a quick turnaround!

One thing I think still works and works well is John Timms art. I have always liked his work and here he brings a panache to the devastation that unfolds in this issue. His Superman is muscular, imposing, and handsome. I even like his Bizarros. 

On to the book.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Preliminary Con Prep: Terrificon 2024

It's that time of year. The days are short. The nights are long. It's cold and raw.

And I start thinking about convention season.

Specifically, I start thinking about my favorite convention, Terrificon and at least start to loosely think about goals and sketches. I hope to meet some creators and hopefully some friends on August 16-18!

As always, the showrunner Mitch Hallock has put together a tremendous guest list. As of today, there is a glut of comic talent that is going to be there. Now I have had the luxury of having been to many cons over my life. So I have met many of the superstars that have been listed, including but not limited to Jim Lee, Chris Claremont, Scott Snyder, Howard Chaykin, the Simonsons, and lots of others. While I am sure that I will have books to get signed from many of them, I thought I would focus on the announced guests that have grabbed my attention the most.

And at the top of the list is:

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Happy Valentine's Day

Hey all!

Hooray for romance!

Happy Valentine's Day for those celebrating!

Monday, February 12, 2024

Review: Kneel Before Zod #2

 When Kneel Before Zod was announced as a mini-series, I didn't know what to expect. For a while Zod was everywhere. Then he was nowhere. Now he was going to headline a book? And from creators who I didn't really know.

Kneel Before Zod #1 came out last month and was a solid first issue, laying out a number of plot threads. One of the more interesting ones was seeing the beginning of a rift between Ursa and Zod. For the last couple of decades, the two have been a team. Zod was the more calculating leader. Ursa the blood thirsty assassin, the tip of his sadistic spear. 

Last week Kneel Before Zod #2 came out and focused mostly on their interactions. Joe Casey shows us how things are unraveling. After years of seeing Zod portrayed as the ultimate alpha predator, looking to amass power and destroy his enemies, this issue showed us some cracks in his psyche. Last issue we saw him hallucinating Jor-El. This issue we see a weary leader who is a bit lost in machinations. His bloodlust seems dimmed. And Ursa is there, ready to seize control of their situation. Again, interesting. More than I thought the book might be. 

It is, for sure, an about face for everything we have read of Zod recently. While it seemed shocking, and maybe a bit out of character, I had to remind myself that it has been a while since we have seen him. Time has passed so there maybe things we don't know that has led him here. I am a giant fan of John Boorman's Excalibur. In that movie, Uther Pendragon, after years of marauding, wants to settle back and raise a child. He grew weary of battle. This issue reminded me of that.

All this leads to the dramatic cliffhanger of Ursa seizing control. Unfortunately, all thoughts about where this might go were spoiled by Bleeding Cool here. Read at your own risk.

Dan McDaid's art is bold and has a sort of blunt beauty to it. His Ursa is wonderfully mad. 

As an aside, seeing Ursa dominate Zod might rankle some people. But this is completely in her character. It made some sense to me that if she saw weakness, she would take control.

On to the book. 

Friday, February 9, 2024

Review: Superman '78 The Metal Curtain #4

Superman '78 The Metal Curtain #4 came out this week and was a quick, entertaining read by creative team of writer Robert Venditti and artist Gavin Guidry.

I have very much enjoyed the Superman '78 titles mostly for the character interactions. Here, this issue very much had the feeling of the action sequence in a possible movie. Earlier we saw Metallo nearly take out Superman but pulled away because the USSR leaders wanted Superman's defeat to be televised.

In this issue, Metallo takes the fight to American land, calling out Superman in Washington D.C. and once again nearly defeating our hero before an unusual ally lends a hand. Since this is mostly a brawl, and a well drawn and choreographed one, the book reads quick. But you need this to again show that Metallo is a legitimate threat. Even though the villain suffers a setback here, there is still no obvious answer to how Superman will defeat him. As a result, the tension is ratcheted up here, a nice plot nudge in a middle chapter.

Robert Venditti continues to write a brilliant Hackman-esque Luthor who both helps and derides Superman here. And we also get several more nods to the movies in the book, subtle so not overdone but appreciated.

Gavin Guidry continues to bring it here with perfect expressive work. We feel Clark's concerns over again facing the K-powered assassin. We see Lex's joy over saving Superman. But we also get nice action in the brawl. A couple of panels, seen below stand out.

On to the book. (Apologies for panels, scanner on the fritz.)

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Back Issue Box: Adventure Comics #283

Today was an open slot in the blog schedule and had been a while since I had done a back issue so I was pondering what to cover. With Kneel Before Zod on the shelves, I thought looking back at the original Phantom Zone story and the introduction to General Zod might be fun.

So set the time machine for 1961 and Adventure Comics #283. In all transparency, I have this issue in the Tales From The Phantom Zone trade so might be mining that particular collection more in the future.

Pretty solid cover here by Curt Swan promoting The Phantom Superboy and name dropping the Phantom Zone for the first time. And nice ethereal colors on the phantom hero, showing us the terrain in the background.

On to the story.

'The Phantom Superboy' was written by Robert Bernstein with solid art by George Papp. 

As was the custom back in the day, the opening page was almost a second cover teasing the story. Given how the Phantom Zone and the two villains in the story have remained major components in the Superman mythos, it is a little amusing that neither are strongly shown in either place.

Instead, here, we learn that Superboy is an intangible phantom and that the Clark Kent robot that is imitating him is about to reveal his big secret. Obviously this very Silver Age story construct is a silly part of this story.

Monday, February 5, 2024

DC Comic Solicits: April 2024

The April 2024 solicits for DC Comics came out last week. Here is a link to the entire slate:

This includes a place holder for DC's FCBD comic. Not much has come out about this book other than it will introduce the next big event and is a reaction to something '30 years in the making'. Now Zero Hour came out in 1994 and the rumors on line are of an ultimate universe style line at DC. But that strikes me as similar to the ' ____ Earth One' books. 

More pertinent to this site is the beginning of House of Brainiac running through the Superman books. I am pretty excited to see a true storyline running through all the books! 

Action Comics #1064
Art and cover by RAFA SANDOVAL


BRAINIAC ATTACKS! Brainiac’s Lobo army invades Metropolis in an action-packed oversized issue! The Super family and all the heroes of Metropolis join the fight, but will they be enough to hold off Brainiac’s lethal and crazed soldiers?! Can Superman and Lex learn what Brainiac is searching for? He’s not bottling Metropolis, so what is he collecting instead?!

First off, I am so happy that Rafa Sandoval is back on the book. I have come to really love Sandoval's take on the character and the whole family.

One thing for sure, under Phillip Kennedy Johnson's tenure, the super-family grew. With a team of Kryptonians, Phaelosians, and others numbering (I think) 9, you need a big threat to bring some realistic risk. An army of Lobos? That'll do.

Friday, February 2, 2024

Review Batman/Superman World's Finest Annual 2024

The Batman/Superman World's Finest Annual 2024 came out this week. But it was a bit of a feint. This really is more akin to an old style Showcase comic with 4 stories, 3 of which seem like pilots for new books. 

It is true that the first story, a tale of the 5th dimensional imps, will lead directly into the main World's Finest book. But otherwise, this was more akin to one of the event-related anthologies than to a Superman and Batman book.

I'll briefly review each story but I'll start by saying there is one winner, one 'okay' and two 'not bad's. Is this worth the $4.99? Is this a bait and switch, not really since the topics are right there on the cover. I knew what I was getting in to.

Overall though, I felt a little taken advantage of. Batman/Superman World's Finest is one of DC's best books these days. It has been a very consistent winner. So attaching it's name to these 4 disparate stories seems like a sleight of hand for my five bucks. 

The opening story is by World's Finest scribe Mark Waid who is joined by Cullen Bunn. Edwin Galmon is on art.

It is a silly story where we have Mr. Mxyzptlk calling to order a meeting of the Just Us League, a team of 5th dimensional imps who have attached themselves to an Earth 0 hero. The imps trade barbs and blows, showing us just how silly they are. But Mxy called them together because a great threat is coming. It seems that there are 5th dimensional imps who link themselves to villains.

It is a cute tale with Galmon's art being an easy fix. Who knew there was a l'il imp Black Canary out there. And despite the existence of Mxy and Bat-Mite for decades, villain-linked imps is a new idea. Given the 'red on black' text by the main bad imp,. I suppose they have linked to Darkseid or the Batman Who Laughs. If there is an imp for every DC hero, does Kara have one?

This wasn't bad. I'll have to see how the story is fleshed out in the main book to decide if this prologue was needed.

On to the rest.

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Milly Alcock Hired To Play Supergirl

The news broke on Monday of this week that Milly Alcock was hired by James Gunn to play Supergirl in his upcoming slate of DC movies. There are many links out there covering the story. Here is one from Variety:

That is pretty much the extent of the news so now it is time for opinion. 

As a longtime Supergirl fan, I like that Kara is going to look like the classic character, as a blond. I have just started watching House of Dragons and have found Alcock to be a very good actor, holding up her end of her scenes. 

So I think the casting is great. 

I also like the reports that Supergirl will appear in the Superman Legacy movie, thus introducing her to the world before her solo movie gets released. Let's see the super-cousins actually interact on the big screen!

The Supergirl movie is scheduled for down the road so who knows if it will actually get made although it now has a star and a screenwriter. 

What I still have an issue with is the source material - Tom King's Woman of Tomorrow.

Remember this quoate?

That makes the character “much more hardcore,” Gunn explained in 2023 when presenting the first 10 titles in the new DCU slate. “She’s not exactly the Supergirl we’re used to seeing.”

I found much of Tom King's book to be terrible, showing us a depressed, angry, isolated Supergirl. She brings a child to witness (and not stop) an execution by stoning. She puts Krem in the Phantom Zone and then allows him to be beaten after he repents. She cries in the sun. Not a lot of heroism there.

But maybe Alcock will bring some pathos to the whole thing. 

One last note. I want to again thank Sasha Calle from playing an excellent Supergirl in the Flash movie. Her look wasn't classic but given the 'Flashpoint' feel of the whole thing, her looking more like Clark worked. And she played Supergirl with a steely determination and one with heart. 

Will I like the James Gunn Supergirl movie? I can only hope.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Review: Power Girl #8

Power Girl #5 came out this week and is a Streaky focused issue written from the super-cat's perspective. He doesn't understand the human language outside of his name. The word balloons from the humans are therefore gibberish. In essence, this is a sort of silent issue.

I have struggled with this title since it's inception in Action Comics. I have been reading Power Girl since the 70s and I have never seen her portrayed in this way. Writer Leah Williams presents us a character who is almost the opposite of the strong, confident, brash Karen Starr. Instead we have the non-confident, nervous, out of touch 'Paige Stetler'. And 'Paige' doesn't have much of an opinion, kowtowing to Lois and being saved by Omen. 

So while I have enjoyed animal issues like this before ( Super Sons Annual for instance - ) and I don't mind breather issues between arcs (like Mark Waid is doing in World's Finest), I don't know if this title has earned a silly issue so early. 

Do I like Streaky? Yes. But as Supergirl's cat. Not Power Girl's. Did I find it a little off-putting that she calls Streaky 'Stinky' in this issue, given that PG had an actual cat named Stinky in her history? Yes. Do I think that I am not going to be buying this title much longer? Yes as well although a Supergirl crossover means I will be on this book for the next couple of months.

David Baldeon is on art here and brings a sort of cartoony feel to the proceedings which works for a cute animal issue. I think this style fits the tone of the book perfectly. He draws animals very well.

This will be a brief review. Hang in there.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Review: Superman Lost #10

Superman Lost #10 came out this week, ending this mini-series which had a solid main story premise but lost it amidst any number of detours, feints, and confusing subplots. It's a shame. Because that primary plot could have made for a solid 4 issue mini. 

Superman has spent 20 years on a doomed planet and couldn't save it from the divided populace. This world, dubbed Kansas by Superman, is filled with entrenched political sides unwilling to save themselves. Returning home only weeks have past and he is suffering PTSD. How can he come to grips with his life? Give me more of this. Heck, given the premise of the story was set up entirely in the first issue, it could have been a solid 6 issue mini and a decent trade.

Instead, writer Christopher Priest has injected a lot of other side plots. Lois investigating a crooked Senator. Lois asking Lex to help her save Kal and Lex giving her phony cancer. A murderous GL trying to seduce Superman on Kansas and killing an innocent. A side issue where an alternate timeline Superman retells a classic Action Comics tale. All of it sort of wanders about. 

The problem here is that none of these other stories really gel within the main plot well enough for them to bolster the main story. They often felt like a distraction. 

And the overall ending is a little bit underwhelming, a mash of comic book science and a possible misunderstanding of the Superman character.

As usual, the Carlos Pagulayan art is solid but some pages are fill in from Jose Luis Soares Pinto. 

On to some notes.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Review: Batman/Superman World's Finest #23

Batman/Superman World's Finest #23 came out last week, the penultimate chapter of the Kingdom Come storyline Mark Waid has been crafting. And therein lies the conundrum, one I have trumpeted throughout the arc.

Mark Waid and Alex Ross created Kingdom Come back in 1996. It is a masterpiece, an Elseworld's possible future, a sacred comic text. I love Kingdom Come, one of those stories that I go to and reread frequently. 

Now in World's Finest, the Earth-0 World's Finest head to that world and have a rollicking adventure, exposing the world to the multiverse, fighting their doppelgangers, and battling Gog. 

How can this story have taken place and the events of Kingdom Come unfold the way it did? Can such a major incursion from the multiverse, a discussion about Magog's origins, and a cliffhanger with a major DC baddie not impact that story-telling?

Now, in and of itself, this story is fun. The plot twist that Waid brings to Gog is great and completely unexpected. Seeing our World's Finest pairs team up to fight the big bad is fun and cool. And that cliffhanger! Add to the the standard excellent Dan Mora art and you have a winner.

Mora brings in some Earth-22 sensibility to an action packed fight issue. What I like the best is his warping his lines and stylizing his art as the madness increases. Brilliant stuff.

Still ... how can Kingdom Come remain Kingdom Come? Is some time travel erasure in our future?

On to the book.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Review: Superman #10

Superman #10 came out last week, a sort of 'done in one' chapter in the Dr. Pharm and Mr. Graft vs Luthor storyline. I have been enjoying this title a lot and this chapter is really fantastic. The overall plot in the present in nudged forward. We get a 'Superman in the Old West' story complete with a Bronze Age villain in the perfect environment. And we get the story and art that perfectly complement each other. 

Writer Joshua Williamson is having a ball here. He has Superman square off against Terra Man in the Old West. His Superman is spot on, including a set of morals and some sly strategy. We learn a more about Marilyn Moonlight, Pharm, and Graft. We get a solid cliffhanger. And best of all there is a sense of Bronze Age fun here too. 

Bruno Redondo is on art here and brings such a bright clean style to the whole book that the whole thing just shimmers in my hands. I love the Western stuff in particular. And how could I resist this Lee Bermejo cover. You know this is going to be a hoot just based on this.

On to the book.

Friday, January 19, 2024

Review: Justice League Vs Godzilla Vs Kong #4

Justice League Vs Godzilla Vs Kong #4 came out this week and was another funtastic romp through this Elseworlds tale mixing the Monsterverse with a sort of Super Friends style DCU. Without a doubt, this has been the most bananas and therefore most entertaining book I have read in a while. And this issue keeps up that frenetic pace with some great character moments.

Writer Brian Buccellato continues to mix the two universes well. The Justice League are trying to deal with these souped up kaijus who seem able to stand up to the most powerful of them. With Superman off the table, Supergirl remains a focal point which makes me smile. We get a rather emotional Batman and a solid Lois moment as well. But the best part of this is the insane Legion of Doom, who act like old school robbers rather than world conquerors here. Only Lex seems to rise above it all.

Christian Duce splits art with Tom Derenick. Each have a unique style making the pages easy to discern. Duce bringing a finer line and a more refined touch to the proceedings. This works well with the Supergirl pages and the insane Atlantis scenes. Derenick is on the Fortress scenes and brings appropriate gravitas to the Lois scene. I had to pick up the Whilce Portacio cover seen above. Is this the first time Portacio has drawn Supergirl?

On to the book.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Matrix Monday (On Wednesday): Jerry Ordway's Matrix Design

As a long time reader and a longtime Supergirl fan, I really enjoy peeking behind the curtain of the creative process. 

After the Crisis, we went a while without a Supergirl. And then Matrix came around, a sort of stand-in Supergirl. Matrix was the protoplasmic creation of Lex Luthor in the pocket universe, based on Lana Lang. I was a little skeptical of Matrix when she first arrived but her character journey was fantastic (one I chronicled about 4 years ago with Matrix Mondays).

I assumed that the plan was always to have Matrix become Supergirl (even though she pretended to be Clark and sort of disappeared for a while). 

But over on X/Twitter, I read this Jerry Ordway tweet and his ideas about Matrix. I figured this was Supergirl adjacent and therefore worth re-posting here. See the pic above and then his thoughts on this 'new character'. 

Monday, January 15, 2024

Review: Action Comics #1061

Action Comics #1061 came out last week and I was truly unsure what I would think of the book.

It is written by Jason Aaron, a well known comic artist but someone who I have never read before. So I had no idea what to expect. He unfortunately has the bad luck of coming onto the book after Phillip Kennedy Johnson has just left. I was a huge fan of PKJ. Surely the book would suffer in comparison.

Instead, Aaron gives us a new wrinkle to the Bizarro character and a solid cliffhanger. Appropriately, this was an action-filled comic book with lots of super-heroics and wide-screen battles. Mix those two things and you have a pretty entertaining issue. I don't know if I am 100% behind this new take on Bizarro. I don't know if I need him to forever be a great sorceror. I don't think I will want it to stick. But overall, this was fun.

That said, the action and Bizarro plot dominate the book. I don't know how Aaron will be on the rest of the cast. Will he handle Jimmy and Lois well? Time will tell.

John Timms is on art for the book. I like Timms' work a lot, especially his Harley Quinn stuff. Here, he shows us great work in Metropolis, Wizards' World, and even Venus. On top of that, his fight sequences roll out well. This is a pretty book to look at. Even the cover is great with Bizarro in the background, ready to cross-body block our hero. Slick!

So Jason Aaron, you have my attention. Nice opening issue.

On to the book.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Review: Kneel Before Zod #1

Every so often I am surprised by a book being green-lit. Who would think that DC would consider publishing a General Zod maxi-series? But here we are.

Kneel Before Zod #1 came out last week, the first issue in this title written by Joe Casey with art by Dan McDaid. About 2 years ago, I was likely to complain that Zod was being over-used. But I think this is going to be the first major current story for Zod since Batman/Superman #8 from 2020! That was pre-Covid. But I did have to revisit that story to remember how we got here. 

Zod is on a planet named New Kandor. He has half the bottled city of Kandor's citizens in his possession. He is present with his wife and son. And based on a recent back up in Action Comics #1060, he is performing some forced evolution on the natives of this planet to create a super-army. The United Planets are working with Zod but keeping a close eye on him.

With that backstory in place, we get this premiere issue. Kelly is showing us a typical Zod, hellbent on achieving his goals and ready to rule. But we also are seeing how addled he is, seeing visions of past enemies. We see how he is adherent to old customs of a dead world. And he is looking more and more alone with threats all around him.

As compelling of seeing a mentally and physically vulnerable Zod is, Casey also gives us an interesting take on Ursa and Lor-Zod. Ursa seems like a loving mother and a composed ruler. That is intriguing and a far cry from the knife wielding sadist I am used to. And Lor seems like a carbon copy of his dad, always incensed and ready to lash out.

Will all that keep my interest on a long series? I'm not sure yet. 

The art by Dan McDaid is economical, bringing a classic feel to the book. I also like the cover by Jason Shawn Alexander, a sort of warped view of the more loving All-Star Superman #10.

On to the book.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Christmas Gift #1: Gulliver Supergirl Figurine

I am like a big kid around Christmas time and nothing makes me giddy like a great present. When it is a Supergirl related gift I am even giddier. And when it is a Supergirl item I have never heard of before, I am at my giddiest.

So imagine how tickled I was when I got this small Supergirl figure from my middle daughter as a gift. 

It is very cool, about 2 inches tall and well sculpted. 

But I honestly had no idea where it was from. And the auction she won it from had few details. 

So a 'new to me' Supergirl item in my possession?? Best Christmas ever.