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.