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.