Monday, April 29, 2024

Comic Box Commentary Is Sixteen Years Old

Hard to believe it but 16 years ago I defined this site as a Supergirl site and I haven't looked back.

The character is still in a bit of flux at this point. In  the last year we have had positive takes by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Joshua Williamson. We have had some less stellar takes by Mariko Tamaki and Leah Williams. 

We haven't had much else.

I am not too hopeful for a Kara-centric book any time in the near future. I just hope that when it happens it is written by someone who loves the character. 

I really feel like this is a sweet sixteen.

I have been covering the character since the Sterling Gates era through to the present. I still have lots of older stories I can cover. And I still love Supergirl so I'll keep my eyes peeled for all appearances.

I always have to stop and thank anyone who comes here to read my rambling reviews and listen to my thoughts on the super-family. I have made so many friends through this site. I am still here because of the conversations that happen here! Thank you all so much!

And let's hope for a great upcoming year for Kara!

Friday, April 26, 2024

Review: Power Girl #8

At some point I will stop collecting Power Girl. Probably soon. After the nonsense of the cat issue and the two issue Ferimbia storyline along with the confusing characterization for the main character (unlike any take on her in her existence) and the omnipresent, omnipotent Omen character, I was ready to drop it. 

Then Power Girl #8 was listed as a House of Brainiac tie-in and I felt compelled to stick around. 

I should not have been surprised to be underwhelmed with the book. There is one interesting moment that is specific to this book and it's tenuous supporting cast and subplots. There is one interesting moment that is more a DCU moment which I enjoyed. And at least Power Girl uses her powers and is adequate in battle. But once again writer Leah Williams has a good chunk of the book spent on a cute scene. Omen again seems unstoppable. And the Brainiac links are few. 

Eddie Pansica is back on art and I like his style. He handles the action parts quite well. Perhaps his years on Supergirl prepped him. I am a big fan of Yanick Paquette and I like his playful cover with Crush pushing Power Girl out of the cover pin-up pose. But in some ways the cover is a reminder that, at least in this volume, Power Girl has rarely been the star in her own book.

On to the issue.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

DC Comics July 2024 Solicitations

The July solicits for DC Comics has come out and get ready for the next big DC event.

To look at all the solicits, you can head here:

The big news, of course, is the DC event called Absolute Power. I'll post the first issue solicit below but the basic gist of the story is that an evil trinity of Amanda Waller, the Brainiac Queen, and Failsafe have teamed up. Somehow they have removed the powers of all the super-heroes. And now they are ready to take over.

I have to say that I am sick of Amanda Waller as a near omnipresent and somehow an incredibly effective super-villain. She is everywhere. And seeing the heroes depowered isn't a great hook for me. I read the books because these characters are powered!

There are a couple of interesting trades coming out, specifically the Superman Elseworld stories collected and the first omnibus of the Superman Triangle era. Sadly, no Supergirl book or mention (at least as far as I could see).

Absolute Power #1
Written by MARK WAID
Art and cover by DAN MORA


DC’s epic summer event kicks off with a bang, as the combined might of FAILSAFE and the BRAINIAC QUEEN has at last given Amanda Waller the ability to steal the metahuman abilities of every hero and villain on planet Earth. As chaos erupts in the streets and a massive misinformation campaign sways public opinion to her side, the founder of the Suicide Squad methodically targets each superhero dynasty one at a time, starting with SUPERMAN. But even in this darkest of hours, a resistance is forming…and BATMAN is out for vengeance. It’s a shocking blitzkrieg across the globe that is decades in the making—and will shape the course of the DC Universe for years to come! Brought to you by the superstar talents of MARK WAID and DAN MORA—it all starts here!

Waid and Mora are a fantastic team. Seeing Mora drawing an event incorporating the whole DCU is a big draw. But I just don't think it is going to be enough. And seeing Batman seeking vengeance somehow is a negative draw.

On to the super-titles.

Monday, April 22, 2024

Review: Batman/Superman World's Finest #26

Batman/Superman World's Finest has been one of the consistently entertaining, high quality books since its premiere. It always is the 'top of the pile' book, the one I read first to start to weekly comic session on the right foot.

It perhaps is why I am struggling with Batman/Superman World's Finest #26 and this imp arc. It just hasn't grabbed me yet. It is a weird mix of fun and dark, perhaps not enough of either to make me feel settled. And being an unsettled reader isn't a bad thing. I'm thinking about this story a lot after I have read it. There has always been a sort of sense of joy or reverence with the DCU in this book and I'm just not getting the joy.

Mark Waid has a decent idea here. If there are imps obsessed with Batman and Superman, couldn't there be imps obsessed with Sinestro and the Parasite? And having the World's Finest teams split up with their opposite World's Funnest team is a good story beat. But there is a darkness in this story that bubbles under the surface.

Meanwhile, Dan Mora continues to just bring it. From the zaniness of the imp designs to the psychedelic insanity of Parasite's attacks from a nod to classic Earth-2 Robin, he stuff continues to be the best artist out there. 

On to the book.

Friday, April 19, 2024

Review: Superman #13

Superman #13 came out this week, the second chapter of the House of Brainiac storyline and another winner, especially if you are a Supergirl fan.

The arc started just last week with an absolutely crackling opening chapter, full of action and mystery. Writer Joshua Williamson and artist Rafa Sandoval keep their creative feet on the gas, cranking everything up. We get some new information to continue to build the story. We get new mysteries, including a big one about Brainiac's motivations. And there is still a lot of action, showing just how scary Superman would be if he sort of lost his filters. 

In comics, there is more than action and plot. There is characterization. Seeing Superman seethe over Brainiac's attack and take out some of his frustration on Lobo was tremendous. It humanizes Superman a little. And hearing Lobo be a sort of amateur therapist was also fantastic. 

But the biggest win in this comic was Williamson's take on Supergirl. She is confident. She is angry, appropriately so given her history with Brainiac. She is brash, willing to take risks to fight her foe. She's young and learning. We even hear about a history with Brainiac 5, something we haven't seen in a long time. That shows that Williamson is knowledgeable of her history and respects it. Heck, even the cliffhanger is a Supergirl moment.

I have been singing Rafa Sandavol's work for a while now. He really is shining here. It's like he has elevated his game, bringing in more layered and detail to his work, perhaps because he was given time to do this whole arc? 

On to the book.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Absolute DC And Scott Snyder

I'm an old jaded reader who remembers when words like 'Crisis' carried some sort of weight. 

In the near 16 years I have been blogging about Supergirl and DC comics, I have seen more reboots, both hard and soft, to have a clear number in my head. From the dramatic New 52 relaunch to Rebirth, Dawn of DC, Black Labels, All-Star titles, semi-5G leanings, and Earth-One graphic novels, it seems even a staunch 'Wednesday Warrior' like me doesn't know what is in continuity or out. 

I'm not even sure if it matters any more.

So I don't know what necessarily to make of the news broken by Bleeding Cool about Scott Snyder starting up a new sort of DC imprint called Absolute. Here is the link:

This sounds more like an offshoot than a re-write. Everyone seems to be saying it will be DC's version of Marvel's Ultimate line (although that sounds like what Earth-One was supposed to be). That's fine with me. There aren't many DC books set in the current continuity that I find engaging and maybe a new start somewhere nearby isn't a bad idea.

I think Scott Snyder is a solid writer who shone brightest on Batman. His Superman Unchained book was interesting but somewhat forgettable. And his non-DC work on independents have never really grabbed me in a way that I have stuck around. Still, he has some clout and probably has enough connections to bring some big names in with him to give this a decent send-off. 

Will this be a unified Absolute universe, a sort of 'Don't call us the New 52' new DC world? Will it be 'stand-alone' vanity projects which sounds like the All-Star line? Or something in between.

Will this be built on some sort of foundation. The Absolute Superman coming from Krypton and being a good guy? Or will it be completely new where Superman could be someone from Earth who got powers?

I don't care. Just bring me good stories.

Well, I care a little bit. But bring me good stories.

But really, I have one selfish desire from this new line.

Give me a good Supergirl book.

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.