Monday, May 22, 2017

Review: DC Bombshells #27

DC Bombshells #27, the print version of the digital first comic, came out this week. As always, since I read the floppies, I am behind the time.

The issue includes another chapter in Supergirl's journey home. Writer Marguerite Bennett has given us a new take on the character. Crushed by the sacrifice of her sister Kortni, this Kara is depressed and powerless. She decides she needs to head home to Russia to try to gain some normalcy but those plans are waylaid when she is discovered by Russian spies, German spies, and Lex Luthor on her train ride home.

I don't mind this Supergirl working her way through this emotionally. We saw how close she was with Kortni. We saw how she was ready to sacrifice herself to defeat the Tenebrau. She is still quite young. I imagine this is what would have happened had Kal died in the Crisis instead of her.

But what I really like is Bennett giving a new riff on an old Supergirl power. At least as how it is portrayed in this issue, I am very intrigued.

The art on the chapter is by Adventures of Supergirl veteran Carmen Carnero and really works well here.

Now while I enjoyed the Supergirl piece, the bulk of the book focuses on the Zatanna/Raven/Ivy/Harley story. And this has yet to grab me. I have talked about how I don't like when this book veers towards being an 'agenda book'. Here I didn't like how Bennett is getting bit too cute with her writing.

On to the book.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Review: Superman #23


Superman #23 came out this week and is the next part in the Black Dawn arc. It also reveals at last the enemy behind all the craziness that has been going on in the sleepy hamlet of Hamilton. And while I am not the biggest fan of the 'big bad', his goals behind his scheme actually makes sense for his character. We'll have to see how it all plays out.

This reveal shows story-tellers Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason have had a long play in mind. And it kind of all clicks into place. With the super-couple moving back to Metropolis (as seen in Action Comics), I guess this is the swan song for the Hamilton locale. So why not tear up the place?

The issue also includes something of a dramatic turn for Lois. Her portrayal in this title has been sort of up and down. She has been a bad-ass laser-firing hero. She has been a pie-serving 50's house wife. And she has been everything in between. In this issue we learn what it means to be a non-super-powered combatant in a chaotic city-wide brawl. Whether this plot twist has any legs will be determined. I doubt we will see a long-term change here.

But overall, while the big beats where solid, the issue overall is something of a muddle. For some reason, it feels rushed. Maybe that is because the middle pages seem to be inked in a more thick-lined style than I am used to seeing. Doug Mahnke's pencils are solid throughout, they always are. But the fight in Hamilton felt a bit muddier than I am used to seeing.

On to the book ...

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Review: New Super-Man #11


New Super-Man #11 came out this week and was another entertaining issue from writer Gene Luen Yang. While there is the usual spotlight on the title character, there is a lot of world building in this book as well. Yang is really creating a whole DCU on the Eastern Hemisphere and it has an old time reader like me pretty engaged. It is like discovering the DCU all over again.

In particular, one of the characters I have been most curious about in this title has been this world’s Wonder Woman. We have heard some tiny crumbs of her origin prior to this. Here we learn a bit more about her background and one of her previous battles. Even her name is somewhat changed. And that all makes me interested in learning more.

But it was also good to see some of the spotlight still focusing on Kenan and his character. Despite the heroic nature he has been showing in the book recently, he is still has some of the smug, self-important teen we met in the earliest issues inside him. That idea that he is growing but hasn’t completely grown is wonderful. This is the classic teen hero on the journey. 

Viktor Bogdanovic has left the book, heading over to the Superman title. In his place is Billy Tan who brings a truly lovely, smooth, clean look to the book. It is different from Bogdanovic who looked pretty scratchy at times. I think Tan’s style might be a better fit for the book. Hope he sticks around.

On to the book.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Supergirl Episode 221: Resist


Supergirl episode 221, titled 'Resist' aired this week, the penultimate episode of the season. Given we have reached the boiling point on all plots, 'Resist' moves along at a very brisk pace, bringing together a number of subplots and characters that have been in the background of late. This episode really has a great combination of action sequences, suspense, and character progression. And it also has the return of Cat Grant, a return that made me remember just how important she was to this show last season on CBS.

In fact, the return of Cat was the high point of one of the most important efforts of the show. All the characters with agency in this episode are women. James, Winn, and Mon-El are really along for the ride and less important to plot progression. Supergirl, Alex, Maggie, President Marsdin, Rhea, Lillian Luthor, and Lena Luthor carry this story. And perhaps best of all, outside of one snarky Cat speech, it wasn't shoved down the audience's throats by corny dialogue. There was no 'why can't I? Because I'm a girl' cringe worthy lines here. Instead it just played out on screen. I was thankful for that.

I'll add here that the acting in this episode was stellar as well. As usual, Teri Hatcher just fills the screen with her diabolical Rhea, switching from loving queen to enraged sociopath in the blink of an eye. I already mentioned Calista Flockhart's performance as powerful. But there were small, subtle, powerful moments from Melissa Benoist, Katie McGrath, and Chyler Leigh that made this whole thing sizzle.

And we get a great cliffhanger to lead us into the finale.

There were some notes here that hearkened back to last season's ending, maybe a bit too close. But otherwise, this episode was fantastic. It even came with a great cliffhanger.

On to the show!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Review: Superwoman #10



Superwoman #10 came out last week and was another step towards the new reality of this book since Superman Reborn rewrote continuity and made Superwoman's history impossible. How can Lana have powers given to her by a dying New 52 Superman when that Superman never existed?

Writer K. Perkins has been given the monumental task of trying to sort this out. And I am rooting for her. I like Perkins as a writer. I loved what she did on Supergirl. And I like Lana and I find the concept of Superwoman fresh. But I wonder if this might be too much even for her. Because everything which led up to Lana being Superwoman is gone. So how do you continue?

That isn't to say that this issue is a failure. One of the things about Superwoman which has felt innovative is that Lana struggles with anxiety and PTSD. She is trying to be a hero while dealing with her own issues. And we see how these continue to be a big part of her character. Lana strives to move past these problems, or compartmentalize them, so she can continue to be better and help people. But the scenes of her flashing back to painful memories still show scenes that I don't think have happened now.

I am also rooting for this book because I think the art team of Stephen Segovia and Art Thibert is a dynamite pairing. The art here really sparkles. Plus, I love this Renato Guedes cover riffing on the classic Superman #1 cover, right down to 'wear and tear' and a price tag.

I just don't know if my rooting will be enough ...

Monday, May 15, 2017

Review: Action Comics #979

Action Comics #979 came out last week and was a good transition issue between the Reborn story and the upcoming Revenge Squad battle. As such, it was a very entertaining read as we toggled back and forth between a very happy Lois and Clark couple and an overly powerful group of villains eager for their destruction. That dissonance makes this a compelling read.

Writer Dan Jurgens is really amping up threat level of the Revenge Squad here. Any one of these villains alone has nearly defeated Superman. To put them all together makes this a true murderers' row.

I will say that I am hoping that the Cyborg Superman story will be fleshed out a bit. His origin is going to be relatively sticky in this post-Reborn universe. We know the Cyborg Superman and the Reign of the Supermen happened in this universe again. But we know that this Hank Henshaw is walking around, working for the military, and apparently human. How did that happen? The 'black suit' Superman stalked him in the Lois and Clark mini-series. Did that still happen? Was he cured? There is a lot to answer and I am hoping Jurgens realizes that.

But for me, the big win of the issue was the apartment hunting opening scene with Lois and Clark. Jurgens has such an ability to write these two in a very natural, comforting way. This whole scene made me smile. It even answered some 'real world' questions that have been nagging me!

Patch Zircher is on art and by now folks probably know I love his art. It is the small subtle things Zircher adds to his art that makes me really appreciate it, whether it be a pertinent background or even panel progression.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Review: Supergirl #9


Supergirl #9 came out this week and opened up the next story arc with the new World's Finest trapped in the Phantom Zone and battling The Phantom King. I am a big fan of Supergirl and Batgirl being pals and between this and the Batgirl Annual, we have the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

But this comic really is about world building by writer Steve Orlando. There is the opening of the Phantom Zone arc. But there are two new villains. There is a potentially a third. And we get some character progression between Kara and the supporting cast. This book is probably setting the stage for the next year of this book. It really takes a nice giant step away from the opening arc and gets moving.

That isn't to say that the main plot is lacking. How Supergirl ends up in the Zone, the villain that attacks her right before, the twisted acts of Xa-Du in the Zone are all very intriguing plot threads. I am pretty invested here. And, as usual Orlando sprinkles in enough DC history to make and old-timer like me very happy.

Brian Ching is on art and I find myself getting more comfortable with his style. But more and more I am wondering if he has the right look for this book. The action, the layout, the expressive work is all solid. But maybe Ching would mesh more with a street level book or something more gritty.

On to the book.