Supergirl episode 218, title 'Ace Reporter', aired this week and was a very Kara-centric episode, something which has been a bit lacking recently. We see a lot of Kara Danvers and a little bit of Supergirl. And for me, someone who loves complex characters with some depth, this was phenomenal. Yes, we have a mega-arc going on with Cadmus and Daxam. And yes, those are important.
But I watch the show for Supergirl.So I was thrilled about this. The title Ace Reporter is an appropriate one since the search for truth is a key part of the plot. And one of the things that I have noticed this season is that Supergirl is feeling good about herself lately. She has a swagger that makes me worry that she is heading for a fall. This story also played on that a bit.
But, in some ways, this was just as much a Lena episode as it was a Kara one. Lena has been sort of on the periphery of the show. We learned a lot about her early on in the season and during the 'Luthors' episode. But in many ways she is something of an enigma. We hear that she and Kara are best friends but we haven't really seen how that relationship came about. We see how Lena worries about whether she will descend into the megalomania her family is so well known for. But she is a mystery. Every episode she is in ends with me thinking 'is she a bad guy or a good guy?' We see much more of that up front here. There are some ominous overtones to the arc. And I can't help that there is some foreshadowing to an eventual confrontation between Supergirl and Lena. I have to add that Katie McGrath is stunningly beautiful in this episode.
There is a fine subplot with Winn, James, and Lyra.Mon-El is funny and helpful here. We get a lot of Snapper here. There is a great cliffhanger.
But the main focus is Kara and Lena. And that made for a great episode.
Super Sons #3 came out last week and was another chapter in a fast-paced, fun title. Things really seem to be propelled forward in this story. Not much decompression here. And that frenetic, almost 'short attention span' feel to the stories seems appropriate for the protagonists. Everything happens fast in that time of life.
But this isn't just an action book. Most of the fun here is seeing Jon and Damien interacting. At times I have said that the 'always at odds' relationship that DC has forced on Superman and Batman is adolescent and sophomoric. This plays that up. These characters are adolescents! So seeing them be friends and that at each other's throats makes sense. It plays up how silly the Superman/Batman stuff is these days.
One of the problems with that contrast between the characters is that a writer could have them become more one-dimensional. So writer Peter Tomasi has to keep these interactions feeling fresh. I don't want Jon to always say 'this is crazy I'm calling Dad.' And I don't want Damien to always say 'no, I'm the best. I can handle this.' Part of the fun will be seeing how each influences the other.
The art by Jorge Jimenez is the perfect match for this title. Everything is a little warped and stylized. There is this slight craziness to it which works with the pace of these stories. I love it.
Now this arc involves Kid Amazo and I have to say I feel a little lost in what the villain's powers are. But I am just along for the ride here. It's like a roller coaster. Just grab on and try to take it all in.
How do you remake a book that was just made? How do you reboot something which was just booted?
It can't be easy.
But that is what is going on in the Superwoman book. Phil Jimenez idea of Lana being infused with energy from the dead New 52 Superman couldn't exist anymore in the post-Superman Reborn world. And frankly, the first arc of Superwoman ended in such a jumbled, over wordy, preachy, and confusing manner that maybe erasing that and semi-starting fresh makes sense. I know I am trashing the prior arc but the truth is I enjoyed the opening chapters. It just all seemed to lose its way.
Superwoman #9 has the difficult task of somehow continuing the title, building on some of what has come before, all while trying to explain away the inconsistency of the recent past. Enter writer K. Perkins (of Supergirl Crucible fame) and artists Stephen Segovia and Art Thibert. Can they pull it off?
At least for this first issue, for me, the answer is yes. Instead of immediately trying to explain how Lana had powers, what adventures she has had as Superwoman, and what truly happened, Perkins instead concentrates on who Lana is as a person. The powers and the missions are important, but the character of Lana is the foundation of this book. We need to learn that first.
In Jimenez book, Lana was an extremely complicated character. She was a begrudging hero. She had anxiety issues. She was struggling with the pressure of all aspects of her life. And she was hiding all of this fear from those who loved her. I didn't always like Lana in the book. She seemed to have a hair trigger to lash out at those supporting her. She seemed ashamed of her problems. But always, she eventually tried to rise above. Perkins seems to embrace all of that complexity. Complicated and conflicted characters are always fascinating to read. Indeed there are wonderful bookend moments in this issue.
The art by Segovia and Thibert suits the book nicely. There is a lot of kinetic energy in the action sequences. But the quiet scenes, the conversations between characters, look great with solid expressive work.
Superman #21 came out this week, continuing this arc looking at the World's Finest duo and their sons as well as exploring the mystery of the evil neighbor farmer Cobb. It is a very solid read by creators Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, giving me a ton of stuff to mull over. The finest moments, as usual for this book, my favorite moment is one between Superman and Superboy, Clark giving some home-spun Pa-style wisdom. It is a shame there isn't much for Lois to do here but the bulk of the issue is a battle with a giant squid.
But there is more here. We get a ton of back information about Cobb, more clues to his mystery. I thought for sure he was going to be all about magic given the weird Deadman Swamp issue. But now, it looks like there is a lot of mad scientist in Cobb. I am trying to put together all the clues but right now I am a bit stumped. There is certainly some major 'Watchmen' vibes but I keep hoping that stuff stays at the periphery.
And we learn something about Kathy that made a wacky Anj theory spring into my mind. I thought Kathy was oblivious of her Grandpa's machinations. But now she looks like she smack dab in it.
Gleason's art works very well this issue. The kaiju that shows up and the infantry of the enemy are well done. And the quiet family moments all shine brightly. I have to add that John Kalisz and Hi-Fi bring a bright palette to the proceedings. From a color perspective, this book really sparkles.
The July solicits for DC comics came out this week and I have to say, there were a couple of non-Super surprises there which means I might have to moonlight a little to get ready for the summer spending spree. A trade is coming out for the first year of Brian Q. Miller's Steph Brown Batgirl book, a series I ate up like an eclair. And Dolphin is guest starring in Aquaman! And those aren't even my favorite surprise!
And, as seems to be the norm, the super-books continue to look like they are on the right track with solid arcs and great art.
SUPERGIRL #11 Written by STEVE ORLANDO Art by BRIAN CHING Cover by ROBSON ROCHA and DANIEL HENRIQUES Variant cover by BENGAL “ESCAPE FROM THE PHANTOM ZONE” part three! Supergirl must quell the maelstrom
tearing apart the Phantom Zone, as Batgirl faces down the Phantom King one on
one. If they fail, they’ll be lost in the Phantom Zone forever!
Love this cover with Supergirl ripping through the Phantom King-like bandages. I am really happy this is a prolonged Babs/Kara story arc, a way to cement their friendship in this continuity. And hoping that we get a great new understanding of the Phantom Zone.
New Super-Man #10 was a very entertaining issue, stuffing a lot of story and plots into the short 20 page comic. I have been pretty impressed with writer Gene Luen Yang on this book before this issue. He has been able to really get me invested and interested in these new characters.
But this issue gave us a lot to mull over. The main storyline of the Ox-Horse door rings and the portal to Hell comes to a satisfying close. But on top of that, we have more insight into Kenan's powers. We get a nudge in the plot of Dr. Omen and Kenan's father. And I Ching is at the center (or maybe centers) of some mysteries. And, perhaps best of all, it is linked to the Superman Reborn arc. Superman is there and extends a hand to the New Super-Man, a sort of welcoming into the Super-Family. That makes me happy.
The art is done by Viktor Bogdanovic and continues to have compelling visuals. Bogdanovic recently announced he's moving to Superman so this was a sort of teaser. But for me, this issue with hellish domains and giant guardians really sparkled.
Add to that all the usual cultural references of China and you have a very fresh feeling book.
Last year, for its 30th anniversary, I did a deep dive into Crisis on Infinite Earths, specifically Supergirl's part in that epic story. Included in those reviews was a look at the famous satellite scene in Crisis on Infinite Earths #5, a tremendous collection of DC characters, brought together on the Monitor's orbiting headquarters. I showcased not only the original scene but also places where it was reshown, crossover issues and one shots. Here is that link:
A side project I am working on has recently had me thumbing through long boxes and looking at a diverse group of back issues. That search included All-Star Squadron back issues. Is was surprised to see the Crisis satellite scene show up in #53 and #54. I didn't recall them being there when I did my review last year and felt I should cover them here for completion sake.
Both issues list Roy and Dann Thomas as writers and Mike Clark, Arvell Jones, Tony DeZunuga and Vince Colletta on art.
The Crisis completely eliminated Earth 2 and changed the early DC history. I don't envy Roy Thomas for being given the job of rewriting and streamlining that part of continuity. I get the sense that Thomas knew this was something of a last hurrah as we see panels dedicated to the earliest incarnations of heroes including the yellow gloved Earth 2 Aquaman as well as notions about to be obsolete like Earth-S.
DC certainly gave Thomas all the space he needed to wrap it up. All-Star Squadron got 7 Crisis crossovers! Infinity Inc. got 8 crossovers!