Friday, March 23, 2018

Review: Super Sons #14

 Super Sons #14 came out this week and very nicely ended the Mother's Day story in which Talia Al Ghul tries to lure Damian back to the dark side. I was very impressed with this arc as it both answered the much asked question 'Where is Talia in all this?' as well as pushing forward the characterization of both of the titular sons. As I have said in the past, the friction and differences between Jon and Damian is such fertile ground for story-telling. Writer Peter Tomasi definitely knows how to mine it!

The thing that I have liked about this is how both Jon and Damian are being influenced and inspired by the other. They come in as Batman and Superman writ small. But I wonder if this friendship and this mingling of ideas during adolescence is what is missing from the Bruce/Clark friendship. They met later on in life and in heroing career. It is, as they say, harder to teach an old dog new tricks. But here when we see Damian's rough edges being sanded down by Jon's optimism, or Jon bending the rules when necessary when nudged by Damian ... well it all works.

Carlo Barberi and Art Thibert really bring a dynamic and definitely youthful feel to the book, with zany expressions and great, sorta anime, qualities. So that jibes well too.

In the end, it just reminds me how sad it is that this book is ending.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

June 2018 Solicits

The June solioits for DC Comics have been released and it is a big month for Superman fans. Finally the Bendis era takes over. Here is a link to all the solicits:

I just don't know what to think about this whole upheaval of Superman. I suppose this is what I was feeling in 1987 when Byrne completely uprooted and replanted the entire mythos. In the end, I was pretty happy with Byrne reinvigorating the property. But much of that was I felt the stories had become tepid before he took over. Right now I feel we are in a Renaissance for the Superman and his family.  So now seems like an odd time to blow things up. And this is my biggest concern. After years of suffering, we finally had a Superman I could read and enjoy. Will this be a step back?

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Review: New Super-Man And The Justice League Of China #21

New Super-Man and the Justice League of China #21 came out last week, continuing the story of the North Korean Aquaman while bolstering the subplots and characterization of the team. I have said before that I am somewhat surprised that this book avoided the axe that culled Supergirl and Super Sons from the rack. But I am happy I still get to read it because it is a ton of fun.

Gene Luen Yang continues to walk a nice tightrope here between fun teen superhero book with a cocky lead and a decent dive into Asian culture. Between Korean mythology, a look at China as an open and sorta westernized country, and Kenan juggling two love interests, this books continues to sizzle. I am pretty amazed at the changes in tone and depth of the stories here all while maintaining something of a consistent feel. How is that possible?

Brent Peeples remains on art and seems to grow with each issue. I have enjoyed his take on giant crustacean kaiju as well as his stealthier ninja scenes. Everything seems silkier here, more polished.

All this said, I think I am starting to see the writing on the wall in solicit announcements that we might be nearing the end of this book. So enjoy it while you can.

On to the book!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Review: The Krypton Chronicles #3

The SyFy premiere of Krypton airs tonight, a show looking back at Superman's grandfather and the politics of Krypton in the years before its destruction. In preparation for that I have been reviewing The Krypton Chronicles, a miniseries from 1981 in which Superman learns about his lineage.

I have reviewed the first two issues here and here. Today I review Krypton Chronicles #3, the final episode which has Superman going all the way back to the first person the adopt the last name of El. The first two issues were on Rokyn, providing us with a decent side plot to help break up the ancestry information dump. This issue is much more exposition based with Superman just looking backwards and reporting what he finds.

I have enjoyed this mini-series more that I remembered. It is fun to get these tangential looks at Krypton culture as well as this deep dive into the El family. I also love that Supergirl is involved in all three issues. She is an El as well and should be part of this research mission.

So who was the first El? Jump in!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Review: Action Comics #999

Action Comics #999 came out this last week and reminded me of the days when you would watch a car's odometer slowly turn over some huge number. We are on the cusp of Action Comics #1000, a mega-accomplishment which brings with it a new, bold direction. We have all seen the 'Bendis is Coming!' ads. I have had waxing and waning optimism about Bendis' run. I am approaching the future with some trepidation.

But we are here to talk about Action Comics #999. This is writer Dan Jurgens' swan song. Yes, a Luthor centric special is in the works. But this is Jurgens goodbye to running the comic and guiding the Man of Steel. After a prolific run which has now spanned 3 decades, this could honestly be Jurgens' goodbye to the character. And as a result, I am looking at this issue like a funeral mass. I was sad going in, hoping to celebrate the creators and this run while also being sad that they'll be gone. For me, since Rebirth, I have had a Superman that reads right, that feels right, and that I have enjoyed. And I haven't been able to say that often these last many years.

And this issue is a bit of pure Superman. He is looking for truth and justice. He isn't cruel. He wants to inspire and bring people together. And we see a lot of that here.

We also get Will Conrad on art. There is a fair amount of realism here. The bulk of this issue are conversation scenes that are heavy with emotion and Conrad does a great job bringing us those beats.

But this is a turning point for the creators, for the comics, and for a couple of characters. On to the book.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Review: Supergirl #19

Supergirl #19 came out this week and has a 'very special issue' feel to it as it covers a current social issue, gender identity and individuals identifying as non-binary. For those of a certain age, the 'very special' designation was assigned to television episodes or specials which were supposed to be about a more real topic, in hopes of educating and spurring on discussion. Whether it was after-school specials about teen pregnancy or Saved by the Bell covering drug use or Superman teaching us about the perils of drunk driving, these stories are part of the cultural landscape.

And so this issue concentrates on Lee, a new character, non-binary, and how Supergirl helps Lee. We see how Lee has been coping with issues at home and school. And we see how Supergirl can empathize and be there as a source of hope and inspiration. Supergirl is an ally, befriending, defending, understanding, and being there.  And, in the end, everything ends well. Maybe too well? It feels a little too easy, a little too pat, a little too quick. But when you only have 20 pages and you are only dedicating one issue to the story, things have to happen and fast. 

I certainly don't mind issues like this or this issue in particular. I'm still learning about this stuff myself and could use all the education I can get. But this is a volume of Supergirl which is ending next month. We have a lot of Kara's story to wrap up. Who knows if we are getting another Supergirl title book any time soon. So I just wish there was more time and space to deal with our title character which would mean an entire issue given to a character we have never heard of before and may never hear about again was a nice stand-alone story in the bigger epic. That said, with the impending ending, maybe the creative team felt this was their only chance to produce this story.

Writers Steve Orlando and Vita Ayala give Lee a unique voice and bring the emotions nicely. I care about these characters. There is a great callback to Supergirl's history. But I'll say again, things feel a bit rushed. I was glad to see that we still got some momentum on the lingering plotlines of Supergirl and the DEO.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sales Review: Supergirl #18

The news about the Super-titles came hard and fast recently with the announcement that Supergirl and Super Sons were being canceled. There wasn't much news outside of that. It seems obvious that this is being done to clear the way for Brian Michael Bendis and the realignment of the Superman books. But it feels like throwing out the baby with the bath water. And the sales numbers for last month seem to bear that out. Head to ICv2:

It is not as if any of the super-titles aren't selling well. But let's take a look.

Supergirl #18 continued to arc of Supergirl on the run from the DEO and this time fighting the Evolutionist. I have thought this book has been on fire since the end of the Fatal Five arc. Things are tighter and the story and art is phenomenal.

It also sported this tremendous Artgerm variant cover, the '5 seconds later' cover to the iconic Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #1 cover, right down to the logo, the 'electrifying issue' blurb, and the painted cityscape. It's beautiful and playful and sexy and reverential of the source material. This had to be a draw.