Saturday, November 30, 2013

Review: Superman #25

Superman #25 came out this week and it was appropriate that it came out during Thanksgiving week. Because I am loudly giving thanks that this storyline is over and that (hopefully) we will never see the character H'El again.

This is the finale of Krypton Returns and, like prior issues, there is plenty here that makes little sense. Between multiple timelines, unclear actions, rapid scene endings, and an incomprehensible climax, there is a lot here not to like. Many of these concerns require the 'roll with it' panacea that Scott Lobdell has asked of readers in the past. If you don't understand it, just move on. And frankly, I deserve a little more than that.

The sad thing is there are actually several nice character moments in this issue but they are lost amidst the story problems. Like in H'El on Earth, Superboy has the best moments of the story with solid characterization that I only wish we saw in Kon's own book. Superman has one classic moment in the story but otherwise is stuck in some rough scenes. Supergirl's moments in this book are something of a mixed bag of good and bad. Some of them are actually very interesting and I might have thought we would finally have some character growth from her. But these better moments seem strange now knowing that in a couple of months she'll be donning a Red Lantern ring.

Kenneth Rocafort is on art and continues to produce beautiful work. From the more horrific moments to the more straightforward action sequences, he really shines.

The issue starts with an almost introduction page, showing the three super-heroes and where they are in Krypton's history. But it is the way that Lobdell introduces the heroes that makes me cringe. You can almost see Lobdell's pecking order of the Supers on this page.

At the top is Superboy, "his mind and body will be without limit". Pretty impressive.
Then Superman, "his actions can change the course of history". Wow.

And then Supergirl, wielding a spear before a rabid army. "A rage grows in her that could CONSUME worlds." Okay ... not so heroic.

I suppose it fits with the Red Lantern future ... but really. Supergirl has that much rage in her? I don't want to beat a dead horse but this is the problem with DC's current treatment of Kara. She isn't a hero. She's an angry young woman.

Now there is a lot in this story that you just have to take with a grain of salt. There are things that happen, there are lines of dialogue said, that make little sense. Here Superboy intuits that H'El must be weakening because he is fighting Supergirl in another time. Lucky guess?

Then H'El says this ... which makes no sense. He wants to save Krypton so that he can destroy Krypton? Why go through all this bother when the planet is doomed all on its own?

Suddenly I have no clear idea of what the hell H'El is doing in this storyline. Initially he wanted to save Krypton because he admired Jor-El. Now he hates Krypton. Why not just go out into the universe? Or take your revenge out on the few survivors?

In fact there are a lot of things about H'El that make little sense. The scars, the self-carved backwards 'S', his motives.

Of course, he simply disappears here. Given the timeline concerns, I suppose this happened because at some other point in time he is defeated (as we shall see).

And then the next part of the story that makes little sense. We know from Action Comics Annual #2 that in some alternate timeline, H'El ... working with Jor-El ... saves Krypton. Jor-El was part of that solution!

Now Superman meets an older Jor-El, the version that has survived in that timeline. Except now, Jor-El still rockets Kal to Earth (I suppose that needs to have happened for Superman to exist right now - time travel woes). Instead of being a friend of H'El and a hero for saving Krypton, he is imprisoned and called 'The Doomsday Man'.

H'El ends up taking over Krypton as its leader. (But I thought in the last scene he wanted to destroy Krypton?) Anyways, Jor-El in that new timeline escapes, finds a scrap of H'El's skin and learns its secrets, and then ... best of all ... somehow creates a time machine to get back to this moment.

All right, let's say that I can 'roll with' Jor-El being imprisoned to begin with. Let's say that I can even deal with him building a time machine. Why would he choose to go back to this moment in time?? Why not go back to when H'El puts his cell on the rocket? Why not go back to the point when H'El first appears with the Kryptonite in his chest? Is this the 'best' time to thwart H'El? He could stop H'El from ever happening. Why come to the time when he is most powerful? More time travel woes which leads to story woes.

Meanwhile, hundreds of years in the past, Supergirl stands with a spear poised to kill H'El. She actually questions herself if she can go through with the execution.

Should I be happy that she has to question herself? Or sad? Why does Lobdell write her as such an angry, irrational woman?

Ready for more story moments that make no sense? H'El grabs the spear and stabs himself in the neck. He then disappears. Why does he do that? If he can move through time, why slice his own throat? It doesn't even make for a good story moment. There is no reason he should do that.

I did say above that there are some good Supergirl moments mixed in with the bad. Here is one of them.

Kara feels bad because H'El was solely motivated by hate. She says she needs to be better than that.

I am sad that we are 2+ years into the New 52 and Supergirl is still wondering if she should be fueled by hate. But at least here she seems poised to finally move beyond it!

That said, in 3 months she is putting on a Red Lantern ring.

Also, I still don't exactly know why this moment in time was so key for the Oracle. Maybe Lobdell was hoping to have Supergirl deal with her feelings about clones. But without a clear need, this felt a little forced.

In the Superman timeline, Superman and Jor-El travel to the 'diseased heart of Krypton'.

Now part of me might want to question why Supergirl lost her powers within minutes of being on Krypton while Superman can fly to the molten core of the planet without a problem. He uses superstrength, heat vision, all his powers, as though he was on Earth bathing in yellow sun rays, not a red sunned heavy gravity world. And didn't he have radiation poisoning 2 issues ago? But I guess I have to roll with all that too.

Anyways, Jor-El knows that in all the timelines, H'El always manifests here. Wearing a special suit, Jor-El captures in H'El in a force bubble that he floods with a disintegrating gas.

Amazingly, Superman stops this execution of H'El saying that there is 'always another way' besides murder. If I praised this line in Smallville, I suppose I have to applaud it here.

Still, the short time of the gas has done some damage. H'El looks ravaged, like a decaying corpse.

And now the best moment in the book.

Superboy realizes that Zor-El's gravitational devices won't be enough to get Argo City safely out of the Krypton's blast radius and gravitational pull. On the last day, he tells Alura to find Kara and say goodbye (fulfilling the scene we saw in Supergirl #0). And then he uses the last of his powers to push Argo and Kara's rocket out of harm's way.

He gives a nice speech, summing up his troubled and varied history up to that point. But in the end he knows he isn't a living weapon (his tag line) but instead he is 'a kid who tried'. 

Why couldn't this sentiment, this characterization, have been present in Superboy's own book? I won't go over Superboy's varied manifestations in the New 52 again. But this kid trying to make a difference while dealing with his past would have been a book I would want to read.

This is a very nice moment portrayed with big art.

So who does it all end?

The old Jor-El has a shard of debris in his chest, I assume a killing blow given enough time.

I wish I could tell you. Superman realizes that he has to stop H'El from leaving and making another timeline, so he uses his super-breath, freezing the 'essence of H'El into a perpetual loop of freezing and thawing', trapping him.

If anyone can explain that to me, I'd love to hear it. I guess I have to roll with it. But this is the problem when you create a villain with ill-defined near omnipotent powers. You have to come up with something insane to defeat them.

The death of Krypton is months away. An older, wiser, but dying Jor-El is in the planet core. A younger Jor-El is on the surface building a rocket. Hmmm ...

Anyways, with H'El trapped, it is time for Superman to go.  Kara suddenly appears with the boom tube. The two step in and hit the road.

We don't even see a goodbye from Superman to his dying old father in the core of the planet. Nothing. Just a walk through the boom tube. It is over far too fast, far too neatly, and with little explanation. 

And no goodbye to Jor-El? Seems like a wasted opportunity.

At least the story ends on this nice moment. Realizing Superboy has died, Superman says they should honor his loss by being better heroes.

I might think between the moments of self-reflection and this capstone that Supergirl might actually turn around.

Except we know that in 3 months she puts on a Red Lantern ring.

What can I say, there are some nice moments in this issue but with a lot of fluff and craziness around it. I might be damning with faint praise but at least this was better than H'El on Earth. Still, I will be thrilled if we never see H'El again.

Alas, Lobdell puts in an odd last page leaving the door open for another story.

And so, mercifully, Krypton Returns ends. I don't know if I could explain what happened but it happened.

My condolences to Superboy fans.

Overall grade: C

Friday, November 29, 2013

IGN DC top 25 DC Heroes

We are nearing the end of 2013 and as a result we are starting to see a number of 'best of' / 'worst of' lists.

Over on IGN, they recently posted their 'Top 25 Heroes of DC Comics' list and happily Supergirl is on the list. Here is the link:

Now obviously these lists are highly subjective. I don't know how this list was created, whether it was vote in the IGN office or the work of one person, or even an on-line poll. But I am always thrilled when Kara gets some recognition.

Supergirl lands at #17 which really makes me happy. Whoever made this list ranked her higher than Cyborg, Hawkgirl, the Atom, and Black Canary! A case could be made for any of those characters to be higher. And there are characters I would put in the top 25 that didn't make this list.

Her paragraph mentions that Supergirl has her own fanbase and isn't just an adjunct to Superman. Hurrah! People know we exist!

And they call her a 'standard to hold other female heroes against'.

Here is the thing, they talk about the prior versions and they say she is a standard. I wish ... wish ... they would have talked about her optimism, heroism, bravery, and youth. I am probably transferring my own thoughts but I could 'feel' those sentiments in the write-up.

You can guess at the top three DC heroes on the list. It is interesting to see Kyle Rayner and Wally West on this list in addition to Barry Allen and Hal Jordan.

Still, with the myriad of DC Heroes out there, I'll take #17.

Review of Superman #25 up tomorrow.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving With Some Jim Lee Side Dishes

By the time this is posted, I will be off to enjoy Thanksgiving with family! There is nothing like gorging myself of turkey, stuffing, etc. on a day off! I assume I will be in a food coma by the time the night comes by.

So since I am heading to a feast, I thought I would give some visual feast for your eyes.

I am not typically awe-struck by Jim Lee's art but sometimes it is just sooo beautiful.

Above, see ... from his sketch book ... an early idea for the New 52 Supergirl costume. I really like this one more than the one chosen. I would probably lengthen the skirt to mid-thigh but otherwise I think this is great. I especially like the 'Supergirl Converse Chuck Taylors' over the kneeless thigh highs. 

What do you guys think?

Lee posted this on Twitter recently, a Supergirl sketch when those Vaurnet sunglasses were popular.

I love the feel of this, a happy Supergirl floating in the sky. There is a feeling of self-satisfaction or confidence here too. Just beautiful.

Lastly, Lee - again on Twitter - posted this 'free' commission for a fan. Even this quick sketch is pretty crazy. How can I stumble into something like this? That would be something to be thankful for!!!

Anyways, for my fellow Americans, Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Back Issue Review: Supergirl #9

My copy, autographed by Peter David
 The news broke recently that Supergirl is going to become a Red Lantern, a decision about the character that I don't agree with. Supergirl becoming an avatar of rage makes little sense to me. We are 2 plus years into the New 52 and I am still waiting for a glimmer of hope in the character.

Believe it or not, there was some defense for the idea and some actually tried to equate the move with Peter David's Supergirl comic in which a pure but soulless Matrix merges with the flawed and evil Linda Danvers. Isn't Supergirl merging with a satanic murdering cultist just as bad? And don't I and many Supergirl fans love that run?

I found it ironic that this defense was brought up because when the Red Lantern announcement was made, I immediately thought of Supergirl #9, the ending of the first arc in David's Supergirl with beautiful art by Gary Frank. Because despite Linda being a 'bad girl', there was always hope in this comic, there was always Supergirl striving to do what's right. And the brightest glimmer of that ... and (for me) one of the most powerful panels in comics ... occurs right here in issue 9, an issue where hope and good overpowers rage and angst leading to redemption. Issue 9!

We are two years into the current Supergirl and we haven't seen any hope like this.

Yes, merging Supergirl with someone as flawed as Linda was a bold move. And I can only imagine the backlash if this was done in this age of social media. The name Linda Danvers alone is a sacred one for Supergirl fans. And we always want a optimistic, heroic, and inspirational Supergirl. The early issues of this run we learn some pretty awful things about Linda.

But ... and this is key ... throughout this early time, despite the grimier details of Linda's life being revealed, Supergirl strives to rise above. And nowhere is that better seen than in this issue. This is one of my favorite issues of this run ... and maybe overall ... so if you haven't read it, you are in for a treat. And you are about to see hope overpowering evil.

The issue opens with a bang in the shattered Danvers' house.

On the left is Buzz, the agent of Chaos who led Linda down the path of evil and then tried to sacrifice her to a higher demon Lord Chakat. He is there as a 'blind date' set up by Mrs. Danvers.

On the right is Linda, now merged with the Matrix Supergirl, trying to discover who (or what) she is on this world, dealing with the foibles of humanity, and trying to understand Linda's heinous past and redeem herself from it.

And there in the middle is Tempus Fugit, Linda's boyfriend Dick Malverne possessed by an evil spirit and working for Buzz.

Linda spent all of last issue trying to play it cool with Buzz in her house, trying to protect her family, only to see it all go awry. She's angry at herself for not taking matters into her own hand.

And this is so key. For this beginning arc, Buzz is trying constantly to have Supergirl lower herself, lose herself. He is taunting her, trying to goad her into evil. Hurting her parents is a good start.

Before we go further, I just have to say that this is my high water mark for Gary Frank. His art here is just beautiful, smooth and powerful. Knowing the intensity of this issue, he gives us several splash pages and near splash pages, big moments given big art. Even here, we have agents of evil and good (Buzz and Linda) with an anti-Christ-like crucifixion posed Fugit in the background.

Fugit and Buzz take off and Linda tries to follow, hoping to battle them as Supergirl. Luckily, both Fred and Sylvia Danvers are alive.

Part of Linda's troubled past is her prickly relationship with her parents. With Supergirl in the persona, that rift has been slowly healing. Her parents seems doubtful of her 'transformation' but are happy.

I loved this scene where Linda's father finally embraces his new daughter as someone who is good. He tells her he loves her and she tells her father the same. Our flashbacks of their relationship show this relationship strained to the point of impending violence. So to see that hug, that shock softened to loving expression, is a giant moment.

Remember though, Buzz and Fugit are piling on, hoping to make Supergirl so angry she forgets herself and does something evil. Immediately after that hug scene, Fugit levels the Danvers' house, most likely killing them.

Whoever is pulling Buzz's strings takes control of Fugit and says that Buzz was supposed to deliver a 'fallen angel'. Buzz, who has always been a cool character, loses control and shows emotions here. It turns out that Buzz might be just as conflicted as Linda.

The 'Angel' term had been bantered about in this book, the religious overtones infused in the story. But this is months before the emergence of flame wings and meeting the other Schechina. The ultimate ending of this story appears in Supergirl #50, which means David had a 4+ year plan for the book! I can't imagine that sort of patience by DC these days!

As I said, not only are we given splash pages, we are given hints of the future, and we are shown the struggle that Supergirl is having internally, how easy it would be to stray from the light.

Here, high above the city, we begin to see some licks of flame, the beginning of her life as the Angel of Fire, of Judgment. At the time, I thought it was residual flame from the Danvers' house. But now I know.

Listen to her thoughts though as she veers close to crossing a line. Linda was evil and knows that evil must be punished. Evil only understands death.

Bringing the fight to Fugit, Supergirl's mind is opened up to the 'horror' of the world. Everyone she knows appears before her as someone evil, monstrous - the Danvers, the Kents, Superman.

And that assault on her senses, again brings a warped understanding of the world. Internally she now believes Supergirl is the being that died when they merged; it was Linda who lived. Linda ... who was evil. The universe is a sick joke, we need to face it on its own twisted and depraved level. "Heroes" and God are laughing at us.

Maybe not in those words but isn't this a similar attitude that the current Supergirl has, that nothing is right in the universe, that the cosmos is laughing at her and her tragedy.

And then we get this ...

That top panel gives me chills. It gave me chills the first time I read it and it gives me chills now.

The bruised and battered psyche of Linda shows up. She says that Supergirl is wrong to believe that, that she was wrong to believe that. Supergirl sees the world through different eyes, seeing what humanity can aspire to be. If anyone is human ... it's Supergirl.

Man, those piercing eyes of Linda, her body and soul injured, is so powerful. She has changed her mind, asking for absolution. She now realizes that Supergirl's way - of optimism and light - is the right way. And look at how she dominates the panel, the sheer size of her in contrast to the horrific visions in the prior splash, as if her view if bigger, more important.

But Supergirl isn't quite ready to hear it. Bleeding from her eyes, aflame, claiming she will leave bodies in the ruins without mercy.

As I said, Frank is simply at the top of his game. David does not shy away from religious iconography.

Now we see Supergirl in that Christ-like pose, complete with the stigmata suffered in battle.

And now Fugit is crying for mercy.

Will Supergirl give in to that desire for revenge? Will she be not only judge but executioner?

And just as she is about to land the killing blow, sealing the deal, having her 'fall' completely, it is Buzz who asks her the important question.

Does she want to live life Linda's way? Or her way? What does she want to be in this world.

And just like that she stops.

She isn't going to complete her journey by turning to evil and darkness. Evil isn't relative. Evil is evil.

She stops and decides to embrace goodness. She decides that adopting the ways of evil to fight evil isn't right.

Battle not monsters lest ye become a monster.

Good triumphs over evil. This is the first big step onto the path of redemption for Linda/Matrix. And it is wonderful.

And so different than the current Supergirl, who joins the Red Lanterns - a group Charles Soule says is a group trying to do overall good by doing evil. The exact opposite of the lesson of this issue.

That does mean that Buzz helped, showing the conflicts he has in his own soul (or lack thereof). You might not have all the answers. Some things need you to have faith.

When she doesn't kill Fugit, the endgame of all this, reality swirls around them. Buzz is taken away. The Danvers are alive, their house in one piece, Dick Malverne returned to normal and recovering in Linda's apartment.


There are 41 more issues to this story. And throughout it, Supergirl is tested, seeing if she will succumb, seeing if she will give in to hubris, will she turn to evil? Or will she ultimately be redeemed? But this was that first step.

Was this title going to wallow in angst, perseverate about the inequities in life, and be an anti-hero? Or are you going to turn the corner and simply do what's right even if sometimes that is hard? The answer for Supergirl should always be the latter.

Supergirl should be the optimist, the one who sees the best in things, a warrior for justice.

Will we see something like this just 9 issues into Soule's idea? Will we see something like this in the THIRD year of this character? Or are we going to have to suffer through the darkness for longer?

The Supergirl in this issue wasn't Kara Zor-El. She wasn't Kryptonian. But she was far and away more Supergirl than the current incarnation.

And that Linda panel is what comics is all about.

Overall grade: A+

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

R.I.P. Al Plastino

I awoke this morning to hear the sad news that legendary comic artist Al Plastino has passed away. The news was broken on Mark Evanier's blog here:

As most know, Plastino was the artist on the first Supergirl story in Action Comics #252. I had always hoped to meet him and actually went to a couple of conventions he was scheduled to be at only to discover that he was unable to attend. He recently made the news for trying to discover why artwork of his that DC was supposed to have donated to the John F. Kennedy Museum ended up in the hands of a private collector. 

Plastino's career was prolific, spanning decades and including landmark issues like Action #252 and Adventure Comics #247, the first Legion appearance. He was best known for pitching in on Superman stories, doing a huge number of Action back-up stories while Wayne Boring or Curt Swan did the opener. But for me, he'll always be 'the first Supergirl artist'.

While Jim Mooney took over the Supergirl back-up in Action with the next issue, Plastino's work on the first issue set the table and that story set up so much of that Kara's early plots. This issue has been reprinted many times in many formats and really showcases Plastino's art.

Here is the classic image of her springing from her crashed rocket, announcing she has arrived.

 And here Superman puzzles how she can have survived Krypton and be younger than him. No wonky delayed rocket arrival in this universe. She was born and raised on Argo City.

I love that second panel with her smiling to the audience.

And then we hear Superman say she must live as an orphan to train secretly.

I love this second panel too with Kara gracefully landing after her flight.

And then this classic sequence when she flies over Midvale vowing to be a 'guardian angel', a panel which supposedly inspired Peter David to write his Earth Angel Matrix arc.

We also see the beginning of the recurring theme early on in Supergirl stories of her wondering if she would do a good job, earn Superman's respect, and become a hero. The look of subtle worry on the third panel is sublime.

I have had two lifelong comic loves in my life: Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes. Plastino drew the introduction for both of them! I really wanted to meet him and thank him for being such a key person in my comic joy.

Rest in peace Mr. Plastino. You were one of the giants.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Blue Water Christopher Reeve Tribute

I haven't ever bought any of the celebrity/historical biographies put out by Blue Water Comics. I tend to stick to fiction with the medium. But they recently came out with a Christopher Reeve tribute and I took advantage of the opportunity to review the book.

I have always respected Reeve's work, not only his work on Superman but also Somewhere in Time and Deathtrap. But obviously, it is work on the Donner Superman movies that stand out in my mind. Reeve really seemed to embody the Superman character perfectly (at least in the first 2 movies) and brought some of the more classic 'bumbling' Clark to the big screen.

Reeve then personified the Superman spirit, fighting the never-ending battle, after his tragic spinal cord injury, leaving him paralyzed. Despite that Reeve continued to act in a remake of Rear Window and even Smallville. He fought for spinal injury research and remained in the spotlight.

Blue Water really captures that spirit as it winds through Reeve's professional career with an overlying inspirational speech by Reeve. It is written by Michael Frizell and illustrated by M. Anthony Gerardo. Portions of the sales will go to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

Here is part of the press release by Frizell:

“Working on a tribute comic about Mr. Reeve has been the realization of a childhood dream. When Superman: The Movie was released in 1978, Reeve embodied the character I dreamed about, and I wanted to believe a man could fly. While researching the book for Bluewater, I remember what compelled me to watch all of Reeve’s movies (my favorite, as you can tell in the comic, is Somewhere in Time. The movie features Reeve and Jane Seymour at the height of their prowess as performers, and it’s the only romantic movie I feel I can watch and not lose my ‘man card.’ It has time travel! Therefore, it garners geek cred in my book).”

Gerardo's art is fascinating to me. There is clearly digital work here, with special effects overlying images at times and adding spectacular backgrounds to the story.

 The book is really a celebration of Reeve's whole life so the first 11 pages cover his early films of Somewhere In Time as well as Superman. As I said above, I really enjoyed Somewhere in Time. Be warned, the comic spoils the ending of that movie (spoiler alert for a movie 33 years old?).We are halfway through the book when the accident happens.

It is from this point forward we really get to hear how inspiration Reeve was, how he wasn't going to let this injury hold him back. Here he states clearly that he 'refuses' to let his injury define him. He will always move forward.

And then he embraced being a symbol of hope. And part of that was playing off his association with Superman.

He says he was and always will be a Superman.

And then we see how much he did even after the injury. I had forgotten about Rear Window! And then the work he did with his wife on forming the Foundation is all covered.

But the main point, repeated over and over, almost like a mantra or a statement of power by Reeve, is that he simply refused (and that word is used over and over) to be defined by his injury. He would not allow his disability to determine how he lived his life. He strove to overcome!

I have to say, Reeve's words are very moving. You can just feel his resilience, his strength, his hope through these words. It really is amazing.

If you are a fan of Reeve or the Superman movies, it is definitely worth picking up the book. And kudos to Blue Water for forwarding a portion of the proceedings to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

I will say that I was really drawn into the story by Gerardo's art as well. Really slick effects used for a great effect. You can see more of his art on Deviant Art here:

No grade here. Just a great book supporting a great cause. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

February 2014 Solicits

So many reviews recently means my coverage of February solicits is late. Sorry.

February is usually the toughest month for me to get through. It's dark and cold when I get up to go to work. It's dark and cold when I leave work. And work is usually busy busy busy. It is February when I hope that comics will lend me a little escape to a brighter sunnier place.

I guess that won't happen this year.

The DC Comics February 2014 solicits are out and it looks like things will be even darker and colder. Here is a link to Newsarama's coverage

And here are some relevant comics being released.


Don’t miss this amazing flip-issue with two covers at a special price of just $2.99! This DOUBLE ISSUE contains both GREEN LANTERN #28 and RED LANTERNS #28! With dozens of sectors in open rebellion against the Green Lantern Corps, Hal Jordan is faced with a crisis in the sector most important to him: 2814, home of Earth…as well as Ysmault, home of the Red Lanterns. Hal made a dangerous bargain with Guy Gardner, and now it’s time to pay up! Plus: Guy and the Red Lanterns take over policing Sector 2814! And you’ll want to keep reading RED LANTERNS next month to see what happens to their newest member: SUPERGIRL!

Well I have discussed this direction already and how I think it is a pretty bad idea for Supergirl. I can only hope that Charles Soule and Tony Bedard have some sort of long-term plan to have Supergirl eventually reject the rage and hate and embrace hope and compassion. Maybe I should put long-term in quotes. It's been 2+ years of this dark path. I need some hope and light and goodness and optimism from Kara ... and soon.

I mean .. a cover with Supergirl dripping with blood and screaming. It pains me to look at.

Written by TONY BEDARD

A RED LANTERN RING is coming to get Kara — and it will change her forever! No lie! Not an imaginary story! It’s really going to happen! “Red Daughter of Krypton” starts here!

Remember when Tony Bedard came out and said how much he likes Kara and wanted to make her likable again. Where did all that go?

I suppose right now Charles Soule probably wields a little more clout than Bedard. And it seems this Red Lantern Supergirl was Soule's idea. I can only hope that Bedard lives up to his promises.

And I think the solicit is amusing. As if we, as fans who have read the adventures of this bitter, angry, isolated Supergirl for 2+ years, would somehow be surprised and shocked to see her wield a red ring. 'No lie! Not an imaginary tale!' ... of course not. More like par for the course.

Now a solicit that said 'Kara puts the tragedy in her life behind her and claims Earth as her new home, one she will defend!' ... now that would shock me!

Written by GREG PAK
Art and cover by AARON KUDER
1:25 Steampunk variant cover by DAVE JOHNSON

Who or what is the Ghost Soldier, and what mysterious ties does he have to The Man of Steel? Will he side with Superman as he is caught in the middle of the military’s battle with subterranean monsters?

These solicits keep getting briefer and briefer. And the covers keep getting more and more generic.

Still, I trust Pak and Kuder. I hope the 'Ghost Soldier' isn't simply a Wraith knock off. It would be interesting if it was some sort of Captain America analogue.

Art and cover by ED BENES
1:25 Steampunk variant cover by JEFF WAMESTER

A mysterious and powerful figure seeks The Man of Steel to join her against a threat coming to Earth. Plus: Sam Lane ascends to power, which makes him an even more formidable opponent for Superman.

Another short solicit with a generic cover.

I have pretty much had it with Lobdell but the idea of a female powerful figure makes me wonder if Maxima is coming.

This cover seems a little rough for Ed Benes. I wonder if his style has changed.

Art and cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS

It’s a rampage in the Batcave! It’s come to this: Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman against Wraith! Alone, they wouldn’t have a chance – but they don’t have much of one together, either! And all the while, Lex Luthor’s machinations are clicking into place…

Now this book I am very interested in reading if only to try to plug the story into some sort of time continuity. Are Superman and Diana dating? Flirting? When does this story happen?

Looks like this is the brawl before the finale. I have to figure that the Anti-Clark weapon that Bruce made and stored in the cave in an earlier issue is finally brought to bear.


Superboy and his new team of unstable teen powerhouses must return to the present-day DC Universe to make sure Jon Lane Kent lives to see his plans come to fruition!

It's Jon Lane Kent! No ... it's Kon! No ... it's both!

I still won't be back.

But what does scare me are the 'unstable teen powerhouses' from the future. Is this an 'edgy' Legion. I mean it could be Rok, Garth, and Imra. Lightning eyes are a clue.

Supergirl as a Red Lantern and a dark Legion ... all in the same month! It might be too much to bear!

Written by GREG PAK
Art and cover by KENNETH ROCAFORT

The Worlds’ Finest teams of two worlds meet at last in chapter 1 of “First Contact”! With Power Girl’s abilities on the fritz, see what happens when her long-lost cousin Superman approaches her! And a major threat returns in a way you won’t believe! Continues in this month’s WORLDS’ FINEST #8.

On the other hand, this looks like a great little crossover.

Knowing how Karen was inspired by her Clark, how much she loved him, I am hoping I might get a wee bit of super-cousins camaraderie here. I still think it should be Kara but that clearly isn't going to happen.

And Helena meeting Bruce!

I am trusting Pak to do the right thing here! 

Written by PAUL LEVITZ

Power Girl and Huntress come face to face with the Superman and Batman of the DC Universe for the first time in chapter 2 of “First Contact”! Continues in next month’s BATMAN/SUPERMAN #9!

And while I have had some issues with Levitz' pacing in Worlds' Finest, he was a dyed-in-the-wool Kara fan. So I bet he will handle to Karen/Clark relationship the right way.  Great cover by Lupacchino!


Lois Lane is known for chasing down stories — but what happens when the story is her family? As her father gains more power in the government, Lois’s sister Lucy has become involved with a deadly drug scene! Meanwhile, Lois thought she was rid of the influence of Brainiac, but now she finds that the the computer tyrant of Colu is calling out to her again!

I wrote about his before! Hurrah! Can't wait to read this!

Art and cover by TONY S. DANIEL and BATT

Faora has joined Zod – and now, Earth must kneel before their combined might! Even Superman and Wonder Woman can’t stop their plan for the Phantom Zone!

I don't know if I am quite ready to see the Phantom Zone villains in the New 52 DCU but here they are.


In “Dear Superman,” Superman’s #1 fan watches from afar as the Last Son of Krypton battles an upgraded Metallo in the streets of Metropolis! And “In Care of,” illustrated by Sean “Cheeks” Galloway, introduces a young boy who needs Superman’s help to defeat a monster!

While the mainstream DCU super-titles are for the most part dark, the alt-Super titles remain gold, glittering in murk of the New 52.

Adventures of Superman has been a treat. I can't wait to see a whole story by Cheeks Galloway. I loved his Teen Titans in Wednesday Comics. Both stories sound like delicious throwbacks to the Silver or Bronze Age.

Written by BRYAN Q. MILLER

Lex Luthor is determined to bring the Monitor to his knees, but the fight isn’t going his way—even Superman is having trouble with the alien interloper. Meanwhile, back in the USA, Chloe and Lois take a trip to Gotham City to check on a death so mysterious, Batman is having trouble figuring it out!

And then the best solicit mostly because we finally see a Monitor in Smallville. Bring on the Crisis!!!!

Loving this book!

So, we'll see how this all plays out!


Friday, November 22, 2013

Review: Supergirl #25

Supergirl #25 came out this week, the third part in Krypton Returns, moving the story forward to next month's conclusion. And, believe it or not, I thought this was a decent issue!

I have routinely hammered Scott Lobdell and anything H'El related and there are some things about this issue that still feel off. As with many of Lobdell's plots, there are pieces that don't add up, the things he says that as readers we should simply roll with. I am not asking for exhaustive explanations about things. But I want some internal consistency in my stories. I have to make a leap in a story on my own, I want that leap to make sense.

But this issue is a strong issue for Supergirl and I have to applaud the writing crew for that. The super-team writers of Lobdell, Superboy scribe Justin Jordan, and Supergirl writer Michael Alan Nelson are all listed as doing the dialogue over Lobdell's plot. And that might explain why the voices sound true here.

Since Kara is involved in 2 of the 3 Oracle side missions, we see her throughout the book. The interesting thing for me as a reader is contrasting the two Kara's separated by a a couple of years but so different in outlook. The Kara on Krypton seems sweeter and more innocent. And that is contrasted to Supergirl, the Kara that has survived her world's destruction and has struggled with her life on Earth. This Kara is angrier, more apt to pick up a spear, readier to fight.

I suppose my Supergirl lies somewhere in the middle. But this is a solid issue for our title hero. So all I have to do now is roll with the plot lapses and time travel confusion.

The art on the issue is done by Paulo Siqueira who really brings a kinetic beauty to the story and that goes a long way too. He is a cheesecake artist at times but those moments aren't numerous and don't overly distract.

We start with a little rehash of the story. The Oracle continues to float in space, watching the universe unravel, and hoping that the super-family can undo what H'El has done.

Since the Oracle can't talk and seems objective, we get to hear a little bit more of the plot from a newly introduced herald. Unnamed, this herald talks about how luckily the time tsunami hasn't killed anybody yet, chewing through unformed solar systems.

And this Herald lets us know that "someone" will need to make a sacrifice. Of course we know that it's Superboy.

The art is beautiful here. The Herald has a nice design, echoing some of the visual elements of the Oracle. But in the end it is three pages out of 20 on rehash. Beautiful rehash but rehash.

Also, if the Oracle has Heralds like this, why not have sent one to communicate with the Supers the first time they met? Why not have this guy, who looks pretty tough, fight H'El? Can he make people Heralds? If so, why leave Faora limping around alone on the new Krypton? He 'trained' her for months. Maybe a Herald could have talked to the family instead of the Oracle possessing and almost killing Superboy.

 I suppose this is one of those elements I shouldn't think about too much.

Now there are parts of me that still is struggling with the multiple timelines we are dealing with in this story. This part of the story seems to be the easiest. In the distant past, Supergirl is trying to stop the clones from inflicting some wound to Krypton which hastens the cataclysm.

Last issue we saw Kara defeat a bunch of clones. Before she can catch her breath, H'El arrives, wielding a chunk of Kryptonite and threatening to kill his beloved. She also is struggling with her mission which is to aid the destruction of her home.

This isn't the best opening panel for Supergirl, on her knees, in a submissive position, begging H'El that he doesn't need to kill her. But things get better. Still ...

Anyways, my main issue here is that chunk of Kryptonite he is wielding near her face. If you go back to H'El on Earth, Lobdell makes it absolutely clear that Kryptonite is pretty lethal. Kara has limited exposure and is fatally poisoned. Just holding it back then made her turn green and cracked. So shouldn't this chunk be weakening her already?

Luckily this scared Supergirl fades or was simply a ruse. She bashes him in the face and dashes off to arm herself.

Somehow, and this is where we need to take some leaps, Supergirl thinks that beating up 6 clones has accomplished her goal of starting their rebellion. Six clones. I don't know why she would think that. At least she wants to return to the present.

And thankfully, this is the last loving shot of Kara's bottom by Siqueira. I was worried it would be a theme throughout the issue.

Next leap.

We see Superman hanging from a flagpole as he did on the last page of Superman #0. He seems happy to have met his mother even if he knows he has to help bring about Krypton's destruction.

Except .... we ended last issue with him in Jor-El's lab, strapped to a table, and weakened from radiation poisoning. Lara was trying to figure out who he was and how he got into the El house. So how did we get here?

Anyways, for some reason his black Krypton suit changes into the red and blue Earth uniform. It has to mean that the end of this story, his return to Earth, is nearing.

Who is he speaking to here? Any guesses?

Surprisingly, my favorite part of the book is the Superboy/young Kara section. There is a lot happening here which is tight storytelling. Superboy actually sounds like a nice kid here, wondering how this Kara can become the angry, prejudiced Supergirl he knows. And Superboy and Kara note some of the 'Brainiac-based' tech that is in Argo City, Zor-El's attempt to save the place. It is good continuity and brings some elements of things I would want to see if there is a story on Krypton.

But which timeline is this?

Is this the original one? Before H'El has tampered things?

Remember, H'El is sent back in time months before the destruction of Krypton. He befriends Jor-El. He kills Jor-El. He befriend Jor-El again. Until finally a Jor-El is able to save Krypton ... the very impetus for this story! So is H'El on this Krypton right now? Has he gone back in time yet? (This is one week before the destruction so if H'El is helping Jor-El save the world you would think he would be here by now.)

Anyways ... I guess I have to assume that this is the original, unspoiled timeline.

This is confusing ... right?

And then an interesting wrinkle. The Eradicator, now the embodiment of Krypton's entropy, can't be killed by being perforated with shrapnel as Superboy did last issue.

The Eradicator again returns to kill Kara. And Superboy doesn't have many options to defeat such a being and save Supergirl in this time. He resorts to doing 'something stupid' and kicking the Eradicator through Kon's boom tube home, sending the Eradicator to Earth and stranding Superboy on Krypton.

This is the Superboy I want to read. He is a stand up hero, defending Kara, and then being unpredictable for the win. He is likable here! I'll even forgive him for TK'ing a shard of metal into the Eradicator's throat (a killing move). You can't kill entropy.

I wonder why the Eradicator is concentrating so much on killing Kara when we know another child escapes the death of Krypton as well. I guess it is another thing I just have to accept.

Anyways, if Superboy is stranded on Krypton, his boom tube gone, maybe he is doomed to die on Krypton.

And then the really odd part of the story and perhaps the biggest thing I need to just roll with.

After the Eradicator leaves, H'El shows up to kill Kara and Superboy in this timeline as well.

So one week before Krypton's destruction, H'El is fighting Kon.
And hundreds of years before the destruction, H'El is fighting Kara.

That resonance somehow merges the damage done to H'El. So when Kara slashes him with a spear in the distant path, he bleeds in Argo City. This convergence weakens H'El. I know ... another leap.

And then another interesting wrinkle. It turns out that one of the clones Kara defeated was their leader Kon. (Huh, maybe she did suppress the rebellion.) And since she was the victor, the clones now fight for her.

In fact, the entire clone army starts to mobilize to fight. And then Kara picks up a spear and leads them. How ironic, that this group of people who she vilified, who she hates, she now leads!

Overall, I will say, that there are a lot of things I just need to roll with here. The blip in Superman's storyline and the timeline convergence on H'El are the ones that bothered me the most.

But the thing was, overall, this was something of an entertaining issue. We get to see a strong and sort belligerent Supergirl standing up to H'El and fighting for something. We get a likable Superboy doing what's right. And best of all, we get a glimpse into the pre-destruction Kara, a smart young woman who notices the Brainiac tech and wonders how it got there. A grateful Kara who hugs Kon after he saves her from the Eradicator. You know what all that is? Characterization!

I think Siqueira's art shines here because it is both beautiful, but with a layer of grime which works in these battle scenes.

The biggest question now? Can this storyline be wrapped up in a satisfying manner in just 20 pages of Superman to go.

Overall grade: B

I know .... a B!!