Monday, June 30, 2014

Review: Superman #32

Superman #32, the first issue by the creative powerhouse team of writer Geoff Johns and artist John Romita Jr, came out last week and began the reclamation project of Superman and his supporting cast. After languishing a bit during Scott Lobdell's tenure, Johns comes on board to reset things and try to bring some greatness back to the ultimate super-hero. Adding a name like Romita, especially as a poach from Marvel, adds another element of excitement to this run.

And Johns races out of the gate, reestablishing a sense of normalcy for the characters by looking back at more classic representations, adding a new character to the mythos, and maybe revamping an older character as well. Johns hasn't completely refurbished the Superman mansion but he has started to rip down the ugly additions that the New 52 tacked up.

As for Romita, I have simply never been a fan of his style. His style seems a bit too blocky and stiff for me. But Johns' script does give Romita the chance to stretch his legs here, including a multi-page nearly wordless fight sequence with huge panels and splash pages.

It is a good first step into a new vision ... but we have many miles to go before I'll sleep comfortably.

The issue starts out with a great riff on Superman's origin.

Years ago, in a doomed laboratory, desperate scientists send their son, their last hope, off to dimension 4. This new dimension is filled with energy that could empower his physiology. The father thinks he will be accepted. But the mother says he will never be one of them.

So this is the reverse Superman origin, rocketed from Earth to an environment where he will be a superman. But this sentiment of the mother, of never belonging, is concerning. Concerning because I think that Johns is going to latch onto that about Superman.

Still ... interesting.

Meanwhile, back in Metropolis in the present day, Johns begins scrubbing away the Lobdell detritus.

Superman fights a giant version of Titano while Jimmy 'Mr. Action' Olsen snaps pictures. Everything old is new again!

And billionaire Jimmy Olsen? Gone. Jimmy is living an austere life because he knows his parents will simply return one day and ask for their money back.

Jimmy Olsen back as young, up and coming photographer? Check!

Meanwhile, Perry has invited Clark back to the Daily Planet. He asks Clark to give up the blogging idea and return to where he belongs as a reporter for the Planet. Clark doesn't answer ... yet.

Superman "disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a major metropolitan newspaper"? Check!

This page is more than bringing Clark back into the fold. 

For one, Perry talks about the insanity of the New 52. Bad guys are good. Good guys are bad. Weird for Johns to be talking about this since his Forever Evil was the poster child of that idea.

But more concerning, Perry talks about how Clark is constantly running away from people. How leaving the planet was a way to run away from people close to Clark. Here is that 'never one of them' sentiment. 

I am one of those people who think that the Kents raised Clark to consider himself a citizen of Earth, one of us, a regular person blessed with gifts who can help people. Superman and Clark should never feel isolated.

And this continues on the next page.

We see Lois and Steve Lombard at a bar. We see Jimmy in a legal meeting.

And Clark? He is alone in his tiny apartment, cooking a steak with heat vision, looking through old photo albums. Shouldn't he be out with friends too? Not moping in his apartment?

Anyways, I include this panel because it is the return of J. Wilbur Wolfingham, a little known Golden Age Superman character and perhaps, the most needless character to get a full page spread in the late 80s Who's Who book.

Luckily (?) Clark's super-hearing picks up an emergency. A black obelisk-like ship has appeared over Metropolis and is blasting away.

And inside (I presume), someone who seems to know Clark ... who claims to have taught Clark ... watches closely.

I think I know who it is.

More later.

And then a warrior comes from the ship and engages in hand-to-hand.

Firing hand beams and wielding a shield, he not only is able to engage Superman effectively but can also somehow shortcircuit heat vision and cut purportedly invulnerable skin.

These pages are brutal and flashy and big, an action sequence that Romita can sink his teeth into.

And then out of a wormhole comes a strapping young lad who joins the fray. With surprising ease, Superman and this new combatant double-team the fighter, laying him out. Nice double page spread by Romita here.

We learn that this new hero is Ulysses, the baby from the early scene all grown up and powered.

I like Ulysses as a name, invoking the Greek/Roman hero who was lost at sea just trying to get home.

And after the introductions, Superman tells Ulysses he is on Earth. Suddenly Ulysses knows he is home ... and no longer alone.

And so we see the reflections up close. Here is Ulysses, who probably felt alone in Dimension 4, and is now among his people. This might rev up Superman's own feelings of isolation. Or it might make him realize that he is more at home on Earth than this guy. It will all depend on what direction Johns wants to go.

But he also mentions Klerik, someone who claimed to have destroyed Earth. Klerik? A version of the Stern/Mignola Cleric? That has to be the man in the ship from above. Looks like a back issue review is in order!

Anyways, big action, Clark at the Planet, a non-Brainiac'd Lois hanging with friends, Jimmy as a young photographer, and a reverse-Superman in Ulysses? It's a good start. Let's just get Superman out of his apartment and out with his supporting cast! Let's get him to embrace Earth!

Overall grade: B+

Friday, June 27, 2014

Review: Red Lanterns #32

Red Lanterns #32 came out this week, the last issue (presumably) that Supergirl will be a member of the group. Writer Charles Soule and artist Jim Calafiore spin another great chapter in this book which continues to impress me.

How impressed?

I am probably going to continue reading even without Supergirl. I never thought I would say that.

My preconceived notion of this book was that the team was a bunch of snarling, vomiting thugs. That this was a poster child of the new 52, a gore-fest for people who like that sort of stuff. Instead, Soule has made this team a bunch of tortured souls, dealing with their power and trying to move forward rather than gleefully embracing their rage and regurgitating on the masses. These are surprisingly complex characters, especially Bleez. I assumed she was simply eye candy/cheesecake - especially given the Ed Benes panels posted everywhere. Instead she is someone trying to steel herself against the pain inside her.

Moreover, Soule really has shown us the best Kara since the reboot. She is passionate and impetuous, as someone of her age should be. But she is also caring and loyal. And her heart seems to be in the right place. Perhaps best of all, she has been accepted and loved by the Lanterns, people who recognize her for how great she is. Especially Guy.

I said it before, Calafiore is a great choice for this title, grimy and thick-lined, perfect for the rage and shadows and imperfections of this team. Just great stuff.

Last issue Bleez limped home, just surviving an attack by Atrocitus on her and Rankorr. Guy makes the decision to bring the attack to the ex-leader of the Lanterns and save Rankorr. There is this wonderful loyalty and familial feeling to this team as Guy unifies them. I especially love how he tells Supergirl not to rush in.

That is tactical (something Guy brings to the team as well) but also big brotherly. I loved this mentor relationship and hope it becomes something permanent in the DCU.

In that destroyed hut, Rankorr is chained and insane, back to the snarling frenzy of when he first donned the ring.

In the old switcheroo, Atrocitus has headed to Ysmault. He has his own acolytes, meaning there are 2 warring factions.

One thing I like about Atrocitus in this book is how much he is an evangelist of rage. His words sound like an old-school homily, bringing people into the faith. There is an evil charisma about him.

Meanwhile the Reds try to deal with the out of control Rankorr. And I find it interesting that Kara needs a primer on Red Lantern history.

Her words are powerful here. You can almost sense her fear, that somehow this could happen again to her. Remember how anguished she looked when first under the influence of the ring. I am sure she doesn't want to go back to that.

This is a great panel to show Calafiore's take. The thick lines. The shadows. The rough terrain. It all works.

Bleez releases Rankorr. She doesn't think one of them should be bound like a beast. But overcome by this rage, Rankorr can do nothing but attack. And the first victim is Kara, crushed between two red energy hammers.

Again, it might sound paternalistic, but I love how Guy leaps to Kara's defense.

Now there is a great scene coming up between Kara and Guy. And that scene is nearly perfection. But this exchange might be my favorite in the book.

As I said above, Bleez has become such a wonderfully nuanced character, in pain, trying to be better, trying to spare people the rage she feels. In the panel before this, she talks about how much self-loathing she has, how she acts strong hoping she will believe it herself. It is powerful, to see her open up.

And then she asks Rankorr to find himself.

For one second, she seems to reach him, as he pauses ... only to have the rage take over again.


With little other choice, Bleez grabs hold of Rankorr, immobilizing him, allowing Zox to blast them both from the Lantern ship in orbit. The blast nearly kills them both, incapacitating them.

The crew scoop up the injured and head back to Ysmault to find it in ruins. The blood lake is tainted, the power battery destroyed. And then Guy decides to talk to Kara alone.

He tells her that it is time for her to find her way. This Red Lantern life ... this Red Lantern feud ... is nothing she should be part of. It is time for her to grow up. Yes, she has been accepted. Yes, she has felt rage. But it is time to grow up a bit and move on.

Remember, this is the first place, the first people, that Kara has really latched on to. Look at her body language. She doesn't want to go ... but she also doesn't seem to truly want to stay. This isn't a long term life for her.

And then Guy says something wonderful. He tells Kara that she is better than all of the Reds. She can make something of her life. She is strong.

How crazy is it, in this topsy-turvy New 52, that Guy Gardner is a better mentor, better judge of character, better father figure to Supergirl than Superman has been.


And with that, the two hug. She tells him to not call her kid, but it isn't a yell. I think she liked that nickname. It was a sign of affection and inclusion.

Look at the pain Calafiore puts on their faces. Guy looks completely forlorn.

This is an unhealthy place for Kara. She needs to move on. Short term this has been great. Long term it would be a disaster. She heads to Mogo ...

Why hasn't there been this sort of moment with Kal in the 2 plus years of the New 52.

Just wonderful.

And so ends Supergirl's time as a Red Lantern. Well, almost, we know that after this tearful farewell, Tony Bedard has her head to Earth. I suppose we will see her throw of the ring on her own, without Mogo's help and that will be a powerful moment for her. But that 'about face' to Earth does diminish this moment a bit.

But there is business to attend to. Atrocitus must be found. And war must happen. We go from sad 'older brother' Guy in the last panel to this determined and enraged Guy here.

There will be a reckoning ... and I am intrigued enough to want to stick around.

So ... in the end ... I think I have to call this Red Daughter story a success. And that amazes me. I still don't think it needed to happen. The same sentiments that Supergirl showed here could have happened in the first issues of her book. The nurturing mentoring that Guy did here could have been done by Kal. Unfortunately, the first 2 years of Supergirl's own book brought her down the road of isolation and angst and anger (specifically at Superman) that this sort of drastic catharsis and redemption was the only option left. And this story did that. It brought out some of the optimism and heroism in Kara, showed her she can adapt and love.

The characterization of the Reds is also strong in this book, particularly the pain that Bleez is weighed by as well as Guy trying to bring some order to the Red chaos. And it is that characterization that will keep me coming back to this book.

Overall grade: A

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Who's Got Which Super-Power?

We just heard that Geoff Johns is bring the super-cousins together, supporting each other.

I love it when there is a Super-family, a Team Superman, a group of heroes with the S-shield, working together, striving to do what's right, and trying to live up to the ideal of Superman.

So I like little one-offs that show the 'family' hanging out and enjoying each others company.

So let's set the way-back machine for the middle of 1998. There was the concept of a Team Superman. Supergirl had fused with Linda Danvers and was just starting to exhibit angelic powers. Superboy was still a rad upstart heroing in Hawaii.

Despite being a super-family, they each had their own specific powers. And so to educate DC made 'Who's got which Super-powers?' written by Chris Duffy and drawn by Georges Jeanty.

We get to see Supergirl's flame wings, her telekinetic strength, and her flame vision.
We get to hear about Superboy's lack of vision powers, his flight powers, and his tactile telekinesis.

I love how without word bubbles we learn so much of the character's personalities. Superboy's sour face when the others use their vision powers. Their different flying styles. Superboy's show-off destruction of the boulder in the last panel. Supergirl's giggle into her hands while Superman cocks an eyebrow. All great.

But it is the first panel, the three of them standing in iconic hero poses together, that I like the best.

This page is from 1998's Team Superman Secret Files and Origins. I have covered pieces of this book elsewhere on the site, especially the Who's Who pages. Definitely worth buying if you see it in the dollar box.

I love the Dave Johnson cover, especially the position of strength we see Steel in!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Geoff Johns On Reddit

The day has finally arrived.

Geoff Johns returns to Superman this afternoon.

The mega-star creative team of Johns, Romita Jr., and Janson will take on a Superman character that has been sullied a bit by the New 52. While Greg Pak is doing a great job on Action, the in-continuity character has been through the mill a bit with some serious low-points. Smallville, Superman Unchained, and Adventures of Superman have been wonderful but stand out as being out of continuity.

Johns prior runs on the character have been very good, capturing a classic feel of Superman, bringing it to modern times, but not dipping too deep into darkness. Bizarro World, Last Son, Legion, Brainiac, and Superman:Secret Origins all were great.

And Johns had a wonderful feel for the great supporting cast of Superman, something definitely missing these days.

Over on Reddit, a site I don't usually visit, Johns did an 'Ask Me Anything' column. If you like Johns, it covers all things - from prior runs, to odd characters, to the future of DC, to cereal. Here is the link:

(And thanks to Twitter friend Louis Seymour for pointing me to it.)

In the column, Johns is asked directly about Supergirl and her current relationship with Superman.

At last, an optimistic answer. "Superman and Supergirl will become a support team for one another. Love writing them together ..."

Looks like once again Johns will be called upon to rehabilitate a fractured relationship. Now certainly, the trial by fire Kara is undergoing with the Red Lanterns (by Bedard/Lupacchino and Soule/Sorrentino/Calafiore) is bringing her back bit by bit.

But I shouldn't be surprised that Johns is going to fix things. Because he has done it before.

Way back in 2008, Johns was on Action Comics with Gary Frank. He wrote the Brainiac story, bringing the true Brainiac to Earth, re-introducing him to the DCU.

Part of that arc was Supergirl working closely with Superman, telling him what she knew about Brainiac, steeling herself against fear, and saving the Earth from Brainiac's Solar Aggressor missile. While Joe Kelly's  awful 'Kill Kal-El' run on Supergirl was petering out, Johns brought hope that the cousins could, should, and would work together.

He even erased the 'killer Zor-El' aspect of that Supergirl's history, bring back Argo City and loving parents.

So thank you Geoff Johns for caring about Superman and Supergirl and the super-family. I have high hopes and look forward to reading this run.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

September 2014 Solicits: Futures' End Month

DC's September 2014 solicits have finally completely come out. 

The lenticular covered, fancy September, Futures' End crossovers were announced a while ago. I suppose to keep some of Futures' End's story a secret, we don't get many story blurbs. What we do get are pictures of the covers and the creative teams. (When I can post a gif of the cover, I will. If I can't I will defer to the Futures' End half.

The remainder of DC's September books, the out of continuity, Vertigo, etc were finally solicited last week. There is one great new book coming out, listed at the bottom. Between the Sensation Comics announcement and this new book, I have some mild enthusiasm for DC, the most in a while.

On to the solicits!

Writer: Tony Bedard
Penciller: Emaneulla Lupacchino
Cover: Giuseppe Camuncoli

I have to say that I'm not too interested in reading anything about the Cyborg Superman Zor-El. I keep hoping that will get retconned out (the same way that Joe Kelly's insane Zor-El who shot up Kara's school was erased). But instead, we get him back.

At the very least, it is being done by the book's creative team. 

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Penciller: Jedd Dougherty
Inker: Jedd Dougherty
Cover: Mike McKone

Remember when there was a book called Legion Lost where some Legionnaires were trapped in our time fighting a mutating virus? That feels like forever ago, doesn't it?

Well, if we are in continuity, those Legionnaires are still here (even though the Legion book was eventually linked to Earth 2). So seeing Dawnstar (one of the lost Legion) on the cover was a pleasant surprise! Plus, I think she and Equinox make an interesting pair.

Lastly, I can't help but notice the added circles on Equinox's costume? Fashion only? Or some marker of power level? 

Writer: Sholly Fisch
Penciller: Pascal Alixe
Cover: Lee L Weeks
With the Man of Steel missing, ordinary people around the world start to mysteriously exhibit his strengths and abilities…

This is one of the few books with a solicit blurb.

There is a lot for me to like here. For one, it is the return of Sholly Fisch to the super-universe! But look at that cover! Is this going to be some sort of homage to my beloved 'Sand Superman' storyline? Will we see Quarmer?

This one I am very interested in reading! 

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Penciller: Lee L Weeks
Cover: Ken Lashley

Remember when there was a book called Legion Lost where some Legionnaires were trapped in our time fighting a mutating virus? That feels like forever ago, doesn't it?

Well, one of those legionnaires was Wildfire. And the 'Masked Superman' costume looks suspiciously like Wildfire's. Wildfire could refrain from using his energy powers and simply fly and be super-strong to emulate Superman. It also would play off the 'Superboy/Superman as Legion inspiration' part of the original Legion origin.

Glad to see Dan Jurgens on a Superman book again. 

Art and wraparound cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS
This is it – the extraordinary, extra-sized finale of Scott Snyder and Jim Lee’s Superman saga, surrounded by an epic wraparound cover! It’s a battle in the sun as Superman and Wraith accept their destinies…and Lex Luthor pulls the trigger on his ultimate weapon!

It pains me to read this solicit for many reasons. Unchained has been a great Superman book since its inception. It has had a great Lois. And a multifacted plot.

But it has been woefully delayed. No big surprise given Jim Lee on art. And it turns out it was nothing but a glorified mini-series, canceled/stopped at issue 9. Still, I have enjoyed it!

Will this issue actually come out in September? We still need #7 and #8!

Writer: Greg Pak
Penciller: Howard Porter
Cover: Aaron Kuder

Superman fighting Batman?? Say it isn't so!

We have seen this trope too many times to count. I am hoping that Greg Pak has some reason for this.

It will be good to see Howard Porter on the characters again!

Writer: Charles Soule
Penciller: Tom Raney
Inker: Tom Raney
Cover: Tom Raney

We saw a violent despot Wonder Woman in Flashpoint. Now we see Diana as the God of War. And in the future, before being turned into a robot spider, she seems to have embraced that identity. 

But look ... an unhelmeted Superman. Does that add credibility to my Wildfire theory?

Writer: Paul Levitz
Penciller: Yildiray Cinar
Inker: Paul Neary
Cover: Stephen Segovia

I haven't read Earth 2 in forever. So apparently there are more Kryptonians flying around there. And while I initially thought this pom-pom haired hero was a new Bumblebee, people whose opinion I trust tell me this is probably Zod's daughter and possible the new Power Girl.

What does that mean for Karen? Could this upcoming crisis anniversary kill of the original Power Girl, aping the Supergirl death of the original Crisis?

It will be great to see Yildiray Cinar on the book again.

Cover by STEVE RUDE  
Superstar creators unite for the final issue of the series! First, a Superman/O.M.A.C. team-up as only Jerry Ordway and Steve Rude can deliver! Then, when Lois Lane gets Superman a mystery gift for Valentine’s Day, Superman speculates with his friends about what it could be – and what he should get her in return! Finally, Superman is confronted by a ghost from Krypton! Don’t miss out!

I am very sad that Adventures of Superman is being canceled. It has been a nice little home for people like me looking for a more classic Superman. They haven't all been winners. But the ones I have liked, I have loved.

I suppose this is the way to go out though ... with a bang. Ordway, DeConnick, Niles, Rude, Doyle, Dow Smith! That is a murderers' row of talent!

Written by BRYAN Q. MILLER
Metropolis is under mystical siege, and Emil is trapped inside S.T.A.R. Labs with an unlikely source of help. Lex Luthor has trapped Ted Kord and Michael Holt inside their Antarctic base, cutting them off from Booster Gold’s help. Superman and Lois Lane are trapped on an alternate Earth – and that’s not the worst of their troubles! Where can they turn for help?

Before a Crisis, there must be chaos.

This universe has expanded. Miller has brought in a ton of characters. And this book is careening to a season end. This one sounds just as good. An alternate Earth? Maybe we meet a harbinger to help out.

Art and cover by CHRIS SPROUSE and KARL STORY
The biggest adventure in DC Comics history continues!
Grant Morrison joins modern legend Chris Sprouse (TOM STRONG, BATMAN: RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE, ACTION COMICS) for a trip to Earth-20 starring a Society of Super Heroes unlike anything you’ve seen before! It’s pulp Super Hero action with a post-modern twist — you can’t afford to miss it!
Who is the demon-like Green Lantern protecting Earth-20? What secret does Doc Fate hold that could save the world? Who are the hand-to-hand and air-to-air combat queens known as the Blackhawks? And what happens when these heroes come face to face with their diabolical Earth-40 counterparts – led by Vandal Savage – for an epic war between parallel worlds? Find out all that and more in this exciting stand-alone issue which also acts as chapter two of the overall MULTIVERSITY storyline. Join us, if you dare, for THE MULTIVERSITY!

And then the big announcement.


It has been rumored for so long I thought it was a myth! 

I am a huge Morrison fan. And I think the looser the reins are, the better his stories are. Letting him run roughshod over Elseworlds sounds like a brilliant idea. A gun-toting Dr. Fate? An Etrigan GL? Fantastic.

Count me in!!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sales Review: May 2014

The May 2014 sales were released last week and, as always, I think ICv2 has the best and most complete coverage. Here is the link to their list of the top300 comics from the month:

After the fervor of Amazing Spider-Man #1, Marvel's sales normalized and as a result DC seemed to rebound a bit. But how did Supergirl do?

Supergirl #31 was a middle chapter of the Red Daughter arc overall as well as a part of the smaller Red Lantern Judge plot. It was a great issue that I very much enjoyed. Supergirl helps Bleez, learns about tempering her power, sees Alura as a new role model, and is found 'innocent' by the Judge.


The unfortunately slipped out of the top 100, landing at #105.

Sales slipped about 700 units.

I tend to question DC's sales decisions. There have been ample opportunity to bring people to this book, whether it be Villains' month issues or Bombshell variants or even having her make a Doomed crossover in her own book. But instead this title seems to have to succeed or fail on its own.

Maybe, once she is back in the S-shield costume, DC will ramp up the publicity again.

Last month also saw the release of Rocket Girl #5, the last issue of this opening arc by Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare.

This was a trippy time travel tale that was simply gorgeous to look at. It took place not only in the future but also in the past, my past, the 1980's. I loved this book.

And it looks like I was one of a select few who did.

I never know what marks a 'successful' owner project. But I am surprised this didn't sell better. This was a great book. Hopefully this sold well enough to warrant the next part of the story!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bits Of Doomed Not Commented On Yet

One of the things that happens when you review a bunch of books and limit yourself to a maximum number of scans per issue is that things you really wanted to talk about get pushed to the side.

Superman:Doomed is big enough that there have been a couple of things that when I first read the issues I wanted to comment on but didn't or forgot or pushed aside.

There have also been a couple of things I hadn't noticed, which commenters on this site pointed out to me which I thought I would share more broadly. Thanks to everyone who chimes in here as I think it helps me see things from a different perspective or get a better grip of some finer points!

So some Bits of Doomed - never before discussed.

The first is the change in cover on Superman/Wonder Woman #9. The originally solicited cover is directly above. On this cover, it looks like Diana and Supergirl are working in tandem, chasing Superman to try to help.

The released cover is at the top of the post with Supergirl now shooting heat vision at Superman. The direction of the beams seems incongruous with Kara's head position and (I think) sully the composition of the cover. And I don't know why Kara needs to constantly be attacking her cousin.

I don't think this was an improvement.

I'd like to thank blog-friend Supertorresmo for pointing out something crucial in Superman/Wonder Woman #9 as well. With Superman pummeling Hessia, Wonder Woman feels compelled to stand up to him. Somehow she is able to match his power despite his being in full Super-Doom mode.

Supertorresmo pointed out that in this battle Diana has removed her gauntlets which makes unleashes her full god power. That explains the different coloring of Wonder Woman here. This is a nice touch as it shows continuity with the Azzarello main title.

I will admit I didn't notice it. An exposition balloon of some type would have been exceedingly helpful.

In Superman #31, we get a glimpse at some of the technology that Shay Veritas has stashed in The Block.

The red waterfall-like object on the far right caught my eye when I read the issue. Veritas talks about these items are from the 'omniverse'. Could this be some sort of small version of the Kryptonian Fire Falls?

As long time readers of this blog know, I am a huge fan of the Fire Falls.

I have covered appearances of the falls in the Silver, Bronze, Modern, and New 52 eras of DC comics. I even mentioned them in the Sterling Gates Man of Steel Prequel comic.

The Falls have been a plot device in the past, even curing Supergirl of a demonic possession. Could they be used here?

Lastly, in Action Comics #32, we see Krypto alive and seemingly well in the Arctic.

Remember, you heard it here first. Krypto surviving exposure to the Doomsday virus will be used in the finale of Doomed.

Okay, that's all the extra bits!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Review: Supergirl #32

Supergirl #32 came out this week, another chapter in the Red Daughter of Krypton story arc. This issue felt like we were heading into the home stretch of the Red Lantern angle for Kara. We hear about events that will happen in the Red Lanterns book, we have Supergirl heading back to Earth, and we have an upcoming catharsis which I think will make Supergirl move past this brief episode in her life.

Writer Tony Bedard has been moving this book forward by adding subplots and some supporting cast. Here, he concentrates solely on Kara. The entire book has Supergirl, front and center. And, surprisingly, Bedard shows us all the reasons why Supergirl seems to have embraced the red ring. This is about as enraged we have seen Supergirl since she donned the ring. In some ways I am surprised by this. Charles Soule has really shown us a more conflicted and nuanced Kara over in the Red Lanterns book.

I think the art by Emanuela Lupacchino in this issue is fantastic. I feel Lupacchino really hits her stride here, as if she has become more comfortable with the character. And this issue is all brawl, a fight in space with big action sequences and Lupacchino shines.

The story is called 'Homecoming' and it works on a couple of levels as we will see.

As I said, we have a bit of a raging Supergirl in this issue, starting out with a the opening splash page, Supergirl furiously streaking through space.

For the last couple of issues, specifically in Red Lanterns, we have had a calmer Supergirl, learning to not always attack first, learning to protect her friends, and finally feeling like part of something. As a result, we have had a more confidant and frankly, a happier Kara. There wasn't any 'woe is me' angst or bitterness - a surprising twist to the character especially given the addition of the rage ring.

Bedard shows us immediately that things have changed. Is this a step backwards? The last line of this splash is 'no wonder nobody wants me around'. Of course, if you asked Superman, he'd probably say he wants Supergirl around; she is the one who keeps pushing away. If you asked Siobhan, it would probably be a similar answer.

So where is this going?

 It turns out in the upcoming Red Lanterns issue, Guy has basically kicked Kara out of the Corps. He tells her to head to Mogo to try to be cleansed of her rage.

Now Supergirl's thoughts say she thanked Guy for this opportunity for a cure. But here she has second thoughts and decided to head home ... to Earth.

So a couple of things here.

I am thrilled ... thrilled ... that we hear Kara call Earth home. It comes about 2 years too late. But at least we get  her realizing that Krypton is gone and she needs to forge a future on Earth.

But this once again shows that maybe Soule and Bedard have slightly different takes on this arc. We go from 'thanking Guy' to 'FORGET Guy'. While people can change their mind, I am going to be very interested to see the scene in Red Lanterns that precedes this. If this is an emotional scene where Kara agrees that she must give up the ring, this will read weird.

And will this 'rejection' from the first place Supergirl felt like she belonged make her head back to the angry isolated person we knew before this arc?

In the meantime, the World Killer King is leading his Diasporan troops towards Earth.

He explains once more their mission. By bringing destruction to planets, the survivors become stronger and evolve. They have brought their 'gift' to others and now will bring it to Earth.

But he also says that Kara embodies that life lesson. He wants to recruit her. Interesting.

As I said, this issue is almost all action. The Diasporan fleet surrounds Kara. The troops spill out into space and they swarm her.

Despite having energy snares and weapons which do hurt Supergirl, she makes little work of them, bashing them, crashing through their ships, and laying the smack down.

One thing Bedard does well here is show us that the rage and the ring are part of Kara now and can try to overwhelm her senses. This is the first time I remember seeing the hearbeat sound effect showing the rising rage in Supergirl.

I'll tell you, Lupacchino shines in this sequence, bringing a clean sensibility to the fights. And that last panel, the crazed eyes, show Kara's feelings nicely.

It finally comes down to a battle between the Diasporan King and Kara. He says she will be his champion. And then speaks to her in Kryptonian.

At last he reveals that he is the first World Killer. But he was a different experiment. He was not a conqueror ... he is an empowerer. I guess it depends on your definition. Does worldwide destruction really equal empowerment?

But it does raise some questions. Was this really Zor-El's vision for this being? The other World-killers were female. Is this male truly a different beast?

These are such great panels artwise. After a book of anger, we get astonishment on Supergirl's face with the Worldkiller reveal. Great work there. And I love the second panel with the images of the other Worldkillers in the background.

And then it is on!

But once again, this feels like just a tiny step back character-wise for Supergirl. She states that rage has set her free.

I can understand her being angry here. I can understand her readiness to fight.

But rage setting her free? This doesn't sound like the Supergirl who has been struggling with what it means to wear the ring, for what it means to be a Red, on controlling the rage.

Still, great action shot.

At least we get a little bit of a reprieve.

Supergirl blasts the Worldkiller in the face with heat vision, an attack that should be lethal. But after the blast, the body of the Diasporan king withers and falls apart. And instead we stringy, inky blackness leaking from the insides.

Thankfully, Kara immediately feels remorse for 'killing' this being.

It is a sad day in comics when I have to commend the creators for having the hero be glad that they didn't murder someone.

The inkiness coalesces into a being with an odd glowing blue head and hands but also those dripping inky tendrils.

It turns out this Worldkiller possesses a body and what better form to continue his (her?) mission across the universe than being in an invulnerable super-powered body wielding a red ring? Of course it wants to take over Kara and become the ultimate Worldkiller.

It doesn't help that they are plummeting to Earth which is still engulfed in a Kryptonite cloud, making Supergirl that much weaker.

Now that is a good cliffhanger and a great splash page! And, thinking metatextually, this is a great penultimate chapter, setting up the climax and bringing the story to a place where a satisfactory ending is possible within an issue.

There even is a nice next issue blurb: "The Unthinkable Happens!" My guess is the unthinkable is that Kara removes the red ring without the calming waters of Mogo and survives.

I think this is a good action issue in the title, showing a powerful Kara pinballing through a marauding army. It answers some of the Worldkiller questions. And it brings Kara back to her home ... Earth! All of that said, her personality in this title has just been slightly off in comparison to how she has been shown in Red Lanterns. That difference has made this a little jarring in reading this story.

Hopefully, this Red Daughter arc will make Kara likable and heroic, living on Earth and helping. I would feel much easier about that if the characterization from Red Lanterns was pulling forward consistently. Still the table is set for a new beginning.

Overall grade:B