Monday, April 24, 2017

Review: Superwoman #9

How do you remake a book that was just made? How do you reboot something which was just booted?

It can't be easy.

But that is what is going on in the Superwoman book. Phil Jimenez idea of Lana being infused with energy from the dead New 52 Superman couldn't exist anymore in the post-Superman Reborn world. And frankly, the first arc of Superwoman ended in such a jumbled, over wordy, preachy, and confusing manner that maybe erasing that and semi-starting fresh makes sense. I know I am trashing the prior arc but the truth is I enjoyed the opening chapters. It just all seemed to lose its way.

Superwoman #9 has the difficult task of somehow continuing the title, building on some of what has come before, all while trying to explain away the inconsistency of the recent past. Enter writer K. Perkins (of Supergirl Crucible fame) and artists Stephen Segovia and Art Thibert. Can they pull it off?

At least for this first issue, for me, the answer is yes. Instead of immediately trying to explain how Lana had powers, what adventures she has had as Superwoman, and what truly happened, Perkins instead concentrates on who Lana is as a person. The powers and the missions are important, but the character of Lana is the foundation of this book. We need to learn that first.

In Jimenez book, Lana was an extremely complicated character. She was a begrudging hero. She had anxiety issues. She was struggling with the pressure of all aspects of her life. And she was hiding all of this fear from those who loved her. I didn't always like Lana in the book. She seemed to have a hair trigger to lash out at those supporting her. She seemed ashamed of her problems. But always, she eventually tried to rise above. Perkins seems to embrace all of that complexity. Complicated and conflicted characters are always fascinating to read. Indeed there are wonderful bookend moments in this issue.

The art by Segovia and Thibert suits the book nicely. There is a lot of kinetic energy in the action sequences. But the quiet scenes, the conversations between characters, look great with solid expressive work.

On to the book.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Review: Superman #21

Superman #21 came out this week, continuing this arc looking at the World's Finest duo and their sons as well as exploring the mystery of the evil neighbor farmer Cobb. It is a very solid read by creators Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, giving me a ton of stuff to mull over. The finest moments, as usual for this book, my favorite moment is one between Superman and Superboy, Clark giving some home-spun Pa-style wisdom. It is a shame there isn't much for Lois to do here but the bulk of the issue is a battle with a giant squid.

But there is more here. We get a ton of back information about Cobb, more clues to his mystery. I thought for sure he was going to be all about magic given the weird Deadman Swamp issue. But now, it looks like there is a lot of mad scientist in Cobb. I am trying to put together all the clues but right now I am a bit stumped. There is certainly some major 'Watchmen' vibes but I keep hoping that stuff stays at the periphery.

And we learn something about Kathy that made a wacky Anj theory spring into my mind. I thought Kathy was oblivious of her Grandpa's machinations. But now she looks like she smack dab in it.

Gleason's art works very well this issue. The kaiju that shows up and the infantry of the enemy are well done. And the quiet family moments all shine brightly. I have to add that John Kalisz and Hi-Fi bring a bright palette to the proceedings. From a color perspective, this book really sparkles.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

July 2017 Solicits

The July solicits for DC comics came out this week and I have to say, there were a couple of non-Super surprises there which means I might have to moonlight a little to get ready for the summer spending spree. A trade is coming out for the first year of Brian Q. Miller's Steph Brown Batgirl book, a series I ate up like an eclair. And Dolphin is guest starring in Aquaman! And those aren't even my favorite surprise!

And, as seems to be the norm, the super-books continue to look like they are on the right track with solid arcs and great art.

Here is the link on Newsarama for all the books:

And now the super-discussion.

Variant cover by BENGAL
“ESCAPE FROM THE PHANTOM ZONE” part three! Supergirl must quell the maelstrom tearing apart the Phantom Zone, as Batgirl faces down the Phantom King one on one. If they fail, they’ll be lost in the Phantom Zone forever!

Love this cover with Supergirl ripping through the Phantom King-like bandages. I am really happy this is a prolonged Babs/Kara story arc, a way to cement their friendship in this continuity. And hoping that we get a great new understanding of the Phantom Zone.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Review: New Super-Man #10

New Super-Man #10 was a very entertaining issue, stuffing a lot of story and plots into the short 20 page comic. I have been pretty impressed with writer Gene Luen Yang on this book before this issue. He has been able to really get me invested and interested in these new characters.

But this issue gave us a lot to mull over. The main storyline of the Ox-Horse door rings and the portal to Hell comes to a satisfying close. But on top of that, we have more insight into Kenan's powers. We get a nudge in the plot of Dr. Omen and Kenan's father. And I Ching is at the center (or maybe centers) of some mysteries. And, perhaps best of all, it is linked to the Superman Reborn arc. Superman is there and extends a hand to the New Super-Man, a sort of welcoming into the Super-Family. That makes me happy.

The art is done by Viktor Bogdanovic and continues to have compelling visuals. Bogdanovic recently announced he's moving to Superman so this was a sort of teaser. But for me, this issue with hellish domains and giant guardians really sparkled.

Add to that all the usual cultural references of China and you have a very fresh feeling book.

On to the book.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Crisis On Infinite Earths #5 Satellite Scene Redux

Last year, for its 30th anniversary, I did a deep dive into Crisis on Infinite Earths, specifically Supergirl's part in that epic story. Included in those reviews was a look at the famous satellite scene in Crisis on Infinite Earths #5, a tremendous collection of DC characters, brought together on the Monitor's orbiting headquarters. I showcased not only the original scene but also places where it was reshown, crossover issues and one shots. Here is that link:

A side project I am working on has recently had me thumbing through long boxes and looking at a diverse group of back issues. That search included All-Star Squadron back issues. Is was surprised to see the Crisis satellite scene show up in #53 and #54. I didn't recall them being there when I did my review last year and felt I should cover them here for completion sake.

Both issues list Roy and Dann Thomas as writers and Mike Clark, Arvell Jones, Tony DeZunuga and Vince Colletta on art.

The Crisis completely  eliminated Earth 2 and changed the early DC history. I don't envy Roy Thomas for being given the job of rewriting and streamlining that part of continuity. I get the sense that Thomas knew this was something of a last hurrah as we see panels dedicated to the earliest incarnations of heroes including the yellow gloved Earth 2 Aquaman as well as notions about to be obsolete like Earth-S.

DC certainly gave Thomas all the space he needed to wrap it up. All-Star Squadron got 7 Crisis crossovers! Infinity Inc. got 8 crossovers!

But let;s get to that satellite scene!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Review: Action Comics #977

Last week, I gushed ... maybe too much ... about how great Supergirl #8 was.

Settle in. I am about to gush about Action Comics #977.

I have been waiting for Superman to be back track in DC continuity. Yes, I loved Morrison's Action Comics run. Yes, I loved the early Pak/Kuder run in Action Comics. But otherwise, the years since the New 52 have been sort of a drag for Superman fans. It all seemed to reach a terrible critical mass of "Who is this character" in The Truth, when Superman was depowered, out of Metropolis, angry at Lois, riding a motorcycle, and kidnapping and pulverizing super-villains until they obeyed him. That isn't Superman.

It wasn't right.

Which is why I have been thrilled about #Rebirth, a movement which was based on bringing back classic interpretations of characters. The theme has been to move away from deconstruction of these characters and instead to focus on construction instead. Ollie is a socially relevant crusader. Wonder Woman is an ambassador of peace. Supergirl is a young hero on the journey. And Superman is with Lois, a reporter at the Daily Planet, and an inspiration.

That doesn't mean there aren't speedbumps. #Rebirth led to Superman Reborn which made two Superman timelines into one. But the pre-Flashpoint and the New 52 Kal's walked very different paths. The differences need to be reconciled. And while that can be done on a reader-to-reader basis (me figuring out what I want in and out), Action Comics #977 is a sort of primer. It sets the foundation of Superman's origin and beginnings. And that is a good place to start.

Writer Dan Jurgens and artist Ian Churchill do a wonderful job setting the stage, acknowledging the stories from the past, and moving us forward. And we get the beginning of a new villain as well.

I loved this book. And frankly, it was needed.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Review: Supergirl #8

I am on the back side of my forties and occasionally I still get the question 'why do you read comic books?'

I think the next time someone asks me that I am going to shove Supergirl #8 into their hands.

For Supergirl fans, the last dozen years have been an up and down affair. Kara Zor-El was back from being erased from continuity. But she was immature and angsty. But then Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle came along and she was a hero again, a part of the super-family. Then the New 52 happened and we took a step back. She was angry and angsty now. She hated the Earth and shunned her cousin. But then Tony Bedard, K. Perkins, and Mike Johnson came back and suddenly she was a likeable young hero again. Alas, nothing gold can stay and the book was canceled. Then the show hit the airwaves and Kara was in SuperheroGirls and DC realized she should have a book. And we got one with a young, eager hero who embraced her new home and was on a journey. And all seemed well again.

Except one thing ... where was Superman in all this?

Trust me, long time Supergirl fans know the big role Superman has played in Supergirl's life. In the Silver Age, he was like a shadow of doom, willing to hide her away and always ready to exile her from the Earth. But in later years, the two had a very good relationship ... as mentor and student or eventually super-partners.

Since the New 52, most Supergirl fans have been waiting for the two to get back to that sort of loving familial relationship. These two are the last survivors of their world and families. They should want to be part of each other's lives. They shouldn't be angrily avoiding each other. But storylines made it impossible. When Kara was heroic, Superman was Grounded, or powerless and angry, or aloof.

Thankfully writer Steve Orlando fixes all that baggage in one fell swoop. With Superman Reborn behind us, it is time to rewrite history a little and smooth over the rough patches. And so we get Supergirl #8, a book where the cousins hang out together, as family, and love it. But moreover, this isn't a Superman trying to guide Kara. It is a Kal appreciative and proud of all Supergirl has accomplished. She is an ally he will need to rely on. And Kara isn't put off by this. She is thrilled to have dinner, meet Jon, and play with her older cousin.

The art is by Matias Bergara. His style is very reminiscent of Brian Ching's so the book's overall feel remains intact. And some of his expressions and quiet scenes are done in a very charming way.
I can only show the highlights here but I honestly wanted to scan every page. On to the book.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

DC Superhero Girls Lego Videos

I knew that DC Superhero Girls had become a Lego property. And any sort of cross-pollination of these characters into different arenas is appreciated. Heck, think of how much the Lego Batman video games and movies have done to bring DC characters into people's homes.

What I didn't know was that there are Lego DC Superhero Girls videos being produced and available on YouTube. There are a few to watch, most including Supergirl, and they all are a ton of fun.

I thought I'd review one called Trading Places, which showcases Supergirl and is a good introduction to the style of the videos. Here is a link:

 I know I am not the target audience but they are fun. If you enjoy DCSHG or the Lego movies, you probably will get a kick out of these.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

SuperMegaFest And Laura Vandervoort

The spring New England Super Megafest is the unofficial start of my con season. The event is more about celebrities and pop culture than it is about comics. There usually aren't a lot of creators to get sigs from. And commission wants are even rarer.

As a result, it is usually a nice, easy-going day to seek out the few folks I want to see, thumb through some comic boxes, and generally have a non-stress convention experience.

This year was a little different in that the big draw for me was a celebrity. Laura Vandervoort was appearing! Folks hopefully know what a fan I am of hers. She played a strong, proactive, less moping Kryptonian on Smallville, often outshining her more famous cousin. I liked her on V. I thought Elena was a great protagonist on Bitten. And, of course, she was Indigo on last season's Supergirl.

Seriously. How could I not go meet Supergirl?

I got there early enough that I was the first at her table and got to talk a little bit about Smallville and Bitten.

She seemed to agree that Kara having total mastery of her powers made her detract from Kal and so she needed to be sent away. Just think of all they did - amnesia, sent away, and ultimately cast into the future so 'Clark could fulfill his destiny'.

I also talked just for a bit about Bitten.

With no big comic creators to spend my money on, I opted to get a second autograph, this time on Smallville Season 11 #14, a book which spotlighted Kara on the cover. She liked the cover and flipped through the book which was pretty cool too.

I don't often get star-struck but I am pretty sure that my brother who witnessed the interaction would say I was a little bit nervous. Weird. I guess you can take the boy out of the old man, but you can't take the fanboy.

Anyways, I also got some comic signatures from Bob Wiacek.

That means my Uncanny Xmen #171 now has sigs from the main trifecta - Claremont, Simonson, and Wiacek!

Now the big question ... Terrificon or Boston Comic Con or both?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

DC Comics Website Supergirl Page

So the other day I was on the DC Comics main website, mostly to check on what books were coming out the following week. While perusing, I noticed they have 'character' pages available, sort of an electronic Who's Who to give a thumbnail history of a character.

And yes they do have a Supergirl page:

I found it a little interesting that the one picture they have of her has her in the Michael Turner costume from 2004. That is two costumes ago, maybe three if you consider the changes that Jamal Igle made to it back in the day.

But I figured that the Turner picture is somewhat iconic for Kara Zor-El's return to the DCU so maybe I could understand.

Then I read the text ...

Monday, April 10, 2017

Bullet Review: DC Bombshells #25

DC Comics Bombshells #25 came out this week, the print version of the digital first book. As always, this means I am behind the times.

When this book first started, I was completely engaged. We were introduced to the characters. Writer Marguerite Bennett was writing the main characters' arcs in the style of movie genres. And it all came together eventually in a battle over London. After that, perhaps because it wasn't meant to go on, the book seemed to wander a bit. For me, the lack of Diana and Kara in the book was maddening.

Why am I bringing this up?

Well, this issue reminded me of those early issues. I felt something for these characters, for the first time in a while. There were two moments that hit me nicely as a reader. And I definitely like the addition of Rose Wilson and June Moone. Ravager and Enchantress are definitely two of my favorites.

The art is by Aneke. This is the first I have seen of this artist and their style fits the book.

I won't go in depth here. But I felt I should hit on the high points.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Review: Superman #20

 Superman #20 came out this week, the first issue since the Superman Reborn storyline which fused the pre-Flashpoint Superman with the New 52 Superman. How delightful for me as a comic reviewer to say Clark or Lois or Superman and not have to explain exactly which one I am talking about! How exciting for a continuity that everything is now linear and we aren't talking about Convergence worlds, the 21st century equivalent of a Pocket Universe.

But while we are now dealing with one Lois and one Clark, we were dealing with two very different lives. Things aren't going to be entirely smooth. We as readers have to reconcile the differences and in our minds settle this whole thing into one history. And thankfully, writers Patrick Gleason and Peter Tomasi realize that the characters have to do that as well. This shouldn't be easy. They have to figure out who they are just as much as we have to. I think it would have been wrong to just move forward without some acknowledgment from Lois and Clark that their life is comprised of two lives shuffled together.

This also is the beginning of a storyline called Black Dawn which finally explores the nefarious Farmer Cobb and his haunting milk business. Add in Batman and Robin, and you have a very satisfying first issue of this new reality.

The Superman books are really clicking right now. I am very happy. On to the book!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Review: World's Finest #169

Earlier this week I reviewed Batgirl Annual #1, the first true meeting of the New 52/Rebirth incarnations of these characters. It was a fast friendship and a true 'World's Finest', right down to the title of the story.

With that in mind, I thought I would head into the long box to review one of the older Supergirl/Batgirl team-ups and what better book to review than World's Finest #169. There is actually another decent reason to review this issue which will be obvious at the end. But the primary reason is to look at the Dominoed Daredoll and the Maid of Might teaming up.

I will say up front this is an incredibly bizarre story. It could be a primer on the Silver Age and just how wacky that time in DC Comics was. So settle in for a bumpy ride with many twists and turns.

I'll also remind folks that while there was always a sense that the pre-Crisis Supergirl and Batgirl were close friends (perhaps cemented by their scene in Crisis on Infinite Earths #4), there weren't that many stories with them partnering with each other. Over the years, I have reviewed a bunch of them for those who want to browse. My hope in this new universe is that we will see these two as friends in stories and crossovers. Maybe an annual event?

On to the book. Hope every one is ready for the zaniness.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Supergirl Show 218: Ace Reporter Preview

I always wonder just how networks decide when they are going to take a break between episodes. Like why is Supergirl taking a 3 week break now? Last episode was one of the best and momentum is gathering. So why hit the brake?

I would have taken the break after the episode before, when Kara broke up with Mon-El. Take three weeks off then and you might give the vibe that the break-up was longer than a mere 23.5 hours. I know, you would need to coordinate with the Flash musical episode. But this seemed like an odd choice.

Anyways, I was pretty disappointed last Monday when there was no new episode. So I had to bide my time by looking at the trailer for episode 218, the next episode in the queue. Here is a link to the trailer:

It is a doozy of a preview and you better have your finger on the pause button because there are a lot of quick cuts.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Joelle Jones Supergirl Statue

Over the weekend, news came out that artist extraordinaire Joelle Jones will be designing a series of DC Cover Girls statues. I am a big fan of Jones so this was great news for me. It looks like the first statue is going to be a classic Harley Quinn and it perfectly captures her zany, madcap fun.

There is a nice video where Jones talks about her approach to statue design and how 'gumption' and 'elbow grease' is what she needed to get where she wanted to. Here is a link:

And I was glad to hear that Supergirl is going to be one of the statues in the line. Jones is already linked to Kara with the Supergirl Being Super book. But I since I love Jones' style, I am glad we are getting this. And, thankfully, there are early process pics of what the statue could look like over on Comics Beat.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Review: Batgirl Annual #1

"Together again for the first time!"

It's a tag line I love in comics. Between universal rewrites, reboots, and new people using classic superhero monikers, I have seen it plenty during my comic reading years. And it could apply to Batgirl Annual #1. Because this is the first team-up between the New 52/Rebirth Supergirl and Batgirl.

It seems almost a little odd that here we are 6 years out from the New 52 and this is the first time these two characters are talking to each other. And thankfully, writer Hope Larson makes them fast and easy friends. Enough of New 52 angst and isolationism! These two should be friends!

It is even better that this story is a sort of secret mission, something that neither Bruce or Kal involved. This is something they want to do together on their own. It is clearly the beginning of a beautiful friendship and a multi-issue arc (we know this from solicits). And that makes me truly happy. I don't read Batgirl but the book jibes with Supergirl nicely, name dropping the DEO and even adding an evil Cadmus into the mix.

The art is done by Inaki Miranda and the style has a vibe similar to what Joelle Jones is doing on Supergirl Being Super. There are some nice page layouts as well which accentuate the action as well.

This is a definite read for fans of the Rebirth Supergirl!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Big Bad Big Barda Blog

I was really really hoping to post this tomorrow but since I was unable to get comics this week, I had a hole to fill. I strive to maintain a sense of routine here at the site and so you are getting this post one day early.

And you may have noticed some changes here.

It has been almost 9 years covering Supergirl and so I thought maybe it was time to focus somewhere else. I have really been diving into Jack Kirby a lot lately and I have always been a fan of the Fourth World stuff and so I thought maybe running a Big Barda site would be a way to re-energize. There is a sort of murmur bubbling in comic fandom that DC needs to bring back the Fourth World characters, reinvent or reinvigorate them in the post-'New 52' continuity.

I feel like Barda is in a place where Supergirl was around 2005. We are starting to see an uptick in interest in her. She is in the 'out of continuity' but highly popular series Justice League Action, DC Bombshells, and DC Superhero Girls.

And what better place to champion a strong female character who needs the mainstream spotlight thrown back on her. After all, it isn't like Barda hasn't been a star before. She has always been an integral part of Mister Miracle stories, sure. But she has been in the Justice League and Birds of Prey too

Heck, back in the day, was going to get her own title, Big Barda and her Female Furies, had the DC Implosion not occurred.

And it isn't as if I am coming on board late. I have been a fan of Barda's since 1977. In fact, I thought a good opening post would be bullet reviewing 1977's Mister Miracle #19, a book I bought off the rack. (I know, I am aging myself.) I'll concentrate on the Barda parts of the book. I know that this was my first experience with any of the Fourth World characters. And I bought it off the spinner because it said it was the 'long awaited return' of Mister Miracle, which made me feel I was about to read something special. Back then cover blurbs like 'bold new direction' or 'the most bizarre story in years' could lure me!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Sales Review: February 2017

The month is over and the sales numbers are in. And I have to say, despite having covered sales here for years, I still have a hard time interpreting these numbers. What is considered 'healthy' sales these days? What degree of sales erosion is allowed from month to month before alarms start to go off?

And if I don't know what to make of these numbers, why do I keep covering them. I suppose trends are a good thing.

Regardless, the plump sales numbers at the beginning of the #Rebirth are receding a bit.

February sales were reported over on ICv2. Here is the link:

Supergirl #6 last month, the last chapter in the first arc.

This was a very good issue, showcasing the Supergirl character very nicely. She overcame her father's plot. She defeated him but also saved him. She declared Earth her home.

It took a while to get here, moving past the Argo storyline and the Cyborg. But this laid the foundation. Now the title can move forward.

So how did it sell?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Supergirl Ep 217: Distant Sun

Supergirl Season two, episode 17, titled 'Distant Sun', aired this week and was a very entertaining episode which really pushed the overall season plot forward. It's hard to believe, but there are only 5 more episodes to the season and there is a fair amount of plotlines that need to be wrapped up. There really hasn't been one big bad this season (unlike Non last year). And surprisingly, we added a new villain this episode in a most dramatic way.

Not that this whole episode is only about pushing forward the major plots. We get a nice look at the romantic relationships which are so important to the backbone of this show. So we see just how committed Mon-El and Kara are these days.

We also get an important Maggie and Alex subplot in which Alex has to confront Maggie for hiding an important truth from her. I can't help but wonder if this plot was added as a reaction to all the Kara/Mon-El hate I have seen on the internet. In some ways, Maggie has been lying just like Mon-El had. Or maybe it was just to show how forgiving and nurturing the Danvers girls are.

Lastly, I can't help but comment that Kevin Smith directed this episode and kept it snappy. There are some dialogue flourishes which have to be things he added. But overall, things moved briskly and perfectly here.

Overall, not a bad episode leading us into the back end of the season.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

June 2017 Solicits

The solicits for June came out a while back so it is time to review what is happening in the super-books. There's some great stuff coming out that made me smile. And luckily, it doesn't look like I'll break the bank!

If you want to see all the solicits, head over to Newsarama:

And now on to the individual issues.

Written by STEVE ORLANDO • Art by BRIAN CHING • Cover by ROBSON ROCHA and DANIEL HENRIQUES • Variant cover by BENGAL
“ESCAPE FROM THE PHANTOM ZONE” part two! The Phantom King holds all the cards, and he’s forcing Supergirl and Batgirl to turn to the alien antagonist in order to save themselves and the humans trapped inside the Phantom Zone.

I am definitely pumped for this storyline for many reasons. Batgirl and Supergirl together again for the first time!

I totally love this cover by Rocha and Henriques. Love that determined Supergirl.

Interesting that this story seems to start next week in the Batgirl Annual.

Art and cover by JOELLE JONES
Having her life torn to shreds and burned to ash has forced Supergirl to choose between the world she was born on and the world that adopted her. Can Kara Danvers find a way to be super—or will she crash and burn?

I have enjoyed this Elseworlds take on Supergirl more than I expected I would. It is a nice coming of age story with gorgeous art. Of course, one of the running themes with Supergirl is her accepting Earth as her home. So seeing this was, I suppose, not surprising. 

One minor quibble is the cover. This is the ending issue. Shouldn't we get something more heroic. Maybe it is the blurred effect that is striking me as odd. Usually we get something more dramatically iconic for a conclusion. 

How can Supergirl convince Power Girl that she is not fighting an enemy—but a sister? Plus, Lois Lane and the Reaper make their way to Hugo Strange’s lab to stop his “superweapon,” unaware that it’s Power Girl herself!
Lois Lane and the Reaper join Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy’s travelling circus of mythical Russian creatures, where Poison Ivy uses her powers to alleviate the situation in Leningrad. Plus, Supergirl is forced to fight Power Girl!

Great to see Supergirl prominently on the cover. I was wondering how they were going to place Power Girl into the book. What is their connection? I hope it isn't them being sisters. Perhaps a clone? Given we get a hint about Hugo Strange and the history of the JLU famous Galatea episodes, that would make sense.

And, of course, they need to fight. Because comics.

Lots of Supergirl monthly stuff for this month!

Variant cover by GARY FRANK
“REVENGE” part three! Superman races to save the Suicide Squad from General Zod, Cyborg Superman and Eradicator. Can the Man of Steel escape the Black Vault and stop the carnage before Harley, Deadshot and the rest of Task Force X are forced to make a final stand?
Variant cover by GARY FRANK
“REVENGE” part four! General Zod takes command as he leads Cyborg Superman, Eradicator, Mongul, Blanque and Metallo against Superman—but his real motives are yet to be revealed and may have far graver consequences for Superman than anyone imagines.

A new Revenge Squad with all these heavy hitters? Fascinating. I don't know I like the look of the new Metallo (if that is who that is) but otherwise bring it.

I am really hoping that Zod comes off well. He was so prevalent a few years ago I felt he was overplayed.

“BLACK DAWN” part five! The Man of Steel faces the one foe he refuses to fight—his son. An emerging new ability for Superboy proves deadly to Superman as the promise of power appears to lead Jon Kent to betray his father.
Written by PETER J. TOMASI and PATRICK GLEASON • Art by PATRICK GLEASON, DOUG MAHNKE and others • Cover by RYAN SOOK • Variant cover by JORGE JIMENEZ
“BLACK DAWN” part six! The extra-sized finale to “Black Dawn” reveals the villain tearing the Super-Family apart and destroying everything the Man of Steel holds dear!

Remember when we had a new superpower for Superman? The solar flare? I wonder if we will get that in the Rebirth universe. I wonder if Supergirl can still do it? Maybe her illness and repowering removed that?

Interesting that this cover makes it seem like Jon has a flare power but with Green K power? Now that is a mystery.

Written by PETER J. TOMASI • Art and cover by JORGE JIMENEZ • Variant cover by DUSTIN NGUYEN
“Battle in the Batcave”! The battle with Kid Amazo leaves Jon and Damian’s friendship in ruins as the boys decide their partnership isn’t working out! It’s a rumble between Superboy and Robin like you’ve never seen as the boys rage through the house Batman built!

I have to assume the story arc is 6 issues. So having the two split in the penultimate issue makes story sense. It will make their coming together next issue more powerful. The idea of the kids trashing the Batcave makes me very very happy.

Written by GENE LUEN YANG • Art by BILLY TAN • Cover by PHILIP TAN • Variant cover by BERNARD CHANG
“THE ZERO ULTIMATUM” part two! New Super-Man and the Justice League of China must take back Shanghai from the current emperor—the original super-powered creation of Dr. Omen! While the battle may be winnable, a devastating secret comes to light and shakes the young Super-Man to his core.

I'm glad to see Billy Tan back on art. I liked his prior work.
Is the villain on the cover the original Omen experiment? It has a Superman vibe.
And I wonder what secret comes to life? My guess? Omen is Kenan's actual mom.

Written by K. PERKINS • Art by STEPHEN SEGOVIA and ART THIBERT • Cover by KEN LASHLEY • Variant cover by RENATO GUEDES
“Rediscovery” part three! Former friends duke it out as Superwoman squares off against…Natasha Irons?! In the battle to contain the freed Stryker’s inmates, Lana and Natasha are split over what to do about Natasha’s criminal father, Crash.

Jimenez certainly pumped up Natasha during his run. Maybe too much? It seemed so over the top it felt forced.

And while the solicit is about Lana fighting Natasha, the cover is Lana fighting Steel.

Of course, how does Lana have powers in this post Superman Reborn world? I guess we'll find out.

In these 1980s tales from The Daring NEW Adventures of Supergirl #13 and Supergirl #14-23, the Maid of Might faces neo-Nazis, meets the new threat of Blackstarr, explores the depths of Lake Michigan to find a mysterious monster and is baffled by the Ambush Bug! This collection features appearances by the Justice League of America and the Teen Titans!

I am thrilled that the remainder of the 80s Supergirl title is being collected. Unbelievable. There is a lot to like in this back end of the book including the Ambush Bug as well as the debut of the new costume. We also get a nice anniversary celebration for Supergirl.

Kudos to DC for doing this! 

In these stories from ACTION COMICS #252-284, Supergirl adjusts to life on Earth with her adoptive parents. The stories alternate between small-town slice-of-life tales, tales of Supergirl’s efforts to master her new powers, and time-traveling jaunts into the far future and past. Plus, don't miss an early appearance of the Legion of Super-Heroes!

I am also thrilled that this omnibus will now be in softcover for folks who couldn't drop the $75 for the hardcover. And I love the Michael Cho cover. Very classic! A lot of goodness in here!

Good month to get us into the summer months! 

Monday, March 27, 2017

1978 Supergirl And Superboy Pin-up

I am always thrilled when something I have never seen before crosses my path. And when that something 'new' is also something 'classic', I like it even more. When it is something Supergirl, it becomes that much cooler.

So hat tip to my friend Mart Gray for sending me this image of Supergirl and Superboy. Looking around, this seems to have been an 11x15 pinup from 1978.

I love the whole look of this. The slightly tilted aspect, Supergirl leading the way flying with Superboy running, and the classic early 70s outfit on Kara is just wonderful. Maybe some more could have been put in the background. But the solid purple backdrop does make you focus more on the characters.

While the piece isn't signed, it looks to me most like Neal Adams. There is a sort of Dick Giordano flair to it so I wonder if Adams did pencils and Giordano did the inks.

I have seen it credited to Dave Cockrum but it doesn't look like Cockrum to me. Could Giordano have inked Cockrum and overwhelmed the style?

If anyone knows for sure who should be credited please let me know!

Just gorgeous!

The older I get, the more I love that version of the Supergirl costume.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Review: Action Comics #976

What do you do in comics when character mistakes have been made?
Well, you can reboot an entire universe if the mistakes are continuity wide.
Or you can simply ignore the mistakes and have a new creative team just start writing the character a different way.
Or you can 'soft reboot' things, change a couple of key events here and there to smooth out some of the rough edges.

Action Comics #976, the last part of Superman Reborn, does the latter. And I loved it.

There was much of the New 52 Superman that I didn't care for. Outside of Morrison and Pak, the tone just seemed way off. The usage of the supporting cast, especially Lois, was terrible. And we went from an 'I'm here to help' character to someone who mercilessly beat his helpless opponents. It was wrong.

Then Convergence and Rebirth came along and a new/old Superman and Lois were brought into the fold. Building on pre-Flashpoint continuity, the two were in love, married, and brought a more classic feel to the book. Everything seemed to be clicking.

Unfortunately, it meant you were stuck with two of each of the characters. The New 52 Superman and Lois were killed off to make things easier to follow. But how could the older Lois simply step into the younger Lois' life. How could Clark White live on a farm while no Clark Kent worked at the Planet? How did other people handle a 'new' Superman being in the ranks?

It was getting a bit confusing. Even my reviews had to say things like 'pre-FC Superman' and 'N52 Superman' and 'older Lois', etc. Things needed to be smoothed out.

That's just what Reborn has done. It might seem a bit fast. It probable will leave a lot of continuity reshuffling to the readers. And it didn't really answer the how's of all this. We still don't know who Mr. Oz is or who the mysterious 'he' who is doing all this is. But we have one Superman now, disguised as a mild-mannered reporter working for a great Metropolitan newspaper, in love with Lois, and acting as a hero. And for that, I'm happy.

I'll add that Doug Mahnke is on art on the issue and brings a nice insanity to the proceedings. Energy beings, 5th dimensional imps, decaying fantasylands ... Mahnke brings a vibrancy to it all.

Enough dawdling, onto the book.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Flash Ep 217: Duets

I have been watching the Flash show since the first season's premiere and overall have loved the show. The characters, their interactions, the deep dives into the DCU, and the personal plot lines have all made the show a winner.

You knew there was going to be a but, right.

But this season has been a bit more morose than I am used to with this show. Yes, there has been a lot of drama and depression in the first two seasons, revolving around the death of Barry's mom, the multiple supporting characters dying, the betrayal of Zoom, etc. This season has really wallowed in the depression and sadness. Everyone seems a little more sullen. Everyone is carrying some emotional burden. Barry hasn't been acting the hero.

In other words, the charm of the earlier seasons hasn't been there this season. And it was that charm that made this show such a winner.

This week, the Flash aired 'Duets', the much anticipated musical crossover with Supergirl. (It is Kara's presence that has me reviewing the show here.) And thankfully, this was a rollicking good time. The charm was back. Characters were smiling. Everyone seemed to be having a grand old time. That fun and charm just oozed off the screen.

I love that we learn how much Kara loves The Wizard of Oz, a perfect musical for her, with a female hero trying to recapture her home after being sent to someplace strange.

And perhaps most amazingly, even though this was a 'side mission', the episode moved both shows plots forward.

Suffice it to say, the family and I basically grinned for an hour. Now it doesn't hurt that the Anj household likes musicals. Maybe we were the perfect target audience.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Supergirl Ep 216: Star- Crossed

Supergirl episode 216, titled 'Star Crossed' aired earlier this week and finally revealed just who Mon-El is. It also made him a more sympathetic character when you see just what Daxam was like and who his parents are. Any time you name something 'Star Crossed', you are aiming for a Romeo and Juliet feel. And that means doomed lovers. Certainly, Krypton and Daxam could be the planetary equivalent of the Montagues and the Capulets. And Mon-El hiding his real identity for this long certainly isn't a good foundation for a long standing relationship. So I wasn't surprised just how this all played out.

This also was a similar 'crossover' episode with the Flash. We knew the musical episode of the Flash was happening the night after this aired. The teaser at the end of Supergirl is the bridge of her joining the crossover, much as the show proceeded in the Invasion crossover.

Lastly, since Melissa Benoist was probably busy filming Flash at the same time, much of this episode is focused on Winn and his relationship with Lyra. To the surprise of no one, she turns out to be a bit more nefarious. She's a villain of sorts, but the kind with a sympathetic background that makes you end up rooting for her even if she almost ruined Winn's life. Maybe this relationship was also star-crossed in nature.

As usual, Benoist really brings it this episode. She is emotionally devastated for much of this episode and she brings that sort of weight to the proceedings. Her expressions, her dialogue, her body language all screams her pain. 

I'll be concentrating mostly on the Supergirl/Mon-El plot in this review. Settle in.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Graphic Ink: The DC Comics Art Of Gary Frank

Through the magic of the internet, I stumbled upon this image by Gary Frank, a promotional piece for a book titled GRAPHIC INK: THE DC COMICS ART OF GARY FRANK. The book is still up on the DC site despite being shelved. Here is that link:

I've been a fan of Frank's art since his early work on the Peter David Supergirl site. And while not from DC, I loved his work on Supreme Power. Just gorgeous stuff there.

Looking at this image, you can see the breadth of Frank's work in DC. Obviously he had some time with Superman with Geoff Johns. But you also see the Stan Lee Imagines Shazam, the Tangent Flash, Black Canary (he was one of the first artist's on Birds of Prey), and the actual Marvel Family while on Justice League (again with Johns). And his take on the Legion was great in that Action Comics run.

This is a great piece, worthy of a poster.

But you can guess the two characters that really caught my eye.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Review: Super Sons #2

Supersons #2 came out last week and was a rollicking fun time. One of the themes of this book is clearing going to be to compare and contrast the personalities of the main characters. Jon is a bright, optimistic, sort of naive kid. Damien is a driven, sullen, but ultimately lonely dark knight in training. For someone like me who grew up with Batman and Superman being friends, I can imagine that this is how that relationship started. These boys aren't similar in any way other than their legacy and drive for justice.

This issue shows how their approaches to matters and their power set can complement each other nicely. They are solving a mystery and they are on the trail. But this is definitely an 'Odd Couple' situation. Can they get along with out beating each other up?

The story also introduces someone who could be a great arch-enemy for the sons. Are we seeing the opening chapter of a lifelong battle?

The art is just glorious by Jorge Jimenez. I love how gangly and kid-like our protagonists look. These aren't small adults. They are children and they look it. I appreciate it greatly! And the action is wonderfully rendered, stylized and snappy!

On to the book!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Review: Superman #19

Superman #19 came out this week, the third chapter in the 4 part Superman Reborn, and it moved the story forward somewhat nicely. There are several storylines running through this issue and these titles right now and everything seems to be interconnected. Dr. Manhatten pulling the universe's strings. Mr. Oz and his machinations. Mr. Mxyzptlk and his revenge. The current split in the Superman identity. Who has done what ... if anything?

So now it is a matter of sifting through all the clues, teases, and feints to try to figure out what is causation and what is association. I am more informed, no doubt. But I don't think I actually know more. But it sure is fun trying to figure it all out.

And there is definitely the sense that we are going back to Superman Red/Superman Blue. From the next chapter's cover to the 'red energy' of Superwoman, to the coloring we have seen from the pre-Flashpoint Supes, maybe the 'split Superman' concept is back.

My review therefore will be trying to point out some of the images and interesting tidbits, both story based and metatextual, that were dropped in this issue. Creators Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason bring us an insanely fast moving and surreal book. The art is wonderfully bizarre. And I ate the whole thing up like an eclair.

But how is all of this going to be wrapped up in one more issue??

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Return Of Superman Cards!

Hat tip to my blog friend @FKAJason (who runs the excellent Captain Atom Blog Splitting Atoms)  for sharing the Supergirl relevant cards from The Return of Superman card set from 1993.

As I have said in the past, the Matrix Supergirl prior to the Reign of the Supermen storyline was something of a muddle, a being totally being used in all ways by Lex Luthor. Prior to that she had been insane, wandering the cosmos, and then finally a slave of Brainiac.

But once Superman died and Funeral For a Friend and Reign of the Supermen happened, Matrix started to turn more towards the light. She started to question Lex's motives. She totally realized the hero that Superman was. She decided she would become the hero and defender of Metropolis. And she followed him into the battle against the Cyborg Superman.

This card has a great art by Jackson Guice. I love ... and I mean love ... Guice's take on Matrix. Just great.

I love how this card stresses the fact that Supergirl has become Metropolis' new defender.

And I also love that they simply say 'born in a lab on a faraway planet' instead of trying to explain the Pocket Universe in the small amount of text space they were given.

"Her brillian psionic powers make her a formidable opponent for any who cross her path!" Nice.

And there is this card titled 'Boy Meets Girl!' which uses the cover art of Adventures of Superman #502.

This was something of a high water mark for the Superman books. Guice was on Action. Here we see Tom Grummett's work on Adventures. And the running arc of the four supposed replacement Supermen was a done very well.

The idea that one of the replacements was actually Superman in some way was a very good mystery.

And given the unclear future for Superboy given his impetuous nature, this card correctly states these two could be enemies, friends, or something more.

Thanks again to @FKAJason for sharing these! And I am glad that Supergirl got some mention in this card set!