DC Bombshells #27, the print version of the digital first comic, came out this week. As always, since I read the floppies, I am behind the time.
The issue includes another chapter in Supergirl's journey home. Writer Marguerite Bennett has given us a new take on the character. Crushed by the sacrifice of her sister Kortni, this Kara is depressed and powerless. She decides she needs to head home to Russia to try to gain some normalcy but those plans are waylaid when she is discovered by Russian spies, German spies, and Lex Luthor on her train ride home.
I don't mind this Supergirl working her way through this emotionally. We saw how close she was with Kortni. We saw how she was ready to sacrifice herself to defeat the Tenebrau. She is still quite young. I imagine this is what would have happened had Kal died in the Crisis instead of her.
But what I really like is Bennett giving a new riff on an old Supergirl power. At least as how it is portrayed in this issue, I am very intrigued.
The art on the chapter is by Adventures of Supergirl veteran Carmen Carnero and really works well here.
Now while I enjoyed the Supergirl piece, the bulk of the book focuses on the Zatanna/Raven/Ivy/Harley story. And this has yet to grab me. I have talked about how I don't like when this book veers towards being an 'agenda book'. Here I didn't like how Bennett is getting bit too cute with her writing.
Superman #23 came out this week and is the next part in the Black Dawn arc. It also reveals at last the enemy behind all the craziness that has been going on in the sleepy hamlet of Hamilton. And while I am not the biggest fan of the 'big bad', his goals behind his scheme actually makes sense for his character. We'll have to see how it all plays out.
This reveal shows story-tellers Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason have had a long play in mind. And it kind of all clicks into place. With the super-couple moving back to Metropolis (as seen in Action Comics), I guess this is the swan song for the Hamilton locale. So why not tear up the place?
The issue also includes something of a dramatic turn for Lois. Her portrayal in this title has been sort of up and down. She has been a bad-ass laser-firing hero. She has been a pie-serving 50's house wife. And she has been everything in between. In this issue we learn what it means to be a non-super-powered combatant in a chaotic city-wide brawl. Whether this plot twist has any legs will be determined. I doubt we will see a long-term change here.
But overall, while the big beats where solid, the issue overall is something of a muddle. For some reason, it feels rushed. Maybe that is because the middle pages seem to be inked in a more thick-lined style than I am used to seeing. Doug Mahnke's pencils are solid throughout, they always are. But the fight in Hamilton felt a bit muddier than I am used to seeing.
New Super-Man #11 came out this week and was another
entertaining issue from writer Gene Luen Yang. While there is the usual
spotlight on the title character, there is a lot of world building in this book
as well. Yang is really creating a whole DCU on the Eastern Hemisphere and it
has an old time reader like me pretty engaged. It is like discovering the DCU
all over again.
In particular, one of the characters I have been most
curious about in this title has been this world’s Wonder Woman. We have heard
some tiny crumbs of her origin prior to this. Here we learn a bit more about
her background and one of her previous battles. Even her name is somewhat
changed. And that all makes me interested in learning more.
But it was also good to see some of the spotlight still
focusing on Kenan and his character. Despite the heroic nature he has been
showing in the book recently, he is still has some of the smug, self-important
teen we met in the earliest issues inside him. That idea that he is growing but
hasn’t completely grown is wonderful. This is the classic teen hero on the
Viktor Bogdanovic has left the book, heading over to the
Superman title. In his place is Billy Tan who brings a truly lovely, smooth, clean
look to the book. It is different from Bogdanovic who looked pretty scratchy at
times. I think Tan’s style might be a better fit for the book. Hope he sticks
Supergirl episode 221, titled 'Resist' aired this week, the penultimate episode of the season. Given we have reached the boiling point on all plots, 'Resist' moves along at a very brisk pace, bringing together a number of subplots and characters that have been in the background of late. This episode really has a great combination of action sequences, suspense, and character progression. And it also has the return of Cat Grant, a return that made me remember just how important she was to this show last season on CBS.
In fact, the return of Cat was the high point of one of the most important efforts of the show. All the characters with agency in this episode are women. James, Winn, and Mon-El are really along for the ride and less important to plot progression. Supergirl, Alex, Maggie, President Marsdin, Rhea, Lillian Luthor, and Lena Luthor carry this story. And perhaps best of all, outside of one snarky Cat speech, it wasn't shoved down the audience's throats by corny dialogue. There was no 'why can't I? Because I'm a girl' cringe worthy lines here. Instead it just played out on screen. I was thankful for that.
I'll add here that the acting in this episode was stellar as well. As usual, Teri Hatcher just fills the screen with her diabolical Rhea, switching from loving queen to enraged sociopath in the blink of an eye. I already mentioned Calista Flockhart's performance as powerful. But there were small, subtle, powerful moments from Melissa Benoist, Katie McGrath, and Chyler Leigh that made this whole thing sizzle.
And we get a great cliffhanger to lead us into the finale.
There were some notes here that hearkened back to last season's ending, maybe a bit too close. But otherwise, this episode was fantastic. It even came with a great cliffhanger.
Superwoman #10 came out last week and was another step towards the new reality of this book since Superman Reborn rewrote continuity and made Superwoman's history impossible. How can Lana have powers given to her by a dying New 52 Superman when that Superman never existed?
Writer K. Perkins has been given the monumental task of trying to sort this out. And I am rooting for her. I like Perkins as a writer. I loved what she did on Supergirl. And I like Lana and I find the concept of Superwoman fresh. But I wonder if this might be too much even for her. Because everything which led up to Lana being Superwoman is gone. So how do you continue?
That isn't to say that this issue is a failure. One of the things about Superwoman which has felt innovative is that Lana struggles with anxiety and PTSD. She is trying to be a hero while dealing with her own issues. And we see how these continue to be a big part of her character. Lana strives to move past these problems, or compartmentalize them, so she can continue to be better and help people. But the scenes of her flashing back to painful memories still show scenes that I don't think have happened now.
I am also rooting for this book because I think the art team of Stephen Segovia and Art Thibert is a dynamite pairing. The art here really sparkles. Plus, I love this Renato Guedes cover riffing on the classic Superman #1 cover, right down to 'wear and tear' and a price tag.
I just don't know if my rooting will be enough ...
Action Comics #979 came out last week and was a good transition issue between the Reborn story and the upcoming Revenge Squad battle. As such, it was a very entertaining read as we toggled back and forth between a very happy Lois and Clark couple and an overly powerful group of villains eager for their destruction. That dissonance makes this a compelling read.
Writer Dan Jurgens is really amping up threat level of the Revenge Squad here. Any one of these villains alone has nearly defeated Superman. To put them all together makes this a true murderers' row.
I will say that I am hoping that the Cyborg Superman story will be fleshed out a bit. His origin is going to be relatively sticky in this post-Reborn universe. We know the Cyborg Superman and the Reign of the Supermen happened in this universe again. But we know that this Hank Henshaw is walking around, working for the military, and apparently human. How did that happen? The 'black suit' Superman stalked him in the Lois and Clark mini-series. Did that still happen? Was he cured? There is a lot to answer and I am hoping Jurgens realizes that.
But for me, the big win of the issue was the apartment hunting opening scene with Lois and Clark. Jurgens has such an ability to write these two in a very natural, comforting way. This whole scene made me smile. It even answered some 'real world' questions that have been nagging me!
Patch Zircher is on art and by now folks probably know I love his art. It is the small subtle things Zircher adds to his art that makes me really appreciate it, whether it be a pertinent background or even panel progression.
Supergirl #9 came out this week and opened up the next story arc with the new World's Finest trapped in the Phantom Zone and battling The Phantom King. I am a big fan of Supergirl and Batgirl being pals and between this and the Batgirl Annual, we have the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
But this comic really is about world building by writer Steve Orlando. There is the opening of the Phantom Zone arc. But there are two new villains. There is a potentially a third. And we get some character progression between Kara and the supporting cast. This book is probably setting the stage for the next year of this book. It really takes a nice giant step away from the opening arc and gets moving.
That isn't to say that the main plot is lacking. How Supergirl ends up in the Zone, the villain that attacks her right before, the twisted acts of Xa-Du in the Zone are all very intriguing plot threads. I am pretty invested here. And, as usual Orlando sprinkles in enough DC history to make and old-timer like me very happy.
Brian Ching is on art and I find myself getting more comfortable with his style. But more and more I am wondering if he has the right look for this book. The action, the layout, the expressive work is all solid. But maybe Ching would mesh more with a street level book or something more gritty.
I am occasionally still flabberghasted at how much Supergirl has wormed her way into public consciousness. Remember, I have been a fan of Kara's for a long time and have witnessed her struggles in comics. No need to pick those scabs.
I'll say that since the inception of the television show, it feels as if Supergirl is somehow a known commodity. Non-comic people know she exists (something not always true). She is on merchandise which is available in mainstream stores. She is everywhere.
And that thrills me.
But I have to say there is something about Supergirl suddenly being an answer on Jeopardy that makes me think that she is part of American consciousness right now.
Over the last year I have seen Supergirl mentioned three times on Jeopardy. How cool is that!
Supergirl episode 220, titled 'City
of Lost Children' , came out this week and was an interesting mix of two
Half the episode is devoted to James
Olsen, a character who I feel has struggled to find his place in the show all
season. James gets the spotlight here and we get some decent backstory and
character progression. We learn about his childhood, how he was bullied, and
how he kept his guard up. We also see him step up to the plate as a heroic
figure just being James. I don't know if this episode solves the James problem
but at least it lets him shine.
The other half is a close look at
Lena and Rhea and an experiment that catapults us to the season finale. This is
just as good a look at Lena as it is James. We get another peek behind the
curtain to see just how damaged Lena is despite her polished and proper
exterior. And Rhea definitely takes advantage of this weakness in Lena's
personality. I must say that both Katie McGrath and Teri Hatcher slay in this episode
McGrath really has this wonderfully understated way of letting us know
just what Lena is feeling just by a glance and a turn of the phrase. And
Hatcher chews up the scenery, cloyingly sweet when dealing with Lena, stern
when dealing with Mon-El, and turning quite vicious when talking to Kara.
There is the usual dollop of
political sentiment and current news in this episode as well, touching racism
Overall this was a very good episode
with a killer cliffhanger.
I wasn't sure if I would be able to make Free Comic Book Day last Saturday but luckily I was able to leave work on time and hit the store before the doors close.
My story allows 2 free comics per customer and I decided on Dragon Ball Z and DC Superhero Girls. The Superhero Girls book 'Summer Olympus' was written by Shea Fontana with art by Yancey Labat (the usual creative team). And, as usual, this was a lot of fun.
I am relatively certain that Summer Olympus is the next DCSHG graphic novel so this is probably the opening chapter. Similarly, last year's FCBD DCSHG book was the opening chapter of Finals Crisis. So this is a nice way to grab new readers and give them a taste of the bigger product.
I was definitely glad to get this because there are moments that should be shared and enjoyed!
DC Comics Bombshells #26 came out this last week, the print version of the digital first comic based on the Bombshells merchandise line. It is a comic which started out on fire. The first twelve print issues were fantastic. But after that it seemed to lose its way. It has been a bit on the firing line for me recently, always about to be dropped.
It didn't help that Wonder Woman and Supergirl basically disappeared from the book after the climax in issue twleve. They were my two favorite characters, especially with their character arcs in the earlier books, and suddenly they were gone.
Luckily, writer Marguerite Bennett has decided to bring those two back into the throng. Diana and Kara are back. And nothing says that more than the Supergirl cover on this issue. Hurrah!
All that said, the current stories haven't grabbed me as much as the origin story did. I also think that Bennett is walking a fine line for me on the focus of the book. Initially, this was a character driven book which clearly had a political agenda as a foundation. At times recently this has felt more like an agenda driven book which has characters. And I'll tell you, for me historically, when the agenda overtakes the characters, the story tends to suffer.
The art continues to be a high point. In particular, Mirka Andolfo, who does the Supergirl pages, is a favorite of mine. And Adventures of Supergirl alum Carmen Carnero does very crisp pages here as well.
Superman #22 came out this week, the next chapter in 'Black Dawn'. But to be honest, the cover should have had more trade dress. It should have said 'starring Lois Lane' because this is a Lois issue. And I loved it.
While Action Comics has been more invested in Superman's place in the entirety of the DCU, Superman has been much more of a family book. This has been the true Superman family book, showing life for Clark, Lois, and Jon. Recent turns in continuity has made who Lois is something of a mystery. Ms. Lane? Mrs. Kent? Mrs. Lane-Kent? Action hero? Investigative journalist? Suburban Stepford wife? All of the above? Did the streamlining of the Superman timeline somehow make Lois take a step backwards?
Story tellers Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason hopefully put that to rest in this issue. Lois is following clues, investigating mysteries, throwing front round kicks, and taking names. Lois shines in this issue. And that makes me very happy. Because, especially this Superman - mostly templated on the pre-Flashpoint Superman - is really one member of a team, the team of Lois and Clark.
Doug Mahnke is on art and I have been talking about how much I love his art for a long time on this site. Nothing changes here. The book is beautiful to look at. Vivid and gorgeous, with brilliant colors by Wil Quintana.
Supergirl Episode 219, titled 'Alex', aired this week and was another episode which focused more on the characters and less on the main storyline of Daxam's impending invasion. The main arc isn't completely ignored, a crucial piece is definitely put into place here. But this is about how important Alex is to this universe.
Alex is kidnapped and we see how that effects Kara. We see how that effects Maggie. And we see how that effects J'onn. Alex is an important figure in all of their lives - sister, girlfriend, and daughter respectively. And when she is put in peril, we see just how much Alex is the rock these characters rely on.
One of the underlying themes of this episode is seeing how different Maggie and Kara's methods are in delivering justice. Maggie is a 'by the book' detective, following procedure, and using her interrogation and investigative skills in a deliberate manner. She is aware of the long game and doesn't mind playing it. Kara, on the other hand, is a 'fly in and rescue' sort. She doesn't wait, she acts. That plays out well with this sort of over-confident Supergirl we have seen this season.
And while there can be times when either method are needed (in fact that plays out a bit), these women are a bit entrenched in their style. And the friction that arises when they disagree impacts Alex who loves them both. It gets a little awkward.
I also have to applaud Chyler Leigh as Alex who not only plays the personal moments extremely well but also shows how resourceful she is as an agent. You see why Alex has her position in the DEO.
Lastly, I love that the writers throws long time fans some Easter Eggs. It makes me happy.
I wasn't sure if I was going to collect Steve Orlando's Justice League of America when it was announced. I am sort of a Big 7 sort of a League reader. And when not the Big 7, I like the idea of a legacy league, sort of what James Robinson did with the Dick Grayson Batman, Supergirl, Jessie Quick, Donna Troy model.
But the roster was a bit too interesting for me as a reader to ignore. There were too many characters I like solo to not want to read them as a team. Black Canary? Killer Frost? Vixen? I mean seriously! Even the presence of Batman and Lobo couldn't deter me from trying the book out.
The first arc had the team fight The Extremists, a group of villains committed to creating an orderly society, even if the means to that end are evil. The latest issue has them mobilizing to fight a group of villains trying to bring about total chaos. That is an interesting hook.
There is also a ton of character arcs for these heroes. Can Vixen lead a team with Batman as a member? Can Killer Frost redeem herself from her villainous past? Can Lobo be reined in? Where does Canary fit in? It has been a very enjoyable read so far.
But the last issue had two small moments worth showcasing, important for this blog.
Action Comics #978 came out last week and basically could have been named 'the history of Superman'. With the merging of the lives of the New 52 Superman and the pre-Flashpoint Convergence Superman, there is a whole new timeline. And unlike past reboots where either things started from scratch or the reader was left to their own devices to figure out the past, this time DC lays the whole thing out in front of us.
Writer Dan Jurgens started this run through history last issue where Superman asks Kelex to replay his history. We got flashbacks to Krypton and Smallville then. Here, with artist Carlo Barberi, we get the Man of Steel's early life in Metropolis and all the main adventures up to now. It is a bit of a clip show. We don't get much of a new plot moving forward. But this cements that much of the pre-New 52 Superman mythos has survived. As with last issue, it is clear that Geoff Johns' Superman Secret Origin mini is the template.
I have to applaud Jurgens for doing this right. I had a lot of questions about how the lives of the 'Smiths' in Hamilton could be folded into the main timeline where Lois and Clark still work at the Planet. Somehow, Jurgens is able to pull it off.
Barberi has a snappy art style that works well. In particular, the Lois/Clark moments (and there are a lot of them) are fantastic.
Supergirl Being Super #3 came out this week and was a very good issue of this coming-of-age story by Mariko Tamaki and Joelle Jones. The Kara of this book is working through some common issues that crop up in adolescence - that feeling of otherness and perhaps your first dealings with grief. This issue continues to cultivate those themes but adds the new theme, the lure of belonging.
Now I'll admit I am just about 3 decades north of adolescence. But the book is written so well, the images so compelling, that I felt back in that space. And my 'otherness' of Math Club, D&D, and comics is probably nothing compared to some feelings of isolation that others are dealing with. Still, to see Kara sort of walk through her life, reeling from the death of her friend, feeling a bit numb, and getting support from her family and other friends felt very real.
In fact, if there is one thing that really stood out about this issue it is the support structure in Kara's life. She knows she is an alien. She has never felt like she truly belonged. She has struggled sometimes with wondering what she should do with her powers, use them or hide them. And despite all that, it is made abundantly clear that she is accepted and loved by her closest relationships. It is unconditional. And that was wonderful. Because it would have been easy to portray the Danvers as 'stuck in the mud', stereotypical, close-minded folk. Instead, Tamaki gives us the absolute reverse.
The subplot of the 'evil coach' and the possibility of another Kryptonian survivor comes to a boil here as well. Tamaki gives us a very nice curve ball here, zigging where I thought the plot would zag. And that always makes me happy.
Finally, Joelle Jones art, as always, is just wonderful. There is a nuance to the art here, subtle expressive work and body language that adds tremendous volume to the proceedings. This book is as much Jones' as it is Tamaki's.