Monday, September 26, 2016

Granite State Comic Con 2016

A couple of weekends ago, I attended the Granite State Comicon with two of the supergirls and had a really fun time.

As I have said before, Granite State is a great palate cleanser for me after Boston Comic Con. While Boston is a con for running around to get signatures and commissions, Granite is a more laid back venue. Sure there are usually great guests. But for me, this is the con where I actually feel I can wander around, looking at the books and toys and actually shopping.

This year, the guest list was pretty solid. One of the things about heading to all the local cons is that I have met a lot of creators already. So I was heading there to meet Jeff Parker (again), Babs Tarr (again), JK Woodward (again), and Larry Hama (for the first time).

And I really only had one commission I was aiming for. Jeff Parker, who I know best as a writer (I love Future Quest, his run on Flash Gordon, his run on JLUnited), has been starting to draw again. He started out in comics as an artist.

As usual I had done some pre-show legwork and found out that Parker was sketching. So I brought one of my sketch books.

After gushing over Future Quest (my tagline is "Come for the Herculoids, stay for the Galaxy Trio!") and Flash Gordon, I asked and obtained this commission. There is so much to love here.

First off, despite three sketchbooks running and nearly 75 sketches, this is the first time an artist turned the book and did a horizontal commission. Second, I love the background with pine trees and a lighthouse! It feels so New England, perfect for a hometown boy like me! Lastly, Supergirl is just perfect, streaking in flight, smiling, hair awash in the wind. Wonderful!

As a bonus, Parker threw in his rough sketch, the quick work he did to get the pose right!

I love this commission. And Parker is just a really nice guy. Folks should definitely pick up his stuff!

I brought a number of issues to get signed from the other attendees. I got some Fallen Angel signed by JK Woodward. I got Babs Tarr to sign the newly published Doom Patrol #1.

But the big score was getting some early G.I.Joe issues signed by Larry Hama. I got these issues as a kid and they show that love. Look closely and you'll see the crinkles and folds of books read and reread in my youth. Love getting these signed.

And I bought a handful of comics, all from the $1 or $2 box. Continuing my odd fascination with early Tigra stories, I found Marvel Chillers #4. I now own 3 of the 5 Chillers issues that featured Tigra. You know what that means fellow collectors. I have to find the other 2.

But the best thing about the day was going to the con with the two youngest Supergirls. We had a great time. They loved seeing all the cosplayers (Steven Universe was well represented). They each got some cool stuff. And we just hung out and talked comics and pop culture. Too much fun.

I love the Granite Con for all that it is. I will always support it!
So all that's left is the RI Comic Con for this con season.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #32

I continue my look at the Supergirl and Legion of Super-Heroes title over on the Legion of Super-Bloggers. Here is a link to the complete review:

The book is transitioning from Mark Waid and Barry Kitson's vision, shifting to the stewardship of writer Tony Bedard and artist Dennis Calero.

Bedard takes full control of the book and the team. He isn't going to coast. He shakes things up. This isn't your father's Legion. The continuity is looser. And writers could scrawl what he wanted onto their history. It is bold, especially given that the book seemed to be struggling to find a mixed audience of old and new readers.

Supergirl is only seen on a monitor in the background of one panel. So don't get this book for her.

But it does give a pretty thorough and fresh look at the planet Winath's culture and Mekt Ranzz's back story. You get new takes on Validus and the Lord of Lightning. And you really sympathize with Mekt who was isolated and rejected by just about everybody. No wonder he loves his team so much!

I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that Bedard decided to take the book in a direction he wanted. He helped the New 52 Supergirl find her way back into the fold.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Review: Superman #7

Superman #7 came out this week and was a truly delightful issue by plotters Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason with pitch perfect art by Jorge Jimenez. There was a wonderfully retro feel to this issue which thrilled me. I grew up in a time where every so often titles were allowed an issue to take a breath and showcase the characters without pushing plots forward. Whether it was 'a day in the life' or some rest issue tying up a small subplot, it was a nice way to get me back in touch with the characters and why I loved them.

And this issue serves that up on a silver platter. After showing the reader that Superman has been quite busy now that he has gone public with his existence, the creators send the family to the county fair. And hilarity and hijinks ensue. And within that is this breezy, completely natural relationship between Lois and Clark, one of the real draws of this title for me.

That isn't to say that we don't get some plot progression. We are introduced to some new characters who will either be supporting cast here or in the upcoming Super-Sons book. And we see where Clark or Lois might be employed soon.

But it is really these quiet scenes of carnival games and prize cows that struck me as showing just how good these folks are, super-powered or otherwise.

As I said, Jorge Jimenez is on art here and just shines with a semi-stylized look that is close enough to Gleason to give the book a consistent feel. I loved Jimenez' stuff in Smallville. He really shines.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

December 2016 Solicits

The December DC Comics solicits came out this week and there weren't too many surprises. That doesn't mean that I don't have things to say. In fact, there is something about these solicits that troubles me. And we'll get to that right up front.

I'll be looking at the super books but if you want to see all the DC solicits, here is a link to Newsarama's coverage:

On to the books!

Art and cover by BRIAN CHING
Variant cover by BENGAL
“REIGN OF THE CYBORG SUPERMEN” part four! Supergirl struggles to escape the perverse reincarnation of Argo City as her father, the Cyborg Superman, attacks National City and her new home with the DEO! To face her ultimate test as a hero, Kara must let go of her past and embrace the future.

So here is my immediate problem.

This cover.

I am not thrilled with the Kara side of the cover. There is something just a bit too hentai for me in this look. A bound Kara, her eyes wide looking down at the growing mechanics heading towards her skirt. There is just something a little icky about this image, especially given the tone of this new book. This isn't overtly salacious. It isn't a Zenescope cover. But this is supposed to be a 16 year old girl and there are some things implied here.You can have an imperiled Kara who isn't in *this* position. Add to that the word perverse in the solicit and my remembering that Eddie Berganza is the editor who okayed this cover and I cringed a little.

As for the solicit, I thought this Kara had already let the past go and embraced Earth. But as this is a #Rebirth with 90K more readers, I guess Steve Orlando felt he needed to cover that one more time. So long as the story is good, I am in.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Review: New Super-Man #3

New Super-Man #3 came out last week and it has taken me a while to get to the review. I have to say, this is one of the more entertaining books for the #Rebirth DC universe. There are contradictions to the book which is impressive as you will see. And as a result, I really have to give some credit to writer Gene Luen Yang because he is walking a tightrope.

What do I mean about contradictions?
Part of it is that it feels completely fresh, a new character in a new environment.
Part of it is that it feels sort of established. We are seeing new versions of DCU mainstays and New Super-Man definitely has a Metropolis Kid feel to him.
Part of it is that there is a ton of humor in the book.
Part of it is that there is a tragic back story to the main character.
Part of it is that New Super-Man is a something of a jerk, a bully.
Part of it is that New Super-Man has a wounded soul, making his bullying a possible defense mechanism.

It isn't easy to wed all those things and yet, at least in these three issues, Yang is pulling it off. And within all that, Yang is telling a great story with some interesting subplots.

The art is by Viktor Bogdanovic. For a book which could veer to more a more slick, stylized, Asian style, Bogdanovic brings a sort rough house style. That makes it a sort of contradiction as well.

Not bad to keep a grizzled reader like me intrigued and invested.
On to the book!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Sterling Gates Interview - Adventures of Supergirl

I really loved the Adventures of Supergirl digital comic which came out over the spring and early summer this last year. Sterling Gates really delivered a solid story which built on the show's plots while still being a successful stand alone story.  With the release of the Adventures of Supergirl trade out this week, I tracked down Gates for one more interview about the series and Supergirl in general. Gates was kind enough to answer. Settle in!

Anj: The digital series has been done for a couple of months which means the scripts were probably finished well before that. Looking back at the series as a whole, did you accomplish what you intended? Was there anything you that didn’t make it into the story that you hoped to squeeze in?

Sterling Gates: I’m exceptionally proud of the story we told in Adventures of Supergirl. We set out to tell an original story set in the show’s continuity. We wanted to dust off and update some old Supergirl villains while introducing a powerful new villain to her mythos. I specifically wanted to create a villain who could only be done within the continuity of the show, someone who came from Fort Rozz and who knew Alura as a judge on Krypton. And that’s how Facet came to life.

I had a lot of questions while watching the pilot about how Fort Rozz was run as a prison, and the Master Jailer episode only got me more intrigued. Who runs that kind of place? How? How firm a hand does a place like that need? Is there a warden? Or are the Kryptonians acting as wardens and the master jailers are their guards? Facet came from me wanting to explore all of that.

Truthfully, I could’ve spent 25 more pages just exploring Facet’s life. She’s been cognizant for a thousand years...what kind of perspective does that give you? What has she endured?

And (SPOILERS) why was she so willing to be locked up under the D.E.O. at the end of the story? Is it a good thing that she’s down there? Time will tell!

As for everything else, the show approved our outline from the start, so everything I wanted to do in this story more or less made it in. My goal was to do story beats that they couldn’t necessarily do on the show, due to stuff like time or budget constraints. I’m not sure you could do that dream sequence with Supergirl fighting other versions of herself on the show. It would probably be confusing for a wide audience, but comic fans know who each of those Supergirls are...and hopefully they’re happy to see ‘em! [laughs]

And while we’re speaking about this, a huge thank you to Greg Berlanti, Ali Adler, and Andrew Kreisberg for asking me to write Adventures of Supergirl. I had a really great time playing in their world and continuity, and am constantly amazed at the wonderful things they’ve accomplished for Supergirl.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Review: Super-Woman #2

Superwoman #2 came out last week and was another dense, meaty read by writer/artist Phil Jimenez. If there is one thing you can count on from a Phil Jimenez, it is that you will get your money's worth. Between running subplots, inset panels, amusing side scenes, and incredible characterization, Jimenez seems to squeeze two comics worth of story into one. And in this day and age of decompressed storylines, it might even be three.

This isn't an easy task. Superwoman is a new character. Sure, it is Lana Lang. But this is a conflicted Lana, struggling with anxiety, depression, and a new power set which seems to be killing her. Jimenez needs to build up the supporting cast surrounding her. She has to be plugged into the greater Superman universe of books. And there has to be a story, with villains and conflict. This is no simple task.

And oh yeah, let's not forget that this book was marketed as a Lois book only to have Jimenez pull the rug out from under us at the end of last issue. While I actually liked the ending - I was utterly surprised, and that isn't easy to do - I can imagine that has turned off some readers.

But for me, this book continues to impress. In Superwoman #2, we get a harsh fight with a Bizarro clone, the addition of several well-known Superman characters to the supporting cast, some staggeringly powerful character moments, a couple of chuckles, and a great villain reveal at the end. And this is with my not really liking the whole 'my powers are slowly killing me' plotline, one of my least favorite themes in comics.

And while all of this has been about the story, I'll add that Jimenez continues to shine with art as well. Just brilliant.

On to the story.