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:
http://www.newsarama.com/34080-dc-comics-july-2017-solicitations.html

And now the super-discussion.



SUPERGIRL #11
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 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:

http://comicboxcommentary.blogspot.com/2015/05/30th-anniversary-crisis-on-infinite_23.html


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.