Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Supergirl Season 2 'Supergirl Radio' Review

A couple of weeks ago, I did a rambling, off the cuff, 'typed as I thought' review of the second season of Supergirl. I definitely think I got my point across. But I am typically an organized, structured writer and that felt a bit too free form for my liking.

A bit later, Supergirl Radio did their end of season recap and it was much more organized. Impressed with their categories and wanting to revisit the season one last time, I thought I would give my answers to their questions. In particular, I liked that they broke out 'best' from 'favorite'. I think those are two very separate things.

And I'll try to spread things out a bit. The action of 'Alex' and the ending of 'Exodus' are so powerful that they could have swept the awards. 

So let's begin!

Best Episode – Exodus 
This episode really seemed to have it all. But for me, the biggest thing about Exodus was that the Alex/Kara relationship and connection ,which had been pushed into the background by each character's solo plotlines, was showcased once again. It ends with one of the most powerful moments for this show ever. (More on this later.)

But we saw so much more. This episode showed Alex's loyalty to Jeremiah even in the face of damning evidence, here beating up a Cadmus lackey to try to find her father. We saw Kara decide to stand on her own, blogging about Cadmus rounding up aliens and getting fired by Snapper. She says the classic line 'Supergirl is what I can do; Kara is who I am.' We saw Maggie support Alex's 'off the books' mission of infiltrating Cadmus and we saw Alex take down a Cadmus site on her own. The continued threat of Lillian Luthor was on display. And we saw that Jeremiah might not be all bad but certainly isn't all good.

As I said, Exodus could easily have taken home a number of these superlatives. It was the best episode.

But there are more awards!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Review: Super-Sons #5

Super Sons #5 came out this week and was something of a coda for the first Kid Amazo arc as Jon and Damian deal with the punishments meted out by their caring parents. I found this to be a pretty wonderful story as the kids to terms with how similar and how different they are by looking at the relationship of their fathers. And thankfully, writer Peter Tomasi makes the Batman/Superman relationship a healthy one.

Another thing which remains prominent in this book is the humor Tomasi brings to the affairs. I have usually found Damian to be insufferable. I sometimes find Jon to be a bit too much of the classic 'good kid'. Tomasi can blur the edges of both characters, making them likeable, believable, and funny.

The art is by Allison Borges, a name I haven't heard of before. Borges brings a sort of cartoony feel to some of the sillier moments while grounding things a bit more once the adults show up. It works here nicely.

So while there isn't a bad guy and most of the action is the two sons trying to beat each other senseless, I loved this issue.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Review: DC Bombshells #29

DC Comics Bombshells #29 came out last week, one of the last remaining print issue of this first run of the concept. After stumbling a bit in the middle issues, the title has found itself again these last few issues. For me, this most likely is because Wonder Woman and Supergirl have taken center stage again. And I just think that these stories of the Bombshells heading into Russia has just been more compelling than the Africa side adventure that preceded it.

Writer Marguerite Bennett has also given us a familiar trope for Supergirl, dealing with the existence of Power Girl. And, like many before, Bennett has the two fight each other at first before realizing that they are more alike than different. Bennett also gives us a very sympathetic Supergirl, dealing with grief but still striving to do what is right.

I'll focus on the Supergirl story but this issue also includes a nice opening with Raven, Ivy, and Harley. As readers we are asked the question 'what would you have done' if faced with the horrors of WWII. What are we doing now?

The art is done by Laura Braga and Aneke, veterans to the book. The two styles differ a bit. One is more fine lined and detailed, the other more broad stroked and economical. The characters look great in both versions and the action flows well.

On to the book!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Review: Superman #25

Superman #25 came out this week, the finale of the Black Dawn. This arc is truly the culmination of the first year of this book. As we have come to learn, all the mysteries of the town of Hamilton have converged into this plot. Manchester Black has been manipulating events from behind the scenes, hoping to woo Jon Kent into the fold of pro-active, amoral anti-heroes. Oh, by the way, Black's return to Earth came with him opening up an unstable gate to a dimension of monsters.With all that going on, there is plenty of super-powered action.

But really this whole arc has boiled down to the concepts of hope and goodness. Can Jon shake off the darkness and embrace his father's ways? Can he realize that killing those who stand against him only makes him as big a villain? Can he get past the fact that Lois was maimed while Superman was nearby, unable to protect her?

I think we all know the answer.

But we have to get there and this book moves along at a quick pace getting us to the ultimate conclusion and still giving us time to have special wrap-up moments for all the major players. Writers Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason have to bring an ending to a battle of near omnipotent gods and that is no easy task. The way Manchester Black is (spoilers) defeated seemed to come out of nowhere but when dealing with such power levels, you have to roll with it. And one of the biggest Lois moments of the year is thankfully swept under the rug in a similar way. But if you can get past how Black is defeated, the issue crackles.

The art is a mix of Doug Mahnke and Patrick Gleason with inks by 6 different people! As a result, the art seems uneven. We get the crisp usual fare of Mahnke.. But we don't seem to get any of the heavy lined Gleason art I am used to. The styles on his pages change just slightly enough to jar me a bit.

On to the book!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Review: Superwoman #11

Superwoman #11 came out over a week ago. This review has been pushed back because DC continues to put out 4 Superman titles in the same week. As a result, this book has been pushed back a bit. Thanks for waiting!

We are now 3 issues in the K. Perkins era on the title and I feel like we are finally starting to get some glimpses of what she hopes to accomplish in this run. The first issue was setting up the post-Reborn Lana. Now we are into the first arc, finding Zeke, Steel's missing nephew. This leads to a melee with Skyhook.

Overall, this complicated Lana, dealing with anxiety, phobias, needing to be loved but wanting to be a hero, is a great character. I think there is a lot to be mined here. And I am hoping that the book survives long enough for Perkins to find solid footing and really explore Lana and her world. In particular, we get a hint as to how Lana's powers work in this issue which seems pretty fascinating.

That doesn't mean I think we can just move forward. The post-Reborn world is confusing. I still don't know the exact nature of Lana's powers. Are they still some remnant of Superman's? And I think I need a better sense of her personal timeline to fully understand things. So I am hoping we get backstory too!

The art on the issue is done by Jose Luis (no Garcia-Lopez) and is very good, reminding me of Brad Walker in some places. That's high praise. And I preferred this Renato Guedes variant cover for my collection. There is something classic about the monster looming over the hero who is tracking them. And Superwoman looks great.

On to the book.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Review: New Super-Man #12

New Super-Man #12 came out one week ago and was one of the best comics I read. The book as a whole has definitely been a happy surprise of the Rebirth world, a funny, dramatic, and fresh new group of characters in the DCU. And having the sheen of classic DCU heroes has made it a little bit easier to engage.

This issue really pushes the narrative forward. We learn the origin of Wonder Woman, tied to a Chinese folk tale. We learn of a running theme of the danger of  individuals trying to leap from one Buddhist realm to another. We get some more of the mystery villain. And we end on a great cliffhanger, ramping up the suspense in a running subplot. I really hope that we aren't sprinting to the finish line because a cancellation is on the horizon.

Honestly, this book has been a delight. Writer Gene Luen Yang walks a tightrope here. The New Super-Man is something of a conceited jerk who is slowly working towards being a selfless hero. We see enough of both sides to make Kenan feel like a real person, with faults and aspirations. There is a perfect mix of humor, drama, and action. It really is a well-rounded book with a classic feel.

The art here is by Billy Tan and the best word I can come up with is lovely. There is a sort of soft elegance to the book despite it being populated by giant terrapins and snake women. It really is gorgeous. I really liked Viktor Bogdanovic's time here but I think Tan's style just fits better.

On to the book.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Review: Action Comics #981

Action Comics #981 is the third chapter of the Revenge storyline, an arc uniting some of Superman's deadliest foes into a lethal squad.

I often find the middle chapter of an arc to slow things down a bit and this issue holds form. There is a great cliffhanger. There is a nice building momentum in some side scenes. And there is a lot of fighting. But this issue didn't feel like it had the substance of the prior chapters.

It's not like this is a miss of an issue. It's not like I disliked the issue. But as I have said elsewhere, I am expecting a lot of the Superman books these days. And this one didn't seem to hold up. I wonder if my overall apathy about General Zod is coloring my view. Because I do think Dan Jurgens up to this point has elevated this book substantially.

Jack Herbert brings a fine lined elegance to the art here. I don't know if this style is best suited for the brawl which dominates this issue as well.

Honestly, I think maybe I sound a bit too harsh here. But this was mostly big splashes of haymaker punches. I think enjoyed the smaller moments more than the melee.