Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Review: The Krypton Chronicles #3

The SyFy premiere of Krypton airs tonight, a show looking back at Superman's grandfather and the politics of Krypton in the years before its destruction. In preparation for that I have been reviewing The Krypton Chronicles, a miniseries from 1981 in which Superman learns about his lineage.

I have reviewed the first two issues here and here. Today I review Krypton Chronicles #3, the final episode which has Superman going all the way back to the first person the adopt the last name of El. The first two issues were on Rokyn, providing us with a decent side plot to help break up the ancestry information dump. This issue is much more exposition based with Superman just looking backwards and reporting what he finds.

I have enjoyed this mini-series more that I remembered. It is fun to get these tangential looks at Krypton culture as well as this deep dive into the El family. I also love that Supergirl is involved in all three issues. She is an El as well and should be part of this research mission.

So who was the first El? Jump in!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Review: Action Comics #999

Action Comics #999 came out this last week and reminded me of the days when you would watch a car's odometer slowly turn over some huge number. We are on the cusp of Action Comics #1000, a mega-accomplishment which brings with it a new, bold direction. We have all seen the 'Bendis is Coming!' ads. I have had waxing and waning optimism about Bendis' run. I am approaching the future with some trepidation.

But we are here to talk about Action Comics #999. This is writer Dan Jurgens' swan song. Yes, a Luthor centric special is in the works. But this is Jurgens goodbye to running the comic and guiding the Man of Steel. After a prolific run which has now spanned 3 decades, this could honestly be Jurgens' goodbye to the character. And as a result, I am looking at this issue like a funeral mass. I was sad going in, hoping to celebrate the creators and this run while also being sad that they'll be gone. For me, since Rebirth, I have had a Superman that reads right, that feels right, and that I have enjoyed. And I haven't been able to say that often these last many years.

And this issue is a bit of pure Superman. He is looking for truth and justice. He isn't cruel. He wants to inspire and bring people together. And we see a lot of that here.

We also get Will Conrad on art. There is a fair amount of realism here. The bulk of this issue are conversation scenes that are heavy with emotion and Conrad does a great job bringing us those beats.

But this is a turning point for the creators, for the comics, and for a couple of characters. On to the book.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Review: Supergirl #19

Supergirl #19 came out this week and has a 'very special issue' feel to it as it covers a current social issue, gender identity and individuals identifying as non-binary. For those of a certain age, the 'very special' designation was assigned to television episodes or specials which were supposed to be about a more real topic, in hopes of educating and spurring on discussion. Whether it was after-school specials about teen pregnancy or Saved by the Bell covering drug use or Superman teaching us about the perils of drunk driving, these stories are part of the cultural landscape.

And so this issue concentrates on Lee, a new character, non-binary, and how Supergirl helps Lee. We see how Lee has been coping with issues at home and school. And we see how Supergirl can empathize and be there as a source of hope and inspiration. Supergirl is an ally, befriending, defending, understanding, and being there.  And, in the end, everything ends well. Maybe too well? It feels a little too easy, a little too pat, a little too quick. But when you only have 20 pages and you are only dedicating one issue to the story, things have to happen and fast. 

I certainly don't mind issues like this or this issue in particular. I'm still learning about this stuff myself and could use all the education I can get. But this is a volume of Supergirl which is ending next month. We have a lot of Kara's story to wrap up. Who knows if we are getting another Supergirl title book any time soon. So I just wish there was more time and space to deal with our title character which would mean an entire issue given to a character we have never heard of before and may never hear about again was a nice stand-alone story in the bigger epic. That said, with the impending ending, maybe the creative team felt this was their only chance to produce this story.

Writers Steve Orlando and Vita Ayala give Lee a unique voice and bring the emotions nicely. I care about these characters. There is a great callback to Supergirl's history. But I'll say again, things feel a bit rushed. I was glad to see that we still got some momentum on the lingering plotlines of Supergirl and the DEO.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sales Review: Supergirl #18

The news about the Super-titles came hard and fast recently with the announcement that Supergirl and Super Sons were being canceled. There wasn't much news outside of that. It seems obvious that this is being done to clear the way for Brian Michael Bendis and the realignment of the Superman books. But it feels like throwing out the baby with the bath water. And the sales numbers for last month seem to bear that out. Head to ICv2:https://icv2.com/articles/markets/view/39871/top-300-comics-february-2018

It is not as if any of the super-titles aren't selling well. But let's take a look.

Supergirl #18 continued to arc of Supergirl on the run from the DEO and this time fighting the Evolutionist. I have thought this book has been on fire since the end of the Fatal Five arc. Things are tighter and the story and art is phenomenal.

It also sported this tremendous Artgerm variant cover, the '5 seconds later' cover to the iconic Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #1 cover, right down to the logo, the 'electrifying issue' blurb, and the painted cityscape. It's beautiful and playful and sexy and reverential of the source material. This had to be a draw.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Back Issue Box: The Krypton Chronicles #2

The SyFy series Kryton is going to start in about a week and with that in mind I decided to review The Krypton Chronicles, a look at the history of the El family, published in 1981.

This is a great series to review all the minutiae of Krypton lore and Superman's ancestors in one sitting. What is clear to me after reading this is that Superman comes from an amazing family as it seems every generation has had some member which ultimately changed the destiny of the planet.

Krypton Chronicles #2 has us look even farther back as we get to see several of Superman's ancestors explore the planet, develop to most rudimentary of tools, and lead a movement to free the planet from other worldly oppressors. Seriously, the Els get stuff done.

What I like about these first two issues is that they aren't just historical flashbacks. There is a subplot taking place in the current time, an enemy trying one again to thwart one of the super-cousins. As we move along, you'll see why this holds a special place in my heart.

Last week I reviewed the first issue.  So let's move on to this one.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Maguire Supergirl Art In Bendis' Man Of Steel (Plus Some Ivan Reis)

The news about Brian Michael Bendis' Superman run is starting to ooze out a bit and more and more it seems like Supergirl will have a role in it and that makes me happy.  The latest was tweeted out by DC on their instagram profile.

It shows Superman and Supergirl flying over the city, battling whoever the big bad of Superman Man of Steel is.

Whoever he is, he's big and he wields a pretty mean axe.

How great to see the cousins in action together.

The official instagram post doesn't add too much more to the conversation. But given this is Maguire, we can assume it is in Man of Steel #4.

Maguire has tweeted out the image and said it is a double page spread which makes me think this is really going to pop off the page!

Further news came out over on Bleeding Cool when this image of the six covers to Man of Steel are now joined by a tagline that "Superman's past has come to destroy his future!' Here is the link!

So somehow this villain is around for the destruction of Krypton? Responsible for it? Maybe he is seeking revenge because Krypton's destruction somehow effected him? Energy/debris from Krypton landed on his world and killed people there?

Hmmm ... what if Kryptonite kills other races with the rapidity it kills Kryptonians?

Just looking closer that the individual covers, I really love this one with Supergirl and Superman streaking into action. And look ... red trunks!!!!

Love it!

This one also stood out.

Bendis has said all along that he isn't going to destroy and rewrite Superman's past. He is building on it.

This cover makes me think he means it.

After all ...

It looks like the cover to Grant Morrison's Action Comics #5. 

Anyways, I really hope Supergirl plays a big role in the story. And I hope she gets a book of her own after the dust settles.

Monday, March 12, 2018

DC Black Label

As the financial aspect of comic continues to be in flux, I have to commend DC for trying to branch out. We have the main line. We have DC Ink. We have DC Zoom aimed at young adults. We have Jinxworld from Brian Bendis. And now we have DC Black Label, a line which has hinted at being the 'R-Rated' adult line of classic characters.

Here is the blurb about the line from Entertainment Weekly:

While the Wonder Woman projects sound promising (Kelly Sue DeConnick and Phil Jimenez!), I am underwhelmed, maybe even saddened a bit by the Superman project. Here is that description ripped right from the article.

Frank Miller, who forever redefined Batman with classic ’80s comics like The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One, will finally tackle the Man of Steel in Superman: Year One alongside artist John Romita Jr. Together, they will give “a groundbreaking, definitive treatment” of Superman’s origin in honor of the character’s 80th anniversary this year (one of many celebrations DC is planning for the milestone). That one is due out in August. 

I haven't liked a Miller project since '300'. I think the last project I truly loved by him was Batman Year One, although some Sin City projects veer close. And I don't really like Romita Jr.'s art style. So while Miller/Romita Jr. might sound good on paper, for Superman fans, I don't know if it works.

Plus, do I really need an R-Rated Frank Miller Superman? Will he be a government dupe like in Dark Knight? Working the docks like some thug in Sin City?

So, I'm out. Don't expect reviews here.

While I understand this diversification. And, in fact, I applaud it.

I do have to wonder about the person walking into Barnes and Noble or heading to Amazon looking to buy a book for someone. Will they be able to tell which is the right version? Will this diluted and varied experience lead to further confusion? Or more streamlined buying from savvy readers.

Thinking about Wonder Woman, there'll be the main line, the DC Zoom books, the DeConnick/Jimenez Black Label Wonder Woman Historia book, Wonder Woman Earth One, the recent Jill Thompson version, the DeLiz Legend of the Wonder Woman. Whew ... I don't know if a book store employee or someone typing Wonder Woman into a search window will know which version fits their mold. Will the real origin please stand up!

I suppose this is the whole point of this exercise. Why not let people find the Wonder Woman they want. I know that I'll sample the DeConnick book hoping it veers more to classic DC than, let's say, Bitch Planet. But I'm not the audience for a Bitch Planet book. So why should those Diana fans be denied.