Friday, October 21, 2016

Review: Superman #9

Superman #9 came out this week, finishing the Escape from Dinosaur Island storyline. This brief story was a nice homage to Darwyn Cooke's New Frontier book and a deserving tip of the cap to Cooke's brilliance. Tomasi and Gleason finish up the story of The Losers, the ragtag group of WWII soldiers whose story opened up the New Frontier book.

From that viewpoint, seeing Captain Storm dealing with dinosaurs and shooting machine guns, this story was wonderful. Cooke's work was brilliant. I don't mind revisiting that world one more time.

But beyond that, what I liked about this was that Tomasi and Gleason didn't treat this as a simple side mission diversion. They do end up tying it into the bigger arc coursing through the Superman books. There does seem to be a link to Mr. Oz here.

Most importantly, at least for me, is the interaction between Jon and Clark in this issue. We truly get a sense of how young Jon is. And we get to see Clark acting as the dad here, guiding his son through this crazy world while dropping some knowledge. I will be honest, there was a moment here that reminded me of a young Anj and his father. It reminded me of Anj and his young children. That is powerful stuff.

The art is done by Doug Mahnke and has is usual panache throughout. Sure, there are battles with giant gorillas wielding sea mines and torpedoes. There are pterodactyls zipping around kaiju. But again, the power here is Mahnke's expressive work with Jon and Clark. That is really where this book shines.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Review: New Superman #4

I am a bit behind in my reviews, just covering last week's New Super-Man #4 now. That is what happens when you release 4 super-comics in one week DC!

As I have said before, I have been enjoying this comic more than I ever thought I would. Writer Gene Luen Yang and artist Viktor Bogdanovic are creating a fresh new universe, tangentially tied to the DCU enough to feel a little familiar but innovative enough to be completely new. So it is fun to see these Chinese analogues of familiar heroes, comparing and contrasting them to the more classic versions.

Moreover, Yang is really creating compelling characters here. Whether it is Kenan as the vulnerable bully or Deilan's naivete being challenged in the face of facts or Kenan's dad thinking optimistically while maybe being used ... they all are layered. I really don't know who the good guys are in this book. I don't think Dr. Omen is all she claims to be. But the Freedom Fighters don't look like noble rebels either. Maybe there is goodness in these organizations but it isn't pure.

Bogdanovic continues to bring a stylized, grainy roughness to this book which works well with the story.

So, no complaints right now! Onto the book ...

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Supergirl Episode 202: Last Children Of Krypton

The second episode of this second season of Supergirl aired earlier this week and continued to showcase the super-cousins as they faced the Kryptonite-powered menace of not one ... but two Metallos! I got the sense from this episode that the show runners were using this first mini-arc to set up the current season, redefining some of the characters' roles while reestablishing some of the emotional cores of the show. Remember, a network change happened. The producers might feel they need to inform new viewers exactly what happens in National City all while satisfying everyone who followed from CBS.

As a result, 'Last Children of Krypton' felt a little busy. A lot happens in this episode. And some of it felt a little off as the emotional beats and some storylines happen a little quickly. This isn't as nutty as last season's premiere which could have used another 30 minutes. But it felt a bit cramped.

That isn't to say I didn't like the episode. What is stuffed into this episode is, for the most part, pretty good. From the strained relationship of J'onn and Superman to the new Catco to Winn being the voice of familial reason, there is some solid stuff here. I was happy and entertained. You can't ask for more.

So with the deck chairs rearranged and everyone's roles reset, this season is ready to take off. No complaints here.

On to the particulars; settle in.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Review: Superwoman #3

Superwoman #3 came out last week and this book remains one of the more interesting reads of the #Rebirth new titles. Writer Phil Jimenez started the book with a bit of a 'bait and switch', hinting this was a Lois book and turning it into a Lana book. And from looking at social media, it looks like that was something of a hit or a miss. Lots of folks seemed upset.

As for me, I like Lana so I didn't mind the switch. Plus, having two Loises running around the DCU might have been complicated.

But more importantly, I like good stories. And Jimenez is really shining here. Lana is Superwoman. But she also is emotionally fragile. She is suffering.. She is on medication. And yet, we see that she still thinks there is a stigma to mental health issues, hiding her condition from those closest to her. She seems to have swings in her mood, flaming angrily and then shrinking with insecurity. I don't think Jimenez has labeled Lana's condition but it mostly seems to be PTSD and/or depression. And this foundation of the character makes Lana feel very fresh.

Jimenez also has included a tremendous super-villain for the book. This isn't a side book in the DCU. This is immersed in Superman mythos. This book will have repercussions in all the Superman issues.

The art this issue is done by Supergirl/Starfire alum Emanuela Lupacchino. The art is lush and beautiful. The energy-based action is really done well. But it almost feels too beautiful. This is a gritty sort of look at super-heroics. This feels almost too polished.

On to the book!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Review: Action Comics #965

Action Comics #965 came out last week and was basically a Lois solo issue, something that made me wholeheartedly elated. If there was someone who got short shrift in the New 52, it was Lois. She basically was absent, possessed by Brainiac, or shunned for her identity reveal for basically five years.

Now I have to say that I was ready for two Loises to exist on the Rebirth Earth but the twist ending of Superwoman #1 certainly put an end to that. Instead, we have the pre-Flashpoint Lois, an older Lois who was successful as both Author X and mother. And Dan Jurgens has certainly made her a vibrant character, reminiscent of the Lois of old. She is bold, loving, intelligent, and determined.

In this issue, writer Dan Jurgens and artist Stephen Segovia bring Lois further into the Rebirth world. This is a world where Lana works for the Daily Star and a human Clark Kent works for the Planet. So why not have this Lois replace the other at the Planet?

And Jurgens does a great job of reintroducing us to the cast of the Planet, something else missing for much of the New 52. It was great to see these wonderful folks again, some who we haven't seen in years.
I will say, this Lois is supposedly around 10yrs older than the other so I had to roll with it that she is accepted.

Segovia's work is spot on bringing a nice natural look to the cast of characters and evoking the right emotions when necessary.

On to the issue!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Review: Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #35

I continue my look at the Threeboot Legion of Super-Heroes comic over on the Legion of Super-Bloggers site. I have currently worked my way up to Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #35, the penultimate issue to sport that particular title and co-star Supergirl. To read the full review, head here.

This is the Tony Bedard/Dennis Calero portion of the book. The Quest for Cosmic Boy is the name of this arc and concentrates on three away teams looking for the missing leader. Bedard has done a good job of bringing in some of the old Legion magic, specifically from the Cockrum era while embracing some of the newness of this continuity.

This issue continues the Wildfire storyline on Lallor but focuses mostly on Atom Girl, the Three boot Shrinking Violet who seems like someone who embraces the sensuality of life. Wildfire makes her tingly. Last issue, she looked lustily at Timber Wolf.

The old Vi went from timid wallflower to assertive female and one of the initial gay characters in comic to the battle-scarred stressed out veteran from the Five Years Later book. This cheeky version is certainly new.

Supergirl is barely in the book although the focus shifts back to Earth at the end. Bedard inserts some history into this issue bringing Evolvo Lad into the story.

While these stories have been interesting, we just don't see enough of the Legion to grab me. The world is recovering from the Dominator War and we just don't see any of that. What I would give for a one page peek at the rest of the team helping out!

And Calero's art is just a bit to rough and muddy for my liking on a Legion book.

So overall, in a vacuum, and as a Wildfire fan, this is a good read. Just maybe not a great Legion read.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Review: Supergirl #2

Supergirl #2 came out this week and continued to be a world-building issue for writer Steve Orlando. We are still trying to get a foundation that this Rebirth Supergirl's life can be built on. As a result, this issue seems a little busy ... but in a good way. We need to learn about Kara Danver's home life, her school life, and her personal life. We need to learn about her relationship with the DEO, what her duties are, and what she wants to do as a hero on her own.

Given that DC seems to have written off the last Supergirl series (despite the excellent last year by Tony Bedard and K. Perkins/Mike Johnson), we really are in new territory. This Supergirl acts like she has been on Earth for a very short time, still trying to adjust. That's a far cry from the girl working as a barista and living in an apartment. It definitely is light years away from the young heroic leader who thrived at Crucible. And I guess I just have to let that go.

All that said, I like this Kara. I like the direction I think she is going. And I am thrilled that these early issues have a very very different feel from the early issues of the 2005 volume and the 2011 volume. We aren't drowning in angst and anger. Hooray! And while it isn't a hair changing comb, it looks like her hair color is changed when she dons and doffs her glasses ... cool!

The main villain here is the Cyborg Superman/Zor-El and I think I need to go back and reread his prior stories with Supergirl. At the very least, Orlando has injected a lot more sympathy into the character. But I wish this part of the New 52 was swept away.

Lastly, Brian Ching brings an energy to the book. There is a sleek look to the action. But this style just doesn't work for me. It doesn't take me out of the story. But it doesn't bring me in deeper.