Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Review: Superman #700 Part 2

The Grounded prologue wasn't the only story in Superman #700. This was also the conclusion of the James Robinson run on the title. And there was also a nice flashback story by Dan Jurgens as well.

Given that this issue represented the final panels of the New Krypton arc and the beginning part of the next big storyline, it really felt like a transition issue. The Jurgens story was almost like a palate cleanser between courses.

And I love Gary Frank's work on the Superman family, so this was a great cover to reel in the readers.

The James Robinson story shows the reunion between Superman and Lois Lane.

The first time they lay eyes on each other is while Lois is running away from the Parasite. The events leading up to this are inconsequential. The story here is that Lois finally is able to see Superman.

Superman makes short work of the Parasite punctuating the fight by saying that there is too much in Metropolis to keep him away forever.

It didn't read as powerful as it should since he was gone for sooooo long. 'There is too much here in Metropolis for me to leave it forever .... just for a long long time.'

With the Parasite out for the count, Lois and Superman embrace and kiss for the first time in eons.

There is a lot of loving looks and nervous stammering which feels right given how long they have been apart.

But it ends up being laid on a bit thick.

She can't describe the horrors of seeing her father kill himself. He can't describe seeing his planet destroyed.

But they have each other. The thoughts of each other was the only thing that kept them going through despite the horror around them.

After some amorous time at their apartment, Lois asks to go out. She wished to be flown around the city much like the 'can't you read my mind' sequence in the Donner Superman movie.

The Lois line above just reads a little off. It would be one thing for her to say she feels safe with him holding and carrying her. But why preface it with the known fact that if he dropped her she'd die. It just read a bit weird.

She asks him if he will never leave her again and he admits he can't promise her that.

But they again reaffirm that they love each other ... kissing above the city.

The story read just a bit too long, so much of it devoted to Lois and Superman fawning over each other. I understand that the reunion between the two needed more than just a couple of panels. Their love for each other deserves some space. But after a while, it just felt redundant.

Part of that feeling might be that I know that despite all their showering of devotions and fidelity, that Superman is going for a year long walk away from his wife and she is going to aid and abet Lex Luthor in Action Comics. The lines sounded hollow because meta-textually I know the two are going to be separated again. Would this have read better if I knew that the upcoming arc was a standard 'in Metropolis working at the Planet fighting bad guys' arc.

Maybe Superman could become Grounded by actually being around for his spouse.

Bernard Chang's art is very nice here. I have commented in the past how much I love his art when there is a good disaster or battle happening. Here he mutes his scratchy kinetic style to make it a nice smooth pretty romantic tale.

Overall grade: C+

The Jurgens story is almost more of a Robin story guest starring Superman.

The story starts with Superman dropping off a boat and criminals at the Police Station. The crooks are gun runners who say within the range of Superman's super-hearing that their capture means the timetable of the other part of their scheme will be pushed up.

Is this another Donner movie homage? Is this the boat and crooks dropped off in the first Superman movie?

The other part of the scheme is for the gang to deliver guns into Gotham City. With Bruce busy at a Wayne Foundation event, only Robin can stop them.

But this is a Robin:Year One story. This is Dick Grayson at the very beginning. Bruce forbids him from acting alone but the sidekick sneaks off.

Unfortunately his skills aren't up to snuff and he is trussed up and tossed into the bay to drown. Luckily Superman was around to stop this part of the crooks' plan. With Robin safe and sound,Superman easily captures the bad guys.

With the case wrapped up, Robin suddenly realized that he is going to be in major trouble if Bruce discovers he went out.

Superman flies him back home and even does Dick's geometry homework so Batman will have no evidence of the ill-conceived adventure. It is a nice moment, showing what a good guy Superman is. Robin sounded like he already learned his lesson ... why make him face Batman's wrath.

But they don't call Batman the World's Greatest Detective for nothing. He figures out that Superman helped Robin and mildly chastises the Man of Steel.

Simple, sugary, nostalgic - made even more nostalgic with Jurgens doing the art as well.

It also nicely plays on the more 'cool uncle'/nephew vibe that Clark and Dick have. Nice to see that has been there since the beginning.

Overall grade: B/B+

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Supergirl In Next DC Animated Movie!

In what has to be considered absolutely fantastic news, it appears that the next DC animated movie will be based on the Supergirl origin storyline from Superman/Batman #8-13. That certainly looks like the Darkseid-corrupted Supergirl in the lower left.

The official news broke on the Superman home page. Here is the link:

The movie will be released on September 28, 2010. There will be a single standard edition DVD, a double-disc Special Edition DVD, and on Blu-ray disc.

I have said for the past couple of years that this is a great time to be a Supergirl fan and this is further evidence of her popularity.

And thanks to blog friend Mauricio Hunt for pointing me to this TV Guide article:

Here we get a sneak peek of what Supergirl will look like in the book. Also, Summer Glau is revealed to be doing her voice. Summer Glau! Too fantastic!

Here is what Bruce Timm had to say about Glau's performance.

"It was a fun part for her to play because it wasn't one-note," Timm says. "She could be young and bratty, like a typical teenager, and then show a little bit more maturity, then get feisty, then scared. She's got quite a gamut of emotions to act out."

I have to tip my hat to blog-friend Gene who speculated this movie was being made when he saw that the Turner-based action figures were resolicited for an October release. That is some serious prognostication!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Review: Superman #700 Part 1

With the long 2 years of New Krypton behind us, I think many readers have been looking forward to the new directions that the Superman titles will be taking. And, of course, J. Michael Straczynski's Grounded storyline is at the forefront of that anticipation. Straczynski has a comic pedigree of excellent runs on comics for both established characters (like Spiderman) and newer characters (like Supreme Power and Rising Stars).

And Grounded certainly has caught the attention of the comic media and publicity machine. The DC Source blog does a good job of gathering many of the pertinent links here: Heck, Letterman even had it in his monologue.

And Comic Book Resources also includes links to many fan reactions including some from blog friends here. Here is the link: And congrats to Mart Gray and Kandou Erik for getting some publicity for their great blogs.

As for me, I have a bit of trepidation about this arc but I am trying to go in with an open mind. The idea of Superman trying to reconnect with humanity after the War of the Supermen makes perfect sense for the next big storyline. But the 'walking across America' part has yet to grab me .... yet. Without having read any of it, it just felt a little forced. But I also worried that this walk across America is going to take Superman as far away from his world as New Krypton did. No Lois. No Jimmy and Perry. No Metropolis. I was hoping to see Superman go back to being Superman.

Despite, these preconceived notions I am still intrigued with the arc. JMS talks about returning Superman to his roots, his earliest adventures in the 30's were centered around the smaller issues of the citizens around him - spouse abuse, unsafe mining conditions, innocent men wrongly imprisoned. Of course that Superman could be hurt by a bursting shell. How will this Superman deal with smaller issues.

Superman #700 included the prologue to Grounded. On to the review. (I'll review the other stories in the issue soon.)

The story starts with Superman in Washington D.C. answering questions about his role in the War of the Supermen. He is peppered with questions by the throng of reporters who ask him some tough questions. Is Earth his second choice for home planet? Has he lost touch with humanity? They aren't easy questions to answer and Superman doesn't have any pat responses. He seems almost lost here and that is understandable. He is grieving. He has lost New Krypton and his people. He has had to deal with all the devastation on Earth. I am not surprised that he seems emotionally drained and lost.

The interview is interrupted when a woman breaks through the crowd and slaps Superman across the face. Initially Superman seems to think that she is responding to the events of the New Krypton war.

Instead she says that while Superman was on New Krypton and fighting the war, her husband lost his battle with brain cancer. Had Superman been around he could have operated on him with his heat vision. Superman wasn't there for her when she needed him to be.

Superman looks surprised and maybe a bit dismayed. Has he lost sight of the common man's problems? Is he only seeing the forest and not the trees?

The truth is hasn't he dealt with questions like this before? He knows he can't be everywhere; he can't be everything to everyone. Is it just the timing of New Krypton that makes him respond this way?

Because it wasn't that long ago in 'Saving Thomas' that Supergirl faced the question of trying to save someone with brain cancer and got chastised by Superman. Back then, he thought she was getting too close to people's problems, promising things that she shouldn't.

On the Justice League satellite, Batman seems proud of the new satellite surveillance system, powerful enough to cut through cloud cover and see 'anything important' that is happening on the globe.

Of course, the bigger philosophical question is 'what is important?' Is the Royal Flush Gang robbing a bank more important than that man's brain cancer? Or is this view from above too removed to understand that?

Maybe Superman doesn't want to be that high anymore. Maybe he wants to be more grounded.

The scene reminded me a little of Alan Moore's Saga of the Swamp Thing #24 when the Floronic Man leads a vegetable revolt against humanity. The Justice League seems powerless to stop him leading to this great response from Green Arrow who wonders why they weren't watching the small town where it all began ... who was watching Lacroix, Lousiana?

Who watches out for the common man?

With the idea of flying above it all suddenly questionable, Superman wonders if staying on the ground, running from problem to problem is a better solution.

He stops the Flash (I assume it's Wally but who knows ... it sounds like Wally) and asks him what he sees when he is running from disaster to disaster. The Flash says all he sees is a blur.

That isn't what Superman wants to hear. He wants to gain focus not lose it. He wants to see all the problems facing everyone. So if flying isn't close enough to humanity and running is too fast, that means he has to walk.

It reminded me a little of the absolutely fabulous Flash #91 by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo.

In this issue, Wally cannot deal with the fact that he wasn't fast enough to save someone so he adds Johnny Quick's speed mantra to his own. He ends up moving so fast that the world literally stops. Max Mercury is able to run fast enough to talk to Wally for a little while and shows him that no matter how fast you are, no matter how powerful you are, you can't be everywhere ... you can't save everyone. You can only do your best.

That lesson was learned in 22 pages.

With the events of the day reeling around him, Superman remembers a lesson Pa taught him about rotating crops.

He says the same can be said of people. They need fresh ground. If not, people can emotionally dry up and become a shell of what they were.

You need to shake things up every so often or you can 'fall asleep' in your life, droning on through life.

That is unless something wakes you up. And that slap was Superman's wake up call.

And so begins the walk across America. And if Superman is walking it must be important.

So after this prologue, I have to say I have the same reservations. If Superman is upset he didn't burn away that man's brain cancer, I can tell you that many people will be dying the same way while he strolls through across the nation. If he is upset that he hasn't heard the problems of the common man and he thinks that walking across America will help, I wonder what geographical path he will take. He won't hear the problems of everyone who isn't on his travelogue. And is he planning on stopping and helping people whose problem he does hear? Which ones? All of them? Only the 'important' ones? And important to who?

I guess all these questions will need to be answered within the story and I am interested in seeing how JMS pulls it all off as he explores a Superman literally grounded and trying to become more emotionally grounded to his adopted planet. It is an innovative storyline that has a lot of potential.

Overall grade: Incomplete and pending

It all sort of reminds me of Superman #247, a famous issue from the Silver Age written by Elliot S! Maggin and drawn by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson. In that story, the Guardians tell Superman that he is impeding human evolution because the people of Earth are relying too much on him. The citizens of Earth need to help each other not rely on Superman. He is too grounded!

Within the story, Superman actually helps some mistreated migrant field workers. The workers plead with Superman to remove their boss and help them get better wages and more rights. Superman finally refuses saying that he can't help everyone. Interestingly enough, an earthquake happens leveling the workers' squalid town forcing Superman to rebuild all their homes. It isn't easy being Superman ... where does he draw the line.

Of course that story was also told in one issue.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Review: Supergirl #53

'Who is Supergirl?'

I think it is a question that Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle were planning to answer starting way back in Supergirl #34 when they first took over the title. And while great strides have been made during the last couple of years to her character, the massive New Krypton storyline occasionally took over the title.

With New Krypton behind us and a guarantee from Gates to stay away from massive crossovers for the near future, Supergirl as a book seems to have regained its center. And with the sad events of War of the Supermen behind Kara, she needs to do some soul searching. She needs to re-define herself. She needs to figure out who she is.

Supergirl #53 kicks off this new period for the character. While this issue's title is 'Fallout', the arc is called 'Who is Supergirl?' Frankly, I have been looking forward to this for a while. I said before that New Krypton was a double edged sword for Supergirl, exposing her to new readers but also holding her back in the undertow of such a massive storyline.

The book starts off with a recap of Supergirl's assault on the Project 7734 headquarters located under the Pentagon as hinted at in War of the Supermen #4. Since this fight with Superwoman was only hinted at back in that book, I really appreciated seeing it fleshed out a bit.

For one thing, it was fantastic to see Supergirl really lay into Superwoman. You can feel that right hook she lands on Superwoman's jaw, the villain's heat vision bending from the blow as her head snaps back.

But as good as that was, I also liked the dialogue between the two combatants. When Supergirl screams at Lucy that it was General Lane who started the war, Lucy retorts that Zod and Alura aren't exactly innocent either. The more I think about that war, the clearer it is to see that it was the result of two madmen playing an interplanetary game of brinkmanship. Neither side was truly innocent (although Lane may be more despicable having successfully crossed the line into genocide). So it must be hard for Kara to reconcile her people's role in this war ... especially Alura's part.

But what starts out as a flashback quickly deteriorates into a nightmare with family, friends, and foes alike reminding Supergirl that she hurts everyone she touches, bringing pain and destruction.

I like how Jamal Igle pulls back from the earlier close-ups, showing the extent of Kara's horrific dreamscape here. This truly is a vision of hell, the upside-down 7734 wall looking over the fiery landscape littered with the animated corpses of the war.

We know that Supergirl is carrying a lot of guilt over the destruction of New Krypton. She brought Reactron to the planet; she can rationalize that she is the cause of her people's demise. But this really shows the weight of that. While we see that guilt over those close to her (most deliciously in Alura telling Kara that she lets the ones she love die), we also see how she is shouldering the guilt over the death of countless nameless Kryptonians.

This vision of the abyss shakes Supergirl from her sleep where she sees that she has scorched her ceiling with her heat vision, a physical response to the mental anguish she is feeling (and reminiscent of the beginning of the 'Fearful Symmetry' episode of JLU).

It is a recurring nightmare. It can't be easy to go through that nightly. I think what Supergirl is feeling is more than survivor's guilt. It is survivor's guilt compounded by feeling responsible for the very act she survived.

It turns out that Kara has moved back in with Lana, their initial reconciliation not shown ... just played out as a matter of fact. Lana thinks of Kara as a family member and that means letting her back into her life. I don't feel cheated by not seeing that scene ... they often come off as maudlin or saccharine. It works so much better with it just having happened.

With everything that has happened in the past, Kara wants to simply start fresh, to make her history ... well ... history.

In a key exchange, Kara says she is no longer going to use the name Kara Zor-El, instead becoming Linda Lang permanently. To get past everything she has lost, she needs to start fresh. That means expunging her Kryptonian past entirely. While I don't show it here, the most visible way Supergirl shows this is by turning off the hologram of Zor-El. Her father was someone good, a shining light in the darkness of everything New Krypton ... and yet Kara even wants to forget him. In many ways that is disheartening. I think Supergirl is going to learn that you can't just remove your past, excise it like a tumor. It is part of you. You get the sense that Lana doesn't think it's the best idea either.

But it isn't just Kara Zor-El that is going away, she declares that Supergirl is going away too.

We then are taken to S.T.A.R. labs where Dr. Light is doing her best to cure Lucy Lane. In what appears to be a very painful process, Lucy's body contorted and stretched like taffy, Light is using Kryptonian technology to re-write Lucy's DNA cell by cell. I did like that the technology being used is the same device that Kara and Light designed to rid Lana of the Insect Queen genome. The machine definitely has the crystal look of Kryptonian tech.

Unfortunately, while the machine is doing it's job, something crashes right through the lab.

Dr. Light and Gangbuster go to investigate what caused the crash, satisfied that Superwoman's containment field is intact.

Ohhh ... but there is a small crack in one of the gauntlets.

My feelings for Superwoman have waxed and waned. But right now I am loving her. She really has so much potential, so much power, and is poised to be Supergirl's arch-enemy. Their animosity towards each other has a solid personal foundation, each thinking the other is responsible for her father's death. I can't wait to see the two of them go at it again.

While Light and Gangbuster are off inspecting the crash site, Linda and Lana enjoy a cup of coffee in the city and continue to catch up.

Lana asks Linda where she was between the end of the war and when she moved back in ... a 6 week gap. 6 weeks!? Hmmm .... more on this later.

It is clear that Linda is trying to 'find herself' and Lana wonders if Metropolis University might not be the best place to do that. Personally, I love this idea. College as a background opens up a lot of possibilities for the book and should offer opportunities to show Linda maturing.

On a side note, I love scenes like this where something dramatic is happening in the background while unsuspecting people are seated inside a glass walled building. Look at the people next to Linda catching sight of something and then the next panel where we see cars being tossed through the air ... all while Lana blissfully talks about college.

A resulting explosion and shockwave rock the city as the object crashes in Centennial Park.

Dr. Light and Gangbuster go to the crash site and come across a Kryptonian ship at the epicenter, a ship exactly like the one Kara crashed to Earth in. With the recent events, they wonder if it could be an escape pod or a refugee transport from the remains of New Krypton.

With injured people and property damage surrounding them, Lana urges Linda to become Supergirl and help. There might be someone hurt or dying that needs Linda to rescue them now. Whatever crashed into the park might be an even bigger threat.

Despite her pleas, Linda refuses. Those haunting words from her nightmares are still with her. She fears she might do more harm than good ... that she is dangerous.

It infuriates Lana who pulls no punches in berating Linda.

This was the only part of the issue that felt a bit rushed, although I can understand it a little. The prior interactions between Lana and Kara this issue have all been supportive and caring, dripping with patience. So to have Lana turn 180 degrees and scream at Linda ... to the point of storming off ... felt a little rushed, just as Kara's outburst at Lana in Supergirl #50 also felt rushed.

That said, it may be that Lana wanted to slowly reveal how she felt about Linda's decision to abandon her Supergirl persona and convince Kara that the world needs Supergirl. The timetable to slowly persuade Linda to continue being a hero was probably pushed up when this disaster happened. So even though it felt rushed, I guess circumstances dictated it.

While Linda stands there contemplating here next move, Dr. Light discovers what was in that ship. Bizarro-Girl! And this isn't some funny lummox saying goodbye instead of hello. This is a scary, George Romero-esque, 'let me strip the flesh from your bones', zombie-looking thing. Brrrrr ...

This was a very good opening chapter to this new era in the title. While this story clearly built on the events of New Krypton, it was a pure Supergirl story. All of these emotions that Supergirl feels make perfect sense given the horror that unfolded before her in the War of the Supermen. I am glad that those feelings are being dealt with rather than being ignored by the creative team. You can't just sweep everything under the rug; there needed to be some emotional fallout (hence the title of the book I suppose).

But I have to say, I don't think Linda's approach of trying to ignore/forget the problem is going to work in the long run. She needs to work through these feelings.

And what about that 6 week gap? Well, it was interesting enough to make me formulate a new theory about Bizarro-Girl. (I know ... another theory.) Let's say you are Supergirl, an intelligent Science Guild member with access to Kryptonian technology, and you feel as though you are responsible for the death of your people. Wouldn't you try to rectify the process? Wouldn't you see if you could somehow resurrect your race ... even through cloning? Maybe during those 6 weeks Supergirl was trying to perfect a cloning process to bring back her people and used her own DNA as a template. And maybe she was unsuccessful but the result of those experiments created this Bizarro-Girl?

The art work here is spot on. I like the look that Jamal has created for Linda Lang with the hair tied back and glasses.

And while I like the idea of a supporting cast, I have never really been a Gangbuster fan. I hope he isn't around too long.

This was just the first round of 'Who is Supergirl?'. I get the sense this arc is going to be something special, defining Supergirl for the near future.

Overall grade: B+

Friday, June 25, 2010

Supergirl Preview Page In Superman #700

There is a lot of Supergirl and Superman news to cover here over the next couple of days. Between the release of the much-anticipated Superman #700 to the beginning of the 'Who is Supergirl?' arc in Supergirl #53, I will be scanning and reviewing through the weekend.

But I thought a good place to start would be with the Supergirl preview page in Superman #700. My guess is that with the nation-wide hype about JMS' 'Grounded' arc and the anniversary nature of the issue, that Superman #700 is going to sell extremely well. DC, in a savvy promotional move, decided to put preview pages of the other super-titles in the back of the issue discussing what will be happening in Action Comics, Superboy, and Supergirl. It is a brilliant way of marketing those titles to prospective readers.

Sterling Gates wrote the Supergirl page which includes a lot of information about the upcoming year. Some of it we knew; some of it we didn't. We knew Bizarro-Girl was coming to the book. We knew that Supergirl Annual #2 would be another Kara/Brainy story. And we knew that Jimmy Olsen and Natasha Irons were joining the supporting cast.

Little new nuggets were slipped into this piece though.

The annual includes a Supergirl and Legion battle against one of the scariest Legion villains of all time that includes a rip in the fabric of time. Since the Time Trapper was just used in Final Crisis:Legion of Three Worlds, I am going to guess it is the Infinite Man, another time based Legion villain. We also hear that Supergirl and Brainy are going to kiss!

As expected, it sounds as though Cat Grant and the Toyman will tussle and that Supergirl will come to Cat's rescue, despite Cat unleashing another anti-Supergirl campaign.

And we also hear hints about Superwoman's fate and Supergirl enrolling in college.

Perhaps most ominously, it sounds like just when Supergirl comes out of her post-New Krypton doldrums that 'her greatest enemy returns ... and brings along friends'. Her greatest enemy? Are we still all worried about the Anti-Monitor? Or is it just the 3rd bout with Superwoman?

Included on the page was this panel/splash page from Supergirl #54 by Jamal Igle. I thought this was a delicious little treat and really showed how much the creative team cares about the character.

It looks like Kara is looking at her Supergirl outfit pensively. But look at all the stuff around her in the room! It really shows the attention to detail that Gates and Igle have as these knick-knacks lay out Supergirl's history a bit. Going counter-clockwise from the top.

1. Belt rack with the variety of belts worn by Supergirl with this current costume (Michael Turner's, Ale Garza's, etc)

2. The 'Why The World Doesn't Need Supergirl' by Cat Grant Daily Planet from Supergirl #34

3. The Wonder Girl/Supergirl photo with them capturing a giant shark seen on her desk in Supergirl #43; I like how the frame seems partially destroyed - a given since it was on new Krypton when it exploded

4. An Eiffel Tower replica, probably from her apartment in France

5. The Blood Petal from her early age adventure with Thara in Superman Secret Files 2010

6. Zor-El's headband

7. The wig she wore when she tried to be Claire and go to high school in Supergirl #10

8. Amazon spear from her training on Paradise Island

9. Her Flamebird helmet from her mission on "Candor" in Supergirl #6-8

10. A Superman doll from fighting the Toyman in World's Finest (I think)

11. The piece of Alura's S-shield she recovered when New Krypton exploded from War of the Supermen #2

When that much of Kara's stories are captured in one panel, it just shows the love that Gates and Igle have for the character. This could have been just the uniform.

I think this is going to be a great upcoming year for Supergirl.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Poll Results: The Gang; Back Issue Box DNAoSupergirl #4

One of the things I love about this little blog of mine is hearing all the different opinions and ideas that people have about Supergirl. That especially seems to happen whenever I run polls on the site. No matter then question, there isn't usually a runaway winner. And more often than not, the poll votes are scattered across the board. Often times I feel strongly about my own answer and end up being surprised at the final outcome.

This is one of those times. First off, as always, let me thank the 49 people who stopped and voted. I have to be honest, I didn't expect so robust a turnout for this question. So thanks so much. The more voters, the more powerful the information gathered from the poll.

This poll question was 'which older Supergirl villain would you like to see re-imagined in the current continuity?' This was really a no brainer for me. I thought and still think that Blackstarr needs to be a Supergirl rogue. She came in second.

Surprisingly, The Gang (from The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl) garnered the most votes ... 14 of 49 ... taking 28%. I didn't think they had a chance. Blackstarr got 9 votes. And interestingly enough, Black Flame came in a close third with 8 votes. Of course the sample size is small. But let's be honest ... 49 of us voted on Silver Age Supergirl villains. We definitely make up a powerful focus group.

With what I feel is a clear-cut victory for The Gang, I felt I owed them some proper respect. And so, here is The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #4, the first appearance of The Gang, written by Paul Kupperberg and drawn by Carmine Infantino and Bob Oskner.

A quick aside about the cover. Despite being released in 1983, the cover has a Silver Age feel to it what with Supergirl's reflection giving away her secret identity. I love the text box with the fancy 'secret' cursive. It looks like the font from a romance title. I also think it is sort of cool to see that the cover artists are Keith Giffen and Mike DeCarlo. This must be early in Giffen's career because it doesn't have the distinct look of his Legion art.

The issue starts off with a bang as the Gang crashes through the wall at the Chicago Aerospace Technology Show. Putting into action Brains big plan, the Gang goes to work. Ms. Mesmer puts most of the security force in a trance while bruisers Kong and Bulldozer take out the rest.

With no one left to interfere, the Gang gets what they came for, an experimental satellite. Although weighing several tons, Kong is able to hoist it with one hand.

Unfortunately, Brains plan did not take into account that Supergirl might show up. Kong and Bulldozer try to take her on but Kara is in a different strength class. She starts to toss them around and appears close to victory.

Before Supergirl can wrap things up though, she encounters Ms. Mesmer for the first time. Spinning a multicolored disc on her costume, Mesmer barrages Supergirl with waves of color and light which surprisingly hypnotizes the Maid of Might.

It is pretty impressive for a pre-Crisis Kryptonian to be hypnotized like this.

While the trance felt like it lasted only a second to Supergirl, it in fact lasted about 5 minutes. During that time, the Gang was able to abscond with the satellite and get away.

Boy, Supergirl didn't get much respect back then. Here a police officer chastises her for succumbing to the hypnosis attack and letting the villains escape. In fact he says he is going to put it all in his report.

It turns out the Gang weren't interested in the satellite for themselves. They seem to be villains for hire. Here Brains confronts Lester Adams, the crime boss who contracted the Gang to steal the technology. Brains is a bit upset because despite finishing the job and dropping off the satellite, the Gang hasn't been paid.

Adams tells her that he uses a messenger middle man when it comes to payment to keep his hands clean. This job's messenger is John Ostrander, a struggling actor who just so happens to live in Linda Danvers' apartment building.

And yes, John Ostrander is named after comics writer John Ostrander.

Adams advises Brains to call upon Ostrander for her money. Perhaps Ostrander is trying to steal from the gang.

In the meantime, Linda is surprised with a visit from her adoptive parents Fred and Edna Danvers. There is a nice conversation between the characters showing how much Linda has grown in the last few years.

Specifically, Linda talks of how she has grown as a super-hero, not rushing into every small little problem that arises, only becoming Supergirl when she is truly needed. She talks about having a 'sixth sense' about which circumstances require her assistance and which don't. It reminded me of the earliest Silver Age stories where Supergirl talked of having 'super women's intuition'.

I like how Fred Danvers pushes her a bit, wondering how Linda would feel if she didn't jump in to help and someone got hurt. It was so interesting to read this converation and this issue now knowing what I had just read in the current series where Linda and Lana have a very similar discussion.

As if on cue, Linda picks up on some trouble that reaches her threshold of needing to intercede and leaves her parents.

Supergirl picked up on some screams with her super-hearing and is shocked to find that it emanates from her own apartment building. At first she is worried that someone has deduced her secret identity. But it becomes pretty clear that the person in danger is Johnny O and who is attacking him ... the Gang. They want their money.

Of course, Ostrander has no idea what they are talking about. He thought this was an innocuous package he needed to drop off not a cash payment for super-villains. What's worse is he can't find it!

The fight continues to tear through the building. Kong and Bulldozer's signature attack seems to be the old high-low attack. Supergirl is impressed with how organized the Gang's attacks are, as though they have been working together all their lives. While they aren't doing much damage to her, their attacks are keeping her down and ineffective.

But then we see the devious hidden attack that the Gang has for Supergirl.

During the fight, Supergirl sees her reflection in a window and the reflection is of Linda Danvers! Has her secret identity been compromised? Could she be fighting like Supergirl while still in the garb of her Linda?

It turns out that Ms. Mesmer placed a post-hypnotic suggestion during that trance in the early part of the issue. Mesmer's suggestion was that Supergirl would see her greatest fear in any reflection she saw. It turns out that Supergirl's biggest fear is that her secret identity will be discovered. Seeing Linda in the window is so confusing and terrifying enough to make Supergirl fly off, leaving Ostrander in the grasp of Kong. Quite the cliffhanger!

I have to say this was a pretty good issue of Supergirl for a couple of reasons. For one, and it is a running theme throughout the Daring New series, Supergirl is confident and strong, acting like a hero and rushing into danger. That said, I love that conversation with the Danvers. It shows a mature Supergirl. She realizes that if she ran to every emergency she would be Supergirl 24 hours a day and that wouldn't be mentally healthy. I never felt that Supergirl was shirking her duties in this series like the dancing Supergirl seen earlier in the current series. This is a savvy super-hero who knows when to let the usual authorities handle the usual problems.

As I have aged, Carmine Infantino's art style has grown on me. I do think that Oskner's inks add to the overall product. His Linda is beautiful.

And the Gang was an interesting new group of villains to face Supergirl. By making it a 'many on to one' scenario, it added to the drama of the fight. The story wrapped up in the next issue so maybe I'll review the second half at some point.

Anyways, thanks again to everyone who voted!

Overall grade: B

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sales Review: May 2010

Comic sales were robust in May 2010, bolstered by the end of Marvel's Siege and the beginning of their new Avengers title. As always, ICv2 does a great job breaking down the numbers and here is the link:

Now this is an interesting month to look at. There was no Supergirl issue in May. But it was the War of the Supermen month with the 4 issues of the mini released on a weekly basis.

The series actually sold a lot better than I anticipated. With the Super-titles all hovering near 30K in sales, I didn't think that War of the Supermen would do much better.

Surprisingly, the book sold over 40K, and approached 50K with the first issue. Now each came with a variant cover which can inflate sales a bit, but that is an increase in sales of 33% over the monthlies.

Now in some ways it is also sad. You would think that a huge storyline involving the company's signature character would sell higher. But I'm not going to go sour grapes with this; the book sold well.

In some ways, I hope it lures people to the Supergirl title. Supergirl played a pivotal role in War of the Supermen and was strong and heroic throughout. Hopefully some readers will jump on board for the 'Who is Supergirl?' arc.

So with New Krypton finally over, we'll have to see if there is a rebound effect in sales of all the super-titles.

And what can I say about R.E.B.E.L.S.?

I can say that 11,000 people can't be wrong. That number has been solid for this title for about a year. Is that level enough to keep the book going? I have to figure that for the time being the answer is yes.

Another one of my favorite books, Doom Patrol, is also down among the weeds here.