Thursday, December 30, 2010

Brett Booth On Justice League

Mark Bagley finishes his run on Justice League next month and Brett Booth has been named the new artist on the title.

I will admit that until recently, I didn't know Booth or his work. He has been around for a while working on titles that don't usually hit my radar, books like Anita Blake, Extinction, and Thundercats.

But in the last couple of months I saw his stuff in Untold Tales of Blackest Night and Superman/Batman. He also just did the Larfleeze Christmas Special for DC.

Here are a couple of pages and panels from his work in Superman/Batman #78, a back-up story starring Huntress and Power Girl.

Booth's art has the feel of early Image, a kind of mix of Whilce Portacio and Marc Silvestri. There is definitely a kineticism and detail in his stuff that I think will work very well with the over-the-top stories that Robinson is telling in JLA.

But there is also a softness in the faces of his character, a good ability to convey emotions in expressions.

I don't usually like the Image sort of style on art but I was impressed with this Huntress/Power Girl story and can't wait to see his stuff in the Justice League. Certainly the advance look that the Justice League covers are slick.

But this is take is based on limited exposure of a couple of short stories. Anybody else have more experience with Booth's work?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

James Robinson Interview On Newsarama

It is a Justice League heavy week here at Comic Box Commentary. Last week on Newsarama, James Robinson was interviewed about his work on Justice League of America. As always, the interview is worth reading in its entirety. Here is the link to part one:

There were a few parts of the interview worth reviewing here. In particular, Robinson comments on Dark Supergirl and how long she'll be around. Here are those blurbs.

Nrama: Let's talk about the other surprise in the cover to Issue #55. You'll also have Cyborg-Superman showing up? Is this all part of the "Reign of Doomsday" crossover?
 Robinson: Right. The Eclipso arc is beginning [with February's Issue #54], but even as it does, in Issue #55, Cyborg-Superman, Doomsday, and Supergirl will all be involved in their own struggle. And that will lead into next year’s Superman/Batman Annual.

I recently talked about how much I enjoyed the Reign of the Supermen storyline so I can't wait to see this sort of skewed version of that arc. I think there is some serendipitous timing here given the recent recap of Reign in DCU Legacies.

The question is how is Doomsday back (I think his last appearance was his bludgeoning to death at the hands of Kryptonians in WONK) and exactly who is he after.

One thing I worry about is how this story is sort of weaving its way through several titles as opposed to standing alone. I already have read how the Doomsday aspect was sort of forced into the Steel one-shot (which initially had Metallo as its villain). Now we see how he is appearing in JLA despite the Eclipso storyline ongoing there. I hope that the Doomsday piece isn't a distraction from the planned stories that were supposed to be happening.

But in many ways I am glad to see Doomsday happening here. Remember, Doomsday has a special significance in Kryptonian history as an agent of genocide. How exactly will an unbridled Dark Supergirl respond to him? It should be fun to watch.

Nrama: The Justice League issue is part of a crossover with a Steel one-shot, The Outsiders and Superboy. With Hank Henshaw showing up, after the involvement of Superboy, Steel, and the Eradicator in the "Reign of Doomsday" storyline, it's pretty obvious this ties into Reign of the Superman, doesn’t it?
Robinson: Yes. Absolutely.
The Supermen in Reign included Steel, Superboy, the Eradicator, and the Cyborg Superman. We know that the Doomsday storyline runs its way through Steel, Superboy, and The Outsiders. So that takes care of the three more noble Supermen. So this visit to Justice League of America must be to include Supergirl in the story. I am glad that DC recognizes that Supergirl is a member of the Superman family and deserves to be part of this story.
Nrama: And Supergirl is still functioning as this "Dark" Supergirl in Issue #55?
Robinson: Yes. That issue will begin to explain what's going on with Dark Supergirl, and why she changed. We'll deal with that partly during Issue #55, then moreso in the Annual.

She actually isn't going to be an "evil" Dark Supergirl. It's just exploring the darker sides of her personalities, based upon the tragedy that's been around her, with the destruction of Krypton and everything else. She's lost her parents. She's seen them die. She's seen her entire planet die. So all of that is partly what's brought about Dark Supergirl.

But the initial reasons why you think she might have changed aren't really the reasons, obviously. There are surprises along the way.

What you'll see in Issue #55 is that, just as she's dealing with the things that may have caused the transformation, and while she's coming to terms with the horror of Krypton's destruction, she has to confront another horror from out of the collective past of Krypton, which is Doomsday. And then at the same time, on top of that, she has to deal with Cyborg-Superman.

You'll also see Starman shine – no pun intended – in the issue in terms of his ability at space combat, and we'll get to introduce Saint Walker. But you'll also see a lot of exploration of Supergirl and find out why she became Dark Supergirl.

Should I complain about the fact that James Robinson is planning this exploration of Supergirl? Should I be unhappy that she is going to be a focal point in one of DC's best selling titles? I don't think so.

In fact, I am interested in reading Robinson's take on the character. I am glad he isn't simply going to have her be 2-dimensional in the book and instead is invested enough to write about her.

But this idea of her dealing with her grief was so wonderfully explored in Supergirl by Gates and Igle. I hope that this story doesn't contradict or attempt to replace those stories.

And I don't necessarily want to read Dark Supergirl stories. I want to read Supergirl stories. So I hope this manifestation and psychological exploration doesn't go on too much longer. Still, I guess that Supergirl being a big part of this title can only help elevate her status in the DCU.

Nrama: Let's talk about what's happening in Justice League of America right now, because Dark Supergirl just emerged. During this storyline, you've got the members of the Justice League stuck under a dome with the Crime Syndicate of America, dealing with the Omega Man in a real battle for their lives. What were your thoughts behind this arc?
Robinson: One of the things I wanted to show here is that these characters are a real Justice League. It's the idea that these guys, in theory, may be in a situation that's too big for them, but there's always a way that the good guys can win if they have the moral and the valor to do it. I want to show that Dick Grayson is always thinking like Batman, Jessie Quick can be as fast as she needs to be, Donna Troy can be as fierce and as awe-inspiring a fighter as she needs to be. And I’m also continuing to play up Jade's power, which will be a constant theme that will carry through other arcs. Especially for next arc, which is the Eclipso arc.

I know that, for a lot of people, it might seem this isn't the Justice League. For them it's the Big 7 or nobody. And I appreciate that. I’m very loyal to favorite lineups of certain teams myself, so I completely appreciate how some fans may feel. But at the same time, I wanted to show that whoever is in the Justice League of America, by virtue of being in that team, steps up and faces the world, and does what only the Justice League of America can do.

Now I am the first to admit that I am sort of a 'big 7' reader. Or at least some variation of it, with a majority of the big 7 being there with some adjunct members like Green Arrow or Red Tornado. In fact, I had no interest in this title when Robinson came on; the only reason I came here was Supergirl.

I am glad I did as the Starheart story was very good and the Omega Man story is off to a good start.

Despite being a 'big 7' guy, I also like stories like this, where an unlikely team rallies and becomes bigger than expected. It reminds me a little of the beginning of New Avengers. Maybe it isn't as stark as this JLA as there were a lot of major characters in New Avengers like Iron Man, Captain America, Wolverine, and Spiderman. But it also included Spiderwoman, Power Man, etc. So I like how this team of semi-sidekicks are trying to live up to the name of the JLA. I like how Superman continues to talk them up, saying they *are* the Justice League.

I think that the Robinson is doing a very good job in showing this team battle and win against some threats of serious magnitude. In some ways, you could look at Cry For Justice as their first mission. So this team has stopped Prometheus and the Starheart. Now they are fighting the CSA, Omega Man and Eclipso is up next. So that sort of competition should bolster their confidence.

The bottom line is I love that Supergirl is in the Justice League. I hope she stays on the team for a long time.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Review: Justice League Of America #52

Justice League #52 came out last week and was the third part of the Omega storyline. It also includes the beginning of Dark Supergirl as a recurring character in the book.

James Robinson continues to make this Justice League be a major player in the DCU. Their first real story together as a team was battling the chaos magic of the Starheart. Here we are dealing with another major universal threat. The Omega Man has been sweeping through universes, slaughtering all living things. And now he has manifested here. Add to that the Crime Syndicate, and you have the makings of a story that sort of feels like the old 'Crisis on Earth (fill in the blank)' stories that were an annual tradition in the old JLA comic.

It is all the more interesting because this isn't the JLA from those stories. This is a 'kinda sorta' Big 7, with versions of the trinity, GL, and the Flash here.

But for me, the thing that I was most interested in seeing here was Dark Supergirl. I had thought we had moved beyond the 'is she evil?' question around Kara, whether it was Jeph Loeb introducing the Dark Supergirl or Joe Kelly questioning Zor-El's motives for sending Supergirl to Earth. It also felt strange to see the black-garbed Supergirl on a cover so shortly after Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle's wonderful finale where Supergirl seemed in a healthier place, embracing her role as here.

All that said, it is a pretty powerful cover by Mark Bagley, showcasing Supergirl (albeit the Dark version) on one of DC's better selling comics.

Robinson continues to show that this Justice League is just as worthy of the moniker as any other version.

Jade has constructed an invulnerable globe of energy around Washington DC, keeping the Omega Man trapped within. It unfortunately means the JLA and CSA are also trapped inside with him. And all the other heroes of the DCU, they are trapped outside and are unable to help.

Within the dome, Donna and Jade are barely able to keep the Omega Man at bay, attacking and withdrawing. He also seems to be biding his time, awaiting for the right moment to attack full out.

And the citizens trapped inside the dome? Well, Jesse Quick is a nonstop dervish, moving people from one place to another so that they can't be found by the Omega Man. Remember, the Omega Man lives to feed, draining life. It is an amazing accomplishment that Jesse is able to do it.

Again, the theme of worthiness of being the Justice League is brought up subtly here. Jesse thinks of a time Wally evacuated a city ... so she should be able to do this. Even this League themselves are wondering if they are worthy. We have seen Dick question his own ability to lead as well. It is such an interesting character wrinkle. A lot of these Leaguers have been sidekicks or proteges. It feels natural that they might question if they can fill these big shoes.

I don't know if I quite grasp whay the Omega Man is.

It seems that the machine built by Dr. Impossible was supposed to resurrect Darkseid's spirit and place it into Impossible's colleague The Hunter. Instead it seems that machine somehow transferred the wave of destructive energy which is destroying Earth Two has somehow manifested inside Hunter. It has somehow gained a human consciousness.

So is the Omega Man's personality Hunter's? Or it's own?

And don't ask me how Bluejay knows all this.

And don't know if I quite know how the presence of the Omega Man's energy has corrupted Kara into Dark Supergirl again.

I like the subtle changes in Supergirl's uniform that Mark Bagley provides here, showing us she is Dark Supergirl again. So we again see the very cropped shirt top and the micro-micro-mini skirt. It is a small thing, but adds to the depth of the change. I am sure this will please some fans of the earliest issues of the Supergirl title.

It seems that James Robinson is using Dark Supergirl as a way to explore how Kara is dealing with the tragedy of New Krypton and War of the Supermen.

I suppose that this is one way that people respond to grief. You can either deal with it, working your way through it ... or you can remove all attachments to everything, become callous, and in that way become invulnerable, impervious to emotional pain.

To be honest I wouldn't mind this so much if Gates and Igle hadn't done such a phenomenal job of exploring how Supergirl was dealing with her personal tragedies in their last issues. This story of Supergirl's response to the sadness in her life has just been done and done well. So where do I stick this in the character's timeline? Before or after the BizarroGirl and Doll maker stories?

I suppose that her saying 'Good riddance' to that Supergirl will again please the fans of the earliest issues of her own title.

I also find it funny that two talented writers are both crafting two very different stories looking at how Supergirl is dealing with the aftershock of New Krypton but no one is doing the same with Superman!

She might seem carefree but Dick reminds her she is going to need to pick sides at some point.

Her response? To kiss him.

Is this just another thing that Dark Supergirl knows will push some buttons? Or does she have some latent romantic feelings for Batman? I hope it isn't the latter. Robinson made such an effort to say that the two have a brother/sister relationship and nothing more. Doesn't adding this undercut Robinson's own character building?

But it is pretty evident that the League cannot defeat the Omega Man by themselves. Luckily, Owlman overhears Batman and BlueJay talking. Owlman decides that the two groups need to team-up. Bad guys teaming up with good guys? Oooh, this does have a little Silver Age feel to it.

The idea of a life-draining energy field possessing a human villain gives Robinson some space to flex his writing muscles. We hear Hunter and the Omega force having a perverse and conflicted rambling dialogue. The Hunter aspect doesn't seem to understand what his purpose is. The Omega side is  filling Hunter's mind with imagery of death and nothingness; it is hungry and craves freedom.

It is a pretty good couple of pages, showing that the Omega Man is of a singular mindset ... he wants to feed on lives and he doesn't care about any wake of destruction he leaves behind him.

But this issue is far from just in-depth character analysis. There is a lot of action. We already saw Donna and Jade fight with the Omega Man earlier in the issue.

Here we see him attack the combined forces of the JLA and the CSA. Without much fuss, the Omega Man kills Power Ring and Johnny Quick. Impressive.

And to make matters worse, Dark Supergirl and Ultraman arrive and appear to be siding with the Omega Man.

I wonder if this is yet another ruse by Dark Supergirl. Not that this is the same personality of the Dark Supergirl we saw in Supergirl #5, but no Supergirl I have read since her return has wanted to serve someone. She always wanted to be on her own, making her own decisions.

So maybe her choosing the wrong side is a way to work her way closer to the Omega Man?

But I really liked Ultraman's reasons for joining the Omega Man. He simply wants to rule. And working for the Omega Man, as powerful an entity as it is, brings him closer to that goal.

I have never quite understood why Ultraman allows himself to be humiliated by Superwoman and Owlman so it was nice to actually see him vocalize his rage about it, how he allows his colleagues to live.

With defeat about to happen, with the Omega Man screaming for the dome to come down, with Supergirl and Ultraman working for the wrong side, Batman doesn't have much of a choice. He kneels before the Omega Man.

Yeah right! I am sure that Dick has something up his sleeve.

So this was one pretty dense issue, a worthy middle chapter in this arc. Robinson clearly wants his League to prove themselves against some pretty big threats. It is nice to see this team gelling, coming together, and battling.

I don't necessarily know if I am happy to see the Dark Supergirl, the evil doppelganger, trope used again here. Supergirl has done so much growing in her own title that this seemed a little off. Of course, the presence of the Omega Man spurred this along. Maybe this is all buried within Kara's subconscious. So I will give Robinson the benefit of the doubt for now. This has the chance to further flesh out the Supergirl character.

But a lot is also happening quickly. I still don't know if I quite grasp what the Omega Man is. It all has to wrap up next month.

Mark Bagley continues to produce solid stuff here. I know it was recently announced he is going back to Ultimate Spiderman. I'll miss his work here.

Overall grade: B+/B

Monday, December 27, 2010

Review: DCU Legacies #8

Earlier this week DCU Legacies #8 was released, covering the next time period in the history of the DC universe. The issue sports a very solid cast of creators - Len Wein, Dan Jurgens, and Jerry Ordway are all on the main story, while Scott Kolins continues to draw the framework pages.

I freely admit that I am probably enjoying this more than most. I am DC history nut, and something of a continuity nerd, so I am really thrilled to see this timeline laid out before me. In particular, these last few issues have been fantastic for me, retelling the stories I grew up with, that I collected when I began to increase the scope of my collecting.

This issue covers the Knightfall storyline where Batman finally defeats the Jean Paul Valley Az-Bat. But the bulk of the issue retells the Funeral for a Friend and Reign of the Supermen stories which came after Superman died at the hands of Doomsday.

This time period in the Superman mythos is a very fruitful one with some excellent arcs. I thought the Death of Superman issues, the actual fight with Doomsday, were pretty pedestrian. But Funeral for a Friend and Reign of the Supermen were both very good. And not only did this time introduce us to Doomsday, but also major new characters - Steel, Superboy, and  the Cyborg Superman.

But one thing that stuck out for me in the earliest parts of this issue which covered the funeral portion of the story was the complete lack of the Matrix Supergirl. Supergirl was a major player in the Superman books back then (even if she was romantically linked to Lex). Heck, she was even a pall bearer at the funeral.

I was thinking 'if the pre-Crisis Supergirl got a couple of panels to shine in Legacies, why not Matrix?'

And then I saw this panel!


Sure, it is one panel and no lines, but she is there. And if Matrix exists then it stands to reason that the Linda Danvers/Matrix Supergirl exists too!

Anyways, I am happy that we got this panel ... at least an acknowledgment that Supergirl was a major player in the Reign of the Supermen and Superman in general in the late 90s.

Here are a couple of Supergirl moments from Reign of the Supermen.

First off, here is the Legacies scene as it played out in the story. From Superman:The Man of Steel #25, written by Louise Simonson and drawn by Jon Bogdanove, here is Supergirl dealing with the presumed threat of the Kryptonian Battlesuit.

No one knew Superman was in the suit as it walked out of the ocean so this was pretty daring of Supergirl. I always thought that Bogdanove's 'in your face' style was an interesting and appreciated contrast to the other artists on the Reign of Supermen run.

Maybe my favorite Supergirl moment in Reign is this one from Action Comics #691, by writer Roger Stern and artist Jackson Guice. When Superman first returned he only had a fraction of his powers and was pretty vulnerable. Still, he leaped headfirst into battle without fear.

It is revealed that Supergirl was with him all along while he was in his weakened state, invisibly tagging along and protecting him. It showed just how much Superman had come to trust in Matrix. Clearly she was a key part of his strategic plan to defeat the Cyborg Superman. In a perfect little nod to the pre-Crisis Supergirl, this story is titled 'Secret Weapon'.

I always loved Guice's Supergirl. She seemed so graceful when he drew her.

Anyways, at least for one panel, that incarnation still exists in the current DCU. Much like the pre-Crisis Supergirl panels, I think DC simply wants to acknowledge the breadth and complexity of continuity. Some people may have vague memories of people who simply no longer are around. Congratulations to Len Wein for putting this story together and celebrating the DCU.

And I didn't even mention the Frank Quitely drawn New Gods second story! That was a great second feature and a sympathetic look at Orion; it would have been worth the cover price itself.

Overall grade: A

Friday, December 24, 2010

Back Issue Box: Christmas With The Super-Heroes #2

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everybody!

Long overdue for a look here at this blog, I figured I would review the Deadman story from Christmas with the Super-Heroes from 1988.

While it is a Deadman story, it resonates most powerfully as a Supergirl story from the immediate post-Crisis DCU, a DCU where there wasn't a Supergirl, wasn't ever a Supergirl, and characters therefore did not remember Supergirl.

'Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot' was written by Alan Brennert and drawn by Dick Giordano. I am always shocked to see Giordano's name on this story. Giordano gave the okay for Supergirl to be killed in COIE #7. This story is such a sympathetic look back at Supergirl, almost an apologia for her being erased from the history books, I am surprised he drew it.

The story starts with Deadman bemoaning his lonely existence as a wraith. Despite all he does, he aches for human contact, moreso at the holidays.

He begins hopping bodies, taking in moments of other people's lives to ease his own emotional pain. He steps into a man's body and enjoys a Christmas dinner, laughing with his family, loving his girlfriend, being someone again.

But then he realizes that his joy is at the expense of this man's life. It will never be Deadman's joy. Filled with anger and self-loathing, he leaves the man and takes off into the night.

It's there that he runs into a young woman who can see him flying there, can talk to him.

She can sense his anguish and tells him what he needs to hear. He is a hero. He does what he does because he can. He doesn't do it for accolades or gratitude. He does it to help people.

And he has to do it ... even if no one knows he is doing it. Even if no one knows he exists. Hmmmm ...

Set again on the right path, Deadman tries to thank the mystery woman. He asks her for her name.

"My name is Kara. Though I doubt that will mean anything to you." I still get chills.

This was Supergirl, the one who did what she needed to do and saved the universe because that is what heroes do. This is the Supergirl that was eliminated from the timeline, expunged from everyone's memory.

And with the lesson learned, she disappears.

His resolve re-established, Deadman thanks Kara ... whoever she is.

There is even a little kudos to Otto Binder and Jim Mooney who were the creators on Supergirl's earliest adventures.

It is such a short and lovely story, getting to the core of who Supergirl was in a handful of panels. It showed her heroism, her strength, her sacrifice. "We do it because it needs to be done. Because if we don't, know one else will."

It was as if someone in the DC offices realized that something special was gone and we needed to be reminded of it. Few stories encapsulate the beauty of Supergirl as a character as this one does. Wonderful.

I see this issue at conventions all the time, dog-eared in the fifty cent bin. It pains me. Because for old time Supergirl fans, this is such a beloved story, a hidden jewel, a near perfect eulogy for who she was and what she represented. The first time I read it, I suddenly didn't feel alone as someone who was a fan of Supergirl, or who missed her. If these creators could write this story, they must feel the same way.

I often rank the back issues I review in terms of their importance to a Supergirl collection. This would get my highest ranking, a very important story in the Supergirl mythos, even if she never appears in costume, never shows her powers. It's short and in a holiday anthology. But its impact cannot be denied. I cannot thank Brennert enough for writing it.

Overall grade: A+

I'll be away from blogging for a couple of days with the holidays. Hope everyone stays safe and has fun.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

March Solicits

The DC March solicits are now available on the DC website. As usual, here are the pertinent titles with some comments.


Nick Spencer (Morning Glories) assembles the cream of the crop of the next generation of DCU super-heroes in this issue – Robin, Static, Miss Martian, Blue Beetle, Batgirl, the new Impulse – to team up with Supergirl and take on a new villain who promises to define this generation as much as Darkseid, Lex Luthor and The Joker did prior ones. Good luck, kids!

I am glad that DC changed it's the credits to show that James Peaty is going to be the writer at this point (sarcasm). I think they had enough lead time to make the change.

The question, of course, is Peaty going to follow Spencer's plot or curtail this story and start his own. It has been pretty quiet about Peaty taking over. No interviews or anything like that. So it is hard to know if he is a pinch hitter for this quick arc and then will stay on - or if another creative team is being sought for.

This Amy Reeder cover looks rough and probably isn't finished.


“The Rise of Eclipso” continues! With the Spectre fallen and darkness spread throughout the DC Universe, no one is safe from Eclipso’s control! Not any of DCs shadow-based heroes and villains. Not Alan Scott and the magical beings of the moon’s Emerald City. Not even the World’s Greatest Heroes! And when Eclipso’s ultimate goal is revealed, they’ll see that it’s scale is even bigger than the DC Universe. One lone hero has the power to make sure all be well however...for he has hope. Introducing Blue Lantern Saint Walker to the Justice League of America! In the remains of New Krypton, Doomsday tears through Batman, Supergirl and Alpha Lantern Boodikka in his search for Cyborg Superman as “Reign of Doomsday” rampages on!
Boy, a lot is happening in this issue!

So Eclipso continues his evil ways. Supergirl remains Dark Supergirl. A Blue Lantern joins the League (aren't they pretty weak without a GL nearby? Does Jade count? Or is Boodika also joining?).

And this is part of the Doomsday crossover. Funny how he is looking for the Cyborg Superman. What is that all about?

One thing I will say, after seeing his work on the Power Girl/Huntress story in Superman/Batman #78, I can't wait to see Brett Booth's stuff on this title.


Superman visits Boulder, Colorado, as “Grounded” races forward! And speaking of racing, here comes The Flash! The Scarlet Speedster has made a strange discovery that relates to Superman, so he tracks The Man of Steel down in the Centennial State to get some answers! What did Flash discover? Well, let’s just say there’s a reason Superman isn’t very happy to see him...

I have always been a sucker for Flash/Superman races so I am a bit more interested in this issue of Grounded than I usually am. I like how Superman continues to walk on the cover despite Flash zipping by him.

We will be 9+ issues into Grounded at this point. I don't know if we ever heard about an end point.


Lex Luthor has left no stone unturned in his quest for the Black Lantern energy, but he’s not the only one searching for it – Brainiac wants the energy and the knowledge it offers all to himself. Trust us, this is gonna be the most vicious Luthor/Brainiac team-up ever. It all sets the stage for both a conclusion and a beginning in next month’s historic ACTION COMICS #900, featuring the return of you-know-who...

Is Brainiac the big bad behind Luthor's actions? I thought for sure it was going to be Krona but since he just turned up in Green Lantern, I don't think he can be it.

Maybe Darkseid? It was hinted at in the Annual recently.

Much like Superman/Flash races, I am a sucker for Luthor/Brainiac team-ups. And Superman is coming back in Action #900? Or is you-know-who the villain pulling Luthor's strings? I have liked this run much more than I thought I would.

Written by JEFF LEMIRE

Get ready for the first-ever Superboy/Kid Flash race! Bart Allen may have the speed, but Conner Kent has the power – who will win?! Meanwhile, a dangerous threat is nipping at their heels, one that may mean the end for Superboy, Kid Flash and all of Smallville!

There seems to be a theme here this month.

If I like Superman/Flash races, I have to like Superboy/Kid Flash races. What is the big threat against Smallville? And why Smallville?


The hit ACTION COMICS co-feature that everyone's talking about gets its own collection, reprinting the first four parts of the story and presenting 30 all-new pages that bring "Jimmy Olsen's Big Week" to a ridiculously over-the-top close!
When Jimmy Olsen finds out that his ex-girlfriend, Chloe Sullivan, is spending a week writing a profile about a young big-shot LexCorp employee, Jimmy is determined to prove to Chloe that he can have just as exciting and interesting a week. Cue bar fights with drunken aliens, a visit to the Yarn Barn with Supergirl, Fifth Dimensional stalkers, and Jimmy Olsen: Space Warrior!

So Spencer's Jimmy Olsen story is being compiled into one issue, including the chapters we have already read in Action. I don't know if I am happy about buying a product I already own to complete the story.

This story has been enjoyable in a quirky sort of way. And Silva's art is interesting.

But I love the Amanda Conner cover. Supergirl knitting in the background! Sweet.

Written by PAUL DINI

Satanic sorcerer Brother Night lost his magical powers when Zatanna defeated him atop Mount Diablo. But in prison, he's forged a bloody pact that could make him the most dangerous nemesis she's ever faced! Last time, her friends barely escaped with their lives; this time, they might not be so lucky!

Zatanna isn't usually on my pull list. But at least now we know where Jamal Igle is going to be landing after Supergirl.

And that is some creative line-up there. Dini, Igle, and Adam Hughes. Looks like Zatanna will be on my pull list!

Sort of a short list this month with no real surprises out there other than the Igle announcement. Glad Jamal is back on a monthly book!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Review: Superman #706

Superman #706 was released last week, the second 'interlude' in the Grounded storyline that seems to be floundering a bit. With JMS off the story and critical response a mixed bag as best, the title and the story seems on shaky ground. Does anyone really care about this story anymore? Is anyone floored by it?

Given that background, I didn't envy G. Willow Wilson's job of writing this issue. If I can't get excited for the main arc, why would I be excited about a Perry White interlude.

Wilson shows Perry dealing with the changing world of news media, dealing with the shrinking paper market and the growing internet presence in the news world. But it also takes a look at the dirty back room dealings that sometimes accompany breaking news stories as well as the unreliability of some internet sources. The blogosphere doesn't necessarily need two sources to corroborate a story. They run with it.

Perry really feels like a man caught between two worlds here. I was hoping that he would be a truly inspiring figure, something of the way he was presented in Superman:Secret Origin. Instead, he comes off a bit as a blowhard and a smidge too old school. I think this Perry would fit in very well on Mad Men.

This was an okay story I suppose. But it seemed more suited for a Superman 80pg Giant than as a pause in this hyped Grounded arc.

The issue starts with Perry reeling a bit from both big and small issues. His new photographer Sandeep can't quite get a good picture and Perry berates him, even manhandling him a bit. I don't know if that sort of bullishness is tolerated anymore in the workplace.

But the bigger issue is the shrinking market for the Daily Planet. Revenues are shrinking. Unfortunately, this very real problem is swept under the rug a bit by another small catastrophe.

But before the bad news continues, Perry gets a sliver of good news.

Lois, still on Superman's trail and currently in St.Louis, not only has a good Superman article but also a breaking story on an environmental issue in Kansas. Whether in Metropolis or out, Lois has a nose for news.

Lois is such a huge part of the Superman books and I think she has been somewhat ignored by Straczynski. So I was glad we got this scene.

But the bad news keeps coming. Ron Troupe tells Perry that Urbanitis, a very popular news blog, is about to do a huge expose on the Planet. It is going to make some serious accusations about the Planet's relationship with Superman. There is some hint that the Planet might be paying Superman for his stories.

There is also a story brewing that Lois has a more personal relationship with Superman explaining her uncanny knack for Superman exclusives.

What is a bit unsavory is how easily Troupe seems to buy into the notion. Some friend.

Perry decides that he needs to get more information. So he faux fires Sandeep and sends him to Urbanitis as a spy.

Amazingly, Sandeep is able to walk in a to the plush Urbanitis offices and get a job within seconds. No need to show a resume or a portfolio. He's a former Planet employee, the target of Urbanitis ... he's in.

Jack Hoffman, the man who runs Urbanitis, has an axe to grind. He wants to show that the 'new media' of the internet is being ignored by the 'old media'. So why not take down the giant of the old media?

He has financial reports suggestive of a slush fund to pay Superman off. And more, he has a picture of Lis and Superman in a compromising position.

When Sandeep tells Perry of the photo, Perry calls Lois and asks what he might see in that photo.

In some verbal legerdemain, Lois doesn't necessarily answer the question. It is sort of a dodge. But it is clear she is worried. In this world of telephoto lenses and cell phone cameras, anything is possible.

Perry has an understated response, deciding not to press the issue.

Perry then gets a surprise visit from Superman, breaking off his walk across America to talk to White about this Urbanitis crisis. When Superman starts obfuscating and dancing around the issue, Perry stops him in his tracks. Perry doesn't want to know. Then he won't have to deny.

Wow ... even Perry suddenly thinks it might be true that the world's greatest hero is having an affair with a married woman. Some friend!

Perry has had enough. Rather than cower, waiting for the storm to hit, he feels it is time to meet the enemy. He asks for a meeting with Hoffman.

First off, he quickly refutes the 'slush fund' theory. The missing money is from Perry's personal account and supports an internship program. But the bigger question is why Hoffman would think this was money ear-marked for Superman. The number was $20,000 every quarter. Would $80,000 be enough to buy off Superman, a guy who can wring diamonds from coal? Or rob any bank he wanted to?

And the damning photo of Superman and Lois? A photo-shopped concert poster. Wouldn't Hoffman have someone on his staff to check that out? Or is this just another way of indicting the 'too fast for it's own good' new media.

In a 'keep your enemies closer' move, Perry asks Hoffman if he wants to be the Planet's next intern, someone who could help the Planet with the newer forms of communication. Hoffman accepts!

I don't know. It seemed to quick. Urbanitis is a big enough operation to have it's own staff and office building. Hoffman just pages earlier railed against the paper media. Would an internship at the Planet woo him away from his own little successful kingdom?

Maybe that is the response to the dwindling subscriptions. Maybe this is supposed to show that White realizes he needs new revenue streams and Hoffman understands those.

But it all resolves so quickly. So neatly.

Still, the quickness with which the Planet staff buys into the rumors is what stuck with me the most.

Amilcar Pinna does an adequate job here, drawing mostly regular people having conversations.

Grounded keeps lumbering along.

Overall grade: C+

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

An Open Letter To James Peaty

I am hoping somehow that you discover this site and will read this.

Congratulations on being named writer on Supergirl!

The fan response to the recent news of Nick Spencer leaving the title may make it seem that Supergirl fans are upset about you coming on board as writer.

That simply isn't true.

Unfortunately, when there is a feel of uncertaintly around a title, there is associated uncertainty within its fans.

As Supergirl fans, we care about the character and how she is portrayed. We want her to be strong and smart and heroic. We want her to be on the hero's journey, learning along the way. And we hope that her writer will have the same respect for the character.

We are ready to embrace creators that care. Sterling Gates was a relative unknown when he took over the title. There was the same sense of uncertainty. But that all went away when it was clear he understood and loved the character.

In re-reading your work on Supergirl #33, it sounds like you have a good idea of Supergirl's voice. It can not have been easy to wrap up Kelley Puckett's story. It can't be any easier to pick up Nick Spencer's arc and finish it.

To sum up ... welcome aboard! I look forward to reading your upcoming issues and seeing this next chapter in Supergirl's life.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Bullet Review: Titans #30

I will be honest, I haven't picked up a Titans or Teen Titans book in a long time.

But the sneak peek of Titans #30 on the DC Source got me interested enough to give it a try. The creative team of writer Eric Wallace and artist Fabrizio Fiorentino are completely new to me so I figured this would also be a good way for me to branch out and get a feel for some new talent.

I'll say that I was very grateful for the 'origin box' in the issue. I thought Titans was the title where the grown up Teen Titans work their magic. But with Donna and Dick in the JLA, Starfire in REBELS, and Beast Boy still in Teen Titans, there wouldn't be much of a roster.

So it seems this book has some connection to Brightest Day. And it really is a Deathstroke team, a gathering of some bad guys working on a secret mission. Cheshire and Roy Harper are on the team.

I should have known after reading this that it wasn't necessarily going to be my cup of tea. I don't always gravitate to the frank bad guy books (although I guess REBELS is debatable.)

The main plot of this book is Deathstroke's team breaking into Arkham to free a woman with some sort of solar/radiation powers.

What got my attention on the Source was this scene with the JLA and Supergirl. I guess a subplot here is the investigation of the missing Ryan Choi. Roy Palmer and the team are trying to figure out if Choi was murdered (which I think we know is true) but are coming up empty.

But look at Fiorentino's version of Supergirl. That doesn't look like a belly shirt to me!

Doesn't this complete blue shirt version of the costume, even if it was a mistake, look completely fantastic? Make the skirt red and I'd be thrilled!

I do like how Supergirl remains hopeful that Choi is alive. Maybe she would be recruited by the Blue Lanterns?

I also like the hair Fiorentino draws Supergirl with. It sort of reminded me of the wisps seen in the Apocalypse movie.

But otherwise this is a book about Deathstroke being one step ahead of everyone including the Dick Grayson Batman. It also showed me how low Roy Harper has gone, working with the villains and generally being a brute. He is even described as being in a heroin haze. I am sure this darkness appeals to some, but not me. I'm not invested enough in these characters to care.

So I am glad I got the book. It is always good to try new titles and see what's happening. But I don't think I'll be coming back here.

Nice version of Supergirl though.