Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween: Review Adventure Comics #396

Happy Halloween to all the ghouls and goblins out there.

I am, unfortunately, still carving my jack-o-lanterns so can't post them here in time for trick-or treat time. So instead I thought I would present a spooky Supergirl story from the Adventure Comics run in the early 70s.

There is some synergy here as I actually reviewed the first part of the story earlier this month when talking about the thought beasts of Krypton. If you want to refresh your memory, you can go here for the full review:

In that story, Linda Danvers spends the night in a 'haunted mansion'. The haunting later turns out to be the Phantom Zone villains broadcasting evil telepathy through a amped-up television set. The house belonged to a missing  inventor Amos Ameswell. At the end of that first part, the Phantom Zone villains have been 'unplugged' when Supergirl destroyed the TV set. But then suddenly Ameswell seemed to magically appear!

Writer Bob Kanigher does an interesting job in this 2 parter mixing science fiction and horror elements. It makes for a bit of a muddled story but a fun one nonetheless. Artist Kurt Schaffenberger puts in his usual fantastic work, especially in the expressions Kara has in the story. 

But this is supposed to be a Halloween story! I think with a title like 'I am a witch!' it fits the bill, especially when we see on the opening splash page Supergirl surrounded by black cats and broken mirrors.

Supergirl seems perplexed by the sudden appearance of Ameswell especially when he starts to cackle about how she hasn't earned the reward for staying in the haunted house overnight.

Hoping to get some answers about where Ameswell has been for the last 12 years, Supergirl tries to grab him only to have him seemingly do some rapid fire shape changing - fire to smoke to python to lion to condor and back to human.

Supergirl seems unconvinced that his tricks are true magic. After all his 'haunted house' was also explained by the science of the transmitting television.

Ameswell means to convince Supergirl that there is some factual basis behind magic and superstitions. And so he brings her into his 'bad luck room', a place filled with objects meant to curse someone with ill fortune.

In some ways it's comical ... ooooh, a salt shaker, a mirror, and a black cat! But Supergirl takes it all with a ... ahem ... grain of salt. In fact, she seems to forget that there is a mystery behind Ameswell's disappearing/reappearing act. Instead she decides to have a conversation with him.

In the midst of the conversation, Ameswell shows he believes these items to be capable of affecting someone's luck. When he spills the salt, he tosses some over his shoulder.

Supergirl aims to show Ameswell that superstitions are nothing but nonsense. And so she walks around his bad luck room and does everything she can to give herself ... well ... bad luck.

For some reason I think the panel of Supergirl defiantly walking under a ladder is awesome. Maybe because it is so inane.

Unfortunately, it looks as though her disregard for superstitions might lead to tragedy.

When she stops to help a group of civic minded young men build a boys' center, she ends up destroying it.

And later when she tries to save some passengers on a runaway roller coaster, she ends up accidentally demolishing the ride.

And lastly, when she tries to save some pilots at an air show who are in danger, she only makes matters worse, sending them into a worse predicament.

It is clear that she has toyed with powers beyond her ken.

And, this being the Silver Age, she goes through a momentary crisis of self-doubt.

Supergirl figures that after afflicting herself with bad luck, and knowing that being a jinx with super-powers is a recipe for major disasters, she has no choice. She must banish herself to the Phantom Zone!

Ahh ... the Silver Age.

Meanwhile, from afar, Ameswell cackles in joy. He has seen Supergirl have a 'super-breakdown'. And he knows that with Supergirl out of the way he can use all his powers and inventions to terrorize future victims.

His greatest machine of all, a time machine he has used over those missing 12 years to travel through time and learn from the greatest dark magicians in history.

Hmmm, maybe he has some 'real' magic powers after all?

Before he can enjoy his victory for too long, Supergirl crashes into the house and destroys the time machine. (I guess Ameswell has to say 'irreplaceable' so as readers we know he won't simply rebuild things.)

Maybe now is the time for him to break out that black magic he used??

I guess he doesn't really have magic powers after all.

It turns out that Supergirl's jinxiness came from science ... an anti-mass destruct element Ameswell invented and spilled on Supergirl. Thus anything she touched she would destroy. (Of course, that doesn't explain the lack of control of her super-breath in the airplane rescue.)

Looking herself over after the accidents, Supergirl noticed the elements and deduced that Ameswell set her up. So she washed it from her hands and returned to bring Ameswell to justice.

While the earlier part of this story was wonderfully silly, the end sort of falls short. Why would Ameswell, a great scientist, use his inventions to learn magic to terrorize people. Aren't there easier ways to use a time machine and anti-mass destruct elements to do that? And did he actually learn magic anyways? Why did he have the bad luck room set up ... just in case a super-hero showed up so he could try to convince them they had bad luck? And why did he return just at this moment?

I guess I'll just have to roll with it.

Still, I do love that montage showing Supergirl standing with her arms crossed, daring to let a black cat walk in front of her.

So a sort of silly, magical, superstitious tale for Halloween.

Don't eat too much candy!

Overall grade: B

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #75

After a deluge of publicity for the Superman titles in the days surrounding NYCC, news about those books has dried up a bit. And as this is a 5 Wednesday month, my usual reviews have been spread out a bit.

As a result, I have been going to the back issue box a bit more than usual. That means a lot of Silver Age wackiness has been reviewed here. And the train isn't slowing down. There is a Halloween review on track for tomorrow.

I recently looked at Supergirl quitting the news business as a reflection of Clark quitting the Daily Planet. Now I thought I would review sort of the opposite situation, the time Supergirl joined the Daily Planet.

"When Supergirl Replaced Jimmy Olsen!" was written by Superman creator Jerry Siegel and drawn by Curt Swan. That is some serious comic history joining up to write this story. As was typical of the Jimmy Olsen book, the Supergirl/Jimmy Olsen story is only one of three in the book.

I have to say the story isn't reflected on the cover which hints at a sort of romance story. I think the Linda/Jimmy romance was always only hinted at in a vague way.

As happened more often in the Silver Age than you might expect, red Kryptonite plays a big part in the story.

In the far future, Supergirl is helping Superman equip the Fortress of Solitude with a future alarm system. Unfortunately, she comes out of the time stream right next to a massive chunk of Red K.

Realizing that Red K might make anything happen, Supergirl decides to return back to the present.

So two important things required for this story to progress has happened in the earliest panels. One, Supergirl is affected by Red K. And Superman is not in the picture. He can't help in the present.

Now who knows what zaniness might happen!

As she zips to the present, Supergirl peeks through the time stream and sees that in 2 days from her 'present' Jimmy Olsen dies in a Daily Planet helicopter crash.

Despite learning time after time that history cannot be changed, Supergirl decides she needs to warn Jimmy. If he never gets in that helicopter, he won't die.

However, when she walks up to Jimmy and warns him, she realizes she has lost her powers. The Red K has taken them away. And Jimmy thinks that this person warning him about his death isn't Supergirl but a 'crazy girl' in a suit. He ignores her warning.

And then, to make things even goofier, the Red K has a different wrinkle. She has no powers when in her Supergirl costume. But she does have her powers when dressed as Linda.

So now she has to be extra careful with her powers so as not to reveal her secret identity.

Now that is too fantastic! Classic Silver Age!

One thing I love about the Silver Age is that the characters simply roll with the craziness and often devise even crazier schemes to remedy the problem.

If Jimmy dies in a Daily Planet helicopter crash then the best way to save him is to get him fired as Planet employee.

Really? That's the best plan?

Maybe you can take him out of the city in 2 days? Or move at superspeed to catch the helicopter? Maybe pull the fire alarm in the Planet before the crash?

And so the conniving and devious Linda Danvers gets to work.

She gets hired by the Planet. And then she gets to work sabotaging Jimmy.

Linda throws herself into Jimmy's arms because she is 'afraid' of a toy mouse and then kisses him for 'protecting' her. Lucy thinks he is two-timing her and so dumps him. And this broken hearted Jimmy begins writing drivel, whining about his lost love.

Check out the evil smirk on Linda's face. But this lousy writing doesn't get Jimmy fired.

Figuring that Jimmy earned too much respect at the Planet to get easily fired, Linda decides to go a different route. If Jimmy can fly on his own, why would he ever get into a helicopter.

So she plants a "real flying carpet" at Jimmy's feet. And with a little Linda assist, the carpet does follow his commands and flies him around.

So flying under a carpet in her Linda guise somehow doesn't endanger her secret identity? And I think this might be a more bizarre plan than getting Jimmy fired.

Unfortunately, Jimmy brags about the carpet to Perry White and White, being a solid newsman, wants proof. Perry wants Linda there as well so she can see how real news is made.

Since Linda can't carry the carpet, it won't fly.

In a strange twist, it actually helps Linda achieve her goal. Perry is irate that Jimmy would lie to him and fires him on the spot.

If Jimmy isn't a Planet employee, he can't get into the copter. He is safe.

And yet, while listening to the radio, Linda hears that Jimmy has died in a helicopter crash.

When she goes to investigate, both she and a very much alive Jimmy discover that a lookalike thief tried to rob the Planet and frame Jimmy. When he couldn't get the flying carpet to work, he got into a broken helicopter and crashed it.

So Linda's vision did indeed come true. She just didn't understand the details. This was an imposter.

Perry happens by and re-hires Jimmy on the spot even giving him a ten dollar raise!!!

With Jimmy safe and the effects of the Red K worn off, Linda quits the Planet and heads home.

And Jimmy, he basks in the adoration of Lucy Lane.

So I guess Linda has quit the Planet too!

I don't have much to say here. It is a great example of what the Silver Age was all about and you either love it or hate it. I love the Swan art here, clean and crisp. Supergirl appearances in the Jimmy Olsen book are pretty rare, numbering (I think) three. I think Supergirl interacting with the greater Superman supporting cast is always a good thing. So while I would say this is of low importance to a Supergirl collection, I am thrilled to have it in my collection. For some reasons, I don't see these issues too often, so if you see it and are interested you should buy it. Because who know if you will see it again.

Overall grade: B+

Monday, October 29, 2012

Rhode Island Comic-Con

As a lifelong New Englander, and native Rhode Islander displaced to the Boston area, I have been thrilled with the recent proliferation of good comic book conventions in the area. There is the Boston Comic Con. There is the Granite State Comicon in New Hampshire. There is the ComiConn in Southern Connecticut. And all of these shows seem to be growing.

And now Rhode Island has joined the mix with next weekend's RI Comic-Con. Here is the link:!home/mainPage  I'll be in attendance on the second day.

Now I will admit, this seems more like a  C-list sci-fi celebrity convention with the cast of the original Battlestar Galactica and Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers in attendance as well as other models, TV stars, and wrestlers.

But there are a couple of guests there worth seeing and re-connecting with.

Jamal Igle will be there. Obviously, Igle drew the bulk of the Sterling Gates Supergirl run, a run that is beloved by me as rehabilitating Kara. I feel pretty badly because I didn't get to talk to Igle for too long at the Boston Comic-Con last year. I was at the BCC for only one day and was running around. So I hope to talk to him about his new all ages creator-owned project Molly Danger.

Walt Simonson is the headliner there. I have met Simonson at a couple of prior conventions but he is such a great person, talking about comics with fans in a friendly and engaging way. I'll have some issues for signature.

Now I have Igle and Simonson commissions. So the questions is do I go for some local artists? Or do I shunt my money to back issues. I have always had the plan to get local artists to draw Supergirl on some of the Marvel sketch variant covers. Maybe this is the day to do it.

There'll be a bit of nostalgia for me. I have fond memories of going to my first 'comic book show' at a Howard Johnson's in Cranston RI when I was about 10 yrs old. There were no creators. It was more like a big comic flea market. But as a kid, seeing all those comics in boxes and bags, filling that convention room, was like discovering Shangri-La. I vividly remember buying my first 'old' back issue - The Brave and the Bold #67. I was in a huge Flash kick at that time and thought owning this issue made me a fat cat comic collector.

Anyways, I am glad that another convention has taken root in New England and I'll have a report afterwards. Anyone else going?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Review: Adventure Comics #424 - Linda Danvers Quits Reporting The News!

This week in Superman #13, Clark Kent quits the news business, walking out on the Daily Planet because he feels they have lost their way.

Did you know that Supergirl had a similar moment in her history?

Adventure Comics #424 was the last issue of Supergirl's 3-plus year run as the headliner in that book. She was on her way to a short lived solo title Supergirl, which lasted all of 10 issues. With a new book coming out, my guess is that DC wanted the Supergirl title to be a bit of a soft reboot, bringing in a new supporting cast and a new locale.

This was something of a time of transition for Supergirl as a character. For almost 2 years in Adventure Comics, Linda Danvers was working as a news photographer/editor/junior reporter for KSF-TV in San Francisco. She had flirted with her boss Jeff and had an ongoing rivalry with Nasty Luthor (who held a similar position at the station). She seemed to love her job ... so what could have happened to make her leave?

'Crypt of the Frozen Graves' is one of the stranger stories in this Adventure run, and that's saying something! Written by Steve Skeates and drawn by Tony DeZuniga and Bob Oksner and the story starts out relatively normal before unraveling into a melange of seduction, ghost story, hysteria, bondage, torture, science fiction, and finally righteous indignation.

The story starts with Linda Danvers, junior reporter, getting a tip from a mob informant Bruce Ryan. Ryan knows Linda has Supergirl as a friend and he has been giving them both some small tips here and there. One thing he won't do is give up the name of the boss of the syndicate. Ryan knows that anyone who has tried to rat on or testify against the boss has 'mysteriously disappeared'.

Again, Ryan only tells Supergirl some small potatoes information, nothing major.

Later that night, Ryan calls Linda again. He sounds spooked and refuses to give either Linda or Supergirl anymore information.

And it seems like he was right to be scared. As Linda is listening, a shot is fired at Bruce.

One thing I like about this story is DeZuniga's art. He really has a good command of point of view, when to zoom in or out, and panel construction. In particular, as in these panels, he often blurs the boundaries having one panel's art overlap another.  I don't think this was that common back then.

Linda changes into Supergirl and goes to investigate. There is a bullet hole in the wall but no blood. Bruce escaped.

Luckily, even though he was feeding her information, Bruce never met Linda. When Kara discovers where Bruce is hiding out she thinks the best plan isn't to confront him wearing the big red S. Instead, she decides that the best way to get the 'ladies man' to give up the name of the syndicate boss is to seduce him.

Gone is 'sweet' Linda. Instead she will use her feminine wiles. And sure enough, dressed to kill and literally falling into Bruce's arms, Linda is able to start up a whirlwind romance with the mob enforcer.

Yep, this isn't Midvale any more!

So Linda and Bruce start a day and a night on the town including a wardrobe change into evening wear.

While out during the day, Bruce gets shot at and seems to toss Linda into harm's way as a human shield (of course he doesn't know this is Linda Danvers). And, as was common in early Supergirl comics, she finds herself attracted to him ... a surefire hint that he is either a bad guy or a magical centaur.

Why would she be attracted to a mob guy who is on the lam? Especially one that has no problem hurting others.

Now if that wasn't bad enough, while in the restaurant for a romantic dinner, the syndicate tries to kill Bruce by tossing a grenade into the dining area.

Here is where things get a bit weird. Instead of acting at superspeed or using her powers in any other way, Linda actually pauses to see if Bruce is brave enough to toss himself onto the grenade, a move that would surely kill him. Odd.

And when he shows his true colors by running out the back door, Linda has no choice but to toss herself on the grenade to save the people. She stops breathing and 'plays dead' until the restaurant is cleared by police and then she also sneaks out the back door. Wouldn't people be suspicious by the lack of blood or other injury from shrapnel? Would the authorities ever leave a dead body alone in a restaurant, alone enough for Linda to escape? Couldn't she have done something else so she wouldn't be stuck like this?

Now if that wasn't strange enough, Supergirl decides that the best course of action is to buy a ghost costume, apply some make-up, and appear in Bruce's apartment as Linda's spirit, an attempt to scare the name of the syndicate boss out of him. Really? That is the best plan she could come up with?

But before her fright tactics can work, the man who tossed the grenade suddenly materializes in the apartment as well, appearing  rather ghostly himself. Shocked by this, Supergirl pauses for a second, enough time for the ghost to pull out a very solid machine gun, riddle Bruce with bullets, and disappear.

Her lack of action here caused Bruce's death.

Overwhelmed with guilt about Bruce's death, especially since she was pushing this envelope in hopes of being promoted to a full-fledged reporter, Linda sulks at the TV station.

And, as if on cue, Nasty decides to be ... well ... nasty. Her emotional resolve frayed, Linda throttles Nasty something of a cat fight. The two need to be separated. Good thing to ... Linda is really hysterical, thinking to herself that she has lost all control of her emotions and might have injured Nasty.

Before she can say anything, the syndicate's button men, including the trigger man who killed Bruce, show up. They know that Bruce has been talking to Linda. And they need information about a stash of money Bruce had hidden. Hmm ... maybe they shouldn't have gunned him down if they didn't know his hiding spot?

Now if you think this story has had enough twists and turns, hold on to your hats, because things get really bizarre.

Linda is brought to the syndicate boss who decides to torture Linda in hopes of getting the information from her. They truss her up in a bondage position William Moulton Marsters would have been proud of. And then a man in executioner's garb uses a red hot cattle brand on her. As crazy as the plot twist is, I find it crazy that they show it in such dramatic fashion.

All that said, Linda still wants the information and so plays along, screaming in agony and pretending to pass out. The 'Pulp Fiction' gang decide that if brute force won't work, maybe 'The Professor' can use science to pry the location of the cash from her.

However, Linda scoffs at his attempt so he decides that the insult to his intelligence is too great. With no care for the potential money information, he uses his greatest device, a teleportation machine, to send Linda into space with all the other witnesses who have gone missing. This is the 'crypt of the frozen graves' in the title ... outer space!

Quite a crazy tour of literary genres and themes we are going through here don't you think?? From medieval torture to sci-fi nuttiness.

Of course, a trip home is nothing for Linda. She returns as Supergirl and shuts down the operation all together, smashing the teleportation machine, beating the thugs to a pulp, and bringing the boss to justice.
I have to say this is one angry Supergirl, unloading Kryptonian haymakers into the faces of the gangsters and tossing the boss at high velocity into a wall. It's pretty violent ... even as she ignores the boss's pleas for mercy and his cardiac condition.

Some of this is probably transference of her anger at herself for letting Bruce die.

She still can't get over that Bruce died because she was so absorbed in landing the big scoop. If reporting the news is bigger than the safety of those in the news, if that lure is enough to have her go to such lengths that she put protecting someone in the background and her job in the foreground, than she can't be part of it.

She quits saying she has 'better things to do with [her] life than stay in a business that exploits people'!! Ahhh ... righteous indignation! It smells like victory!

And so ... just like cousin Clark ... Linda leaves the 'anything for ratings' world of news.

In the subsequent solo book, Linda goes back to being a student, enrolling in the Vandyre drama school.

This is such a crazy story what with Linda vamping it up, jumping on a live grenade, pretending to be a ghost, and being subjected to bondage and torture. Add to that how emotionally labile she was and the outright violence she subjects mobsters to and it is an odd stew, to say the least. The story aside, DeZuniga's art is certainly interesting especially given the time the issue came out.

Despite the weird windings of the story, since this closed a chapter in the Supergirl character, I would rank it of moderate importance for a Supergirl collection. Copies of the later Adventure run are usually easy to find and relatively affordable. 

Overall grade: C

Friday, October 26, 2012

Review: Superman #13

Superman #13 came out this week, the first Superman-centric issue in the Scott Lobdell era. And there has already been a lot of coverage of this book with the first 5 pages previewed in DC Comics and the 'quitting the Daily Planet' plot revealed in the mainstream media.

And as my reaction to this book is strong, I'll warn you know this is a long review.

I had mixed feelings when I heard Scott Lobdell was taking over the character. Having read plenty of Lobdell books, I didn't know if his style was right for the character. Then there were plenty of interviews where Lobdell sort of said the right things which made me think that maybe he knew how to handle Superman.

After reading this issue, I am more down than up. There are a couple of nice moments here. A couple. But most of the issue continues to increase the divide between Superman and humanity. Yes, there is a lot of Clark in this issue and Clark and his relationships, of course, are his most important links to mankind. But comments here and there, Superman's internal monologue, how people react to him ... it all just seems to be leading to an isolated Superman.

It feels so off sometimes that I wonder if anyone at DC right now is a Superman fan. Does anyone over there understand just who Superman is, what he represents, and just what his priorities are?

One thing to compliment the book on is Kenneth Rocafort's art. It is dynamic and kinetic. The page constructions with crazy panels overlying each during the action sequences flow nicely and are in contrast to the more standard right-angled panels seen in the more quiet dialogue heavy scenes. Rocafort is a great choice for a Superman book.

The issue opens up with Superman testing the limits of his powers under the supervision of Dr. Veritas, a brilliant scientist I have never heard of before. Did I miss her prior appearances?

It is a return of the Silver Age Superman, at least power-wise. For five days, cut off from yellow sun rays, he has been bench pressing the weight of the Earth.

Veritas clearly knows Superman. She even seems attracted to him, asking him if she can take advantage of him in his exhausted state. And yet, even this person who seems to have a close relationship to Superman calls him a 'strange visitor'. Now her saying it alone makes me wonder if she identifies him as a citizen of Earth. But more importantly, his defensive response, his need to correct her so quickly, it makes me wonder if this is a sore point for Kal.

So he is lifting the weight of the Earth on his shoulders. It is a decent metaphor about what he feels about defending the planet.

But why the point of stating the five day limit away from the sun? Because we know, based on the zero issue, that at some point Superman is on Krypton. So know we know he will have a 5 day window to still have powers there. (Of course, the geek in me thinks it would be less time because he would be expending more energy fighting the heavier gravity of Krypton.)

Lastly, Kal's throwaway comment about trusting Veritas is interpreted by her as a threat. So even Superman's friends are cautious around him. It is the wrong sort of feel ... and that is in the first scene.

I do like that Lobdell has instituted a Morrison-esque name dropping style of prior events. Here it is the 'Stream of Eternal Maelstroms'. Later we read about things like 'The Talking Sun of Alktos Prime' and 'The Seven Sisters of Sin and Avarice.'

Thrilled with the workout, Superman speeds home. But his inner monologue is worrisome.

Half the planet thinks he's a savior. Not a hero, not someone there to help us lift ourselves up, but their savior. Savior ... that is a weighty word, as if people look upon him as a messiah.Not an inspiration, but a panacea.

The other half thinks he is a vanguard for an invasion, despite doing heroic work for 8 years now. Eight years of half the world distrusting him.

And nothing can change those 2 views.

This isn't who Superman should be ... worshiped by half the world, hated by the other half.

What's worse Superman seems to want to be away from people. He talks about preferring to soak up the sun in space than head to work. He is only going because he has to 'pay the bills'. If only being Superman all the time was his job. He actually says that! That he would rather be Superman all the time if he got paid! He is Clark first in my mind. He would never want to leave that part behind.

And what about his life as Clark? Does that help him connect to humanity?

Well, almost everyone seems to treat him poorly.

First off, he walks in on Jimmy having sex in the shower with an unnamed woman. Is there any real reason why this scene needs to be here? It feels completely gratuitous. It feels wrong in a Superman book.

What's worse, Jimmy actually complains to Clark for a lack of privacy ... despite Clark helping Jimmy out by letting him stay there. If your friends treat you like a jerk ... if they use you ... can you have any respect for people?

But really ... a shower sex scene in a Superman book? There are a million other ways you could get the point across that Jimmy isn't being a good friend. But a shower sex scene? Seriously??

At work, Clark is surrounded by hypocrisy and disrespect.

Clark is worried that the Planet is more like an entertainment tabloid than a true newspaper. And he is going to hammer that point home by telling Lois she wouldn't recognize news anymore. This, just two issues after Lois stood up for journalistic integrity against Morgan Edge. It again reads wrong.

And her response is just as bad. Clark complains about the lack of truth or substance in the news these days. She 'shows him the hand' and calls his concerns a 'nominal idea' ... an idea in name only. Not a real concern. Lois waving off journalistic morality?

That's not Lois! In fact that is the antithesis of Lois.

Clark wonders what could be so important that Lois remains with her face buried in texts.

So he uses his powers to read her private communications. She is moving in with her boyfriend.

But step back ... Superman just used his powers to spy on Lois, someone he supposedly has feelings for. So now Superman is something of a stalker, using his powers to invade Lois' privacy? Is that something Superman should be doing? Was that a lesson the Kents taught him ... to use his powers to spy on people?

What's next? Floating outside her house and using his x-ray vision to watch her, like the cringe worthy scene in Superman Returns??

All of this leads up to the well-publicized 'Jerry Maguire' moment of the issue when Clark stands up and basically says 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!!!' The news industry has lost its way and someone needs to sheperd it back to its ideals.

Unfortunately times are tough and not many want to rock the boat. Clark quits.

It is a nice moment I suppose with Clark standing up for something important. But this sort of 'rage against the machine' approach rarely works.

Rocafort does solid work here showing everyone other than Cat Grant trying to look busy. The muted colors of those folks makes Cat stand out, almost as if a light is being shone on her. The use of falling paper between the panels also worked, invoking an image of Clark tossing all his desk papers in the air, out of frustration.

And it is somewhat hard to believe that of all people, Cat Grant follows him out the door. She seems somehow sweeter in this brief scene than the Cat we are used to. She even has a nice line saying if their work is meaningless than they are meaningless ... profound.

That last line by Clark where he wonders how Cat will support ... something. It makes me wonder if her son Adam is still around in this new 52 continuity.

The conversation is cut short when Clark uses his super-hearing as a sort of Daredevil like sonar to 'see' that a giant shape is coming in at high speed. It is an odd but massive dragon-like creature, one with three heads (although the 2 minor heads are actually feet).

It's immensely powerful, throttling Superman. It also is genetically decaying and not truly alive. So Superman feels okay immolating it by tossing it on an oil field and exploding the underground oil reserve with his heat vision.

So a couple of things here. I suppose it is an innovative use of his heat vision. But super-hearing as echolocation/radar?

The decaying DNA here reminds me of either a Bizarro-like creation or a faulty clone made by H'El. So add a mystery to the mystery.

But you know what happened when Superman tried to clear the oil field of its workers when the dragon is heading to them? One of them says they should be running from him since he's an alien. I am so sick of an untrusted Superman. This person would rather run away than be saved by a massive dragon by Superman.

Remember at the end of Supergirl #13 when she saw Superman battling a monster? Well, her response isn't to rush to help Superman. It isn't to save the people from a dragon.

Nope. Instead it is to yell at him, calling him a liar since this dragon is from Krypton and he told her it was gone. Sooooo .... all those retained memories of Zor-El talking about the planet's destruction; the visit to Argo City, ripped from the planet; the AI at Sanctuary, a goodbye gift from Dad ... all that data about Krypton's fate is tossed out the window because she saw this creature. So we once again get to see 'angry Kara', prepared to fight with her cousin. This isn't the Supergirl we have read in her own book recently.

What's worse is Superman's response! Not 'hey Kara', not 'I'm glad to see you.Can you help'. Instead it's a snarky 'great' and how he doesn't want to fight her again. This response seems especially wrong since in her book he has reached out to her; how their last conversation was emotionally draining but physically calm. How he has wanted to see her and talk to her.

Do I really want super-cousins who don't want to see each other??

And here is the cliffhanger, H'El observing everything ... invisible to Kal and Kara while they argue.


You know, before I read the issue, I questioned the wisdom of Clark quitting the Daily Planet, thinking it as one more layer being peeled away from who I think Superman is.

After reading the book, that was the moment that probably bothered me the least. At least that is Clark standing up for something and trying to inspire.

It is the bulk of the rest of it ... people fearing Superman (Veritas thinks he threatened her, half the people distrust him, people he is trying to save scared of him), his wondering about being Superman full time, a Jimmy Olsen shower sex scene, Superman snooping on Lois, Lois more interested in ratings than truth, echolocation, not wanting to see Kara ... that just felt wrong.

Read that list sentence again and ask me if you think any of those belong in a Superman book. Any one of them. Instead we get them all.

There are all these tiny little phrases and scenes that just chip away at the foundation of who Superman should be as a character. Who wants this floating Superman, disconnected from humanity? Someone with no job, no friends, no Lois, no family? Who thinks this is the Superman that comic readers want? Is it Didio? Is it Berganza or Idelson? Is it Lobdell?  Is this their understanding of Superman?

I suppose I will hold out hope that H'El is some sort of transfiguring arc, that things will be better after this trial. But somehow I don't think I'll be happy.

Again, let me say that the artwork is strikingly beautiful. The images are wonderful even if the story content isn't. Rocafort should be commended.

Overall grade: C

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Supergirl Birthday Card

 I was in a card store recently looking for some birthday cards for my nieces when I stumbled onto this ... a Supergirl birthday card, albeit for a daughter.

As always, I am thrilled whenever I see Supergirl cross into mainstream media. So seeing this made me smile. The inside of the card completes the front phrase with " ... who always finds a way to save the day !"

This looks like Jose Luis Garcia Lopez.Interesting that it is the red skirt version of Supergirl, something we haven't seen since Supergirl #50 in late 1999. Funny that this is the look DC wants to market to the general public.

As an added bonus, the card includes this magnet which is approximately 4x6 inches. Great graceful pose here!

Here is the card back.