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Preview: Supergirl Comic Box Commentary

Supergirl Comic Box Commentary



A blog to talk about all things Supergirl: comics past and present, TV, toys, etc.



Updated: 2018-04-21T14:13:03.742-04:00

 



Review: Superman #45

2018-04-20T08:00:36.752-04:00

I know that Action Comics #1000 came out this week and that is an historic issue that should be first in the review chute.But before I cover that book and the future of Superman under the reins of Brian Michael Bendis, I feel I had to close the door on the Rebirth/Reborn era of the Superman family. And that means covering Superman #45 by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. And this is an ending. It reads like an ending. And it reads like a metatextual ending as much as a storyline ending.I said in a recent review, when discussing the ending of this run, that nothing gold can stay. There is some cosmic karma in that Robert Frost run because the team says it here as well. Yes, good things can come of change. Yes, people need to expand their horizons. But it is a shame when something that is still gold is going away.The Kent family's life is changing. No more Hamilton farm. No more wheat fields. No more country days hanging out with Kathy. It is time to move on.And this book is changing. No more Tomasi and Gleason leading this family forward. No more stories of father and son, no more mother and son, no more father and mother. This book sold well and was loved. And yet the creative team is being forced out to move on, cleaning up plot threads so 'new owners' can come in to the space.It has to be both a story and a comment on things.Thanks again Tomasi and Gleason. I loved this run and I hate to see you go.On to the book.In Dune, the Duke says (and I paraphrase) 'when nothing changes, something sleeps inside. We need the sleeper to awaken.'In Hamilton, Jon is sulking, wondering why things have to change, why he can't continue to live his comfortable life with his friends. In some classic 'new Pa Kent' wisdom, Clark talks about potted plants needing to spread their roots and find new soil. To grow and become stronger.Okay, the metaphor is a bit on the nose. Even Jon saw it wasn't plant talk. But I like these moments when it was Pa and Clark. I like seeing these second generations lessons. It reminds me of me ... telling the wisdom of my father to my kids.But we get pretty specific to this book, both the characters and the creators. We are brought back to the tree where Jon accidentally killed the pet cat (remember, he was nudged by Manchester Black). But Jon is reminded how much he has already grown. Things are different even now.But then we get what I think is some meta text. Clark talks about how life isn't fair. No one owes you anything. It is how you respond to those challenges that defines who you are.I am sure that Tomasi and Gleason don't think it is fair to be taken off this book. Things change. DC doesn't owe them anything. Time to move on ... hopefully to a Super Squad book with the sons. But do it classy. No need to complain or bemoan Bendis getting keys to the kingdom despite the great work that Tomasi/Gleason/Jurgens have done.They might not complain ... but I can.Superman has suffered for so long. Rebirth and Reborn resurrected the franchise. It was fun to read Superman again. Fans were excited. And now it is over.I can bemoan the loss of 'Truth, Justice, and the American Way'. That phrase can't be said anymore. I guess no one really knows what the American Way is anymore. In this splintered nation, I don't think there is an American Way anymore.But if it had to be replaced 'Truth, Justice, and Family' is a great tinker. Always love and support your family and, by extension, people.And there it is. 'Nothing gold can stay.' Nothing lasts forever.The time in Hamilton is over.Tomasi and Gleason's time together is done.Nothing gold can stay.Lois even sheds some tears cleaning out the house.Someone new is moving in .., into the farm. Into the title.Luckily, the Flash shows up when the moving van doesn't. In short sprints, he moves all the boxes. But he can't dawdle. He can't join the family at the county fair. Batman would be unhappy.It is always good to have friends you can call on to help you move.I knew this book was going to be special in Superman #7, a rest issue where the family hangs out at the town fair. That w[...]



Plastic City Comic Con

2018-04-19T08:00:31.717-04:00


This weekend I will be heading to a new local con, the Plastic City Comic Con. Here is a link:
http://www.plasticcitycomiccon.com/

This seems like just the sort of low key con I could use right now. It a vendor heavy convention where I will be going to (gasp) thumb through comics and buy them! We finally leaving the doldrums of winter here. We are approaching my 'big con' season. This will be a great place to ease in.

And I am ready! I have heard only very good things about this con. Seems like a 'true' comic convention.

But it isn't all just shopping because a creator whose work I truly enjoy, J.M. DeMatteis, is going to be there as a guest of honor. And I can't wait to meet him.

DeMatteis has a long career with some major works in his oeuvre. Moonshadow, Spider-Man and Kraven's Hunt, JLA (Bwa-ha-ha) are just a couple of his biggest successes.

But I'm me, so I am bringing an eclectic group of books for signatures. And I am hoping he won't be too busy to answer some questions about these works. I will be bringing him  Wings , a little known Elseworlds which came out during the PAD Linda Danvers book.

I wonder if DeMatteis was a fan of that book. Did he pitch this or was it pitched to him? My gut tells me no one cares about this other than me. I wonder how often he gets asked about it.


And then I'll bring a number of Supergirl specific books he has been part of. I'll be interested to pick his brain about Justice League 3001. How did he and Keith Giffen work together? Was it intentionally a mishmash of all continuities? What did Superman do to tick of Lois so much??

I wonder how often he gets asked about that book!

I'll also bring the first Justice League. How could I not?

Anyways, I'll report back about this con. I am pretty pumped to go.




Supergirl Episode 314: Schott Through The Heart

2018-04-18T15:55:29.737-04:00

It’s been two months of long hiatus since the last new episode of Supergirl aired. For me, it was a mistake, a lull in the middle of an intense season, it slowed momentum. The season restarted this week with a Winn centric episode which built on the foundation of his character from season one. There are almost no mentions of World Killers or Reign or PurityIn some ways it isn’t the best episode to return with. The main plot is on the back burner for another week. We get no Sam or Ruby. That’s one more week for memories to fade about  the particulars of that plot.In other ways, it seemed right. We get good character moments from all the main players. Certainly Winn takes center stage.  But there are scenes with J’onn and Alex and James that remind us what we love about them while enriching their stories. And Kara gets great moments both as Suoergirl and Kara Danvers. So no better episode to reintroduce to the cast and remind us what we live about th m.But also this episode continues the thread of loving and humanity as being a strength for people, not a weakness. I have said all along that Sam’s humanity and hr love for Ruby will win over Reign’s wickedness. That more than punches and heat vision will end the threat. And this episode shows how all the characters are dealing with family obligations and loving responsibility.The bottom line is this was a fun chapter in this season,  very much a live action comic book with strong emotional beats.And apologies for clunky writing, rough screen shots and any typos. This review was done on the fly while on a mini-vacation and away from usual tech. Onto the episode!It’s been a while since a new episode so we open with a bespectacled  Kara giving a rah-rah speech to the gang about heading into battle and giving it their all for the people. Made me think we were going to jump right into an action sequence. Instead it turns out that she is pumping up everyone for a night of Karaoke.For those of us wanting another musical episode, this might be the closest we get. And it is great to hear Kara cut loose Singing the Beastie Boys. But it is J’onn’s robotic performance of Whitney Houston, M’yrnn’s Suspicious Minds, and Alex’s boozy offkey warbling that really made me smile.Before Winn can break into song, we see in the news that his father, the Toyman, has died in prison. It puts a pall on the proceedings. We know how terrible the Toyman was as a villain and father from way back in the CBS season one. So I’m happy that we are building on the show’s continuity.At the cemetery, Winn runs into his estranged mother and it isn’t a pleasant reunion. But before we can learn too much about what has pushed a wedge between them, there is danger.The machine lowering the casket begins to play Pop Goes The Weasel and at the climax, the coffin explodes. It is a massive explosion, so big Kara had to suoerspeed switch to Supergirl to fly in for the rescue.Back at the DEO, Winn confronts his mother about how she left him. In a tense scene in which Jeremy Jordan really shows his range, Winn angrily tells his mother that she left him when he needed her most, in the aftermath of the deiscovery if all his father did. He can never forgive her. She reveals that the Toyman was so twisted that he threatened to kill Winn if his mother smaintained a relationship. She was forced to run away to keep Winn alive.Winn isn’t really buying that excuse. She could have turned to all sorts of agencies for help. But instead she ran. So he tells her to leave again.It makes me wonder if Winn’s happy go lucky exterior is all some front, or perhaps a defense mechanism he has, to hide the horror in his life and the anger he feels.It turns out that the Toyman’s threat of not letting Winn’s mother stands the test of time. From perhaps beyond the grave he sends an attack force if obit flying monkeys to the DEO tomtry to kill Winn’s mother. This includes a giant one which looks a bit like a Power Ranger villain.They’re[...]



Review: New Super-Man And The Justice League Of China #22

2018-04-17T09:17:20.470-04:00

New Super-Man and the Justice League of China #22 came out last week, ratcheting up the intrigue of the North Korean Aquaman and Kenan's continued struggles with his powers' origins.I have been a fan of Gene Luen Yang's book since its inception. And current artist Brent Peeples has become more comfortable with the characters as his issues accumulate. But the thing that gets me is that this book has matured quickly. We have gone from a sort of idiot having the mantle of Super-Man thrust on him to a fully functioning super-team with inter-squad relationships and a growing rogue's gallery. Perhaps most surprising, it has never felt too fast or forced. This book has organically grown. And it has been entertaining the whole way through.While the Aquaman side plot is a good one and brings the plot thrust here, it is Kenan's struggles that really grab me. His quest for balance while being a young kid with super-powers reads true. What happens in this issue makes sense. I sort of see the writing on the wall. I fear this book is most likely ending soon and that is a shame.On to the book.While Kenan is the straw that stirs the drink, Wonder Woman is my favorite character in the book. She is the most pure.Here she is frustrated at Bat-Man. Baixi thinks Kwang-Jo needs to be returned to North Korea. One person isn't worth worldwide political unrest. Of course for Deilan, the one's need for freedom and justice is just as important.It is a rift in their relationship. Perhaps it is this difference that provides the juice for them. But it is clear, Deilan is angry. "'Pure heart' crap" and "condescending tone" are heavy words lightly thrown.Before the argument can get more heated, Dragonson, the deified form of Aqua-Man arrives. He is going to head to Korea's Paektu mountain to force change onto the land. And he is in full warrior mode, stating he'll kill anyone who stands in his way and even attacking the team.As usual, it is Deilan who has to be the voice of reason on all sides. She convinces Dragonson to drop his sword, the bone of the dragon King Munmu. And she is able to reach Kwang-Jo. He ... the person inside ... isn't this warrior. He is a kid who likes the Simpsons.He drops the sword and reverts.But this plan might backfire.The Green Lantern Corps of China, the police force of the Ministry of Self-Reliance, arrives and take both Kwang-Jo and Bat-Man with them into custody. Maybe this is the lesson Bat-Man needed. He is the one who called the GLC and here he is rounded up as a traitor. He still thinks the world and stability is more important than just this one citizen of North Korea. And yet, he is picked up.Both sides do have a reasonable argument. Do the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many? It is too big a problem for Kenan initially. He doesn't know how to bring balance to this conundrum.Eventually he joins the fight to free Kwang-Jo and Baixi.When the Corps attacks him with Kryptonite weapons, Kenan loses it. He won't let anyone remove the powers he worked so hard for. And so he loses his patience and his cool. He loses his temper. There is no balance with this response. There is only anger.We have seen Kenan go inside and struggle between I Ching and All Yang. This respons? It is all yang.And so he manifests a new look, a new costume. Gone are the colors. Gone is the Yin/Yang look of the S-shield. He is suddenly All Yang.His words, his actions, his haughtiness? All Yang.No balance.I don't think the Bat-Man being brought in by the Ministry makes much sense from the story viewpoint. But it does allow Yang to bring back his version of the Joker, the Alpaca. And we get the Bane Rongpei. Alpaca, Baixi's sister (!!), hasn't been seen for a long time.If anything, this made me think that Yang wants to finish this plotline, left hanging for some time, before the book gets canceled.  Need more evidence that this is the All Yang New Super-Man? Look at the way he flies! That is ridiculous.And he is going to eliminate the Aqua-Man issue ve[...]



Sales Review: March 2018

2018-04-16T08:00:36.341-04:00

The sales numbers for March have come out and things are both fascinating and frustrating. Here is a link to the ICv2 coverage:https://icv2.com/articles/markets/view/40108/top-300-comics-march-2018For this blog, the big news has been the shelving of the Supergirl title.'Bendis is Coming!' The landscape of the super-titles will be changed. Supergirl will have a 'new mission'. And it all seems strange when you look at the numbers.I will also say I realize that sometimes I, as a reader, am impossible to please.I want Supergirl to be her own hero, having her own adventures.I want Supergirl to be part of Superman's life but not too much. If she isn't in his books or mentioned in his books I am unhappy. But I don't think his books or life should dictate her series.And it is probably tough to satisfy all those things. If she wasn't impacted by whatever is happening in Superman's books, I wouldn't be happy. And yet, here she is impacted and I'm not happy.Surely there can be some happy medium. If Batgirl and Red Hood and Batwoman and Nightwing can all somehow have their own titles *and* be part of the Batman books, it can be done!So on to the sales!Supergirl #19 was the 'very special' issue discussing nonbinary people. We had Vita Ayala and Steve Orlando telling the story of Lee Serrano. It also sported this Bruce Timm inspired Artgerm variant.The book ranked at #55 and sold 30,669.It sold better than Harley Quinn.I understand that much of this might be due to the Artgerm variants. But the book was selling very well. And it is going away.This reminds me so much of the midseason hiatus of the Supergirl show. The momentum is probably going to be broken. It is a jumping off point.Action Comics #999 also came out last month, the last issue before the mega-anniversary of Action Comics #1000 and the Bendis era. It also wrapped up Dan Jurgens' time on the book. That also sold very well coming in at #19 and selling over 51K.It sold better than Detective Comics.Incredible.The Rebirth era for the super-books have been fantastic and it is basically over. We should all be happy it happened. And hopefully the new landscape builds on it instead of erasing it.[...]



Review: Supergirl #20

2018-04-13T08:00:25.615-04:00

Supergirl #20 came out this week, the last issue of this volume of the title, the last issue of the Rebirth era, the last issue for writer Steve Orlando who has been here since the beginning.It is painful to write that.I have written too many times on this site that DC seems to pull the plug on Supergirl titles just when they are cresting creatively. And that is so true here. Since the end of the Phantom Zone storyline, Orlando and current co-writer Jody Houser have really tightened up this book, bringing us a fantastic Kara who is trying to improve the world around her, helping people while she learns about Earth. And artists Robson Rocha and Dan Henriques have brought such compelling and gorgeous art. Everything was working, the book was selling well with Artgerm variants; DC cancels.But I am not here to curse the darkness. I am here to light a candle. This is a wonderful ending issue, doing what last issues should do. It wraps up the ongoing DEO storyline very quickly; it has to. It puts the character in a very good place for whatever comes after. And it shows utter respect to the character.But there are plenty of things not finished. Things I would have loved to read. There had to be more planned for Ben Rubel. There had to be more for Belinda Zee. There had to be more for the Danvers. We hadn't seen Cat Grant in months. Those are all threads that probably won't be seen again. Much like the unwritten threads for Sterling Gates and K. Perkins/Mike Johnson, or the ninth grade with Landry Walker and Eric Jones, I will always wonder what could have been.I can honestly say that this has been a wonderful run for Supergirl. I wish there was more time. On to this book.Mr. Bones and Mokkari are heading to the DEO stronghold The Blade to deal with Shay Veritas. Mokkari is psychologically torturing her, as is his want.Meanwhile, Supergirl is working with Ben Rubel to take Mr. Bones and Mokkari down. Cameron Chase and Insight have been infiltrating the DEO, downloading damning evidence, and prepping to send it Rubel to broadcast over CatCo.As for Supergirl, her role is simply to delay Bones and Mokkari.There is so much to like here. Chase and Veritas being in a relationship ups the ante of this rescue. Lar-On, a throw away character from my youth, is an ongoing character and a good guy, inspired by Supergirl. He's a super-werewolf!  Insight, a no name villain in an early issue who also has been inspired by Kara to be better, is also a good guy. And Ben Rubel gets to be as big a hero!Before Supergirl can skirmish with Bones, a new character arrives. The Viking Judge, a young woman with a magic axe and a chip on her shoulder, shows up to kill Bones and Mokkari. The Viking Judge ... well ... she judges. She has a very black and white view on things. She has a magic axe in which a victim's sins are shown in the shining blade. Mokkari and Bones are evil and therefore they should be killed. She is going to end them.And Mokkari, thinking of his own health, wounds Mr. Bones to slow him down. Mokkari just wants to escape.Luckily, Supergirl arrives to save the day. And this, of all things, shows who Supergirl is. She wants to bring down Bones and Mokkari. She knows how evil they are. But she'll also protect them from this death.This panel is amazing. You sense that it takes some effort for Supergirl to block this blow.As for the crew, they are able to slide into the DEO and save Veritas. We see a nice moment as Veritas and Chase hug, relieved that Shay is safe.And it is as if Orlando has the same taste in odd characters as me, because Strange Visitor is freed by the group to join the fight. Yes, this team has to fight with DEO agents who don't realize they have been commanded by villains.I love the 'Hulkish' line of 'we have a Lar-On'.Unfortunately, Supergirl and the Judge continue to fight as the Viking will not be satisfied until there is blood. There is a decent conversation about mutable ethics [...]



Mon-El Costume Change!

2018-04-12T08:00:24.684-04:00


Some pictures have been leaked of Supergirl episode 314 and in it Mon-El is in a much more familiar costume and this Legion fan is pretty thrilled. Here is a link:
https://www.cbr.com/supergirl-monel-comics-accurate-costume/

One of the things that strikes me is that I am honestly in a golden age of my fandom. If you asked me what are the two properties that have spanned my lifelong love of comics it would be Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes. Heck, I run a fan site for one and contribute to a fan site for the other!

And now I live in a time where Supergirl and the Legion are right there on screen.

While I didn't mind the black Legion stealth costumes that the members have sported on this show, this comic accurate costume is fantastic. Just embrace it. And I like the subtle S-Shield pentagon sewn into the shirt. Awesome.



I mean, this is Mon-El's costume. Sure, it is a clasp and not the big round buttons. And yes it isn't that shirt style with the belt. But all is well. Perfect is the enemy of the very good.

I have a true Mon-El on television. I can only hope that Saturn Girl and Brainiac 5 get similar upgrades.

And just a reminder that the first time we saw a Legion ring on the CW was on the Flash 2 years ago, on 2/9/16!  We saw a glimpse of it as Barry went through the breach. And then we saw it on Supergirl in Superman's Fortress.

This has been a long play and so far so good.



Back Issue Box: Justice League Unlimited #7

2018-04-11T08:00:15.532-04:00

With regular super-books either cancelled or on hiatus as we await the coming of Bendis, I have been dipping into the back issues for comics to cover. As usual, I try to tap into some zeitgeist when I review older stories. And there has been a confluence of events that made me revisit Justice League Unlimited #7.For one, it was Jack Kirby's 100th year birthday this year, resulting in a ton of Kirby stuff hitting the market. Whether it was the Allred's Bug mini, the Kamandi Challenge, or the ongoing and critically acclaimed Mr. Miracle by Tom King and Mitch Gerads, there is more Kirby specific books on the rack now than ever.Then the news that a New Gods movie was going to go into production with Ava DuVernay behind the director's chair broke.And then, Supermates Chris and Cindy Franklin started up the JLU cast looking at the Justice League animated show. Find it here: http://fireandwaterpodcast.com/show/jlucast/With all that happening, it seemed like this issue with Supergirl embroiled in Fourth World war while learning a lesson about family seemed due for a thorough review. There is a lot of action and a lot of emotional heft to this story told in an all ages book. So sit back and enjoy.We open with a quiet moment between Clark and Kara on the Watchtower.Kara is having a hard time adjusting to life on the farm. She can't do chores and be a super-hero ever on the go. She can't always do the things that Ma and Pa Kent want her to do.You can tell that Supergirl is struggling with this. She wonders if the Kents have the right to ask her these things; they aren't her parents. But that slight look away when she says it makes me wonder if she truly believes it. I get the sense she doesn't understand why they would care.Depending on your outlook, Superman is either a voice of wisdom or a paternalistic jerk. But he has lived through adolescence and understands having loving parents ... regardless of biology ... is better than no parents.The Supergirl in JLU did have a bit of a brash personality and definitely was fierce in her quest for justice. So here getting flustered about helping on the farm actually jibes with the character.We then leave the bucolic Kent farm and are suddenly at the Source Wall where a huge battle is happening."Orphans" was written by Adam Beechen with art by Ethen Beavers. It is in this wartime setting that we explore that idea of being an orphan, of wanting to be loved, of thinking you deserve to be loved, and making it happen.And I have to say that this issue is like a Who's Who. The entire League is present, trying to shut down a cannon Darkseid has made which draws energy from X-Element and which can breach the Source Wall. If you want to point out a lot of characters to a newbie, grab this.And Beavers brings a very Bruce Timm feel to the proceedings. It truly is lovely, vibrant, and bold.This is no easy fight. Parademons and Darkseid's elite are swarming everywhere. Heroes are exhausted or injured.And in the midst of it is Orion and he has broken ranks. His anger has overwhelmed his senses. He only wants to engage with Darkseid as opposed to destroy the cannon and defend the wall. Looks like Supergirl has a side mission ... help control the son of Darkseid.And Darkseid seems to be goading Orion into an attack. Darkseid sits at the cannon and declares that only his will is valid. Taunted, Orion breaks free of Superman's grasp and demands a final battle. It is only Supergirl who can stop Orion from this fool's errand.Finally Superman is able to get through to Orion. They need to defend the wall. A frontal assault is folly.But the second panel is the most important. This is more than an intergalactic war to Orion. It is personal. It is family.If he can't take out is anger on his father, he'll take it out on the forces of Apokolips. He has always been a hothead but even Supergirl is surprised by his blood lust.And t[...]



DC Nation #2 Supergirl Headline

2018-04-10T08:00:11.196-04:00

We all have been waiting for news about Supergirl after the explosion of Brian Michael Bendis' arrival.Of course, no news has led to the usual concerns of lack of a new book, being pushed aside, or headlining a team book.Well, the slightest hint came out the other day, from C2E2. At a panel, DC revealed the covers for the upcoming DC Nation magazine. And if you squint close enough at the cover, you'll see a tease. Here is a link to Bleeding Cool's brief coverage on the magazine.https://www.bleedingcool.com/2018/04/05/sneak-peek-dc-nation-1-2/So what about Supergirl? Well, it looks like we'll need to wait until July 4th to get some news. Of course, by then, Man of Steel will have ended.  Well, once DC released it at C2E2, cover artist showed the cover he produced over on his Instagram.Yes, it is a pretty cool cover of the Joker looming over a squashed Batman/Catwoman wedding cake. Of course, Bruce and Selina's marriage ceremony is happening in July.But check out that bottom headline on the left.Supergirl has a new mission in the aftermath of Man of Steel.So how much can I read into this 8 word headline?Well, for one, at the very least, it means DC hasn't forgotten Supergirl in the Bendis' world. She is around, active, and important enough to warrant a headline on their monthly publicity magazine. So that is great.In my mind, I am hoping that this is where they will be announcing a new Supergirl title, which I assume will be another number one and yet another volume. I hope that is true.But there is some concern at those last two words. A 'new mission' for me reads like a 'singular focus' and I worry about this. What if readers don't like the new mission? If the whole book is built on Kara doing one thing (let's say rooting out hidden aliens, or fighting a plague, or fighting social injustice), if readers don't connect with that, they'll leave the book. And then a 'bold new direction' early on never is good.I suppose it all goes back to my oft-stated desire for their to be a Supergirl title where she does super-heroics, fighting super-villains, hanging out with a supporting cast, and finding her way in the world. You know, like a standard comic format.Let's not lose sight of the forest. Supergirl got a headline on DC Nation #2. See you there![...]



Supergirl Poster Post-Hiatus

2018-04-09T08:00:30.674-04:00


It is hard to believe ... and it seems inexcusable ... but the last new episode of Supergirl dropped on  February 5th. That's two months ago!

This season of Supergirl has been very strong, mixing action with DC Easter Eggs and overarching themes of humanity and caring and being 'alien'. I have been impressed with the writing and have been eagerly awaiting each new episode.

So it seemed a little bit strange for the CW to shove this 8 week hiatus on us.

There was never a clear explanation.

Was it because Black Lightning was on the air and CW had some rule about only having 5 super-hero shows on the air at one time? If yes, why shelve Supergirl? Why not DCLOT?

Was it because the casting out of Andrew Kreisberg set the show back a bit?

Was it simply that the episodes weren't done?

Who knows.

What it did do is slow down the momentum the show had going on. Everything was clicking. Two months later will people still care?

So I was very very happy to see this new 'poster' make it on to social media this last weekend. Caring the appropriate line 'Miss me?', it has Melissa Benoist striking a very iconic pose, standing amid ash and smoke.

Yes Melissa ... yes CW ... yes Kara ... we have!!!

One more week!

If they made this into an actual poster and someone has access to an extra, please send it my way!!



Review: Superman #44

2018-04-06T08:00:20.978-04:00

Superman #44 came out this week, the second to last issue for the Rebirth team of Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason and the final part of the Bizarroverse storyline. And, befitting of a story set on Bizarro world, it is an odd mix of crazy backwards fun as well as some gut-wrenching emotional scenes. That is a hard and fine line to walk and be successful but somehow Tomasi and Gleason pull it off. I have said it before but I will say it again. I will miss these two on a Superman book. They have really done something special here.In the book, from the insane side, we see backwards sound effects, reverse versions of super heroes and villains, and the usual backwards speak which needs to be deciphered to get the point.From the emotional side, we see that this Bizarro isn't an imperfect duplicate. He is the exact opposite. He doesn't save his adopted planet. He doesn't love his family. He doesn't like helping people. He isn't the goofy nuisance I grew up with. He isn't exactly a menace. But he is so self-absorbed, he is utterly unlikable. That isn't Superman. And this loathsome nature plays out on the page in a heartbreaking way.I also think this book continues to stoke my idea that this is a backdoor pilot for a Young Justice or even a Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes book.The art is by Doug Mahnke who has frequently assisted Tomasi and Gleason. Mahnke's stuff is always crisp and beautiful. Here, some pages are inked by Jaime Mendoza who brings a sparser feel to the proceedings.And we start out with this fabulous cover of the Super-Foes facing off against the Legion of Fun. This team face-off book is a classic comic trope, seen on countless issues. But for me it always harkens back to the Secret Origins of Super-Villains treasury.On to the book!Last issue, Superman sent Bizarro to the moon with a single punch. While battling up there, it becomes clear that the Bizarro world Htrae is going to implode. The world is dying around everyone there. And up on the moon, Superman is able to deduce that Bizarro himself is somehow the cause. He and the land are one (how Arthurian) and he is bringing out the destruction.Despite the pleas to help, Bizarro doesn't want Superman's help.How awesome is this fight with sound effects for 'ka-touch' instead of 'KA-BOOM' and 'gentle' as the sound effect when Superman crashes into the landscape.It's clear to Superman that the world is in peril. He tells Jon and the other kid heroes to escape back to Earth. But these kids are ... well ... heroes. They won't just abandon Htrae. So instead they are given a mission. They are to free the Super Foes (the Bizarro Super Friends) from the clutches of the Legion of Fun to see if they can help. Jon is put in charge.See how Nobody dismisses the name Teen Titans? See how this looks like a group already? Clearly we have the first sighting of Young Justice. (OOOOhh ... maybe The Super Squad??) My guess is this is how we will see Jon in the post-Bendis world.And how sad is it that in backwards speak, BizarroBoy doesn't want to help because he hates this world. Here we see the difference in upbringings as Jon talks about duty. Impressive. But more on this backwards speak from BizarroBoy soon.I only include this to say it was my favorite backwards gag of the book.Jon screams 'Up ... Up ... and let's stay!!!'.Hilarious!Now I don't think there was any true plot reason to include the inevitable Super Foes versus Legion of Fun fight except that it was silly and brilliant. I wonder if Tomasi and Gleason just wanted to have some fun. So seeing Jo-cryer (instead of Joker) blubbering around, and seeing Bizarro Aquaman beset upon by fishes singing Dr. Demento's 'Fish Heads' was fantastic.And Bizarro Diana likes Superman. Perhaps a backwards way of Tomasi and Gleason saying Wonder Woman shouldn't fi[...]



Laurel Gand's Origins in Legion of Super-Heroes #9

2018-04-05T08:00:10.596-04:00

It feels a little like Legion week here at Comic Box Commentary. And I am doing a bit of self-plagiarism today, reposting a review I did over on the Legion of Super-Bloggers to cover Laurel Gand and her origins. I have been thinking about Laurel a lot these days. With Superman being rethought (not rebooted apparently) by Brian Michael Bendis, the future of Supergirl is a bit amorphous right now. It sort of reminds me of the Byrne era where Supergirl was removed from continuity. I doubt DC will be doing that now ... but who knows where this will all shake out for Kara.With Supergirl removed by the Crisis, the Legion had something of a hole in their history. Creator Keith Giffen with Tom and Mary Bierbaum recreated Supergirl to fill that void in the character of Laurel. There are many overlapping origin points. Their powers are similar. Their relationships are similar. And Laurel is pretty cool.Over on the Fire and Water Who's Who Podcast, the team of Rob and Shag talked about Laurel this week when reviewing her Who's Who page. It made me think of Laurel and her story once more. Realizing I had not reviewed it here, recognizing that it has enough Supergirl stuff in it to make it a worthy post, and also sensing the time was right to look once more at a reimagining of the character, I have decided to post the review of Legion of Super-Heroes #9 here. Hope that's okay. And it is reposted in total so bear with me. New content will be in blue. The old review will be in black.Read below for the story.As I have been reviewing the 5YL Legion book, one of the things that has really struck me has been its pace. At the time when it was being released, back when I was waiting month to month to get a new issue, I can remember a feeling of anticipation. I wanted to read more of this new Legion, this new history, this new dystopia. Having to hit pause for 30 days was excruciating.Now, looking back at this first year, I am amazed and thrilled at some of the creative choices that the writers and artists made. Rebooting the Legion into a dark future was risky. But rebooting the universe twice in the first 6 issues was even riskier. And every time you think that you will learn more about what has happened to the Legionnaires over time, Keith Giffen, Tom and Mary Bierbaum, and Al Gordon tap the brakes a little bit. I think they liked teasing Legion fans, so proud of their knowledge and certainty of the team. I think they liked keeping us on edge.5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #9 is another interesting creative choice on the part of the team. 5YL Legion #7 hit me like a freight train, a ragtag group of Legionnaires defeating Mordru through luck and diplomacy, and rescuing the White Witch. Instead of building on that moment and keeping us in the moment, Giffen et al tapped the brakes with 5YL Legion #8, giving us a flashback issue retelling the Legion's origins.You would think with the tantalizing business of Roxxas, Khunds, and Dominators all trying to slow down a reforming Legion on Winath, that the creative team would want to get right back to business on the current storylines. Heck, we barely know anything about this new history.Instead, the team taps the brakes again and gives us another flashback issue, this time telling Laurel Gand's origin!The truth is that Laurel Gand was the biggest new element added to the mix since the universal reboot a handful of issues ago. There was a lot of questions about her and who she was. There was true excitement. So I am not surprised that we got a long look at her here, a way to catch lightning in a bottle.But two straight flashback issues? Daring. Now much like last issue, we start with a framework story set in the 'current' timeline and complete with the nine panel grid and Giffen art. Roxxas is starting[...]



Supergirl Show Renewed

2018-04-04T08:00:32.817-04:00

I know it doesn't come as much of a big surprise but it was announced earlier this week that Supergirl (as well as almost every other show on the CW) has been renewed for another season. Here is the coverage over on Variety:http://variety.com/2018/tv/news/riverdale-jane-the-virgin-arrow-flash-supernatural-renewed-cw-1202741489/There isn't much more to say. Here is a list of the shows renewed. I was glad to see Black Lightning listed as coming back. And my daughter and I list DCLOT as a guilty pleasure so I am very happy to see that survive the axe.The CW has renewed 10 of its current series, the network announced Monday.The renewed series are: “Arrow” (Season 7), “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (Season 4), “Legends of Tomorrow” (Season 4), “The Flash” (Season 5), “Jane the Virgin” (Season 5), “Riverdale” (Season 3), “Supergirl” (Season 4), and “Supernatural” (Season 14). In addition, freshman shows “Black Lightning” and “Dynasty” have been picked up for second seasons.This season for Supergirl has been exceptionally strong. Between the Earth X crossover, the delightful Midvale flashback episode, the inclusion of the Legion, and the threat of Reign, this season has had compelling stories and character arcs. I have really been following closely the 'being human and having feelings equals weakness' theme which has been running through the episodes. As I have said before, Sam's feelings for Ruby will be Reign's undoing proving that being human is a strength.Yes, the Mon-El romance (especially coupled with the arranged wedding with Imra) has been a bot forced. But otherwise this show has been very strong. So I am thrilled the show team is getting rewarded with another season.Hooray for us as Supergirl fans! Four season of live action! Incredible!  [...]



Back Issue Review: Superboy And The Legion Of Super-Heroes #256

2018-04-03T08:00:28.443-04:00

We are still a couple of weeks away from new Supergirl show episodes. And we are still completely in the dark about Supergirl in the comics. Will there be a new series coming out of the Man of Steel event? Is DC just pulling the plug?And with no Superman book on the shelf last week, I thought I would thumb through the back issues for a review. And with Brainiac 5 playing a role in the show, I thought I would take a day to look at a Brainy-centric story. So today I will look at Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #256.One of the more interesting aspects of Brainy's character is his somewhat unstable mental condition. Whether it is obsession or social awkwardness or outright occasional malevolence, he has always walked a fine line. He has created Computo, an evil computer intelligence, and has tried over and over to look back at that programming and hope to rehabilitate it. He created Omega, a being fueled by the hate of the universe, with which he hoped to eradicate all life. And he has mourned and nearly dipped into madness with grief after Kara died. Please note that linked review was one of the first issues I ever reviewed here. Even on the show, we have seen Brainy be a little distracted and a little awkward and even a little brusque with people. At times this comes off as narcissism or overconfidence. But you also get the sense he is simply shy and sort of bad with human interaction.With all that in the mix, I thought this was a good issue to review."This is your life ... and death, Brainiac 5!" was written by Gerry Conway with art by Joe Staton and Dave Hunt. This issue takes place in the near immediate aftermath of the Omega story arc. A simple internet search will reveal the complicated creative mess of that story which was originally supposed to be in a stand-alone special, became morselized into three non-consecutive issues, and ultimately was changed so bad that artist Jim Starlin asked that his name be removed (replaced by the pseudonym Steve Apollo).For me, the Omega story has a grand scale and should have had a more lasting impact. The finale is in issue #251. We should have had a lasting death, or a lasting major problem, or Brainy should have remained evil for some time. But here we are just a few months later and we are resolving the Brainy issue, basically removing all consequence of his actions from the character.Here he is, as an inpatient in an asylum, in a dark room, reading.The three founders and Superboy all head the the hospital in hopes of helping Brainy out. Perhaps the staff isn't leading him to a cure in as timely a fashion as they anticipated. This seems a bit rushed doesn't it. To think that this place hasn't 'cured' Brainy in so short a time seems like an unrealistic goal.Also, one fallout from Omega that did last for a little bit of time was Matter-Eater Lad also going insane. In that story, Tenzil eats the Miracle Machine so Omega cannot use it to end all life. That ingestion leads to his madness.Despite having no degrees in psychology or psychiatry, those Legionnaires still think they can get to the bottom of Brainy's issue better.In an astonishing turn, the evacuate Cosmic World (think of it as an intergalactic Disney World) and make it off limits to patrons. They want to use the holographic technology there to nudge Brainy along.Now one thing I do like about this is that the Legion isn't given a carte blanche to do this. The park manager calls the Science Police. And the SciPo aren't exactly happy with the Legion right now given the recent past with Omega. The officers will take back Cosmic World, by force if need be.There is some Earthbound fallout as well. In the battle with Omega, Wildfire had to unleash all his energy and destroy[...]



Amethyst Comic Box Commentary

2018-04-01T08:05:59.818-04:00

Frustration.It is a terrible feeling.But that is what I have been feeling.I had been putting together posts to celebrate my 10th anniversary of blogging at the end of this month and kept seeing repeating themes.DC puts out an angry, angsty Supergirl.Later, they realize this is wrong and put on a new creative team with a new direction.Book flourishes and fans are happy.DC cancels the book.It has happened again. The current Supergirl book is great and it is selling well. It is creator hubris which is forcing DC to cancel it this time. I can't live through it again.And I realized that maybe 10 years is enough time to cover one character. Maybe it is time for a fresh start. Maybe it was time to start writing about some other character? Maybe it was time to say goodbye to Supergirl.And that is when I had a gem of an idea. Amethyst Comic Box Commentary. Why not cover another young female hero struggling to find life while living in two worlds! I've always loved the character. Now it is time to shine a light on her!So I'm glad you found the site!And what better opening post than to review her first appearance ever in the Amethyst Princess of the Gemworld Prevue story which was embedded in Legion of Super-Heroes #298."Duel in Dark Magic" had the tremendous creative team behind the Amethyst maxi-series and ultimate monthly title. The writers were Gary Cohn and Dan Mishkin. The writer was Ernie Colon. And the team really flourishes here.They truly create a wonderful, magical world in Gemworld which feels as familiar as your standard fantasy realm but very different with its gem houses and politics. And Colon brings a nice flair to the proceedings. Their are carved faces in the architecture and decorations in all of Gemworld, giving it a unique little detail. It feels a bit like Dune, maybe the Jodorowsky vision.And we start out with this 'inside cover' for the prevue showing some of the feel of the book. We see Amethyst in her fighting clothes as well as a more formal courtly dress with a fanciful head dress. And we see the evil Dark Opal looming over and leering. Now doubt given the mustache, the expression, and the lined face that he is the villain of the piece.There is something missing here. But more on that later.And the creators do a great job just dropping us into the action. There is no build up. No exposition page describing Gemworld. Instead we are in a dank castle forge where Dark Opal demands a special armor breast plate be made with shards of all the gems of powers of the world embedded within. He also will place his own gem of power within this as well. The one gem he is missing? Amethyst.The armor will give him tremendous power, enough to wrest control of the world and put it under his thumb. Dark Opal entrusts the gems to Carnelian, his son. Carnelian has no magical powers, something which makes him shunned here. It seems very out of place in this world. Of course, we learn why later in the series.And we meet Sardonyx, a sort of Desaad of the court of Opal.Everything about this scene is great. The look of the forge is creepy. And I love the look of Dark Opal and he chews the scenery as a bigger than life villain.Opal gets word from his seers that Princess Amethyst is off on a quest with but one bodyguard. We cut to Amethyst and her bodyguard Granch as they woalk throug the Bog of One Thousand Despairs. It is a chaotic realm with the environment changing around them.This is our first look at Amethyst and at first she seems to be the helpless young princess who needs a brute to guard her. Her flouncy garb and her talk of flowers beauty all set up the reader to think she is going to need to constantly be rescued, not recognizing the danger sh[...]



Action Comics #1000 Supergirl Covers

2018-03-30T08:00:39.427-04:00

It's truly amazing how quickly the comic landscape can change.To think, just a couple of months ago I was complaining that DC was putting out 4 Super-books in the same week.And now, this week, there isn't one super-book on the shelves! The arrival of Brian Michael Bendis is the equivalent of a creative earthquake, shaking everything up. Add to that the delay for Action Comics #1000 and you have a week without a super-family book.It's kind of sad. Everything really seemed to be clicking, didn't it?Of course, Action Comics reaching 1000 issues is a truly historical event in comics. And DC is taking full advantage of it by pumping out variant covers which are available not only at comic stores but also at specific companies.And I reluctantly admit that I ordered a couple. First from Buy Me Toys (http://buymetoys.com/catalog/) is this Artgerm variant selling for $14.99. How could I refuse such a great cover showing the super-cousins in flight together. They are super-iconic in their pose. I love that Supergirl's costume is a shade brighter blue than Superman's. I just love it.But there are even variants of the variants. Buy Me Toys also has a 'vintage' version of Artgerm's cover. This is a more muted cover with effects to make it look more weathered and worn like an older comic. This one goes for $19.99.This is one is extra pretty. And then there is a package of three versions of this cover available for $39.99. This includes the regular cover, the vintage cover, and then one sporting the line art.I'll say again, I am glad that there is a cover of Action Comics #1000 with Supergirl on it. She had a long and storied run as a back-up in the book and is an important part of the mythos.There is another variant cover which has Supergirl on it. This one is by Tyler Kirkham and offered at unknowncomicbooks   for $14.99Doomsday is looming in the background of this one putting this in the 'Death of Superman' era. That makes this the Matrix Supergirl and Kirkham has her in the right outfit. I do like Kirkham's art. This is a lovely and older looking Supergirl, appropriate for the time.There are plenty more variants out there including homages to specific decades in Superman's history. I don't know if I need many more copies of the book. But I'll keep my eyes peeled.[...]



Justice League Action: Keeping Up With The Kryptonians

2018-03-28T20:25:41.366-04:00

I haven't had much opportunity to blog about Justice League Action but I will say unabashedly that I love the show. It is the perfect mix of deep cuts, outright fun, and super-hero action. I am always happy to see when the DVR has a new episode to watch.And I finally was able to sit down and watch "Keeping Up With The Kryptonians", a sort of send-up of Elseworlds, angsty Supergirl, the Twilight Zone, and (of course) Keeping up with the Kardashians.This is about as stellar an episode that I have seen. It showcases Supergirl and Superman of course. But it also shows how much of a family they are. And we don't see enough of that in mainstream media ... or even the comics. So for that alone it is pretty special.The episode opens up with a news reel talking about two huge figures in the currwnt.The first is 'The Superman', a military leader for the country Kasnia. We see pictures of a crew-cut Kal wearing a sort of 'Red Son' uniform leading the Kasnian Army our for conquest. There is a very art deco propaganda feel to these images, as if ripped from a Rocketeer book.And then we hear about 'That's So Kara', a reality TV show starring Kara. This is a sort of take on the early, angsty, entitled Supergirl with a sort of feel from the Loeb/Kelly days. With her bare mid-riff, goth eye shadow, and barrage of selfies and emojis, she rants her way across the screen. Even the newscaster has to wonder what the world would be like if these 'super folks' joined forces in a league to fight for justice. But that couldn't happen, could it? I have to say, I wail and gnash my teeth when Kara is portrayed as a petulant, self-absorbed brat. But it is pretty funny here. They even go into a little run of her complaining about her life. No one appreciates how much she busts her butt, posting every 5 minutes, running a makeup line, and generally being awesome. I love her standing in front of a case of some awards, presumably Emmy's or MTV trophies.And yes Kara ... in all iterations, people don't appreciate you.  Kara is at some Hollywood premiere, accompanied by her rather short, rather loud, rather annoying manager Morty. Here, she pauses and wonders if she should be doing something more with her life, like helping people. But her manager dissuades her.Then her time in the spotlight is interrupted when The Superman of Kasnia shows up to claim Hollywood for his country. Upset to be upstaged, Kara engages in battle. A very slick throwdown ensues with great action pieces. The two are pleasantly shown as being evenly matched.Booster Gold shows up, confused at how things could have changed forcing the cousins to fight. He explains they are cousins who love each other. At the names Superman and Supergirl, the two Kryptonians pause ... and begin to remember ... We then get a great flashback sequence of the two cousins, now in their normal garb, working together to stop tornados in Smallville.Again, they are shown as more partners than hero and sidekick. It is Supergirl who says 'follow my lead' here ... Then the two speed off, flying in the opposite spin of the twister and squelching it.It is just fantastic to see the two chumming around and heroing together.The crisis averted, they head to the Kent farm and gorge themselves on Ma's blueberry pie. And I mean gorge, complete with super-belches! The two wonder if they would be as magnanimous if they were raised somewhere other than Smallville.Cue a mystic television to appear with the opening credits for 'The Mxy Zone' complete with slightly altered but familiar enough lines from the opening of The Twilight Zone. On it Mr. Mxyzptlk wonders about the cousins u[...]



Review: Superman #43

2018-03-27T08:00:35.485-04:00

Superman #43 came out last week, the penultimate issue of the fantastic run that creators Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason have blessed us with over the last couple of years. Yes, this wasn't perfect. But when compared to the odd early days of the New 52, the odious Lobdell years, the depowered Yang years, this has been (with Dan Jurgens' Action) a big upgrade. This was an enjoyable, modern but classic take on the Man of Steel. And goodness knows, I needed it.As I have said elsewhere, Brian Michael Bendis has big shoes to fill. Unlike prior reboots made necessary by the lackluster stories which preceded them, Bendis is coming on board when most Superman fans (and Supergirl fans and Super Sons fans) are not only happy ... but buying the books.Tomasi and Gleason are sending us off on a high point. The Bizarroverse arc has been a hoot. I love how Superman can inspire the most backwards of beings. And somehow Tomasi and Gleason have figured out a version of Bizarro speak that I can decipher without getting a headache. Plus, I get the sense we got a sneak peek at where the Sons will end up.And Gleason nails it on art here.Nothing gold can stay.  We pick up at a point early in last issue with Jon flying away from Kathy. You might recall that Lois and Clark knew everything Jon had been doing. Well it turns out that they had Nobody, the girl with the invisible tech, tailing him and giving them the info. It is a little creepy. Clark and Lois are supposed to be trusting. Sending an unseen stalker? Seems off.Meanwhile Kathy has labeled herself Beacon and now sports a very super-heroic look. She and Nobody seem like frenemies, especially concerning Jon. And, I have said it before, Nobody looks like an Eva from Neon Genesis: Evangelion. Love it.I wonder if this whole thing was a backdoor introduction to a new Young Justice comic. Jon, Damian, Nobody, Beacon, and .... hmmm .... Back at Metropolis, while Jon is in his bedroom, Clark and Lois have a talk about their relationship and why it is so successful. Clark is amazed that Lois can be both mother and incredible journalist. Some of this sounds a little clunky or corny. "Moms deserve awards"??Both Lois and Clark are pulling triple duty as parent, worker, and superhero (Lois is thrown into the action too much to not include her). It is loving parents that matter.Still, it is this loving relationship and family that has been the foundation of this title. It is what I have loved most. And now we see in solicits that Lois might be gone?? Painful. That loving and respectful family dynamic is the exact opposite of the Bizarro family.Upstairs in Jon's room, Bizzaroboy uses his flame breath to warp Jon's action figures so Superman and Superboy toys resemble Bizarros. In a sad moment, we see that the Bizarro relationship is marred by physical violence.Whoa. That adds a heavy tone to the otherwise silly proceedings.When Clark goes to investigate the noises, Bizarroboy thinks Jon is going to be punished and grabs him and takes off. The resulting bizarre flight endangers a medflight in progress. Bizarroboy can only look on while Superman and Superboy team up to save the copter and all those within.I love this panel where Bizarroboy's eyes are opened to Superman's goodness. He has to acknowledge he is different from our heroes.What I like is the lack of background here. This is a big moment for Bizarroboy. He probably only 'sees' Superman, a giant figure in his mind. We should be concentrating on this moment, not the buildings in the background. We should just be seeing Superman too.Nice art choice.  Back in Hamilton, Ro[...]



Bullet Review: Batman #43

2018-03-26T08:00:15.785-04:00

This is going to seem like a silly review. I don't normally buy the Batman solo book. But I have been impressed with Tom King's work just about everywhere else. I loved his two parter with Superman. So it has become something of an impulse buy. In the end, I wonder if it should just move to the pull list.Add to that my reading, with great interest, the conversation about his treatment of Poison Ivy in this latest arc. I thought my passion about Supergirl was rabid but it pales in comparison to some of the  Ivy lovers out there. They are a vocal group with strong feelings about their favorite character. And they weren't happy. So that piqued my interest even more.So what made this be pushed over into bullet review territory? Well for one, Supergirl has a role in this book, albeit a silent one. She is there in the background. And the art is by Mikel Janin. I love Janin's art and think he would be great on a Supergirl book. Who knows when (or if) he would be drawing her again! So I thought maybe I would share just for that.But more than that, there is a moment in this book, an homage to a prior story, that is just so perfect that I needed to talk about it here. And even better, that homage tangentially involves Supergirl!King is really firing on all cylinders these days. And the art in this book is just lush, especially the Ivy-centric pages.Okay, I freely admit that I didn't read the last issue. But it seems that Ivy has taken over the entire world except Bruce and Selina. Hopefully that was explained last issue.The book opens with Batman nursing some wounds in a hospital while Harley cares for him.What I love is that Bruce has three security guards around him: Superman, Supergirl, and New Super-Man. Batman is so dangerous that Ivy put three Supers around him.Now it would have been so easy for King to make it Kal, J'onn, and Diana. But he didn't and I am glad. This also gives some immediate street cred to Kenan. He is considered worthy to stand with the cousins.Not the best panel of Kara but she still looks great.Bruce seems to have wanted to be put in this situation because he thinks the only person who can help the world get out of this jam is Harley.He isn't here to snap Superman out of his funk. In fact, Superman seems rather zealous in his defense of Ivy's plans. Instead, Bruce is leaning into Harley's inherent goodness. Her heart is in the right place. It's just that she doesn't know how to accomplish good without being impacted by her past. She is hurting.Heck, Bruce is hurting too. And Selina. Maybe this will make them take a closer look at their own methods.And then, the ka-pow moment.Bruce says only Harley can help them. Because she has a special relationship with Ivy. They are very much together, like crossed finger.Does this look familiar?Well, way back in 2012 I reviewed 1988's Batgirl Adventures #1 (http://comicboxcommentary.blogspot.com/2012/08/batgirl-adventures-1.html) In that book, Ivy has been kidnapped and Harley enlists Batgirl's help to rescue her. During the mission, Babs wonders if Harley and Ivy are ...well ... y'know. Like crossed finger?I love Harley's response about Babs and Kara.I love this moment. So for King to homage it, right down to Harley's expressions, is perfect. It is a different time in the world. It is a different book. It is okay to say that Harley and Ivy are together.Just perfect.While Bruce talks to Harley, Selina has been talking to Ivy. There is a lot of deep discussion about wanting to do good. About trying to overcome the past.But ultimately, the plan is to incapacitate Ivy long enough to[...]



Review: Super Sons #14

2018-03-23T08:00:27.403-04:00

 Super Sons #14 came out this week and very nicely ended the Mother's Day story in which Talia Al Ghul tries to lure Damian back to the dark side. I was very impressed with this arc as it both answered the much asked question 'Where is Talia in all this?' as well as pushing forward the characterization of both of the titular sons. As I have said in the past, the friction and differences between Jon and Damian is such fertile ground for story-telling. Writer Peter Tomasi definitely knows how to mine it!The thing that I have liked about this is how both Jon and Damian are being influenced and inspired by the other. They come in as Batman and Superman writ small. But I wonder if this friendship and this mingling of ideas during adolescence is what is missing from the Bruce/Clark friendship. They met later on in life and in heroing career. It is, as they say, harder to teach an old dog new tricks. But here when we see Damian's rough edges being sanded down by Jon's optimism, or Jon bending the rules when necessary when nudged by Damian ... well it all works.Carlo Barberi and Art Thibert really bring a dynamic and definitely youthful feel to the book, with zany expressions and great, sorta anime, qualities. So that jibes well too.In the end, it just reminds me how sad it is that this book is ending.Last issue, Talia showed up and asked Damian to embrace his birthright and come back to the League of Shadows to take his place as heir apparent. He refused.He then discovered that Talia, financially strapped when the Leviathan Inc. crime syndicate was shattered, was now acting like a street level assassin. Her target this time? Lois Lane.I did wonder last issue how the mighty could have fallen this far. I couldn't believe that Talia would be so shattered that she'd be working as a killer-for-hire. Tomasi answers that concern form me right out of the gate. She wants to test Damian. And the best way to do it is to lure him out under the impression that she is killing again.How great when a story point you have problems with are answered so perfectly!Lois is in Gotham trying to score a scoop. Talia has tracked her to a coffee shop. And the sons have tracked Lois there as well.Even though Talia is playing the part of assassin, she is well suited for the role. If Damian won't show up, she'll still finish the contract. She shoots her high-powered rifle into the shop only to have the bullet snatched out of the air by Jon.And then, we get these panels which just show how great the medium of comics is. The idea that in one second Talia's scope is empty and in the next Damian fills the view, his foot about to connect is great visually story-telling. Simple and effective. The book then basically splits into two parts.On the rooftop, Damian and Talia brawl while having a heart to heart. She is dismayed at how far he has 'fallen'. He should be living the life of an Al Ghul, killing those who stand against him and working towards world domination. Batman is holding him back. She wants him to reach his potential. Hmmm ... interesting take if you believe the cold-blooded killer.There is something chilling about her saying that Batman 'thinnned' their blood line. For one, it reeks of old school elitism, of powerful families thinking their bloodline alone is the reason for success. But more, how crazy narcissistic do you need to be to think that the freaking Batman, with all he has accomplished, has diminished your family! That line struck me.Meanwhile, Talia has sent out a squad of ninjas to fight Jon and finish the Lois killing.Supe[...]



June 2018 Solicits

2018-03-22T08:00:22.738-04:00

The June solioits for DC Comics have been released and it is a big month for Superman fans. Finally the Bendis era takes over. Here is a link to all the solicits:https://www.newsarama.com/39119-dc-comics-june-2018-solicitations.htmlI just don't know what to think about this whole upheaval of Superman. I suppose this is what I was feeling in 1987 when Byrne completely uprooted and replanted the entire mythos. In the end, I was pretty happy with Byrne reinvigorating the property. But much of that was I felt the stories had become tepid before he took over. Right now I feel we are in a Renaissance for the Superman and his family.  So now seems like an odd time to blow things up. And this is my biggest concern. After years of suffering, we finally had a Superman I could read and enjoy. Will this be a step back? THE MAN OF STEEL #1Written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDISArt by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADOCover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADOA new era begins for Superman as a threat from his earliest origins reemerges to destroy the Last Son of Krypton. As Superman struggles to come to grips with what has happened to his wife and son, he must also face a new threat that’s determined to burn down Metropolis! Sigh.I wish we could just let Krypton die in peace. But now we have some new information about its destruction and it impacts Superman's legacy.Sigh.I'll try to stay open minded.THE MAN OF STEEL #2Written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDISArt by EVAN “DOC” SHANERCover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADOWith an arsonist loose in Metropolis, Superman’s powers are almost useless in finding the culprit. And back at the Daily Planet, everyone wants to know what’s going on with Lois Lane. How can Clark hold on to the secret of what happened to Lois and Jon much longer? So what has happened to Lois and Jon? I am hopeful this isn't something terrible. And I certainly hope the dynamic doesn't change coming out of this mini. The family relationship has been one of the biggest gains in the Rebirth/Reborn time.And how can Superman's powers be useless against an arsonist?Doc Shaner on Superman is fantastic!THE MAN OF STEEL #3Written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDISArt by RYAN SOOKCover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADOThe merciless killer and zealot calling himself Rogol Zaar has searched the cosmos for Superman—and when he reaches the Fortress of Solitude, his actions will cut Superman to the core.And now the villain has a name ... Rogol Zaar. A merciless killer and zealot.I have heard here and there that he somehow is trying to stop Superman from becoming the universe's greatest hero. But that the idea of Kal as this hero is somehow almost predestined. I guess We'll have to wait and see how it plays out.I like the cover here, an homage to Grant Morrison's Action Comics #5.  And nothing wrong with Ryan Sook!THE MAN OF STEEL #4Written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDISArt by KEVIN MAGUIRECover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADORogol Zaar has committed a string of atrocities across the cosmos that have led him to the Fortress of Solitude—and now Superman and Supergirl plan to crush his schemes! But are even two Kryptonians enough to stop his sinister machinations? A mention of Supergirl so this makes me happy. We caught a glimpse of Kevin Maguire's art and I have always loved his take on Supergirl so this is the first solicit that grabbed me. Plus ... a string of atrocities across the cosmos? Hmmm ... THE MAN OF STEEL #5Written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDISArt by ADAM HUGHESCover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADOBeaten by Rogol Zaar, his city [...]



Review: New Super-Man And The Justice League Of China #21

2018-03-21T08:00:34.222-04:00

New Super-Man and the Justice League of China #21 came out last week, continuing the story of the North Korean Aquaman while bolstering the subplots and characterization of the team. I have said before that I am somewhat surprised that this book avoided the axe that culled Supergirl and Super Sons from the rack. But I am happy I still get to read it because it is a ton of fun.Gene Luen Yang continues to walk a nice tightrope here between fun teen superhero book with a cocky lead and a decent dive into Asian culture. Between Korean mythology, a look at China as an open and sorta westernized country, and Kenan juggling two love interests, this books continues to sizzle. I am pretty amazed at the changes in tone and depth of the stories here all while maintaining something of a consistent feel. How is that possible?Brent Peeples remains on art and seems to grow with each issue. I have enjoyed his take on giant crustacean kaiju as well as his stealthier ninja scenes. Everything seems silkier here, more polished.All this said, I think I am starting to see the writing on the wall in solicit announcements that we might be nearing the end of this book. So enjoy it while you can.On to the book! Last issue, two giant crabs helped Ahn Kwang-Jo, a North Korean teen with some water-based powers, escape a military installment and head to the China border.I have always loved the Wonder Woman of China and her origin as the legendary Green Snake. So I very much liked when the giant crabs recognize her more mystical background and ask her for mercy and help. The fact she is Green Snake should be part of her ongoing story and not just cemented into her past.And I like that she recognizes her title and her duties. They mirror the concept of Wonder Woman so this worked.But helping Kwang-Jo means helping someone defect from a dictatorship. This is a political conundrum. What is the right thing to do? Help this one single person knowing it will lead to an international incident? Or kowtow to the political hardline and send Kwang-Jo back?No surprise that Bat-Man leans towards returning him as a responsibility to the many. Meanwhile Wonder Woman knows the right thing to do is help the individual. It is up to Kenan.I like how Kenan in the end decides to help Kwang-Jo. Suddenly he is tossing tanks and helping the defector and crabs get over the border.It is the classic conundrum ... do the good of the many outweight the good of the one?Well, for China, the state doesn't think that Kwang-Jo is worth the effort.In the Ministry of Self-Reliance, the government warns Dr. Omen that the Green Lantern Corps of China is ready to extract. This is double given the fact that it is Omen's son who is helping Kwang-Jo. Perhaps it is emotion that has made Omen pause in sending out the Corps?I love this side plot of Kenan's mother being Omen. She loves him, it is clear. But she also loves duty. The fact she calls the JLC the scalpel in comparison to the Corps' axe is also interesting. The JLC hasn't exactly been precise and surgical. So how brutal are the corps?And what about Mingming? She is taking it all in.As for Kwang-Jo, his indoctrination into the propaganda of North Korea is hard wired. He initially thinks he should be killed for leaving his country. He can't believe that he is being given the richest of foods when in reality he has been given soup from a street vendor. He needs his eyes to be opened about how stark his country is.Wonder Woman brings him out to the streets where he sees Chines[...]



Review: The Krypton Chronicles #3

2018-03-20T08:00:35.910-04:00

The SyFy premiere of Krypton airs tonight, a show looking back at Superman's grandfather and the politics of Krypton in the years before its destruction. In preparation for that I have been reviewing The Krypton Chronicles, a miniseries from 1981 in which Superman learns about his lineage.I have reviewed the first two issues here and here. Today I review Krypton Chronicles #3, the final episode which has Superman going all the way back to the first person the adopt the last name of El. The first two issues were on Rokyn, providing us with a decent side plot to help break up the ancestry information dump. This issue is much more exposition based with Superman just looking backwards and reporting what he finds.I have enjoyed this mini-series more that I remembered. It is fun to get these tangential looks at Krypton culture as well as this deep dive into the El family. I also love that Supergirl is involved in all three issues. She is an El as well and should be part of this research mission.So who was the first El? Jump in!"The Race to Overtake the Past" had the same creative team as the first two books. E. Nelson Bridwell is on writing with Curt Swan and Frank Chiaramonte on art.The book opens with the cousins at the Fortress trying to figure out how to go back farther in their investigation. They have gone back in generations as far as they could with recordings and texts while on Rokyn. So they'll need some super-science to go farther back.Luckily, this is the pre-Crisis Superman with his super-intellect. He is able to put together a device that can gather up light emissions from the past and put them on screen to view. What I like is Superman and Supergirl shooting down all the other ways they could do this research. They couldn't fly back in time because Krypton has a red sun and they'd be powerless. And they couldn't use a time machine because they don't really know exactly when they are going.The 'light-seeker' is the best option.Sure enough, using his super-brain, Superman is able to figure out the best place to capture these light rays and peek into the past.And luckily they are able to check into the past and see their ancestor Bur-El talking to a great Kryptonian scientist Kil-Gor.Outside of the comic book science, there are some great little tweaks to these scenes. For one, they are looking at light waves, not sound waves.  So the cousins will need to read lips. That means anytime someone isn't facing the light seeker, they don't know what they are saying. So we get an empty word balloon for Bur-El in the third panel.And I like that they are speaking ancient Kryptonese, as they should be. Superman has studied the old dialects. Supergirl hasn't. It is a nice touch. Kil-Gor is definitely an important figure in Krypton's history. At this time, some  tribes would need to swim out to a sandbar and gather algae to eat when low tide occurred. They only knew this would happen when the scavenger birds flew in. But that made it doubly difficult. You had to swim to the bar and fight the birds for the food.Kil-Gor developed the first rudimentary time piece so he could anticipate the tide and send the tribe's people out before the birds arrived. Suddenly life is easier and the planet has a concept of time!Bur-El ends up marrying Kil-Gor's daughter. Thus we now know why Bur-El recorded so much about Kil-Gor in his tapes last issue.What I love is how this isn't just a homework assignment. This is family. So seeing Kara get exc[...]



Review: Action Comics #999

2018-03-19T09:00:49.495-04:00

Action Comics #999 came out this last week and reminded me of the days when you would watch a car's odometer slowly turn over some huge number. We are on the cusp of Action Comics #1000, a mega-accomplishment which brings with it a new, bold direction. We have all seen the 'Bendis is Coming!' ads. I have had waxing and waning optimism about Bendis' run. I am approaching the future with some trepidation.But we are here to talk about Action Comics #999. This is writer Dan Jurgens' swan song. Yes, a Luthor centric special is in the works. But this is Jurgens goodbye to running the comic and guiding the Man of Steel. After a prolific run which has now spanned 3 decades, this could honestly be Jurgens' goodbye to the character. And as a result, I am looking at this issue like a funeral mass. I was sad going in, hoping to celebrate the creators and this run while also being sad that they'll be gone. For me, since Rebirth, I have had a Superman that reads right, that feels right, and that I have enjoyed. And I haven't been able to say that often these last many years.And this issue is a bit of pure Superman. He is looking for truth and justice. He isn't cruel. He wants to inspire and bring people together. And we see a lot of that here.We also get Will Conrad on art. There is a fair amount of realism here. The bulk of this issue are conversation scenes that are heavy with emotion and Conrad does a great job bringing us those beats.But this is a turning point for the creators, for the comics, and for a couple of characters. On to the book.Last issue, Lois had successfully rescued her father from being executed. The physical threat is over.So can these two reconcile? General Lane has long been a military man of action, a man who follows orders, a man who fears Superman and aliens. It is hard for me to know how much of his past is still in continuity. But the undercurrent of his needing to be prepared should Superman go rogue remains a constant.Lois, of course, trusts Superman, loves Superman, married Superman. And she has gone against her father in the press, revealing his secrets. As she says, the press is there to keep people accountable. Her father's missions from the shadows needed to be revealed. She is a woman of action, who wants truth and justice herself.The conversation between father and daughter is curt and cutting. And unfortunately Jon, who wants to meet his grandfather, has to witness it all.Superman isn't there because he is in space stopping an asteroid on a collision course with Earth. Within the asteroid is a rare crystal which is nearly invulnerable when exposed to air, something that would stand up even to him.Superman gathers the crystal because he needs it. He plans of releasing Hank Henshaw from the Phantom Zone because it is a cruel prison, one which destroys minds already addled.There is a lot to this scene, from an editor's note telling us what S.T.A.R. stands for to Superman thanking the Kents for raising him to know right from wrong.Meanwhile Lois and Sam continue there debate. The General knows that he has to be ready for any threat. That is the cost of freedom.Lois makes sure that he knows that she is aware of the cost of freedom. She has covered war. She had friends growing up whose fathers died in service.In a brilliant debate point, General lane turns Lois' words back on her. She said that the press is there to make sure everyone has to answer to someone. So who does Superman answ[...]



Review: Supergirl #19

2018-03-16T08:00:38.484-04:00

Supergirl #19 came out this week and has a 'very special issue' feel to it as it covers a current social issue, gender identity and individuals identifying as non-binary. For those of a certain age, the 'very special' designation was assigned to television episodes or specials which were supposed to be about a more real topic, in hopes of educating and spurring on discussion. Whether it was after-school specials about teen pregnancy or Saved by the Bell covering drug use or Superman teaching us about the perils of drunk driving, these stories are part of the cultural landscape.And so this issue concentrates on Lee, a new character, non-binary, and how Supergirl helps Lee. We see how Lee has been coping with issues at home and school. And we see how Supergirl can empathize and be there as a source of hope and inspiration. Supergirl is an ally, befriending, defending, understanding, and being there.  And, in the end, everything ends well. Maybe too well? It feels a little too easy, a little too pat, a little too quick. But when you only have 20 pages and you are only dedicating one issue to the story, things have to happen and fast. I certainly don't mind issues like this or this issue in particular. I'm still learning about this stuff myself and could use all the education I can get. But this is a volume of Supergirl which is ending next month. We have a lot of Kara's story to wrap up. Who knows if we are getting another Supergirl title book any time soon. So I just wish there was more time and space to deal with our title character which would mean an entire issue given to a character we have never heard of before and may never hear about again was a nice stand-alone story in the bigger epic. That said, with the impending ending, maybe the creative team felt this was their only chance to produce this story.Writers Steve Orlando and Vita Ayala give Lee a unique voice and bring the emotions nicely. I care about these characters. There is a great callback to Supergirl's history. But I'll say again, things feel a bit rushed. I was glad to see that we still got some momentum on the lingering plotlines of Supergirl and the DEO.The book starts with Cameron Chase, former regional director of the DEO, still on the run from Mr. Bones and the current administration. Chase and Shay Veritas have deduced that Bones has been working with Mister Mokkari, a known evil Science Sadist from Apokolips. And now we hear that he is behind all the shenanigans which have transpired in the book, like who gave Phantom Tech to Tycho Corporation. She demands Bones cut off ties with Mokkari but Bones fires back saying he knew all along about these plans. I think he might protest too much.I do like that Orlando ties off the plot string about the Tycho Phantom Tech. But I wonder if there is a feeling he has to bring this volume to a complete close so whoever comes next has a clean slate.And is it just me that thinks Lar-On looks just like Jeff Bridge's The Dude from The Bog Lebowski?Meanwhile Ben Rubel continues to question his role in CatCo's publicity demolition of Supergirl. He follows up on a story submitted to their open source website. And that's where he finds Lee. Lee initially says that they weren't sure they could trust Supergirl but then Kara's actions won them over. Interesting that Lee wonders why Supergirl would care since she is white and blond. Lee was running away from home duri[...]