Friday, March 24, 2017

Review: Action Comics #976


What do you do in comics when character mistakes have been made?
Well, you can reboot an entire universe if the mistakes are continuity wide.
Or you can simply ignore the mistakes and have a new creative team just start writing the character a different way.
Or you can 'soft reboot' things, change a couple of key events here and there to smooth out some of the rough edges.

Action Comics #976, the last part of Superman Reborn, does the latter. And I loved it.

There was much of the New 52 Superman that I didn't care for. Outside of Morrison and Pak, the tone just seemed way off. The usage of the supporting cast, especially Lois, was terrible. And we went from an 'I'm here to help' character to someone who mercilessly beat his helpless opponents. It was wrong.

Then Convergence and Rebirth came along and a new/old Superman and Lois were brought into the fold. Building on pre-Flashpoint continuity, the two were in love, married, and brought a more classic feel to the book. Everything seemed to be clicking.

Unfortunately, it meant you were stuck with two of each of the characters. The New 52 Superman and Lois were killed off to make things easier to follow. But how could the older Lois simply step into the younger Lois' life. How could Clark White live on a farm while no Clark Kent worked at the Planet? How did other people handle a 'new' Superman being in the ranks?

It was getting a bit confusing. Even my reviews had to say things like 'pre-FC Superman' and 'N52 Superman' and 'older Lois', etc. Things needed to be smoothed out.

That's just what Reborn has done. It might seem a bit fast. It probable will leave a lot of continuity reshuffling to the readers. And it didn't really answer the how's of all this. We still don't know who Mr. Oz is or who the mysterious 'he' who is doing all this is. But we have one Superman now, disguised as a mild-mannered reporter working for a great Metropolitan newspaper, in love with Lois, and acting as a hero. And for that, I'm happy.

I'll add that Doug Mahnke is on art on the issue and brings a nice insanity to the proceedings. Energy beings, 5th dimensional imps, decaying fantasylands ... Mahnke brings a vibrancy to it all.

Enough dawdling, onto the book.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Flash Ep 217: Duets


I have been watching the Flash show since the first season's premiere and overall have loved the show. The characters, their interactions, the deep dives into the DCU, and the personal plot lines have all made the show a winner.

You knew there was going to be a but, right.

But this season has been a bit more morose than I am used to with this show. Yes, there has been a lot of drama and depression in the first two seasons, revolving around the death of Barry's mom, the multiple supporting characters dying, the betrayal of Zoom, etc. This season has really wallowed in the depression and sadness. Everyone seems a little more sullen. Everyone is carrying some emotional burden. Barry hasn't been acting the hero.

In other words, the charm of the earlier seasons hasn't been there this season. And it was that charm that made this show such a winner.

This week, the Flash aired 'Duets', the much anticipated musical crossover with Supergirl. (It is Kara's presence that has me reviewing the show here.) And thankfully, this was a rollicking good time. The charm was back. Characters were smiling. Everyone seemed to be having a grand old time. That fun and charm just oozed off the screen.

I love that we learn how much Kara loves The Wizard of Oz, a perfect musical for her, with a female hero trying to recapture her home after being sent to someplace strange.

And perhaps most amazingly, even though this was a 'side mission', the episode moved both shows plots forward.

Suffice it to say, the family and I basically grinned for an hour. Now it doesn't hurt that the Anj household likes musicals. Maybe we were the perfect target audience.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Supergirl Ep 216: Star- Crossed



Supergirl episode 216, titled 'Star Crossed' aired earlier this week and finally revealed just who Mon-El is. It also made him a more sympathetic character when you see just what Daxam was like and who his parents are. Any time you name something 'Star Crossed', you are aiming for a Romeo and Juliet feel. And that means doomed lovers. Certainly, Krypton and Daxam could be the planetary equivalent of the Montagues and the Capulets. And Mon-El hiding his real identity for this long certainly isn't a good foundation for a long standing relationship. So I wasn't surprised just how this all played out.

This also was a similar 'crossover' episode with the Flash. We knew the musical episode of the Flash was happening the night after this aired. The teaser at the end of Supergirl is the bridge of her joining the crossover, much as the show proceeded in the Invasion crossover.

Lastly, since Melissa Benoist was probably busy filming Flash at the same time, much of this episode is focused on Winn and his relationship with Lyra. To the surprise of no one, she turns out to be a bit more nefarious. She's a villain of sorts, but the kind with a sympathetic background that makes you end up rooting for her even if she almost ruined Winn's life. Maybe this relationship was also star-crossed in nature.

As usual, Benoist really brings it this episode. She is emotionally devastated for much of this episode and she brings that sort of weight to the proceedings. Her expressions, her dialogue, her body language all screams her pain. 

I'll be concentrating mostly on the Supergirl/Mon-El plot in this review. Settle in.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Graphic Ink: The DC Comics Art Of Gary Frank



Through the magic of the internet, I stumbled upon this image by Gary Frank, a promotional piece for a book titled GRAPHIC INK: THE DC COMICS ART OF GARY FRANK. The book is still up on the DC site despite being shelved. Here is that link: http://www.dccomics.com/graphic-novels/graphic-ink-the-dc-comics-art-of-gary-frank

I've been a fan of Frank's art since his early work on the Peter David Supergirl site. And while not from DC, I loved his work on Supreme Power. Just gorgeous stuff there.

Looking at this image, you can see the breadth of Frank's work in DC. Obviously he had some time with Superman with Geoff Johns. But you also see the Stan Lee Imagines Shazam, the Tangent Flash, Black Canary (he was one of the first artist's on Birds of Prey), and the actual Marvel Family while on Justice League (again with Johns). And his take on the Legion was great in that Action Comics run.

This is a great piece, worthy of a poster.

But you can guess the two characters that really caught my eye.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Review: Super Sons #2


Supersons #2 came out last week and was a rollicking fun time. One of the themes of this book is clearing going to be to compare and contrast the personalities of the main characters. Jon is a bright, optimistic, sort of naive kid. Damien is a driven, sullen, but ultimately lonely dark knight in training. For someone like me who grew up with Batman and Superman being friends, I can imagine that this is how that relationship started. These boys aren't similar in any way other than their legacy and drive for justice.

This issue shows how their approaches to matters and their power set can complement each other nicely. They are solving a mystery and they are on the trail. But this is definitely an 'Odd Couple' situation. Can they get along with out beating each other up?

The story also introduces someone who could be a great arch-enemy for the sons. Are we seeing the opening chapter of a lifelong battle?

The art is just glorious by Jorge Jimenez. I love how gangly and kid-like our protagonists look. These aren't small adults. They are children and they look it. I appreciate it greatly! And the action is wonderfully rendered, stylized and snappy!

On to the book!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Review: Superman #19

Superman #19 came out this week, the third chapter in the 4 part Superman Reborn, and it moved the story forward somewhat nicely. There are several storylines running through this issue and these titles right now and everything seems to be interconnected. Dr. Manhatten pulling the universe's strings. Mr. Oz and his machinations. Mr. Mxyzptlk and his revenge. The current split in the Superman identity. Who has done what ... if anything?

So now it is a matter of sifting through all the clues, teases, and feints to try to figure out what is causation and what is association. I am more informed, no doubt. But I don't think I actually know more. But it sure is fun trying to figure it all out.

And there is definitely the sense that we are going back to Superman Red/Superman Blue. From the next chapter's cover to the 'red energy' of Superwoman, to the coloring we have seen from the pre-Flashpoint Supes, maybe the 'split Superman' concept is back.

My review therefore will be trying to point out some of the images and interesting tidbits, both story based and metatextual, that were dropped in this issue. Creators Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason bring us an insanely fast moving and surreal book. The art is wonderfully bizarre. And I ate the whole thing up like an eclair.

But how is all of this going to be wrapped up in one more issue??

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Return Of Superman Cards!


Hat tip to my blog friend @FKAJason (who runs the excellent Captain Atom Blog Splitting Atoms)  for sharing the Supergirl relevant cards from The Return of Superman card set from 1993.

As I have said in the past, the Matrix Supergirl prior to the Reign of the Supermen storyline was something of a muddle, a being totally being used in all ways by Lex Luthor. Prior to that she had been insane, wandering the cosmos, and then finally a slave of Brainiac.

But once Superman died and Funeral For a Friend and Reign of the Supermen happened, Matrix started to turn more towards the light. She started to question Lex's motives. She totally realized the hero that Superman was. She decided she would become the hero and defender of Metropolis. And she followed him into the battle against the Cyborg Superman.

This card has a great art by Jackson Guice. I love ... and I mean love ... Guice's take on Matrix. Just great.


I love how this card stresses the fact that Supergirl has become Metropolis' new defender.

And I also love that they simply say 'born in a lab on a faraway planet' instead of trying to explain the Pocket Universe in the small amount of text space they were given.

"Her brillian psionic powers make her a formidable opponent for any who cross her path!" Nice.


And there is this card titled 'Boy Meets Girl!' which uses the cover art of Adventures of Superman #502.

This was something of a high water mark for the Superman books. Guice was on Action. Here we see Tom Grummett's work on Adventures. And the running arc of the four supposed replacement Supermen was a done very well.

The idea that one of the replacements was actually Superman in some way was a very good mystery.


And given the unclear future for Superboy given his impetuous nature, this card correctly states these two could be enemies, friends, or something more.

Thanks again to @FKAJason for sharing these! And I am glad that Supergirl got some mention in this card set!