Saturday, December 31, 2011

Supergirl Sighting: Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes #3

What better way to wrap up 2011 than by a looking at a past version of Supergirl who cropped up in an unlikely place.

Chris Roberson salvaged the end of the Superman arc 'Grounded', weaving in a lot of Superman lore into his issues as Superman staggered to some psychological healing. Roberson's issues really saved that arc.

So I was thrilled when I saw that he was writing a Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes crossover mini-series for IDW. I am a casual Star Trek fan. I have seen all the episodes too many times to count, I love the movies, and very much liked Next Generation. But my Trek fandom is sort of on the periphery of my geekiness. On the other hand, I am a huge comic book guy and a giant Legion fan for most of my life. So this was a mix of two disparate things that I like, a sort of 'chocolate and peanut butter' mix ... perfect.

And Roberson seemed like the right writer. In 'Grounded', it was clear he had a working knowledge of some little known Superman history. So I figured he would treat both the Legion and the Star Trek crew the right way.  The book has been fantastic so far as the Legion and the Enterprise meet in an alternate timeline where the Federation is a fascist and expansionist regime run by Tommy Tomorrow.

In the last issue, the Legion and the Enterprise crew compare the United Planets to the Federation, how both those timelines are superior to the one they are trapped in, and how they need to fix things.

During that conversation, we get a montage page of the Legion and their greatest enemies. This is clearly based on the Levitz/Giffen Legion based on the presence of Light Lass, the cowl/hood of Wildfire's costume, and the presence of Karate Kid.

And there among the Legionnaires is Supergirl! This was around the time that she came out of 'retirement' to help in the Great Darkness Saga and then hung around for some adventures with Brainiac 5. I have covered those issues in depth on this blog in the past.

How wonderful to see this version of Supergirl again, even in a group shot.

But as fantastic as that was, it wasn't the best moment of the book.

Now this amalgamation of Trek beings and Legion's Fatal Five was the biggest moment of sheer geek giddiness. A Gorn Persuader? A Mugato Validus? An Orion Emerald Empress? Now that is awesome sauce.

If you are an old school Legion fan, or an old school Star Trek fan, or any fan of either in any form, I advise getting this comic. It is fun and entertaining and well worth reading!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Dark Supergirl Action Figure

Over on Comic Book Resources, Mattel has announced the next wave of DC All-Star action figures, due out this year. There is also a good discussion about a collector friendly web-site that allows the more serious collector access to more esoteric figures.

Here is the link to that article, well worth reading in its entirety:

The series includes the new Superman, the old DCU Red Robin, and the Flash. It also includes Dark Supergirl, in her all her black costume glory.

I liked the James Robinson treatment of Dark Supergirl in his Justice League run. Dark Supergirl was a sort of sanctuary for Supergirl when the weight of personal tragedy was too great a burden to carry. She sunk into this petty personality to try to shield herself from feeling anything. So I think I have to get this figure for my collection.

It's a shame that the mold seems to be from the DC Universe Classic series, one of the weaker Supergirl figures to come out recently.

Still, Dark Supergirl played a role in the last incarnation of Supergirl's life, sort of bookending her life. Dark Supergirl appeared in her first adventure and nearly in her last. As such, I'm glad that she will have a figure of her own.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review: Legion Of Super-Heroes #4

Legion of Super-Heroes #4 came out last week and had all the elements that make me love the Legion. There was a big galactic threat in the form of a Dominator fleet poised to invade the UP. There were multiple squads of Legionnaires each dealing with a facet of this adventure. And there were vastly different locales throughout the universe in which the Legion has to adapt. These all are parts of the scope of the Legion that makes it such a special comic for me. And Paul Levitz has always been the best writer for this sort of story. Each Legionnaire seems to have time in the spotlight and each place seems unique and yet no aspect of the story feels short-changed ... usually.

Unfortunately, the pacing of this story seemed off as this arc raced to its finish. Creators must hate someone like me, who is constantly talking about how pace is either too fast or too slow. But here, crucial elements of this story are glossed over or barely discussed as things come to a close. I was hoping for some more satisfactory conclusion to some of the threads here.

And I also wonder about the nature of this comic's relaunch. It basically was untouched by the new DCU, picking up right where the last comic left off. But is this 'new' Legion book accessible to new readers? I don't know. Now for an old-timer like me, I am pretty happy as this has felt like what a Legion book should be. But I doubt people who don't know this universe are able to grasp everything that's happening here.

One thing I do have to say is that I am loving Francis Portela's art on this book. It is sleek and polished and clean, echoing the tone of the book perfectly. 

Now one Legion squad is on the UP outpost planet Panoptes, the linchpin for an apparent Dominator invasion into UP space. These Legionnaires on the ground are dealing with Res-Vir, a Daxamite who is working for the Dominion and has access to a version of Brainy's anti-lead serum.

I really liked this scene as the rookie Chemical Kid is able to stop Res-Vir with some guidance by the more veteran Element Lad. It is this sort of camaraderie that works so well in the Legion. And these two could become an extremely powerful combination for the team. One controls elements. The other controls chemistry. The combos of their powers are limitless.

Luckily, Chemical Kid is able to stop Res-Vir by slowing down some processes and speeding up others. What I also liked here is that Kid is scared here, not the cocky rich kid we saw in the Adventure Comics issues earlier this year.

Another squad is on Dazam trying to figure out what made Res-Vir go rogue. There are two questions to be answered here. How did the Dominators 'cure' Res-Vir of his weakness to lead? And how did they convince him to leave the planet when Daxamites are quarantined to their planet and don't want to leave.

Despite the Science Police thinking this is a dead end, Shrinking Violet has this squad press on, leading them to Res-Vir's training site, a micronuclear plant which also has access to Kryptonite. Now long time readers like me know that Kryptonite is a crucial ingredient to Brainy's anti-lead serum so this is something of a revelation. But that isn't explained at all. Will new readers know why access to Kryptonite means anything? Shouldn't this have been expounded on? And even if he has Kryptonite, how can Res-Vir synthesize the serum? And how would the Dominator pick him out, talk to him, convince him to join the cause? None of these plot elements are discussed further. And I think they should have been.

I am a big Lightning Lass fan and this is a lovely version of her by Portela. What I like is that Portela uses different body types for different characters; they all aren't cookie cutter similar. Ayla here looks slim and fit.

Contrast that to the more voluptuous Dream Girl as she talks to Brainiac 5. Nura has always been drawn in a zaftig manner, so I don't mind her drawn this way. But I am glad that Ayla looks different than Dreamy who looks different than Comet Queen.

Now Dream Girl has always been a big flirt and she sort of is here with Querl. There was a Dreamy/Brainy romance in the Waid version of the team. Is that carrying over? Or is she still faithful to Star Boy?

But Brainy is having no part of this talk about magic in the 31st century. He is too busy studying Glorith's force fields.

And then he has a breakthrough. She shunts the attacks thrown at her through time! Not exactly a shock for me. All along I knew that 'Glorith' had to be somehow linked to the Glorith of old. But will she be the Purple hooded woman like we all think?

With Res-Vir stopped, the Legion on Panoptes can focus their energies on stopping the Dominator fleet.

Incredibly, this small squad basically wipes out the ships of the fleet easily. Maybe too easily? The ships don't seem to get off a shot. And none of these Legionnaires outside of Mon-El are invulnerable. There was no element of threat here, and so no real concern on my part for the characters.

Yes, the Legion are a powerful team. But if a fleet of starships can't scratch even one of them, what conflict can't they overcome?

Mon-El seems to have a personal gripe in this as the Dominators have included a Daxamite in their schemes. He rips open the command ship and orders the Dominator fleet to return to their space.

He also says, pretty off the cuff, that their anti-lead serum would eventually poison Res-Vir and so shouldn't be used again. How did he learn that? Is it true? And isn't that a very neat way to end that plot thread. Again, a bit more background info about that line would have been appreciated.

And isn't a bit too convenient to simply let the Dominator fleet return home after they tried to invade? Won't the UP declare war? Or want to be part of these negotiations? Again, this felt a bit too easy.

The issue ends with Shady and Mon-El talking. She thinks he is finally acting like the 'old' Mon-El. And I agree. I am glad the Green Lantern Mon-El storyline is over. And maybe this will lead to a reconciliation between these two. I do love how Portela has Shady's hair as a mass of tendrils until it slowly smudges out to more of a cloud of shadows. Very slick.

So this was a good skeleton of a story - a big threat in the opening arc, multiple Legion squads, and stellar art. But the 'meat' on that skeleton, the small details of the plots, seemed to be glossed over a bit as we rushed to the finale. Pieces of this Dominator plot which I would want discussed in depth were wrapped up without much explanation. And so that detracted a bit from this overall.

Overall grade: B

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Review: Supergirl #4

With the holidays officially behind me, I have some reviews to catch up on. So, a week after it's release, here is my look at Supergirl #4.

Much like the last issue, Supergirl #4 has a lot of story in it, moving through the Mr. Tycho story pretty quickly while dropping a few subtle hints about the origins of Supergirl. But more than anything, this issue got us into the mind of this Supergirl, giving us a better idea of who this particular Kara is.  So the decompression of the first two issue, my biggest peeve of those books, isn't around here. I can understand that the 'arrival moment' warrants some time to unfold. But with that moment behind them, writers Michael Green and Mike Johnson keep things rolling.

Again, this first arc seems to have two goals in mind. The first is Supergirl adjusting to the Earth and our world. The second is to fill in the gaps of her origin, what happened with Argo City and her family. While this issue clearly focused on the former, the latter is teased at a bit.

Finally, this is the first issue where Mahmud Asrar did both the penciling and 'markering' on the art. As usual, his stuff just pops off the page. The markering technique adds some nuance and depth to the work. And this issue we get to see moments of high drama and high action.

The issue opens up on Tycho's orbiting satellite headquarters. Last issue, Supergirl collapsed due to Kryptonite exposure as she neared her space pod. With her incapacitated, Tycho is able to study her more closely.

We start out with his analysis of her costume which is indestructible, stretchy ... basically armor. It reminds me of the more Silver Age aspects of Kryptonian fabric, invulnerable and able to be stretched to massive dimensions. Tycho, who seems to be more interested in the control of knowledge to obtain wealth, in only interested in copying the fabric for more mundane purposes. It reminded me a bit of Superman Family #199, where a thug steals Supergirl's cape and tries to cash in on the wonder fabric.

But there is more to this. I can understand that the fabric might be more durable under our yellow sun. But was it designed to be armor on Krypton? Was it indestructible there as well? What is the purpose of this suit, obtained after some sort of personal trial? Or is it merely ceremonial and the toughness of it is merely the result it being Kryptonian.

And the mystery, at least for me, deepened a bit here. Tycho has Kara in a stasis field near the Kryptonite, keeping her helpless and in pain. The text here, her thoughts, is nicely done here, describing her pain.

But how does she know what Kryptonite is? As far as I know (and of course things could be different in the DCnU), Kryptonite is the result of the planetary explosion. Kara should not have been exposed to it if she was rocketed straight from Krypton, or put in suspended animation on Krypton. Unless Kryptonite existed on the planet in this relaunched universe.

Of course, Kryptonite played a key role in the Argo City tragedy in the Silver Age. Could she have experienced it there? But then, wouldn't she remember her time there and not think she was on Krypton yesterday? Interesting ...

She is released .. rescued ... by one of Tycho's men. 'Jacobs' was in a battle suit fighting Supergirl when she first arrived. He sensed she was innocent there and therefore cannot stand by while she is being tortured. He didn't 'sign up' for that. I love the 'pieta' image here, one of comfort. It really added that extra layer of feeling to this image, painting Jacobs in the right light.

So Supergirl gets to see some of the best of humanity here, someone with compassion, someone willing to risk his own safety to help someone in need.

But then just as quickly, she sees the worst of humanity. Tycho shows up and has Jacobs executed.  He is shot and killed just for helping Supergirl.

It is easy to see why Supergirl might be confused about embracing Earth as a new home. In her short time here, she is immediately attacked by humans, tortured by humans, and the one person to help her is killed by his own.  No wonder she only wants to go home. We eat our own here.

This exposure to the whole spectrum of humanity will surely help Kara form her opinion about us and how she wants to act here.

With her strength returned, Supergirl tears her way through the satellite, dispatching Tycho's men and reclaiming her costume. (I find it interesting that she went right for that instead of simply escaping. It hints at the importance of the costume, at least in her mind).

I loved this panel as she crashes through the floor to confront Tycho. That is a nice strong image of Supergirl. I will admit I am still not a fan of the boots. She really seems to be a fast learner as she has semi-mastered her powers already.

Tycho has an ace in the hole though, a bargaining chip, the red crystal seen at the end of issue #2.

Supergirl recognizes it as a sunstone, a sort of external hard drive which probably holds a message from Zor-El. Tycho has even been able to hack it a bit, find a star map which might show Argo's location.

As for me, while the story is moving forward, I am getting a bit tired of Supergirl not understanding English, not being able to communicate with people in the book. Yes, it adds to the 'stranger in a strange land' feel. But it also limits what Green and Johnson can do. She can't talk to Tycho here. In her last origin, this was dealt with by having her be holed up in the Fortress for a bit, learning about Earth. How will it be handled here? Hopefully soon.

Tycho is willing to trade it for some of Supergirl's blood. Given what we have seen of Tycho, for him to be willing to trade this, this receptacle of information, makes me think he already has plans for that blood. He doesn't seem like the guy to trade away something like this for nothing.

But she can't understand him so she can't barter. And she doesn't want to simply grab it as she doesn't want to damage it.

So instead, she blasts through the floor with her heat vision, damaging the satellite's power core. Once again, I think this is sort of a subtle hint at Kara's intelligence here as she is able to scan the place with her x-ray vision and correctly deduce the power supply.

I thought this set of panels was great.

First off, Tycho can't believe that he might be beaten by a 'teenage girl', a rant/snark he uses earlier in the book as well. Underestimating Supergirl is never wise.

But I also like how outside, Supergirl is concerned for the well being of the staff inside. She knows that she might have overdone it and is happy to see everyone escaping unharmed. She cares about human life.

But all of these events have her questioning what she should do next. The crystal is cracked. She needs a Kryptonian console to access it. But where can she find one? Can she trust 'Kal'? Or should she just try to fly back to Argo based on the map on Tycho's wall.

I would like to think that Superman is combing that planet and space for Kara. Whatever the disaster was that took him away in Supergirl #2, it must be over by now. He now thinks he has a living relative, another Kryptonian, someone who isn't in control of her powers and must feel lost. You would think finding Supergirl would be at the tip top of his 'to do' list. He has thought he was alone, the last son, and even now is facing some distrust by humans. You think he wouldn't let Kara out of his sight.

The only person significantly injured in the explosion appears to be Tycho. There is less than more of him left as his limbs and most of his torso have been blown away. He has pieces of his 'brain' automaton grafted on to him to keep him alive. And yet, despite that, he thinks he has won when he spies a sample of Supergirl's blood on one of his minions uniform. So he *must* have plans. Will it be to heal himself? Clone a body for himself? Rebuild himself? Suddenly this is not just a Luthor knock-off. This guy will probably have powers.

So overall, a good story with progress as the Tycho chapter closes. We got some new info and hints as to Supergirl's past. And we add the first villain to her rogue's gallery. Add to that the continued scenes showing that Supergirl does not want to kill people, understands the sanctity of human life, and is scrappy enough to overcome the adversity she has faced so far. Green and Johnson are forming an interesting Supergirl here.

As I said, Mahmud Asrar is just stellar here.

And it looks like the 'origin' piece is moving forward.

Overall grade: B+

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Recent Interviews With Creative Team

The creators on the Supergirl book have had interviews posted  on some of the bigger comic sites around the net recently. As always, these are both great to read in their entirety. There is a lot of interesting information throughout them. As usual, I picked some of the blurbs that interested me and figured I'd share them here.

Between interviews and recent spots in 'Best of' lists, the book is getting some great publicity.

Here is the link to Ain't It Cool News which ran an interview with writers Michael Green and Mike Johnson: They were asked what is coming up in the book.

MG: At the end of issue #4, Kara makes a decision that leads her back to explore her home city of Argo in issue #5. We dig into the mystery of how Argo survived and drop hints about who sent her to Earth, which is part of her ongoing mystery. And we introduce a new villain with ties to Krypton. Issues #6 and #7 introduce the Worldkillers, who were first mentioned by Superman in ominous tones back in issue #2.

I have my crazy theories about Argo and how it can still be around. But the thing that grabbed me here was the 'who sent her to Earth' piece. Firmly entrenched in my history, I just assumed it was Zor-El. And it may still be. But the fact that it is a part of a mystery opens up the chance that it was someone else. 

I am interested in seeing what this universe's Argo is like.

MJ: Issue #8 also introduces the first important member of Supergirl’s new supporting cast, Siobhan Smythe, an Irish teenager who – like Kara – is a recent immigrant. She’s the first real friend Kara makes. Which sucks, because Siobhan’s alter ego is a big scary demon called Silver Banshee. Sterling Gates did a great job in the previous SUPERGIRL run establishing Banshee as an arch-foe for Kara. In our book we’ll see Siobhan’s first steps down a very dark road.

So I am a bit torn about this.

I am thrilled to hear that supporting cast is around the corner.

And I love the fact that the Silver Banshee remains part of the Supergirl's rogue's gallery. She seems a natural fit.

That said, I am cautious about how this 'frenemy' storyline will play out.

And Comic Book Resources ran an interview with artist Mahmud Asrar here:   Again, well worth reading the entire thing as Asrar talks about his approach to the character, the costume, and the covers her did on the Peaty and Deconnick runs.

Asrar's art has appropriately been lauded. His stuff just pops off the page. Here he talks about the process of using copic markers on the art.

Before I started working on the new "Supergirl" book, I used to work in a more traditional manner. I inked most of my work throughout my career except for a bunch of my mainstream stuff. The covers I did for the pre-relaunch "Supergirl" book fall into that category. However, in my private work and commissions I prefer to work with markers where I render an image in complete grayscale. My editors liked how those looked so they encouraged me to do this book in that style. Due to time constraints I couldn't fully work with that process in the first few issues but all the covers were rendered in markers 'til now. I've switched to drawing the interior pages fully in markers as of issue #4.

I have to say I was kind of reluctant at first. First off as it is a more time consuming process. Before this project, I hadn't tried it on storytelling before. Then there were production factors, like how it would print or if would it be colored properly. After some more insistence and arm twisting by the guys at DC, and considering the up sides of the process, I caved in and decided to go for it.

I do think that the underlying marker tones adds great depth to the art. It gives dimension to the work, a fuller visual experience (as seen in the above CBR exclusive preview panel).

When I'm doing all the rendering with the markers myself I'm more in control of the outcome as opposed to working with an inker and drawing in only black and white as a penciller. I get to add in more detailed lighting and I can define shapes the way I see it with the grayscale. This way I also feel I give direction to coloring without having to write notes or describe how I see the page. Using warm and cool grays I think I have a certain control over the colors, too, which all adds up to make the end result something I'm more fond of. It also eliminates any scapegoats as almost the entire blame lies on me, which can be a good thing and bad thing altogether.

For me, the process stuff is just as fascinating as the end result, so I thought this was some nice insight into how Asrar conveys what he wants on the page. This panel showcases how the marker adds subtle cues of contour and depth.

I really hope to see Asrar at a con at some point. I'd love a commission.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Review: Legion Lost #4

I am catching up on some late reviews as the holidays and end of year reviews has got me behind schedule.

Legion Lost #4 came out a couple of weeks ago and continued to be a strong character driven book. But while the depth of the characters has been enjoyable, the movement of the overall plot seemed to slow this issue. And while I usually would roll with that given the other strengths of the book, I am a bit worried because a change in writers is only two issues away. We learned that Fabien Nicieza is leaving the book and Tom DeFalco is taking over on the Source Blog here. Will Nicieza try to wrap up the plague story arc giving DeFalco a clean slate? Or will that story line continue forward under the new scribe? Will the current model of a new narrator each issue, so far a revelation, be continued? Looking back, I felt that Legion Lost #1 was one of the weaker first issues if the relaunch I read. But the last couple of issues (and this one) have improved as Nicieza gave each issue a unique voice/perspective and artist Pete Woods hit his stride. I hope the momentum isn't lost with the switch over.

As for Woods, the art just keeps getting more and more beautiful. And in this issue, we see that Woods draws a lovely Dawnstar.

Dawnstar got to act as this month's narrator and much of the exposition is told from her perspective as seen through the telepathic link Tellus' provides for the team.

Dawnstar has seemed somewhat aloof in the early issues, complaining about the grime of planet and the accommodations. Nicieza does a good job cluing us in on why she has such a wall built up around her. Her tracking senses are constantly bombarding her with information. It is implied that is like she is being assaulted, that there is a maelstrom of sensations always around her. To process it, to protect herself, she seems to have tried to disengage from the world, from people. It is an interesting take on her character.

Part of her is there in Fargo, following along as Wildfire, Tyroc, and Timber Wolf continue to track the Yera/Rdrayyj being.

So I am trying to figure it out. A human has been mutated into the rdrayyj but has somehow merged with Yera. But Yera is trying to absorb more Durlan genetic matter to somehow gain control/seperate from this thing. But the rdrayyj is trying to kill and eat beings with Durlan DNA. So is Yera somehow guiding this thing to it's victims? And how did she get absorbed?

There is a lot I need to learn here because right now I am lost. Still it is good that Yera has somehow survived.

This encounter hasn't gone unnoticed. The mysterious military woman is seen ordering an intercept squad. And the Fargo police arrive. In a funny moment, the Fargo police state they aren't the Metropolis or Gotham squads. They don't deal with metans and don't want to.

One officer is going to shoot the Durlan mutant, an innocent victim of the plague. I like that Timber Wolf steps in front of the bullet. Unfortunately, despite the shout of pain and the blood spatter, the remainder of the issue, Wolf is unharmed and his uniform unruffled.

But I loved Dawnstar's almost jealous comments about Brin. He acts; she is asked to react. He has passion for the hunt, the fight. These are all things Dawny denies herself.

Despite the somewhat gruff makeup of this Legion group, they all have hope from seeing Yera and knowing she is alive. One thing that has been a constant in the Legion, even in the down-trodden 5YL book, was their hope.

The rdrayyj is able to slip away while the local authorities try to corral the Legion.

I thought this was a great semi-splash from Woods showing a well-trained Wildfire/Tyroc eliminating the weapons and cameras in the mall on one fell swoop. Hey, I'm a Wildfire guy. So I thought this was pretty slick.

The Legionnaires are able to track Yera/rdrayyj only to find her and them surrounded by a military group called the Black Razors.

But the star of this book is Dawnstar ... and by extension Pete Woods.

We get a couple of pages of her meditating, sifting through all the information at her disposal as she tries to track Alastor. I also thought this page layout just worked, the prior scenes and its sensory hints radiating from a pensive Dawny, like rays from a sun. The cosmic effect in the darker aspects of her costume also work, hinting at how otherworldly her powers are, a sort of omniscience, a cosmic awareness of all things around her.

She is actually able to find Alastor's spoor and follow it. But with the muscle of the team busy with the Yera business, Dawnstar decides it is her time to act. In some ways it's crazy to think that she and Tyroc could handle him given how physically imposing he was in the first issue. In other ways it shows how heroic the Legion is, these two facing off against such a threat.

But her 'See.Do.Simple' mantra was great as if she is trying to talk herself into this sort of action.

This panel and the meditating ones show just how fantastic Woods' Dawnstar is. These are stunning renditions of her.

But she and Tellus are outclassed by Alastor. He can control his transformations, he still has his Hulk-ish form. And he has some Carggian in him. Which makes his three times as powerful.

I think the best thing to do is run here. But we have a nice cliffhanger here.

So yes we have the confirmation of Yera being alive, the introduction of the military Black Razors, and the discovery of Alastor being alive. But I still felt the movement of the plague-story was a baby step here. The real step forward was the characterization of Dawnstar. I have really come to love this 'monthly narrator' trend in this book as it allows the reader to really get a feel for the character. Good stuff here.

And Pete Woods remains a favorite of mine. His work on this book continues to improve and sparkle.

Overall grade: B+

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays And Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas from Supergirl Comic Box Commentary!

Perhaps the most perfect Christmas gift was presented to the web a couple of day ago when Mike Maihack did one last Supergirl/Batgirl comic, this time holiday themed. Here is the link and Maihack's words:

Anyhow, I think this’ll be it for these little Batgirl/Supergirl comics. I feel these sort of one page, costume themed gags have kind of run their course and if I do any more I’d rather draw a longer arc I have in mind.

So, no more of these for the time beings, although the buzz on these comics have been overwhelmingly positive. I love that Supergirl is happy and upbeat. (Bringing the Christmas tree on patrol is fantastic!). And I love that Batgirl wants to be grim and gritty but just can't be around Kara. Wonderful.

Anyways, good cheer to everyone who drops in on the site and talks Supergirl! This place and the friends I have made here are a special gift for me. Thanks for making this blog such a fun place!

Friday, December 23, 2011

March 2012 Solicits

The DC solicits for next March are up. Here are the Super family related books as well as a couple of surprises.

Art and cover by MAHMUD ASRAR

It’s Supergirl versus the Worldkillers! But who are they, and where did they come from? What is their connection to Krypton? More important, can the Girl of Steel stop them before they make good on their names and destroy Earth?

First off, this is a great cover. The angle looking up at Supergirl just adds to the heroic feeling of her. It also helps that she seems to be shielding that child behind her, protecting him. I guess Supergirl has some affection for humanity. But it also works because while we are looking at from the angle of the villains, we still see their faces projected on the jumbotrons. And since they are shown on big screens behind her, it heels as though they are towering over her. Just a superb layout.

But moreover, I had assumed that 'world killers' were some sort of weapon, a doomsday bomb of some sort. But it is clear that Worldkillers are beings. Could they be linked to Doomsday?

This is a very good solicit.

Backup story written by SHOLLY FISCH
Backup story art by BRAD WALKER

Metropolis has been captured! To save it, Superman must push the limits of his nascent powers as never before! Aboard the ship that has the city captive, The Man of Steel finds an important tool that may help him defeat Metal-zero and his boss!

And as Superman fights foes in the sky, Steel must do what he can to protect those still in danger on the ground in a backup story by Sholly Fisch and Brad Walker!

Another great cover with Superman looking into the bottled Metropolis. Very nice. It also seems to work because the citizens of Metropolis are seen in the midground, adding to the feeling of smallness. And what about the creepy Brainiac spiders everywhere. I guess they have to keep the populace in line?

How the heck is this young Superman going to save this city?  And more Steel! I am loving this book.


The start of an insanely epic arc from the new writing team of Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens! New love interests, new roommates, and a new foe: the wicked Helspont! What does this monster want with Superman, and how does it all connect to the Daemonites?

So this is the beginning of the new creative team with Jurgens and Giffen taking over the book. I hope that they bring back some of the magic of Jurgens 90s stuff, a time when Superman was the top hero of the DCU and wasn't dealing with people not trusting him, wasn't wallowing in his own angst. Let's make Superman a hero, beloved by the people, and successful in thwarting evil.

I don't know much about Helspont as a villain, if he is new or not.

Art by R.B. SILVA and ROB LEAN

Superboy’s come back to N.O.W.H.E.R.E. with vengeance on his mind – but Rose Wilson is waiting for him. Right from the start, she was the one meant to bring him down when he went out of control – and this fight is going to be out of control! What can one woman with swords do against the most powerful teenager in the world? You – and Superboy – will be very surprised indeed!

Another good cover if only for the major inclusion of Rose on the cover! She is a great character. But last issue's cover was Superboy fighting Supergirl. This cover is Superboy fighting Rose. Hope this book doesn't derail to 'Who will Superboy fight this month?'

As I have said before, this book is the biggest surprise for me in the DCnU. I have enjoyed it a lot!

Art and cover by ART BALTAZAR

In this awesome 50th issue, questions are answered! Mysteries are solved! The Tiny Titans may be one step closer to becoming Super Heroes! This issue may change your life! Plus, it’s highly recommended by Franco’s mom!

This is a complete bummer. I loved Tiny Titans. The Supergirls ... all of them, ranging from 8-12 ... loved Tiny Titans. It is sad to see this book go. I hope that Supergirl and all her Super-pets get one last moment to shine here!

And at least Superman Family Adventures is around the corner.


Don’t miss these tales of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude! They’re collected here for the first time from SUPERMAN #17, ACTION COMICS #241 and 261, ACTION COMICS ANNUAL #2 and #10, SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL #100, and the hard-to-find DC SPECIAL SERIES #26, previously available in tabloid format!

And for an old timer like me, I am seriously thinking about getting this trade celebrating the Fortress in all its incarnations. I can only assume this means that a new Fortress will happen in the DCnU. Nice old school cover here, if this is what they are going to use.

And that is a veritable who's who of creators all in one place!

This month the first trades for the DCnU titles were solicited. No Supergirl trade was listed.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

2011 Year In Review Part Three: Wrap-Up And Top Ten Supergirl Moments

The new year is just around the corner and that means that 'Best of' lists for 2011 are everywhere. And, as I have done the last three years, I will join in the fun by looking back at the year and picking the Top Ten Supergirl moments that happened over 2011. Now I know I am long-winded usually ... and I am reviewing a year ... so bear with me. This is a long post!

2011 was a crazy year for comics in general and it was no different for Supergirl. It was something of a wild ride.But one thing I have to say, she remained in the spotlight of the DCU, not only in comics but outside of comics as well. I haven't always been able to say that so any year I can, it has to be a good thing.

Supergirl remained an active topic in the merchandise world with no less than 4 statues solicited by DC Direct. While the Michael Turner mini-statue was in some ways a re-solicit, we also got a full size Adam Hughes Women of DC statue, an Amanda Conner based Women of DC bust, and a Supergirl portion of a Superman Family multi-statue. We even had a Polly Pocket Supergirl as well and Heroclix of Supergirl, Superwoman, and BizarroGirl. Obviously, she must be a pretty popular character to warrant such merchandising.

And in terms of other media, we learned that she will be part of the DC Nation block on Cartoon Network. She will be part of the Super Best Friends shorts, produced by Lauren Faust of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fame. That is a great way for the character to branch out to a new audience. Love the costume too.

But this post is about Supergirl in comics. In 2011, the 'old' Supergirl title had two major arcs. The first, by writer James Peaty and artist Bernard Chang, seemed to pick up right where Sterling Gates/Jamal Igle's run left off, with Supergirl still sort of reeling and regrouping from New Krypton, wondering about her place in the world. While the villain's motives were murky, the characterization of Kara was spot on making this a big success in my mind. The next arc by writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and artist ChrisCross had a lighter feel to it, a bit more of a  fun and rollicking story. But in the end that feeling and the story's conclusion was perfect for it to be a capstone for that incarnation of Supergirl. And James Robinson and Paul Cornell had her play major parts in the adventures of the Justice League and the Reign of Doomsday.

And then the relaunch happened and we had another Kara crash land on Earth, feeling lost and alone and confused. Early publicity material made her sound unlikeable but so far so good as this Kara tip toes her way into the DCnU.

So with all that going on it was tough to pick my top ten moments. I had plenty of them. But here they are:

#10 - "She's Magnificent" - Superman/Batman Annual #5, James Robinson and Miguel Sepulveda

As blog friend John Feer often says 'there is nothing like some Kara-tharsis!' And the Reign of Doomsday was a perfect storyline for that sort of unbridled action where Supergirl got to cut loose. In this scene, after having just shaken off the anguish of Dark Supergirl (more on that later), Supergirl just lays the hammer down on Doomsday coming within a cat's whisker of defeating him. This was just great. And Miguel Sepulveda's art (aside from the high heeled boots which I really dislike) captures the moment perfectly.

But what really kicked this into the top ten over any other moment of strength is Batman's response when he sees Supergirl on the offensive. Grayson can only say 'She's magnificent' as he watches her batter Doomsday. I have to concur. She is. And I think James Robinson really loved her as a character as well.

#9 - "Super Intuition" - Supergirl #65, Kelly Sue DeConnick and ChrisCross

Kelly Sue DeConnick's short arc was a fun, up-beat story filled with laugh and love. It really was something of a breather after the somewhat heavier arcs that preceded it. This was Kara hanging out at college, meeting friends, and meeting a guy she was attracted to.

But DeConnick also put some Supergirl history into her story, sort of nods to the past. Stanhope was the school that Supergirl was visiting. And here we have a mention of super-intuition! Super-intuition was one of Kara's goofier and less defined powers of the Silver Age. So to see it again, even as a bit of a snark by Supergirl, was greatly fun. I appreciate any time creators recognize Supergirl's history and translate it to the current continuity.

#8 - "Grounded Facepalm" - Superman #713, Chris Roberson and Eddy Barrows

So I could probably write books about the problems that I had with Grounded as a storyline. In particular, J. Michael Straczynski's early issues were cringe-worthy, making Superman act like an elitist jerk more than a hero.

Handed the reins, Chris Roberson did his best to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Roberson's issues had Superman reconnecting with his friends and family and getting a better understanding of his role on Earth. That said, Roberson could have had Supergirl and Superboy play a bigger role in that psychological healing. Instead, we only have this brief moment from Superman #713 before a complete stranger helps Superman (lost opportunity there for Kara to help her cousin in my mind).

Still, I love this moment because it actually summed up my feelings for this arc. After several issues where Superman seems to be on the road to recovery he suddenly decides to stop being Superman out in the open. Kara's response is perfect ... the face palm. That is exactly how I felt that moment. I just wanted this arc to end, I wanted Superman to act like Superman again. And to have him take a step back had me rolling my eyes.

So plant that face in your palm Supergirl! I was right there with you!

#7 - "Bizarro Girl Action Comics #252 Redux" - Tiny Titans #42, Art Baltazar and Franco

I have gushed about Supergirl in Tiny Titans too many places to count. And this year was no different with Supergirl having several great moments in the book.

This panel stood out as the best of the best. Here BizarroGirl arrives on Earth. But this panel is clearly an homage to Supergirl's first appearance in Action Comics #252. Even the dialogue is a riff on that classic picture. As I said before, creator acknowledgments of Supergirl's history are greatly appreciated. I feel as if the creators recognize her and her history as meaningful when it is done. So this was wonderful.

But add to that that it is BizarroGirl arriving here just added another layer of awesome. She is a great character. And she is a new rogue for Kara and a remnant of the Gates/Igle run. I am glad that there is some permanence to the character.

It is sad to see this comic ending.

#6 - "Outsmarted" - Supergirl #64, James Peaty and Bernard Chang

In 'Good Looking Corpse', James Peaty had Supergirl facing off against Alex, the petulant, smarmy, and overconfident clone of Dubbilex. Alex dripped superiority, laughing in the face of pathetic humanity as he plotted.

So this was just a fantastic comeuppance by a Supergirl who had, over the course of the arc, realized that she is a leader, a worthy eventual successor of Superman, and finally in the big leagues. It is a different sort of Kara-tharsis, more subtle but almost more devastating. That is a powerful looking Supergirl, towering over the fallen Alex, almost gloating, as she says 'this must be a new experience for you .. exposed, powerless, outsmarted'. It is the most cutting insult she could give him. And it was Supergirl who did the outsmarting, beating him at his own game ... and maybe rubbing it in just a bit.

Now that is a great Supergirl moment.

#5 - "Big Brother" - Justice League #60, James Robinson and Daniel Sampere

The relaunch of the DCU meant the dissolution of James Robinson's Justice League. One thing I loved about that run was the relationship that Robinson set up between the Dick Grayson Batman and Supergirl. From the beginning Robinson said that they would have a big brother/little sister relationship, not a tawdry one.

Throughout the run it was great to see Dick take Kara under his wing, trying to get her to open up a bit, to befriend him, to trust him. And it was fun to see Supergirl become so protective of him, rushing to his defense a number of times while shouting 'Grayson'. It just seemed natural that Dick, who grew up in the shadow of a legend, tried to find his own way, and inherited a legacy would be the perfect confidante for Supergirl, someone who constantly compares herself to her cousin and finds herself lacking.

This hug, as the team is disbanding, was a quiet moment showcasing that familial love the two had. They'll always be there for each other. Hmmm, this would also be a good World's Finest comic too.

#4 - "Forgive Yourself" - Superman/Batman Annual #5, James Robinson and Miguel Sepulveda

One of the most compelling parts of Sterling Gates' run was the psychological fallout Kara suffered in the aftermath of New Krypton. She went missing. She cut her hair. She swore off being Supergirl. She was grieving on the inside, suffering survivor's guilt, and trying to figure out the best way she could shield herself from more pain as well as make sure she didn't cause anymore harm.

Those themes were re-examined by James Robinson when he had Kara again take on the mantle of Dark Supergirl. This wasn't the evil Dark Supergirl that was seen in the earliest Loeb/Churchill issues. This was a bratty and superficial Supergirl, someone trying hard to ignore her feelings but hiding behind a facade of irreverence. But it was clear that wasn't her.

In the Superman/Batman Annual #5, Dark Supergirl is told that she is dying. The only way to be cured is to save herself psychologically. She needs to shake off this phony persona of Dark Supergirl. She needs to accept who she is. And she needs to forgive herself. While many of these themes were seen in the BizarroGirl arc, I feel like emotional catastrophes don't just disappear. They can relapse. I thought Robinson handled those emotional themes well and did it in a novel way. When Supergirl forgives herself, rids herself of that guilt, she dons the classic blue costume and became the Kara we all love again.

#3 - "Respect From Damien" - Supergirl #62, James Peaty and Bernard Chang

I have talked about 'Good Looking Corpse' earlier in this post and in the honorable mentions post. In that arc, Supergirl has to come to the realization that she holds a pretty special place in the DCU, that she is a worthy successor of Superman and in his league. Kara was her own worst critic at times, the sign of a growing hero wondering where she was on the journey.

But another part of that analysis of her place in the DCU came externally in the form of respect from the other young heroes. So when Supergirl comes up with an intricate plan to defeat Alex, when she recruits Blue Beetle, Miss Martian, and Robin, they all fall in line behind her. So we hear how Miss Martian looked up to Supergirl, was in awe of her.

Perhaps the biggest compliment she could get was from Damian Wayne. Damian has always come across as someone who looks down on everybody as an inferior. He is someone whose respect you have to earn. And that doesn't come easy. Here he says that he is following her into battle because he has been watching her and she has 'passed the test'. Outside of Bruce, Dick, and maybe his mother, I don't know if he respects anyone. Add Supergirl to that short list. She is the leader of the next generation of heroes. I loved this scene.

#2 - "Don't You Forget About Me" - Supergirl #67, Kelly Sue DeConnick and ChrisCross

The announced end of the DCU allowed some creators to have a bit of closure with their characters. So whether it was Paul Cornell having Clark and Lois profess their love, or Bryan Q Miller having Steph say 'it's only the end if you want it to be', creators got the chance to have their characters say goodbye.

Kelly Sue DeConnick gave us a great moment of closure to the last incarnation of Supergirl. It isn't Supergirl that says goodbye to us, that asks us to remember her ... it's Linda. While Supergirl survived into the DCnU, it is unclear if Linda Lang did. And from a longevity point of view, Linda Lang is a blip on Supergirl's history, existing only 2+ years out of 50.

And Linda is a decent symbol for that incarnation of Supergirl. Early we saw that this was going to be a troubled Supergirl. She jumped from her rocket naked, she was brainwashed by Darkseid, she beat up other heroes, went Dark, beat up more heroes, complained about being a hero, wanted to rave dance instead of save people, was proud of sneaking into a bar as an underaged girl by wearing a tight shirt, wanted to kill Superman, gunned down her high school with her father, and grew crystal spikes from her body.

That was about as far from who Supergirl is as you could get.

And then Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle came on board, rehabilitated her character, acknowledged the prior bumps in the road but moved past them, set up the Linda Lang identity, and restarted Kara on the hero's journey. And within their run, and James Peaty's, and DeConnick's, Supergirl and Linda learned some hard life lessons but always grew from them, always strived to do what was right. And when she failed she dusted herself off and kept moving forward. These writers seemed to embrace the core of what makes Supergirl Supergirl, that need to do what's right, to help people, to embody hope.

It had been a while since I felt like the creators understood the character. Then I got 3 years of stellar stories. And then DC erased that Supergirl.

So thank you for this moment and this story Kelly Sue. And thank you Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle and James Peaty and Bernard Chang. And Matt Camp. And ChrisCross. Thanks for letting me read the true Supergirl again.

And don't worry Linda. I won't forget.

#1 - "Last Daughter Of Krypton" - Supergirl #1, Mike Johnson, Michael Green, and Mahmud Asrar

Whether you were for a reboot or against it, there is no denying that the DCnU relaunch, the New Fifty-Two, was the biggest event of the comic year.

And by extension, there is no denying that the relaunch of a new Supergirl has to be the top moment in 2011.

So what is this Supergirl going to be like? The early promo material described her as someone isolated, someone with no affection for humanity, someone more likely to fight with her friends, Hell on wheels ... so don't piss her off. Again, that just didn't sound like Supergirl to me, not what she has represented for this half century. I was admittedly worried ... and maybe even a bit perturbed given how far the last Supergirl had come. This seemed like a giant step backwards.

That said, so far in the comic, this Supergirl hasn't been that off-putting. She's confused. And sad. And angry.

But she stopped fighting when innocents were endangered. And she listened to Superman for a bit. I haven't seen the stark description of a disaffected hero in the book at all. While the jury is still out, as I said above so far so good.

Writers Mike Johnson and Michael Green have given me some optimism in the face of the unknown. And Mahmud Asrar's art has been amazing. I have hope that this Supergirl will soar just as high as the last one. But those are some pretty big shoes to fill.

And that's my Top Ten Supergirl moments for 2011. Please let me know if you think I'm off my rocker, or forget a major scene, or if you think I got the rankings wrong!