Thursday, March 31, 2011

Batman: The Brave And The Bold: Battle Of The Super-Heroes

 Last week, the Batman:The Brave and the Bold episode on Cartoon Network was 'The Battle of the Super-Heroes' and guest-starred Superman. The Source blog talked about it last week here:

 I have always enjoyed this cartoon. Yes it is a little light-hearted but it works so well. Batman is often the straight man, gritting his teeth as lunacy happens around him. The episodes have veered from straight forward adventures (like battling Starro), to comedy (the excellent Bat-Mite episodes), to musical (the Music Meister!). But there has always been a very deep understanding about the history of the DCU put into the show. There are plenty of Easter Eggs for the more knowledgeable fans.

As a Superman fan, I loved this episode because of the homages and references. Many of them occurred in flashback scenes and are Silver Age silliness. I will only post the ones that struck me the most, but they are almost identical references to comics and with the right dialogue too! Sorry for the somewhat pixilated pictures.

In the episode, Superman gets effected by Red Kryptonite and becomes angry and evil. Hilarity ensues.

Early in the episode, Mr. Mxyzptlk shows up and uses his magic to put Jimmy through multiple of his incarnations. My favorite is the wolf-man because a kiss from Supergirl cures him in the comic Jimmy Olsen #44.

Later in the episode, Lois daydreams about what her life would be like if she married Superman and settled down including this dream like the cover of Lois Lane #23.

And Jimmy remembers some of his crazier adventures with Superman like this one from Jimmy Olsen #53.

But then Superman gets exposed to the Red K, setting himself up as king of Metropolis, like this famous cover from Action Comics #311.

And Jimmy and Lois tell Batman of how mean Superman has become, like burning a bathrobe gift like from this cover of Jimmy Olsen #30.

And taking Lana out for a beach side barbecue leaving Lois to pine, just like this cover from Lois Lane #26.

But all the references aren't Silver Age craziness. Because when Batman finally fights Superman, buying time for the Red K to wear off, he does it with some Dark Knight Returns kicks ...

 And Dark Knight Returns fisticuffs.

And trust me, there are more Easter Eggs in there. As a big time DC fan, I am really going to miss this show.

With everything in this episode, it would have been the perfect time for us to have seen Supergirl on the show. But instead we get a healthy dose of Krypto. And with Brave and Bold ending soon, I guess we will never see Kara here.

If you look hard enough around the internet, you can probably find this episode to watch. Here is the home page link on the Cartoon Network site:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Adam Hughes Variant Cover For Action Comics #900

Action Comics #899 comes out today which means we are one month away from Superman returning to Action! And DC is doing its part to celebrate the historic Action Comics #900 and the Man of Steel's return. It is going to be an over-sized issues with stories by Paul Cornell, David Goyer, Damon Lindelof, and Richard Donner. And there are going to be variant covers by Alex Ross as well as Adam Hughes.

The Hughes cover was just unveiled over on the DC Source blog here:

What a great cover ... majestic, iconic. And I love how the chain links form the number 900.

The cover is clearly a riff on one of the more iconic Superman covers, Superman #233.

I have said before that the Kryptonite Nevermore' storyline is one of my favorite Superman arcs and Superman #233 is one of my all-time favorite Superman issues. I have been lucky enough to run into Denny O'Neil, Neal Adams, and Murphy Anderson at a variety of conventions to sign my issue.

The Hughes cover seems even more evocative of Action Comics #485, another Neal Adams chain-bursting cover. Action #485 reprinted the opening chapter of 'Kryptonite Nevermore'.

So Adams was doing an homage cover to Adams!

I know I always say I am 'against' variant covers in theory. But I think I'll be at least trying to get this Hughes cover.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Review: Legion Of Super-Heroes #11

Legion of Super-Heroes #11 came out last week and picked up right where the Legion of Super-Villains One Shot ended. I have to say that I think this title is finally clicking on all cylinders. This just feels like the Legion I want to be reading. And as a long time Legion fan who has picked up some of the reboots and ignored others, I am happy to be enjoying the Legion again.

Of course, one the beauties of the Legion is the deep continuity of the characters and the series. In fact, in some ways I think that continuity might be a double edged sword. For old-timers like me, the history and legend of the Legion is really one of the draws. I think many long-time Legion fans pride themselves on a deep understanding of Legion lore. But that same deep history might make it difficult for a brand new reader to pick up the book. But if you reboot and lose that history, you probably will lose the core foundation of the Legion fanbase. It can't be easy for the folks at DC to figure out what to do.

In this issue, for example, there is great characterization throughout, as events hearken back to some personal moments in the Legionnaires lives. Writer Paul Levitz knows that adding that depth to the characters is what makes this book so special. And I know exactly what he's talking about. But do new readers? Does it frustrate them?

The book opens with a Legion away team starting the arduous task of rounding up some of the villains who escaped Takron-Galtos when Saturn Queen started her riot. And what a team of personalities. Wildfire and Lightning Lass get into a minor quarrel during the battle. That's not surprising. Both of those characters are headstrong and opinionated. They are two of my favorite Legionnaires so it was great to see them get some screen time.

Ayla talks about how the last time the LSV got together, the Legion lost 'a good man', talking about the original Karate Kid. Now I know that. But that story is almost 30yrs old. Do new readers know who she is talking about or how that death impacted the Legion?

Phantom Girl knows that Ayla also had a hard time in that skirmish. Lightning Lass was imprisoned and tortured by Lightning Lord as he tried to get her to see his way of thinking. For some reason, this hug felt wrong. For one, it seemed like the wrong time to do it, in the middle of the crime scene. Also, Ayla doesn't strike me as a 'hug it out' person.

Meanwhile on Takron Galtos, another group of Legionnaires is investigating the site of Saturn Queen's escape.

Shrinking Violet is another of my favorite Legionnaires. When Vi discovers the dead body of Micro Lad, she spits on the corpse. There is no love lost for him as he was the Imskian rebel who placed her in a sensory deprivation tank for months while a Durlan (Chameleon Girl) replaced her in the Legion.

Again, Vi has hardened a lot since that storyline and I am glad she referenced it. That clearly was a turning point in her life.

Back in the Legion HQ, Dreamy arrives with Star Boy. She has brought him back from the past and demands that Brainy helps him with his insanity. Brainy doesn't think that he'll be able to immediately help because as acting Legion leader, he is dealing with multiple crises.

As if on cue, Mon-El, the elected leader ,arrives.

I have never really thought of Mon-El as a big time leader type so his victory in the election surprised me.

And his tenure isn't starting out easily. As  Brainy delineates, there is the breakout on Takron-Galtos with 37 major villains free, Dawnstar is off in space, Saturn Queen is forming a new LSV, Colu has shut off communications, and now Star Boy has returned. Now we know that all of these things (outside of Star Boy) are connected, but Mon-El doesn't.

I liked the panel construction here. The panels are off a little, overlapping. It sort of literally felt like things were piling up.

Back on Earth, Timber Wolf is searching for Sun Killer and instead runs into the Sun Emperor. The Emperor was always one of the scarier members of the classic LSV, a clear sadist who burned through chambermaids for fun.

Again, Levitz does a great job injecting Legion history references into this book. The Emperor calls Brin an animal and that strikes a nerve. Enraged, Timber Wolf allows himself to be immolated in order to get close enough to the Emperor to take him out. Of course, early on in his career, Wolf thought he was a robot. And he has always battled with the 'call of the wild'. This little encounter gives some nice insight into Wolf's personality.

In the meantime, Brainy starts the slow process of helping Star Boy regain his sanity. A weepy Dream Girl actually wonders if Brainy cares about the Legion. I read his response in an irked tone of voice as he says he wouldn't be with the Legion if he didn't regard them as his friends.

This far into his career, knowing all he has been through, Dreamy shouldn't be asking or crying about this.

Finally, the enigmatic Dr. Li tells the Legion that she is responsible for what is happening on Colu. She has been a mystery in the book since her arrival. My guess is she is somehow responsible for the events which led to the Blue Entity's escape.

I thought this was very good issue from a story viewpoint. There are a lot of pokers in the fire right now and Paul Levitz gives us a look at most of them with the much appreciated wrinkle of strong characterization. While we didn't learn more about the LSV plot here, we did see the Legion begin it's investigation and start cleaning up the extraneous stuff.

The artwork done by HDR was serviceable. I do think that the Legion cast is variable enough that we should see different body types. Brainy looks as buff as Timber Wolf.

I was also happy to see the election results posted. How sad that my favorite Legionnaire Wildfire got trounced overall, and even defeated by Gates and Quislet.

This series is finally starting to feel right to me. We have a big story arc ahead of us, and Levitz is filling in al the small details that make the Legionnaires themselves such great characters. I just hope that all this continuity doesn't scare new readers away.

Overall grade: B+ 

Monday, March 28, 2011

George Perez Hero Initiative Justice League #50 Cover

I have posted before about the HERO Initiative's auctioning off sketch variant covers of Justice League of America #50 in the past here. The HERO Initiative have done a great job in getting superstar artists to do these covers with the plan to auction them off at some point. The plan also is to create a booklet with all the artists cover shown so that even if you can't afford the real thing, you can still gaze dreamily at the art.

I for one have been fascinated by the composition of these covers. Some people do pure 'Big 7' in heroic poses, others in action shots, others show the current team.

My thanks to super-blog DC Women Kicking Ass for bringing this great cover by George Perez to my attention.Thanks so much! Here is that link:

Perez talks about briefly on his site as well here:

Perez has always been a master of composition and this cover is no exception. I love how he has Batman, a character which is in both the classic and current team rosters anchoring the middle of the book with the other heroes from each version of the team on the sides.

While I know Starman and Congorilla are on the current team, I am sort of glad they aren't on this cover. It really gives a sort of mirror image feel to the cover ... the 'Big 7' on one side, the current roster on the other. Jesse Quick and Flash are in similar spots on the cover as are the Hal Jordan/Jade pair. And that is old school Jade! Looks like she hopped off the cover of Infinity Inc.!

It is interesting to note that Supergirl is where Wonder Woman is, while Donna Troy is in Superman's mirror spot. My guess is Perez simply likes drawing those 2 characters and so wanted to give them prime real estate. But I wonder if Perez thinks Kara is more like Diana than Clark. Hmmm ....

Anyways, as I always say, HERO Initiative is a great charity so help out if you can. I hope to buy the cover book when it comes out and will share any more great covers I see.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Review: Justice League Of America #55

Justice League of America #55 came out last week and had the difficult task of dealing with two big plotlines, Eclipso's return and assault on the magical powers of the DCU and Doomsday's reign of terror on the Super-family members. With that much action going on, the pace here was fast and furious.

One thing that has interested me about the Reign of Doomsday storyline is just how Supergirl was going to fit in. It is pretty clear that Doomsday is going after the people who tried to stand in for Superman after Doomsday 'killed' the Man of Steel. We have seen him go after Steel and the Eradicator. But he didn't necessarily go after Matrix/Supergirl in that arc. In fact, it is unclear if that Supergirl is even in continuity. Still, Doomsday has a major affiliation with Superman and Kryptonian history, so I am glad that Kara is being included somehow.

Of course, to get Supergirl in on the action, James Robinson needs to work some writing legerdemain, getting the right pieces in the right places, even if it is serendipitous.

And, as I said, the action in this issue is crazy with a lot of stuff happening very fast. Some major things happen within a few panel or off screen entirely. Despite that incredible pace, James Robinson doesn't lose sight of the subplots that he is building here. The Dark Supergirl and Jade storylines move forward despite all the action. I am very happy to see because one of my major complaints with Robinson's Superman work was that too many plotlines well left dangling or forgotten completely.

This issue also is the first time that we see Brett Booth's art on the major characters here.  Booth's work is very stylish and slick. It isn't the usual style that I am drawn to, but here it worked wonderfully.

The issue opens Alan Scott nursing his injuries from JSA in the Emerald City. He says that his current condition makes it extremely hard to keep the chaotic Starheart under control. Jade is at his bedside and says she is going to do everything she can to help. But things get suddenly out of control. Scott senses an outside danger ... Eclipso.

I have enjoyed Robinson's take on Eclipso so far. Here he calls the storming of the Emerald City an 'adventure'. It like some range of emotion in my villains. I don't think Eclipso would constantly be seething in his own evilness. So to see a grin as he banters with Bruce Gordon's persona, calling his war an adventure, added some much needed dimension. He takes joy in what he does.

I also think his current look, with the hand-sewn looser cowl, is more fitting for a magical creature than his prior snug spandex costume and cowl.

While that is happening on the moon, Supergirl and Batman are in deep space.

I like how Dick says that Kara is not so dark, not evil, in this current incarnation, even referencing the prior Dark Supergirl stories. And I was also very glad to see him call her his 'little sister',the relationship Robinson has always supported. I was glad to see that re-emphasized.

Supergirl calls in her favor. She wants all of New Krypton's remnants removed, a physical way to help her forget about it. This Dark nature of Supergirl seems more and more a facade, something he is doing to appear tough and disinterested while she is still nursing the emotional wounds of War of the Supermen. She is trying to laugh away her pain ... and that doesn't work. Still, much of this was covered in her own book with Sterling Gates. I hope this 'dark' period doesn't last much longer. But most of all I am glad that Robinson hasn't made her evil again. For a while there I was worried.

So in something of a deus ex machina, Boodika is also at the site of new Krypton surveying it for Oa. It is a convenient way for Robinson to get the spirit of the Cyborg Superman into our galaxy ... maybe too convenient given all that is happening in the Lantern books?

Regardless, with all the heroes there, Doomsday arrives, nearly disemboweling Boodika. Nice splash page by Booth here.

At first Kara thinks Doomsday is after her ... which would make sense given his history ... but it soon is clear he is after Boodika. And his opening attack has seriously wounded the Alpha Lantern.

Regardless of his primary target, Doomsday is a villain and hated figure in Kryptonian history. Supergirl doesn't shy away from combat. While that skirmish begins, Batman contacts Starman and asks for him to teleport the heroes back.

Instead Starman teleports himself there and joins the fight.

Oh ... and Saint Walker is also there. No explanation on that yet. I know Walker is supposed to join the JLA. But I hope there is more to his appearance than 'I happened to be in the neighborhood'.

I love this panel though, seeing Supergirl's fury as multiple after images of her attacks on Doomsday are shown. Very nice.

But the Doomsday story is only one half of what's happening. With half the league away in space, it is an easy invasion by Eclipso. The chaotic magical creatures which flocked to the Emerald City are easily overcome by his dark magic, falling before his power, and joining his army.

In some ways the quick overrun is dramatic, letting us know just how strong Eclipso is becoming. But was it accomplished too fast without letting the readers get a sense of the battle? I am still mulling that one over.

Jade knows that Alan's safety is paramount. Who knows what would happen if Eclipso got hold of the Starheart. So Jade askes Jesse Quick to run him to safety.

The problem is we learn that Jesse is losing her powers, becoming slower. Is this a way to get her back into the Liberty Belle outfit? A way to open the door for a Flash to join the JLA? We just learned this so I guess we have to wait and see. I have always liked Jessie as a character so I hope there is nothing dire here. Nor do I want her to head to comic limbo as a depowered civilian.

Jade tries to fight Eclipso but is soon brought under his sway.

Was anyone surprised by this? Jade has had a dark side to her since she came back as a White Lantern and joined the League. I was not surprised to see her fall so quickly. The thing is, she has been shown to be extremely powerful since her return as well. This can't bode well for the heroes.

And the JLA satellite is finally able to teleport everyone back to Watchtower. Unfortunately everyone includes Doomsday. And when Boodika falls, the Cyborg-Superman manifests. It can't wait to see the resulting battle. Cyborg wants to die ... but I don't think a pummeling by Doomsday will accomplish that. Will Cyborg fight? I have to think he will defend himself. And who do the Leaguers fight? Both of these guys as they try to kill each other? Should be fun to see.

When I was done reading the issue, I needed to take a deep breath. Everything happens in a frenzy. Fast pace and great action usually means an entertaining comic and this one was. But I was happy to see the Dark Supergirl storyline progressed. We have a better sense of her feelings and motives now.

Another thing that I have liked about Robinson's League has been that they are fighting huge threats, dealing with the major players that the JLA is supposed to. Here they are fighting two at once. Eclipso and Doomsday are top tier villains. We'll have to see how this split League deals with them. The only downside to the issue was the 'too easy' appearances of Boodika and Saint Walker. They felt forced, there more to move the story in a direction than to actually have a reason for being there.

Brett Booth's stuff really sizzles here. The battle sequences have a nice kinetic feel with a stylized and detailed feel. I hope he remains on the book for a while.

Overall grade: B+

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bernard Chang Drawing Supergirl

Here is some great news for Supergirl fans in California.


SUPERGIRL artist Bernard Chang will be relocating his drawing table to the friendly confines of DJ's Universal Comics in Studio City, CA. From March 23-27, Chang will be working "in house" on actual pages from his upcoming issue of the teenage Krytonian superhero. This is a great opportunity to come see an actual comic book being created in person, as well as checking out one of the best local comic book shops in Los Angeles.

"Rarely do people ever see an actual page in progress," said Chang, "and Cat Jercan (owner) was gracious enough to let me set up shop in his store to share this process with fans. I use to live down the street from his former location and always thought it would be a cool idea to actually create a comic book in a comic book store."

For more information, call Cat @ 818-761-3465. DJ's Universal Comics is located at 11390 Ventura Blvd #9 (on the second level above Fat Jacks, at the intersection of Tujunga and Ventura), Studio City, CA 91604 or go online @ and

That sounds like such a great opportunity. I love the process of comics, so to watch thumbnails turn to sketching turn to finished pencils is a dream of mine. At conventions, I often will stop and watch the artists do commissions, as they decide on the pose of the patient, rough it out, then finish.

Add to that the bonus of catching a sneak peek of the upcoming Supergirl book and I would be there all day.

I caught up with Bernard Chang too late in Baltimore to get a commission but I tell you, if he is at a convention I am attending, he'll be at the top of my list. His stuff on Supergirl right now is just beautiful.

Anyways, if any blog friends go to this place while Chang is there, please let us know here how cool it was.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Review: Supergirl #62

Supergirl #62 came out yesterday and I have to say I thought it was a great comic, probably my favorite of the week ... and this was a busy week for me and included the first 2 chapters of War of the Green Lanterns. That's saying something.

The issue marks the middle chapter of the Nick Spencer inspired James Peaty and Bernard Chang story. As the middle chapter, it does it's job moving the story forward, revealing more about Alex and the threat he represents.

But for me, this story really is the perfect follow-up to Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle's run. The Gates/Igle run was all about personal growth in Kara. The Supergirl at the end of their last issue was very different than the one in Supergirl #34. She had survived some emotional and physical trauma, she had matured as a hero, and she was happy with who she saw in the mirror. Just writing that reminds me how great that run was.

If those stories were introspective, Supergirl looking at herself, this story is more of an outside look at Supergirl's place in the DCU. This story lets us look at how Supergirl is perceived by everyone else. We have already seen in this arc that Supergirl remains her own worst critic, wondering if she has the stuff to be compared to Superman. We know she still feels isolated, eating ice cream alone in shoppe. But we also know that she is strong and resourceful and respected now. And this story shows us that.

In fact, I have enjoyed these issues so much that I wonder what James Peaty would have done with the character long term. I really wish Peaty had done an interview somewhere so I could hear his feelings on the character. I bet he is a fan.

And the art remains wonderful. Bernard Chang has always been very good with battle scenes. But he really is shining in the quieter moments too. He draws such a great Supergirl and Linda Lang. And the cover by Mahmud Asrar really captures the story nicely.

After Supergirl's victories over drones in Gotham and El Paso, Alex begins evacuating the Harvard campus to clear off the expected battleground. Whoever Alex is cloned from, he knows that Supergirl isn't going to rest until he is shut down. And he also knows that Supergirl has the intelligence to track him down.

I do think it is interesting that he is emptying the campus. Does this show some sort of residual compassion for humanity? He calls them sheep, mindless ... but he doesn't want them hurt? If he was completely ruthless, he might leave the students there. Their presence could be used against the heroes. But it is clear that Alex seems more interested in ridding the world of only super-beings. It makes me wonder who his 'father' might be.

But while the students are filing off campus, one student is working her way towards Alex. He realizes that this is someone Supergirl is sending in to battle. He recognizes that Supergirl is acting like a battle leader now, sending in her troops.

And we have another sighting of Alex' friends who join him in his lab. What's up with those kids?

We then flashback to Supergirl talking to Lois about the Gotham and El Paso attacks.The two meet on the roof of St. Idelson hospital.Matt Idelson is the editor on the book and I am hoping that he is Kara's patron saint, keeping the book alive and thriving.

One thing that concerns Supergirl is the discovery that the drone robots are powered by Kryptonian sunstones. Suddenly Lois story about a Cadmus super-Kryptonian clone hits a little closer to home. That clone is the threat that created FlyOver.

Interesting that Lois decides to kill the story with the discovery of the K-tech. I guess she doesn't want to sully Kryptonians any more than they have been in the immediate post War of the Supermen world.

As great as Peaty has been in capturing Supergirl's voice, he has done the same with Lois.

Here is, perhaps, my favorite moment in the book. Supergirl tells Lois she has a plan to thwart the Cadmus clone, a plan Lois sees as risky. But Kara is undeterred. She knows what she is getting into and for once feels like she is a step ahead.

She is ready, heroic, steely. She is willing to lay it all on the line. It just shows how far along she is on the journey. Supergirl is ready to lead ... ready to be pro-active ... ready to be a hero.

The art on this page seemed fuzzy, as if it was enlarged to fit the page. And it's a shame, because it is a beautiful page with vertical panels.

Part of that risky plan was Supergirl sending Miss Martian in as the capped student seen above.

It has been hard to gauge the power level of Alex. Is he simply a mad genius? He definitely showed powers when he mind-wiped his 'friends' in the cafeteria. But now we get a true sense of his mental powers as he simply crushes Miss Martian in a telepathic battle. He gains control of her.

Alex clearly has significant power. But I am also hoping that part of this is that Miss Martian was simply surprised by Alex to be taken down so quickly.

In the meantime, Supergirl is gathering her other forces. To remain 'invisible' to FlyOver, she has Damien and Jaime meet her in their civilian clothes until they are ready to enter the fray.

In another great moment, Jaime asks Damien why he is following Supergirl as a leader if he doesn't idolize the S-shield. Damien replies that he judges the person inside and Kara has 'passed the test'.

As I said before, I think part of the main theme of this story is Kara learning about her role in the DCU, her place in this world. To hear Damien, who is so hot-headed and narcissistic, accept Supergirl as a leader was wonderful. It isn't easy to earn his respect. Again, it simply shows us how far the character has grown over the last few years.

And I love Linda Lang being part of her character and this is such a lovely rendition by Chang I had to include it.

As the heroes begin making their way to Harvard, Supergirl thinks back to her investigation of the Cadmus lab where Alex was 'born'.

The place is in absolute ruins. There are anti-Kryptonian and anti-superhero pictures plastered all over the walls. There is at least one dead Kryptonian on a slab, someone obviously experimented on. The scenes are eerie and chilling. Supergirl has just got over the trauma of New Krypton. Going into this place with the death and propaganda must have been like ripping a scab off a healing wound, making it hurt ... bleed again.

She is clearly shaken a bit and that makes perfect sense. She is still human. She is still on a journey. I want my heroes to be effected by things like this, not coldly lock it away.

With the campus empty, the heroes take the attack to Alex, 'freeing' M'Gann from a drone.

Except we know Miss Martian is under Alex' control. She attacks Kara.

But M'Gann's words are so interesting. She talks about looking up to Supergirl, being in awe of her. My guess is Supergirl would never dream that young heroes would feel the same way about her that other heroes feel about Superman. Again, I think Supergirl is so self-critical, I bet she worries that other young heroes think she is a failure.

And even if she learns these feelings, my guess is Supergirl will remain humble and lead by example.

Supergirl is able to defeat the addled Miss Martian.

But Alex again shows how tough he is, blasting Supergirl and removing her from the fight.

Is that heat vision? A psychic attack?

Either way, I'm glad he is a bigger threat than someone who builds robots.

But who is he? He clearly has Kryptonian genes. But that doesn't explain the telepathy piece.

Supergirl did have a plan though, knowing that Blue Beetle's armor could thwart the drone-tech. A sonic blast incapacitates Alex' robots and damages the whole Harvard lab. But whoever Alex' 'father' is, he has been watching and teleports everyone away, leaving the unconscious Supergirl alone on the Harvard quad.

Alex's father has been talking to him throughout the issue. But here is my wild guess as to his identity. Part of Alex's genetic make-up is .... General Sam Lane. That would explain the ingrained hatred of both Kryptonians and heroes and Supergirl in particular. But Lane is dead. My guess is Alex or Cadmus made a drone of Lane to help 'educate' the clone. It still doesn't explain the telepathy piece ... but if Superboy has tactile telekinesis I suppose Alex can have telepathy.

So what a great issue. As a Supergirl fan, it really makes me happy to think that she is the symbolic leader of the younger generation of DCU's heroes. And in this arc she is smart, resourceful, and sly.

But best of all, she is still human. To see her shaken by the Cadmus scene was perfect.
And she is still on a journey. She wins some battles, she loses some too.
It's just spot-on. Kudos to James Peaty.

And as I said before, Bernard Chang really is just clicking on all cylinders here. Just smashing stuff.

Overall grade: A

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Back Issue Box: Superman #176 - Kryptonian Day Of Truth

Last week Superman #709 came out and continued the rehabilitation of the 'Grounded' storyline. Hooray for writer Chris Roberson who seems to be righting the ship!

As  I mentioned in my review, something I appreciated in the issue was all the references and homages to classic comic history littered throughout. While I don't know how a new reader processes this stuff, to an old-timer like me these references enrich stories, bringing the depth of character history to the table and confirming the respect the creators have for what has come before.

There was a lot to love in Superman #709 but my favorite reference was of Val-Lor and the Kryptonian Day of Truth. It was too good a reference to pass up without looking closer.

I am pretty sure the first time the Day of Truth is discussed is in Superman #176 from way back in 1965. I will admit that I bought this issue at a comic store sale based only on the cover which is pure Silver Age wackiness. But what a treat to discover that one of the stories within the issue is devoted to the Day of Truth.

Written by Leo Dorfman and drawn by Curt Swan, I present to you 'Superman's Day of Truth'. I think this story captures the best of the Silver Age in many ways.

Yes, Superman stands for Truth, Justice, and the American Way. But what about unfiltered pure truth? Can he remain a hero?

The beginning of the story shows a number of quick vignettes showing both Superman and Supergirl being brutally honest to everyone they encounter.

First Superman, acting as judge at a baby contest, calls the rowdy babies 'the worst collection of miserable brats' he has ever seen. When Lois asks why Superman offended the mothers, Superman retorts that he won't be a hypocrite and 'praise those little demons.'

Supergirl also shows a surprisingly frank honesty as well.

While attending a dinner made for her by the Supergirl Fan Club, Kara insults their cooking. 'The salad tasted like moldy hay'! Wow.

Not surprising is the girls' response. They begin to cry. Supergirl seems somewhat shocked by this. Her fans asked for the truth and they got it ... both barrels!

The interactions continue throughout Metropolis.

First he reveals to Jimmy that his girlfriend isn't all she claims to be.

Then he calls the invention of a struggling scientist a 'miserable flop'.

And then he says Perry White's cigar smells like the city dump.

That certainly is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. No sugar coating the facts here.

Later, while testifying in a trial, the criminal's lawyer demands that Superman reveal his alias. Superman agrees to tell the truth, but only once and in writing.

Of course, those restrictions allow him to use his powers to remain truthful but protect himself.

Then the lawyer asks Superman to reveal the location of his Fortress of Solitude. Superman does it ... but it turns out later that the coordinates he gave are to an abandoned early Fortress underwater. Truthful I suppose.

Lois and Lana aren't about to let this opportunity pass them by. In classic Silver Age shenanigans, they corner Superman and ask him to tell them who he really loves.

Again Superman uses his powers to remain truthful but keep his secrets to himself. The answer is so loud it is incomprehensible.

So why is he being so honest, even if it is insulting?

The answer is revealed in Kandor.

Superman and Supergirl parachute into Kandor to join in a Kryptonian celebration. Gathering at a statue of Val-Lor, the greatest hero of Krypton, the Kandorian citizens listen as the city elder reads from the ancient Book of Deeds.

The elder reads how centuries before the destruction of Krypton, an alien race called the Vrangs invaded Krypton and took over. These humanoid bat-like creatures enslaved the Kryptonians.

Not only were the people of Krypton forced to do hard labor but they were humiliated by the Vrang forces. The Kryptonian leaders were hung up in arenas for giant cats to play with like chew toys. They were worked until they collapsed. And they were forced to smile while doing so, thanking the Vrangs for allowing them to live.

Finally, one Kryptonian ... Val-Lor ... stood up to the Vrangs. Vowing not to lie, he says he despises the Vrangs.

Because of his valor, Val-Lor is gunned down.

But his death acts as a catalyst, energizing the Kryptonians to rise up and overthrow the Vrangs. Val-Lor spoke the truth! And the truth sets the Kryptonians free. The very chains of slavery become weapons as the Kryptonians rout the Vrangs.

And so, on this day each year, Kryptonians must tell the truth ... just as Val-Lor did.

Okay, an inspiring story with a nice sentiment, wrapped up in the silliness of the Metropolis encounters ... that's the Silver Age!

With the ceremony over, Superman and Supergirl return to Earth and explain the holiday to their friends. Despite the blunt nature of Superman's statements, his friends understand and forgive.

While a 'Day of Truth' is an interesting comment, couldn't Superman and Supergirl state things in not such an abrasive way? Or does the nature of the holiday mean you need to speak frankly ... whatever you feel must be couched in those terms, no matter how incendiary. I mean, isn't there a truthful way of saying the salad wasn't tasty without saying it is like moldy hay?

More about the Vrang invasion and the Day of Truth is discussed in 1981's Krypton Chronicles, something I touched on here.

I definitely like this story, a mix of silliness and inspiration. And I am glad Dorfman included Supergirl in the story as this was a Kryptonian holiday. But I would say it is of low importance to a Supergirl collection.

Overall grade: B+ (seen through the rose colored glasses of nostalgia)