Friday, April 29, 2016

Supergirl Comic Box Commentary Is Eight Years Old

All The Eights
Eight years ago I started a blog about Supergirl. 2.8 million page hits later I am still blogging about her.

It started out as a dalliance. I needed a creative outlet for when life got stressful. And I wanted to let the world know about how cool I thought Supergirl was, especially since she was mired in some dreadful stories.

I didn't think it would end up being this long a journey.

It is amazing for me to look at the changes we have seen in this character over the course of my blogging. In comics, this blog has been around long enough to see two different DC continuities and therefore two different Supergirls.

Another continuity/version is around the #Rebirth corner. I have seen rehabilitation, darkening, and re-rehabilitation of the character. The new Steve Orlando/Brian Ching book sounds like it is going to be a great interpretation from the get-go.

Over these years, I have seen her in animated features like Super Best Friends Forever, Superman/Batman Apocalypse, and Superman Unbound. Now she seems to be a headliner in the DC Superhero Girls series.

And the biggest news of the year? Well, now I have seen her as the star of a television show.

Suddenly, Supergirl is something of a household name. There are now numerous websites, podcasts, and Twitter accounts devoted to her. People are talking about her and not as the butt of jokes, not as a reference for perceived irrelevance, not as an outdated character. They are talking about how important she is to comics and pop culture.

And I'm thrilled. She is finally getting the recognition she deserves.

As always, I'd like to thank everyone who visits here, reads my (overly) long blog entries, and joins in the conversation. I'm glad people feel they can come here to talk about Supergirl in all her incarnations and in all forms of media. I don't think I'd still be doing this if it weren't for the Supergirl community that checks in.

The only major change that happened over this year on the site is that I cut back from posting 6 days a week to 5. As of now, I don't have any major plans for the site over the next year. I'll continue to review books, look back at Supergirl's history, cover her appearances in all media, and continue to talk comics in general. If anyone has any suggestions or things they'd like to see me try here, please let me know! I know that I still have to do a review of the Helen Slater film ... how have I not done that yet!

Anyways, happy anniversary and thanks again for stopping by!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

DC Superhero Girls 'New Beginnings'

DC Superhero Girls is starting their 'second season' of shorts over on their website. The site and line seems to be a success with toys selling out at Target, multiple pics of little girls showing up at cons in costume, and more chapter books in the pipeline.

The second season premiere short is titled 'New Beginnings' and introduces Supergirl to the series. It really feels like a prequel to the DC Superhero Girls Special where Supergirl joins the campus and helps stave off an Apokoliptian invasion. Given that the special was only on Boomerang and not everyone may get it, I suppose this episode was needed to get Supergirl into the website show.

I was glad that it wasn't just a rehash of the special. Folks who saw the special will see this as new material, getting the background of Supergirl heading off to the school. For those who didn't, it gets Kara there.

We start out at Superhero High where Principal Amanda Waller asks her star student Wonder Woman to recruit Supergirl to come to the school. At first it seems like Wonder Woman might be a little jealous. Waller calls Supergirl 'one of a kind' and Diana thought that phrase applied to the Amazon. (Happily, this isn't a lasting plot. Diana doesn't remain envious, instead realizing her own worth.)

I like Waller's file on Supergirl. That is a cool looking rocket ship. But the key photo is that shocked one. While there are shots of a heroic, iconic Supergirl, that is a better representation of this Kara. She is sort of clumsy and still learning her powers.

Wonder Woman 'facetimes' with Kara, telling Supergirl about the school and Superman's legacy there. Wondering if she will ever be accomplished to get a statue erected like her cousin, Kara loses control of her heat vision and sets her room ablaze. In fact, her room is pretty much trashed by the end of the short.

Wonder Woman's alarm goes off and she decides to continue to face time while she faces whatever threat is out there.

We get a brief fight between Diana and Giganta, all with Wonder Woman carrying her tablet.

The fight shows just how skilled Wonder Woman is. She saves a falling citizen, avoids a thrown car, and hog ties Giganta with the magic lasso ending the threat. I love how Supergirl's face is always on the tablet throughout the battle.

It is clear that Wonder Woman has received an excellent education at Superhero High. Diana ends the interview hoping Supergirl will join the class.

Back at the school, the student body has assembled to congratulate Diana on her first super-villain arrest. A shocked Diana says 'o my Hera'! How cute.

For a continuity wonk like me, I will note that Barbara Gordon is there as Batgirl, a costume she doesn't don until Supergirl has arrived in the special. But this is supposed to be the global introduction to Supergirl as well as the whole cast of characters.

Katana cuts the cake. Bumblebee plays some tunes. Flash chats with Killer Frost. It is all good fun.

Supergirl peruses all the school pamphlets she has. It includes some fun little nods for longstanding fans. Skartaris High School?? Apokolips Magnet School! Korugar Academy! How great are those Easter eggs?

But it is clear, after witnessing Diana in action, Kara decides to head to Superhero High.

I don't mind Supergirl being a little clumsy but I hope she doesn't become a longstanding punchline.

As for superhero girls, this is a pretty safe, non-threatening, and fun short and site. I think this is a perfect sort of entry into comic books and superheros. It is squarely in the 'My Little Pony'/'Monster High' niche. It is pretty cool to see all these characters newly envisioned.

What did you guys think?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

July 2016 Solicits

I'm still having a hard time wrapping my head around when everything is changing and happening in DC Comics in regards to Rebirth. The new books are being rolled out a few at a time so I guess I just need to be patient and wait for everything to finally be new and fresh.

I say this because the July DC solicits are out and I was expecting to see the new Supergirl book (or at least the Rebirth Supergirl Special) to be among the books listed. But I was wrong. I have to wait a little bit longer. Still there are a lot of new books out there which sound interesting enough for me to give them a whirl. Here is a link:

And on the to new solicits.

Supergirl has met her match in Facet, who sends her back to the DEO with questions: what did Alura have to do with Facet’s past—and what is her continuing mission on Earth? And now Kara’s foster family is threatened by the diamond-hard former head of Fort Rozz!

Piecing together this solicit, it sounds like Facet was the head of Fort Rozz. So what opened that made  a prison official become a villain attacking Supergirl? This has been a wonderful series so far. Now I get an issue other art by both Cat Staggs *and* Emma Vieceli? 

I hope that when the show gets renewed, this book gets renewed too!

Who is Supergirl? Kara Danvers has learned a lot about her super-abilities, her strengths as a friend and as a sister, her love of being human and alien at the same time. And now she’ll need to pull it all together to defeat her most dangerous foe to date!

I guess this is the final issue. For now.

Love this cover!

Cover by ANT LUCIA
Mera adjusts to a life without her powers—and starts to fall in love with Arthur. Meanwhile, as Batwoman reunites with Renee Montoya in hopes of freeing Jewish prisoners from concentration camps, Harley and Ivy encounter Zatanna and Constantine, and plans to form a rebellion begin.

Let me say I am thrilled that this book seems to have survived #Rebirth. It has been a consistently entertaining book. While this issue solicit doesn't mention Supergirl, she is a part of the book. In theory, there may be a time that three books starring Supergirl are on the racks at the same time!

As for this issue, I have loved the free-spirited Mera in this title. So glad to see her spotlighted.

And now the Superman books.

Written by DAN JURGENS
Covers by CLAY MANN
Variant covers by RYAN SOOK
“PATH TO DOOM” Chapter Three: Clark Kent gets caught in the crossfire as Doomsday crashes through the streets of Metropolis! As Lois struggles to keep young Jonathan out of the path of destruction, can former enemies Superman and Lex Luthor stop the monster that once destroyed the city and killed the Man of Steel—or does Luthor have other plans?

Written by DAN JURGENS
Covers by CLAY MANN
Variant covers by RYAN SOOK
“PATH TO DOOM” Chapter Four: Wonder Woman joins the fight, but even her added might can’t slow down Doomsday’s rampage! As Superman comes face-to-face with the woman who once loved him, the Man of Tomorrow must also wrestle with the reappearance of Clark Kent.

I think it is a little early to be revisiting Doomsday given the nutty mega-crossover Doomsday virus story wormed through all the super books just a couple of years ago. 

I suppose we have the old Superman back, so touching on some classic ideas might not be bad, re-establishing them as much as the Man of Steel.

Art and cover by PATRICK GLEASON and MICK GRAY
Variant cover by KENNETH ROCAFORT
“THE SON OF SUPERMAN” Chapter Two: In #2, Superboy takes flight as he accompanies his father, the Man of Steel, on their first mission together to confront a creature more dangerous than anyone realizes. Will the duo triumph...or will they die when they face the lethal force of the Eradicator?

Art and cover by PATRICK GLEASON and MICK GRAY
Variant cover by KENNETH ROCAFORT
“THE SON OF SUPERMAN” Chapter Three: In #3, with a touch that means death, the Eradicator proves he’s a match for Superman, but his super-powered offspring may be more than anyone can handle—including the Man of Tomorrow.

Now we are cooking.

Unlike Doomsday, The Eradicator hasn't been revisited in some time, probably since his most recent stint on the Outsiders. Bringing back a Kryptonian cultural remnant and putting it in Jon White's life is an intriguing storyline.

Art and cover by VICTOR BOGDANOVIC
Variant cover by BERNARD CHANG
“MADE IN CHINA” Chapter One: An impulsive act of heroism thrusts an arrogant young man into the limelight of Shanghai as China begins to form its own Justice League of powerful heroes. Rising from the ashes of The Final Days of Superman, award-winning writer Gene Luen Yang and on-the-rise art star Victor Bogdanovic introduce readers to Kong Kenan—the New Super-Man! When the world needed a new hero, China made him!

I gotta say, I'm on the fence. Yang didn't do himself any favors in my book with The Truth.

I'll give it a shot.

Learning the truth of what happened to Krypton, Kara must separate fact and fiction and believe in herself! And after teaming up with Power Boy to stop a hurricane in Mexico, Dark Angel attacks the Girl of Steel! Then, Kara accidentally wrecks Air Force One, only to hide out at the Kents’ home in Kansas. Collects SUPERGIRL #11, #13-22 and a story from the DC UNIVERSE INFINITE CRISIS CHRISTMAS SPECIAL #1.

Hard for me  to understand why this is being reprinted and the Gates/Igle stuff isn't. This is a rough run on Supergirl. She flirts in bars, getting in because she is wearing tight shirts. She apparently gunned down her Kryptonian school Columbine style. She wants to kill Superman. I mean it ... this is rough. That said, the Infinite Crisis Christmas story is wonderful.

I suppose more stuff being printed and resolicited is a good thing for Supergirl.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Back Issue Review: Superman Family #213

With a new Blackrock introduced in the pages of Superman:Lois and Clark, I have decided to take a look back at Supergirl's battle with the classic interpretation of the villain. Earlier this month, I covered part one of their battle in the pages of Superman Family.

Today I will finish the story as presented in Superman Family #213.

This book was released in 1981. We are basically about a year away from Daring New Adventures of Supergirl hitting the stands. The Kara in these stories is pretty much an adult established hero so much of the 'beginning the hero's journey' aspect is gone. But it also means we start to see Supergirl acting more confident and intelligent. She is respected by the villain, a rogue from Superman's gallery. She visits Kal and is treated like an equal. And she outsmarts the villain.

While I think Supergirl works best as a young hero learning the ropes, it is interesting to see her in these stories, a valued member of the hero community.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Review: Superman:Lois And Clark 7

Superman Lois and Clark #7 was released last week and marked the penultimate issue of this mini-series. Initially solicited as a 12 issue run, the book was truncated early on leaving me to wonder why. After all, it was selling pretty decently for a book spun out of the aimless Cnvergence event.

As the book progressed, I wondered how it would wrap up in a meaningful way. Writer Dan Jurgens was bringing in new subplots and characters while the main threads of Intergang and Henshaw/Hyathis chugged along. Could this all be finished in the time allotted? Was the loss of 4 issues forcing Jurgens to rush things along?

Well, with #Rebirth, we know that this Superman and Lois aren't disappearing into a multiversal rabbit hole. They are sticking around. And Jurgens is leading the charge on one of the Superman books. So there is time now. And because of that, I suddenly don't have to read this issue wondering how everything will be tied up next month. Instead I could relax and just enjoy it as simply another chapter. And that made this a much more enjoyable read.

The art on the book is a hodge lodge of Lee Weeks, Art Thibert, Scott Hanna and others. It is a shame that Weeks couldn't seem to stay up on the deadlines. He brought a sensibility to the book I enjoyed. These others are no slouches. I love Thibert. But, call me old fashioned, a book just reads better with one art team doing all the pages.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Review: Action Comics #51

Action Comics #51 came out this week and proved that you can go home again.

Since The Truth ended, writer Peter Tomasi has been giving us a very classic, very satisfying story. It feels as if it has been years since I have read so many issues in a row and said 'This is my Superman.' Once again, after reading this book, I uttered that phrase. 

But more importantly, after reading this issue I said 'This is my Supergirl!' Kara has been suspiciously and conspicuously absent in the DCU for some time. Since her own book was canceled, she hasn't been seen or heard from at all. Even in JLU, all we heard was that 'she bolted'. Thankfully, Tomasi brings her back in a great way, showcasing a lot of what I like about Kara, folding in some of the plot of her new book, and maybe even riffing on some classic stories.

And best of all, we see the cousins acting like cousins and heroes. They squabble a bit. They care for each other. They are family. I have been waiting for this sort of relationship for some time as well.

To sum up ... hooray!

The art on the book is done by Paul Pelletier with inks by Sandra Hope Archer. There is sort of Neal Adams feel to the look here, more than I have seen in Pelletier recently. The art is big and bold, suited for the story. Supergirl looks wonderful, young and vital.

On to the book.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Sales Review: March 2016

#Rebirth is right around the corner so DC has been trying their best to wrap things up on some titles and tee things up on others. So March, April, and May will be interesting months to watch form a sales point of view. Will people jump off the 'lame duck' months? Will people jump on when the stories will 'matter'?

Well the first month of this trifecta is in the books and ICv2 covered sales in their usual excellent way. Here is a link to last month's top 300 books:

Amazingly, DC improved in sales this month after what has to be considered a horrible couple of years for them overall. And, surprisingly, a Superman book did well.

Superman #50 was the end of the over-bloated, 'oh so serious', 'this isn't your father's Superman ... heck it isn't your Superman' arc called The Truth. Gene Luen Tang had come on board with a Superman story that was supposed to forever change the dynamic of the Man of Steel, a dynamic that his longtime fans actually liked. And, given that #Rebirth is happening, it looks like it didn't change things forever, or for even a little bit.

I was glad to see this direction fade away.

So I was flabberghasted to see that Superman #50 was the 4th best selling title last month, selling 91K.

I don't recall their being any super-exclusive variant covers that may have driven up store purchases. So could stores have ordered that many thinking the end of the story might draw twice as many readers? Or that the impending #Rebirth might get people intrigued?

Anyways, we are moving on. And that is the truth.

As for the Supergirl books that were out, sales held steady.

DC Bombshells continues to delight me as a reader. I wish I could know the sales digitally for this book. That might add some information.

It seems like this book will finish when #Rebirth comes around. And that is a shame. I'd love to read more about these characters.

It is relatively healthy in sales, coming in just under 20K. That has to be considered a success for a digital first book based on a merchandise line and not in the main continuity.

Thanks to Marguerite Bennett and all the artists for this book.

Justice League 3001 is definitely living on borrowed time. It isn't on the #Rebirth slate. It is struggling in sales. But it stars a great supergirl and is a great melange of all sorts of DC continuities. This book has been another delight for me. I would have missed it if Supergirl hadn't come on board. So glad I got it.

The book has hovered around the 12K mark on sales for a while. This book reminds me of the REBELS book from a few years ago. The people who like it tend to love it. It is a loyal audience. But it just isn't large enough for a DC book.

We have a couple more issues. Everyone should be reading this.

I can't wait to see the sales figures with #Rebirth.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Supergirl Episode 20: "Better Angels", the Finale

Supergirl Season One ended this week with an episode aptly called "Better Angels". I advise you settle in because this review is long. It is as much a look at this one episode as it is the whole series. And I couldn't be happier.

How do I put into words how happy this show has made me? Apparently by writing a lot. Because this show has understood Supergirl and what she represents from the beginning. Like many television shows, it grew stronger as the season progressed. The characters became more fleshed out. The plots became tighter. The themes and direction became more polished. And the stars simply shined.

I have tried over time here to showcase what I love about Supergirl. Her optimism. Her hope. Her sense of justice. Her fierce determination to do what's right. Her fears of not being good enough. It all comes together in a young hero striving to do what's right and occasionally failing. It is that 'never give up' that defines Supergirl as much as her array of powers. From Supergirl's difficult first appearances to her contemplating a darker justice to inspiring others, this show has captured it all.

It isn't perfect.

But what is.

What I have got this year has been 20 episodes which respect my favorite character in a new and fresh way. It is a show I can watch with my daughters without hesitation. It has super-heroics and brightness and hope. And it has character growth. The characters in this finale are very different from the ones we met in the premiere.

Right now we don't know if we are getting a Supergirl Season Two. I sincerely hope we do. But even if we don't, I have this season. It is a gem.

On to the show ...

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Review: Adventures of Supergirl #7

Adventures of Supergirl Chapter 7 came out yesterday and was absolutely delightful. New Supergirl fans will surely love this chapter where Kara fights in the battle field of her own mind. But for old time Supergirl fans, this was a walk through history.

One of the things writer Sterling Gates has always emphasized is that he wants to respect the history of Supergirl. When other creators and fans scoffed at the idea, Gates (in his original run) was building up a rogues gallery, was weaving in some of the Supergirl movie ideas, and respecting Kara's presence in comics.

Another thing we have seen in Adventures of Supergirl is Gates dropping in Easter Eggs and homages in the story. From name drops of Kupperberg and Igle to Kryptonian culture to panels reminiscent of X-Men, sharp eyed readers have seen some comic history hidden in plain sight.

This issue is the best of all worlds. By having Kara fighting in a dreamscape, Gates can directly reference tons of Supergirl history while moving the plot of this book. Heck, even the villain of the chapter, Psi, is a throwback to a classic Supergirl villain. I'm going to do my best to point out the historical bits. But if I miss any, please chime in.

All that is brought to life by artist Emanuela Lupacchino and inker Ray McCarthy. Lupacchino has to show her range in all the crazy environments of the story. We roam from bedrooms to battlefields, from reality to the astral plane.  And Lupacchino totally shines. I love seeing her versions of all the Supergirls.

And Hi-Fi on colors brings a blazing palette to the book. Nothing is as unnerving as those looming pink eyes of Psi.

On to the book...

Monday, April 18, 2016

Review: DC Comics Bombshells #11

DC Bombshells #11 came out last week and finally brought all the characters together, on the European front, and fighting Nazis, Atlanteans, and demons. I have been waiting for this since the book began. While all the different plot threads have been gripping, I have been hoping we would see a League style brawl. And thankfully we got there.

Writer Marguerite Bennett has talked about how each thread have had a different sort of feel. Wonder Woman was a romance story. Supergirl and Stargirl starred in a propaganda film. Batwoman was in a spy story. Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy starred in a humor short. But now, together, they all are in a war story.

And we get to see everyone involved. I have been waiting to see Big Barda and Dr. Light jump in the fray and those two might have the best moments in this issue. As a long time Barda fan, this made me very happy.

The art on the book is done by Mirka Andolfo and Laura Braga. Both have shined throughout this book. And their styles are close enough to make this book feel like a consistent effort. The action is wild. The romance is sweet. Everyone is beautiful and strong. Just great.

If I have one quibble, it is that Supergirl seems a bit off here. She doesn't have much to do in this issue. She seems timid and frightened at times. While we have seen the fears of loneliness she has kept hidden before. But she is a warrior. I would hope she could move beyond her insecurities when the moment called upon it.

On to the book...

Friday, April 15, 2016

Review: Batman/Superman #31

Last week, I gushed about Superman #51 and how it brought back a Superman I could recognize.

Where had that guy been these last couple of years?

It looks like he might be here to stay.

Batman/Superman #31 came out this week and put a smile on my face. Because not only was this, once again, my Superman. It was also my Batman. And my Alfred. And even my Supergirl.

Writer Peter Tomasi transports me back to a world where Superman wants to help people. A Superman that cares for his family and wants Supergirl to carry on for him if he isn't around, an idea that is straight up Silver Age goodness. A Superman that may be inspiring others to do good as well. This Superman is dying, a story we have seen in all the eras. And he wants to put his affairs in order.

To do that he needs Batman's help. In The Truth, we saw James Gordon fighting Superman. On the big screen, we see Superman ready to skewer Superman with a spear. In the last 20 years we have seen time and time again Batman want to fight Superman. Here we see Batman as a friend. Sure, they have different methods. But Superman and Batman are clearly friends, firing friendly verbal barbs at each other while trying to help each other.

And yes, finally, we see Supergirl back in the main DCU. She has been invisible in the books since the end of her own title lo so many months ago.

Tomasi and artist Doug Mahnke really shine in this issue. Much like Superman #51, there are plenty of splash pages. The moments are worthy of big art. And Mahnke really brings some emotion to the quieter scenes. I am struck by the fact that this team was on Superman/Wonder Woman during The Truth. That was the most brutish interpretation of Superman during that arc, the exact opposite of the Superman we read here.

Where we these guys during the last couple of years?

On to the book.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

DC Rebirth Previews - Supergirl

The DC Comics Preview book came out this week, finally giving us some information about the upcoming Rebirth books and answering a few questions.

I have said it before. I'll say it again. I am more optimistic about #Rebirth than I ever was about the New 52. This seems a more thought out, more controlled, and more imaginative take on the DCU than the 52 ever was. Hearing about the books and teams and ideas as well as flipping through this book, it just feels like this is more thought out. The New 52, while diverse in books (monsters, westerns, anthologies, etc.), the tone seemed monochromatic. Things were dark.

These books seem more nuanced, more varied, and some joy.

And what about Supergirl? Well, Steve Orlando has said all the right things. So how is DC marketing it?

Supergirl. What’s her deal?
Supergirl is back and working for the DEO (Department of Extranormal Operations) to defend National City from those who would do it harm, As Kara Danvers, average American high school student, Supergirl must balance her life as a superhero with her new life on Earth But some demons from her Kryptonian past are coming back to haunt her, and Kara will find herself making the toughest choices of her young life!
APPEARING IN: SUPERGIRL from writer Steve Orlando and artist Brian Ching.
STATUS QUO SHIFT: From depowered wandering soul to repowered superhero!
WHY THEY WEAR THE SHIELD: To continue the legacy of her cousin, Superman, and make her adopted home a better place!
Well, first off, things seem pretty aligned with the television show. The DEO. Living in National City. Calling herself Kara Danvers. All of that folds into the show's premise seamlessly. Still, this is a younger Kara. She is a teenager, not a young woman. And while it is implied she is still trying to adjust to Earth, at least she has embraced the planet as home. When we last saw her in the old book, she was bleeding from a cut on her finger so at least we will have some resolution given that the mention her as being 'depowered wandering soul'.

But that last line is the clincher for me. Kara wants to continue to legacy of her cousin. So she likes and respects and wants to emulate Kal. And she wants to make Earth a better place. That is much better than hating the world like she did when written by Lobdell and others.

I would have preferred Linda Danvers. But otherwise I can't complain about this. Sounds great.

So what do you all think?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Supergirl Episode 19: Myriad

Supergirl Episode 19 'Myriad' aired this week, the penultimate episode for this first season. It seems like just yesterday we were seeing the poster put on the WB water tower and (not) watching the leaked pilot. And here we are a week away from the finale ... maybe a show finale. We still don't know if there will be a season two.

Now there is a lot to like about this episode. There is some action. There is a great cliffhanger. And most importantly, there is a lot of Supergirl philosophy in the dialogue. Do the ends justify the means? How do you fight evil without becoming evil? What is stronger than fear? And are heroes perfect and infallible? These questions and concepts are what make me love Supergirl as a character. So seeing the writers, producers, and actors showcase these ideas makes me very happy.

That doesn't mean this is a perfect episode by any means. There are a lot of plot holes that you need to just gloss over. If you think too hard about things, you're bound to start thinking about ways this episode could have played out more realistically. But if you can buy super-powered individuals, phantom zones, living internet women, and aliens living among us, maybe you can look past some plot lapses.

As usual, the acting on the show is wonderful. Melissa Benoist really shows range again. She is frustrated, scared, and angry. She is doubtful at time, resolute at others. Calista Flockhart shines as well. As Cat she has to play the cold, distant boss. And yet, we have seen her open up and be vulnerable. A scene where Cat and Kara talk about hope is the high point of this episode.

On to the show.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Supermegafest Spring 2016

Last Friday, I went with a couple of friends to the Supermegafest Comic-Con in Marlboro Massachusetts. This is one of those comic-cons in name only. There was an artist alley and there were a few guests worth heading out to see. But this con is heavy on pop culture celebrities and that seemed to be the main draws.

In fact, I don't know if I would have gone but a close friend of mine is huge fan of the movie The Warriors. Three cast members were in attendance at the con. My buddy was pumped to meet them and so three of us headed west. Comic guests I was hoping to meet were Alex Saviuk and Graham Nolan.

Now, because of #adultlife, we went up for the opening of the show, 4P Friday and could only stay until early evening. That meant we were the first to thumb through the exhibitors' comic boxes. That was great. The bad part of going early and leaving early is that not all the guests even showed while we were there. I only got to briefly see Saviuk and have him sign my copy of Flash #275. But Nolan, Mike Grell, and Bob Budiansky were never seen. Bummer.

That also held true for the celebrities. I was hoping to see Dina Meyer and talk about Starship Troopers and Birds of Prey. But she wasn't there during our stay. Luckily, The Warriors cast was there.

Without any big purchases or commissions lined up, it meant the money I bought could be spent on ... gasp ... comics. Thought I'd share the big purchases, including a Supergirl cameo I wasn't expecting. Lastly, pay no attention to the price tags on the issues. All prices were renegotiated.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Steve Orlando Interview

With the news of the new Supergirl series coming out of #Rebirth still fresh, I reached out to writer Steve Orlando for an interview. A big thanks to DC PR and Orlando for answering a few questions about the new book and Supergirl in general.

I was feeling optimistic about the book from everything that I had heard before this interview but I am doubly optimistic now. So enjoy ...

Anj: Congratulations on being named writer on the Supergirl Rebirth book. I was wondering if you could talk about your history with the character? Have you always been a fan? Is there a favorite Supergirl run in the background?
Orlando: I have long been a fan! Probably my first live interaction with Kara was when she debuted on Superman: The Animated Series, with her distinct urge to explore and to “VROOM” everywhere she went. I had encountered her before, in trading cards, in Crisis on Infinite Earths, but those were all backlogs, collecting I did when I was voraciously reading up on the DCU as a young, erstwhile fan. But when she debuted in the Dini/Timm series, it was fresh, I was seeing it at the same time as the rest of the world, not playing catch up, and I loved it. I loved the energy, the positivity and the joy associated with the character – her unfaltering ability to stay positive despite the tragic circumstances that brought her to Earth.
And that’s really what first made me connect to Kara – her history is in many ways even more tragic than her cousin’s, with her being a teenager when she left Krypton, and having real, tangible things that she’s left behind. But I connected with that, she tries her hardest not to let it weigh her down, or weigh other people down. I think her tenacity is something we can all aspire to – and really, superheroes, icons, we want them to to aspirational figures. Kara to me is all about positivity in the face of adversity, and through her experienced with that, a wealth of understanding. For me, that all started with her animated series appearances, to the Earth-Born Angel run, to the return of Kara Zor-El, and the growing accumulating DNA that brought us to where we are today.

2. What do you find compelling or intriguing  about her character? What about her interested you enough to write the new book?
I hinted at it a bit above, but to me, it is Kara’s approach to the world that draws me to her. For one, she has a more real, detailed, and rich immigrant or refugee story than her cousin, who woke up to loving human parents and only later learned about the world he lost. Kara, leaving real people, real memories, coming to Earth with real opinions, having to learn a new language, a new culture, being adopted by new parents. All those things ring so true to me for what people go through, and as to her feeling at times like an outsider, what I have gone through both in my personal life being bisexual and in my adult life traveling to different cultures and nations. Kara’s positivity in the face of all this, her perspective, is what I find truly inspiring.
And as I said above, THROUGH that comes her vital, unique understanding of people, or more so, a need to understand. That underlying unity that someone with super senses must feel, when a planet of 6 billion people can seem like a small village to her.
Early on I realized, and I still think it’s true – plenty of heroes show up, stop the bad guy, and send them to prison. But Supergirl shows up two weeks later to see how they’re doing, and how she can help. She’s been there. She’s been in tough situations. She’s made mistakes. And she wants to understand you, and help you through yours.

3. Can you talk about the pitch process? Did you approach DC editorial? Or did they approach you? How far ahead do you have stories planned?
Much like my pitch process on MIDNIGHTER, the pitch for SUPERGIRL began with one idea, which grew into the statement I gave above:
Supergirl’s compassion is as mighty as her strength.”
With pitching for characters, it’s always a little from column a and a little from column b – there’s outreach from the office, and then a conversation about where you’d take a character, why they’re important to you, what your take is. I found the offer of SUPERGIRL extremely intimidating, following in the footsteps of some amazing runs, and working with a character that means so much to so many people. But in truth, if you’re NOT intimidated taking on a character, then I don’t think you’re truly understanding what these comics, and these icons, mean to people. These are characters and ideas that change lives, that save lives, and so they demand an inherent reverence, respect, and passion. Since I did MIDNIGHTER, there isn’t a comic convention that goes by where someone doesn’t come up to me and say the character has given them the strength to come out, to be themselves. And I know people connect with Supergirl in the same, incredibly passionate way. So the offer was an honor for me, and a challenge.
As for how long I have planned out – as you may know from my work I am a huge DC Universe nerd and always looking to explore new corners and add new facets to a world that so strongly influenced me as a child. So I have stories planned for a long time, as long as readers will come along with me. And every time I crawl down a wiki hole or crack open my DC WHO’S WHOs, the plans grow exponentially.

4. Can you, if possible, talk about the transition from the last book to this new one? Is this the same Kara? Has time passed? Will we be seeing some of the supporting cast or villains from the last series?
I can talk a bit about it, sure – but not much. This is definitely the same Kara you saw in the New 52 SUPERGIRL series, sixteen years old, new to Earth. In story time, she has been on Earth for less than a year, and in that time has gotten into some trouble, be it her skirmish in Siberia when she landed, or her actions as a Red Lantern. But she’s putting that anger in the past, and looking forward, thanks to some new friends and a fresh start as seen in SUPERGIRL: REBIRTH.
The book will pick up from Super League, going on right now in the Superman family of books, BUT Super League is not required to pick up SUPERGIRL: REBIRTH, which will set the stage all on its own if you like. As for supporting cast, we’ll see some new faces, some faces from previous adventures Kara has had, and one major villain rearing his Cybernetic Head as the Cyborg Superman comes in search of Kara. In the previous series, the readers knew he was Zor-El, but he did not, and Kara did not. Now that information is out, and it changes everything.

5. How would you describe the tone of the book?
Optimistic! Kara is definitely working her way through adjusting to Earth, which is something she hasn’t had time to do in the New 52 after basically running in the red since she landed a few months ago. And there’s an adjustment period – she’s been welcomed to Earth, yes, and wants to become a part of our world. But it’s a new language, it’s new culture, and especially compared to Krypton, our “advanced” Earth technology seems like stone age tools to Kara.
But to be Earth’s protector, to help us, she HAS to understand us, and so she remains committed to her goal, and to herself. Even if things aren’t always easy, even if she has moments of doubt, she remains caring, she remains steadfast, and dedicated to the world that welcomed her when her own blasted her into space.

6. Any last things you’d like to say to the Supergirl fandom who visits here? 
The Super family of books is incredibly important to me – and I hope that comes through in the first page, the first issue, and the first year of SUPERGIRL. But to me that doesn’t mean a line of books about Superman himself, or characters trying to be like Superman. It’s about awe. It’s about wonder. It’s about huge comic book ideas. And it’s about compassion. I think Supergirl would be Supergirl even if her cousin never made it to Earth, because her outlook would never let her go down a different path. She’s intelligent, she’s caring, she’s brave.
We talk a lot about what it means to be “a super” in the DCU. And it transcends the surface level things like being related to Superman. The diversification of the Super family of books shows just that – being a Super, being super, is something we can all achieve to. It’s in how these characters, and Supergirl especially, always sees and roots for the best in us, EVEN if we don’t ourselves.
And in SUPERGIRL I’m excited to put that to the test, and usher in a new day for the Girl of Tomorrow

Friday, April 8, 2016

Review: Superman #51

When the #Rebirth event was streamed, the execs from DC made it clear that they realized something was missing from the current universe. They called it legacy. But they also said that they needed to go back to what worked for these characters. They had lost their way.

I could point to Superman as a key example. Outside of Grant Morrison's run and a most of Greg Pak/Aaron Kuder's run on Action, the Man of Steel has been a mess. Distant, turned into a monster, depowered, exposed, stuck in crossover events that weren't well timed, well planned out, or well executed.

When I heard that Peter Tomasi was going to be the writer of one of the post-Truth #Rebirth Superman books, I was concerned. There was this call for classic interpretations. So I was optimistic. But Tomasi had written one of the most flawed interpretations of Superman in The Truth, the bashing, angry, sadistic guy in Superman/Wonder Woman. Was he the one to be given a Superman book?

Well, Superman #51 quelled a lot of my fears. This issue was one of the best Superman books I have read in a long time, reminding me of all the things I love about this character while spinning an interesting story. I closed the issue and said 'this is my Superman' something I haven't been able to say for a long long time.

Mikel Janin is on art on the book and brings a clean, stunning look to the book. There are a lot of splash pages and big panels but I didn't mind. This felt like the sort of issue that needed big art. We are starting fresh here. So let's be big and bold, trumpeting this new direction.

If this is the tone Tomasi is bringing to the book moving forward, count me in.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Back Issue Box: Superman Family #212

Over in Superman:Lois and Clark, writer Dan Jurgens and artist Lee Weeks have been reintroducing some old time baddies to the (for now) current New 52 universe. We met the 'new' Hank Henshaw. We finally saw the re-imagined Hyathis. And now we have the latest incarnation of Blackrock.

This version of Blackrock is an ex-con trying to make some money by putting on a battle suit and demolishing things for reality television. Unfortunately, the bridge he is told to smash hasn't been closed to drivers, setting up a disaster where Superman needs to intervene. This guy doesn't seem malicious. If anything, I think this is him being set up by the television show to get footage of him fighting a super-hero.

With a new Blackrock now out there, I thought I would revisit the old Blackrock and the time he fought Supergirl.

In Superman Family #212, Supergirl is front and center on the cover fighting the 'video villain' Blackrock. Ross Andru and Dick Giordano provide the cover which is a decent action shot, even if it is Kara seemingly losing to the villain. The casino setting is interesting as is the down angle of the perspective.

More amusing is the 'jogging your way into this issue' side bar of the characters ...well ... jogging. This was a time in the US where jogging was the latest fitness fad. Clark looks incredibly uncoordinated, perhaps on purpose.

'Payment on Demand' headlined the issue. Written by Marty Pasko with art by regular SMF team of Win Mortimer and Vince Colletta, the story starts out with a bang. Or is that a 'brakassh'.

Supergirl is peacefully flying around New York City when she sees a security guard tossed through the plate glass window of the WGBS building. Nothing like a good defenestration to start a story.

Kara's internal monologue is amusing in that she is pretty surprised at the daily goings-on in the Big Apple. There is little peace for a super-hero.

Flying into the lobby, Supergirl finds the villain Blackrock attacking the security force with his power stone. Kara seems to know of Blackrock and so brings the fight to him but she struggles a bit. He uses the stone quite adeptly, transforming himself into 'cohesive black particles' of energy, surrounding Supergirl in a dense energy bubble, and shooting force beams.

Realizing this wasn't a fight he planned for, Blackrock turns himself into energy, endangers the nearby civilians, and escapes while Supergirl saves the day. But what was he after?

It turns out the guards can't even help identify him. He had entered the building in his civilian identity so they should know his face. But he used his force bolts to give them selective amnesia.

I told you. He is handy with his weapon.

At work at Secret Hearts soap opera, Linda Danvers notices that her friend, script writer Greg Gilbert, is distraught. And the script shows it. The actors and producers are irate about plot turns and dialogue busting words like 'statistically', 'dilapidated', and 'particularly'. In an effort to help her friend, Linda says the two should go out as friends ('dutch treat') to talk things out.

Greg asks Linda to come back to his place first, hoping he can convince her to eat in. It is clear that he is broke. And going out, even dutch, is impossible.

Things get wonky when they arrive. A ruffian is waiting for Greg to take him to 'an appointment'.

Greg tries to fight the thug and, using her super-breath coyly, Linda helps his efforts. The goon runs off.

Linda then asks Greg what is going on. It turns out he has a major gambling problem. He is deep in the hole with a gangster, owing him thirty grand. He recently was trying to win his way out of the hole by doubling down at an all night poker game. Unfortunately, he only made things worse.

The reason the scripts have suffered is because while Greg was away, new writer Lena Thorul struggled a bit.

Linda promises she will try to help Greg out of his problems, both his debt and his problem. She promises to find him psychiatric help or group therapy. But first, the debt needs to be cleared.

Greg's problems don't supplant the presence of Blackrock. In a perfect showing of why the old comics work, Supergirl heads to the Fortress of Solitude to ask Superman for some information. After all, Blackrock is more of a Superman villain.

Kal gives us some nice exposition about Blackrock's origins. There have been several people brainwashed or blackmailed into wearing the costume. Blackrock was supposed to be network UBC's own super-hero to combat Superman's GBS ratings.

So who is *this* Blackrock? And what is he after.

Whatever it is he wants, it is in the GBS building. Blackrock decides that he needs an inside man to pull off the heist he wants. So in a different scene, we see Blackrock cut a deal with Greg Gilbert. If Gilbert steals something from GBS, Blackrock will eliminate the writer's debt. Gilbert initially agrees.

But then Gilbert realizes that Blackrock's solution will be to kill the mob boss. Not wanting to be complicit in murder, Gilbert tells his bosses and ultimately Supergirl of his problems. Supergirl takes off to the casino to stop the villain's murderous plans.

There is a nice skirmish where we see just how evenly matched these two are. Blackrock is untouchable. He can shoot immense force beams. He knows how to use collateral damage to distract Supergirl.

I liked this panel where we see Supergirl actually bounce off the force shield.

The battle heads outside where Blackrock blasts one of the city's famous arches. While Supergirl grabs the top of the arch so it doesn't crush pedestrians, Blackrock takes advantage, shooting Supergirl and knocking her unconscious.

Of course, this is a bronze age villain. So before he knocks out Kara, he tells her the whole plan. Gilbert will steal the blueprints for GBS' 3-D television technology.

And with that cliffhanger, part one ends.

This was a very fun story. We get both Supergirl moments and Linda Danvers' moments as well. So we get a nice feel for this Supergirl's whole life. Moreover, Blackrock is a good villain for her, someone who can actually stand up to her as a challenge.

So not a bad little chapter.

As a bonus, we get a Supergirl heavy Daily Planet as the back cover. First we have an add for Superman #365, one of the many stories where Supergirl fights Superman. I covered that issue way back when, here.

We also get an add for The Krypton Chronicles, a nice three issue miniseries which looks back at Krypton's history. That is a great mini-series for Superman and Supergirl fans.

So overall, a decent issue worth picking up if you find it in the cheap bins.

Overall grade: B