Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sales Review: Supergirl #32


The buzz last month for DC Comics was around the multiple Bombshell covers that graced some titles. In a brilliant marketing move, DC made the covers not true rare variants but rather available in a 1:1 ration with the 'normal' covers. As a result, readers who are completists might buy both covers and not break the bank. And stores most likely ordered a bit more heavily to cover that possibility.

It seemed to work as most of the titles with a bombshell cover got a nice little boost in sales. Here is the sales coverage for June 2014 on ICv2:http://www.icv2.com/articles/news/29081.html

I still think this was something of a wasted opportunity to cast some light on the Supergirl book, even if it was through something as gimmick-y as a Bombshell cover. Red Daughter has been a very good story. Any publicity is good publicity.


Supergirl #33 was the penultimate chapter of Red Daughter (assuming you choose to ignore the out of context, odd characterization of Supergirl's Doomed appearances).

This issue included Supergirl coming home, fighting the Diasporans, and learning that the head Diasporan was actually World Killer 1. Pretty good second to last chapter, progressing the story and taking us to a place where a satisfying conclusion could be reached.


Sales remained relatively stable. Supergirl remained the 104 ranked book in sales, dropping about 300 units in sales from last month's 22783.

She seems to be in pretty decent company down there. At nearly 3 years in, she is selling as well as such touted newbies as Aquaman and the Others, Elektra, and New Vampirella.

But sales are still slipping, maybe slowly, showing the resilience of Supergirl's fans.

I truly hope that DC does some publicity for the new direction of the book. They certainly are doing that for the new Batgirl just around the corner.


Supergirl also stars in Justice League United. It is still fresh out of the gates with a nice mix of characters and a stellar creative team of Jeff Lemire, Mike McKone, and Dexter Vines.


This book is clicking on all cylinders and selling briskly at 62K. I am hoping that a strong Supergirl in this book might lead to some cross-pollination towards her new book. United is one of my favorite books right now so I am thrilled to see it selling well.

Can't wait to see the 'new' Supergirl.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

October 2014 Solicits

I haven't been necessarily kind to DC Comics over the last couple of years as it reels from the universal reboot of the New 52, became a darker and grimmer world than I have ever known, misrepresented some of my favorite characters, and treated some of my favorite creators shabbily.

So when DC Comics does something worthy of praise I think I should shout it from the rooftops. October's solicits came out last week and the times they are a-changin' at DC as maybe ... just maybe ... they realize that they can't put all their eggs in the hyper-violent, jaded, grim, cynical basket that this new DCU has become. The entire solicits can be reviewed on CBR .

Now there is a lot that I could showcase here but I use this slot on the blog to review the super-solicits. But one thing stuck out that needed to be shown in full glory here.


BATGIRL #35
Written by CAMERON STEWART and BRENDEN FLETCHER
Art by BABS TARR
Cover by CAMERON STEWART
MONSTERS Variant cover by KEVIN NOWLAN

Barbara Gordon is no stranger to dusting herself off when disaster strikes… so when a fire destroys everything she owned, she spots the opportunity for a new lease on life — and seizes it! Following the rest of Gotham’s young adults to the hip border district of Burnside, Barbara sets about building an all-new Batgirl… and discovers all-new threats preying on her peers! It’s a re-invention of Batgirl from the boots up, by the incredible creative team of Cameron Stewart (BATMAN INC.), Brenden Fletcher (WEDNESDAY COMICS), and rising star Babs Tarr!

Remember when DC 'de-aged' Supergirl in the early 80s sending her back to college after years of being a reporter/guidance counselor/actress?

This feels like that ... like a much-needed and welcomed soft reboot. Now I will admit that I didn't read much of the Simone Batgirl (or even the New 52 Bat-books). But I will read this book. Batgirl suddenly looks like a young hero again, the whole vibe is fresh and fun. There is the sense that this isn't going to be a dystopian book. I even get just the subtle whiff of Steph here. I also get the sense that this book might be something I could give to my oldest daughter.

There are other things that look great this month - Gotham Academy (giving off a similar vibe as this book),  Batwoman heading up a horror-hero team called the Unknowns, New Gods invading the Lantern books. It looks like a wild month. And there seems to be a growing palette of tones in the universe.

Now onto the super-solicits.


SUPERGIRL #35
Written by TONY BEDARD
Art by KARL MOLINE
Cover by GUILLEM MARCH

“SUPERMAN: DOOMED AFTERMATH”! In the waked of the DOOMED storyline, the ALIEN SYNDICATE looks to re-establish its foothold on Earth. But the venom powered Red Hood looks for even more muscle in Kara as they go head to head with the scum and villainy of the galaxy. Plus: an ending that will set Kara on a new course!

Okay, I keep hoping this book will take off, making its own way while being part of the super-family. So I don't know if I am necessarily happy with a Doomed aftermath. And another cover with an angry Supergirl! Haven't we seen enough?

Lastly, after abandoning the red ring do we really need another ending sending Kara on another new course?

I trust Bedard ...


JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED #5
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art by TIMOTHY GREEN II and JOE SILVER
Cover by MIKE McKONE

This issue spotlights the newest member of the team: Equinox of the Moose Cree First Nation! As a rite of passage, Equinox must take down a mystical beast that’s terrorizing her people!

This should be a nice 'rest' issue after the cosmic nature of the Byth/Ultra arc and the beginning of the new arc in the Annual (see below). Plus, we just don't know enough about Equinox. I am happy that she is getting an origin/spotlight issue.


JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED ANNUAL #1
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art and cover by NEIL EDWARDS and JAY LEISTEN

The Infinitus Saga begins as the Legion of Super-Heroes arrive with the shocking news that the 31st century has been destroyed! Now it’s up to the Justice League United to save the future!

Now this is what I'm talking about! I spoke about this a couple of days ago but it is worth hitting the highlights again!

An annual! Supergirl prominent on the cover! THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES!!!

And is it the Time Trapper? Or The Infinity Man? Or both?

I cannot express how happy I am to see the Legion again!


ACTION COMICS #35
Written by GREG PAK
Art and cover by AARON KUDER
MONSTERS Variant cover by NEAL ADAMS

“SUPERMAN: DOOMED AFTERMATH”! In the aftermath of “Doomed” – what is left of The Man of Steel? And what’s become of Smallville?

Much like with Supergirl, I am going to be happy when the Doomed arc is in the rear view mirror and Pak/Kuder can go back to stories like the Baka one.

I suppose a look at Smallville post-coma makes sense.


SUPERMAN #35
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by JOHN ROMITA, JR. and KLAUS JANSON

The hit SUPERMAN run by Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr. continues with “THE MEN OF TOMORROW” Chapter four! Superman and Ulysses are still dealing with the traumatic revelations of last issue, but the hunt for The Machinist must continue before his would-be-victims fall into his hands. But what happens when the two heroes learn the truth behind The Machinist and the cost to stopping his mad plan?

Hmmm ... not much to ponder deeply here as I know nothing of the Ulysses revelations or the Machinist.

I do wonder, given the Klerik, if The Machinist might be a riff on The Eradicator.

BATMAN/SUPERMAN #15
Written by GREG PAK
Art and cover by JAE LEE
MONSTERS Variant cover by JON BOGDANOVE

Lord Satanas offers Superman and Batman a deal they couldn’t possibly accept…right?!

I hope it is Lord Satanus and that is a typo. No need to revamp everything down to character names.

This book seems to be in something of a rut where the heroes have to decide to act or not act. From the idea of using the 'weapon' vs destroying it in the first arc to Kaiyo's recent offer to have them change the Earth 2 history, we keep seeing our heroes being tempted.

So will this Satanus story be different enough to grab me?

I wonder if Jae Lee was thinking of Justice League of America #10 when he made this cover.


SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #12
Written by CHARLES SOULE
Art by JACK HERBERT
Cover by TONY S. DANIEL

“SUPERMAN: DOOMED AFTERMATH”! Diana recovers from the events of DOOMED, and the sacrifices and betrayals made. Is love lost? 

Hmmm ... is this the end of the romance?
It does look like it might be the end of Tony Daniel on art on the book. Remember he was one of the biggest pluses this book had.

Is this the end of me buying this book?


SMALLVILLE SEASON 11: CHAOS #3
Written by BRYAN Q. MILLER 
Art by AGUSTIN PADILLA and MARCELO DI CHIARA 
Cover by CAT STAGGS

Things in Metropolis come to a head, but will any Super Heroes heed Tess’s calls for help? Meanwhile, Clark has been released from his crystal prison, but he and Lois are no closer to home than before – that is, until the strange situation makes for even stranger bedfellows!

I love this book and it is great to see what Lex is going to do with that pile of yellow rings we saw at the end of the last arc.

I am jealous of those who read it digitally before me too!

So a very busy and potentially fantastic month from DC. Thanks to the company!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New Supergirl/Batgirl Comic by Mike Maihack - Babs' New Costume


I have applauded the Supergirl/Batgirl comics by Mike Maihack in the past. They are delightful showcasing a bright, optimistic Kara and a serious Babs who occasionally let's her fun side peek out.

Well Maihack has done it again, making a Kara/Babs comic about the recent Batgirl costume redesign. Here is the link: http://mikemaihack.tumblr.com/post/92432532892/no-one-is-more-excited-about-batgirls-new-costume

There is sooooo much goodness here. I love how Supergirl is just enamored of the fact that Batgirl has changed her look. And the third panel of her snapping and unsnapping the cape is perfect. Just like that Supergirl has redone her costume and Harley Quinn's costume in a similar fashion. Perfect.

Supergirl costume designs has been an ongoing theme in these strips (as well as how easily Supergirl would defeat Bat-villains) so this strip nuzzles in nicely with what Maihack has done before. Here was his take on Supergirl's Red Lantern time: http://comicboxcommentary.blogspot.com/2014/02/red-lantern-supergirl-arrives-mike.html

But the last panel is so great. A flummoxed Harley, an irritated Babs, and a beaming Supergirl.

Maihack needs a book!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Tony Bedard Says All the Right Things on CBR



With Red Daughter hours away from being behind us, I was hoping that DC would plug the Supergirl book again, now with her back in the classic S-shield costume and back on the right track.

And lo and behold, there is publicity! There is an interview with Tony Bedard over on CBR. And Bedard definitely says a lot of good things to say. Whether it is reflecting on Red Daughter, hinting about the future, or talking about Supergirl in general, Bedard made me feel some optimism.

As always, I will recommend reading the interview in its entirety. But here are the questions and answers that grabbed me ... and my usual commentary.

CBR News: Kara is currently a Red Lantern, and over these past issues we've seen her fit in with the group, act compassionately and, ironically, keep her temper better as a Red than she did as a lost Kryptonian. Do you think being in the Red Lanterns is good for Kara? Would removing her from that team be a detriment to her?
Tony Bedard: The biggest surprise for me about the "Red Daughter of Krypton" storyline has been that Kara has had more fun and upbeat moments as a Red Lantern than as a misfit alien on planet Earth! A lot of the credit goes to Charles Soule's truly entertaining run on "Red Lanterns." He's tapped that book's potential in a way I never anticipated, making it a thoroughly fun read. And having Kara as part of that group gave us a chance to see her through fresh eyes. More important for her, she went from being an outcast to belonging on a tight-knit team, and I think it did her some good. But, long term? I don't think Kara should be defined by Rage. She's better than that.

Bang! Just like that, in the first round, we get all sorts of great stuff!

First off, nice acknowledgment by Bedard about how great Kara was in Red Lanterns. As bizarre as it sounds, it's true. Kara really has sounded her best in Charles Soule's Red Lanterns. She has been heroic, friendly, and reflective on a what a life of rage would be like. I still can't believe I am writing that!

But the best line is the last. Kara is too good to be a rage-driven red. "She's better than that!" I think he definitely showed that in Supergirl #33.

CBR:Along with Kara you've gotten to write many of the other Red Lanterns -- are there any Reds that stick out to you as the most fun to write or to have Kara interact with?
TB: I think that Zilius Zox and Skallox are my favorite duo on the Red Lanterns. The way they play off each other in their own book is terrific, both for action and for laughs. Having them react to Kara was great fun, and those scenes just wrote themselves. It was also fun to write Kara with Bleez, since in a way she represents a cautionary tale for Kara. Giving herself over to Rage completely would make Kara just like Bleez in the worst way.
The scenes with Kara and Guy Gardner were another thing entirely, since Guy is the one Red Lantern who knows what Kara should be -- a positive, inspiring hero like her cousin Superman. Gotta say, though, that writing Atrocitus and Dex-Starr was a unique pleasure. They are perhaps the greatest odd couple in the DCU right now. Once again, hats off to Charles Soule for leading the way on reinventing the Red Lanterns.

I loved how great the scenes with Bleez were in Red Daughter. It is interesting to note how in Red Daughter, Bleez seems almost sympathetic. She bears her rage like a weight on her soul. She doesn't embrace it. And that painful existence shouldn't be what Kara wants.

And imagine Guy Gardner, of all people, recognizing that Kara should be positive and inspiring like Superman. I mean ... in the New 52, even Superman didn't realize that!

CBR: While we're heading to the conclusion of "Red Daughter Of Krypton," Supergirl is also involved in the "Superman: Doomed" crossover as well as appearing in the "Red Lanterns" and "Justice League United" ongoings. As the writer of her solo title, how do you handle the various timelines and stories she's appearing in? Is everything happening to her concurrently, and will she continue to tie into so many different books after September?
TB: I think right now she's having a spike in appearances across the DC Universe, which will soon settle down, but I think it's great for Supergirl that she'll continue having a presence in "Justice League United." I'm looking forward to seeing how Jeff Lemire handles her. We all try to coordinate as much as possible, but we also leave a lot of latitude for everyone to tell their own story. Consequently, events in "Supergirl" may not hit the stands in perfect lockstep with those in "Red Lanterns" or "Justice League United," but at the end of the day, I think it all adds up to one big, coherent saga.

I remember when Supergirl starred in her own book by Sterling Gates and in Justice League of America by James Robinson. In Gates' book, she was suffering with survivor's guilt from New Krypton and was in a morose state, giving up her life as Supergirl.

In Justice League, she responded differently, becoming Dark Supergirl and wallowing in a little bit of darkness that turned out to be a defense mechanism.

Those stories happened simultaneously. But the tone of the character, the overall feeling of her, was congruent enough that I thought it was fine. I am hoping that Lemire and Bedard talk enough to each other to bring some degree of similarity without necessarily being carbon copies.

It certainly isn't happening in Doomed.


CBR: Looking ahead to September, what can you tell us about your "Supergirl: Futures End" story? Does it have any ties to what's happening in the comic now?
TB: It's a pretty major moment as we'll be seeing a reunion for Kara and her father Zor-El, currently known as Cyborg Superman. It also ties into some Grant Morrison issues of Action Comics, but it's a story that pretty much stands on its own.

A Morrison tie-in!!

I am so excited.

That said, I hate Zor-El as the Cyborg Superman.

CBR: Is the issue entirely set five years from the DC present, or will we see some of contemporary Kara?
TB: It's all five years from now, and Kara will have undergone some very dramatic changes. We'll also learn that she had a major romantic interest who will play a big part in her Futures End issue. You can try to guess who, but you won't get it right, I guarantee you.

I'm guessing right now. The Captain Comet we saw in Morrison's Action Comics.

CBR:With the end of "Doomed" and "Red Daughter," where does Kara go from here? Will events in "Supergirl: Futures End" or her involvement in "Justice League Unlimited" impact what happens in your book beyond September?
TB: No, I think Supergirl has had more than her share of crossover action recently. It might be time to let her book settle into a new groove before we link up with another series or event again.
Instead, I think perhaps a little romance needs to come into her life, don't you? The poor girl can't catch a break!

Remember when New Krypton took over the super-books and it took a while for Sterling Gates to get some momentum on the solo book. I agree with Bedard here. This book needs some time to breathe on its own with the 'new' Kara. No H'El on Earth. No Krypton Returns. No Doomed. Nothing ...

Well ... except a crossover with the new Batgirl.

Anyways, there is a lot to cheer for here. Make sure to read the whole thing!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

JLU Annual #1 and the Return of the Legion!



I have bemoaned the lack of the Legion in the DCU right now, replaced by the bizarre Justice League 3000.

I have praised Justice League United for its modern sensibilities, homages to the Silver Age, and lack of burdensome grimness.

And now it looks like I will get a Legion story in a book that has been fantastic, the best of two worlds. According to the Nerdist, there will be a JLU/Legion story starting in the JLU Annual #1 in November. Here is the link (which provided the above cover shot):
http://www.nerdist.com/2014/07/exclusive-dc-comics-october-annuals-solicitations/

And here is the solicit:

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED ANNUAL #1
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art and cover by NEIL EDWARDS and JAY LEISTEN

The Infinitus Saga begins as the Legion of Super-Heroes arrive with the shocking news that the 31st century has been destroyed! Now it’s up to the Justice League United to save the future!

What isn't to love.  Lemire writing a JLU/Legion book! Neil (ARGUS) Edwards on art for the annual! Kara in the forefront of the cover! An actual Legion appearing in the background! Mon-El, Brainy, Imra, Garth, and Tinya!

And what could be better than a Legion story in the JLU Annual?


How about a whole arc?

I have to say, I am totally totally pumped for this!



I am betting that the Infinitus Saga will include the Infinity Man as the villain. Certainly a time traveling villain would explain the destruction of thr 31st century. (I suppose the Time Trapper could also be the bad guy). Or both?? Lemire isn't saying yet.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: Supergirl #33


Supergirl #33 came out this week, the conclusion of the Red Daughter storyline and the beginning of a 'new' more heroic more likable Supergirl.

Here's the bottom line. I very much liked Red Daughter. There ... I said it. You can quote me. Because in the end, this arc did what Charles Soule and Tony Bedard said it was going to do. It was a transformative story, a redemption tale, where the grim, angry, angsty loner Kara was burned away to reveal something more classic, something more worthy of the moniker Supergirl.

Now do I like that in the 3 years of the New 52 that Supergirl was so distorted that it actually made some sort of sense that a Red Lantern ring would find her? No ... no I do not.

But once again, after another failed experiment ... ANOTHER attempt at making Supergirl a dark and brooding character, DC realized that a bitter Kara does not work, that not all their books can be painted with the same cynical brush, not all characters work as disaffected anti-heroes filled with hate and feared and loathed by the public.

If it took some sort of cathartic arc like Red Daughter to return a true Supergirl to the racks, then I applaud it. And I have to applaud Charles Soule and Tony Bedard because ironically, Kara sounded the most like Kara while wearing that red mask. And here, in this issue, she sounds truly classic! It is refreshing!

Art this issue is split between regular artist Emanuela Lupacchino and Jeff Johnson. Their styles mesh well and this issue is filled with wild moments, from straight up fights to terrible body horror to stellar storms and it all shines.


In the Kryptonite haze over Earth (from the K-bomb/Metallo over in Doomed), Supergirl has to rely on rage and the red ring to battle. Her cells are dying.

There are so many nice little flourishes in the book as Supergirl fights World Killer 1. Bedard goes through a nice progression of recognizing the rough parts of this Kara's past, showing how much she has grown, and finally getting her to embrace life.

And it is these moments that I adored in this book.

So as the World Killer symbiote tries to overwhelm her and take control of her body, she comments on how violated she feels, even worse than how she felt with H'El!


And even more good Kara moments.

WK-1 takes the fights to the crowded city streets of Rio de Janeiro, battering through homes and causing property damage.

I love Supergirl's response to this too. She worries about the people surrounding them and how one false move or blast will kill innocents.

Imagine how different this sentiment is from the Supergirl that called Earth 'a ball of mud and sweat' and thought about blowing up Earth to save Krypton.

Nice character progression!


To show Kara he means business, he takes over a human who literally melts before Supergirl's eyes. The energy of WK-1 is too much for the average human. When he fries one, he jumps into another. And he is pretty determined to merge with Supergirl. He keeps talking about becoming one with Supergirl. It is borderline creepy. '

I love how Kara is nauseated by his bizarre words. That is so different than the gullible swooning Kara who fell for the nonsense that H'El said.


And then to save this man, Supergirl promises to give herself up.

Imagine that. Supergirl is so worried for this anonymous human that she would sacrifice herself.

Again, amazing growth. Yes we saw some of this sentiment throughout the title but it wasn't consistent and it wasn't this dramatic.


Ahh ... but this is also a crafty Supergirl. She isn't thinking with just her fists. She allows WK-1 to start to sink into her body. But then she flies directly into the Kryptonite cloud at ground zero. This weakens both of them (he is linked to her) but with the ring she is able to grab him and fly off into space, warping to the sun.

The idea of weakening herself to weaken while he is linked to her again shows some sacrifice from her.


Unfortunately, the World Killer is still incredibly powerful.

The only way Kara can think of stopping him from taking her over is to truly sacrifice herself. And so she removes the Red Ring, a move that has been fatal to all before her. She is dying here. The World Killer won't take her failing body and instead dumps her in the sun. Besides, he can always take over Superman, an idea he plucked when he merged minds with Kara.

There is so much to like here. She sacrifices herself to try to save the world from this threat. She actually worries about Kal, asking for his forgiveness. And I can't help but think that this panel is somehow a sideways homage to the cover of Crisis on Infinite Earth #7. Nice subtle homage without being obvious.

This all works. This is who Kara should be. Fierce in battle. Fighting injustice. Thinking of others. Learning. Heroic.


Shockingly ... I guess ... dumping a Kryptonian into a yellow sun isn't an effective way to kill them or dispose of their bodies.

Rejuvenated by a solar shock to the system, Kara emerges from the sun ... cured and stronger than ever.

And then this fantastic moment of self-revelation.

Her mind is free of all the rage and confusion! That's right ... no more rage. No more angst. No more nonsense.

And the World Killer, a mockery of life gets vaporized.

Hurrah!


The story ends with a glorious moment of victory.

A heroic pose, near splash page. And then a determined Supergirl goes to start a new life. Mop up the Diasporans. This is just a beautiful page by Lupacchino.

And make a life for herself on Earth!!

Finally .... FINALLY ... after 33 issues, I get the sense that I am reading a true Supergirl comic!

There is so much to love about this issue but I highly recommend you go out, read it, and rejoice. This was a sort of hero's journey writ small. This mini-journey ends with Kara in a very different place, her past behind her, trying to move forward in her new life.

And I am frankly thrilled to read it.

Supergirl #34 is the beginning of a new era in Kara's life. One where she accepts Earth and strives to be a hero. One where she makes a new life for herself in her new home.

Sorta sounds like history repeating itself.


Remember this Supergirl #34? Also a turning point.

Maybe DC will finally learn their lesson!

Overall grade: A

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Upcoming JLU Variants


I have talked in the past about my love/hate relationship with variant covers. I have talked in the past about how I wish DC would give the Supergirl book a variant cover instead of having her be showcased on variant covers of Superman books. And I have talked in the past about ludicrous DC gimmicky promotions.

And it looks like I will be reiterating all those things here.

There are a couple of beautiful variant covers coming out in the next couple of months prominently featuring Supergirl in a positive way. Hurray!

Both variants are for Justice League United. That's fine it shows the place of prominence Supergirl has in the book.

But I wish that the Supergirl main title would get a variant. I guess I'll have to wait.

So in August, DC is running 'selfie' variants. That seems like a ridiculous gimmick to me. But whatever.

Here is the 'selfie' variant for Justice League United #4 as shown on CBR here.

Do you know what I like about this? That the three young women on the team are acting like friends here, smiling and hanging out. Beautifully drawn by Emanuela Lupacchino, this cover shows no friction between the 'loner' Supergirl, the 'bright' Stargirl, and the mysterious Equinox.


In a similar vein, here is an upcoming JLU variant by Karl Kerschl as he showcased on his site here:
http://karlkerschl.com/post/90665518367/my-variant-cover-for-jeff-lemires-justice-league

This is also for number Justice League United #4. I suppose the 'selfie' could be like the 'bombshell' variants, produced in equal numbers to the regular cover, making this hockey game cover a true rarer variant.

But I love this cover as well for showing the female leads out as friends, this time watching a hockey game. And is that Alanna in 'Strange' armor. That is a nice little leak of the future of her character!

I will do my best to get both of these, begrudgingly. Thus my love/hate relationship with variants continue.