Friday, October 31, 2014

2014 Halloween Jack O'Lanterns



Happy Halloween everyone!

Folks who have been here over the years know that I love to carve jack-o-lanterns. And I usually end up doing lanterns on pop culture stuff that I like and the supergirls at home like as well.

I have been contributing to The Legion of Super-Bloggers, Legion of Super-Heroes blog, covering the 5YL Legion series. And that has re-energized my love of the Legion. So I definitely wanted to do a Legion jack-o-lantern. I toyed with a number of designs, including Wildfire and Ferro Lad, but ultimately decided on Sensor Girl and I have to say I am thrilled with how this came out.

In particular, I tried something new artistically with the 'hair', going for a varied, organic, mix of depths to give the hair a natural feel. I just sort of carved without a plan, unlike the level smooth look of the mask, and the varying light gives the hair some texture.


Here is the lantern when it isn't lit.

The youngest supergirl at home is a huge fan of Pacific Rim and asked for a lantern based on the movie.

I thought that doing the logo of Gipsy Danger would be a nice lantern for her. The more graphic design, the WW2 bomber image of a woman with a machine gun, looked too daunting for my skills and so I opted to do the simpler Gipsy Danger logo.

As long as supergirl likes it ... I'm happy.


Here it is unlit.

I only have lit pictures for these other ones I have done.


Raphael from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.


Mockingjay from the Hunger Games.


And lastly, Snoopy as an ace WWI fighter pilot.

I have to say I was way happier with these lanterns in comparison to last year's. I felt like last year was a let down.

Hope everyone has a happy Halloween.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mike Johnson On Newsarama


Last week we got to hear from K. Perkins, one half of the new writing team on Supergirl. This week, the other half, veteran Supergirl writer Mike Johnson also was interviewed on Newsarama. And I have to say, after reading the two interviews, I feel like some of my concerns have been answered. Here is the link to the interview: http://www.newsarama.com/22587-supergirl-goes-to-sci-fi-hogwarts-that-s-what-co-writer-says.html

As always, I advise reading the interview in its entirety on the site. Here are some of the questions that grabbed me though.

Nrama: How is Supergirl different since last time you were writing the character?
Johnson: She's had to deal with a lot since I last "saw" her, especially her experiences as a Red Lantern. She's more comfortable with her powers, but she's not a veteran yet. She's still finding her way in our world, and figuring out how to fit in going forward.

Nrama: I remember you and Michael saying, when you launched the comic, that Kara didn't even know if she was on the side of the people of Earth. Is she now?
Johnson: I think she's definitely willing to fight for humans who can't fight for themselves, but as we see in the first issue of our arc, she's not entirely sure that her help is always welcome.

It is amazing just how much of a soft reboot the Red Daughter story arc and the subsequent Tony Bedard issues were. I think back to those issues where Kara might not be 'on the side of the people of Earth' and cringe at that characterization. The New 52 universe is a place where Superman's help isn't always welcomed, so I'm not surprised Kara is running into that.

But I like that she is finding her way. As I always say, one of the things I love about Kara is that she is on the hero's journey. 



Nrama: Your first storyline begins in November. How many issues is the story? And are you on the book past the first storyline, or do you know yet?
Johnson: Currently the "Crucible" story will be five issues, and there have been discussions about where to take the book after this story concludes. We're introducing characters that we hope to follow beyond the end of this arc.

Nrama: Where does the story take place? What's the setting of Crucible like?
Johnson: The story will take place both on Earth and at Crucible. We don't want to say too much about Crucible lest we give away the surprises in store for the readers. Suffice it to say it's a unique place within the DC Universe.

Interesting that Crucible is five issues. My sense is that it was going to be longer, almost a permanent setting. Who knows, if readers like it and sales improve maybe it will be. And certainly Maxima, Comet, and the others sound interesting enough to keep around longer than one arc.

But I am thrilled that it also takes place on Earth. After all the progress made in Red Daughter and beyond, I want Kara to think of Earth as home, to be based on Earth. Heck, I wouldn't mind her fighting a super-villain at some point. And maybe this means some of the other characters we have met ... Michael, Siobhan ... will be part of this mix eventually too.

Now what I done want is for DC to give us another team after 'Crucible'. Let's get a stable team!


Nrama: We've been told that the issue also guest stars Superboy, whom we haven't seen in regular continuity since he came "back" from allegedly dying. Does that part of his history play into the comic at all?
Johnson: Without spoiling things too much, that's definitely something that can't be ignored when it comes to Kon.

Nrama: What's the relationship between Supergirl and Superboy like now?
Johnson: It's certainly better than it was early in the New 52, when Kara's suspicion of clones meant she was unlikely to consider Kon an ally. After what they've been through, both separately and together, their relationship has changed for the better. How much better is still to be seen.

I will admit I am kind of Kon'd out. I soured on the New 52 Superboy a while ago. So I am hoping that maybe Perkins and Johnson can rehabilitate/resuscitate him.

Glad Supergirl isn't going to look down on him with disgust and try to kill him.

Nrama: That's good to hear. Then to finish up, Mike, is there anything else you want to tell fans about what's coming up for Supergirl?
Johnson: Just that we hope anyone who hasn't read Kara's adventures before will join us for this new arc, and that current and past readers enjoy this new direction. Most of all, we're blessed to be working with our brilliant artist Emanuela Lupacchino, who is a rising superstar. She makes the writers look good.

I love Lupacchino's art and glad she is still on the book. Her art is really shining here.
And these interviews have made me much more interested and optimistic of the arc.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

New Costume In Supergirl #38?







DC's January solicits included this cover for Supergirl #38 and immediately I wondered if the new creative team was going to change Supergirl's costume. Goggles? Pants? No red crotch shield?

I have issues with the lower portion of Supergirl's new 52 costume and would welcome a change.

But is this a new costume or something else?

Initially I wondered if it could be some form of school uniform. But I am assuming the cat-creatures in the foreground are also students and they aren't wearing anything.

And then someone, and I wish I remember who, said this costume reminded them of something else.


I was reminded that Kara wore traditional Kryptonian battle armor back in Supergirl #10. Of course this was a fever dream of the Black Banshee.


 

Here is a close-up of that battle armor, including wild yellow goggle/face shield. It isn't exact. But it is pretty similar.

And with Crucible Academy being a 'super-school' where future heroes and champions go to learn and train, I suppose this being some sort of Kryptonian combat gear for class might also be a possibility.
 
Comic Book Resources recently gave a sneak peek of 2 pages of Supergirl #36, the first issue of the new creative team. And one of those pages is another look at the gear from the cover. Here is the link:

 Here are a couple of panels from their exclusive look.




Here is that costume again. It definitely has a more battle armor feel to it in this panel. And boy, that is one voluminous cape!

Could this just be for Crucible exercises? I hope so. As much as I dislike the red crotch shield, I don't think I want Kara in battle armor all the time.

Still ... fascinating.


I had to include some panels from the other page CBR showed. Kara meets the returned and bearded Kal.

But the bigger thing is that it looks like she is working the register of a coffee shop! Nothing says 'embracing Earth as home' as a first job! Look at that frustrated face in the first panel.

If Kara is bringing home the bacon, she must think of Earth as her home now. So it is sort of a shame we may not be seeing more of that if the book goes completely off planet.

And it is just beautiful art by Emanuela Lupacchino!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Byrne Supergirl Promo Poster


I have been musing a lot about the Byrne Supergirl and the early days of the Matrix.

There are a couple of reasons why it is suddenly in the forefront of my brain. For one, this was about the most radical of reboots for Supergirl. While Loeb/Turner and Johnson/Green/Asrar were reboots, they were ... generally ... in line with the original origin. And Johnson and Green riffed completely on the anger/loneliness of the Loeb version. When you think about it, Kate Perkins and Mike Johnson sending her to super-school is nothing compared to Byrne's vision.

Another reason is the return of Maxima to the DCU. Again, in the troubled early days of Matrix, both Supergirl and Maxima are working for Brainiac in Panic in the Sky, although both characters end up freeing themselves from his clutches by the end.

With Byrne's Supergirl on my mind, it reminded me of this promo poster which came out in 1988.

At the time, I was absolutely floored.

This was a classic looking Supergirl, smiling, joyous. I loved how Byrne drew her.

And there was the image of her swatting away the Superman logo, the Bronze Age Supergirl logo at the top in its place. Absolutely beautiful.

On top of that, there was that attention grabbing line... 'Will history repeat itself?' The implication being that maybe Kara Zor-El was coming back, that classic DC history would return. This image, just invoking the best of Supergirl, made me wonder ...

Of course, we know this was a protoplasm being, created by Lex Luthor, genetically mapped to Lana, with psionic powers, from a pocket universe. It was about as far from history as you can get.

Still, I love this poster and wish I owned it! Because I can vividly remember seeing it in the comic store and wondering what it all meant!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Rhode Island Comic Con Approaching



The Rhode Island Comic Con is coming up next week and I will be attending as I have every year since its inception. While 'Comic Con' is in the name, this is really more of a pop culture festival with comics making up just a small amount of the actual event.

The biggest draw seems to be the celebrities and this year is no exception. There is a whole original Star Trek contingent on the guest list, something which I think will draw a crowd. While there are lots of names I recognize, I think the only ones that I might go out of my way to meet are Christy (Kim Possible) Romano, Samantha (Jem) Newark, and Karen (Marian Ravenwood) Allen.

I mean ... Marian Ravenwood! How can I not want to meet her?


As for comics guests, there are a few names that I definitely want to meet and at the top of the list is Pat Broderick. I am a huge fan of his work and consider Fury of Firestorm one of the first comics I loved and collected monthly. The art on that book was phenomenal.

Plus, Broderick drew Captain Atom post-crisis. One of the frequent guests in that book was another favorite female hero of mine ... Nightshade.

I am hoping Broderick will be doing commissions at the show because I would love to have one in my collection. And, given my recent leanings to mix things up, I think I would get one of Supergirl in her hot pants Bronze Age costume.


I am also hoping to rub elbows with legend Jim Steranko at the show. I met Steranko briefly a while back at another con but I forgot to bring Superman #400 for him to sign. At that con, I just stood around and listened to the knowledge; he was basically lecturing about comic art but people were rapt like it was the sermon on the mount.


His story in Superman #400 is very cool, a sort of philosophical look at Superman done with 2 page spreads and text below.

I already have Howard Chaykin's sig for his cover art. So this issue will be very special if I get Steranko's on it as well.

Anyone else local and going?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

January 2015 Solicits

The DC solicits for January 2015 have been fully released and there is some interesting wrinkles to the new year. Here is a link to Newsarama's coverage: http://www.newsarama.com/22499-dc-comics-full-january-2015-solicitations.html

It is interesting to me that DC books seem to be dropping from my pull list. I came to the realization that I know almost nothing about the New 52 DCU outside of the super-books.

I read Justice League United. I read Smallville (which is being canceled). I read Wonder Woman (which I will drop when the Finch's take over). I read Multiversity (a mini-series). I read Batwoman (which I fear is nearing cancellation).  I read Sensation Comics (which is outside of continuity).

So I am glad to see that I will be adding another DC title to the mix. On to the solicits.



SUPERGIRL #38
Written by MIKE JOHNSON and K. PERKINS
Art and cover by EMANUELA LUPACCHINO
THE FLASH 75 Variant cover by MICHAEL OEMING

Supergirl faces her toughest class yet at the Crucible Academy – Humanity 101. Plus, a conspiracy surrounding the clone known as Superboy begins!

The first thing that hits me in the face about this solicit is the cover. Is this a new costume design? A Crucible Academy uniform? I am glad to see the 'red crotch guard' disappear. Although the yellow disks and goggles seem a little off. Maybe this is some suit to wear in a battle situation.

But the idea that the 'toughest class' is Humanity 101 makes me worried that Perkins/Johnson are taking a step back from where Bedard has brought her. If she can't understand humanity, is she isolated again? Angry? Not considering Earth as her home?? Please tell me I am wrong!



JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED #8
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art by NEIL EDWARDS and JAY LEISTEN
Cover by ANDREW ROBINSON

The penultimate chapter of “The Infinitus Saga” is here as the fate of the future is decided in a battle between Justice League United and the Legion of Super-Heroes!

My guess is that the cover shows the Thanagarian fleet being brought into the mix. Is that Hawkman? Or just a Thanagarian general?

Sad to see no Legionnaires on the cover.



ACTION COMICS #38
Written by GREG PAK
Art and cover by AARON KUDER

The Horror of Smallville has been unleashed on the world! Superman must stop the evil undead threat of the Ultrahumanite from crushing humanity!

I am thrilled to see Pak and Kuder listed on the credits. And there is no crossover attached! Add a horror element and the Ultrahumanite! And that cover is creepy. Hope the book picks up the momentum it had before Doomed.


SUPERMAN #38
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and wraparound cover by JOHN ROMITA, JR. and KLAUS JANSON

An extra-sized special issue of the world’s greatest hero brings in the New Year with a new costume, new powers and new friends and enemies! The epic team of Geoff Johns, John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson conclude their first arc with twist after twist that will send Superman onto a new path and force Clark Kent to making a shocking decision! Plus: John Romita Jr. draws Batman!

Now here is an interesting solicit.

A new costume?? Are we bringing back the red trunks? Are we streamlining Superman to look like the Man of Steel movies. What will it look like?

New powers? New friends? New enemies?

I hope that Johns stays on the book long enough to bring his ideas to fruition so we don't get another soft reboot.



BATMAN/SUPERMAN #18
Written by GREG PAK
Art by ARDIAN SYAF and SANDRA HOPE
Cover by ARDIAN SYAF and DANNY MIKI

Superman uncovers the identity of the unseen terror that has been destroying targets related to him, while Batman seeks to protect Lois Lane! This time the truth will hurt in more ways than Superman could imagine!

There is a sort of  'Days of Future Past' Uncanny X-Men 141 feel to this cover. Does the 'truth hurting' mean that someone will actually be injured or killed?


SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #15
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art and cover by DOUG MAHNKE

Wonderstar’s destiny is starting to become clear – and his path may lead to the end of humanity! Will Superman and Wonder Woman be able to prevent him from becoming what – or who – he’s meant to be?

Wonderstar? Who is he?

I am hoping that Tomasi/Mahnke can bring me back. This book is once again on the endangered list. Will I drop it?



SMALLVILLE SEASON 11: CONTINUITY #2
Written by BRYAN Q. MILLER
Art by IG GUARA, J.P. MAYER and JULIO FERREIRA
Cover by CAT STAGGS

Lois and Clark are forced to team up with a most unlikely ally – but how can they trust Lex Luthor? Then, the Manhunters attack! Batman, Wonder Woman, and some of Superman’s past allies defend Earth by fighting alongside Superman – united!

I am so sad that this book is ending.

This is the Crisis. This is some commentary on DC rebooting things over and over. And it is fun. And it has Clark and Lois. And a classic Superman. And a great Supergirl. And I only have a little bit left.

And then this ...




RED LANTERNS #38
Written by LANDRY WALKER
Art by J. CALAFIORE
Cover by SCOTT HEPBURN

Guy carries the guilt of the lives lost in the Atrocitus War, and while he’s dedicated his life to finding redemption through safeguarding Earth, can a man carrying a death wish truly be a hero?

People who have visited this blog for a while know that I love Landry Walker as a writer. Whether it was Batman The Brave and the Bold or Danger Club or the beloved Supergirl Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade, he has written some great stuff.

So I was pretty surprised to see him as the new writer of Red Lanterns. I wasn't planning to read this book anymore with the Corps basically dismantled and Supergirl not in the book. But looks like every time I think I'm out ... they pull me back in!

This was a nice surprise and looks like I'll be adding a DC book to my pull list after all.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Review: Superman #35



Superman #35 came out this week, the next part in the Ulysses storyline, written by Geoff Johns with art by John Romita Jr, and Klaus Janson, This has been an interesting story as it has contrasted Ulysses as a boy 'rocketed from Earth to a strange planet where he gained powers' and Superman who was 'rocketed to Earth'. Last issue we saw Ulysses sport something of a temper and apparently kill The Machinist, only to have it turn out to be an innocent pawn. Now that is a contrast.

Johns has done a good job moving these stories along in the opening chapters. We certainly have seen plenty of Ulysses and his family (another contrast to Superman). But the Machinist and his motives remain a mystery. We also have been hearing from an onlooker, someone I have labeled the Cleric someone who appears to know a fair amount about Clark. Add to that the reconstruction of the Daily Planet and the supporting cast and I have been enjoying this story. I haven't been floored by it ... but it has held my attention.

I freely admit that I am not a John Romita Jr. fan but there were a couple of panels in this page that made me take notice. This was a well drafted story as well.


I thought the super-books suffered during the early years of the New 52 and part of that seemed to come from DC taking Superman away from what makes him great. And one of the things that Superman has had classically is one of the best supporting casts in comic. I am glad that Johns is Clark back to the planet and bringing back the old crew.

So it feels right to have Steve Lombard talking about Superman as a hero. And I even like Ron Troupe having the opposite view, wondering if people rely on Superman too much. That sort of distrust seems pervasive in the New 52 world, a place were people and the military are ready to attack. It will be interesting to see an actual character voice that, especially in the company of Clark and Lois.


I also like in this scene a sly smile we see Lois put on her face when she hears that Clark is coming back to the newsroom. I miss 'Clark and Lois' and Johns seems to be rectifying that.

And that smile ... so coy.


Ulysses does show some remorse, kneeling and almost mourning about possibly killing the Machinist-controlled man. I worry that Ulysses is a super-villain-in-waiting. So seeing him upset at this made me wonder if my initial response on Ulysses is wrong.

It turns out that the person Ulysses 'killed' was pretty much already dead, a techno mind-tick already burrowed into his brain. In theory, Ulysses isn't a killer. And Superman gives him a mulligan on vaporizing this guy.

I like how Superman seems to be in mentor mode here. Throughout this issue, we see Superman giving Ulysses advice on the right way to do things. There is always another way; you don't need to resort to lethal force.

A couple of meta-things about this though. 3 years in and we still haven't seen Kal be a mentor to Kara. And you would hope that Geoff Johns is sending these books to Zach Snyder.


The two heroes can track the Machinist. The villain is on a tanker truck with his cronies.

I include these panels just to showcase the second panel as an example of great art. It is so out of the ordinary. The Machinist's face is off panel; the cronies look like they are dancing. What the heck is going on?

The next panel shows Superman and Ulysses hoisting the tanker out of the water. This panel shows the crew losing their footing. Without a sound effect I didn't know that at first. Once I turned the page, I realized what it meant and turned back.

But it is the panel construction that adds to the mystery, to the unsettling feeling. Contrast it to the standard panel next to it. That last panel 'shouldn't' be a panel ... until you know what effect Johns and Romita were going for.


Ulysses holds the boat up while Superman brings the fight to the crew. The Machinist unleashes a murder of giant robot crows.

And what of that Cleric character who has been watching things from afar? He is still out there.

Who the heck is this guy?? We have been given almost no clues. I thought he might be working with the Machinist. But maybe not?

 The tanker gets driven ashore and finally the heroes get their mitts on the Machinist.

Johns gives us a very creepy wrinkle to the Machinist's origin. It isn't a 'him'. It is two brilliant minds sewn into one. Sewn ... brrrrr....

So will be know the 'two brilliant minds'? Is the Machinist an amalgam of two characters we know? One male and one female?

I initially thought that the Machinist was something of a Toyman rip-off. Maybe he is half-Toyman? And half-Dr.Psycho? Or Veronica Cale?


The Machinist is pretty tight-lipped about who he has sold weapons to so Ulysses tries to gather that information directly from his mind.

I thought this was another good panel by Romita. Ulysses is overwhelmed by just how many weapons are out there. It is an affront to his mind so I like how the weapons seem to be attacking him. And keeping Ulysses small in this big panel makes the weapons seem all the more enormous. Nice.


 And this effect seems to have addled Ulysses.

Now we get to see more differences between Superman and Ulysses again. Ulysses wonders why Superman has never just up and destroyed all the weapons in the world. When food and pollution and disease are huge problems, why do humans need weapons. Why fight each other?

Of course, Superman is all about leading by example. He tells Ulysses that you can't force people into doing what's right. You have to inspire. Now that's Superman.

But Ulysses doesn't want to hear it and takes off.

Could Ulysses be nearing a super-villain role? Could he try to be a fascist, wring control of this world?


One more wrinkle about The Machinist. We learn the name of his boss ... Mr. Oz.

Could it be that the Oracle is the 'man behind that curtain'? That he is pulling all the strings?

Does the reference to Oz mean that all this stuff is just a feint? Could Ulysses himself be a robot of some sort? His parents too? Could this all be a ruse?

We won't get any more information from the Machinist though. He detonates the whole ship and slips away in the blast.


I was thinking that Ulysses would end up circling the world trying to destroy all weapons. It would be a simple plot turn, one well traveled, with the 'hero' crossing the line to tyrant.

Instead, Johns throws a curve ball. We see Ulysses flying by a number of war memorials (WWII, Vietnam) and then makes a statement to the world. Earth is flawed. There is another world ... there is a better world ... there must be. And he can take 6 million people to his dimension, a paradise.

This is an interesting ending. Will Superman feel compelled to stop this? Who will judge the 6 million most worthy? Will people line up in droves? Will they attack each other to get on this bus?

I have been up and down about this story arc. I don't feel floored by it the way I was floored by the 'Legion'/'Brainiac' Johns run. But I am very interested. There is a lot of story and potential here. Ulysses is a great foil.

And, shockingly, I was impressed by Romita here. More on composition than anything else.

Overall grade: B+