Monday, November 30, 2015

Review: Superman #46

Superman #46 came out last week and was one of the better chapters of The Truth, a story that has been going on for a bit too long for my taste. There are hints in this issue that things are changing, maybe inching towards an ending.

Writer Gene Luen Yang introduced the idea of Mythbrawl last issue, a fight club were nearly forgotten gods gain some life from the 'followers' of their skirmishes. Clark, in a sort of fallen god/fallen hero way, decided to join up. It didn't make much sense for me to have Clark join this sort of WWE for deities. He has a mission. And he is still a hero. Fighting for money felt off. In this issue, we find that Clark is still investigating, using Mythbrawl as a way to discover why one of the Mythbrawlers, Apolaki, was working for Hordr Root. I don't know if this is the best way to fight Hordr Root but Superman is also broke and needs to eat.

This isn't the Superman I want to read, depowered, rasslin' for money, and trying to do good when he can. It is far from 'the most iconic version' of the character, something Dan Didio has always said was his vision. And I also think the nonlinear way this story has rolled out in the 4 Superman books has muddled things up a bit.

But I'll reiterate, this was a better issue.

It doesn't hurt that Howard Porter and Hi-Fi are on pencils and color. Porter really brings a dynamism to the proceedings. And he gets to draw one of my favorite classic Superman villains/characters!

The book opens up with Superman in a match of Mythbrawl where he clobbers a god named Crow. That left hook to the chin look devastating. And I love the way the story title 'Knocked Out' is a crumpled layout. Looks nice!

It is the last statement that sort of irks me. Superman is finding this time in Mythbrawl 'fun'. He gets to give a big speech. The crowd cheers. There are signs. It really feels like a super-pro-wrestling match.

But 'fun'?

I might not find it so offputting if we didn't get Clark saying how much he loves the darkness in Action Comics. Or how much he loves his anger in Superman/Wonder Woman.  These feelings aren't classic of Superman.

While victorious, Clark did get bruised a bit. Mythbrawl organizer Shahrazad uses her powers to heal him. She can probe a person and tell a 'true story' from their history and somehow that will heal them. Now that is interesting. I like that.

But her story is a sort of warped review of Clark's life. He always felt out of place. He isn't loved because he is good, he is loved because he is strong. That isn't the Superman I know. And even Clark tells Shahrazad that she is wrong. But she points out his face is back to normal, a sign it is true.

Maybe he is protesting too much? Maybe she is working with Vandal Savage and feeding him lies? Or maybe this is 'The Truth' in these cynical days. Sad?

So we get a classic image, baby Clark lifting the truck, practically lifted from the Donner movie, mixed with a new darker history.

Lois is nowhere to be seen in this book. But we get plenty of Jimmy. He is working with Condesa to track down Superman, hoping to rehabilitate Clark in the press.

The two have some nice moments interacting, sort of flirting sort of working as partners. I like it.

And I like Jimmy flashbacking to time before he knew Clark was Superman, seeing Clark slip out of a diner booth to stop a giant death robot only to reappear seconds later. It's a nice reminder of simpler times, maybe remind Jimmy how much Clark did to be everywhere and everything.

This tiny slice of life moment was appreciated by me. I miss that Superman.

Clark ends up heading to a bar with his new friend Haemosu. This is a bar for the 'old times' where gods and heroes all congregate. Haemosu is a fun pal, hoping to drink and flirt and just have a good time.

Meanwhile, Clark is hoping to ask around about Apolaki. Was Apokaki brainwashed? Or kidnapped, killed, and cloned? Regardless, Clark is going to kick over some stones here.

He and Haemosu down some shots and chat up a couple of girls who were amorous with Apolaki. It turns out that Apolaki was seduced and trapped by a woman named Yurei.

This is sort of old school detective work, the sort of stuff Bruce Wayne might do in his Matches Malone persona. It seems weird for Superman to be doing it. But at least we didn't see Clark drunk and lecherous.

It turns out that Condesa has been able to talk to street lights and track down Superman. The two run into Superman in the street. Jimmy begs Clark to come back to Metropolis and tell his story, explaining to everyone what is going on and why he has been doing what he has been doing. (And trust me, given the events in Superman/Wonder Woman and Action, there is a lot of explaining to do.)

Unfortunately Jimmy has been let go by the Planet. Jimmy can only tell the story on his blog. And Clark says 'I don't think your blog post will have the effect you're hoping for.' I can't help but think this is a not so subtle jab at on-line reviewers (like me) complaining about this arc. Clark (and maybe by extension Yang) doesn't care what people think anymore.

But even Jimmy and his unbridled support of Superman is shaken by the Mythbrawl reveal, of the fighting for a living.

Who is this Superman anyways? Is he still Superman? Isn't that the question Didio said would be answered by The Truth? Is Clark still Superman without his secret identity and powers?

I don't know any more.

Clark does track down Yurei and it was here that I got some hope.

Hordr Root has been collecting Superman's energy. They hope to clone him. And they have been allowing Superman to slowly regain his power so it can be drained!

As far as I know, this is the first time that I have heard that Superman has been regaining his powers. I thought they were ebbing. But we definitely hear Superman say that he has been repowering slowly.

Hordr's cloning techniques have been better than anticipated.

We finally see a Sand Superman! Someone who is 80% of Superman's powers.

Everyone should know that I love the original Sand Superman storyline from the 70s. We already had the energy absorbers called Quarmers so why not bring in a true Sand Superman.

Superman repowering! A Sand Superman! Maybe we are nearing the end? Maybe?

And then we get a very good cliffhanger.

Jimmy has tailed Superman. And during the battle, the Sand Superman blasts Jimmy Olsen in the chest with heat vision, what is seemingly a killing blow. How terrible if the one person who has defended Superman  vehemently will die, especially if Superman could not defend him. Is this the last straw?

So how to rate this.
There are parts of this issue that I very much like. I like the Jimmy flashback. I like Shahrazad's power. I like the interactions in the bar, sort of a fun look at super-hero clubbing. And, of course, Sand Superman.

But I am still sort of tied down to this Superman. The guy fighting for money. The guy telling his best friend to take off and stop defending him. The guy who is told that he has possibly lost faith in humanity.

We have seen the deconstruction and the coarsening of Superman for a decade now. I don't think I need to see it anymore. And even when done well, like this issue, it remains a chapter in an overly long story that doesn't seem to want to end and get to the Superman I want to read.

In a vacuum, this is a decent and fun issue. But it is tucked in a mega-event I can't get behind.

Overall grade: C+/B-

Friday, November 27, 2015

Review: Justice League 3001 #6

Justice League 3001 #6 came out this week and was, as usual, a very entertaining read. I am continually amazed at the way that writers Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis can weave multiple DC continuities into one book, pushing the envelope and readers' sanity. I dislike aloof depowered Superman in his main books. I dislike a warrior first Wonder Woman in the main DCU. And yet, I can accept them here because they are meant to be imperfect representations of those characters.

Now it also helps that this book has incorporated Supergirl into the team. And this is a very classic Supergirl, the pre-Crisis powerhouse who saw the good in everyone but could lose her temper in the face of injustice. Throw that idealism into the dingy future of this League and you get the sense she is irritated. How could the universe become such a terrible place?

We learned a while back that the team is shifting to an all female team so things happen fast and furious here. And it is all lushly drawn by guest artist Colleen Doran. Her Supergirl is just a delight.

Everyone should be reading this book and recommending it to others.

Last issue, Supergirl and Batgirl stopped the Takron-Galtos Batman from stomping on the inmates. Turns out it was a young girl in a Bat Mecha, Tina Sung.

The idea that Earth is now a prison planet is fascinating enough. But the thought that inmates might procreate, creating 'naturalized' citizens of the place is a wild concept. Her parents, 'lifers', were killed in Suicide Slum riots. That means her parents were killed, perhaps spurring her to don the cowl.

But seeing this school age girl growl out classic Batman lines is amusing, especially given the cat-ear head band and pink outfit. Her Bat-like persistence of crushing crime just rubs Supergirl the wrong way. I love how Kara is exasperated by the whole thing.

But let's really throw a spanner into the works.

Tina is a descendant of the original Batman. So she has some claim to the Bat legacy.

It also means that someone on the Wayne family tree was a criminal and thrown into jail. Wild!

Of course, in Dark Knight Returns, Bruce told Congress the heroes were criminals.

Last issue ended with Harley Quinn showing up. She looked outright vicious.

In this issue we learn that she was almost a play date for Tina. They would dress up and pretend Batman/Harley, fake fighting and imagining being somewhere better. It was only recently that Tina became more serious.

Alas, it doesn't look like Harley will be a recurring character. She stumbles on two androids, Scullions, who are Takron Galtos specifically to kill Batman. And anything in their way, including Harley, will be eliminated. I don't think she'll be coming back from this.

Scullion 1 and 2 had a sort of 'Alphonse and Gaston' feel to them, a trope Giffen has visited before.

The two spill into the Mayor's office to kill Batman and catch Supergirl off-guard. They toss her out into the night sky, forcing Batman to scramble for his life.

I love this Supergirl. She isn't going to let anyone hurt her friends. She isn't going to be bested. She isn't going to stand around.

This fierce look with the 'Now I am seriously mad!' feels like it is ripped from Paul Kupperberg's Daring New Adventures book.

I thought for sure this would be my favorite panel of the book.

But I was wrong.

Batman can barely stay alive against these things as they are able to regenerate from any damage.

Alas, this is a pre-Crisis Kryptonian. She crushes a third Scullion under her heels and smashes the original two to bits. What is Supergirl doing? Winning!

Now that is classic Supergirl. Don't get on her wrong side.

And Doran conveys that power, especially in that last panel!

Just fantastic.

Now these three Scullions are keeping this Supergirl pretty busy. Regenerating now matter how much damage she inflicts, they seem unbeatable. As a reader, I was struck that these things are tough.

Then you get this splash page showing us that an army of Scullions exists. And in case you didn't get a sense of their power, we see the world they are on in flames, buildings smashed, dead bodies piled on the ground. These aren't simple robots to smash. This is scary.

Now some might worry that this Supergirl is a bit angsty, edgy, and angry. But really, the pre-Crisis Supergirl could get this way if she felt that people were being wronged.

And Giffen and DeMatteis should assuage any fears. Here when she says that she is an alien, Batman tells her she was as human as anyone he knew. She never let the powers change her outlook.

For people looking for Supergirl in the comics, they should come here. This is a pretty classic Kara.

When a throng of Scullions arrive on Takron Galtos, Batman hits the emergency alert signal, bringing the entire League to the prison planet.

For the first time in a while, we actually get the whole League together.

Now one of the things I was looking forward since Supergirl arrived was her interactions with Superman. The Superman in this book is a far cry from the immutable, pure Superman of the Silver and Bronze age that this Kara would be familiar with. I wanted to see her be disgusted at him. I wanted to see him fume at her superior power set.

Alas I won't get that chance.

Superman blusters about tearing the Scullions apart. In turn, the Scullions vaporize his head. They kill him. In case the earlier battle wasn't enough, in case that splash page of the planet in ruins wasn't enough, we now see the Scullions powers. Superman is dead ...

Now maybe this shouldn't come as a surprise. As I said, we knew the book was heading towards an all female team. We knew Superman was leaving somehow.

Still. This was abrupt.

But that's the beauty of this book.

This book continues to be one of the most entertaining and complex books I read. It is something of a deep dive into DC continuities. Giffen and DeMatteis continue to grab me, steamrolling ahead with new characters, new threats, and now deaths. Plus, Silver Age Supergirl! Add Doran's clean art and this issue is a complete win.

Overall grade: A

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving! And Thanks To The Sutherlands

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who celebrates the holiday!

The purpose of this holiday is for everyone to pause and give thanks for all the things in their lives.

Now I am thankful for my family and feel blessed to be part of the lives of my daughters each day.

But this year I am struck by how many friends I have made via social media. I have a passion for comics and on-line I have been lucky enough to find a circle of friends who share that love. I mean, I have only met a couple of you all in person but I feel like I know you all. I wouldn't dare list you all in fear of forgetting someone. But to the people I interact with almost daily on twitter and on my site, thanks for talking comics with me!

I did want to single out Darrin and Ruth Sutherland who are huge comic fans and run the TrekkerTalk website and podcast. They were at a convention recently and bought me a Neal Adams' Supergirl print and had him sign and personalize it for me! I have seen Adams at plenty of cons, actually seen this print and debated buying it, but have never bit the bullet. So to get this gift in the mail was just fantastic. Thanks so much Ruth and Darrin!

The Sutherlands social media links are:
Twitter: @TrekkerTalk
In particular, for Supergirl fans, the two discuss Ron Randall's run on Supergirl on a recent TrekkerTalk podcast.
Anyways, for all celebrating, feel free to feast on turkey and sides!

And thanks again to all my buddies here!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Supergirl Episode 4: How Does She Do It

Supergirl 'How Does She Do It' aired this week, the fifth episode of Supergirl aired was actually the 4th chapter in this season. This was the episode delayed a week given the tragedy of that occurred in Paris earlier this month.

This was another fun episode in this series, showcasing that this is still an inexperienced Kara learning how to juggle a secret identity and a life as a super-hero. It isn't easy. This is a Supergirl pulled in a number of directions and something's got to give. But the show makes a point to show that these are also the problems of non-super beings as well. Lucy, Jimmy, and Cat are all stretched to their limit and need to lean on others for help now and then. The inability to be everywhere at once, to save everybody all the time, is a lesson every hero needs to learn.

This episode also did a good job in pushing forward a couple of the brewing subplots, revealing more of Hank Henshaw's secret and introducing a new, fascinating villain. Some of this borrows or homages some classic scenes in comic book/superhero TV, something that always makes me smile.

Lastly, I have to say, the effects on this show continue to impress. The action sequences are thrilling.

As always, this isn't perfect. But my quibbles are minor and will be shared throughout the episode.

Remember, this episode was supposed to air after the Reactron episode. Supergirl is feeling pretty confident about herself at the end of that show, with even Superman telling her she is doing great.

So it isn't surprising that this episode opens with Kara saying that she can have it all, she can do everything.

That reverie is broken when she notices that a drone is following her. After a bit of a chase, more difficult than I would anticipate, Supergirl destroys it. It reminded me greatly of an early Byrne Superman issue where Luthor has a flying camera drone trying to trail Superman to discover his secrets.

Kara assumes that this is the DEO trailing her but Henshaw says it isn't from them. And the tech is highly advanced but not alien.

Meanwhile, at CatCo, Kara learns that Cat has won the prestigious Siegel Prize for women in media. This is the first time Cat has beaten Lois. But Cat can't go to accept the award because no one is around to watch her son Carter. Kara agrees to babysit. I like that Cat assumes Kara is doing it to have Ms. Grant owe Kara something. Now you would think that Cat could afford a high priced nanny service or bring Carter with her. So this is just a bit contrived. But just like that, Kara is on babysitting duty.

Off to fetch lunch, Kara runs into James and Lucy at the restaurant. We learn a bit about Lucy here. She works for the military JAG office. She calls James 'JImmy'. And we learn that Lucy broke up with him. Jimmy says it is because Lucy put her career over their relationship.

So we see that Lucy can't 'do it all', at least from James' point of view.

There isn't much time for chitchat. A bomb goes off in the city, gutting a building. Kara sweeps in, holding the building up, welding the steel infrastructure with her heat vision, and blowing out the flames with her superbreath.

This is a great action sequence and very classic. How often have we seen Superman do this welding trick to save a building or a dam. I love it.

What Kara doesn't see is another drone taking in the whole scene.

The building was a high tech lab with a connection to Maxwell Lord. Alex and Hank will pose as FBI agents (they have nifty switcheroo DEO->FBU badges) to investigate.

But that rescue and debrief at the DEO delay Kara from her other charge, taking care of Carter. She has to fly to his school to pick him up.

It is a cute scene as Carter is a shy, nerdy sort of kid. I think he is meant to remind us of Kara, having us get behind him and his little journey.

As always, Melissa Benoist is just a delight. She has this little character quirk of adjusting her glasses when embarrassed or caught in a little lie. Here she futzes with them after saying how much she liked school because it taught her about this 'new planet'. She is truly wonderful.

Kara drops Carter off at CatCo but can't watch him for long.

At Lord Industries, Alex interviews Max. He is a rather charming, independent mogul. But he tells a backstory of wanting to change the world. He doesn't trust the government or anyone, revealing his parents died in a lab accident when safety regulations failed. All this comes out in the silkiest of ways as he seems to be wooing Alex.

But their talk is interrupted by the discovery of a bomb in one of the lab's at Lord's building. Alex calls Kara in for the rescue forcing Kara to leave Carter with Winn. Again, we see she is being pulled away from one responsibility to deal with another.

In another great sequence we see Kara swoop in and fly the bomb out and up, away from the city. Waiting until the last second, she takes the brunt of the blast, falling into the ocean.

Kara is revived in a concentrated sunbath at the DEO. But in her haze, we see that Kara sees a red-eyed Hank. Hmmm ...

Those schematics could be cyborg eyes. The images definitely look like a head CT scan. Maybe Hank is looking at his own anatomy?

We then get some character building before the big finale.

Winn says he is dying every day as he pines for Kara. #PoorWinn

Lucy tells Kara that she may have left Jimmy but that was because Jimmy had checked out of the relationship. He always chose being Superman's Pal over being her boyfriend. It shows that James can't do it all either. It also sets up a bit of a Rashomon feel to their relationship. Who was at fault? Probably both? And Lucy is already jealous of Supergirl as a potential rival for Jimmy's love. Are these the seeds for Superwoman?

We learn that Carter is semi-obsessed with Supergirl, enough to sneak out to the Lord magnetic train maiden trip, in hopes of seeing Supergirl there.

And we learn that the likely bomber is a Lord ex-employee named Alexander Knox. Knox was fired, divorced, and dealing with a sick daughter.

Things take an interesting turn when a bomb scare is called at the airport, exactly as Lucy is heading to catch a flight home. Meanwhile, Winn, while trying to find Carter, sees Knox on the train, with a very obvious bomb poking out of his coat.

So there are some problems here. One, you would think that security would be high enough to not have this guy get on the train. But how could no one else see this thing?

Second, Carter is escorted onto the train by Lord. Lord assumes Carter has been separated from parents. So that was a bit too contrived a way to get Carter on the train.

Third, at the airport, we see Lucy helping an elderly woman out of the terminal. It is clear that the creative staff doesn't want us to dislike Lucy. So she is given a sympathetic angle to the Jimmy romance. And we see her helping someone in the most trite manner. I don't mind us liking Lucy. But that felt a bit too obvious.

Regardless, with two bombs, Kara has to make a decision. She can't be everywhere. She can't do it all. She has tells the DEO that she'll deal with the train. They have to take the airport bomb.

At the airport, Henshaw sends everyone away. And then, all red eyed, he rips the bomb apart and disables it.

If he was the true Cyborg Superman, able to communicate with devices, he could shut it down in a less physical way. But maybe he is just a cyborg without the other powers.

Of course, this also could easily be the Martian Manhunter as well, showing powers in J'onn's repertoire.

To explain how he defused the bomb, Henshaw claims it was a dud.

On the train, Kara confronts Knox. She tries to talk him down in the most Supergirl way possible and I love it. She says she'll help him. She says she knows what it is like to feel pulled in many directions. She calls upon his love for his daughter, a sick daughter who needs her father. She doesn't go straight to fisticuffs.

But Knox doesn't seem demented or enraged. He says he wasn't expecting to blow up the bomb. But he couldn't face his daughter if caught. He activates the bomb. Supergirl can fly it or Knox away. If the bomb is removed from the train it will automatically detonate.

The only thing left for Supergirl is to save the rest of the train. With Knox in the front, she disconnects the locomotive and stops it, allowing the bomb to detonate further down the track.

Get it ... more powerful than a locomotive, even an electromagnetically propelled one.

The episode really sticks the landing though as the last scene is brilliant.

Supergirl puts it all together that Maxwell Lord was behind the whole thing. The bombs, including the one at the airport, had a kill switch. Knox's daughter was being kept alive by a grant from Maxwell Lord. Lord was behind everything but was never in danger because he could have stopped the bombs remotely.

Lord basically confesses, stating that the drones and bombs each tested an aspect of Supergirl's powers. And her choosing to save the train over the more populated airport perhaps means she had feelings for someone there. Lord was evaluating Supergirl; he wants to have all the information on her ... to control her? Kill her?

Regardless, it's all nefarious. And Peter Facinelli, as Lord, is perfectly smarmy and here oozes some malevolence.

It ends with Supergirl saying she'll be watching Lord closely. It isn't over.

We have seen a similar scene between Lex and Superman many times. Whether it is Superman floating outside of Lex's office on the animated series, or Dean Cain questioning John Shea on Adventures of Lois and Clark, we have seen this. But it worked so well here. This is Supergirl confident in her abilities.

There were more bits. We got more of Cat Grant throwing down wisdom of going slow in life, gaining skills and doing more as you learn. We see Jimmy and Lucy back together, thrown into each others' arms by the airport threat. But that ending with Lord was fantastic.

So overall another fun episode with Supergirl. Melissa Benoist is a star, as usual, running the gamut of emotions in Kara. And the subplots of the show continue to move forward, making this more than a monster of the week.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

February 2016 Solicits

The February Solicits for DC were announced last week and there were a couple of surprises. Here is a link to  Newsarama so you can review all the books being offered. There were long awaited items finally solicited that made me happy.

But the bottom line is this ...

There is still no Supergirl book.


Here are the super-books and a couple of other items that caught my eye.

Art and cover by SCOTT KOLINS
After suffering a brutal defeat by Lady Styx’s legion, the remaining members of the Justice League are forced into hiding—but there are eyes everywhere. And what’s the best way to hide in plain sight? Create secret identities! But even that may not be enough deceive Styx’s deadliest bounty hunter: Eclipso!

Supergirl isn't listed in the solicit but she is right in the center of the team if you look close enough. There is something sort of art deco about this cover by Scott Kolins. I'll miss Howard Porter on the book.

I do like the idea of the League being fought by an overwhelming foe. And Eclipso is a big bad. So it'll be fun to see this new incarnation of the team  fight him.

Cover by ANT LUCIA
Mera realizes that the only way to achieve victory at sea is to call upon the King of Atlantis. But the price for his assistance may be more than she wants to pay. Stargirl makes plans to return to Russia and rescue her father, while Supergirl comes up against none other than the wealthy American industrialist, Lex Luthor.

Here is the one comic solicit which does name Supergirl.
I have enjoyed this comic much more than I anticipated. I love this Mera cover by Ant Lucia.
And I can only hope that Supergirl doesn't swoon over Luthor. Fingers crossed.
People should be reading this fun book.

Art and cover by AARON KUDER
Variant cover by NEAL ADAMS
“Savage Dawn” continues! Now powered by Kryptonite, Superman is confronted by the first of Vandal Savage’s children! It’s a creature with unrelenting bloodlust and the power to match it!

The depowered Superman may be gone here, replaced by one fueled by Kryptonite. You know who that sounds like? 

Ultra Man!

I guess the slow evolution of Superman into the villain version of him is near complete.

I do like the idea that Vandal Savage has a brood of super-powered kids wandering the Earth. And I trust Pak and Kuder to make this into a silk purse. 

As for the variant cover, it might look Crisis-y, but I think it is based on Lois Lane #128

Art and cover by HOWARD PORTER
Variant cover by NEAL ADAMS
“Savage Dawn” continues! Superman and Wonder Woman lead an army of gods and monsters against Vandal Savage and his deadly spawn!

So this also looks like a K-fueled Superman.

We see Superman, Frankenstein, Uruk, and others. Perhaps the rest are the fallen gods from the mythological fight club?

Written by TOM TAYLOR
Variant cover by NEAL ADAMS
This epic tale from another era in Clark and Bruce’s history continues! Someone has put a bounty on Batman’s head, and Lobo’s come to collect. Can Superman stop this intergalactic bounty hunter in time?

I guess DC realized that it is hard to sell a Batman/Superman book when the stars are depowered and armored right now. Depowered Clark and mechanized Gordon aren't friends. To force them into a story would be rough.

So why not just print a flashback!

I'll be interested in seeing Tom Taylor's take on these characters mostly because I haven't read much of his stuff.

Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Cover by ED BENES
Variant cover by NEAL ADAMS
Superman Triptych variant cover by KIM JUNG GI
“Savage Dawn” continues! Suffering a terrible loss, Wonder Woman comes to the aid of the Kryptonite-charged Man of Steel to face the terror of the twins of Vandal Savage!
Plus, world-renowned visualist Kim Jung Gi puts his stamp on the DC Universe with a wall-to-wall-to-wall action triptych featuring the Big Three!

I doubt I'll be collecting this book in February.

But is it me or do those twins of Vandal Savage look like the Wonder Twin analogs from the Justice League United cartoon?

That can't be coincidence.

Written by DAN JURGENS
Cover by LEE WEEKS
Variant cover by NEAL ADAMS
How do you fight a villain who is a reality TV star and still stay undercover? That’s what Superman is up against as he faces a threat created just for ratings: Blackrock! Meanwhile, Intergang has Lois Lane in their crosshairs!

I'm an old school reader so I'll be very interested to see how Dan Jurgens can update Blackrock for the current comic world. Fascinating.

And that cover looks a lot like the classic Jim Steranko Hulk cover.

Written by NEAL ADAMS
Art and cover by NEAL ADAMS
1:25 B and W Variant cover by NEAL ADAMS
From legendary writer/artist Neal Adams comes a threat so epic it will take more than one Man of Steel to handle it in this new 6-issue miniseries!
As Darkseid and the hordes of Apokolips lay waste to the world, even Superman is overwhelmed—but not for long, as three heroes from the miniaturized city of Kandor emerge at full size, armed with all the vast powers of Kal-El, ready to become the new Supermen!
This battle of titans also features the machinations of Lex Luthor, plus fan favorites Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane aiding in the fight for Truth, Justice and the American Way.

I am up in the air about this new mini-series announced this month. Neal Adams is writing and drawing a six issue Superman story where Kandorians are enlisted to help the Man of Steel. That sounds Silver Age-y. So that is a plus.

But I haven't heard many good things about the recent Adams' written books for Batman and others. So I am wary.

Guess I'll try the first issue.

Eisner Award-winning artist Darwyn Cooke lends his amazing design skills to a new line of action figures, beginning with BATMAN, SUPERGIRL, HARLEY QUINN and ADAM STRANGE.
1. BATMAN – 6.57”
2. SUPERGIRL – 6.6”
3. HARLEY QUINN – 6.6”
4. ADAM STRANGE – 6.75”

We saw pics of this series of figures from the San Diego Comic Con. Now they are solicited. It is pricey at $28. But I love Cooke's design. And I can forgive the price tag since it comes with Krypto and Streaky. And that is one happy Dog of Steel!

These will be available in June.

Art and cover by YANICK PAQUETTE
In this new installment of the New York Times best-selling Earth One original graphic novel line, Grant Morrison (THE MULTIVERSITY) joins with Yanick Paquette (SWAMP THING, BATMAN, INC.) to reimagine Wonder Woman for a new era. Encompassing the vision of her original creator, William Moulton Marston, Morrison presents a Diana who yearns to break free from her mother and the utopian society on Paradise Island to learn about the forbidden outside world. Her dreams may come true when Air Force pilot Steve Trevor crashes on their shores, and she must defy the laws of the Amazons to return him to Man’s World.
Is she ready for the culture shock that awaits her in America? And is the world ready for this Wonder Woman?

While I know that this isn't a Super-book, I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette's Wonder Woman Earth One book. So I was giddy to finally see the book solicited.

I will definitely be getting this book!

Anything grab you?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Fire and Water Podcast #156: The Supergirl Show

I was both honored and thrilled to be asked onto the Fire and Water Podcast as a guest host. And no big surprise, I was invited on the show to talk about the Supergirl television show. Here is the link:

Shag, Rob, and I discuss all four episodes of the show and I get to drop some Supergirl knowledge.

It was great to hear Shag and Rob's thoughts on the show. As a Supergirl fan, I worry about an inherent bias so it was great to hear them talk about how much they like the show. And the extra special guest star at the end of the show was the perfect capstone, reminding me how universal a Kara show can be.

Shag runs the Firestorm Fan site and is on twitter at the same handle.
Rob runs the Aquaman Shrine and is also on twitter.

Everyone should be listening to their podcast feed as it is top notch comic talks!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Review: Action Comics #46

Action Comics #46 came out this week, another part in the endless 'The Truth' mega-arc, and labeled 'Corruption'. It is simply more deconstruction of the Superman legend, warping him into something about as far away from the idea of Superman as possible. Indeed, it is the corruption of Superman as we move farther away from the inspirational hero and closer to a monster.

It is a shame that this is the Action Comics I am reading. Because Greg Pak had been writing a wonderful book with Aaron Kuder in the past. Even the first few issues of Action under 'The Truth' had a depowered Superman acting as a populist, street-level hero. But we have moved light years away from that.

Because in this issue we have a blue-eyed, snarling, hissing, wrathful Superman. He actually hisses and growls. The whole Superman office seems to have lost their minds, lost their way.

Scott Kolins is on art this issue. His stuff has never really worked for me. Interestingly enough, in this issue, his work seems to be less detailed and smoother than usual. And for some reason, that works less. Because it looks less Kolins-like than what I am expecting.

You might recall that last issue Superman broke into Wrath's secret lair and discovered that she was experimenting on people with her shadow magic/tar. And Superman isn't going to take it. Infected by Wrath himself, Superman actually gives into this anger and uses its power to free everyone.

But listening to this Superman is insane. He remembers that Pa told him that wrath is a sin. But he rejects that now. Maybe he needs to use his wrath against those doing evil.

So this isn't Superman, acting as role model, defeating evil and soaring above it. This is Superman wading in, thinking that the ends justify the means.

Using his ire, Superman frees everybody and pummels the factory workers, leaving the police to mop things up.

Clark does notice that Lee Lambert and the other humans who have been experimented on don't feel the wrath he is feeling. He might have used the anger. But she is different. Maybe there is some way Lana and John Henry Irons can use that fact to cure people.

So Lee is able to suppress her anger. But Superman has accepted it and embraced it. Embraced wrath.

And there is also something a bit obvious about Superman calling the tarry wrath a black mass. It is a mass, like a substance. But there is also the connotation of a religious service, a sort of belief system of the power of anger.

It just saddens me that Superman has really sunk to this point. This is just another story where creators try to deconstruct Superman, making him more like us instead of showing us that we need to be more like him.

He wallows in his new shadow powers, hissing like a snake, and traveling in the shadows.

He doesn't feel he has lost his way.

He thinks he is finding himself.

Superman feels like this angry, addled, depowered punk is who he should be.

This is wrong.

Wrath knows he is coming though. She has retreated to what seems to be her true headquarters. She prepares her troops for Superman's arrival. And she heads to a sort of temple, the floor a roiling mass of inky anger.

See, it's like a black mass!

I don't know about you but I see a swastika in that symbol on the wall.

Superman arrives and is somehow able to tap into the shadowy substance to learn the plan.

Wrath is making Black Mass Bombs, ready to infect the world with her rage.

But this seems so pedestrian. Anger bombs? She seemed to be doing quite fine just letting her wrath spread like an infection. After all, it seemed like a lot of Metropolis had already succumbed.

Wrath bombs loaded on stealth fighters?

But then Wrath becomes a bit more philosophical. She has captured Lee. Wrath shows that the new Wrath 'formula' is purer. Some people will be corrupted and descend into demons. But others will be able to control it. Wrath wants to infect the world to destroy the evil people who will embrace the disease, burning out, and leaving only those who are bright enough to withstand it.

Wrath tries to convince Superman that he should be on board with this plan. After all, the world will be a better place. Thank goodness Superman doesn't join in. That would mean the death of billions of people.

But now the Wrath isn't a mystical force or an emotional weapon. It's a formula that can be placed in bombs. It sort of diminishes the whole threat.

And to prevent Superman from stopping her plan, Wrath releases her secret weapon, a Wrath infected Frankenstein's monster. There is a giant brawl with Superman using Frankenstein as a cannonball to destroy one of the planes.

But this is going to be an even fight given Superman's current power levels. Growling and gnashing his teeth, Superman jumps in.

Look at that last panel. That is the current Superman in the DCU.

Meanwhile, Wrath seems to try to seduce Lee into joining the faith. Wrath shows Lee that Superman isn't a great man. He isn't a symbol. He isn't a pure. Wrath has uncovered an anger that already existed.

This was interesting to me because I have sore of identified with Lee in this arc. She is the one who sees the good in Superman and has defended him. So to see her waver was a bit intriguing.

Because I thought that Wrath was embodying DC Comics, trying to convince me that this is who Superman should be. And I am Lee trying to deny it.

But the book ends on this splash page.

Get it!

Superman has become a monster! It's a monster fight! This is a dark, drab, mutated Superman.

"Battle not monsters lest ye become a monster."

Anyways, I am completely bored with The Truth. I am bored with this depowered, angry, vengeful, uninspirational Superman. I don't know if I can say it any more bluntly.

Let's put it this way. In the 70s, Superman lost his powers for 3 issues. He built the Supermobile and fought crimes and villains, never losing his way. In 2015, Superman loses his powers and it has lasted too long. And Superman has lost his way.

That's wrong.

Overall grade: C-