Saturday, January 24, 2015

Supergirl Casted! Welcome Melissa Benoist!



It broke everywhere on Thursday and so I am very late to the game ... but Supergirl has been cast! The Hollywood Reporter has the news that Glee alumni Melissa Benoist has been cast as Kara Zor-El for the upcoming CBS drama.

Here is that report:http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/supergirl-melissa-benoist-glee-whiplash-754208

I think this is a fabulous choice.

I will admit to heading to YouTube and Netflix to look for the breadth of Benoist's work outside of Glee. After watching her on late night television, singing her way through Glee, and some snippets from Whiplash, I think she just the right mix of freshness, spunk, and strength to play a great Kara. She also has a look that I think is perfect for the role.

So I am still cruising on optimism for this show. So far Greg Berlanti and Ali Adler are hitting all the right notes. And now, seeing Benoist as Kara, it makes Alexandra Daddario even more perfect as Alexandra Danvers. Those two could be sisters.


And here is a tweet from a while ago showing Benoist with blonder hair. Now we know what the 'secret project' was. Looks great!

Here is a link to Benoist's website: http://melissa-benoist.com/

Welcome aboard the Supergirl bandwagon Melissa!!!


I mean ... #Supergirl was trending on Twitter !

This is a great time to be a Kara fan.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Supergirl Radio

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THE FLASH PODCAST LAUNCHES
SUPERGIRL RADIO
TUESDAY, FEB 3!
New Fan Podcast Dedicated to the Upcoming Supergirl TV Show on CBS.
______________________________________________________________________

Friday, Jan. 23, 2015 – The Flash Podcast, which launched in December 2013 and was the first fan podcast for CW’s The Flash, is expanding its podcast circle with the launch of its first sister podcast Supergirl Radio, on TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 3rd!

Supergirl Radio is a fan podcast devoted to the upcoming Supergirl TV show on CBS, created by Arrow’s and The Flash’s Greg Berlanti and The New Normal’Ali Adler, and starring Glee’s Melissa Benoist as the titular superheroine.

Supergirl Radio will be helmed by female duo: Teresa Jusino and Rebecca Johnson, both of whom have made names for themselves analyzing pop culture individually, and will now be joining forces to celebrate the arrival of Supergirl to television.
This fan podcast will begin with a “Season Zero” - as The Flash Podcast did - from February through September 2015, where listeners will get to join the journey and discover more about Kara Zor-El a.k.a. Supergirl, the last daughter of Krypton. Once Supergirl debuts on CBS, Supergirl Radio will become your one-stop shop for all things related to the series. Andy Behbakht, host of The Flash Podcast, is a producer on the show and will work behind the scenes with our hosts.

Supergirl Radio “Season Zero” will provide an in-depth exploration of Supergirl’s history in the DC Comics Universe, dissecting both past interpretations of the character and the current New 52 version throughout the season, with episodes dedicated to iconic storylines and big events that have involved Supergirl. There will also be focus on Supergirl in other media in which she’s appeared, from movies to television and much more!

Supergirl is an upcoming superhero drama by Greg Berlanti (Arrow, The Flash) and Ali Adler (The New Normal, Glee, Chuck) that will be a new interpretation of Superman’s famous cousin as she discovers the heroine within her. Melissa Benoist (Glee, Whiplash) was cast on January 22 as the next person to take this iconic heroine to the skies.

CBS gave the Warner Bros. TV project a series commitment on September 19, 2014 and describes as following: “Born on the planet Krypton, Kara Zor-El escaped amid its destruction years ago. Since arriving on Earth, she’s been hiding the powers she shares with her famous cousin. But now at age 24, she decides to embrace her superhuman abilities and be the hero she was always meant to be.”


Supergirl Radio is a fan dedicated podcast and is not affiliated with DC Comics, Warner Bros. Television or CBS Television. Supergirl & all logos and artwork are trademark of DC Comics and DC Entertainment. 

Review: Supergirl #38

Supergirl #38 came out this week and is another great issue in this new direction by creative team K. Perkins, Mike Johnson, Emanuela Lupacchino, Ray McCarthy, and Hi-Fi.

I have had issues with characterization of both Supergirl and Superboy in the New 52. Kara was petty, angry brat. Kon was a bank-robbing, overly violent, immature punk. And while there were moments in the early issues where both characters seemed to be more heroic, for the most part they were treated pretty shabbily.

Over the last year, Supergirl has been rehabilitated by Tony Bedard, Charles Soule, and the current team. Superboy has been presumed dead and unseen. And yet, here, we see how much things have changed. It was wonderful to read an issue where I can root unabashedly for Supergirl and to be impressed with her as a young hero, striving to help people and asking the tough questions. Add to this characterization a ton of high octane action and you have a very entertaining issue.

The art on this book is just spectacular. There is something clean and vibrant about the work that my eyes just drink in. Lupacchino, McCarthy, and Hi-Fi are really hitting home runs here. And there is one little thing that I saw in this issue from Lupacchino that is so fantastic that I smiled for a long time. More on that later.

The variant cover for this month celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Flash character. Michael Avon Oeming does a nice job riffing on Action Comics #252. I especially like Supergirl saying a version of Superman's classic line from the cover.

I suppose at some point I might need to do another 'Action Comics #252 homage covers' post.

The book starts in Italy as Kon, seen in a monastery last issue, is hanging out at a comic convention. Surrounded by cos-players, he can walk about freely.

After reading 2 years worth of Superboy declaring himself a 'living weapon', being violent and angsty, robbing banks and living the gangsta life, and then being replaced by the mass murdering potential future hybrid of Clark, Lois, Clark/Lois, I needed a break. I left the book and shook my head how Kon was a good representation of all that was wrong with the New 52.

So there was something refreshing about seeing Kon leading a quiet life as a monk and finding himself. And I also liked seeing him walking amongst the people, smiling, and buying comics. Hurray!


But then we head back to Tsavo's planet Ngo where Supergirl and her Crucible crew are fighting Roho and his insurgents.

Last issue, we learned that maybe Crucible is more than a school and maybe more akin to a Military Training facility. It is clear that the professors and leaders have an agenda that may not be apparent to the students.

And while Supergirl seems to have embraced the setting, becoming fast friends with her classmates and immersing herself in classes, we see her start to question things. It starts here where she learns that Roho and his Ngoian rebels were all students at Crucible. They were expelled for not following the rules ... but what does that mean? I think that there is more to this place than it being a magnanimous institution to raise heroes.

This skirmish ends with Supergirl and her friends paralyzed by a stasis-stare by Roho's soldier. Even though he has the upper hand, Roho teleports to a 'backwater world', leaving the Crucible gang alive so they can witness his ultimate victory. That is a classic comic villain mistake. Roho was just about to kill his parents ... why wouldn't he kill these kids?

I have glossed over the action but it is well done!


Comet quickly picks up a telepathic trail that the team can follow. But Supergirl pauses. Tsavo is physically and emotionally injured. His family is injured.

She feels she needs to stay to help her friend. She wants to protect him. It is more important for her to be here for Tsavo than it is to follow these rebels. It is only at Tsavo's insistence that she moves on.

But this is a major change in Supergirl's character that we have seen evolve over the last year. Gone is the petulant girl who wants to be all alone at the bottom of the ocean. Now, maybe after befriending Bleez, maybe after embracing Earth, maybe after meeting Michael and being inspired by him, she understands the importance of friends ... how she can't be alone.

Soooo fantastic!

No big surprise but the 'backwater planet' that Roho teleported to is Earth.

You know what I love here ... Kara's expression and body language. Looking at the sky, hand on her heart, the other hand held open! She looks like she is happy to be back here. She is happy to be back home!

I always wonder if I read into these things too much. But this looks different from the Supergirl who would let Earth be destroyed by H'El to bring Krypton back.

Wonderful.

And I also had to include this panel because I thought it was funny.

Here Supergirl runs into someone who is cos-playing her ... but in the costume of the last incarnation of Supergirl. And that is early last Supergirl given by the small size of the top and the skirt. I suppose somewhere Michael Turner is smiling.

But I love this Supergirl's surprise that someone would dress like her!


Roho is there to capture Superboy for some reason.

Now is the time for the Crucible crew to fight again and save Kon.

I love that Supergirl jumps into the role of the leader, telling Comet to fight with the alien with the paralyzing stare and Maxima to protect the patrons.

Again, seeing Supergirl growing as a hero, being an inspiration and leader for her generation, while still being fresh on the hero's journey is what I am looking for in Supergirl. This is fantastic, especially given that Maxima doesn't fight her about who is in charge.


But that questioning of what Crucible is all about becomes a bigger part of this story.

For one, Comet and Maxima aren't exactly nice people on closer look.

Maxima throws her psychic knives into the throat of one of Roho's allies, killing her. And Comet uses his telekinetic powers to explode this one's head Scanner-style.

That doesn't sound like what heroes would necessarily do. I certainly don't want Supergirl to be pulping people. Those tactics should get Supergirl's attention.


Finally Kara starts to wonder if she has been too trusting. Why should she trust Comet more than Roho? Why should she fall in line when she doesn't know much about Crucible to begin with? And why do these rebels need Kon?

My guess is that Crucible isn't all bad. But there are elements within that aren't on the up and up, like Professor Korstus trying to form an army.


And then to make the trust issue flare up, Maxima let's Supergirl know that she has her own secret mission. She has been told to bring Kon-El to Crucible. And this time she isn't going to back down to Kara. Maxima *is* going to complete that mission.

Not knowing what is right and wrong, what is truth and lie, and wanting to protect Kon, Supergirl flies in front of Maxima. Completing that mission won't be easy.

Nice cliffhanger. But tremendous splash page.

First off, look at how determined and fierce Kara looks. Again, the expression and body language here speaks volumes (just as the earlier panel did). But look at Supergirl's costume right now. I love long pointy sleeves on Supergirl so hurrah for that. But the big change is the lower part of the uniform, the part that I had the most problems with. Gone are the fussy angles of the edge. Gone is the 'panty shield' of the narrow red panel. Instead, the red panel is widened to look almost like shorts. Just lovely ... minor tweaks that improve this look 1000%.

I tweeted the team and asked how this came about and Emanuela Lupacchino responded.


I love it!

So great action and great story progression and great art.

I have to say that I am enjoying this new direction immensely so far. They have picked up all the character improvements of the year before and run with them, creating a very entertaining book chronicling a young hero. And, most importantly, they have kept a likeable and strong Supergirl in  the book. Gone is all the negativity. Instead we have a smart, powerful, inquisitive hero who wants to help. But she has that little bit of a passionate streak in her, that edge that makes her very reactive when she thinks someone she cares for is endangered.

Thanks to the entire creative team!

Overall grade: A

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sales Review: December 2014



December sales numbers have come out and are available over on ICv2. Here is the link:
http://icv2.com/articles/news/view/30647/top-300-comics-actual-december-2014

Comics sales were a little slow last month. At the very least, DC did the world a favor by creating Darwyn Cooke variants and made them relatively easy to obtain. I bought mostly the Cooke variants last month. So while lovely, they basically didn't change my purchase pattern. The only book I bought both cover versions of was Supergirl.


Supergirl #37 was the second chapter of the Crucible arc by Mike Johnson and K. Perkins. We learned more about the school and Kara got involved. We also had the seeding of some subplots in the school. The art was completely lush by Emanuela Lupacchino.

And DC did a good job of promoting the book.

So how were sales.


Supergirl #37 came in as the 96th best selling title. The issue sold 26,272 issues down from last issue's 28,373. It is hard to know how much of last month's book was bolstered by the Lego cover variant which was not widely available.

Still, 26K is completely solid and still up from the trend at the beginning of the year.

I am very happy that this new direction is doing well.


I always try to pump the tires of a book that I am surprised to find underselling.

I really love the Captain Marvel  by Kelly Sue DeConnick. Carol Danvers is strong and independent. But she sometimes struggles with the events in her life. But I think she finds happiness where she can and continues to strive to improve. The last two issues in particular have been a treat.

So I am surprised to see it selling just under 20K. This is even a reboot/renumbering of the prior volume by DeConnick which started out selling like hotcakes with the new outlook, new uniform, new name, and Ed McGuinness covers taking the world by storm.

With a Captain Marvel movie (or is it movie appearance) around the corner, I can't imagine Marvel giving up on the property. But I still have to think the CarolCorps has to be more than 20K strong.

Folks should give it a try.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Review: Smallville Continuity #2


Smallville Continuity #2 came out last week and was another great chapter in this final arc. So much of this Crisis and this deep dive into Lex that has been percolating through the entire series is finally coming to a head. And while this is clearly a Smallville story, it also riffs on Crisis on Infinite Earths. It even metatextually comments on comic book continuity. Heck, it's the title of the arc.

Writer Bryan Q. Miller continues to shine as he gives us the most inspirational, the strongest Supergirl, the most unified Justice League that DC has had since the New 52. This reads like a timeless Superman and I have appreciated that immensely.

But each of these issues is bittersweet as I know that the end is near. We are reaching the end of this continuity ... at least for now.

Cat Staggs gives us another great cover. And Ig Guara and JP Mayer do a good job on art here, handling action sequences and a whole bevy of characters. I always wonder if artists like or hate these crazy issues with huge casts.

This Earth is being unmade by the Monitors with the plan to reboot the whole universe, rewriting it into something the monitors are please with. And most of this Earth has been destroyed. It seems only Metropolis is left, with all the heroes of Earth banded together to fight this threat one last time.

And it isn't a big surprise that Lois is smack dab in the middle of it. While the heroes skirmish with the Monitors and the Manhunters, Lois will board the Monitor's ships and plant a virus which will undo all the de-creation that the Monitors have achieved so far.

Miller's treatment of Lois has really been fabulous throughout this title. She has been strong, pro-active, and physically tough. And while I have sometimes questioned her battle prowess, I have always appreciated what she has done in this book. I love that Clark and Lois have always treated each other as equals in this book, no better shown than above. Lois and Clark saving the world is a story that writes itself. And Lois is the most important person in the universe.


But Lois can't get up on the ship alone. She needs some transit. And since Lex is also still around and has information about the Monitor's ships, he needs to help.

I love the interaction here as Lex knows that Lois is the agent, that Superman doesn't trust him, but Superman needs him. There is no choice ... Lex has to join the heroes.

Who here actually trusts him?

This is my favorite page of the issue.

Like many Crisis books, the heroes gather to fight the enemy. Here Superman says they have united to fight for 'this Earth, this reality, this continuity'.

And that second panel is so great. This is what Miller is fighting for. Maybe this is what we fans have been fighting for. To keep this continuity ... these incarnations of DC characters ... alive in some ways. I look at this panel and see that mature Kara in the background, Steph Brown Babs Gordon as Nightwing, that DEO Wonder Woman ... I am going to miss these guys. All of them.


We get lots of battle sequences as the heroes fight the Manhunter robot troops trying to hold back this unmaking.

I have said all along that I think this Nightwing is basically the second coming of Miller's take on Batgirl. Since we won't be seeing her much longer, I had to include her one last time.

And Lex, in an old school Lex-Corp battle armor, has successfully boarded the Monitor ship and downloaded the virus. It looks like our heroes have won and this Earth will be rebuilt as it was.

Unfortunately, we shouldn't have trusted Lex after all.

He wants to rewrite the universe; he wants to reboot this place in the image he wants. He tosses Lois off the ship and gets down to it.

Lois is so matter of fact about the betrayal too.


Lois doesn't die though. She is snatched out of her death fall by Wonder Woman riding a pegasus.

I have had some problems with the New 52 Wonder Woman. While I could tolerate what was happening in her own title, I don't think the 'God of War' Wonder Woman works for me in the main universe.

This arc is probably the last I will see of this Wonder Woman, the DEO agent who loves her special boy Steve Trevor, so I have to include her too.

Yeah, we should save this continuity.


But more troops show up to defend the planet.

The Legion shows up!


But all doesn't go perfectly.

Miller had brought the Green Lanterns and even Blue Lantern Saint Walker into the battle as well, the first time we saw Walker. And then -alas we hardly knew ye- Walker is killed in battle.

Is there some sort of metatextual message here? Hope is dead?

Given the internal sabotage by Lex as well as the heroes united front, the Monitors actually have to retreat.


And they aren't that happy about that.

The will release their ultimate weapon to end this. The Omega Monitor will bring an end to this world.

This is the second issue of an arc and, as such, it does it's job. The plot is moved forward. Whether it is Lex's treachery or bringing together more heroes or even the threat of the Omega Monitor, things progress. And we also get a ton of action here, a perfect way for us to see these characters strut there stuff one more time.

I love this book and I will miss it immensely.

Overall grade: A

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Erica Henderson Commission


The winter months are long and cold and dark here in New England. I have often lamented the fact that there are no comic conventions in the area during these months because it would certainly give me something to look forward to, a ray of sunshine in the biting cold.

Thankfully, a comic event did happen this last Saturday!

Local comic store Hub Comics welcomed artist Erica Henderson, currently working on Marvel's quirky hit The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, to their store for a signing.

I had seen Henderson's work in Atomic Robo Real Science Adventures and, at the suggestion of many friends whose opinions I trust, bought Squirrel Girl and loved it. So I headed to the store and was able to grab some signatures and the great commission you see above.

I love this piece. First off, I love the fact that Henderson knew about Streaky and decided to put him in. Streaky only appears in two other commissions of mine - Jim Mooney and Franco. And I asked for him to be in both of those. This was all Henderson's idea!

And I love that it shows a sort if gentle side to Kara as she pets her kitty.

Lastly, Henderson loves the 'puffy sleeve' costume and so threw that look in.

Just a wonderful commission.

As she drew, I had a great conversation with her and others about the super-pets, the New 52, other recommended comics, and Squirrel Girl.

Head to Henderson's website for more information: http://ericafailsatlife.tumblr.com/


Squirrel Girl seems to be a lighthearted sort of 'Batgirl of Burnside' as the title character is in college and having fun. But unlike Batgirl, she happens to talk to squirrels and have a bunch of funny scenes. This is a comedy comic which pokes fun at comics as much as it embraces them.

And Henderson's style is perfect for this book.


Here's a panel which encapsulates the beauty of the book as Squirrel Girl melees with Kraven. Just a nice example of what this book is like.

Thanks again to Hub Comics for hosting!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Review: Superman/Wonder Woman #15


Superman/Wonder Woman #15 came out this week and it highlighted some of my issues with this title and this romance. I have talked several times here about how Superman/Wonder Woman has teetered on the brink of being dropped. It has been saved by the superior art. And the promise of something great by Tomasi and Mahnke had made me a bit optimistic about the title.

Now all along I have had issues trying to understand why Clark and Diana are together as a couple. There hasn't been much that has made me feel that they are in love with each other ... or even understand each other. This issue really drives that viewpoint home. And maybe that is Tomasi's intention ... to strain the relationship to see if it will survive. Unfortunately, the way this comes through is with pretty shabby treatment of Diana. Here she is in full warrior mode, not one scrap of the classic ambassador Diana seen at all. And it was the odd, haphazard characterization of Diana last issue that I had issues with.

I guess you could say I have had issues with Diana's characterization since the New 52.

I suppose that I will need to see how this turns around in this arc, if Tomasi is able to stabilize this relationship, or turn it on its head. But I truly wish I could read a Wonder Woman in the main universe that I can get behind.

The art here is split between Doug Mahnke and Ed Benes. That doesn't bode well for me staying here. Mahnke's art was a big draw for me. If he can't keep up, this will be on even shakier ground.


The issue starts with the 'origin' of this version of Wonderstar/Magog.

Five years ago his family was killed in the Apokolips invasion that resulted in the formation of the JLA. Rather than blame Darkseid or move past his grief, 'David' lets it fester until it becomes an unnatural hatred for Superman and Wonder Woman. He feels they should have moved the battle away from the city.

Tomasi has already flashed back to this time in this arc, that time from the perspective of the heroes. We saw Superman trying to save people while Diana was on the attack. So it is a nice device to flash back again from a different perspective. But given the first flashback, it does paint Diana a bit darker.

The 'take the fight elsewhere' defense might work in 'Man of Steel' where Superman was fighting Zod. But this was an invasion. It is doubtful that the parademons could be led away.


The 'unknown' villain from last issue, the one who vowed revenge on Hippolyta, is pulling the strings here and uses a rare 'fusion stone' to link elemental energy to a human body. And, as an added wrinkle, she decides to erase David's memories. And thus we have Wonderstar/Magog.

Look, I can't comprehend comic book magic but the memory erasure seems like a little bit of a forced plot element to make the mystery of Wonderstar happen. And since that mystery ended so quickly, I don't know why we even needed this wrinkle.

Powered by magic, Magog is more than capable of mixing it up with our heroes. Magog stabs Superman with his spear and tosses Supes into a nearby lake.

Wonder Woman responds accordingly, attacking him while saying she doesn't care who Magog is or why he is doing what he is doing.

Now taken in a vacuum, Diana's response makes sense. Superman has been gutted. She would probably want to subdue first and ask questions later. But we have had three years of Diana being the warrior first, never giving a damn, and always punching and stabbing. So this moment doesn't have the impact it should. I simply no longer expect her to care.

Of all the panels in the book, this is the one that struck me the most. Magog briefly overpowers both heroes and flies off into the city to make the heroes feel 'a true sense of loss'.

When they recover, Superman says that he and Diana need to head to the city to save the people Magog is jeopardizing. Diana disagrees. He should save the people. She needs to be the God of War and 'handle things quickly'.

She is right to note that the two dance around her title. Superman isn't a war monger. He hates war. So how can he love the god of war. And Diana is a slash-first hero these days.  In other words, how could these two be attracted to each other? How could this be a healthy relationship?

Does this romance make sense? Has it ever?


And then to drive the point home, Wonder Woman speeds by two cars filled with people that had been thrown off a bridge by Magog. She had faith that Superman was behind her and could catch them both.

It just feels a little callous to me.



But it gets even worse. Magog slices through the suspension holding the bridge up requiring Superman to hold on to the both ends, basically taking him out of the fight. If he left, the bridge would fall killing the people in the cars still on it. But rather than help him, Wonder Woman continues to brawl with Magog. She has faith that Superman will hold things up while she finishes off Magog. That, again, seems wrong.

And with things at a standstill, the 'mystery villain' Circe shows up with a horde of demons.

Sigh.

I have never understood this relationship. And these three issues by Tomasi have really shown me why I don't think it works. This especially true given the Diana character in the New 52 and especially in this arc. I can't imagine that Superman understands or agrees with anything she did here.

To be honest, I think Diana has been treated pretty shabbily by Tomasi. She has been all over the map emotionally and seems ultra-violent. This isn't a Wonder Woman I would want to read.

I really liked the Doug Mahnke art but the Ed Benes stuff seems a bit rough. Their styles aren't complementary making this a tough read.

I guess I'll give this title until the end of the arc. And then I'll make a decision about moving forward.

Overall grade: C-