Friday, May 26, 2017

Review: Super-Sons #4

A bit of Supergirl-specific news came out this week, delaying things a bit. So I am catching up.

Super Sons #4 came out last week, the end of the first arc and potentially the end of the team. More than any prior chapter, this issue shows how difficult it would be for these two boys to be friends and to work together. It isn't easy for the more down-to-Earth Jon to deal with the narcissistic worldly assassin Damien. And this battle showcases that.

The villain of the piece, Kid Amazo, has the potential to be a legitimate threat. But in this story, he is relatively easily dispatched. Maybe too easily. And really, in the end, he isn't even defeated by Superboy and Robin. Really, I think Amazo was really just a catalyst to showcase the differences of the Sons.

As much fun as it is to see the sons bristle with each other, I am finding the interaction with the larger DCU even more engaging. So seeing Luthor, Lois, and Alfred in here was also a great.

Lastly, Jorge Jimenez's art is the perfect style for this book. Stylized, somewhat exaggerated, and in places cartoonish, it jibes wonderfully with the tone of the book.

On to the book!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Supergirl Episode 222: Nevertheless, She Persisted

Supergirl Episode 222, the season finale titled 'Nevertheless, She Persisted, aired this week and was an incredibly intense, over-stuffed, and every emotional ending to what has been a crazy season. This episode felt more like a mini-movie than a television show with spectacular effects, a rousing score,. massive fights, and all the major characters (well most of the major characters) having key moments to move the plot along. I was thrilled. And I suppose given the names in the credits (writers Andrew Kreisberg and Jessica Quallers; directed by Glen Winter), I shouldn't be surprised.

While the title of the episode is clearly referencing Senator Warren's defiance while speaking to the Senate, the overt politics of this season were put on the back shelves a bit to let the story stand more on its own. And for the most part it delivered. The ultimate victory came in the form of a true deus ex machina, but overall this shined.

But the time has come to put a bow on this season. In looking back, the show really covered a ton of topics and subplots. Sometimes all this made Supergirl feel more like a character in an ensemble cast than the headliner.

We had multiple big bads in the form of Cadmus and the Daxamites. We had major plots involving Maggie and her relationship with Alex, Winn and his relationship with Lyra, James and his relationship with the Guardian suit, and J'onn and Miss Martian. We had political stories about alien amnesty, refugees seeking asylum, the down trodden forced into slavery, and basic prejudice. Jeremiah Danvers blipped into the storyline and then vanished again. That is a lot of ground to cover.

And I haven't even mentioned the elephant in the room ... Mon-El. At least on social media, he was something of a lightning rod. Some fans loved his arc as he tried to walk away from a rather ugly past to become something better all while inspired by Kara. Others hated him for being the epitome of the slick, emotionally abusive, frat boy. He was that kind of man that bullied his way into a relationship by constantly nagging the woman, then didn't respect her wishes, and then groveled his way back in. For me, I didn't think he was all that bad. At times his actions were cringe worthy. And unfortunately, he doesn't have a big redemptive moment in this episode. I was hoping there would be big moment where he sacrificed himself for others. All that said,  I believed him when he said how inspired he was by Supergirl and what she represented. I mean, that's why I love her as a character.

But enough looking back, let's look at this episode itself. Be prepared, I took a lot of screencaps because there was so much to love. And I am going to write a lot, not only recap but thoughts. Because this was an overstuffed episode. On to the show

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

RIP Rich Buckler

Over the weekend, the news broke that veteran DC and Marvel comic artist Rich Buckler had passed away after a long battle with cancer. News reports are everywhere but here is Comic Book Resources coverage:

It seems like the loss of legendary comic book creators like this are all too common these days. But personally, this one stung a little bit more than usual. Buckler holds a pretty important place in my heart and my comic heritage. Buckler was a workhorse in comics, a solid artist who is littered throughout my collection. But I think he is sort of underappreciated. Everyone says that they love Buckler's work but I haven't heard many (or any) say Buckler is one of their favorite artist. And that is a shame because is work is just wonderful.

For me, Buckler is best known for his cover of Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #1. This is a truly iconic picture of Supergirl, one of the best known images of her. I had met Buckler a couple of times at conventions and was lucky enough to get him to sign the cover, joining Carmine Infantino and Paul Kupperberg. This is really a cherished book in my collection.

As I said, this cover is a pretty iconic image of the Girl of Steel, even appearing as a US Postage stamp.

Buckler also drew the fantastic Superman vs. Shazam treasury, a story that is truly more of a Supergirl and Mary Marvel storyline. Buckler really shines in this treasury drawing a remarkable Kara. And he even got to draw Quarmm, the Sand Superman!


Back in 2008, I was able to get a Buckler Supergirl commission in my sketch book. While I should have got him to draw the 70s style costume, back then I was pretty locked into the Matrix look.  I love this commission as well. It is a nice action pose with a smiling Supergirl.

Buckler was so much more than that one cover. I know he created Deathlok and had a long career with Marvel. But I'm a DC guy. Buckler drew All Star Squadron. He drew covers and interiors of The Flash in a time when I would often pick up that book. He drew Justice League issues. He drew Superman issues.

As I continue to talk about why Buckler matters to me, I'll add that he drew the Secret Society of Super-Villains. And SSV #9 was my introduction to the Creeper, one of my all time favorite characters. It was Buckler's moody depiction of The Creeper that really grabbed my attention as a kid and started a a life-long love.

My condolences to his family and friends. The comic world is a little smaller now.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

New Supergirl Artist Robson Rocha

The full DC Comics August Solicitations are going to be revealed soon. But some super-titles, including Supergirl #12, were previewed over on Newsarama here:

But the biggest news in that article is that Robson Rocha is taking over on monthly are duties on the book. Here is the solicit.

“EMERALD ERADICATION” part one! Emerald Empress’ attack on Supergirl begins as her new Fatal Five assembles. Empress’ plan to destroy Supergirl’s present to preserve her future goes into full swing as Supergirl tries to hold her own—but soon even her abilities are out of her control.

It looks like all art might be getting shaken up because Artgerm is on the variant cover, not Bengal.

But the big news is Rocha. I have had my issues with Brian Ching's art on the book. It has at times seemed rough, rushed, and unfinished. There have been high points with Ching, no doubt. But I think that he would work better on a different style of book.

So I am glad that Robson Rocha is coming on board. Rocha has a sort of fine-lined and more polished look to things. I have covered Rocha's art on some issues here. You can look for prior reviews with his art here:

I first ran into Rocha's art on Demon Knights and Worlds' Finest. I liked his art then. There was a very good sense of action in the proceedings. And while different artists gave the work a different feel, it always looked very good.

Now I consider Power Girl and Supergirl to be two very different characters so you can't simply say that since Power Girl looked good, Supergirl will look good. That said, Rocha never really dipped too deep into the cheesecake aspects of Power Girl. And the action, as mentioned above, looked sharp. I think you can look at this and see just how Supergirl will be portrayed in the book.

Those Worlds' Finest issues were on the shelves a few years ago now.

If you want to see what Rocha's art looks like more recently, he did a three-parter in the now canceled Batman/Superman book. I reviewed these issues here as well if you want a deeper dive.

Suffice it to say, the art was stunning. there was a different, more detailed, more elegant look to these issues. The action still looked kinetic and powerful. But there was a still more refined look to the art here than even in those Worlds' Finest issues.

I am looking forward to this art change. Welcome aboard Robson Rocha!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Review: DC Bombshells #27

DC Bombshells #27, the print version of the digital first comic, came out this week. As always, since I read the floppies, I am behind the time.

The issue includes another chapter in Supergirl's journey home. Writer Marguerite Bennett has given us a new take on the character. Crushed by the sacrifice of her sister Kortni, this Kara is depressed and powerless. She decides she needs to head home to Russia to try to gain some normalcy but those plans are waylaid when she is discovered by Russian spies, German spies, and Lex Luthor on her train ride home.

I don't mind this Supergirl working her way through this emotionally. We saw how close she was with Kortni. We saw how she was ready to sacrifice herself to defeat the Tenebrau. She is still quite young. I imagine this is what would have happened had Kal died in the Crisis instead of her.

But what I really like is Bennett giving a new riff on an old Supergirl power. At least as how it is portrayed in this issue, I am very intrigued.

The art on the chapter is by Adventures of Supergirl veteran Carmen Carnero and really works well here.

Now while I enjoyed the Supergirl piece, the bulk of the book focuses on the Zatanna/Raven/Ivy/Harley story. And this has yet to grab me. I have talked about how I don't like when this book veers towards being an 'agenda book'. Here I didn't like how Bennett is getting bit too cute with her writing.

On to the book.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Review: Superman #23

Superman #23 came out this week and is the next part in the Black Dawn arc. It also reveals at last the enemy behind all the craziness that has been going on in the sleepy hamlet of Hamilton. And while I am not the biggest fan of the 'big bad', his goals behind his scheme actually makes sense for his character. We'll have to see how it all plays out.

This reveal shows story-tellers Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason have had a long play in mind. And it kind of all clicks into place. With the super-couple moving back to Metropolis (as seen in Action Comics), I guess this is the swan song for the Hamilton locale. So why not tear up the place?

The issue also includes something of a dramatic turn for Lois. Her portrayal in this title has been sort of up and down. She has been a bad-ass laser-firing hero. She has been a pie-serving 50's house wife. And she has been everything in between. In this issue we learn what it means to be a non-super-powered combatant in a chaotic city-wide brawl. Whether this plot twist has any legs will be determined. I doubt we will see a long-term change here.

But overall, while the big beats where solid, the issue overall is something of a muddle. For some reason, it feels rushed. Maybe that is because the middle pages seem to be inked in a more thick-lined style than I am used to seeing. Doug Mahnke's pencils are solid throughout, they always are. But the fight in Hamilton felt a bit muddier than I am used to seeing.

On to the book ...

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Review: New Super-Man #11

New Super-Man #11 came out this week and was another entertaining issue from writer Gene Luen Yang. While there is the usual spotlight on the title character, there is a lot of world building in this book as well. Yang is really creating a whole DCU on the Eastern Hemisphere and it has an old time reader like me pretty engaged. It is like discovering the DCU all over again.

In particular, one of the characters I have been most curious about in this title has been this world’s Wonder Woman. We have heard some tiny crumbs of her origin prior to this. Here we learn a bit more about her background and one of her previous battles. Even her name is somewhat changed. And that all makes me interested in learning more.

But it was also good to see some of the spotlight still focusing on Kenan and his character. Despite the heroic nature he has been showing in the book recently, he is still has some of the smug, self-important teen we met in the earliest issues inside him. That idea that he is growing but hasn’t completely grown is wonderful. This is the classic teen hero on the journey. 

Viktor Bogdanovic has left the book, heading over to the Superman title. In his place is Billy Tan who brings a truly lovely, smooth, clean look to the book. It is different from Bogdanovic who looked pretty scratchy at times. I think Tan’s style might be a better fit for the book. Hope he sticks around.

On to the book.