I have been eagerly awaiting Supergirl episode 213, titled 'Mr. and Mrs. Mxyzptlk' for some time and for many reasons. For one, as a big Mxyzptlk fan, I knew this would be a wild episode filled with craziness and fun. But I also knew that Supergirl comic writer Sterling Gates (along with Jessica Queller) was writing it. If anyone has proven they understand Supergirl, it is Gates who has written some definitive stories about Kara. Gates is also a huge comic fan. And I thought (and was correct in thinking) that this episode would be filled with comic references and homages. Just think back to his digital Adventures of Supergirl comic which was set in this continuity and touched on just about every age of Supergirl as well as comics in general.
But there is more to this episode then just 5th Dimensional romantic hijinx. We get progression of all the romantic subplots of the series and even the beginning of another. That's perfect for a Valentine's Day episode. I don't know if I agree that Kara would fall for Mon-El ... but the chemistry between Melissa Benoist and Chris Wood is undeniable. And Mon seems to be striving to be better which I gues works in his favor.
The best thing for me about this episode is that this is a pure Supergirl adventure. No one else really comes in to save her. She both outsmarts and outpunches all her foes. And she handles herself with confidence and strength. Just last episode I complained about J'Onn needing to come in and save her. No such scene here. Kara deals with all the emotional and super-heroic stuff all on her own and comes out victorious. Of all the great things buried in this episode, that is the shining star above it all.
Before the episode, I told myself I would need a pad at the ready to write down all the references. I was right.
News from the New York Toy Fair 2017 was released this last week and once again Supergirl has been well represented. As I have said for a while now, I am still a bit surprised to see Supergirl as popular as she is these days. It makes those lean years seem a distant memory.
You can find tons of coverage of the Toy Fair but I include some links where I obtained the pictures I am posting here.
Above you see the Supergirl Rebirth action figure which will be released some time this year. I think this is a great figure. I have always been a fan of the Rebirth style as it has so many of the elements I look for in 'my' Supergirl costume. But throw in a heat vision head and multiple hands? True bonus! Can't wait for this one.
Supersons #1 came out last week and was exactly the fun sort of romp that I thought it would be. If people think that Batman and Superman would have a hard time being friends, they should read the interactions of the two young heroes Robin and Superboy. Damien's abrasive personality, flaunting of rules, aggressive heroing, and and overall superiority complex contrasts wonderfully to Jon's rule-following, optimistic, and otherwise good behavior.
How and/or why would these two hang out?
While those personalities seem to clash, both are young legacy heroes trying to figure out who they are in this crazy world. There is more in common than not. So I can see why they would seek each other out as well. In my head canon, Damien is lonely and wants someone his age to pal around with.
Writer Peter Tomasi does a great job in this first issue. We get a hint of an upcoming villain. We get a flashforward of a battle, a taste of things to come. And we get a compelling opening adventure which does a nice job of laying out who these characters are. When the issue was done, I wanted more. That is what a first issue should do.
I have praised Jorge Jimenez's art in the past but he really shines here. His style is starting to get a little more daring in my mind. I am starting to get a sort of Chris Bachalo/Humberto Ramos sort of feel, a sort of bending of the art away from realism and into something more interesting.
Superman #17 came out this week, a one and done horror story focusing on Jon and Kathy and the dealings of the nearby Deadman's Swamp. In a current comic world of six issue arcs built for trades, I love the one and done. And I especially love it when it stands alone *and* builds on overlying arcs. In this instance, the Deadman Swamp plot point hadn't been touched on since Superman #10. And there is more hints that Farmer Cobb is more than he says he is. So this issue worked for me and worked well.
The Superman title has been the more family-centric title of the super-books, so focusing on Jon also was welcomed. There was a little bit of Stranger Things in this issue so I wonder if storytellers Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason were trying to plug into that zeitgeist.
And the art by Sebastian Fiumara is perfect for the material. There is a sort of Bernie Wrightson feel to the proceedings. From the swamp surroundings to the moldering mansion to the monstrous animals, this really brought back echoes of the original Swamp Thing series. And that is always high praise.
I have a couple of theories about the proceedings, better said during the review. But the idea of Deadman's Swamp is a nice wrinkle of horror in the otherwise sci-fi tone of the book.
Superwoman #7 came out last week so I am a bit late in covering this issue. But in some ways, the time was needed. This issue is a super-dense and somewhat confusing closure to the first arc. I wonder if the story got away from writer Phil Jimenez. I have praised Jimenez in the past for packing a lot into his books, making them feel like two issues in one. But here I felt like there were so many threads being covered that I was feeling frayed as a reader.
As all the characters and plots are being wrapped up, I found myself asking 'why'? Why did Lena need the temporal cubes? Why is she invading the Phantom Zone? Why is the suit called 'Insect Queen'? Why does the Atomic Skull demand an apology from Lex? Why doesn't Lex know how to reboot his armor? Why does Lana sound like she has been mistreated by all the men in her life? Why does the Gestalt ship need to change configuration? Why? When I ask that many whys, the story is lost on me.
I also can understand that this book might be the title for Jimenez to look at feminism and that is fine. But I think that the downgrading of Lex and some of the speeches by Lana feel a little forced. I'd love a Lana story about feminism. I don't know if I need a feminism story with Lana as speechmaker. Maybe I am saying this too clunky. Maybe it is better for me to say that I would rather be shown the feminist slant than be told it.
The art on the book is done by Jimenez and Jack Herbert. The two styles seem to jibe well with each other. And as usual, it is a packed issue with inset panels and great page layouts.
Supergirl episode 212, titled 'Luthors' aired this week and was a decent episode, building up the threat of the Luthors and Cadmus, bringing back a couple of villains from earlier in the season, and shoring up one of the relationships that has suffered the most during this season - Kara and James. And, in continuing and running theme of this second season, we touch on prejudices and biases.
For me, the most interesting plot involved the relationship between Lillian and Lena. We learn a lot about their family's history. We meet the other members of the Luthor clan. There is a nice understated current of the eternal argument of nature vs. nurture. There is a lot here to remind me that you can't trust a Luthor. And that bias is unfortunately played out on Lena who is trying to do good and distance herself from her family's legacy. But Luthor motivations are, to quote Churchill, a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. People just keep thinking there are ulterior motives.
But I was definitely glad to see that some time was spent on the Kara/James friendship. It has felt, at times, this season that the show runners simply didn't know what to do with James. The Guardian plot felt a little forced at times. So seeing them at least voice their issues with each other and try to move past them was welcomed. I also liked hearing James add some Superman/Luthor context to his concerns about Lena.
And we continue to nudge the Kara and Mon-El romance forward. In fact, we get just about as close to a kiss as we have before a surprise ending stalls things.
Finally, I have to compliment Katie McGrath for her performance as Lena in this episode. She really has to emote a ton here, veering from sadness and worthlessness to a touch of anger and self-reflection. And she simply nails it. What a nice showcase for her skills.
New Super-Man #6 came out last week and was another introspective chapter for the main characters of the book. After the first arc concentrated on Kenan accepting his powers, wavering with his loyalty to family and country, and starting the hero's journey. This brief 2 part story has Kenan taking the next steps on his journey. But it also gives us some backstory on Baixi, the New Bat-Man. In particular, I enjoyed this part of the arc more. This humanized Baixi and gave him something of a tragic subplot. This adds dimension to his character.
Another thing that I am appreciating about this book is writer Gene Luen Yang updating Asian characters from DC's past. I am glad that Yang is looking at some of the clunkier portrayals of Asians in the past. So seeing I Ching as something more than a 'sensei' spouting fortune cookie wisdom is great. And the ending cliffhanger looks as though Yang isn't done. I wonder if we will see an updated and improved Wu 'Chop Chop' Cheng. He is due for a modern and more appropriate take.
The art on this issue is again by Billy Tan and a love the fine lined and polished look of his art. This isn't the scratchier and rougher look of usual artist Viktor Bogdanovic. This feels organic and flowing and that works well with Ching's lessons. I hope he becomes the go to pinch hitter for this book.