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Supergirl Premiere

I was a half-hour or so behind…but otherwise, I basically watched this pilot “live.”

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Though I’d had no particular high-hopes when the show was announced, and stuck to my usual avoidance of trailers and news and stuff about development (failing to completely avoid some character names that would be in the show)…over the last several weeks I found myself interested.

Then curious.

Finally, just truly looking forward to this.

After all that…I saw several commercials…and was eagerly looking forward to the premiere.

supergirl_02

This was a pilot episode. So we were introduced to a lot of stuff, in a rather cheesy fashion at points. But it sets things up. And certainly left ME ready for the next episode.

We see Krypton, and “the origin” and such…we even see Superman (with creative lighting, though). We get Kara, her adoptive family (Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman‘s Dean Cain is the father, Helen Slater of the 1980s Supergirl film is the mother). We see Kara in her private life, are introduced to the supporting cast–her boss, Cat Grant; “best friend” Winn, and office newcomer James “Jimmy” Olsen.

We learn some interesting stuff about her adoptive sister Alex, and meet Hank Henshaw, albeit one who does not pilot the doomed ship Excalibur.

Kara brings friends “into the fold,” setting the stage for stuff to come, while we see her perform super-feats and get some practice using her powers.

And like sister-show The Flash we get a teaser scene at the end to give a sort of “sub-plot” to be unraveled as the season progresses, with a character I wonder at my lack of familiarity even as I’m willing to roll with it.

And though it’s my initial reaction–and I’m typing this immediately post-viewing, to get some initial thoughts down before I can be influenced by others’ thoughts, reviews, discussions, etc.–I really very highly enjoyed this.

While I’m typically rather averse to gender-and-race-bending characters, given this is something wholly separate from the comics, we’ve already had numerous versions of Supergirl herself, and my understanding is that this technically will share a universe with CW shows Arrow and The Flash and there’s been effective character developments there that I totally overlook and enjoy…I’ll overlook it here.

James Olsen holds a lot of potential to me–getting away from the annoying down-on-his-luck dude-in-distress cub reporter and giving us an adult, cool, confident character with plenty of charisma in this episode alone. Hank Henshaw is a bit of a name-drop, but given the ties to “my” era of Super-comics, I’ll take it, and hope for some interesting developments there, given what the character was and became in the ’90s and early 2000s Superman comics.

I hope I keep up with this and don’t lose track of it. My enjoyment overall suggests this will be one of my initial watches each week, and at least for this first episode…this is truly an immediate favorite show for me, and a welcome guilty pleasure (even if it should be no surprise, given my history with Superman).

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Vader Down [Checklist]

Star Wars: Vader Down event Checklist

  • Star Wars: Vader Down #1 – Part 1
  • Darth Vader #13 – Part 2
  • Star Wars #13 – Part 3
  • Darth Vader #14 – Part 4
  • Star Wars #14 – Part 5
  • Darth Vader #15 – Part 6

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[source: promotional postcard, pictured above]

Thanks, Valiant! (Superman and The Flash)

Three months post-Legends of the Geomancer, and with having dumped Valiant entirely from my pull list, I’m finding myself buying other stuff as I continue to support the local comic shop–just not via Valiant‘s offerings.

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This week, I snagged an old Superman vs. The Flash for cover price, and at another shop managed to find Flash #53 for the price of a standard contemporary comic. I was willing to pay $3.99 for it for the immediacy and specificity–I was seeking this specific single issue, hadn’t seen it in bargain bins, and it’s not like I often see the Flash in quarter bins anyway.

I wouldn’t be (able to be) buying the back issues and collected volumes I have been lately, had I not been "freed" from the weekly Valiant expenditure…though in some weeks I think I’m actually spending a bit MORE, but I’m "affording" stuff I would NOT be able to ON TOP OF buying Valiant.

So, in response to the ridiculousness that was Legends of the Geomancer and my finding other stuff that I’m truly ENJOYING more than just "tolerating" the $3.99 and turning a blind eye to variant covers and such…

I can only say thanks, Valiant.

Superman: Lois and Clark #1 [Review]

superman_lois_and_clark_001Arrival, part 1

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Penciller: Lee Weeks
Inker: Scott Hanna
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterers: A Larger World Studios’ Joshua Cozine & Troy Peteri
Cover: Lee Weeks and Brad Anderson
Assistant Editor: Andrew Marion
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: December 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

I’ve been looking forward to this, at least in concept. Superman…and Dan Jurgens. It can’t get much better than that, right?

I came into the thing expecting this to be “my” Superman sent back to help stop the Crisis and then picking up 5 or 9 or however many years later–with him, Lois, and their son (born in Convergence: Superman). Maybe I never thought through the details, maybe I was hung up on the notion of actually, finally getting “my” Superman (of sorts) back. The pre-Flashpoint Superman.

What I’ve found is that Superman apparently living on the New 52 Earth (or one very much like it), with things striking me as being pretty much the same as the “current” DC Comics Superman. Having realized the world was quite different, he stuck to the background, and even went “underground,” taking the name White, and operating strictly in secret, restraining himself from getting involved.

Since the New 52-ish world is similar in many ways, he’s–while operating in secret–sought to do what he can to prevent the rise of certain entities, prevent certain events from coming about. Meanwhile, Lois has written a number of books as an anonymous author, impacting the world as she can that way, while together they raise their son Jon.

When I think of Dan Jurgens on Superman, everything goes back to 1992’s Superman #75, The Death of Superman…particularly VISUALLY. It’s an unconscious thing, that issue, that story being such a key part of my childhood and early days in comics. As a result…it’s a bit jarring and such when my brain wants to see Superman one way visually and get something different.

Though he’s the writer, the art is actually be Lee Weeks, with a style distinctive from Jurgens‘ own. Getting past that, I like the art in this issue. Aside from “noticing” it’s not Jurgens‘ art, I really have no active/overt gripe with it. I never got pulled out of the story, out of the reading experience by any surprise or “weirdness” or such; there was no oddity to my eye with the depiction of the characters. And maybe it’s my earliest issues of Superman/Adventures of Superman–when I was introduced to the modern version of the character–but I really dig Superman/Clark with a beard.

Story-wise, this was a bit of an odd experience…having a lot of loaded pre-conceived expectations and notions as to what this should be, what I wanted to see, how I hoped the characters would be shown, etc. Given my personal “history” with Superman–the character being THE core of my comics-reading experience and the reason I was even first introduced TO comics–I freely admit that there’s really no way this was going to live up to my idealistic hopes.

What I got is mediocre compared to what I’d hoped for.

In and of itself? This was a solid issue. There’s some flashback/exposition that I’m not sure would make MUCH sense to someone just jumping onboard to “try” this, without familiarity with pre-Flashpoint continuity or having read Convergence and the Superman 2-parter from that. It provides just enough for me, to get around the lack of a textual “previously” page (and sets this up for the inevitable “graphic novel”) and to clarify that yes, this is the pre-Flashpoint Superman, yes, he went back and helped end the first Crisis, yes, he’s aware of this world’s other heroes, and despite reservations, he’s left them to their things and focused on protecting his family while helping in secret as he can.

We’re introduced to a couple of elements I don’t believe have been dealt with in the New 52 Superman stuff (or if they have, it’s not been in the limited handful of stuff I have personally read/been made aware of). Intergang, and Hank Henshaw. Lois is working on something with this world’s Intergang (a dangerous proposition)…while Clark seeks to make sure that Henshaw’s spacecraft does not meet the same disaster it did in the world HE remembers.

Of course, as always…the world is different, and there are other forces at play, and this is only the first issue of four or six or some such (though I’d love for it to be an ongoing series).

There’s not enough here to truly display the historical significance of this version of Superman/Clark and Lois, or of their having a child, being married, etc. The significance comes from being an “old” fan, to fully appreciate the unspoken, unmentioned context that gives plenty of weight to this. I can only assume that otherwise–to a newer reader–this is nothing more than an alternate, older version of Superman. That this Superman is now what the “Earth-2” Superman may have been to others in the silver age comics, or the “pre-Crisis” Superman to readers in the time I was getting into comics.

This book can surely be enjoyable for new readers and old alike, but I am on-board as the older fan/reader, and appreciating this bone I’ve been tossed, as SOMETHING for me that isn’t New 52 or some “out of continuity” one-off.

The Fourth Fifty: IDW’s TMNT

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I remember picking up the Mirage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #50 back in the summer of 1992. I didn’t fully “get” the issue, but it was a significant milestone in an age of round numbers (25/50/75/etc), anniversary issues and all that. It was apparently the first full collaboration between Eastman and Laird on an issue of the series in quite some time, plus it kicked off the City at War storyline, which to this day holds plenty of significance to the TMNT mythology 23 years later. In retrospect, the issue came out “only” 8 years into the turtles’ existence…basically in the first quarter of the entire time they’ve been around.

Only the year following, the 50th issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures from Archie hit, concluding a 3-part Black Hole Trilogy that picked up/integrated the alien Sarnath and “canonized” the 2-part The Incredible Shrinking Turtles story from issues 3-4. The issue included a pull-out poster, and gold ink on the cover, lending it a bit of a special look compared to other covers of the series.

In 2008, the second volume of Mirage‘s Tales of the TMNT reached its 50th issue, which was again a pretty significant milestone…all the more for me, personally–it was the first series that I ever followed uninterrupted from the very first issue TO its 50th (and/or beyond).

Now, in 2015, we have the 50th issue of IDW‘s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, another that I have followed uninterrupted from its very first issue to this 50th, and have every intention of continuing as far beyond as they’re willing to go without renumbering.

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Thoughts On This Week’s Secret Wars #6

secretwars(2015)006I think this is my final issue. This cover–probably for having been printed in advance–still shows “of 8” whereas the series has been expanded to 9 issues at least. And displaying the tardiness of this book, the first POST-Secret Wars books hit this week already…meaning that only 2/3 into this event series, we’ve already got the post-series status quo showing up.

Back in 2005/2006, DC did their One Year Later jump, intentionally midway through Infinite Crisis…but that was promoted that way. That something would happen in Infinite Crisis and all of DC‘s titles would jump ahead a year, though Infinite Crisis itself would still have a couple issues remaining to play out.

It was PLANNED that way.

And frankly, despite the early “fun” to Secret Wars stuff and the nostalgia factor…I find myself back to the general negative feelings on their stuff that I’ve often wound up with.

They hype this big, huge event far beyond anything that could truly, possibly be delivered. And then while the story has barely started, is less than halfway through…they’re already hyping the NEXT thing. The NEXT status quo, the NEXT event, the NEXT whatever.

There’s no room for things to just settle, to let something play out, to give books several months to “cool off,” to explore ramifications and “aftermath” of stuff from one big event before jumping into the next.

Solicitation cycles and all that, I’m sure. To say nothing of the 6-issue periodical volumes.

I’d truly had high hopes that we’d see a fresh, all-new Marvel Universe that I could start with, Day One, and “meet” characters anew. We’d still have had everything to that point, but now have a new universe for EVERYONE to start with…even if it also involved a mashup of “the 616” and the Ultimate lines.

But other than several characters “crossing over” or “carrying over” or whatever (hardly much different than say, Sugarman, Dark Beast, Holocaust, and Nate Grey–X-Man–carrying over to the “main” X-Men line after the original Age of Apocalypse), it’s the same Marvel Universe that we started with. 

“My” Wolverine is still dead, with X-23 and a crossed-over Old Man Logan as a replacement/excuse to keep original-Wolverine dead while still HAVING Wolverines.

Then there’s opening the issue onto a white page with gray lettering stating “Three Weeks Later.” Given the sporadic release of the title and my having trailed off on tie-ins and such, I found it a bit jarring and less than appealing. “Three weeks after WHAT?!?” I asked myself. “I don’t even remember how the previous issue ended!” Sure, a few pages in, I came to a recap, but that doesn’t change my initial, involuntary reaction to the issue.

And while I didn’t “notice” it as much earlier on, or could overlook it, or whatever…I can’t help but feel a sense of pretentiousness to the book…that sense now of it trying to be some High Story, on some higher, multiple-levels more than “just” some straight-up super-hero thing with a huge quantity of characters all interacting that leads to a new Marvel Universe from the parts.

As is often the case, though…it will likely read a LOT better in a collected edition, when the ENTIRE story can be binge-read. At this typing, I figure I’ll finish out the Age of Apocalypse series, probably watch for some other stuff in dollar bins that I started with…but by and large, I think I’m done with this until I suck it up and buy a collected edition. 3 issues left, one probably a $4.99 to $5.99 as an extra-sized finale…that’s $13-$14 toward a collected volume!

Batman and Robin Eternal #1 [Review]

batmanandrobineternal001Story: James Tynion IV & Scott Snyder
Script: James Tynion IV
Pencils: Tony Daniel
Inks: Sandu Florea
Colors: Tomeu Morey
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Cover: Tony Daniel, Sandu Florea, Tomeu Morey
Asst. Editor: Dave Wielgosz
Editor: Chris Conro
Group Editor: Mark Doyle
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: December 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

Against otherwise better judgment, I decided to check this out. I’m sure it had plenty to do with being a #1–a chance to “check it out” from the start, before things get deep. Also that I got the impression the series is due to focus heavily on the previous Robins–Dick, Jason, and Tim–which is something I’m quite interested in (particularly Dick and Tim). I also have the hope of it being a lengthy but mostly contained story, and while I’m really not thrilled at the prospect of a WEEKLY $4 book, since it’s not like I’m really following anything else from DC and Marvel at the moment, I might be able to tolerate a weekly dose at the higher price.

We open with a flashback, then jump to the ‘present’ with Red Robin, Grayson, and Red Hood pursuing someone; a bit of an action sequence. Scene skips abound as we get a moment with the new Batman interacting with would-be Bat-protégé Harper Row, then more flashbacky stuff, and Grayson encounters a costumed figure that could have used lethal force but doesn’t; we’re introduced to this “Mother” as a concept, and “The Orphan,” and ultimately get a fairly disturbing “reveal” for the ending of the issue.

Aside from the concept, probably the first thing I noticed with the issue was the art. I tend to enjoy Daniel’s work, and even on a hit-or-miss basis, this one’s a hit for me. I really liked the look of the issue on the whole–including Dick and Jason looking rather similar (thanks to metatextual knowledge of Jason’s creation/introduction back in the ’80s). Really no complaints visually.

Story-wise I’m less-keen on stuff. Structurally, I definitely appreciate the issue. I liked that we’re dropped in on action right away (rather than some “talking heads” situation), and I like that we get a bit of an overview of the characters that seem poised to be focal points of this weekly series. It’s silly details that hung me up–stuff like “The Narrows” as a location I don’t ever remember in Gotham prior to the Nolan films or the Arkham games, as well as stuff from Dick’s flashback to his first “super-villain” tying to those films. I can’t quite put my finger on why that bugs me, but it’s there. Hardly a “dealbreaker,” though. I have more concern with Batman–Bruce’s–actions and potential motivation, perhaps just on a metatextual level.

Whatever the specifics…I enjoyed this on the whole. The issue also felt thick (and it is–I count 30 pages of story to the usual 20ish) and so the issue is much more worth its $3.99 cover price.

Seeing the third volume of the paperbacks for the previous Batman weekly–Batman Eternal–also out this week plants the seed in my mind all the more that I might prefer to just wait for collected volumes…particularly given how quickly I lost track of DC‘s weeklies last year. If I’m not going to get around to/keep up with weekly issues and binge-read anyway…might as well wait for my preferred format.

Still…a good first issue, working well as a “pilot” issue and getting me interested, confirming that yes, I am (myself, at least) interested in where this story goes, whatever the format. And as a first issue…this is well worth checking out if you’ve any particular interest in Batman’s sidekicks.

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