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Supergirl #50 [Review]

Queen

Writer: Sterling Gates
Penciller: Jamal Igle
Inkers: Jon Sibal & Mark McKenna
Colorists: Nei Ruffino, Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Cover Artists: Michael Turner and Peter Steigerwald
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Published by: DC Comics

After quite a bit of foreshadowing, last issue provided the culmination (or so I’d thought) of Lana’s story. Where I’d thought it was going to be cancer or some other terminal illness and that DC would actually allow the character to be killed, that issue ended with Supergirl barging into the morgue and finding a cocoon where Lana’s body should have been. This issue opens some time after that with General Lane and his grunts finding the re-grown body of his daughter Lucy and discovering that she’s actually alive, despite being thought dead when her super-suit exploded awhile back. We then pick up wtih Gangbuster (in a new, weird-looking costume) busting into some alien hive and getting Supergirl out…as she’d been captured off-panel since the previous issue. The hospital Lana was in has been grown over by a cocoon, as we find out that the Insect Queen lives once again, having spent the past year preparing Lana’s body to be taken over. Supergirl and the Queen fight, and it’s not hard to guess what happens by the issue’s end. We have some definite closure to things, while elements are left open to coming stories…but this issue’s events are not likely to be simply brushed under a rug.

The art by Igle is quite good. In and of itself, I have no problems with the art.

The story is also quite strong as what it is. I have never had any interest in the Insect Queen stuff with Lana, and have zero nostalgia for the silver age stuff…it was actually the Insect Queen story in the main Superman book several years ago that led me to bail on the Superman titles entirely for a brief time. As such, I was quite dismayed to see it becoming a focal point for this storyline. To its credit, the actual, overt Insect Queen stuff is basically limited to a couple brief bits last issue, and now this issue, rather than being a huge part of the overall arc. I’m interested in seeing where Supergirl herself goes from here, as Gates has continued to grow the character and give her surprisingly realistic reactions to things instead of the usual, simplistic cliches one would normally expect.

What I dislike most about this issue is the ties back to the Superwoman story, as I to this day cannot be convinced that the Lucy Lane I’ve read for 15-some out of the last 20ish years is the same character…whether this is Gates claiming the character or simply doing the best with the hand dealt, I’m not sure.

In addition to the 40-page main story (which has a 26-page chunk with no ads!), we also get a short bonus tale by Jake Black and Helen Slater (the actress who played Supergirl in the Supergirl movie in the 1980s).

A Hero’s Journey

Writers: Jake Black, Helen Slater
Artist: Cliff Chiang
Colorist: Dave McCaig
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Wil Moss
Group Editor: Matt idelson

This short is pretty simplistic and straight-forward: it’s a recap of much of these first 50 issues of Supergirl. I recognize Black from his TMNT work, and it’s cool to see his name popping up like this. While the story is basically recap, it does add a bit to the Supergirl character, as we are reminded how far she’s come, and the changes over the past 17 issues or so have been brought both betterment and clarity to the title as well as the character in the title. I also quite enjoy the fact that Ron Troupe is still around and being used again lately…he is just as important a character to me as any of the supporting cast of the Superman family of titles…and I like a great deal better than, say, Steve Lombard or the current interpretation of Cat Grant.

The art for this story is clean and fairly simple, reminding me of any of a number of animated works that don’t use too much in the way of detailed lines to get things across. Again, that works for this story, though I don’t think I’d care much for the style on any ongoing basis for this title.

As a whole, I think the only “weak point” of the issue is the cover. Turner had a significant role in bringing this version of the character into contemporary continuity, but the art used for the cover just doesn’t work for me–it seems extremely out of place, especially given how far this title and the character have come over the past few years. Maybe it’s just over-nitpicky, but Supergirl’s ears on this cover make her look like an elf, and her physical build just seems out of proportion with the way she’s portrayed lately. As with most books, though…the issue can’t be judged solely by the cover.

Story: 3.5
Art: 3.5
Overall: 3.5

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Ender’s Game: Battle School #4 [Review]

Creative Director & Executive Director Orson Scott Card
Script: Christopher Yost
Art: Pasqual Ferry
Color Art: Frank D’Armata
Lettering: VC’s Cory Petit
Story Consultant: Jake Black
Pasqual Ferry & Frank D’Armata:
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Beginning this issue, I feel like I’ve missed something. I’m not sure if I simply missed an issue…or if there was a story jump that’s alluded to in the opening text, or what–but I found myself wishing there was a bit of a recap page for this issue. I’ve read the novel this is based on, so know what’s happened…just no memory of seeing everything in this visual format.

We pick up with Ender having been transferred out of Bonzo’s army and into another army, which opens up different dynamics between Ender and the other kids. We move through the incident of the younger kids getting away from the larger bullies in the battle room, and finally to where Ender–in the computer simulation game–throws the snake through the mirror and is set upon by many smaller snakes.

On the whole, the art continues to be good and fairly stylistic. The visuals are different than what I have in my head for these events, but I can let that slide with no real trouble.

The story holds up as well–though again, I’ve read the novel and so can fill in any gaps that I’d otherwise find myself missing. This definitely continues to feel–both visually and the story–like an adaptation. Yost and Ferry do a good job of holding to the spirit of the source material, though, which is indeed a plus in that department.

For the point of the story we’re at 4 issues in out of 5, I can only assume that we are indeed going to hve a series of mini-series adapting the entirety of Ender’s Game. However, I wonder at the same time if we might get a longer series combining both Ender and Bean for the next segment, as it seems likely that this mini will end not long after the two are introduced.

If you’re not already familiar with Ender’s Game or interested in beginning with something that is an “adaptation of” the work, this probably isn’t for you–especially for the price. Otherwise, this isn’t bad, and one could do much worse than revisit the story in this format.

Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 7/10

Ender’s Shadow: Battle School #2 [Review]

Creative Director & Executive Director: Orson Scott Card
Script: Mike Carey
Art: Sebastian Fiumara
Color Art: Giulia Brusco
Lettering: Cory Petit
Story Consultant: Jake Black
Cover: Timothy Green II
Publisher: Marvel Comics

This issue picks up at and follows Bean through his time with Sister Carlotta as he learns from her and eventually seeks to learn more about where he himself came from. By issue’s end, we see Bean about to leave for Battle School to face his future.

Where with the previous issue I had not read the novel and thus had no pre-conceived notions or expectations, I have since read the novel this is based on, and had very high expectations for this issue.

The story seems quite accurate, though obviously a good deal is lost for lack of thought balloons and internal narration. Some of the art provides a bit of nearly cinematic symbolism as we follow Bean, which gives us an idea of what he’s thinking.

The art itself is good, though doesn’t quite fit the visuals I formed as I read the novel (and the first issue’s art did not insinuate itself into my mind enough to hold as I read the novel). There is a nice consistency in style, and does not seem bad; it is just what it is.

All in all, a solid issue, though two issues in and not even to Battle School, I wonder how rushed the rest of this story is going to feel.

Worth getting if you’re a fan of the Ender-verse stuff; having now read the novel (inspired BY the first issue to pick that up in the first place), I think this is a strong adaptation…it just suffers as any adaptation does by not BEING the source material.

Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 7/10

Ender’s Shadow: Battle School #1 [Review]

Creative Director & Executive Director: Orson Scott Card
Script: Mike Carey
Art: Sebastian Fiumara
Color Art: Giulia Brusco
Lettering: Cory Petit
Story Consultant: Jake Black
Cover: Jim Cheung & Morry Hollowell (variants by Timothy Green and Emily Warren)
Publisher: Marvel Comics

I almost missed this book. I’ve picked up the first two issues of Ender’s Game, and the trade dress for this is virtually identical, including the title’s logo font.

This story focuses on Bean rather than Ender. We open with Bean as a street kid trying to get in with a crew of other kids in order to survive. He presents a plan that hadn’t been done before, and while parts of what he suggests is followed–the crew gets a bully on their side–the other kids fail to see things through, which results in the bad stuff Bean knew would happen for a half-done job. The results of this helps propel him toward Battle School.

While I’d read the novel Ender’s Game a couple times and so was affected reading the comics adaptation of that, I’ve come into Ender’s Shadow cold–I’ve not read any of the later “Enderverse” novels, including the novel Ender’s Shadow. It’s cool reading about this character and seeing how Bean gets his name and winds up going to Battle School–I’m not sure how much credit to give to Card on the original work versus Carey on this adaptation. Suffice that whatever Carey does with the original, I’m having no trouble following along–and am enjoying this, knowing only that Bean was a character in Ender’s Game and that he’s the focal point of this run-through of that story.

The art has an interesting look to it. It’s almost sketchy in a way, simplistic, and yet it conveys so much at the same time. I have no problem with that–it seems to accentuate the story itself, and for a story I’m new to, I don’t think I really have much in the way of preconcieved notions as to what the look should be. I don’t have my Ender’s Game issues onhand to compare this to, but I’m pretty sure the visual styles are quite different…yet it works just fine, and I have no problem with it whatever.

On the whole, this is an enjoyable issue, even going in knowing it’s the first of a five issue mini. I enjoyed it more than the first issue of Ender’s Game, and am actually quite interested now in reading the novel of this title, just to learn more of Bean and everything only hinted at in this first issue’s segment of story.

While my usual hesitations at mini-series apply, if you’re particularly interested in seeing the property adapted visually, this is well worthwhile. For the more casual reader, I’d suggest waiting for the collected volume for a fuller experience instead of just getting a single issue’s content at a time.

Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8/10

Ender’s Game: Battle School #2 [Review]

Creative Director & Executive Director: Orson Scott Card
Script: Christopher Yost
Art: Pasqual Ferry
Color Art: Frank D’Armata
Lettering: VC’s Cory Petit
Story Consultant: Jake Black
Cover: Pasqual Ferry & Frank D’Armata
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Picking up where the previous issue left off, we see Ender’s trip to and arrival at Battle School. His teacher lays it on a bit hard, intentionally (and effectively) isolating Ender from his fellow students from the get-go…the hope being this will prevent Ender from getting comfortable, and force him to think outside the standard “system.” We see Ender’s craftiness as he quickly engages older students, proving himself worthy of their level…we also see Ender’s skill in the Battle Room, easily adapting to a zero-gravity situation other students have a harder time with.

The story seems quite true to the book as I recall reading. Whether this holds up under close/immediate comparison I’m not sure. I find it to be quite satisfactory, though. The concepts Card presents work well in present-day American culture where we’ve got a war going on a couple of fronts and non-traditional enemies abound…and military advances seem to be pushing the bounds of traditional practices. While obviously set in the future, the story has that charming relevance in present-day.

After the first issue, the visual style’s growing on me a bit–it’s still not what I initially imagined when I’d read Ender’s Game years ago…but it fits, and it’s not hard to let this visual take influence my memories. There’s a certain vibe to the art that I can’t quite put my finger on…sort of a manga influence while seeming like it’s trying to fit a live model for certain characters.

On the whole, not a bad issue. As an adaptation this holds my interest–a sort of re-reading of the familiar story, but with pictures replacing thousands of words.

I’m not entirely sure why I bought this issue…this is a 5-issue limited series, and I would be absolutely shocked if the collected-volume (aka “graphic novel”) isn’t available within a month or two of the final issue’s shipping. You’re probably better off waiting for that version, unless you’re absolutely chomping at the bit for a visual production of Ender’s Game.

Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 7/10

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