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Supergirl #49 [Review]

Death & the Family

Writer: Sterling Gates
Artist: Matt Camp
Colorist: Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Cover: Joshua Middleton
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Published by: DC Comics

In many ways, the cover kinda spoils this issue. Then again…perhaps that’s just comin’ from a guy who sees an image that is rather “iconic”–not really in and of itself, but in the sense of an almost archetypal image. It could also be a bit of a cultural thing, at least here in the US. Supergirl collapsed on the floor, her back to us, facing the double-doors reading “Emergency” and the “red cross” signifying “hospital” (and the all-too-familiar hand-rails along the walls). Knowing the Lana Lang subplot that’s been going on in this book for awhile, it’s easy to put two-and-two together and come up with “something bad happens to Lana.”

This issue opens in such a way that if you didn’t have the familiar names of the Superman-family cast of characters, one would not be blamed for thinking this was a comic-book version of House. Lana’s on the phone with Perry, leaving her apartment, and while the doorman hails her a cab, she collapses, bleeding from the eyes, nose, and mouth, and no one quite knows why (though the reader is shown a clue).

We then get back to the Supergirl/Silver Banshee battle where Supergirl has been possessed by the spirits of the Banshee’s ancestors, turning her into a counterpart of the Banshee. Once this threat is dealt with, Supergirl and Inspector Henderson face another threat, and then converse on a rooftop overlooking the city. Public emergency over, Supergirl’s super-hearing picks up on Lana’s plight, and the personal emergency begins as Supergirl rushes to her friend. The clue at the beginning of the issue somehow lessened the impact of this scene, and that feeling of disconnect built as Supergirl dug a bit deeper into the situation, and the issue ends with a cliffhanger that should have seemed extremely obvious from the beginning.

The art for the issue’s pretty good overall. My main gripe is with the colors–for a comic, far too much seems too “shiny” for my tastes. While this may–in some ways–lend to realism, there’s something distracting and off-putting about it. Despite that, the visual style’s good, and does what the art for a comic should do.

The story’s decent, though less impactful than I’d expected going into the issue. If my suspicions from the end of the issue are correct, it represents even more of what I’m disliking about many DC books the last couple of years. Still, the actual execution adds to the characters and the development of the ongoing story, and is still definitely worth reading. Also despite expectations not being met, after reading this week’s Green Lantern #50, I should note that this issue falls into a similar well: years ago, this would’ve been a “gimmicked” cover given the supposed enormity of the interior story, AND this would be issue #50…and the final sequence would be in the next issue and not this one. As-is, the story is thus coming across much more AS story, and not like it’s being entirely padded to occur in a certain issue-number for the sake of happening in a given issue.

New readers may be lost if this is the first issue read…but it’s not impossible to get into the issue. I suspect, though, that one is just as likely to read this as “the latest issue” as to come back to pick it up after they read #50. While #50 remains to be seen as to its own worth, this issue is worthwhile reading if one’s interested in the character and her story.

Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10
Overall: 7/10

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Superman #696 [Review]

Man of Valor part three

Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Bernard Chang
Colorist: Blond
Letterer: John J. Hill
Cover: Cafu, Santiago Arcas
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Published by: DC Comics

I continue to read this book, though I’m a bit anxious to see if it improves once Superman (assumably) actually returns to it. Mon-El is a character I’ve never cared for all that much–what little I’ve known of him–and given that, I much preferred him as “Valor” from the early 1990s. But that’s from a different continuity and reality, apparently…at least since Infinite Crisis…so we’ve got what we’ve got. Mon-El–despite being written by James Robinson–remains almost entirely uninteresting (aside from the fact that I look forward to him facing off with General Lane). I’m also not much more interested in the Guardian. After the set-up of his apparently having a “daughter” to care for–who has hardly been referenced in I-don’t-know-how-long) and the confusion I have as to his identity (to this day, I have not figured out if this Guardian is a clone of the Guardian I read in the 1990s Superman titles, or if this is that same Guardian, with his origin played up more than ever before). Yet, I don’t really care enough to find out, as neither option thrills me. I also care very little for Nightwing and Flamebird. Despite their potential, there just hasn’t seemed to be much in the way of satisfying development with them…I feel like they’re just pieces being pushed around a gameboard for some inevitable endgame or arbitrary “big sacrifice” or other role in coming events.

This issue continues the “Man of Valor” arc from Action comics…which at least in itself is kinda refreshing–though it renders the cover “shield numbering” fairly irrelevant (Parts 2 and 3 of this story are “shield #23” and “shield #25” respectively). Mon-El, Nightwing, Flamebird, and Guardian make sure everyone is ok after the blast that seemingly took ’em all out. Mon-El and Guardian send Nightwing and Flamebird away, preparing to hold off General Lane’s forces while the Kryptonians make their getaway…unfortunately, the two lovers double back fearing for their friends, but ultimately leave at Mon-El’s urging. While Mon-El and Lane trade words, Guardian finds someone apparently named “Control,” and Mon-El rushes to their side to face the horror of what has happened to this character.

I don’t know who this “Control” is, though I suspect she is just one particularly forgettable character that never made any real impact on me whatsoever in my reading. As stated above, the writing inspires no real sense of connection to any of these characters, nor any interest in them.

The art comes across as better than some recent issues, though it’s still not something I’d categorize amidst my favorite work.

I can’t help but wonder if this story being more of a “crossover” with actual Story Name and chapters crossing from Action Comics is an effort to tie things together, get things over with quicker, or both.

If you’re already following the events of this ongoing “World Against Superman” mega-arc or the Superman/Action Comics Man of Valor arc…this issue’s probably worth getting. Otherwise, nothing special or spectacular here to warrant picking up outta the blue.

Story: 5/10
Art: 6/10
Overall: 5.5/10

Superman: World of New Krypton #11 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 2.5/5
Art: 2.5/5
Overall: 2.5/5

Superman: World of New Krypton #10 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 3/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

Superman: World of New Krypton #9 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 3/5
Art: 2.5/5
Overall: 2.5/5

Superman #693 [Review]

7734

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Fernando Dagnino
Inker: Raul Fernandez
Colorist: Blond
Letterer: John J. Hill
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Cafu, Santiago Arcas
Publisher: DC Comics

There’s a tone about the Superman family of titles lately. A lot of it’s visual–or at least, the visual that is associated with the unfolding story. More and more, I find my surface opinion, my initial thoughts toward these books colored by a disinclination TO like them in the first place. DC set out to do something that would drastically affect the feel or tone of the Superman books, and in that, they’ve succeeded. Whatever my feelings about the individual writers and/or artists, I’m beginning to feel like it’s a bit of a chore, following the main books.

This issue sees General Lane confronting Mon-El, trying to recruit him into the group made up of Metallo, Major Force, the Parasite, some magical character newly-introduced, and Atlas. When a plan to rebel is executed, a more “human” (or would that be “humane”?) side of General Lane is seen, with words exchanged between the two (and an editorial note indicating that Adventure Comics #2 takes place between the pages of this issue).

I have to admit I’m gladdened at the tighter continuity in the Superman books; the fact that while it’s not the same sort of direct continuation we had for over a decade with the triangle-numbering we’re still getting a larger well-connected narrative. At the same time, there’s a lot that I’m just not buying into. Chief among these elements is the “ressurrection” or “retcon” of General Lane’s being alive now, after the character’s fitting end in Our Worlds at War a few years ago. Though we see some of his human-ness here in this issue, it doesn’t do much to round him out, make him more than a caricature at present. To a large degree, this reads as “What If… General “Thunderbolt” Ross opposed Superman instead of The Hulk?” And while there’s no overt reign of darkness, the gathering of these “supervillains” as a military unit/black ops squad just reads as fairly ridiculous.

The art of the issue is not bad–it’s got its own style that sets it apart quite distinctly from others, and maintains a definite consistency with prior art teams on this book. While it admittedly not bad art by any means…the style just is not to my liking, which continues to taint the story as I have a hard time really getting into it, for noticing the art. If the visual style doesn’t bother you, or you’re a fan of the specific style, it may well be a great selling point. To the creative credit, I found myself quite surprised to discover that the creator credits on this issue seem to match those of the previous issue: something that seems quite rare in contemporary times, and as such, worth noting toward the positive.

This issue’s cliffhanger felt entirely out of nowhere–after an issue full of Mon-El dealing with Lane and 7734, we’re suddenly taken back to Metropolis and the Guardian leading the Science Police to engage the randomly-just-now-showed-up character likely to be the focus of the next issue. (We couldn’t get another couple pages of of Mon-El dealing with his place in the current status quo and end on that sort of note, with these last couple pages serving as a jumping-right-into-the-story kickoff for the next issue?)

Whatever the case, I find that it is presently the recollection of the last couple times I’ve tried to drop the Superman books that keeps me coming back–the idea that since it’s gotten GOOD within about 6 issues of my dropping the titles, hopefully I have but to wait out a few more issues.

As-is, if you’re not particularly invested in the current status quo flowing through the Superman books, this issue’s probably going to do nothing to “sell” you on the status quo nor to hook you into this title, to say nothing of the whole family of books.

Story: 3/10
Art: 5/10
Whole: 4/10

Blackest Night: Superman #3 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

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