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The Weekly Haul – Week of September 14, 2016

Another manageably small week for me, and of primarily (or just) DC stuff.

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I made three exceptions in buying stuff coming to me later this month via DCBS bundles… Three issues that I wanted immediate gratification, to read right away, no waiting.

As usual, Action Comics and Detective Comics were top-notch…”proving” to me they genuinely are back to being the “flagship titles” of their families, and the publisher.

I was rather curious about Superwoman, and while interested in the story and such, it didn’t feel quite up to the moment for me, so I’ll likely be a bit more patient next month and just wait on it.

While I’m digging Detective, I figure I might give it one more issue like this and see if the fate of Tim Drake is an ongoing subplot* or not…and if it isn’t a heavy thing, I’ll wait–THE reason I was making this book an exception was Tim Drake, and if he’s not going to be used as a prominent character in the ongoing story, then I can definitely wait a bit on reading the story.

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On Saturday, for the (third?) annual Batman Day I swung through a shop I was passing and browsed a bit and ultimately settled on Dark Knight, Dark City–a volume I’d apparently forgotten about but presumably had known about. It’s another of these nice, thick volumes DC has been putting out that is truly a solid value at full cover price but which is even moreso at a discount.

20% off for Batman Day and a FREE (to me!) Batman (2016) #1. New/variant cover, but as a freebie and special event, in this case, a variant, the existence of the variant is honestly quite acceptable to me. The only rub is, this is a free copy of a full issue that was just released commercially for full cover price about three months ago. Of course, with the biweekly shipping, Batman already has six issues out and a new arc beginning in a couple more days, so anyone pursuing the story for immediacy is not in a position of having an issue of the “current” story handed away free after having just paid for it.


Over at the Facebook Page (you do know I have a Facebook Page, right?) I’ve also just shared a couple links that Bleeding Cool posted; pieces on Clone Conspiracy and another on what impact the Civil War II “tag” has had on crossover/tie-in books.

The Clone Conspiracy piece is basically some coverage of a statement writer Dan Slott put out there urging retailers to order more copies of the upcoming premiere issue, and urging consumers to contact their shops now to ensure they have a copy on hold.

Apparently the mini-series/”core event” will be the CORE Spidey book, so the actual ongoing (excuse me, seasons) of the “regular books” are just along for the ride, telling tie-in stories (the difference here vs. Civil War II is that Clone Conspiracy seems to be a “smaller event” contained to the Spidey family of books rather than crossing the entire universe). However, I fully expect Marvel to have “leaked” or otherwise provided the/any major spoiler information to a news source that will “go live” with it at least two days ahead of the issue’s actual release, thus negating any reason to “have to” get it or ability to enjoy being surprised by a Marvel comic.

The Civil War II piece looks at the impact or lack thereof on several titles tying into the universe-spanning event. Me? I’ve “dropped” the only two titles that I had been giving a chance, from Marvel. I didn’t even wait for the actual tie-in issues of Power Man and Iron Fist or Thunderbolts to come out to skip…once I was certain I’d seen an issue of each as having a tie-in, I dropped ’em cold turkey.

Why waste $4 an issue for additional issues when I already know I’m not going to be going beyond the first handful of issues anyway, thanks to the tie-in?

Of course, I personally do not matter, not really: factor in variants and my purchase is absolutely not required…there’s someone else who’s glad to buy an extra copy or few that more than makes up for me.

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Supergirl Annual #1 [Review]

Secret Identities / Second Born: The Secret Origin of Superwoman

Writer: Sterling Gates
Penciller: Fernando Dagnino
Inker: Raul Fernandez
Colorist: Blond
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Renato Guedes
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue functions much as I would expect of an annual “special” issue. We have a couple of stories by the main series writer–stories that are directly relevant to current ongoing plots, but I wouldn’t necessarily want to see the regular issues slowed by inclusion of these stories in chunks nor taking a whole issue.

Essentially, we finally get to actually see Supergirl in her new civilian guise of Linda Lang (the introduction of the concept having been interrupted by the start of the whole New Krypton affair last spring). We see that she’s not nearly as experienced as her cousin, but it’s her learning curve and differnces that make the character more interesting–she’s not just some “clone” of her cousin–we see some real depth to her here. While we see development of Supergirl sorting out elements of her own secret ID we also see continuation of the anti-Kryptonian sentiment present in the current DCU.

The second story of the issue gives us a background story/origin of Superwoman, and how it was that Lucy Lane wound up in that role. While it technically “fits,” it’s not a story that I particularly “buy,” and it leaves a sour taste for me much like the “Supermen of America” story did in the 90s taking a character that has no business with Superpowers or such being given them as anything more than a one-off situational thing. Within the already-set bounds of belief-suspension, Lucy Lane having any sort of super-powers (provided by a costume or otherwise) doesn’t fit for me. We also see where the character is being further subjected to fantastical elements that just seem really out of place to this reader.

The art throughout the issue–for both stories–is not bad, nor is it anything spectacular. It holds its own, but I could take it or leave it.

If you’re following events in the main Supergirl book, you’ll want to snag this annual–its stories are certain to play into major plot points in the main book in the coming months. This mostly deals with plot threads prevalent in the main book, so I wouldn’t particularly recommend this issue as a jumping-on point.

Story: 6/10
Art: 6.5/10
Whole: 6/10

Supergirl #44 [Review]

Codename: Patriot part 3

Writer: Sterling Gates
Penciller: Jamal Igle
Inker: Jon Sibal
Colorist: Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Fernando Dagnino & Raul Fernandez with Mazi
Publisher: DC Comics

Ral-Dar, the would-be-assassin of General Zod overhears conversation between General Lane and his people which sparks an outburst leading to his fighting Atlas (recent villain in the Superman title). We then move into seeing Superman, Supergirl, Lois, Mon-El, and the Guardian interacting with one another at the Science Police headquarters. Some tenseness plays out given Supergirl’s role in the recent apparent death of Lois’ sister. Supergirl and Mon-El set out to deal with Nightwing and Flamebird (Flamebird being a childhood friend of Kara’s). The confrontation doesn’t go well, and things escalate as everyone moves toward their places on the board for the final chapter of this story in the next issue of Superman.

The story feels a bit forced here…and yet, on the whole it works. This is the third chapter of a 4-part story with a tighter crossover than we’ve had for the last half-year or so in the Superman books. It feels forced in that certain things set in place by the other titles have to be acknowledged as well as the core in-title story elements. It’s interesting seeing so many of the characters interacting after the separation the last few months. I’m glad to see that some story elements from earlier issues are coming to fruition here, adding to a feeling of the story being more organically-generated than otherwise.

The art’s solid as usual. There are points where I think of Guedes’ style in this issue, but definitely prefer this visual presentation. The art does what it should, getting things across quite well. No real complaint there.

Overall, not a bad issue. It plays with elements from the ongoing story in this title, but mixes well with the “intruding” elements of this “crossover.” One would be lacking in context without the earlier chapters…but even if one hasn’t read those, enough ongoing elements are here that that story is not entirely derailed by the crossing of titles. Similarly, if one is following the Codename: Patriot arc, one may not “get” everything in this issue, but there’s plenty of context on the essential story elements.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 7.5/10
Whole: 7.5/10

Supergirl #42 [Review]

Who is Superwoman? conclusion: epilogues & homecomings

Writer: Sterling Gates
Penciller: Fernando Dagnino
Inker: Jamal Igle
Colorist: Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Joshua Middleton
Publisher: DC Comics

We see more wrap-up on stuff from the Who Is Superwoman? arc here as Supergirl faces Lana and Lois–telling the latter about the death of her sister. Lana fills Supergirl in on the relationshp between Lois and Lucy, while we see General Lane dealing with the death of his daughter.

This issue worked a lot better for me than the previous issue–while I don’t totally “buy” Lucy’s military career and role as Superwoman, it’s a lot easier to “buy” the fact that something horrible happened (her death) and someone having to break the news to Lois. This also adds a bit of depth (cold as it is) to General Lane’s character as he comes to grips with what he’s lost.

Gates seems to hve a good handle on these characters and the relationships they have between one another–such as in Lois’ handling of the news she’s presented with. Though on the book less than a year now, Gates has turned this from an outer-rim sorta book almost embaressingly tied to the Superman family into one integral to the family of books, making Supergirl into a real-seeming teenage girl (albeit alien and with tremendous super-powers). Igle’s style continues to work very well with the stories–though my sole gripe continues to be the way ears are drawn, for whatever reason.

All in all, another strong issue of this title, well worth reading if you’ve been following the book. If you’ve not been following it, you’ll likely be fairly lost, as much of the action in this issue comes from what’s transpired in the last few issues.

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

Supergirl #41 [Review]

Who is Superwoman? part five: Daughters of Krypton

Writer: Sterling Gates
Pencillers: Fernando Dagnino
Inker: Raul Fernandez
Colorist: Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Joshua Middleton
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue “concludes” the “Who is Superwoman” arc. Basically it’s a drawn-out fight sequence between Supergirl and Superwoman, with some drama for Lana thrown in to round things out a bit. In a way I wouldn’t expect much else–the two have come to be enemies of sorts, especially given Superwoman’s role in the way things went down when Zor-El was killed during New Krypton.

The cover seems really flat and a bit stylized…definitely not an image that would “sell” me on a comic (the way Brave and the Bold #23’s did). Better than I could draw, but not all that appealing.

The art’s prett good for the issue–no real complaint from me on it. It fits the story, conveys what needs to be gotten across, and though largely seems like a darker/heavier color scheme, it feels like a story set in a world where Superman could exist.

The story isn’t nearly as enjoyable. I don’t for one second buy the identity of Superwoman (and even if I were to buy into it, it merely continues an unfortunate trend toward the unbelievable in comics that I can easily otherwise suspend my disbelief for).

On the whole, this isn’t all that enjoyable an issue–I’m hoping that now we’re past this silly “mystery” of Superwoman, we can get into more story and character exploration for Supergirl herself.

If you’ve followed the arc thus far, it’s worth snagging this issue as well. This is certainly not a good jumping-on point for new readers, and whatever your status, should not be taken as a representative issue for this series.

Story: 5/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 6/10

Supergirl #39 [Review]

Who is Superwoman? part three: Ticking Clocks

Writer: Sterling Gates
Pencillers: Jamal Igle & Talent Caldwell
Inkers: John Sibal & Talent Caldwell
Colorists: Tom Chu & Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Joshua Middleton
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue picks up on and deals with the ramifications of the “reveal” regarding Superwoman’s point of origin last month. We see her retrieve Reactron (who was earlier menacing his ex), and leave a scene that shows Supergirl that the stakes are quite high in this conflict. Supergirl converses with her mother and with Lana as she ponders her current place in things, and we begin to see the reaction of those who expect Superman and “get” Supergirl instead. Finally, Agent Liberty’s killer seems to stand revealed, prompting Supergirl back into action.

I’m not a big fan of Reactron–newish character I’m not all that familiar with; I wasn’t reading this title when he was introduced. However, I am quite glad to see that we continue to have all parts of Kara’s series/continuity recognized and not simply discarded. Though not a fan of Reactron, I can see how this character can come to be quite the menace for Supergirl, perhaps even on an ongoing basis (depending on how all the New Krypton stuff shakes out, ultimately). It’s interesting to see the continuing relationship between Kara and Lana, as well as the development of Kara’s relationship with her mother of late. I have no real complaint in terms of the story itself.

The art for this issue comes from two sources, and while that’s often not a big deal with me, it was quite noticeable, which is something I’m not all that thrilled with. Neither batch of art is bad or anything; it’s just that each is different enough that it’s a bit of a distraction (especially in catching myself curiously looking to see how Caldwell draws characters’ ears, since ears are the only thing I’m not all that thrilled with from Igle’s art).

The issue’s story holds true to the characters involved, and continues to build on stuff not only from New Krypton but also from stuff going on in the other Superman books, and makes for a nice, satisfying read. You need not be following the other books to “get” this one as this series’ stories can work on their own. There’s a lot more to “get” and enjoy out of this with knowledge of the other books, and having this as just another part of the much larger ongoing story being told across all the Superman books.

Story: 7/10
Art: 6.5/10
Whole: 7/10

Supergirl #38 [Review]

Who is Superwoman? part two: Clashes

Writer: Sterling Gates
Penciller: Jamal Igle
Inker: Keith Champagne
Colorist: Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Joshua Middleton
Publisher: DC Comics

I’m finding myself with mixed feelings on this book. True, Kara finally has some depth and personality, motivation and complexity, and most of the crap from the earliest issues of the book has been dealt with to satisfaction and we’re moving forward. While that’s all a good thing, I also find myself growing a bit bored of the New Krypton stuff. The trouble with it is that I have no idea how long this will be a part of DC’s continuity for these characters–I feel like it’s still a bit of a bubble that’ll burst in some deux ex machina that’ll take us back to something resembling the recent post-Infinite Crisis status quo. I also don’t see how this title would have or could play much with Final Crisis–even if the Kryptonians would be too aloof to want to help earth, wouldn’t the New Gods have detected the presense of all these Kryptonians and sought them as hosts far more powerful?

All that aside, this issue picks up with Supergirl back on Earth–where “all Kryptonians except for Superman” have been legally banned. She’s there by order of her mother to retrieve Reactron–the man who murdered her father, Zor-El and bring him back to New Krypton to face the Kryptonians. At the same time, a Superwoman with questionable loyalties fights Kara, insisting that she not be on Earth and return to New Krypton at once, mission unfulfilled. After this battle, we cut (no pun intended) to the pending autopsy of Agent Liberty, and a squabble over who has rights to the body. Back at Lana and Linda Lang’s apartment, Supergirl staggers in, battered and beaten. Meanwhile, Superwoman faces Reactron herself–and poses a very interesting question.

The story itself maintains a solid flow–we’re building on events from the last few months, both from this title and the other Superman family books, particularly the New Krypton story. As said above, I’m growing a bit tired of it, though, and it’s not really holding my interest. Which is not to say it’ll hold no one’s interest, but it doesn’t hold mine the way the opening chapters of New Krypton did.

The art is solid–as with previous issues, for whatever reason my only real gripe is with the way the artist draws ears. Aside from that, I have no particular complaints visually–the art is distinctive, clear, keeps one in the action and does not leave me scratching my head as to what’s going on.

Origins & Omens
Writer: Sterling Gates
Artist: Matthew Clark
Colorist: Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson

I’m definitely growing a bit tired of the Origins and Omens backups–they take away valuable pages from the main story, rather than being an entire extra batch of pages tacked onto the existing full-sized issue. This one expands upon the fact of Kara’s being torn between Earth and New Krypton, the choices she faces by giving full loyalty to one or the other. This short also suggests a rather harsh road ahead for Lana, which may tie into a story done in this title before the current team took over.

Story was brief and simplistic…not much in the way of plot–it’s more a feeling or environmental, almost surreal sorta scene. The art was fine–I recognize the artist’s name, but can’t quite place it, unless this was the previous artist on Supergirl.

All in all, a good issue of this title, but not really flying to greatness just yet. I do expect the story will actually come across better down the road–in collected-edition format and/or simply with some time given to be able to look back on it and see where everything was headed, rather than wondering what IS.

Worth snagging, especially if you’re a fan of the character, the creative team, or those slightly-questionable-at-this-point green pentagonal “triangle numbers” still showing up.

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

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