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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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Superman: World of New Krypton #12 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 2/5
Art: 2.5/5
Overall: 2.5/5

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

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

Action Comics #885 [Review]

Divine Spark, part 3

Writers: Greg Rucka and Eric Trautmann
Artist: Pere Perez
Colorist: Javier Mena
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover: Cafu with Santiago Arcas
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson

With Chris safe (for now) from the aging that was killing him, Nightwing and Flamebird confront The Guardian and his Science Police as well as Mon-El. The confrontation sees revelations shared as to what the two are doing on Earth, and new alliances as the “true” “enemy” emerges. Lois confronts her father, and everyone’s lives are in jeaopardy at issue’s end.

I continue to hope for another spark of enjoyment of this title like I had during the Brainiac arc. While I still don’t like that Jonathan was killed off, there was something to Johns’ story then, and Frank’s art, that as a whole made for a very enjoyable product. Fair or not, that’s the standard I find myself holding this title to, and it’s a standard that–for me–is not met.

The story itself is fairly straightforward, and well within the bounds of the overall story being played out in the Superman family of comics from the past year-plus. It continues to hold potential, but somehow just doesn’t quite fully take off and actually do anything with it.

The visuals also are pretty solid, but not much to my liking–but as with all art, that can be very subjective. Characters are all recognizeable and no one comes across as particularly abnormal-looking, and there’s little trouble following the action. The art certainly fulfills its role that way…it just doesn’t have anything that leaves me in awe or particularly marveling at the issue’s visuals.

Taken in a vacuum, the story’s worn thin and worn out its welcome with me–I’m ready to see Superman restored to the blue and red as well as to his own title and this one. Taken in context of solicitations, previews, and the like…it’s great to know that the “status quo” is about to change, if only to see what the next “phase” of the overall Superman corner of the DCU will be like.

Captain Atom, Chapter Seven
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Cafu
Colorist: Santiago Arcas
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson

In this issue’s second feature slot, Captain Atom battles a number of other DC super-heroes in typical fashion before ultimately having a chance to explain himself and what he’s doing here. Others then step in, leaving us on a “cliffhanger.”

Visually, this segment isn’t all that bad, though the characters all come off with a somewhat generic appearance, almost a lack of some sort of detail I can’t quite put my finger on. The story is typical and seems to break no new ground, and really just serves to fill in a continuity hole, bridging events involving this character over the past six years.

While Captain Atom’s story is presently tied to the Superman books by story itself as well as being a second feature, it seems that his segment shortchanges the lead story, taking valuable space from that. It’d be preferable to have a separate bi-monthly or quarterly regular-sized-issues series to tie this character into things.

As a whole, this is another standard issue of the title. If you’re already following things, it’s worth continuing. If you’re on the fence…I can’t say this issue would really convince you to hop on in. I’m obviously not blown away by the issue…but neither am I convinced to drop it. Just disappointed that this doesn’t in any way feel like required Superman reading.

Action Comics
Story: 4/10
Art: 5/10

Captain Atom
Story: 4/10
Art: 5/10

Overall: 4.5/10

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

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