Friday, 18 January 2019

HUNK OF THE MONTH - BIG BAD BORIS...



Here's a great publicity photo of BORIS KARLOFF as the MONSTER Of FRANKENSTEIN.  No other actor was quite so effective in the role - he really looks like a resuscitated corpse, don't you think?  So give it up for Karloff the Uncanny!

Review: Supergirl #26



Supergirl #26 came out this week and feels like something of a tipping point for me and my patience with this new direction. You know what that's like, right? When you are reading a comic and you just think 'what am I reading?' Or more importantly 'why am I reading this?' Or even worse 'who chose this direction for this book to go in?'

I keep going back to the last issue of the Steve Orlando/Jody Houser run. A young Supergirl trying to figure out teenage life and super-heroing. A Kara Danvers who is feeling awkward at school and maybe having romantic feelings for the first time. A Supergirl who is stepping out from her cousin's shadow as a young hero. An optimistic young woman learning on the job, embracing Earth as home, and appropriately headstrong.

That all worked.

Now we have an edgy, vengeance-fueled Kara, alone in space, spitting on enemies, toting a Liefeld-ian gun, and being casually threatened with rape. This doesn't even feel like a Supergirl book. She is a part of an Omega Men story. Replace her with Maxima or Donna Troy or Starfire and there is no major change to the plot.

This doesn't work.

Now I know. I don't 'own' Supergirl. I have a version of Supergirl I like and that history seems to think is the default. I don't think I like this story or this Kara right now. I have sort of gone along with this direction for now seeing maybe some glimpses of things which could work. But this issue seemed to tip me towards the 'not working' side of the scale.

And perhaps the biggest shame is that the art on the book is so gorgeous. Kevin Maguire's stuff is beautiful. As always, his expressive work is top notch. The covers by Yanick Paquette and Artgerm are eye-catching. It is just such a mismatch with the material.

On to the book.



Last issue, Supergirl fought a Frankenstein-ian amalgamation of super-powered races in the form of Splyce.

She awakens this issue in the clutches of Harry Hokum. Strapped up in his lab, she hears how her genetic material has been extracted. Hokum, a sort of mad scientist with a Vermin Vundabar look, is pleased to be able to play with Kryptonian DNA.

It is interesting that Supergirl knows all about him. I suppose it makes the story-telling easier that she can give us a little exposition dump. But I wonder how much studying of Who's Who she's done. Should she know about him and the ongoing political dram of the Vega system?

She says she'll tell him why she is here if he'll free her. When he approaches, she spits in his eye.

Oooohhh ... edgy.

This just feels off.

It does give us the icky moment of Hokum gathering the spit/blood mixture off his face with his finger and licking it clean. He's disgusting.


Now in a moment I did like, Supergirl realizes her only access to solar energy is to goad Splyce. After a couple of insults, Kara induces a Tamaranean starbolt, energy she can convert to super-powers.

There is some nice irony to Splyce saying respect for the super-family is unearned when in fact she was just played.

Thank goodness Splyce didn't gut Kara with her claws instead. I guess high risk, high reward.


Kara decides to play possum even though she has regained some powers. She allows these Citadel warriors to drag her to the prison cells.

Here is where Andreyko slips in the implied rape threat aimed at our teenage lead hero.

It is gross. But I also don't need that here ... at all.


As for Z'nder Kol, he is following closely to Hokum's ship but isn't sure how he can intercede. We don't really know his intentions here, do we? Does he like her? If he only needed her ship to get away, why keep following her. He seems like a rogue. So does he have other plots?

Before he can make a move, Kara's ship is boarded by men working for Circle boss Gandelo.

Most interesting is that Kol knows this guy. Do they have a personal history? Or is Gandelo a public figure?


Meanwhile, in the prison section of Hokum's ship, Supergirl breaks free of her bonds.

Realizing she is being kept in a pen with other females who are innocents being starved to death, she decides to lead a prison break.

Again, this is a nice Supergirl moment, helping the helpless. But any heroic character would do the same. Remove Supergirl and replace her with Big Barda and you don't even need to change to dialogue. That's the problem.


As for Hokum, he is pushing forward with his genetic experiments with Kara's DNA. Despite the chance of instability, he is rapidly growing his clones.

I do love his smug look as he crows about poems being written about him. 

But even this doesn't need to be Supergirl. Apokoliptian DNA, Amazonian DNA, Thanagarian DNA ... they all would fit the story bill.


After a skirmish with guards and realizing that she probably only has a limited reserve of power, Kara tries to lead the other prisoners to freedom.

Yep. You didn't see incorrectly. That's Supergirl with a big old gun. What is she going to do? Shoot people? Does that sound like Kara?

The story dictates that she be powerless and therefore this makes some sense. But is that the story I want to read?

Erase Supergirl and draw in Kendra. Doesn't that image make more sense now?

Remember, right now Supergirl is in the Vega System, dealing with the Citadel and Harry Hokum.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that the Omega Men show up.

The team is on their own mission to stop Hokum from using an unknown immensely powerful energy source. Luckily, their attack just happens to occur when Supergirl is there. And their blasting into the ship just so happens to be exactly where Supergirl is at that time. Hooray for plot coincidences.

We get re-introduced to the team. I didn't read Tom King's series but my guess is this picks up from there. Primus lets his troops loose, including Tigorr who seems intent on killing as many Citadel warriors as he can.

Supergirl initially doesn't join in, more concerned with getting the innocents she just freed to safety. But then Primus gives us another info dump, telling us about what Hokum has been up to. I don't know if this is the King plot or something new. But this convinces Kara to join in.

I love this image, pure Maguire. You get the sense, just from that half expression that this is an almost painful incursion into Kara's mind. And the flood of images above her head gives us the sense that she is almost flooded with the backstory.


Now part of this crew, Kara breaks into the site of the energy source only to find the three 'dead' Omega Men somehow alive. But now Hokum, Splyce, and the Citadel army have caught up with our rebels.

You know what we didn't hear about this issue? Rogol Zaar. His axe. Kara's true mission.
Instead we get this side story about the Omega Men which Kara has thrust upon her. But I'll say it again, you could replace Supergirl with another space-based superhero and it would probably read just the same way.

I have talked about the 'wash, rinse, repeat' nature of Supergirl books since Loeb brought her back.
Edgy Supergirl arc.
Edgy Supergirl book fails.
New team comes on. Redeems Supergirl, bring back a classic feel.
Supergirl finally in a place of decent sales and solid stories.
DC reboots to an edgy Supergirl arc.
Repeat.

This feels like we are approaching that part of the direction where it doesn't feel like it is working. Unforunately, we are probably looking at a while before editorial pulls the plug and sends her back to Earth.

Maybe I am being too harsh? What did you guys think?

Overall grade: C-

Number 2288: The Greatest Sinners of History

I think someone had a bad experience as a youth in Sunday School: the unknown writer, and possibly also the unknown artist of this story, who tell of evildoers who are all from the Bible: Judas, Cain...and of course, the devil, or Satan or Lucifer or whatever name you append to him. They are part of a group called The Greatest Sinners of History, who have come back to “kill all good and its champions,” including the Hooded Wasp. But, who is the Hooded Wasp, you ask? Well, I don't know because the usual places I go for info, Public Domain Super Heroes and Don Markstein’s Toonopedia don’t have him. Just from looking at this story, done by an unknown writer and equally unknown artist, Hooded Wasp hangs out with a girl named Honey Wasp and his young friend, Wasplet.

The story also brings up the concept of sin. The story’s bad guys are sinners. Sin is a religious idea. Some religions consider all human beings sinners. The only good thing about sin is that most of the religious sins are not illegal under the law. While I am trying to make my way through life during my time on Planet Earth, I am only worrying about things that might send me to jail, and the list of sins I have accrued so far don’t include any felonies...maybe a few misdemeanors, but I think the statute of limitations has expired on most, if not all, of them.

From Shadow Comics, #30 (formally numbered Volume 3 Number 6, 1943).









Thursday, 17 January 2019

MIGHTY MARVEL CHECKLIST - ON SALE NOW!!!


Copyright MARVEL COMICS.  Published by PANINI

THE ASTONISHING SPIDER-MAN Vol. 7, #19

100 pages!  Stan Lee Tribute issue.

As well as the usual arachnid-action, including the next awesome chapter of the Spidey/Venom crossover, Venom Inc., this issue celebrates the life and legacy of the legendary Stan Lee with some of his greatest tales - from his very first printed story to one of his most recent.  An issue to be treasured by Marvel fans for years to come.

Reprinting material from Spider-Man/Deadpool #27, Amazing Spider-Man #792, Stan Lee Meets Amazing Spider-Man #1, Fantastic Four Annual #1, Amazing Spider Man #87, Captain America Comics #3, Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1, and Tales Of Suspense #78.

On sale January 17th.

Price:  £4.99.

Young Justice (1998) #1 - Supergirl Homage


Count me among those folks who were thrilled when Brian Michael Bendis announced his Wonder Comics imprint and Young Justice #1 specifically.

I am a fan of classic Conner. I am a fan of Cassie. And I am a huge fan of Amethyst. So knowing they were coming back, in a way that makes sense and that honors those characters, tickled me. I was on board. And the first issue didn't disappoint. It was a rollicking good time with the reintroduction (somehow) of these classic versions of the Young Justice characters with a big dollop of Gemworld on top. Bendis and artist Patrick Gleason are solidly on their game.

I have always wondered why I didn't collect the first Young Justice series from 1998. I was in the middle of residency and I wasn't reading an extended pull list. That probably explains it best. Somehow it slipped by. What makes this doubly amusing is that I was all in on Peter David's Supergirl book which was still on the shelves at the time. Back then, I tended to try anything David wrote.


But like the current run, this team consisted of Conner, Tim, and Bart. Others would join shortly afterwards.

I was reading reading the Waid Flash which occasionally had Impulse crossover. I had read the early Kesel Superboy stuff too. But somehow it missed this.

I recently ran across some of the issues in the bargain bins and grabbed a handful, including the old Young Justice #1. I was surprised to find a Supergirl moment tucked in it.

The book opens with the three main characters having dreams where they imagine themselves in the predicaments and lives of the other characters Peter David was famous for or was currently writing.

So we see Superboy sporting flame wings and Superman talking about a 'holier than thou' attitude. That is clearly a funny take on the Supergirl book.


Supergirl #25 was on the stands when YJ #1 was released. That was just 4 months after the Supergirl flame wings made an appearance in her title. It was just as she was starting to unravel her origins as an Earth Angel formed by the merging of two.

Pretty funny.


We also see Robin with a batarang hand, consistent with Aquaman's hook hand. And we see Impulse hulking out, appropriate given David had a long run on that title.


I suppose at some point I'll need to get to the three-part crossover between Supergirl and Young Justice from the late 90s.

But let me talk up the current Young Justice a bit more.


We get to welcome back lost friends.


And loved this sight gag of the diner Rogol Zaar destroyed in Action Comics #1000 get redestroyed here.

Give it a shot!

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Review: Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 8: On the Outside trade paperback (DC Comics)

Supergirl Shrine: Imaginext Figure


One of the things that I am always amazed about is the generous nature of the comic book community I am part of here on social media. Every so often there'll be package awaiting me when I get home from work from a comic of blog friend I have made here. And I do my best to return the favor when I can. #topsecretproject is always a favorite part of my con season, getting books signed for friends.

This Christmas season I got a fantastic package from great friend Russell Burbage, the founder and curator of the Legion of Super-Bloggers. Russell helps keep my on track on that site as I maintain 'Fridays with Anj' there.

The package had two pieces but I'll be covering them in separate posts.

First off, I got the Supergirl figure from the Imaginext Series 5 line.

I cannot tell you how happy I was to get this. I see these mystery figure toys all the time. There is often a Supergirl or Streaky figure that I would love to own. But I just can't gamble like this. Imagine if I ended up with 6 Green Arrows and no Supergirls?

So I never pick these up in their raw form. So to have Russell open up a pack, see Supergirl, and think of me was a wonderful. Merry Christmas to me!

On to the figure!



Now this is a great little figure. As folks here know, I am all in for the red skirt version of the Supergirl costume. So I love this.

Everything kind of works here. The high boots. The long hair. The sort of cartoonish face. It all makes this a great figure.


I don't know if I completely understand the inclusion of a sort of war hammer. But there it is.

I also can't help but think that the top of the war hammer looks like a fire hydrant.

Were these things supposed to represent something? Or was it random?


The figure has found its home on one of the shelves of the shrine, right there with the DC Superhero Girls and the Matrix costume figures.

Thanks again Russell! Such a great little figure to add to my collection!

 
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