Saturday, November 30, 2013

Trapped in the Phantom Zone

"Trapped in the Phantom Zone" from Superman Adventures #22 (DC, 1998) by Mark Millar, Aluir Amancio and Terry Austin
Yeah, Mark Millar used to write all-ages comics, and pretty good ones too. I was a huge fan of the Superman Animated series and of the WB Animated DC Universe as a whole, and am not ashamed to tell you I got Superman Adventures every month, right alongside Superman's in-continuity books, and even after I'd dropped them. At 66 issues, the tie-in book lasted 2½ years longer than the TV series (which is a shame for the underrated TV series) and was filled with fun stories, often serving as sequels to those of the show, return engagements for villains and the like, as well as animated versions of beloved Silver or Bronze Age stories (they did Kryptonite No More, for example). Need to reread some of these to cleanse my Super-palate, I think.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Break Through the Anguish

"Break Through the Anguish" from Superman vol.3 #10 (DC, 2012) by Dan Jurgens and Jesus Merino
George Perez couldn't make the New52 Superman work, at least in part because of the editorial interference he suffered and which made him rather publicly leave the book. But we tend to forget Dan Jurgens who actually did, in my opinion, make the character work before corporate yes-man Scott Lobdell took over and immediately made ME leave a book. Maybe Jurgens was making him too much like his pre-52 self, I don't know, but solid, positive superhero action (and art) is not what DC was after here. So cue thoughtless nonsense, omnipotent characters coming out of nowhere like Dr. Veritas, incessant crossover events, and whatever else the Masters wanted out of the comic that was about to give birth to a massive film.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

X-Ray Vision Gone Wrong

"X-Ray Vision Gone Wrong" from Superman vol.2 #10 (DC, 1987) by John Byrne and Karl Kesel
Whoa Clark, good thing your X-Ray vision wasn't accidentally at a lower setting! I was a huge fan of John Byrne's Superman reboot, fan enough that I stuck around until around issue 100, through a number of artists and writers, reading all four connected Superman books through the entire era.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea With Superman

"20,000 Leagues Under the Sea With Superman" from Superman vol.1 #81 (National, 1953) by Bill Woolfolk and Al Plastino
Comics legend Al Plastino passed away the day before yesterday, and since he was one of the most prolific Superman (and Superboy) artists during the 50s, I knew I had to show one of his splashes from the era. In addition to his Superman comics work, he also worked on the newspaper strip (and Batman's as well). Famously, he drew the first Legion of Super-Heroes story, and the Parasite's first appearance as well. Infamously, he was hired to redraw the faces of Superman and Jimmy Olsen on Kirby's early issues of the latter's series.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dominator Mech

"Dominator Mech" from Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #26 (DC, 2007) by Mark Waid, Barry Kitson and Mick Gray
Volume 5 of the Legion of Super-Heroes turns into Supergirl and the LSH with #16, reverting only to its original name upon her departure as of #38. I missed most of this first time around (because I was out of comics entirely), but am now assembling this run which looks to be a lot of fun. Mark Waid's Supergirl AND Legion? It's worth a shot.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Raging Supergirls

"Raging Supergirls" from Supergirl vol.6 #22 (DC, 2013) by Michael Alan Nelson, Diogenes Neves and Marc Deering
I've tries three times now to get into New52 Supergirl, mostly because I want to support iconic female superhero books, but DC makes it very hard. I tried the first issue, of course, but it was a return to rage-filled teenage girl, something that was done in volume 5, and I wasn't interested in her slugging it out with her cousin. The Silver Banshee issue made me look, but it wasn't enough to get me back in. Then Power Girl, a favorite character, showed up, and those issues were a scream. So I stuck with it, and Supergirl had mellowed since the first ish, and then, well, a new Cyborg Superman that's her dad (or something) and we're off into Villains Month and so on. I'm out again.

And those knee holes? Nonsense. The crotch patch? Extra terrible.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

For Bizarro World!

"For Bizarro World!" from Supergirl vol.5 #57 (DC, 2010) by Sterling Gates and Bernard Chang
The fifth volume of Supergirl, this time starring the real Kara Zor-El, didn't start off on the right foot, with over-sexualized art and Jeph Loeb, whose cred had been dwindling, on story. I skipped it. Four years later, good buzz about Sterling Gates' take on the character just as I got interested in Superman again, allowed me to give Supergirl another shot and I was pleased by what I saw. Gates' stories were solid and fun, and Kara was a positive character. The last couple arcs, by James Peatty and then Kelly Sue DeConnick, actually sent the character in what I felt was where she should have been all along. Supergirl undercover in college was especially keen. So of course, Flushpoint had to puy an end to it.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Supergirl Constellation

"The Supergirl Constellation" from Supergirl vol.4 #51 (DC, 2000) by Peter David, Leonard Kirk and Robin Riggs
After decades of "writing Supergirl stories is too hard", leading to the character's death in Crisis following a movie appearance, Peter David finally had a hit with, well, not Kara Zor-El, but Linda Danvers at least. This was the Matrix Supergirl created by John Byrne, who had rebooted Superman to be the VERY last survivor of Krypton. I don't know if I have the capacity to explain this version without it sounding like a 90s X-Men comic, but basically, she's an artificial protoplasmic creature from a pocket universe Earth based on Lana Lang but having adopted the Supergirl identity. Under Peter David, she was fused with a dead teenager, bad girl Linda Danvers, and acquired angelic powers. The series has strong thematic underpinnings about identity and resurrection, which eventually, near the end of the 80-issue run, all by David, brings the "real" Supergirl (Kara) into the mix. It might just be one of the great comic book novels of the 90s (by which I mean huge runs by the same writer) and certainly the best sustained effort on a Supergirl title.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Supergirl vs. Blackstarr

"Supergirl vs. Blackstarr" from Supergirl vol.2 #14 (DC, 1983) by Paul Kupperberg, Carmine Infantino and Bob Oksner
When Daring New Adventures of Supergirl wasn't new anymore, and not so daring I guess, it turned into Supergirl vol.2 (from #14-23). If it lasted that long, it's probably because the Supergirl movie would soon come out, but neither the book, nor the film were very good. Because I've only ever had dim memories of the movie, I'd always connected its villain, Selena, with Blackstarr, which I only really knew from Who's Who, though they have nothing to do with one another. The weird connections kids make in their heads.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


"Super-Medusa" from Supergirl vol.1 #8 (DC, 1973) by Cary Bates and Art Saaf
It took 13 years of appearances in Action Comics for Supergirl to get her own series, and it was basically the story of the world's most powerful girl struggling to get dates. And Silver Age stylings like the above. Even a Zatanna back-up couldn't save this kitschy book, and it was merged into Superman Family after a mere 10 issues.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Rave

"The Rave" from Superboy and the Ravers #5 (DC, 1997) by Karl Kesel, Steve Mattson, Paul Pelletier and Dan Davis
The 90s Superboy also hung out with a team, the Ravers, all new characters who frequented an interdimensional rave that changed locales every time you went. It was a rather fun book that actually did something with Dial H for Hero AND Rex the Wonder Dog, but most stories weren't particularly memorable, and once Pelletier left, the art went south very quickly indeed.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Chemical King's Funeral

"Chemical King's Funeral" from Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #229 (DC, 1977) by Paul Levitz, James Sherman and Jack Abel
The transition period when Superboy was losing his book to the Legion through the 70s saw a lot of all-star creators work on the title. Cary Bates and Dave Cockrum were the initial team, with Cockrum redesigning the future before leaving to give the X-Men a famous All-New All-Different treatment. He was replaced by future star Mike Grell, who was joined by Jim Shooter. And in the last few years before Superboy was dropped from the title, the under-valued Jim Sherman came on, working with Paul Levitz, who would go on to write more Legion stories than any other person in history. One of Levitz' first moves was to kill off Chemical King, to replace him with Dawnstar. I think we came out ahead.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Superman Family in the New 52

"The Superman Family in the New 52" from Superboy vol.5 #0 (DC, 2012) by Tom DeFalco, R.B. Silva and Rob Lean
In a nutshell. Insert your opinions about Harvest here.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Superboy vs. Kid-Flash

"Superboy vs. Kid-Flash" from Superboy vol.4 #5 (DC, 2011) by Jeff Lemire and Pier Gallo
Spinning out from Geoff John's fine little run on the character in Adventure Comics, Kon-El's pre-52 book was a sweet little affair painting Smallville as a weird superhero Twin Peaks/Eureka/Univille, and Jeff Lemire was the perfect writer for it. The book had a nice supporting cast too, including Luthor's brilliant niece and a non-timber wolf Krypto. One of the great losses of the New52, since Superboy became nigh unreadable  after the jump.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Super Sloucher

"Super Sloucher" from Superboy vol.3 #12 (DC, 1995) by Karl Kesel, Tom Grummett and Doug Hazlewood
Though visually a 90s fad nightmare, I really loved the post-Reign of the Supermen Superboy title, with Superboy in Hawaii fighting the likes of the Scavenger and King Shark, and kissing the likes of Knockout. Well, the costume design was 90s excess, but the art itself was good clean fun from Tom Grummett (most issues) and Karl Kesel really knows how to do fun superhero comics (he even brought me back to Marvel with his Daredevil, after a total ban that lasted several years). I didn't follow the book for long after this team left (the second time, Ron Marz filled in between 31 and 49), but it lasted 100 issues! (More when you count the 0 and million issues.) Remember when series numbering was allowed to go that high?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Clark Loves Destruction

"Clark Loves Destruction" from Superboy vol.2 #5 (DC, 1990) by John Moore, Jim Mooney and Ty Templeton
The Superboy TV series spawned a 22-issue (+ Special to tie up loose ends) series about Clark and Lana attending Shuster University and the young man of steel coming into his powers. What I've read of it was not unpleasant, and hey, Templeton on Mooney? Cool. And Kevin Maguire covers too! Later issues with art by Curt Swan gave the book a very retro look for the early 90s though, with Superboy looking like the Silver Age Superman in most shots. That just didn't seem right.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Punching Saplings

"Punching Saplings" from Superboy vol.1 #18 (National, 1952) by Alvin Schwartz(?), John Sikela and Ed Dobrotka(?)
While I don't think it's a good idea to kill trees this young, a real waste whichever way you look at it, it's still a heck of a lot better than punching the walls of reality until your favorite comic book universe is turned into your least favorite. If you know what I mean.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Orion as Gulliver

"Orion as Gulliver" from Super-Team Family #15 (DC, 1978) by Gerry Conway, Arvell Jones and Romeo Tanghal
What's more appropriate to a over-sized comic than an over-sized hero? Shame about the late 70s costume.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


"Earth!" from Super-Powers vol.2 #5 (DC, 1985) by Paul Kupperberg, Jack Kirby and Greg Theakston
I remember when the first mini-series came out. Marvel's Secret Wars had truly captured my imagination, and I was so sure Super-Powers was the DC equivalent. But I just couldn't bear the Kirby-lookalike artwork. By the time a second volume came 'round, this time actually by Jack Kirby, I was a fan of the toys Super-Powers was shilling for, but NOT a fan of the King. I've gone back on that since, BIG TIME, but I still admit his 80s work was a far cry from the 70s stuff I most love. There was a third mini, this time with art by Infantino, another comics legend I have little use for at the time (and even today). I don't think I even remember that one coming out.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Jesters' League of America

"Jesters' League of America" from Super Friends vol.2 #4 (DC, 2008) by Sholly Fisch and Dario Brizuela
Though pitched a bit young for me, the DC Kids Super Friends book usually had some big, fun ideas whenever I picked up an issue. I had a friend whose little boy was wanting to get into superhero comics, but she didn't know what was age appropriate, so I went out and got her the first issue of this (not as a back issue, it had recently come out) and it seemed to make the kid and his mother pretty happy. I  hope it eventually scored him some of the toys too.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Phantom vs. the Super-Friends

"The Phantom vs. the Super-Friends" from Super Friends vol.1 #6 (DC, 1977) by E. Nelson Bridwell, Ramona Fradon and Bob Smith
Ok, Menagerie Man isn't the Phantom. He's the Phantom during Movember, slumming it in the DCU. Well, the almost-DCU since Super-Friends was not technically part of DC continuity. But if you're looking for light-hearted fun, or perhaps back stories for Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog, or a secret identity for the Wonder Twins, then you've got to read these books (I think most if not all have been collected). Am I right in thinking the ethnic heroes introduced on the show (Apache Chief, Samurai, El Dorado, etc.) didn't appear in the comic? Or do I only think that because the book introduced a large ethnic cast as the Global Guardians to - I thought - compensate. Many of THOSE guys did go on to have a big impact on the post-Crisis DCU, which puts Super-Friends' canonicity in question.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Suicide by Giant Monster

"Suicide by Giant Monster" from Suicide Squad vol.3 #21 (DC, 2013) by Ales Kot and Patrick Zircher
After Adam Glass' Flashpoint: Legion of Doom, a boring splatterfest featuring imprisoned super-villains, I lost hope that his New52 Suicide Squad would be to my tastes. As it happened, it was not. But regardless of the writer, the premise is not a particularly viable one in a rebooted universe. Think about it. The original Suicide Squad made use of 50 years of old villains (and covert heroes) that could be put out to pasture, recycled or turned into a main player. It was exciting. In a new universe, no one has any history, so why should I care if they live or die? And where do you pull new members from? You get characters literally created (or re-created) to die. As new and better writers have come on after issue #0, I'm interested in checking things out again, but then I think, nah, it can't have improve that much, can it?

Friday, November 8, 2013


"Surrounded" from Suicide Squad vol.2 #7 (DC, 2002) by Keith Giffen, Paco Medina and Joe Sanchez
I've slowly been accumulating issues of the short-lived second series, because I really want to read it, even though it can't possibly match the original and has some surprisingly cartoony artwork. Sgt. Rock leading the team is either interesting or a stupid corruption of the character (never liked him mixing with the superheroes except in insane Bob Haney Brave and the Bold stories). At 12 issues, it at least isn't likely to wear out its welcome. Any big fans  out there?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Movie Poster: Flight of the Firebird

"Movie Poster: Flight of the Firebird" from Suicide Squad vol.1 #5 (DC, 1987) by John Ostrander, Luke McDonnell and Bob Lewis
I have a deep abiding love for John Ostrander's Suicide Squad, and firmly believe it's one of the very best titles of the 1980s, well ahead of its time, and looking at the Squad or Squad-like series that followed it, still unmatched. It took villains (and heroes!) who were ciphers or jokes, and made them fan favorites. It had a natural hook for introducing guest stars in an unusual format. Even its original supporting cast was memorable and worth following. Wonderful stuff, and despite the fact the Cold War still raged in the early stories, it feels as modern as anything published today. More so.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Never Around When She Needs Him

"Never Around When She Needs Him" from Sugar and Spike #91 (DC, 1970) by Sheldon Mayer
WHERE'S OUR OMNIBUS COLLECTION so I can start having kids already?!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Man Who Leaped Over the Earth

"The Man Who Leaped Over the Earth" from Strange Sports Stories #3 (DC, 1974) by Elliot S! Maggin and Dick Giordano
This crazy anthology series lasted only 6 issues, but was pretty funky and issues I've seen were good fun. It probably couldn't have lasted MUCH longer, then again, Adventure Comics (not the DC one) also published a three-issue mini-series with the same title. Based on synopses, I can't tell which series was the superior one.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Invasion of the Flying Reptiles

"Invasion of the Flying Reptiles" from Strange Adventures vol.1 #121 (DC, 1960) by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson
Yeah! Dinosaurs in strange settings! Well, these ARE strange adventures, after all. A long-running (23 years) science fiction (and sometimes supernatural) anthology that was the home to Captain Comet, Deadman, Star Hawkins, the Atomic Knights, Animal Man and Immortal Man, among others. Its 8th issue's cover is also credited as starting comics' famous gorilla craze AND #205 as having the first use of narcotics in a Code-approved book!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Steel Yourself, Here Comes...

"Steel Yourself, Here Comes..." from Steel, The Indestructible Man #1 (DC, 1978) by Gerry Conway, Don Heck and Joe Giella
Creating a fake Golden Age character in 1978 may not have been a very good idea. Five issues later, that idea was dead. Or was it? Roy Thomas still used the character in All-Star Squadron, Justice League Detroit continued his legacy (yes, I know I'm not helping his case with THAT reference), and more recently he's been resurrected as Citizen Steel. Maybe it's because his costume DOES look like it could have been designed in the Golden Age. It's just classic enough to make writers and artists want to bring him back in some form, I guess.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Steel Hates Astrology

"Steel Hates Astrology" from Steel #52 (DC, 1998) by Priest, Denys Cowan and Tom Palmer
Despite not having the striking Jon Bogdanove art that brought John Henry Irons to life in Reign of the Supermen, Steel did retain Louise Simonson as writer, providing low-key, but sensitive stories about the character and his family. I lost touch with the book after the Shaquille O'Neil movie apparently prompted a change of direction, and came back to check out Priest and Cowan's final arc on the book, giving it a distinctly Milestone Comics type of feel. Steel should be DC's premiere African-American hero and I can't believe he's not up there right now with Cyborg and Batwing. It's not like he hasn't been brought back yet!

Friday, November 1, 2013


"Milestones" from Static Shock vol.2 #8 (DC, 2012) by Marc Bernardin, Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens
The most durable Milestone property, Static had his own well-received series, his own animated series, and even a spot in the Teen Titans when DC tried to integrate the Milestone characters into the DCU (and otherwise failing miserably). So when he got his own New52 series, it seemed proper. But no, it wound up under-performing and was one of the first on the chopping block. I wish I could at least say it was a travesty of justice, but sadly, it's true the book was never much more than average.