Hawk & Dove 3 (January 2012)

Hank Hall didn’t vote for Obama, but he’s not going to let his evil counterpart (Condor–who knew Gates was a Michael Crawford fan) kill him. I think they were just trying to appeal to the conservative reader… but then immediately lost the Tea Party reader. Anyway, it’s another crappy issue from Gates and Liefeld. It’s really more Deadman’s book than Hawk and Dove’s. I mean, Deadman saves the day. And, wow, even though he’s mostly possessing people, Liefeld still manages to draw him terribly. While Hawk (in particular) is a terrible Liefeld rendering, Deadman is beyond incompetent. It’s an all-action issue, which…

Hawk & Dove 2 (December 2011)

I know the new DC Universe is racially diverse, but I allow know DC doesn’t like being topical with Presidents (so they can be timeless). But is the bad guy choking Obama at the end? It’s kind of ballsy. Otherwise, Hawk & Dove is the opposite of ballsy. Gates’s plotting is so safe and traditional—unless you count someone getting tortured by a suicide girl—the comic would be terrible regardless of the artist. In two issues, Gates’s writing has made me wonder if I just imagined his Supergirl writing or if he just had a better editor. This series follows Hawk, which is…

Hawk & Dove 1 (November 2011)

Are they bringing Don Hall back to life? My brain actually hurts after looking at the Rob Liefeld art on this book. I was trying to understand his view of the human body and its proportions and I think my brain broke. His men seem to be without waists and ribcages and his women have the proportions of Barbie dolls. And Liefeld’s Deadman is just plain goofy. He looks like a life-size balloon. Given the incompetence of the visual storytelling, I can’t tell if Gates had a good script. I don’t think so. I think he breaks the rules of epical progression…

Supergirl 59 (February 2011)

All writers have limits… and it’s too bad Gates’s limit is writing Cat Grant as a likable human being. He just can’t do it. He tries and tries here, but he ends up making Superwoman more likable than Cat. It’s a strange disconnect. There’s just something so hateful about her, he’s gone beyond a point where he can even bring a glimmer of humanity to her. That statement made, it’s a wonderful issue. It’s a Christmas issue, ending up in Smallville (it’s hard to tell Kara’s supposed to be the one in the glasses—I thought they were still drawing Ma Kent with…

Supergirl 58 (January 2011)

Gates really humanizes Cat Grant here (I didn’t know she had a dead son, for example) and it comes a little late. If he’d done it earlier, she wouldn’t have seemed so shrill. Besides that delay in characterizing, it’s a good issue. Igle does a great job with Supergirl, as usual, but something about his approach is a little different. This issue is the first in forever not to be laden with New Krypton scenery or props; it gives Igle a chance just to do the superhero stuff and he does it really well. Gates’s pacing is a little off too, I…

Supergirl Annual 2 (December 2010)

For the annual, Gates sends Supergirl to the future. The whole new Legion of Super-Heroes continuity is incredibly difficult to understand. Every time they guest in a book, I get even more confused. But Gates does a good job doing a done-in-one adventure. The story moves, has a lot of scenes, and has Supergirl and Brainiac 5’s relationship develop a little. What’s bad is Matt Camp’s art. He draws everyone like they’re twelve—making the Supergirl kisses Brainiac 5 scene a little confusing—and it draws attention to things one shouldn’t be minding. There’s some fill-in work from Marco Rudy and Rudy looks a…

Supergirl 57 (December 2010)

Thank goodness for the colorist because without him, you wouldn’t be able to tell who Chang was drawing as a Bizarro or as a non-Bizarro. Chang actually manages to draw Supergirl okay (too lanky to be slutty even), but everything else is a bit of a disaster. His art lacks dimension, which messes up his proportions eventually. Again, Gates uses the events on Bizarro world to make Supergirl feel okay about herself and the New Krypton thing, but here it works a little better. Maybe because he’s got an actual relatable event, maybe just because he really does make all the Bizarros…

Supergirl 56 (November 2010)

It’s amazing how much I enjoy Supergirl even though the issues read so fast. Gates never leaves the Bizzaro planet this issue either, so there’s no subplot development. It does open a little weak, with Supergirl telling the unconscious Bizarro-Girl helping her will be a cathartic experience (not in those exact words, but close enough). Gates doesn’t know how to do subtle self-reflection. It’s not a superhero comic standard for a reason—there just isn’t room for it. But once Supergirl and Bizzaro-Girl land, the issue just gets excellent. There’s space bugs, the DC version of Galactus (oh, wait, didn’t he have bugs…

Supergirl 55 (October 2010)

Another very fast read, but it goes very smoothly. Gates resolves his cliffhanger pretty quickly—all while developing the Bizzaro-Girl character into a sympathetic character (some via flashbacks to her origin on the Bizzaro planet). Supergirl, of course, is the only one who can see her as a misunderstood creature and not a monster.But Gates also has time to bring in a second action sequence, handle some stuff at the Planet (Cat Grant has some subplot of her own going, in addition to the Lana discovery) and then come up with another end sequence. It’s an excellent issue, the kind of thing one…

Supergirl 54 (September 2010)

Besides one glaring problem (implying there’s a supernatural pedophile out there posing as a Metropolis cop and kidnapping kids), this issue of Supergirl is a great read. It’s a fast read too—really fast, but it all works. Well, wait… more Cat Grant lameness as she discovers Supergirl and Lana’s relationship/ DC’s unable to produce good new villains. The issue opens with Jimmy Olsen discovering Bizarro-Girl in a good sequence (so good Gates should do an Olsen series of some kind) then finds Kara (or Linda) moping while Metropolis gets destroyed. Lana has to call her up to motivate her and the scene…

Supergirl 53 (August 2010)

It’s an issue of Supergirl without a bunch of crossover stuff? I mean, there’s still some crossover stuff (and apparently they’re keeping Lucy Lane alive because Superwoman’s just a great villain… eye-roll) but it’s mostly just Lana and Kara talking. Wait, Linda. She wants to be Linda Lang now. I had to go read up on Wikipedia how the “New Krypton” thing finished up. It’s surprising, with such an iconic cover, the series is totally unconcerned with picking up new readers. There’s some good stuff between Linda and Lana, but Gates can’t keep it up when he’s got Linda refusing to help…

Supergirl 52 (June 2010)

I didn’t read the previous issue in the crossover—even though the notice tells the reader to stop and go read it first (I figured that issue would instruct me to read something else and I can only handle so much of this inane crossover). Let’s see… from here I can tell all three villains from Superman II are back (new costumes, of course), Lex Luthor is betraying Brainiac (shocker) and Supergirl and Brainiac 5 got together some time in the future. Or the past. I never finished reading that Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes book; I’m unsure if it’s in continuity.…

Supergirl 51 (May 2010)

Poor, poor Supergirl. Once again, trapped in a crossover she didn’t make, she takes a back seat to Mon-El, the Legion of Super-Heroes (wait, Mon-El’s in the Legion, right… well, he’s not with them this issue), her mother, General Zod and some cute little Kryptonian girl. Igle gets to do an action issue, which he handles well. He gets to do some iconic panels too and he likes those… shame they are only occasionally Supergirl-related. Very little actually happens in the issue, which is probably editorially mandated. It goes… fight scene, fight scene, talking scene, fight scene, talking scene, talking scene. I…

Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton 1 (May 2010)

Does DC have any ideas? I mean, any whatsoever? Reading this comic, it seems like the last three crises were just used—as far as Superman is concerned—to reboot Zod as a villain. I mean, he’s a psycho bad guy again here. It’s so incredibly tired at this point, who do they think cares? Even when the mystery supervillain shows up at the end, it’s another “who cares” moment. I know James Robinson gets geek cred for Starman and Golden Age but he’s the guy who wrote The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie. Maybe he’s past his prime. Speaking of past his prime……

Supergirl Annual 1 (November 2009)

Dagnino’s art isn’t bad–in fact it’s good a lot of the time–but why does he draw Lana Lang like she’s about thirteen years old? She looks the same age as Kara or younger. Gates tries to come up with an affecting story but it’s pretty pat. Supergirl foils a bank robbery and inadvertently outs some Kryptonians living on Earth. The most striking thing about the story is how weak the Kryptonian’s argument is when she’s berating Supergirl. It’s a competently told, but utterly pointless tale. Dagnino’s handling of the bank robbery has some great panels though. Then there’s Lucy Lane’s origin story.…

Supergirl 50 (April 2010)

Yay, Igle’s back. And he’s back for an issue where Gates gets around to doing everything. Unfortunately, Superwoman and Sam Lane are back too. Apparently one can never get rid of Johns’s worst ideas for the Superman line of books. There’s a great moment where it seems like Lane might dissect his daughter. Then he doesn’t. But the rest of the issue, featuring the return of the Insect Queen (Lana Lang) and Supergirl defeating her, is good. There’s even some Supergirl knows science stuff, which Gates doesn’t make a big deal about. The end is pretty sad though. Supergirl abandons a recovered…

Supergirl 49 (March 2010)

Camp does a fine job, but I’m really missing Igle. Gates does two things this issue. First, he resolves the Silver Banshee cliffhanger and does a great job with it. He’s able to do a relatively concise action sequence, get in some character development for the police inspector friend of Supergirl’s and introduce the possibility the Silver Banshee might be nice to people occasionally. The rest of the issue is spent on Lana and there’s a giveaway this issue. A cockroach. Doesn’t Lana Lang become Insect Girl or something along those lines? Insect Lady? I sort of assumed it had already happened…

Supergirl 48 (February 2010)

Gates finally gets to the Lana thing–her nosebleeds and everything else. Turns out she has an unknown form of cancer (or something). I understand the need for drama, but Gates handles it poorly. He doesn’t handle it badly, he just handles it unrealistically. Supergirl’s anger about Lana not telling her is overblown and her concern is meager. Luckily, the rest of the issue is solid. It starts as a recap of Silver Banshee’s origin and leads into some expanding of that origin (there’s brief homage to Chuck Austen and John Byrne at the open of the issue–they both worked on the character,…

Supergirl 47 (January 2010)

You know, I hate to rag on Jon Sibal’s inks when he’s not on an issue… but Matt Camp’s fill-in here looks a lot like Igle before the Sibal inks. It maintains some of the roundedness. It’s not all about having thin lines. Also, this issue shows off what’s wrong with editors. Here, at the end of the New Krypton primary nonsense, Gates gets to define Supergirl’s mom. Her backstory–given earlier–would have made her a great, rich, conflicted villain. Instead, Gates gets to do it at the end when it doesn’t really matter anymore. I mean, it’s a really good issue–Supergirl’s barely…

Supergirl 46 (December 2009)

I love not reading the other parts of this crossover, it makes my brain work a little to catch up. Rucka’s back as co-writer here (and Igle and Sibal get help from Pansica and Ferreira). Again, no idea what Rucka does and doesn’t do. Similarly, Pansica matches Igle (especially with Sibal on inks) close enough it’s hard to tell them apart. There were some pages I really liked, reminding me of Igle before Sibal… then I realized it could be Pansica and Ferreira. Anyway, Gates and Rucka manage the action versus plot development well here. There’s also a nice tip of the…

Supergirl 45 (November 2009)

And now it’s in the middle of another crossover… I love it when comic book publishers are hostile to casual readers. Umm. Rucka co-writes here. Not sure what contributions he made. From what I can tell, the world now knows Sam Lane is alive and he’s a hero and the Kryptonians (Superman included?) are the villains. Does anyone else remember the nineties, when you had to read every Superman title just to understand what was going on? It’s very similar. Except they don’t have flashy hologram covers. The nineties stuff was probably a little better in some ways; at least it was…

Supergirl 44 (October 2009)

I really don’t like Sibal’s inks on Igle. He’s way too reductive. It’s almost like he’s trying to make it look like Ian Churchill or something. This issue is part of a Superman family crossover. It seems like Sam Lane is trying to get a Kryptonian to assassinate the President. So Gates has to compete with the just plan stupidity of the crossover here. I mean, didn’t Marvel do something like this one in the nineties? Or Image? It’s just awful. But Gates does a decent job with the action, even though he barely has time for anything else. Lois shooting Supergirl…

Supergirl 43 (September 2009)

Kryptonian society really isn’t thought out enough. This issue is about Kara going from guild to guild (a guild is basically a career path–I’m assuming it’s all for the greater Kryptonian good, dirty socialists) and seeing what they’re like. Gates frighteningly frames it in a letter to her dead father. Because he’s using it for narration, it sort of cheapens the idea of it as a grieving process. It comes off as an easy way to narrate an issue and to feign emotional connection. What’s so off about Gates using it is the actual content is good and shows Kara and her…

Supergirl 42 (August 2009)

I love how Kara’s got a backpack for traveling between New Krypton and Earth. It’s a fantastic detail. The issue opens on a low point—the revelation Sam Lane served under Sergeant Rock—but it quickly recovers. First it’s Kara telling Lois about killing Superwoman. It’s an excellent scene, even if Lois is being a bit of a bitch and not particularly smart. I thought she was an investigative reporter and she can’t figure out her evil dad is back from the dead. Then here’s some superhero stuff with the bad guy getting out. I guess this Reaction guy is a Supergirl villain, not…

Supergirl 41 (July 2009)

It’s another fast issue. Gates doesn’t reveal all about Lucy Lane being Superwoman (she dies so I figure it’s safe to spoil) but it’s pretty clear Sam Lane was having his daughter murder people in order to frame Superman. Did Thunderbolt Ross ever go that far? The problem with Supergirl so far is the villains, whether Lucy, Sam Lane, the supervillains this issue or Kara’s mom… is their one dimensional personalities. Gates is following the DC standard—being really mean and evil makes a great villain—and it hurts the book. Also hurting the issue is the fill in art from Dagnino. Igle always…

Supergirl 40 (June 2009)

Okay, I did not expect that reveal for Superwoman’s identity. Gates does manage to reduce his supporting cast by at least two and maybe three here, so it’ll be interesting to see if he uses that opportunity to finally get Supergirl running on its own. But what he does with the Superwoman reveal is nice since he’d sort of set it up to be something different the last issue and then this issue, when Supergirl does figure it out, the reader isn’t privy to her thought process. It’s a surprise for everyone (well, at least for me). He does take the time…

Supergirl 39 (May 2009)

This issue is a very fast read. It’s solid, because it should be a fast read–it starts with Superwoman revealed to be a villain and continues to get Supergirl up to speed on that point. Gates manages to get in some decent moments. The way he establishes Lucy Lane isn’t particularly bad, just a jerk. He also gets in a nice scene with Kara and Lana. The series really needs a breather issue where Gates isn’t forced to spend half his time on crossover obligations. It’s clear Gates hasn’t set the series up to run independently yet. Caldwell fills in for Igle…

Supergirl 38 (April 2009)

Some revelations this issue. Well, for me anyway. First, Superwoman works for Thunderbolt Ross (sorry, Sam Lane–again, who ever said Johns’s Superman: Secret Origin was better in terms of continuity revising than Byrne’s Man of Steel? Not me). Second, she’s not Kryptonian. Do these revelations have anything do with Supergirl? I mean, the book’s called Supergirl. Maybe. I’m sure they’ll play out in action scenes anyway. Otherwise, there’s not much Supergirl here. Superwoman kicks her butt and Kara crawls home to Lana, one of those nice relationships I wanted to see more of but don’t get to because of the New Krypton…

Supergirl 37 (March 2009)

This issue’s a little bit better. There’s a lot of down time with Supergirl (why she wears make-up, I’m not sure–it’s a big Gates is a guy writing a female character moment) hanging out with Superwoman. The development of Supergirl being her mother’s pawn is a little weak and Gates doesn’t spend any time trying to give Alura any depth. It must be a DC editorial directive to have lame Superman villains. There’s a lot of nice stuff in the issue, mostly because Igle gets how to balance the superhero comic. Supergirl hanging out at the sun, flying through the city with…

Supergirl 36 (February 2009)

Ah, so it’s Supergirl’s mother who’s a psycho nut… Interesting choice. There’s some very nice Igle art this issue. He’s got a lot to do here–battle scenes, talking heads scenes, a memorial service. He does fine work. Maybe a little fast on Supergirl’s father dying, but still… nice work. As for the writing, Gates is constrained. He’s writing a big crossover event installment. He’s got to get the plot from point A to point B so the next guy can pick it up (I’m safe saying guy because I’m talking about Superman comics). Turning Supergirl’s mother into a one dimensional villain isn’t…