SUPERGIRL / SKYBOURNE / GODZILLA / GLITTERBOMB / ALTERS / CYBORG REBIRTH [Reviews]: Fight The Power.
Steve Orlando (Batman & Robin Eternal, Midnighter) and Brian Ching (Star Wars, Witchblade) team up to invite fans of the CBS Supergirl TV show into the world of comics with Supergirl #1. Together, they depict an exceptionally intelligent Kara Danvers who is adjusting to a stressful life as an American Kryptonian teenager while also juggling a full-time job as a superhero agent of the D.E.O. If you thought answering to your parents was bad as a teenager, poor Kara has to deal with Agent Chase. Constantly she is restricted and scolded for the one thing that she can be herself–Supergirl–because she can only wear the cape with the permission of Chase, her parents or the D.E.O. And, of course, she struggled with the self-imposed burden of feeling she must constantly live up to the example of her “younger” cousin, Superman.
Orlando and Ching excel at showing readers that Kara has a completely different experience than Clark, as she had real memories, hopes, and dreams on her planet of Krypton. As of right now, she is more Kryptonian than human, making her a superteen with the understandable super power of being extra whiney. But, this issue leaves you on a cliffhanger that justifies this issues title “Reign of the Cyborg Superman.” And, with that, most readers will want to see what happens next. 4/5 Bibles.
Be un-originally original. Frank Cho‘s latest, Skybourne, feels familiar in a very undistinguished way. It’s not bad, not at all. Some corny dialogue, but it’s a comic so I won’t sweat that. Issue #1 “introduces” the reader to the plot, three children of Lazurus grow up to essentially be Luke Cage + immortality and live in modern times. Super strength, impenetrable skin, and the gift of life eternal have given these three (even though we really only meet one) a certain set of skills that enable them to be real bullies to normal types like you and me. On the trail of a certain mystical sword, things get topsy turvey and the immortality piece comes into question. Skybourne is a cool, interesting read with new characters that are both familiar yet original. 3.75/5 Bibles.
Godzilla as a monthly comic? It is a dubious concept, but luckily for this title, it has great art backing it up. Here, we follow the history of some of the more famous kaiju in the Godzilla series, and their first (?) appearances in 13th century feudal Japan, and their rediscovery in 2016. The artwork during the 13th century sequences was beautiful, and read as if unearthing an ancient Japanese scroll, with very stylized artwork and renderings of the monsters…but, as with most Godzilla films…the humans are a bit bland. Even if they are feudal Japanese women ninja warriors. When the kaiju are throwing down, it’s stylized beauty…otherwise it is world building for a world in which humans garner little attention or purpose. I might stick around for another issue or two to see if the story moves beyond trying to create a “mythology”. (Kudos to the creators for throwing in the two miniature singing Japanese women from Mothra…having recognized them from the recent Rifftrax skewering was a pleasant surprise.) 3/5 Tiny Singing Japanese Women.
Glitterbomb #1. This title is extremely deceiving! When I was first given this assignment, I wanted to reply with, “It’s because I’m gay, isn’t it?” — but, whoa(!!), was I in for a surprise. The cover art by Dijbril Morisette-Phan was dark and captivating. I instantly couldn’t wait to read it. The story is simple, thus far: An out-of-work actress, Farrah, goes to the ocean after a terrible audition to have a meltdown. Something seems to speak to her from the sea, and she blacks out. It seemed to “remember” her. Now, when she gets angry, these clawed tentacles shoot out of her mouth, and kill the person who upset her. Freaking mouth tentacles! Awesome! Readers will likely have a hard time waiting for the next one, as more is to come on Farrah’s history– especially with this seemingly symbiotic being. Image totally got me hooked with this book. 5/5 Bibles.
Paul Jenkin‘s Alters is trying very earnestly to do the right thing, but unfortunately it misses the mark when it comes to both the characterization and the narrative. On paper the idea is genius–parallel the concept of having a secret identity as a superhero with living a “double” life as a transgender individual. The story concerns a young man named Charlie who discovers that he has special powers which designated him as an “Alter” which is the nomenclature for these people in this particular universe. Simultaneously, Charlie is coming to terms with the fact that (s)he wants to transition from the male gender to a female gender. Charlie then becomes “Chalice” and assumes a female appearance when dressed as a superhero.
While I liked the idea of Chalice having to juggle all of these identities, the issue is that Jenkins never really goes anywhere meaningful with it. It just comes off as heavy-handed and pandering without delving into the complexities of how Chalice feels about everything. It feels like a cliche Lifetime movie rather than a genuine examination of transgender issues. The superhero side of things is sparse as well, as the Alters aren’t explained and the villain seems to have no motivations. While it’s nice to see more inclusion in comic books, I feel like it still should be compelling and interesting–both of which this comic is not.
The saving grace of this issue is Leila Leiz‘s artwork which is extremely colorful and pop art inspired. Her bold lines and stylized characters are beautiful and carry much of the story. Now, I am am not a transgender individual so I can’t be entirely sure that Chalice’s character design is completely accurate, and I did find it weird that she looks so much more womanly-shaped (to include small breasts and an hourglass figure) while in her costume because when she is out of her uniform and walking around as Charlie she has none of these characteristics. That inconsistency was kinda annoying but other than that I found the art to be great. Hopefully, as Alters continues Jenkins will find a more consistent voice to tell Charlie/Chalice’s story with and imbue it with more depth. The team behind the comic is multicultural which is a nice aside. 2/5 Bibles.
Cyborg is reborn in a very straightforward first issue that tries to shoehorn all the basic facts about the character in its initial pages. The comic speeds from one pivotal point in the characters life to the next without actually allowing time for the plot points to breathe. Scribe John Semper, Jr. (Spider-Man: The Animated Series) and artist Paul Pelletier (Aquaman), while an interesting team, ultimately do little for the first half of this book. It’s not until the origin is out of the way that this issue truly starts to open up.
Seemingly promising that the series will explore the elements of Victor Stone’s Soul, or lack thereof, Cyborg Rebirth #1 draws some parallels between itself and Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. This new angle on the character is a breath of fresh air, opening the door for a philosophical examination of this DC comics classic character. Pelletier’s art does a fantastic job at eliciting scale for the book and is, overall, just genuinely fun to look at. Slow start aside, the second half of this book feels like a blast from a mother box. 3.5/5 Bibles.