Archive for Cancellations

Gone Again

Well, I think it’s time I put the blog back in mothballs again.

The major problem I’m having with it is that it takes a ton of work to update it — even without keeping to a regular update schedule. It still takes at least two days to write up a book review, and that takes up time I could be using to work on other, more interesting projects.

And not that I don’t appreciate all my loyal readers, but doing all that writing for just the five of you is kinda not great.

I still think blogs are a good thing. I think they’re a better way to talk to folks, without having to deal with the various poisons we have to deal with in social media. But it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve grown very tired of fighting my brain to think of new posts.

My main regret is that I’ve still got a tall stack of books and comics I’d love to review for you, and a decent number of RPG characters I think it’d be fun to share. Maybe I’ll be back eventually, if the drive to share some of this stuff gets too strong to resist.

But for now, I’m outta here. I’ll leave you with these important words to live your life by: THE ONLY GOOD NAZI IS A DEAD NAZI.

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It’s been over four years since I shut the blog down, and I regret to inform you that I’m back.

Why? I certainly wasn’t enjoying writing this when I quit, and I’m not under many illusions that I’ll enjoy it more if I start back up again. Blogging is hard work, and it’s incredibly ephemeral, and it’s a distraction from the stuff of real life.

But the world changed all around me and around you and around all of us over the last four years. And I think it’s time to start again.

So again — why do this again? I think it boils down to the simple fact that we all got persuaded that we should give up on blogs and personal websites so we could focus our online lives into social media. And the past few years have certainly shown us that social media suuuuuucks.

Facebook? Zuckerberg and his goons are sociopaths willing to burn the world down for a few extra bucks and a few giggles. Twitter? @Jack is a Nazi, and the only good Nazi is a dead Nazi. Instagram? Listen, I absolutely love Instagram — but it’s owned by Facebook now, and eventually, it’ll turn on us, too.

And the worst thing about ’em? They really are a great way to keep up with your friends. That’s a hard thing to give up, and while I understand people who’ve given up social media so they don’t contribute to the sad state of the world, I know I’m probably not going to be able to quit Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram until it’s way, way too late.

Nevertheless, blogs were — and are — good. And personal websites were — and are — good. They do things that social media can’t do at all, and we never should’ve given up on them.

So I’m starting the blog back up again. Not because I think I can lead other people to start blogging again, but because I want to do it. I hope it’ll be fun. I hope it’ll be a way to improve my writing and my communication skills. And I hope you enjoy what I do.

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The Final Issue


Friends, I’ve decided to shut the blog down.

As I’ve said more than once in the past, I don’t have a lot of love for this blog. Most days, I really kinda hate it. It doesn’t have a lot of readers, which isn’t that surprising, because almost all I write about is comics reviews, and no one really enjoys comics reviews. The only reason I do them so much is because they’re easy, and it’s much faster to knock out a couple reviews every other day than to do something more complicated.

And even saying reviews can be done quickly, they can’t really be done quickly enough. Working on the blog generally takes a few hours of work, and those hours could’ve been used more productively. Every day that finishing a blog takes ’til bedtime, I have to consider all the projects I could’ve been doing in that time — writing on more fun or substantial projects, reading books, even working on household chores. Those all fall by the wayside because I spend too much time blogging.

It doesn’t mean that I’m not feeling some regret and trepidation about quitting it. I’ve been working on this thing since June 2007, and that seems like a pretty long time to keep a blog active. I’ve written a few things I’m quite proud of, and I’ve always liked the idea of having a platform online where I could break out a good rant if I felt the need. But I also feel that the downsides of working on the blog now outweigh the positives, and it’s time to bite the bullet and shut it down.

I don’t plan on completely shutting it down, honestly — I’ll stop writing on it, but I’ll maintain it. Keeping the domain name ain’t very expensive, and I’d like to keep the site around, partly so the few cool things I wrote will still be around, and partly because I may someday feel like ranting about something. It’s always possible I may want to start blogging again someday, although right now, that seems awfully unlikely.

It’s been interesting to look back and think how much the comics industry — or at least my reaction to the comics industry — has changed over the past eight-plus years. When I started out, I was a complete DC fanboy and read very few books by Marvel. Nowadays, I read relatively few DC books — I’ve still never gotten over the New 52 reboot, and I don’t think the quality of the comics has leveled up to what it used to be. And I read a lot more Marvel books now, because they’re doing a better job of creating the diverse storytelling background that all publishers are going to need going forward.

And it has been really great to see the comics industry catching on — with the occasional neanderthal backslide — that they need to have better female characters to appeal to women readers. It’s also been great to see male readers reading comics with those female characters — great comics are always worth reading, no matter who the stars are. Now hopefully, the industry will step up their game even more on the diversity front. There have been improvements everywhere, but we can’t afford to forget that comics readers come in all ethnicities, all sexual orientations, all gender types. There are ways that the comics industry is pulling the rest of the entertainment world along into the future — I hope they can maintain that march forward.

I will miss getting to read along with y’all as we watch the ongoing robo-tragedy in “The Vision.” I’ll miss reading with you as we follow the fun in “Unbeatable Squirrel Girl,” “Howard the Duck,” “Lumberjanes,” “Spidey,” and “Ms. Marvel.” I’ll miss getting to enjoy the creepy horrors with you in “Harrow County,” “Revival,” and “Alabaster.” I’ll miss discovering new wonders with you in the pages of “Silver Surfer,” “Astro City,” and “Atomic Robo.” I’ll miss following along with you as we learn what finally happens at the end of “Bitch Planet,” “Rat Queens,” and “The Wicked + the Divine.” I’ll miss discovering new and wonderful comics together with you, and watching where the comics industry may finally end up. But I reckon y’all are going to do fine without me reading reviews at you week after week.

So y’all keep spreading the good word about good comics. Read the new stuff, read the old stuff, read superhero comics, read all-ages comics and horror comics and fantasy comics, read literary comics and silly comics. Read comics you love, and evangelize about how great a good comic book is. You’ll be amazed who you can sometimes convert into a dedicated comics fan with the right bit of comics evangelization. But whatever you do, keep reading the good stuff, and don’t be afraid to have fun with your comics.

I’ll see y’all when I see y’all.

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Another Cancellation for the She-Hulk


She-Hulk #12

Alas, another “She-Hulk” series cancelled before its time. Has there ever been another character so cool and fun who had so much trouble keeping a series going for the long haul?

The Big Bad has been revealed — the minor superhero Nightwatch was never actually a superhero at all. He cast a spell that sacrificed everyone in a small town to make everyone think he was a hero — and the only person who knew otherwise was George Saywitz, whose lawsuit became the Blue File. Nightwatch then cast other mind-control spells to make sure that anyone investigating the Blue File would come to a bad end — and he uses his mind-controlling abilities to make Jennifer attack Hellcat. Is She-Hulk going to kill her own friend? Will Nightwatch get away with everything?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Or is it down? This would’ve been a very acceptable end to a simple storyarc — the bad guy is revealed and defeated, other mysteries are solved, some others are not solved, everyone prepares for the next challenge. But for the end of a series? I think we needed more than this. Maybe not more punching — Shulkie did plenty of punching in this issue — but maybe a bit more lawyering, since that’s really one of the things that Jenn Walters does best.


Sensation Comics #7

Our first story is a sci-fi mini-epic in which Wonder Woman accompanies a space station exploring the planet Venus — only to learn that there are giant monsters out there willing to attack the station and steal away anyone they can. Our second story focuses on Lt. Angel Santiago, a soldier in Afghanistan assigned to engage with Afghani women to encourage them to influence the men in their villages to oppose the Taliban. Lt. Santiago and her fellow soldiers come under attack by insurgents — and she starts seeing Wonder Woman helping them all survive. Is she hallucinating?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Both stories are really good, but they are especially cool for some of the smaller details. In the first one, with the visit to Venus, Diana has two different costumes — when we first see her, she’s just gotten back from a crisis in Karachi, Pakistan, so she’s wearing an incredibly cool star-spangled hijab. After that, she changes to a metal spacesuit version of her classic costume. And after that, she and a supporting character discuss the trials and tribulations of the modern superheroine — all very funny stuff. And in the second story, I love the fact that we never actually know if we’re operating in the DC Universe or the normal world — the story works wonderfully either way. And there’s some great attention to detail, too — several of the Afghans are depicted with red hair, which is actually not uncommon there. And the art in both stories — by Neil Googe and Bernard Chang — is exceptionally well-done. An absolutely outstanding superhero comic here, people — go pick it up.


Lumberjanes #11

Molly and Mal are trapped in a lost world — with dinosaurs and everything! — with the shapeshifting bearwoman. And they’re going to be stuck there a really long time unless they can run a gamut of deadly threats so the bearwoman can get back… her reading glasses? And back in the real world, Ripley, April, and Jo are trying to earn some entirely mundane merit badges — and failing miserably at almost all of them? How can butt-kicking adventurers have so much trouble decorating cakes, making their beds, and dancing?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not as pants-wettingly awesome as some previous issues have been, but we get tons of outstanding characterization and lots of funny stuff.


Ms. Marvel #12

Loki gets dropped off in Jersey City to look for the Inventor’s henchman and ends up inventing a scheme to get Kamala to fall for her pal Bruno — mostly against Bruno’s wishes — involving slipping Kamala a cheesy love poem and enticing her to come to the school dance. Things don’t go particularly well after that.

Verdict: Thumbs down. The story wants to be funny — it wants to be funny so very, very badly — and it just can’t do it.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Pet Revengers


Beasts of Burden: Hunters and Gatherers

Yay, a one-shot of Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson’s outstanding “Beasts of Burden!” These don’t come out often, but they’re always great fun to read.

There’s bad news on the way for the monster-fighting pets of Burden Hill — the Wise Dogs who help back them up in times of crisis are going to have to give them even less help than normal — the whole area is faced with various supernatural crises, and they have too much work to do. And there are already some serious problems the Burden Hill pets have to face — like the giant invisible monster chasing down and eating pets and people in the area! They manage to vanquish that foe — barely — and we get an opportunity to see some of the other animals in town, some of which are appreciative, some of which are dismissive, and some of which — like the rats and the crows — are likely to become serious threats in the future.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Love this series so very much. The art and writing are both fantastic, the characters and dialogue are always fun, and the action, humor, and creeping sense of foreboding are beautifully done. You shouldn’t just get this issue — you should find every possible comic from this series.


Batman: Li’l Gotham #12

Our first story features Batman and Robin searching for Damian’s lost pet turkey, Damian — they’re not making a lot of progress because people keep making jokes about losing a turkey so close to Thanksgiving. In the end, they find Jerry in a fast food restaurant, held hostage by a new supervillain called the Condiment King! He specializes in squirting people with condiments, and he has a bunch of fast-food-themed henchmen. Will the Dynamic Duo be able to stop the villains and save Jerry? In the backup tale, Alfred tells Damian about the various members of the Bat-Family in the Wayne family album, and the heroes even help spread holiday cheer.

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, it’s cute, fun artwork, and funny, family-friendly storytelling. My lone quibble? This is the final issue of this series! Man, that is monumentally no fair.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • A great interview with Ed Piskor on hip hop and comic books.
  • If you’re going to freak out this hard about a haboob, I hope you’ll remember that our numerals and system of writing came from the Muslim world, too, so you’ll never write anything on the Internet again.
  • It’s always a good time to talk about compassion. Because our leaders and pundits are usually running on a severe compassion deficit.

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Final Farewell to the FF


FF #16

It’s the last issue of this gloriously quirky comic book. The Future Foundation has managed to shut down all of Dr. Doom’s defenses. His robots have been destroyed, his allies are wrecked, his hostages freed, his science, sorcery, and stolen power have all been neutralized. It’s all down to Dr. Doom vs. Ant-Man. Scott Lang doesn’t stand a chance, does he? Oh, you might be surprised…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not trying to tell a lot of the plot, to avoid spoilers, but it’s quite interestingly done, and if Marvel doesn’t end up forgetting all this, it’s going to make anyone using Pym particles a lot more powerful. But most importantly, this is a wonderful farewell to an awesome cast of characters, adults, kids, superheroes, supervillains, freaks, and weirdoes. It’s really too bad this one isn’t going to stick around — I’m going to miss Darla Deering, Bentley-23, and Tong.


Mighty Avengers #5

The Superior Spider-Man has decided he wants to take over the Mighty Avengers and run it like his own personal paramilitary force. Luke Cage and Jessica Jones aren’t having any of that, and they clean Otto’s clock — at least until his Spiderling minions shoot them with high-tech weapons. Can anyone save them from Otto’s wrath? Maybe a big green lawyer. Meanwhile, inside Attilan, time-controlling corporate supervillain Quickfire is after some mystic artifacts while Spectrum, Falcon, Ronin (actually Blade — still don’t understand the silly subterfuge), Power Man, and White Tiger try to stop her — and while a three-headed monster tries to eat all of them. Who will survive and what will be left of them?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m enjoying the writing, the characters, and the story even while I’m still despising Greg Land’s tracing.


Pretty Deadly #4

Looks like we’re gathering our cast of characters together, slowly but surely. Johnny Coyote rescues Sissy from drowning in the river. Ginny and the Mason battle each other, but eventually come to an understanding. Death restores Alice to her form so she can go out and kill more people. And we slowly find out what this is all about.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This story gets a lot more enjoyable when you can keep track of all the characters and what they’re up to. Honestly, I don’t think this ever should’ve been released as single-issue comics — it should’ve been a complete graphic novel from the very beginning.

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Farewell, Young Avengers


Young Avengers #15

It’s the final issue of “Young Avengers”! NO FAIR! Can we trick Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie into continuing this series somehow?

Marvel Boy has a heart-to-heart with Broo — who isn’t actually paying attention to him. Loki makes an appearance, we find out who zombie Patriot was, We find out where Tommy was hiding, and we get one final moment with the whole team together. Plus one final surprise about some of the characters’ sexual orientations…

Verdict: Thumbs up. And not just for this issue, which was entirely fun and charismatic, but for the series as a whole. We need more superhero comics where the characters are this much fun to read about. The big reveal at the end will get everyone talking, but the bigger news is that it’s still possible to make fun, exciting teen superhero comics that don’t skimp on the action or characterization and never devolve into mindless carnage. DC could learn some lessons from this book.


The Fox #3

The Fox is still traveling through a strange crystalline fantasy world, dodging deadly traps and monsters. He encounters and defeats a giant spider and a flaming monster, discovers a transmogrified superhero, and saves another hero, only to land in even more trouble than before. Meanwhile, the Shield battles two wartime enemies, but discovers they may actually be on the same side for once.

Verdict: Thumbs up. My favorite issue of this series so far. I’ve complained that it didn’t feel like it was bringing the A-game that it should, but it’s finally feeling like the kind of butt-whupping comic we should expect. Let’s hope it keeps the party train rolling…

Today’s Cool Links:

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After the End of the World

Well, City of Heroes, the best dang superhero MMO ever, was shut down in the wee hours of this morning, and I got to stay online and enjoy the ride clear up to the final disconnect notice.

I played City of Heroes for over eight years. I didn’t get in at the very beginning, ’cause I had to get a new computer that was able to run it. And I had a few periods when I wasn’t playing, either because life was too busy, or because my old computer went kaput and I wasn’t able to play anything. And I’m really glad I got to play all that time. I’m even glad I got to play clear ’til the game shut down. I know people who were so upset about the game ending that they didn’t play anymore — every time they logged in, they were overcome with sadness. I don’t blame them a bit — I think I’ve been adjusting fairly well, but there’s no way to tell whether I’ll wake up tomorrow and go into a period of deep mourning about it.

I can guarantee I’ll very quickly miss flying over the casinos in St. Martial, or super-jumping across the rooftops of Steel Canyon and Talos Island, or zipping across Skyway City at superspeed. I’ll miss watching my mastermind’s robot minions tear through enemies, smashing through villains with my tanker, or blowing up cars and bank vaults with my brutes. I’ll miss sliding down the slopes in the ski chalet, watching costume contests in Atlas Park, hunting exploration badges, and finding the secret, hidden locations in each zone.

There are rumors that there may still be a chance to resurrect the game. Some of the players have speculated that NCSoft may have obscure legal reasons — possibly related to the $47 million judgment against them in the Richard Garriott lawsuit from a few years back — to want to shut the game down completely before offering it up for sale. If that’s the case, whoever ended up buying the IP and the servers would probably be able to get them for a lot less money. But I’m not comfortable assuming that’s going to happen. I think it’s probably better to expect it not to happen — to expect the game to be gone for good. If it is done for, the easier to get adjusted to that fact. If it comes back, well, that’s a happy surprise, isn’t it?

I don’t think there’s any way to question that City of Heroes did a lot of things right. The character creator is widely considered the best one ever made for any game — with a lot of people wondering why other games haven’t made similarly extensive ones. Likewise, the sidekicking system, which let players team up no matter what level they were, is something I just can’t believe hasn’t been adopted in every game out there. You could bring new players in, team them up with players who had already hit the level cap, and know that everyone was still going to have fun. The mission architect — which let players create and play their own missions — was an amazing accomplishment, even if they stumbled in implementing it.

They had some stunningly beautiful zones — Atlas Park, Founders Falls, Croatoa, Talos Island, St. Martial, just about every zone in Praetoria — and lots of amazing music. They had incredible details in the scenery that often had me sitting around and wondering what on earth it must be like to live in a place like Praetoria or the Rogue Isles.

And they did superheroics better than anyone else. I was never a roleplayer, but I loved getting to play all my characters — not just because they had great powers, but because I loved getting to imagine what they were thinking while they fought (or committed) crime. I wrote biographies for almost all of my characters, often before I got out of the tutorial. It was one thing to play the game — it was another to play while envisioning my characters’ motivations. That helped make it the most fun of all.

There were still some things that I wish had been done better. All of the most recent zones were very strongly horror-based, particularly First Ward, Night Ward, and the new Dark Astoria, which went from enjoyably creepy to unpleasantly scary and depressingly grim. I like horror a lot, ya know, but I think they really overdid things in their last few updates. I wanted to play a superhero and smash up the bad guys — I didn’t want to run around the nightmarish zone and deal with missions where the monsters told me I hated life, was chronically depressed, and wanted to be eaten by eldritch monster-gods.

The game never managed to do superstrength the right way. Superstrength really is the signature superhero power, but characters who had superstrength in City of Heroes only got to smash up bad guys a bit — it didn’t even do very much damage, compared to other powers. And you certainly couldn’t pick up a car and throw it at a bad guy. Both Champions Online and DC Universe Online had decent superstrength powers, but City of Heroes never managed it.

And really, I wanted a costume option for pencil-thin mustaches for years, and I never got it. How was I to recreate Mandrake the Magician without pencil-thin mustaches?

I’ve long wished that City of Heroes had gotten some more press within the comics community. The game got possibly its only mention on comics news websites like Comics Alliance when it was announced that it was closing — and Comics Alliance gave buckets of free publicity to every single press release for any computer games based on DC or Marvel comics. The occasional article about CoH on Comics Alliance or Comic Book Resources might’ve brought in a bit more cash for the best dang superhero MMO ever made.

But I don’t want to spend a lot of time with recriminations and complaints. I had a great time over the past eight years, and though I’m sad that the game is gone, I’m also very happy that it was ever made in the first place, and that the City of Heroes community, already known for being one of the strongest in the computer game community, got even stronger over the last few months. And the developers at Paragon Studios, who’ve been awesome from the first time they started work on the game, have gotten even cooler, too. City of Heroes gave me almost a decade of happy superheroic memories, and that’s a solid win in my book.

Was this a sad day? Yes, it was. There are lots of folks who I knew through this game who I’ll probably never meet again, whether online or in meatspace. There was a great deal of sorrow, not just sitting out in Atlas Park, but during our missions and taskforces. There were a lot of people bidding farewell to the characters they’d played — in some cases, they’d been playing these very same characters ever since they started the game, and they knew they’d never see them again, except in their own screenshots.

But more than anything else, we were all saying to ourselves, “What a great game. These last few years have been amazing. We had so much fun playing together and running around this great game world.” We were sad, but we also stuck around, not just because we enjoyed the game so much, but to pay tribute to the game creators and developers and to the players who have made the game so wonderful.

Hats off, ladies and gentlemen, for City of Heroes. May it live long in our memories.

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Friday Night Fights: City of Heroes Forever!

Okay, I was taking the week off, but I couldn’t say no to a little Friday Night Fights, could I?

Well, it’s November 30th, and in mere hours, City of Heroes, the best dang superhero MMO ever, will be shut down. The game’s owner, NCSoft, has shown more dedication and grit and focus in getting the game cancelled than anything else it did over the last eight years, and the loyal players and developers have been amazing and impressive in the ways they’ve worked to save the game. Unfortunately, it’s looking very clear that nothing is going to save the game, despite nearly the entire playerbase working together and supporting each other. So again, mere hours ’til the game’s servers are shut down. I expect to spend my last day in City of Heroes running missions and taskforces, and probably sitting around in Atlas Park outside of City Hall, reminiscing about how much fun we’ve all had.

I’m gonna miss this game a lot, not just because I loved playing superheroes and supervillains, not just because the costume creator was the best ever made for a game, not just because of all the friendships I made with other players. But also because it was fun to drop some whupass on the bad guys.

So, from the minds of Cryptic Studios and Paragon Studios, here are the heroes and villains of City of Heroes. Please give it up for…

The Orange Avenger!


Miss Mega!

Jonni Rotten!


The Brain from Planet 7!

Blue Heaven!

Murderin’ Jack!



Plutonium Lass!

Justice Gal!

The game may end tonight, but in my imagination, they’ll be fighting the good fight forever.

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Graduation Day

Avengers Academy #39

It’s the final issue of “Avengers Academy,” one of Marvel’s best series. Let’s start off by congratulating Christos Gage, Tom Grummett, and the other artists who worked on the series. It was great fun almost all the way through, and a great example that a superhero series can break the mold in numerous ways and still enjoy some success. I just wish it had enjoyed a bit more success…

What we get here is a lot of wrap-up of character stories. X-23 and Finesse essentially agree to disagree. Striker goes on a date and starts adjusting to his status as a gay icon. Hazmat and Mettle take their relationship to the next level. Reptil and White Tiger start their own relationship, as do Lightspeed and Karolina Dean. The students reveal to their teachers that they’ve known all along that they were considered potential supervillains, and they also learn what their future is with the Avengers.

Verdict: Thumbs up. An excellent ending for an excellent series. Great emotional moments for almost everyone — yes, even Finesse. My only regret is that most of the cast members here will be moving on “Avengers Arena,” where they’re scheduled to be pointlessly killed. But it was a good run while it lasted.

The Hypernaturals #5

While the Hypernaturals try to solve the mystery of what destroyed the previous Hypernaturals team, they track down a couple of stray clues — they search for the significance of something called the Chernovski Event, and they try to track down the mysterious Clone 21, the only one of the Clone series to go into hiding. Meanwhile, former member Stellerator, desperate for a cure for her husband, who was de-aged by Sublime, agrees to break the supervillain out of prison so he can find out who’s been impersonating him.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s still good, futuristic fun, like an alternate version of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Excellent action and dialogue, and tons of intrigue and mysteries. Mysteries piled on top of mysteries, in fact. The characterization is pretty good, too. All in all, it’s a lot of fun.

Worlds’ Finest #6

While Huntress visits Gotham City to steal a few million dollars from Bruce Wayne, to help finance her activities, she runs into Damian Wayne, who is essentially her alternate universe half-brother. They spend at least half the issue beating the heck out of each other. Power Girl, meanwhile, is focused on her own research, which generally involves highjacking some computing cycles from communications satellites and avoiding any contact with Supergirl.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great action and beautiful art by both Kevin Maguire and George Perez. Still can’t stand Power Girl’s new costume — not like anyone else can either. That’s probably the only thing they’d have to fix to make this series even more enjoyable.

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