I Guess I Know Where I’ll Be On Sunday Evenings For A While…

Batwoman 2

Buying comics since grade school, I doubt if I acquired more than five or six Superman comics in all that time. Super-anything, actually: Superman, Superboy, Supergirl, World’s Finest, whatever. Aside from DC’s current Lois Lane mini-series, I just never got into the whole Krypton/Smallville/Metropolis scene, instead being a dedicated denizen of Gotham City pretty much right from the cradle, always drawn to the dark side and the notion of a regular person fighting crime partly for justice and partly for vengeance. So, a loyal Bat-fan I‘ve always been (and later Batgirl – well, make that the various Bat-Girlz – and Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Huntress, the Bird Of Prey…).

Super powers? Indestructible? Flying, space travel, alternate dimensions? Not for me.

Yet I clicked on CBS a few years back for the premiere of Supergirl, shocked to discover that Melissa Benoist’s Kara Danvers/Supergirl character, the show’s premise and the entire cast all left me completely smitten. I’ve been a rabid fan since, worried at first when the series switched to the CW, concerned on occasion that the growing cast of characters made for some unwieldly storylines, frustrated to see some characters depart but learning to love the newcomers, and always pleased with the show’s none-too-subtle bits of politicking.

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Season Five premiered this past Sunday and didn’t disappoint, doing the obligatory setup for some impending changes, new personal dramas, secondary villains and the season’s ‘big bad’. A lot of advance chatter dwelt with Benoist’s ever-so-slightly different look (bangs) and more notably, a redesign for her Supergirl uniform. “Pants!” she exclaimed once it appeared, and who couldn’t share her relief. I’ll still ponder precisely where Kara Danvers (like her cousin, Clark Kent/Superman) hid her costume. Super-speed aside, Kara’s sleek Catco Media office attire – a sleeveless dress, bare-legged with designer heels — doesn’t provide any convenient places to stow a superhero’s gear. Bottom line: Where did she hide those enormous red boots? So now she has fake hi-tech specs engineered by Brainiac to trigger an all-new morph-on-the-fly Supergirl suit. Sans skirt.

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But instead of pondering where superheroes hide their super-gear, I’ll focus on what will make the two-hour 7:00 – 9:00 PM CST Sunday slot a real pre-workweek delight: Supergirl preceded by the CW’s new Batwoman, a show that’s gotten a lot of buzz. If Supergirl proudly provided us with a prominent lesbian character (Kara’s adopted earth sister Alex) and a trans actor (Nicole Maines), Batwoman keeps the faith with the DC comic source and Ruby Rose’s Kate Kane. Readers of this site should guess by now that “The Stiletto Gumshoe” is coming from Chicago, so it was nice to see so many Batwoman exteriors shot here (sets and interiors done in Vancouver along with the other Arrow-verse shows), providing a nice visual link to the first two Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale Batman movies: LaSalle Street and the Board Of Trade Building as Wayne Tower (that darn street’s in so many movies), the Field Museum (that’s the dinosaur and mummy museum, not the one with whole airliners hanging inside or the WWII Nazi sub outside). And while I may be wrong, did they locate the questionable mercenary Crow organization’s HQ in Chicago’s Trump Tower? Looked that way to me. If so – cute choice.

Her Time Is Now.

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Ruby Rose may have had a close call with back surgery urgently needed following stunt work gone bad (or whatever it was), but we’ll assume she recovered enough to don the Bat-Suit and that all is on schedule for the premier this weekend of CW’s new Batwoman. All teasers seen so far promise something mighty good, so as with ABC’s Stumptown premier last week, fingers are crossed here, and you know I’ll be planted in front of the TV Sunday evening.

Lois Lane Returns

Lois Lane Jenny Frison variant cover

One of comics’ original ‘plucky’ girl reporters (and surely the best known) will be getting her own title once again with a 12-issue series starting this July. Superman’s Girl friend Lois Lane was a DC Comics silver age staple with over 130 issues, and she’s made countless appearances in various Superman titles, but after that comic was cancelled, the Daily Planet reporter only had a one-shot in the late 90’s.

There’s already a bit of understandable frustration buzzing in comicdom though, since the book will be scripted by Greg Rucka with art by Mike Perkins, and many wonder why a series about the world’s best investigative journalist and a comic character icon couldn’t land a woman on the creative team. Jenny Frisson has been tapped for at least one variant cover so far (shown above). The comics world is not what it was back when 1950’s/60’s Lois Lane tales depicted her endlessly scheming to trap Superman into marriage or needing to be rescued by the man of steel. Kinda would make sense for a Lois Lane reboot to be penned by a woman writer or drawn by any of the top women artists, wouldn’t it?

American Century

American Century Montage

Before I discovered the graphic noir-magic of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, or the dark delight of Joelle Jones and James Rich (Lady Killer, You Have Killed Me, etc.) and other stand-alone comics and graphic novels, I came across American Century, the DC Vertigo series which ran from 2001 to 2003, co-written by Howard Chaykin and David Tischman, with various artists wielding the pencil, brush and mouse, including Marc Laming, Luke Ross and Lan Medina.

American Century Montage - Glen Orbik

American Century is kind of like old Steve Canyon, Terry And The Pirates or even Wally Woods’ Cannon series, dialed up a notch for contemporary tastes and expectations. Former combat pilot Harry Black fakes his death and assumes the identity of Harry Kraft, setting off on a series of adventures, initially in Latin America, then Hollywood, Chicago, New York, Paris and even among the American south’s backroads bootlegging scene. There’s crime, mystery, thrills and sex – but more, the series a guided tour of 1950’s America, probing the good and the bad of postwar culture, with Harry continually forced to confront racism, blacklisting, corruption and violence wherever he winds up.

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Co-writer Howard Chaykin is one of my comics heroes, his Black Kiss and Satellite Sam series particular favorites (more about those at some point). And I owe the American Century series for introducing me to occasional cover artist Glen Orbik (1963 – 2015) who we also see on some Hard Case Crime paperback covers. I think some or all of the American Century series has been collected into one or more trade paperbacks, but I lucked out and snagged the entire run in a couple of used bookstore ‘priced-to-move’ bundles. Which is good since, as I’ve mentioned here before, I rarely brave the comic shops back-issue bins, unwilling, unable or just too intimidated to elbow aside the hard core browsers.

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