Monday, February 29, 2016
Superman #49 came out this week, the latest chapter in The Truth. We know that next month will wrap up this over-arching story arc. And so the Superman books have been sprinting to an ending that I know won't seem meaningful.
And so we have Vandal Savage doing his best to pull the comet which gives him power to Earth to be captured where he can bathe in its rays and become all powerful. At the same time he is trying to rid the world of humanity, leaving only his blood line alive. And to do so, he needs to smash the Stormwatch ship, the JL Watchtower, and the Fortress of Solitude into one ship which can house the comet. He also needs the ship to act as a tractor beam to drag the comet into his trap. And he needs to keep the heroes out of his way.
Superman has regained some powers but it is from Kryptonite. So his powers come at a price. He is dying.
This issue is a tremendous punch-em-up. There is a lot of action. But it all seems like a lot of noise. This arc has lost its way. And I'll be happy when its over.
For me it is most interesting to look back at the beginning of the arcs when The Truth began. We had Wrath making people angry and Metropolis split over its support of Superman. We had Hordr_Root blackmailing people. We had Smallville upended. All of those plots have been altered or erased as we get to this climax.
The art in this issue is done by Jack Herbert and be brings a nice flow to the issue. I definitely miss Howard Porter's pencils. But Herbert brings a sort of fine-lined precision to the affairs.
Friday, February 26, 2016
Justice League 3001 #9 was released this week and this book continues to be wonderfully creative and entertaining. It is somewhat depressing that I am looking ahead already at #12, the last issue.
Because JL 3001 is sort of an omelet of a book and I love omelets. The best omelet have a number of wonderful ingredients which together brings a fantastic and flavorful taste. But an omelet needs eggs to hold all those ingredients together. And you can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs.
This title has brought together some of the best ingredients ... ummm, elements ... from DC continuity. We have Bwa-Ha-Ha era Leaguers. We have a Silver Age Supergirl. We have had Etrigan, Camelot 3000, and now a twisted Legion of Super-Heroes. We have seen some broken eggs ... umm, some reimagined big name characters , warped to fit them into this dingy future. The big 6 have been brought back as flawed copies, allowing the creators to look at these characters fondly, comedically, and critically. And I guess in this analogy, the eggs that hold all these disparate elements together are the creative team of Keith Giffen, JM DeMatteis, Howard Porter, Scott Kolins, and Colleen Doran.
This issue pushes the latest (I guess last) arc forward. It feels a little like a classic League story with the team splitting up to fight on multiple fronts. But we also have some strong character moments as well. We have seen the members of this team evolve over time.
The art on the issue is split between Scott Kolins and Colleen Doran. Kolins section is wonderfully gritty, showing how the universe is a grimy crumbling place now. His villains are monstrous. Whether it is Eclipso's hand-feet or the faceless Saturn Girl, these guys are frightening. Doran's section has a great conversation between enemies turned friends. Doran still is able to infuse action and emotion into what is effectively just pages of people talking.
This is a long introduction so I apologize. But I only have a few more of these intros to write.
Thursday, February 25, 2016
With the Master Jailer episode of the Supergirl television show behind us, I thought this would be the right time to review Superman Family #221, the ending of Kara's battle with the Jailer in the comics.(I have reviewed the prior chapters here and here for those interested.)
This story was somewhat silly, a villain with clearly incredible scientific genius using fantastically powerful devices, so that he can then crack a safe. The Jailer here makes little sense. It was a simpler time.
For me, the more interesting part of this story was the look at the life of Linda Danvers, emerging soap opera star. Linda's character on the soap was the villain so we get to see the public's reaction to her. We see the perks of being a TV star. And we even see Linda acting like a diva as a way to get away from the set. Even though we are just a couple of months away from Linda uprooting and heading to Chicago to be a grad student, this peek at her life was fascinating for me.
'A Trip on the Light Fantastic' was written by Paul Kupperberg with art by Win Mortimer and Sal Trapani. It was edited by Superman legend Julius Schwartz. I have been something of a Win Mortimer apologist on this blog. But it is pretty clear that Mortimer's work looks better with Vince Colletta inking him. Trapani's inks sort of muddy things up. There was a smoothness to the preceding chapters that is missing here.
The opening splash page is wild, with an action shot of Supergirl flying towards some device and being tossed around.
Last issue, Supergirl thought she had captured the Master Jailer only to have it turn out to be a robot which explodes above the city. That interaction was not only caught on film but broadcast on the news. Supergirl finds is downright embarrassing.
She isn't happy. I love her body language in that last panel.
I like this panel if only because it shows what was considered fashionable in 1982. Are those culottes?
She has come a long way from Midvale!
But the day ends on an odd note. As she is walking back to the car, she is met by a fan of 'Secret Hearts'. Since Linda plays the cold-hearted siren on the show, she is actually loathed by the fans. They love to hate her.
So this 'fan' actually calls Linda a hussy and smacks the packages out of her hands. Amazing! I don't know if Linda is too happy about being hated. That sounds very un-Supergirl-like.
She stumbles onto him trying to crack a safe. This is a guy who has built a tremendous arsenal of futuristic weapons. He built a device to make a Kryptonian intangible. And he is actually trying to crack a safe?? I don't think I'll every understand the motivations of Bronze Age villains. He actually says he needs the money to fund his jail-inspired gimmicks.
I include this panel just because I simply love Supergirl's dialogue. "I knew if I ate all my vegetables and led a clean life, things would work out for me!" Wonderful.
I like big rescue scenes, so seeing Supergirl figure out how to safely lift the train and save the day makes me happy.
Sure enough, the Jailer is on a roof with some mad looking dish weapon. Supergirl flies straight at the Jailer and is struck by the beam. The Jailer hopes she 'packed a toothbrush' because the beam turns Supergirl into pure light and he beams her into deep space.
So in the span of three issues, the Jailer has made Supergirl intangible and now light. And yet, a couple of panels ago he was on his knees trying to open up a safe. Insanity.
So it may have been here that I first learned that Einstein learned light was composed of photons and can be effected by gravity. Supergirl slowly gains control of her 'light body' and begins to turn herself a bit.
Whole once again, she heads to Earth to battle the Jailer.
Battle might be a strong word.
In seconds, she disarms him. I absolutely love that first panel with multiple Supergirl's removing weapons off his costume. And then, with a simple right cross, she dispatches him. I wonder why she didn't do that at any other point of this story. But I suppose he had some pretty powerful devices to up his game.
I think this is the worst of the three parts, mostly because of Trapani. It says something when the shopping spree and the soap opera scenes were my favorite parts.
As I said, this is of low importance for a Supergirl collection although it probably best captures her life as a soap opera star.
So which story was better? This Master Jailer one or the television episode?
Overall grade: C+
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Supergirl Episode 14 aired this week. Titled "Truth, Justice, and the American Way", the episode is thought-provoking episode looking at the titular concepts but also security, safety, and what means you will use to get to specific ends.
The episode was directed by Lexi Alexander so you knew that the action sequences were going to be brilliant. And they are. But beyond that, Alexander does a great job with the camera, using shots and camera angles to emphasize the topics being covered. More on this in a bit.
Last episode ended with Supergirl telling her friends that the events of the recent past had made her miss the safety and comfort of Krypton. There was Cat trying to expose her, Maxwell Lord trying to kill her, the tragedy of Bizarro, and the tense relationship with Winn. Add to that the pain of ripping herself away from the fantasy world the Black Mercy gave her and the death of her Aunt Astra, and Kara has been put through the ringer. But instead of picking up from the happiness of pot stickers and ice cream, this episode brings a different tone and a darker Supergirl. Her pain has been great and so she is tempted to do whatever it takes to stop grief and loss. That temptation can lead to cruelty, or coarsening of ethics.
Is safety and security more important than freedom and justice? Is the world black and white? Or are there shades of gray? Are villains immutable? Are 'heroes' immaculate? And if you are as powerful as Supergirl, where do you draw the line?
These ideas are all played off this angry Kara. There is Hank and Alex dealing with the fallout of not telling the truth about Alex killing Astra. There is James and Cat talking about the importance of truth and goodness and values. In fact, this might be the best episode for James there has been. And there is the villain Master Jailer, someone repeats a lot of what Kara is saying in this issue but crosses a line. He is Kara nudged out of the light.
If I have any complaint about this episode is that it is too short. Like the themes of "For the girl who has everything", "Truth, Justice, and the American Way" could easily have been stretched over two episodes, giving the script and characters a chance to work their way through issues. Instead, we sort of rush to the end. I guess that is a compliment ... I want more.
On to the episode.
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Adventures of Supergirl Chapter 3 came out yesterday and was what I like to call a 'world building' issue. The first two issues really did a great job of dropping us into the Supergirl universe, giving us a high action hook to keep us riveted. A Supergirl who is early in her DEO career and, alongside her sister, fighting the Hulk-like Rampage is a great way to grab the reader.
With the action sequence set, writer Sterling Gates does a good job of easing off the gas, giving us a lot of character moments to build on. That's not to say there was no character progression in the earlier chapters just as I am not saying this issue is devoid of action. Instead, we really get to learn about who this Supergirl is and how she thinks.
Better than that, we get the backstory of Rampage. Building on the idea that Rampage had a sister, Gates is able to give us an origin which is similar enough to the Kara/Alex relationship to get me comparing and contrasting. It helps that this is still an early enough adventure that the Danvers are still feeling each other out in the field. While I have become a bit tired of sympathetic back stories on villains, this one works as it plays better as a reflection of Supergirl.
But for me the real juice was us getting a glimpse into Fort Rozz. The inner workings of the prison are unknown. The television show hasn't really told us anything about what life was like there. Seeing Rampage inside there is great.
Onto the issue.
Monday, February 22, 2016
Are you a DC fan? Do you want to be depressed? Do you want hard data to prove the sinking feeling you have about our favorite heroes? Well head to ICv2 and see their coverage of January's sales:
DC had about half of Marvel's sales.
They have 2 books in the top 25, one of which is Batman/TMNT.
And Rebirth is right around the corner, resetting a universe that right now seems lost.
And sales bear all that out.
It was a crazy issue.
It made no sense in the context of all The Truth stories we have read before.
It had great art by Howard Porter.
It sold just under 38,000 books.
The flagship character is mired in the low 40s in sales.
And Action Comics is even worse, selling just above 30K.
The Superman books are a mess.
This title is a fun mishmash of continuities. It is smart. But it is clearly a niche book. And a company drowning in their own failures probably can't support niche books.
This book sold about 13K.
Those are worrisome numbers.
There was no bump from the new direction. The new direction was barely covered.
Rebirth was the death knell for this book. It will be missed.
I should stop doing these posts.
They depress me.
I am sure that Rebirth will fix everything!!!!
Friday, February 19, 2016
But he does a good job playing up the success of Green Lantern Rebirth and Flash Rebirth. In particular, he does a good job pointing out how the Lantern books before Rebirth had sort of lost their way. No Hal. No Kilowog. Guy as the weapon shape-changer. That book had lost its legacy, its history.
That's right. In the fall there will be a Supergirl Rebirth special!
Finally! Finally, we will get a Supergirl monthly, only a year after the show premiered! Hurray for Kara fans for bringing the noise, asking for a book, and convincing DC that it should be done.
Heck, she is even one of the mysterious shadows in the new Rebirth image!
Thursday, February 18, 2016
What we do know is that the solicits for May's DC Comics are out. Here is a link to view them all:
This is the month with the 52nd issues of the New 52 books that have survived this long. June has to be the start of Rebirth, whatever that means. And knowing that, I assumed that we would be learning more about which books are ending, figuring that next month's solicits will bring the books that are beginning.
But there are two words conspicuously absent from all every solicit. 'Final Issue'. It's nowhere to be seen.
I have to assume that DC is playing their cards close to the vest, not wanting to tip off potential new books by showing which are ending.
Seems foolish to me. Let me know what I can expect. I suppose maybe those announcements will be happening today.
On to pertinent solicits, including some surprises that I think I am on board for.
Written by KEITH GIFFEN and J.M. DeMATTEIS
Art and cover by SCOTT KOLINS
The end of the future may be in sight! Eclipso and the Legion of Death have the Justice League cornered—now, who will live...and who will die?
I suppose I can hope this book doesn't end. I am sad to see that my guess last issue was right and we have a warped Wildfire amongst the bad guys. I truly hope that Supergirl survives this book.
Written by MARGUERITE BENNETT
Issue #12 art by MIRKA ANDOLFO and LAURA BRAGA
Covers by ANT LUCIA
In issue #12, the Bombshells face triumph and tragedy as the Battle of Britain concludes. Nereus continues to pound London with his horde of undead, ocean-based Tenebrae. The giant Kraken has been defeated, but now an even bigger and deadlier menace rises up to take its place. Not even the combined might of all the Bombshells looks as if it can prevail, leading one person to make an unprecedented sacrifice.
Written by MARGUERITE BENNETT
Issue #13 art by MIRKA ANDOLFO
Covers by ANT LUCIA
It’s back to the home front for an adventure with the Batgirls. Batwoman is still away, fighting the good fight on the European front. So it’s up to Kathy, Nell, Bette, Harper and the rest of the gang to see that the streets of Gotham City are safe from both common criminals and international spies!
Bombshells is one of the books that has been entertaining month in and month out. So I won't complain about getting two issues in May. Interesting to see that one Bombshell makes a sacrifice. Let the speculation begin. Please let Supergirl survive this book.
I thought the Batgirls issue on the homefront to be one of the weaker of this book. Maybe a second adventure with the team set will be better.
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art by FERNANDO PASARIN
Cover by JOHN ROMITA JR. and KLAUS JANSON
“Super League” continues—as two Supermen meet at last: pre-New 52 Superman meets the current Clark. A force seeking to end both Men of Steel brings them together, but divided they may fall as one Superman must choose the safety of his family before himself.
This one was solicited for last month before 'Super League' came on board. That is an ominous last sentence. Will one of the Supermen die in this issue, the last before a Rebirth of some sort. With a possible continuity shake-up imminent, anything is possible.
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art and cover by MIKEL JANIN
The “Super League” epic concludes in one explosive fight as the new master villain uses Superman's own solar super flare power against everyone. Can even two Supermen, Supergirl, Wonder Woman and Batman be enough to stop this onslaught? And how will the outcome of this battle change Lois Lane's life forever?
A new master villain? The return of the dreaded super-flare power. 3 Kryptonians and Wonder Woman maybe not having enough power. Okay I'm intrigued.
But a change in Lois Lane's life. Remember Lois? She used to be a big deal here! Again, had to know what it all means without understanding Rebirth more.
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art by DOUG MAHNKE and JAIME MENDOZA
Cover by KARL KERSCHL
It’s the penultimate chapter of “Super League”! When all the Supermen have fallen, it’s Supergirl to the rescue! But can Kara and Wonder Woman stop a villain who wants to end Clark’s hope for future Supermen?
Hey! Is that Supergirl! Remember her? She used to be a big deal around here! I am thrilled to have her back in the DCU. I am glad she is teaming up with Wonder Woman and not fighting her (remember H'El on Earth? Brrrrrr.)
Will Supergirl get a Rebirth of her own?
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
Art by TYLER KIRKHAM
Cover by YANICK PAQUETTE
“Super League” continues this month as Kal-El’s bid to strengthen his forces brings him, Batman and Wonder Woman into China and into conflict with the might of that nation’s greatest heroes: the Great 10!
Remember the Great 10? Grant Morrison thought they'd be a big deal around here. I liked the characters so glad to see them brought back here. Love the Paquette cover. But I really like Tyler Kirkham's art so glad to see he'll be on interiors.
Written by DAN JURGENS
Art and cover by LEE WEEKS
Don’t miss the climactic chapter of the epic story of the pre-New 52 Superman! Kal-El’s world is falling apart as Intergang makes its final move against Lois! And the cosmic threat that is Hyathis has come to Earth in search of a power source that will give her dominion over her enemies. Now, the future of an entire planet may rest with Superman’s young son, Jon.
Now I am pretty sure that this is the last issue of this mini-series.
Will Jon become Superboy? Will I like this new Hyathis as much as the old one? Will the couple be revealed on this Earth?
I have loved this series so far so I'll be sad to see it go.
Written by NEAL ADAMS
Art and cover by NEAL ADAMS
Fry, Superman, fry! The battle between Kalibak and Superman rages on as the denizens of Apokolips cheer. And Darkseid’s homeworld unleashes a weapon that will permanently transmute the terran solar system!
The more I see this book, the more I think it is going to be a train wreck.
I guess we'll see. Should be nice to see Fourth World characters again.
And now for some craziness ...
Written by SHOLLY FISCH
Art and cover by DARIO BRIZUELA
Shazam and his crimefighting companions are missing! It’s up to Tawky Tawny to call in experienced monster-hunters Scooby and the gang…because the kidnappers are the Monster Society of Evil!
I have the utmost respect for Sholly Fisch. I have loved everything I have read by him. And now he is going to take on the Marvel Family! We get an actual Mary Marvel! And a blue suited Captain Marvel Jr. Much like with Thunderworld and Convergence Shazam, I am ready for a classic Marvel Family. So I am definitely getting this book. Maybe 'Rupergirl' can show up? Pretty please?
Written by JEFF PARKER
Art and cover by EVAN “DOC” SHANER
When the adventurous and inquisitive Jonny Quest and his adoptive brother Hadji make a startling discovery in the swamplands of Florida, they are pulled into an epic struggle between the Space Rangers and a dangerous villain who threatens the galaxy. Now it’s up to the combined forces of Team Quest, Inter-Nation Security, Space Ghost, and a host of Hanna-Barbera’s greatest action heroes to stop him and save their universe!
DC had me at Jeff Parker and Doc Shaner. But we are talking about the Herculoids! Johnny Quest! The Galaxy Trio! I am in! I am definitely in!
"Girls Night Out," one of the most popular episodes of THE NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES animated series, comes to life in this new action figure 5-pack featuring Batgirl, Harley Quinn, Live Wire, Poison Ivy and Supergirl! Includes five bases.
On Sale SEPTEMBER 2016
I just covered this recently. But here is the solicit for the Girls' Night Out 5-pack.
It's $80. So I guess I'm out.
But they sure do look great!
So as much as I like what I am seeing in these solicits, I have to temper that with the unknown of the month following.
At least Supergirl is back in the DCU in some fashion.
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Superman Family #220 was the middle chapter of a three part story where Supergirl fought the Jailer but this one had a nice bonus. We have the Atom as a guest star! And with Legends of Tomorrow on the television, this story also resonates with the television universe nicely.
Now this isn't a great story. But it has some fun moments. So here we go.
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Sometimes in this comic world, I am amazed and surprised. And when I am amazed and surprised at comics, because I have been reading them for over 3 decades, I am doubly surprised. Because you would think by now I had seen it all.
I was surprised and amazed at Batman/Superman #29 for a number of reasons.
For one, it reads like a classic Batman/Superman story. It is clear they are friends and enjoy each others' company even if they have different personalities. In this era where every Batman/Superman beat is based on a Frank Miller dystopian Elseworlds, seeing the two be buddies is ... well ... surprising. This story has them play off each other well and has them separate when the time is right in an adventure, allowing them to breathe a bit on their own.
But moreover, I have avoided Tom Taylor's work in DC for the most part because he is associated with dark dystopian Elseworlds. I don't need to read about a brooding killing Superman in Elseworlds. Not when I already have a brooding one in the mainstream comics and a killer on the big screen. So I got this book with low expectations and was surprised to see how easily Taylor has this play in almost a bronze age manner (maybe with a New 52 flair). Amazing.
Robinson Rocha brings a nice fine-lined feel to the art here which is very pleasing. I am not surprised or amazed at that. Rocha has always done great stuff in my opinion.
Still, in some ways it's a shame that we haven't seen more of this sort of interaction between the world's finest.
On to the issue.
Monday, February 15, 2016
At the recent NY Toy Fair, several new Supergirl toys and statuettes were announced. Frankly, I don't think I'll have enough room or money for all these. But we'll see ...
Now I reviewed 'Girls Night Out' here; it is a show I absolutely love. I love the Supergirl of the DC Animated Universe and would definitely want to add this to my collection. But I don't think I can spring the money for the 5-pack if I really only want Supergirl. (Although they all look slick and who wouldn't want that Livewire.) I wonder if they will sell these as individual figures.
As cool as that 5-pack is, I have to say I love this one more. Funko is finally making a Supergirl Funko Pop! figure. Here is an official instagram from the Fair:
I am so happy this is the Matrix version of the costume, my favorite. It is close enough to the television show that it will cross-pollinate both comic and TV fans.
I can't tell you how hard it was as a Kara fan to walk by a huge wall of these figures and see that Supergirl wasn't available. I mean, everybody seems to have a Pop!figure. So glad Supergirl if finally getting one!
While I was glad that Supergirl is getting a Pop! figure, it is this Funko figure that is the merchandise item I want the most. Funko is making a series of 5 inch figures under the series name of Rock Candy. Here is a link: http://funko.com/blogs/news/90592963-introducing-rock-candy
This Supergirl figure is just sweet!
And then we got word that Mattel is doing 6in. action figures for Batman v Superman (although the sign on the back says DC Comics Multiverse) and included in that is Supergirl, clearly based on the television show. I don't think Supergirl is in the movie (I actually hope she isn't). But how can I not want to grab this!
And don't forget that DC Superhero Girls is bringing the fun. It was just announced that Superhero Girls merchandise will be available in March 2016 exclusively at Target. I don't know if I'll grab the more Barbie style doll. But an action figure! Count me in!
So I better start saving my money!
As I said, you could be tempted to name 2016 the year of Supergirl. But until I get a monthly comic, I don't know if I can go there yet.
Friday, February 12, 2016
Writer Marguerite Bennett has been weaving this story set in World War II, placing the heroes in key fronts of the war efforts, and slowly drawing them together. She also has kept this group diverse, having the heroes represent Britain, America, Russia, and more otherworldly places like Atlantis and Paradise Island.
But the style and the plots have thrilled me making this one of the books I look forward to every single month, certain it will be high quality.
This issue focuses on two of the plots running through the book. One is Wonder Woman who is fighting the Tenebrau army and the Baroness in the battlefields of Greece. The other is Supergirl, Stargirl, and Mera all fighting in the waters outside of London. Both progress the overall plot of a mystical dark army entering the fray. But each also has powerful character moments as well. The issue is therefore a rich experience.
The art on the book has been just spectacular, another reason why this book is great. Mirka Andolfo draws the Supergirl/Mera portions of the book and brings a nice, fresh style. She is solid in both the battle sequences and the quieter civilian moments. And Laura Braga continues to bring a gritty feel to the Wonder Woman pages.
On to the issue:
Thursday, February 11, 2016
The news of a Flash and Supergirl crossover spread like wildfire just last week. Everyone was giddy with the prospect of that episode of Supergirl, airing in late March. Would there be singing? A race for charity? Romance?
Well on this week's episode of the Flash, we got a glimpse into that reality. It was a fleeting moment but it made my night.
As Barry, Cisco, and Harrison Wells cross through the breach tunnel to head to Earth 2, they are overcome with visions of other realities.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
The thirteenth episode of Supergirl aired this week and was titled 'For the Girl Who Has Everything". Comic fans will know that title from Superman Annual #11, the famous Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons story where Superman falls victim of the Black Mercy and has visions of a life on Krypton. Advance pictures of the episode showed Kara with the Black Mercy flower so we knew we were getting a version of that tale.
But it could have been titled 'for the fans who want everything'. Because this was the best episode of the series by far. Before the show aired, Jeremy Jordan tweeted that this episode was going to be the finale of the season until a second half was picked up. And this felt like a season finale. There were great action sequences. There were a few surprises. There were truly emotional, heartfelt character scenes. And for me, those were the best moments.
Everybody shines in this episode which focuses of family, love, and loyalty. Melissa Benoist, as always, shows incredible range. From the happy girl back on Krypton, to the distraught one yanked from that fantasy, to channeling Hank Henshaw in some scenes, Benoist is a marvel. This is as much an Alex episode as it is a Kara one and Chyler Leigh also shines. Flipping from bad ass to desperate, Chyler Leigh really shines. But everyone has a moment at some point. This cast is so strong.
And so we have this mid-season finale.
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Adventures of Supergirl #2 came out yesterday and continued to be an absolute delight. Writer Sterling Gates and artist Bengal are really clicking together, meshing words and art in a way that elevates both side of the medium. This book is so much fun, so entertaining, and really builds on the television universe.
This feels like an early adventure for this Supergirl. Between her interactions with Alex, her use of her powers, and her interaction with Winn, I think this occurs around Livewire. Unlike the Supergirl in the current show who is dealing with some personal conflicts and tragedy, this is still a fresh-faced Kara. She is just joyous and smiling throughout most of this adventure, just happy to be helping out in public.
And I love how Gates injects some comic history and echoes of his original run on Supergirl into this book.
Monday, February 8, 2016
Last week we saw Supergirl fight Rampage in Adventures of Supergirl #1, the new digital first comic linked to the television show.
But this isn't the first time we have seen those two fight each other. And since I like to tie in back issue reviews to current events, I thought it would be a good time to bring out Supergirl #6 from 1996.
Now anyone who has visited this site before knows that I am very fond of Peter David's Supergirl run. This was the Matrix Supergirl, a naive and optimistic protoplasm creature from a pocket universe, merging with Linda Danvers, a troubled and bitter young woman. And that mix of personalities led to a great story of redemption, humanity, and religion.
But this story is very early in that run. Supergirl is still trying to come to grips with her new life. Linda had a troubled relationship with her parents. She is trying to lead a normal life in Leesburg. Supergirl is trying to move away from the young woman who lived in Metropolis and was a dupe Luthor. Very few people know about this new reality. And since she is so unsure about it herself, Linda/Supergirl is keeping her new duality a secret from all sides.
The art here (and for the first 9 issues of the title) is done by Gary Frank and Cam Smith and is just gorgeous. This is before Frank began to draw everyone gaunt and overly rendered. I mean if I could drink Frank's art on this title, I would.
The issue starts with a great splash page of Supergirl and Rampage in pitched battle, falling from a bridge and into water. I always like when an opening page is grabbing, pulling me into the story. And there is a lot to comment on here.
First, you really feel the size differential of the two combatants. Rampage looks like she has twice the mass of Linda. And Linda's anguished face lets you know this is a true fight.
I love that the caption boxes are all askew, showing the frenetic and insane pitch of the fight.
And the Supergirl 'origin box' does a better job of explaining things than I did in the introduction.
After we see Supergirl and Rampage crash into the water and Supergirl left at the bottom of the river, David winds back the clock.
In Leesburg, Linda's mother Sylvia is trying to convince Linda to go out on a blind date that Sylvia has set up. We have seen that Sylvia is a devout Christian. Linda isn't sure if that is a good idea and declines. And that rather polite refusal fires up her father (homebound recovering from an injury he suffered in the field as a police officer).
Remember, we know Linda hung out with Buzz (a demon), was in a demonic cult, and may or may not have taken part in a murder. The Danvers has had it tough trying to reign in their daughter. But all that defiance and hate is gone now that Supergirl is sort of running things. So when Linda refuses the date, Fred assumes the worst.
I just feel for the parents here, waiting for the other shoe to drop, not knowing why their daughter is acting differently. They don't know about her new persona.
It is implied that these two are now in a romantic as well as a professional relationship.
This was 1996 and, for that time, David was incredibly inclusive in this book.
Sitting in park, she has an odd conversation with a young boy, someone we know, in later issues, is Wally/God. But here we don't know that he is going to be a recurring character.
Wally is wise for a kid. He talks about how people can be family or friends and still be strangers, hiding information. That strikes Linda/Supergirl who is still coming to grips with her reality. Is she play-acting Linda? Or living a real life?
It is moment of revelation, appropriate for a brush with the divine.
STAR calls Kitty and lets her know about the missing funds. And then, putting two and two together, Kitty realizes that it is Christine who had access to all things and absconded the funds. Christine used Kitty, pretending to be something she isn't, fooling Kitty with faux romance in order to obtain passwords and account numbers.
This relationship is a sort of version of Linda's life. These two were lovers but really strangers. Christine was faking this life of enamored and respectful partner.
Coldly, Christine decides to walk out.
Angrily, Kitty turns into Rampage and begins stomping through Leesburg, chasing Christine who is racing away.
Heroically, Supergirl and then Superman fly in to stop Kitty.
And now we are caught up to that opening page.
Rampage tosses Superman into the sign of a grocery store as he is telling her that stomping around as Rampage lacks subtlety.
Of course, subtlety only comes out in a panel with him next to the huge SUPER part of the store sign. It lacks subtlety as well.
Finally, the four characters of Supergirl, Superman, Rampage, and Christine, are together and talking.
Rampage wails about how she trusted Christine and let Christine into her life. She is betrayed. How can they understand.
But this Linda can understand. She trusted Buzz. She loved Buzz. And Buzz ritualistically killed her. She totally can understand. But there has to be a better way to deal with it than murder.
Surprisingly, Superman decides to let Rampage decide what to do. He says he won't stop her from killing Christine if she wants.
Luckily, Rampage does the right thing. She doesn't kill.
We learn that Superman would have flown over Christine if Rampage decided to kill.
But instead, he prayed that Kitty would do the right thing.
And that is another injection of religion into the book.
Kitty is distraught. Used, betrayed, presumed criminal, she doesn't know who to trust. Can she even trust Superman to help her.
But she needn't worry because Supergirl is getting the information out of Christine to get the funds back.
I liked this sort of fierceness in Supergirl. She doesn't take injustice lightly. She has a bit of fire in her. And while she doesn't threaten to drop Christine, this is unnerving.
Is this Supergirl? Or maybe some of Linda peeking through?
Earlier in the issue, we saw that the Danvers are in the dark about Linda's nature.
Here we see that Supergirl keeps the Superman side of her family in the dark as well. She says she simply decided to live in Leesburg. Even though Superman says that the Kents are worried about 'Mae', Supergirl just flies off saying there is nothing she needs to tell. She is lying, being a stranger, not trusting anyone with her new identity.
So this isn't much of a book if you are looking for a wild brawl between Supergirl and Rampage. But if you want to read a layered story about honesty and identity, this is a great story. Reading this again, I reminded of all the issues of this first year. The Chemo issue where she talks about what it feels like to be a 'thing' wondering if it is truly alive. We see the origin of Linda and her descent into evil. We see how civility can be scrubbed away to reveal the beast in all of us. And we get the ultimate redemption when the soul of Linda says Supergirl is more human than most.
I loved this book.
This is reprinted in trade, a trade resolicited soon. The issues are probably in dollar boxes. And they are worth it for the art alone. I can't gush enough about Frank in this time. But the story is deep and complex and meaty. Well worth it.
Overall grade: A