Thursday, July 9, 2020

Back Issue Box: Supergirl #32

My copy autographed by Peter David, Sean Phillips, and Leonard Kirk
I have been thinking a lot about Supergirl's legacy lately.  Who is this character in DC Comics right now? If you started reading comics 10 years ago, do you have an coherent sense of who Supergirl is and what she means? Do you find her heroic? Inspirational? Do you even like her?

This line of thoughts reminded me of one of my favorite issues in the Peter David run, Supergirl #32. By this time in the comic, Supergirl was embracing her 'Earth Angel' persona. She was looked on as a hero. And she was starting to inspire people.

Pride cometh before the fall. This confidence in Supergirl in her new role needed to be broken by The Carnivean, a demon trying to take over heaven and the universe. And the best way to do that was by perverting Supergirl's legacy and make her doubt herself. Of course, this comes to fruition in the classic Supergirl #48. But we needed to see that erosion of Supergirl's self-worth. Some of that comes with a tarnishing of her legacy.

Peter David had the long game in mind with this book and this issue is an interesting stand alone chapter. The story here, of Supergirl freeing young girls from self-trafficking is wonderful and timely. However, you can see how even the best of intentions and lessons can be perverted.

Perhaps the best thing about this issue is the art. The cover, by then regular artist Leonard Kirk, tips off the them of the story, a backlit Supergirl, in shadows from her flame wings and sporting the red anger eyes, is being led by a band of young armed girls. It is the internal art that makes me giddy. It is drawn by one of my favorite artists Sean Phillips. The fact that I get Sean Phillips drawing Supergirl in one of my cherished runs still amazes me.

On to the book.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

I have been blogging about Supergirl for 12 plus years here.

I know ... hard to believe.

During that time, I can't help but notice the cyclical nature of things involving Kara. Mostly, it seems that DC doesn't know what to do with her. Inevitably they lead her down a dark path thinking it will be all grim and moody. Ultimately, that dark path fails and Kara gets a redemption and a cancellation.

How cyclical is this? Well, 2 years ago I posted about it here.

I find it fascinating that DC thinks that a Dark Kara is 'bold' or 'gritty' when it has been done so many times before. Talk about the antithesis is a 'new direction'. I also find it odd that they don't cultivate the 'young hero learning the ropes' theme that seems to work so well for characters like comic darlings Ms. Marvel and Naomi.

And I am baffled that we have a television show with millions of weekly viewers and DC still can't put a book on the market to try and entice those viewers into the comic store. The Kara in the current book hasn't been recognizable for almost 2 years.

But here we are in the repeat part of the 'darken, cancel, repeat' Supergirl cycle. It is a perverse 'lather, rinse, repeat' that has happened too many times over the last decade.

Perhaps saddest of all is the 'redemption' at the end of this volume. Usually we get some sort of 'I choose Earth and I will be a hero' moment. Here, Kara, in essence, says 'Earth isn't Krypton, I don't want to be human or live a human-like life, but I guess I'm stuck here so I'll do stuff.'

Because that sounds like an inspiring young hero you would want to read about.

Usually, as in that link from last year, I bemoan the cancellation saying the book had just righted itself. Here, I am not so sure.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Death Metal Supergirl By Artgerm

By now this news is everywhere, including the comment section of this very blog.

But the Artgerm variant cover for Death Metal #3 is of Supergirl.,

And it is a very powerful looking, very determined appearing Kara. It is a stunning image.

I also think that the flames and the way her hair looks like fire can't help but bring up thoughts of the Linda Danvers flame winged Supergirl. So it feels a little nostalgic.

Now I have been staying away from Death Metal. I honestly have no interest in it.

But will I cave and buy this variant?


Just beautiful.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Review: Supergirl #42

Supergirl #42 was released digitally last week, the last issue of this volume of the title character, born from the brightness of Rebirth and ending in darkness.

I don't know what to say about this pattern with Supergirl in DC. I have seen her go dark and need to be redeemed too many times to count. But this one, given how it began with the 'return to classics' zeitgeist of Rebirth stings the most. Since Supergirl #21, when Marc Andreyko had her abandon Earth out of bloodthirsty revenge, through Supergirl #42, Supergirl has been mistreated. There have been a few bright moments mixed in. But mostly these last 21 issues have been her nearly becoming an ax-wielding murderer and then becoming a Goth villain.

Supergirl #41 and Supergirl #42 was a chance for the creative team of writer Jody Houser and artist Rachael Stott to redeem her and set her up for the next bold new direction. But instead, even their 'redemption' reads like a lack of understanding of what Supergirl fans are looking for.

Add to that some wonky art and some convenient story telling and you limp out of this volume. And given how this all transpired, I wonder if DC is even remotely interested in putting a new volume on the shelves.

Supergirl fans should be used to this. And maybe I am not surprised. But it still bothers me.

On to the book.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Houser And Stott On Supergirl

I'll be reviewing Supergirl #42 here on the site next week. Happy 4th of July weekend everyone (who celebrates)!

After almost no publicity support for the title, I found it a little interesting that the creative team spoke to Newsarama about their time on the title here:

It's a brief interview with some stock questions. I'll include some of the interview here but recommend heading over to the site to read it in its entirety. In some ways I feel like this would be a team I wouldn't mind seeing back on the character in a different circumstance when they could write a true Kara. But some of these answers also make me wonder if I should be careful what I wish for.

Newsarama: Jody, to jump right in, what was it like tying into this over-arching DC storyline for Supergirl? How do you feel it affected her overall character arc?

Jody Houser: It was a fun challenge writing a character who still thought herself the hero no matter how dark she got. We obviously didn't want Kara to do anything completely irredeemable, so we made that struggle between her normal and infected selves the heart of the story, one that had repercussions that led into our finale.

I just wish there was some acknowledgment here that Houser was handed this mess. Or that Houser recognized that Kara was a hero with good intentions and writing her as dark was challenging.

Glad the line of 'irredeemable' was held.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Suicide Squad and My Leviathan Theory

There are so many new comics out there and the price point is so high these days that a new title has to grab me almost immediately to keep me interested. Gone are the days of me giving a book 6 months to establish a tone.

When a new book has a creator on it I trust, I will sometimes give book a little longer.

Suicide Squad #1 came out 6 months ago. I have liked the concept of the Suicide Squad since Legends way back in 1987. This new book was written by Tom Taylor, a writer whose work I loved on All New Wolverine. And Deadshot and Harley Quinn were both still on the team. This team should have had a few issues leeway.

But after the first issue I left.

This truly felt like a bold, new direction for the concept of the team and I was looking to slip into the warm bath of familiarity.

So I never picked up the second issue.

And then something funny happened. Two very good comic friends, Martin Gray, from Too Dangerous For A Girl, and Paul Hicks, from the Waiting For Doom podcast, both highly recommended the book to me. And when two comic friends you trust highly recommend something, you listen.

And Paul even hinted that there might be a little Leviathan Theory intrigue in the book. So you know I was in!

I went out and bought the next 5 issues, catching up on the title. And no surprise, Mart and Paul were right, this is a great book.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Back Issue Review: Supergirl Annual #1 (1996)

Later this week, Supergirl #42 will be digitally released, the ending of the latest volume of Supergirl. Unfortunately, it seems like the volume will end on a bad note with the character reeling from a villainous turn and shunned by the public.

Not exactly a great legacy for a run which had a 'rebirth' to a more classic heroic turn earlier only to have Supergirl angrily take off into space and then infected by the Batman Who Laughs.

I have been thinking a lot about Supergirl's legacy these days. I think I know what Supergirl represents. But now I am wondering, given the more recent 'evil' turns of the character, that I am the one in the wrong. Maybe the characters has moved beyond my concept of Kara (or even Matrix), an optimistic, bright, smart, determined young woman who wants to fight injustice.

Somehow that led me to the long box and Supergirl Annual #1 from 1996. This was the summer where all the Annuals were under the trade dress Legends of the Dead Earth. Because this Annual actually has several tales about Supergirl's legacy and today I'll be covering one of them.

 We get a splash page explaining the foundation behind the annuals. Earth is dead. And in the far flung future in the vast universes, the Earth's legends live on.

I don't know, in our 'does the story matter' continuity obsessed culture that an idea like this could happen again. These are clearly just one offs, with a concept not likely to be revisited again.

Even more interesting is the timing of this. This is cover dated June 1996. That is two months before Showcase '96 #8.  And three months before the beginning of the actual Peter David scripted Supergirl title. An Annual before the actual book is released? Fascinating.

And already, in the story I am reviewing today, the concept of Supergirl as an angelic figure, a prime them in the PAD book, is mentioned. I wonder how much of where David was going was already known.

On to the book.