Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Review: Supergirl 1-28

Let's review the Supergirl issues so far.

1-5: A decent opening story, picking up where the Superman/Batman origin story ended. Jeph Loeb did a decent job of showing how difficult it was for Kara to find her way on earth initially. And there is always some guilty pleasure in seeing a Kryptonian/Lutho smack-down. The 'split persona' plot twist is a little tired, and the seeds of the 'I am here to kill Kal-El' thread were planted here though. Grade: B

6-8: One year later and we have 3 inscrutable issues taking place in Kandor with Kara again being mind-controlled. After an aborted rebellion and fiery speeches, Kara takes off for Earth to possibly search for Argo. Even Greg Rucka knew this was so bad, he left after 2 issues. Grade: D

9-12: The beginning of the Joe Kelly experiment. A series of one shots which are hit or miss. The high school issue, where Kara tries to have a secret identity only to leave after she sees how cruel teenagers can be, is a brief shining light. The Outsiders issue (11) and the Terra (12) issue do little to move the title forward. The Outsiders issue in particular seems more interested in cheesecake art than story. The Terra issue shows us a shallow Kara rave dancing rather than saving people. It was here I began to feel some dislike to the character, who had yet to show much heroism and instead was sort of a jerk. Overall grade: B, might have been higher without the Terra issue.

13-15: The Power Boy arc. Some nice art here. And a decent message against abusive relationships of any kind. Still, Kara seems flighty and shallow here again. And the seeds of the 'kill Kal-el' plot as well as the 'crystal powers theme' start to put down roots here. Grade: C-

16-19: It ends with Kara asking Kal to forgive her and become part of her life again. Whew! Unfortunately to get there we have to see a demented Zor-El experimenting on Kara, leading her on a Colombine like rampage in her high school where she mows down students with a crystal gun, and Kara killing her mother. There is some obsfuscation where maybe these memories were planted by the dark herald of the Monitor. But who wants to read about a murderous Supergirl with crystal powers and a genocide streak. In particular, issue 18 seems a slap in the face to older Supergirl fans where a 'sweet as pie' Silver Age Kara tries to rough up the current one. It read more like Kelly trying to show some fans that a heroic Kara is the wrong direction. It didn't work. Grade: F

20-22: Amazons attack cross-over. Two Countdown crossovers. (shivers). Enough said.

23-28: Kelley Puckett and Drew Johnson come on. Immediately out of the gate they do 2 things that revitalized my interest in the comic. One, they made Kara act like a hero again. The first issue shows her trying to help Superman in some intergalactic war. She wants to help!! Second, they completely erase the 'mad Zor-El, kill Kal-El, crystal hell' thread, showing actual visions from Krypton of a loving Zor-El and a scientist Lara. Hurrah hurrah!!

Next, they bring in a old school Kara villain, Reactron, last seen way back in Daring New Adventures of Supergirl issues 8 and 9, a nice touch for the old-timers.

But the most intriguing plot has been the cancer plot. Kara promises a young cancer victim that she will save him despite the dismal prognosis. This has always been an undercurrent in super-hero comics. Why stop Blackstarr when instead you can plant crops and feed the hungry? Build shelters for the homeless? Turn deserts into plains? Kara asks the question 'maybe curing cancer is a better use of my time than stopping crooks.'

While the actions she does to bring this about (find Resurrection man, break a noted evil scientist out of jail) seems silly, it makes sense for the character. Kara is a teenager; she is going to be impulsive and do things that seem silly. Still, it is for a good cause.

Some bloggers/message board pundits have complained about this run. They say Kara is too passive. That she is constantly being bailed out by Superman and seems subservient to him. That she has no guts or spirit. I think quite the opposite. This is the best version of Kara I have seen so far in this title. Now if only Drew Johnson could have drawn all the issues so the art would be consistent, it would be fabulous. Grade: B+

And now that we are caught up ... from now on ... monthly reviews.


Anonymous said...

You gave issues 16 - 19 a F? The scenes between Kara / Cassie & Kara / Karen makes those issues at least a B. And what score did issues 9 - 12 get?

Anj said...

Thanks for checking out the blog and for the post.

In retrospect, 'F' might seem a little harsh. But the truth is that I so disliked the 'crystal power' Kara that this arc was doomed to fail. And it came to a clumsy close. It was unclear how much of what we saw before (kill Kal-El, mad Zor-el, etc) were true memories or implants from the Monitor lackey.

You're right that the scene with Power Girl was good if only for the wisdom of Karen telling Kara she needs to mend fences with Kal.

But even that take on their relationship as being strained seems to be ignored as we have since seen the two fighting along side each other without so much as a sideways glance.

And thanks for pointing out the lack of a grade for 9-12. I have amended to post and gave them a B.

Anonymous said...

"You gave issues 16 - 19 a F? The scenes between Kara / Cassie & Kara / Karen makes those issues at least a B."

No. Nononononono. NO. Those scenes were nice but they're not enough to save the whole mess. The F grade is deserved.