Saturday, July 12, 2008

Review: Action 867


Geoff Johns continues to impress me on his run of Action Comics. He impresses me with his knowledge, appreciation, and acknowledgment of the Superman mythos while moving it forward. And, in particular, he impressed me with his handling of Supergirl in this issue of Action comics.

First off, on the title page she got her own little origin recap!! And what interesting wording. She fights for ‘truth, justice, and the Kryptonian way’?? Well, I guess she has been a Kryptonian far longer than she has been an American.

We have seen some beats like this in Puckett’s title, specifically when she fought Reactron and was trying to figure out his physiology rather than immediately neutralize him. I will be honest, I haven’t consistently collected the Super titles in a long time so I don’t even know what the ‘Kryptonian way’ actually means.

As for this issue, it opens with Superman and Supergirl in the Fortress looking at the destroyed Brainiac robot from last issue. Supergirl makes the statement ‘That is not Brainiac’.


It makes sense for Superman to ask Kara about Brainiac. She lived on Krypton when he attacked. She knows more about Krypton than he could learn from the crystals because she lived it. Supergirl tells Superman that all the Brainiacs he has faced in the past are drones or probes. That no one has seen the real Brainiac.

She relives the trauma of the Brainiac attack. How the public felt he destroyed Kandor, although Allura thought he may have stolen the city. How the planet felt as though its heart had been ripped out.

She talks about losing her best friend Thara Ak-Var in the attack (a nice reference to a silver age Kandorian, Van-Zee’s niece). That it was the worst day in Krypton history outside of its destruction. She clearly is shaken even by the destroyed probe, melting it with her heat vision.

Kal tries to comfort her. But she states how she wishes she had no memories of Krypton because she misses it so much ... it hurts too much.



Some detractors might explain that this again shows a ‘weak’ Supergirl looking to Superman for strength, but I think it makes perfect sense. Kara is a 16yr old girl who has suffered the massive stress of losing everything ... everything ... family, friends, world!! Of course, she is going to be depressed and traumatized. Of course she is going to put up a front of strength to hide this.

Clark then shares an evening with Ma and Pa and tells them he is going to go after Brainiac, especially now that there is a chance Kandor and other Kryptonians exist. Ma is concerned but Pa understands that Clark is simply doing the right thing.

We shift to Metropolis where Clark discusses his Brainiac plans with Lois. But first there is this exchange about Supergirl which again makes me excited for the new team.

First, a retelling of the Cat Grant impending editorial which apparently will lambast Kara.


Then, this simple exchange about how Kara doesn’t know who herself. How she has most likely kept everyone at a distance because she is afraid of losing everyone again.


And Clark mentions about how she is missing out on life on Earth because she is always wearing the cape. This only isolates Kara more. This probably means we will be seeing a secret identity in the Supergirl title soon.


Overall I think this is such a great angle to play up with Kara. This whole take on her keeping everyone at arm’s length all while being sad will make it easy for Gates’ to fold everything that has happened before in this title into continuity rather then ret-con it all away. That can explain the Kelly version - whether it be looked at as strength of character or arrogance. And it can explain the Puckett version who is trying to save even one person no matter the cost.

The issue ends with Superman using the Supermobile to track Brainiac and face him. Supes interrupts a Brainiac attack on planet Larroo. But after a brief skirmish with some drones, he is attacked by the Brainiac ship and then knocked unconscious when Brainiac detonates the system’s star.

Overall this was a superb issue. Rather than ignore all prior incarnations of Brainiac, Johns rolls them into a new comprehensible history. And the Kara scene was so wonderful.

Gary Frank continues to be a spectacular artist on this book, with the Reeve take on Superman dead-on. He, of course, drew the first issues of the Peter David Supergirl, a Supergirl that was most likely in her late teens and early twenties. He draws this incarnation as cute and expressive. Unfortunately, he draws the ‘belly shirt’ more like the size of a sports bra. I can only hope we get a more traditional uniform soon.

Overall grade: A

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is like the late Chris Reeve is doing a scene with Laura Vandervoort, that is how good Gary Frank's artwork is in this issue.

John Feer

Anj said...

It is like the late Chris Reeve is doing a scene with Laura Vandervoort, that is how good Gary Frank's artwork is in this issue.

At first I thought the similarities to Reeve would be distracting. But I have to say it has not been and definitely adds to the artwork.

Frank is just incredible.

Anonymous said...

Oh and I like how Kara is written as well, the fundamental difference between her and Kal ought to be:
HE internalized Krypton's end as infant which mean it is subconscious trauma...with all that entails.

SHE witnessed Krypton's destruction as a rational adolescent, thus it is literally "post traumatic stress" for her, which came out due to Brainiac's reappearance...perfect approach for both of them IMHO.

John Feer

Anj said...

SHE witnessed Krypton's destruction as a rational adolescent, thus it is literally "post traumatic stress" for her, which came out due to Brainiac's reappearance...

Exactly. If witnessing his parents' death turned Bruce Wayne into Batman, then witnessing your parents' and your world's death would have a massive effect on you.

This just feels right, as though Supergirl is gaining momentum before the new team comes on board in issue 34.

Eric said...

I've been lurking for a few weeks and I've really enjoyed your blog. I saw your review of the Action Comics issue and picked it up as a result. Keep up the good work!

Anj said...

I've been lurking for a few weeks and I've really enjoyed your blog. I saw your review of the Action Comics issue and picked it up as a result. Keep up the good work!

Thanks so much for checking out the blog and for the post!

Hopefully you enjoyed the issue as much as I did. I think this Johns/Frank team is great job and think the Robinson/Guedes team will do as good a job on the Superman title.

Thanks again!

Heath Edwards said...

the kryptonian way has always been written as a bit more rational and scientific than us emotional, driven-by-the-heart humans. i don't think its something that's been given positive stress in the superman titles...
i look forward to seeing kara's view come into conflict with clark's way of looking at things. note his shock/ sadness/ disappoinment that kara doesn't think he can miss krypton as much as she can. and, she's right... and, his surprise that she's scared of brainiac; that gives him pause...
good stuff...
on the other hand, unlike most people, i can take or leave the resemblances to actors and actresses, in the art. its fun, but i hope they don't get too carried away...

Anj said...

the kryptonian way has always been written as a bit more rational and scientific than us emotional, driven-by-the-heart humans. i don't think its something that's been given positive stress in the superman titles...

I read all the Supes titles from the mid-90's to 2001 so the last Krypton I knew was the sterile and scientific Byrne view. I know that has changed a bit. But it does seem like Kara at times espouses a more scientifically curious mindset mixed with the emotions of a young adult/adolescent.

i look forward to seeing kara's view come into conflict with clark's way of looking at things. note his shock/ sadness/ disappoinment that kara doesn't think he can miss krypton as much as she can. and, she's right... and, his surprise that she's scared of brainiac; that gives him pause...

That panel where he admits he doesn't really know Kara spoke loudly to me. I do think they will have some differences in opinion on things, and that should lead to some great stories.