Thursday, September 25, 2008

Review: Brave and Bold 17


Brave and Bold #17 was released last Wednesday, teaming up Supergirl with Raven. As clearly seen on the cover, the emphasis on the story is Kara's relationship with her father Zor-El. And, as seen by the outfit he is wearing and the maniacal look on his face, this is the 'kill Kal-El, crystal hell' mad Zor-El seen in the earlier issues of the Supergirl title. This version of Zor-El was quietly retconned away about a year ago in Kelley Puckett's first issues on the title. On top of that, the very day this Brave and Bold issue was released, an even newer, more Silver Age inspired origin for Supergirl was unveiled in Action Comics #869.

Now I treat Brave and Bold like I treat the Classified titles and the Confidential titles as being in quasi-continuity. By that I mean that I can pigeon-hole them somewhere into the chracter's timeline if it comfortably fits. If it makes no sense continuity-wise, I can simply ignore it.

Written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by Phil Winslade, this issue seems to be wedged into Supergirl's history somewhere around Supergirl #13.

I think this will be one of those polarizing Supergirl issues as to whether or not you enjoyed it as a reader. As readers of this blog know, I was absolutely not a fan of the anti-hero killer Kara as written by Joe Kelly. So when I saw the leering evil Zor-El on the cover I knew I probably was not going to like this issue. No big surprise, I didn't.

Now if you like the edgy troubled killer Supergirl, you might find merit in this issue. The truth is, if that origin is valid then a team-up with Raven actually makes sense. Both are young women struggling to be heroes, struggling to keep something evil reigned, struggling to break the mold that their individual fathers cast them in.

*sigh*

That is just not my Supergirl. Supergirl is not Raven.

Anyways, onto the story.


The book opens with Kara having a tumultuous dream where Zor-El keeps telling her that she must realize her destiny and kill Superman. Supergirl fights him throughout the dream and wakes in a cold sweat, realizing she needs some help from this relentless psychological torment.

Supergirl gets referred to Raven by Nightwing. She flies to Raven's high school and, while Raven is in her secret identity, grabs her and flies off. Not exactly a nice way for Kara to respect Raven's secret identity. I am sure Raven will have lots of questions to answer next time she goes to class.


Then, when Raven begins talking to Kara about her own origins, Kara smarmily replies "if I wanted your origin story, I'd pick up 'Who's who'. Just tell me you'll help me." Not the nicest way of asking for help. In fact, it is downright obnoxious.



And this panel encapsulates most of what I didn't like about the Kelly Supergirl (whose origin was probably an idea of Jeph Loeb's). I don't want to read a Supergirl who says 'I was taught to kill. Maybe that is all I am good for.'

I am not saying that chracters like this should not exist. But you shouldn't write Superman like Batman and vice versa. You shouldn't write Cyclops like Wolverine and vice versa. You shouldn't write Supergirl as a killer with confidence issues.

Nevertheless, there it is in print.

Raven tries to help Supergirl achieve some inner peace through meditation. Unfortunately that doesn't work. So Raven takes Supergirl to Azareth where she hopes her teachers and priests will be able to calm her through more meditation and some magic.


Dispersed throughout the interaction between Supergirl and Raven, we read snippets of a tormented young college student with variable powers (glowing hands which can change people's attitudes, fire beams, and kill people) breaking into a research facility. He also has father issues as his mother never told him who his father was and also warned him to not go looking for him.

This student finally kills some college security guard and reaches a level of evil that is palpable in Azareth. Impressive if somewhat contrived. Raven implores the priests there to awaken Supergirl so the two of them can deal with this threat, but the priests refuse. They say if they awaken Supergirl from her meditation/trance that she 'will never know peace.'

Sometimes I read comics and I simply don't know what to say. This issue was on the bottom of last week's pile because, after Kelley Puckett's decent job of rehabilitating Supergirl, I did not want to go back to the 'mad Zor-El days'. It did not help that I also read Kara's new origin in Action Comics, already called dogma by the new creative team, before I read this.

As I turned each page I kept saying to myself, this is not a Supergirl I want to read.
The truth is, since I knew this was a 'quasi-continuity' story, I might have liked it if Marv Wolfman did a better job of mining that similarity between the characters. There is a lot of potential with these two characters (assuming you have a 'mad Zor-El' origin) given Raven's past with Trigon. Instead, a lot of page space is devoted to this villain character and his issues, thus truncating any chance of some meaningful dialogue or interaction between the two stars.

And Supergirl pretty much acts like an insensitive ungrateful angry woman the whole issue. Wolfman writes a much more sympathetic and engaging Raven, no big surprise given he created her. But it just felt like this issue was designed to make Raven look better at Supergirl's expense ... much like the way Supergirl was written in the 'Terra' issue of her own title.

So what can I say, I bought this issue for Supergirl only to read a version of her I do not like in a story that is otherwise bland. Winslade's art is somewhat sketchy and is colored nicely with a soft palette.

Overall grade: D-

4 comments:

TalOs said...

Really great review, anj!

Now I treat Brave and Bold like I treat the Classified titles and the Confidential titles as being in quasi-continuity. By that I mean that I can pigeon-hole them somewhere into the character's timeline if it comfortably fits. If it makes no sense continuity-wise, I can simply ignore it.
lol! Same here actually!

TalOs said...

Written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by Phil Winslade, this issue seems to be wedged into Supergirl's history somewhere around Supergirl #13.
AH HA! I thought as much too after re reading it myself. Heh.

*Shakes head in a very confused manner* Y'know, I honestly can't make up my mind as to whether Mr. Wolfman truly hates Supergirl period, or, it being more that of editorial interference that forces his end product put out coming off in this particular way instead, ah? :/

Anj said...

Y'know, I honestly can't make up my mind as to whether Mr. Wolfman truly hates Supergirl period, or, it being more that of editorial interference

Thanks for the posts.

I think people have their favorite characters and will always cast them in a good light. He created Raven, so I don't begrudge him writing her well.

But I never liked the Kara portrayed in this issue.

5 days to the Supergirl #34 and the new team.

TalOs said...

anj said...
I think people have their favorite characters and will always cast them in a good light. He created Raven, so I don't begrudge him writing her well.

True true. Truth be told, I actually had forgotten that it was him who created Raven. (And I call myself a Titans fan? *Smacks self on forehead*)

But I never liked the Kara portrayed in this issue.

BLUGH! Nor I at that, ah.

5 days to the Supergirl #34 and the new team.

YAHOO!!! I know! Truly can't wait!!! (In fact, i'm just about ready to burst from all the anticipation for this AND forthcoming "New Krypton" arc at that!)