Saturday, September 6, 2008

Review: Supergirl #33

With excitement cresting for next month’s new creative team, Supergirl #33 arrived in comic stores this week, representing the thematic closure of Kelly Puckett’s run. One of the ongoing threads in Puckett's arc was Supergirl discovering her limitations, what she can do, what she should do, and what she should aspire to do. Most of these beats have been encapsulated in her attempts to save Thomas, the young boy with brain cancer. The end of issue #31 had Thomas dying despite a blood transfusion from Resurrection Man. Issue #32 was told mostly in flash-forwards so this issue picks up more from #31, with the current Kara still frustrated ... frustrated about her inability to help Superman in the intergalactic war, her inability to save Thomas, her inability to be an effective hero on this world.


And you can tell Supergirl is frustrated by her stating she wants to break the world in half. She works off some of her frustration in this confrontation with Clayface. First, by giving him a wicked right cross.


Then by flying him up to space and flinging him earthward. Brutal!

When Supergirl flies down to gather him up, she finds Clayface has already been restrained by Empress.

Now I know nothing about Empress but she seems to have some mystical power. Also, her parents have been de-aged to elementary school kids and she has to take care of them. The kids have been kidnapped and threatened by a villain named ‘Aftermath’ and Empress enlists Supergirl to help her.

When Kara asks ‘why her’ rather than Empress’ old teammates Arrowette or Wonder Girl, Empress points out the damage Supergirl has been dealing out recently. Who wouldn't want an angry Kara going into a fight with them?


Well, it turns out to be something of a double-cross. “Aftermath’ is a normal man who was paralyzed during the Superman/Doomsday fight. This man is convinced that he must show the world that super-beings, be they ‘hero’ or ‘villain’, are bad for humanity. He kidnapped Empress’ parents so he could blackmail her into putting a spell on Supergirl which would put Kara in his control. By then having Kara go on a rampage, public support would turn on heroes. Hmmmm ... pretty convoluted plot he has going on there.

And why would he focus on Kara of all heroes? Well, because she has brought ‘more confusion and shame to the ‘S’ on her chest’ than anyone. People would believe she would go bad and they would rally against super-heroes. Suffice it to say, Kara shakes loose of the spell and easily defeats Aftermath and his men.



In a nice touch she realizes that in his own twisted way Aftermath was trying to make the world better, much like she was in trying to save Thomas and cure cancer. But trying to make the world better doesn’t always make you right. Sometimes the road to Hell is paved with the best intentions. She forgives Aftermath and she even forgives Empress for back-stabbing her in an attempt to save her parents.


In fact, this whole incident has made Supergirl question her whole recent outlook. Maybe she should stop fighting things she can’t beat (like cancer) and start protecting people again. And thus, Puckett’s themes end and Gates' storyline can start fresh. Much like Puckett immediately showed a loving Zor-El so that Kelly’s story would end and his story could start.


And here is the new introspective Kara flying in space and vowing to just go about living and helping.

This was an okay issue that did its job. The idealistic ‘change the world’ Kara from Puckett’s run has sort of found her head and realized that she was trying to do the impossible. This also ends the timeline ending in a Kara-totalitarian future briefly seen earlier in the run.

The truth is with the all the publicity for Gates’ run, the impending immersion of Supergirl into the other super-titles, with her great scenes in Action Comics and her inclusion in the upcoming ‘New Krypton' arc, this 'Saving Thomas' storyline sort of ended with a whimper. James Peaty seemed to have Kara’s voice down in her lines and Ron Randall did his usual solid art here.

So the Puckett themes are in the rear view mirror and we see some of what lies ahead in Gates' run. This was a transition issue, wrapping up all the threads from the last 11 issues and putting the character in a place that makes the new direction plausible. But I do think that the "she has brought more confusion and shame to the ‘S’ on her chest" line was a subtle swipe at the convoluted and confusing and varied takes on Supergirl in these first 33 issues. Is she a brat? A rave girl? A killer? An ineffective idealist? All of the above at one point or another? It is time for a clear consistent take on Kara ... some stability.

As I have done in the past, I want to thank Kelly Puckett wholeheartedly for making Supergirl a likeable character again. I enjoyed this storyline more than others but I think it showed us Kara’s Kryptonian curiosity and adolescent enthusiasm, optimism, and even some teenage stubbornness. It is hard to bring some real issues ... like why wouldn't super-heroes try to cure cancer rather than stop muggers ... into comics without them become cliched. But it worked here. Kara wanted to be a hero for this young boy and pushed the limits of her abilities, morals, and even friendships to save him.

But now it is onto the new team! I think it is a good time to be a Supergirl fan.

Overall grade: C

11 comments:

cmtheis said...

I have to admit, I haven't read this book for a while, it just seemed as though nobody knew what to do with Kara. But from everything I've heard about the new creative team, I'm definately going to start reading this book again!

Heath Edwards said...

mmm, this issue did have that 'stuck in the middle' feel to it. looking forward to next issue!!
nice art though, and, is it just me or is kara's 's' much bigger in this story? it seems to cover her entire chest. i've always been partial to the larger 's's, so yay...

Anonymous said...

Liked this issue but did not love it, Puckett had an impossible job, do a soft retcon on a character that had been brought to the brink of annihilation by Joe Kelly.
It's a miracle the book is still published at all, so kudos to Mr Puckett sez I.
Still and all that I don't think it is ever a regrettable decision to save a child, especially when cancer is the cause.
But her well meaning attempts to cure Thomas have created a serious "image problem" for the Girl of Steel which is a very interesting plotline going forward.
Dini-Timm wanted to so something similar with "Superman the Animated Series" if that show went to a third season, in the aftermath of the "Legacy" two parter Superman has to rebuild his incorruptible reputation.

John Feer

Anj said...

I have to admit, I haven't read this book for a while, it just seemed as though nobody knew what to do with Kara. But from everything I've heard about the new creative team, I'm definately going to start reading this book again!

I think you are right that no view has been consistent on this title which makes this new team (and the implied stability) even more exciting.

Glad you are going to buy the title again! Welcome back!

Anj said...

mmm, this issue did have that 'stuck in the middle' feel to it. looking forward to next issue!!
nice art though, and, is it just me or is kara's 's' much bigger in this story? it seems to cover her entire chest. i've always been partial to the larger 's's, so yay...


Stuck in the middle is a great way to put it. It must have been hard for Peaty who needed to end one arc and set the table for the next.

And Randall did draw a bigger S shield, and I like the big symbol look as well.

Anj said...

Liked this issue but did not love it, Puckett had an impossible job, do a soft retcon on a character that had been brought to the brink of annihilation by Joe Kelly.

I hope that the Puckett run is looked on fondly for that reason. He had to pick up the ashes of Kelly's caustic run.

Still and all that I don't think it is ever a regrettable decision to save a child, especially when cancer is the cause.
But her well meaning attempts to cure Thomas have created a serious "image problem" for the Girl of Steel which is a very interesting plotline going forward.


I think of all the things that have happened in this title and her trying to save Thomas would probably be last on the list of 'damging character acts'.

I do like that Gates is not going to shy away from that and instead deal with it head on in the form of Cat Grant.

4 weeks to the new team!

Anonymous said...

Didn't Cat Grant lose her son?
Waaa-ay back in the Byrne retcon? Is that still in continuity...interesting hook there for the enterprising writer IMHO.

John Feer

Heath Edwards said...

yeah, its an old piece of history, but i think it'll be a very interesting piece of the new superman story. and, having cat grant go at supergirl for not being able to save a little boy does make sense, as superman hadn't been able to save her own child...
this will hopefully be a deep and touching story...

Anj said...

and, having cat grant go at supergirl for not being able to save a little boy does make sense, as superman hadn't been able to save her own child...

Thanks for the post.

I didn't even think that Cat might react to the Thomas storyline because of the death of her own son at the hands of the Toyman.

It will be interesting to see if they bring that into the new arc.

TalOs said...

Oh theres absolute no iota of doubt with in my mind that they wont be not willing to address this. I seriously believe Cat is gonna be this real through and through mega-ass stone cold bitch come 08-09...etc characterization wise when they pit her against Supergirl or Superman come her attitude towards the 2 from now on, whether it be Action, Superman or Supergirl titles. *Sighs* And to think, it seems like only yesterday that she used to be an all time fave of mine out of the "Death/Return of Superman" era's supporting cast at that too. *Sighs yet again and shakes head in absolute disgust*

TalOs said...

Man, this issue out sounds like it was a real nice 'tying up loose threads points' type a thing from her prior #32 issues run here. (All though, DC still didn't deal with her aftermath of being in Kandor along with Power Girl and the way Kelly had her leave it to both Saturn Queen and the apparent Pre-COIE E-3 continuity surviving Ultraman/"Kal-El" just so she could supposedly learn of Argo Cities actual location) UGH! Seriously peeved that absolute NONE of my comics had shipped last week to at least my local comic store over here in my neck of Aus and aren't expected to come in till THIS Tues itself now! Because of this I unfortunately have had to miss out on THE title that I look forward to the most come DC. (With both <>Action Comics<> and Wonder Woman being close 2nd and 3rd) *Lets out deep sigh of frustration* Ah well, what can you do. :/