Friday, November 21, 2008

Review: Supergirl #35


Supergirl #35 was released this week, the mid-point of the New Krypton storyline and the second issue by new creative team Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle.

I'll start out by saying that this issue was great. The team continued their 'soft reboot' of Kara explaining some of the more frustrating things about her characterization in the title so far. Despite concentrating on moving Kara's character forward, they also continued to move the New Krypton storyline forward as well. It is not easy to accomplish both. How many 'cross-over' issues in individual titles have little to do with the event they are supposedly connected to? Or worse, how many 'cross-over' issues in individual titles seem to force the event onto the character and do little for the character themselves? This issue did it right ... advancing both stories in a very natural organic way.



I thought I would also show the Stephane Roux variant cover of the issue. It's a nice image of a Supergirl in battle mode as seen reflected in a Brainiac drone's eye. Yes, this has nothing to do with the actual issue, but it is still nice.

This was a 1:10 variant and my comic store had 3 on the shelf. Simple math tells us that they therefore ordered 30 copies of the issue, a nice sign about anticipated sales.

The book opens with Sam Lane talking about how concerned he is about the Kryptonian presence on Earth.

But the scene shifts to Lana and Linda Lang's apartment where Alura makes her feelings known pretty clearly. Alura wants Kara to move to New Krypton for her safety. She reminds Kara that the city hates her, that Doomsday was most likely sent by the government, and that Kara belongs with her family.

I think it makes sense for Alura to feel this way. After all, she has been living decades in the bottle wondering what had happened to Kara. She risked everything to save Kara. She loves her ... of course she wants her back home. Now, breaking the glasses is a bit dramatic and might be a reminder of Alura's physicality. She did beat Doomsday to death after all.

I love how Supergirl almost wrote 'Kara's room' on a box but corrected herself and put Linda.


Surprisingly, Kara doesn't want to run back home with Mom and Dad. She has built a life for herself on Earth and wants to continue it.

I was worried how this was going to be portrayed. Why would it really make sense for Kara who has longed for Krypton, mourned her parents, and been shunned most of her life on Earth not run back to Kandor?

But then I remembered how she has lived on Earth for more then a year and has been on her own for the majority of it. She is now an independent young woman rather than a frightened adolescent. She has left the nest. Others on this blog have said she has 'gone native'.

Part of adolescence is finding your own way, making your own life. It would be hard to go back to a bedroom on Kandor and listen to what Mommy and Daddy had to say. Kara might want her parents to be a part of her life now, probably a big part. But "you can't go home again". She can't go back to being a little girl anymore. The dialogue here worked, explaining Kara's feelings in a believable way.

Alura storms off and Kara has a heart to heart with her father in which she divulges her jumbled memories (3 Zor-Els, 3 origin stories), her mood swings, and her crystal blood. Like any good physician, he makes the diagnosis from the history ... Kryptonite poisoning. K-poisoning can lead to personality changes, difficulty concentrating, hallucinations, even death.

So, do I like this as a catch-all for all the nonsense that has happened in this title?Does this explain 'kill Kal-El' Zor-El and ranger Zor-El and this Zor-El well enough? Does it explain the rave dancer versus the aggressive loner versus the 'saving Thomas' optimist?

The answer is I can deal with it. There is no easy way to explain all those differences. So it needed to be one big semi-palatable answer. And, I guess, this fits the bill. Kara was in that Kryptonite encrusted meteor around her ship for 3 decades. You would think if she was exposed to Kryptonite forthat long, she'd be dead.

That said, I have plenty of Silver Age issues where low-dose Kryptonite made Superman delusional and feverish, so that must be the way Gates is going. Add to that presumed partial shielding of her ship, it becomes plausible.

The truth is I would gladly accept any even semi-plausible story that would explain and eliminate the hateful Kara from the first 19 issues.

Now how Zor-El knows so much about Kryptonite poisoning given his time on Argo and in Kandor should have been Kryptonite free ... well I have no idea. But I can overlook that slight stumble (or if someone can explain it to me); this works out fine.

The world outside the Kryptonians keeps turning however.

One human taking advantage of it is Cat Grant who continues her merciless journalistic attack on Kara, here insinuating that Supergirl is leading a 'Kryptonian invasion'.
And Sam Lane isn't sitting pat either. He goes to area 7734 (get it ... it's hELL upside-down) and coaxes Reactron back into military action.


Knowing now that her jumbled memories and personality twitches are the result of K-poisoning, Kara gets put into a 'regenerative chamber' which will drain off the remaining radiation and cure her. Zor-El knows that the chamber might not be able to hold the energy drained from Kara, but still stays in the room with Alura to make sure Kara survives the process.

I show this panel for one reason.

That's right, there are bike shorts under the mini-skirt! I, for one, think it makes sense for Supergirl to wear them given all the flying she does. And, thankfully, it takes away the potential for the pandering and gratuitous panty shot we sometimes have been subjected to. It also eliminates the need for the skirt to defy physics and always stays down. I am completely okay with it.

But I know that when Renato Guedes added them to Kara's costume in his issues, the negative feedback about it was unprecedented and (I feel) unwarranted. Buckle up Mr. Igle ... my guess is the same folks might complain again.

The chamber works, draining Kara of the radiation. But as feared, the system overloads and a major bolt of K-energy hits Alura. More on my guesses behind this later.


With the Kryptonite drained away, Kara's memories of Argo City are restored.

She remembers how Zor-El reversed-engineered the force field from a Brainiac drone recovered from the Kandor site. She remembers her father trying to convince the Argo Science Council to consider evacuating Argo with space ships only to be refused (much like big brother Jor-El). And she remembers Brainiac's attack and being rocketed away to safety.This 'new origin' takes a lot of the Silver Age origin but updates it by including the Brainiac angle (both for the dome and destruction) and takes away the anti-Kryptonite and meteor angle.

Again, this all works here.

With her memory now intact, Kara now knows how much her parents love her ... enough to risk everything on Argo to save her, enough to risk everything right then to save her.

It leads to the tough question. She can't have both lives. She can't live as a Kryptonian and live as an Earthling as Linda Lang. She needs to decide which path her life will take.

She tells her family she needs some time.

But the K-poisoning is gone ... and with it all the terrible nonsense that I could not stand from the Kelly run!!! Hurray!

In some ways, Gates and Igle have a semi-clean slate onto which they can write their version of Kara. So far, so good.

The issue ends with our first glimpse at Superwoman. Here she is, in Kandor, watching the news while donning her outfit. While her hair looks brown here, she is in shadows so it could easily be blond.

She watches some footage of Kara and then hears the Kryptonian word for help.


And here is the first big shot of her.All right, so everyone has been trying to figure out who this Superwoman could be. Some think she's Thara Ak-var.My initial thought is that she is an update of Lesla Lar, maybe as a Kandor or Argo orphan taken in by the Els to fill Kara's void.

Then I thought it might be a Kara clone. Maybe Zor-El so missed his daughter while in the bottle, he cloned her.

But now I wonder if it isn't Alura. I have heard people on other boards and even on this blog (I think Mauricio) guess this. She has been very vocal in her desire to have Supergirl move back home to Kandor. Maybe a way to do that is to 'replace' her thus severing Kara's ties to Earth. And now we know she has been shot full of K-poisoning (getting back to the above panel) which can make you act oddly, taking on new personalities. Maybe the Superwoman personality is Alura's subconscious way of bringing Kara back into the fold.

Maybe it's time for another blog poll? Who is Superwoman?

Anyways, there was a lot to get through here. The big thing is we have a solid origin now, one devoid of crystal powers, Phantom Zone entities, and murderous tendencies. And it was explained in a neat plausible manner and in one fell swoop.

I have to say, it has been a while since I have been truly excited about this title. But I am now. The plot was great and the dialogue was spot on. The art continues to be amazing. Great job by the creative team!

Overall grade: A

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

"That's right, there are bike shorts under the mini-skirt!"

Haha! Point for Igle! I, personally, think she had damn well _better_ wear something under the ruddy skirt! Every time I see a panty-shot of an otherwise strong female character, it demeans her and, when it's such a young character, I realy have to fight the urge to... Urgh....

But I digress (and angrily so)... I've spent a good amount staring at that panel where we see the back of Superwoman's hair and, comparing it to other hair shades as presented in the issue, I don't believe she's a blonde, redhead, or black-haired woman; that looks like brown, bathed in the blue grow of the screen in front of her... Of course, you can probably tell who I want it to be.

But we shall see...

--Yota.

Ayhe said...

I´m so happy that Supergirl has a new team that is really working hard to make her shine again.
Different orginis, different attitudes...so many misteps and mistakes, I was wondering if there would be a way of fixing her.
And finally it´s happening!
Gates, Ingle and Sterling are an awesome team and I am absolutely sure that from now on each issue will be better and better :D

I once heard in literature class that when you begin writting a story, if you don´t make a good introduction, the story eventually will fail. And the previous teams, from what I read, instead of introducing the character in a simpler way and eventually setting the crisis, they made Supergirl too complicated and difficult to understand. It was such a pitty!

Supergirl is a character that deserves to be treated with love and respect, not only because she died in Crisis in Infinite Earth , but because she´s a symbol of hope.

I loved the way it was explained the reasons of the previous issues, it really makes sense. I agree that before moving foward, there´s a need to put a proper explaining to the past events. I felt that Supergirl was trapped in an invisible cage with so many retconnings.
I feel that now she´s free, and whenever there are people who might like or not the job of the new team, she´s gaining strength as character.

Thanks so much for the review! I enjoyed reading it very much :D
I am following your blog and I like it very much.

I grew up reading Supergirl and I´m happy to see how much people is fond of her.

Heath Edwards said...

another great review, anj...
i think i'll like this superwoman, but,for the life of me, i don't have a clue who it could be. judging from her outfit before her costume change, i'd say she could belong to the same caste as jor-el (from the byrne origin)...

Anj said...

Haha! Point for Igle! I, personally, think she had damn well _better_ wear something under the ruddy skirt! Every time I see a panty-shot of an otherwise strong female character, it demeans her and, when it's such a young character, I realy have to fight the urge to... Urgh....

Thanks for the post.

I completely agree about the shorts and I don't like the panty shot either. Let's see if any hub-bub is raised.

I've spent a good amount staring at that panel where we see the back of Superwoman's hair and, comparing it to other hair shades as presented in the issue, I don't believe she's a blonde, redhead, or black-haired woman; that looks like brown, bathed in the blue grow of the screen in front of her... Of course, you can probably tell who I want it to be.

Looks like you might be the first nonofficial Linda Danvers vote.

Looks like we need a poll.

Anj said...

I loved the way it was explained the reasons of the previous issues, it really makes sense. I agree that before moving foward, there´s a need to put a proper explaining to the past events. I felt that Supergirl was trapped in an invisible cage with so many retconnings.

Thanks for the post.

I agree that the creative team couldn;t just ignore everything that had happened before and move on in their direction. It needed to be explained. And I think this explanation did what it was supposed to do.

Thanks so much for the review! I enjoyed reading it very much :D
I am following your blog and I like it very much.


Thanks so much.

I am glad you are enjoying the blog. I am so happy that some people are as passionate about the character as I am.

Anj said...

another great review, anj...
i think i'll like this superwoman, but,for the life of me, i don't have a clue who it could be. judging from her outfit before her costume change, i'd say she could belong to the same caste as jor-el (from the byrne origin)...


Thanks for the post.

It will be interesting to see how she acts. She is both a 'friend of the house of El' and on a 'Faces of Evil' cover, so I really don;t know what to expect.

Between Superwoman and Nightwing/Flamebird there are a couple of mysteries out there.

Anonymous said...

Who knew the Mighty Supergirl had a chilly overbearing mother?
Alura's characterization of Kara being "vulnerable" living in Metropolis struck me as an odd choice of words to say the least, coming from someone who just spent 30 years living in a semi-microscopic state inside a bottle.
When Zor El and Alura were found alive in ye olde Supergirl feature, it occasioned heartbreak and woe as it set up an irreconciable conflict with her adoptive parents the Danvers'.
Here the conflict is between Zor and Alura's sudden reimposition of parental authority and the decisions Kara made as a "free" young adult since arriving on Earth.
You also get the sense that Zor is the more emotionally accessible parent, Alura more inclined to hold Kara to rigid standards of excellence.
All in all I like our host's notion that Superwoman is Alura free-lancing in a bid to push her daughter out of the limelight and back to the crystal caves of Kandor...but honestly almost any Kryptonian can see that Kara Zor El has an image problem on Earth and want to step into the breach.
But if it was Alura THAT would be cool beyond description!
My only cavil is that Kara's body being laced with k-radiation is something the bio-scans in the Fortress should have picked up from the git-go. I mean at the very least shouldn't cousin Superman have noticed??
Ah well a minor quibble, overall the dramatic arc is picking up speed and drawing in new ideas as well...me happy!

John Feer

Anj said...

Here the conflict is between Zor and Alura's sudden reimposition of parental authority and the decisions Kara made as a "free" young adult since arriving on Earth.
You also get the sense that Zor is the more emotionally accessible parent, Alura more inclined to hold Kara to rigid standards of excellence.
All in all I like our host's notion that Superwoman is Alura free-lancing in a bid to push her daughter out of the limelight and back to the crystal caves of Kandor...but honestly almost any Kryptonian can see that Kara Zor El has an image problem on Earth and want to step into the breach.
But if it was Alura THAT would be cool beyond description!


thanks for the post.

I have to say that the Alura idea was floated by others before me. I think it got some legs this issue. Alura's personality, her physicality, her being hit by K-radiation ... all bolsters the argument.

The fact she is hanging around after New Krypton, the fact that it would make Alura a villain all seem to go against it.

Anyways, I already said it was 'evil clone' as lame as that it to type so I have to stick with it.

Jason said...

Another very excellent review Anj!! I should go and pick up this issue, but from your review it sounds like Supergirl's three differing origins have been very nicely explained.

These origins couldn't be outright ignored (though a lot of us probably wouldn't have minded...haha), and having them explained by an even more convoluted explanation wouldn't have helped either. As is stated in science (and life in general I think), the simplest explanation is always the best.

I do have one question, though. Forgive me if it's answered in the issue, but do we also get an explanation of how Kara ended up naked when she emerged from the rocket on Earth if she was clothed inside it when she was rocketed from Argo?

And now here is my coming from way out in left field theory of who Superwoman might be. What if it's CAT GRANT?! Any takers? I know I'm the only one this has probably occurred to, but bare with me. Building along the same lines of the Alura-as-Superwoman theory, what if Cat is trying to teach Kara a lesson and bump her out of the spotlight? Yes, she doesn't have superpowers, but she could be taking a page out of the Kristen Wells/Superwoman origin where her "powers" are all based on some device she wears.

I don't think she's Linda Danvers. I really don't think we're going to ever see her acknowledged again in the Superman mythos, and I think that is for the best. Now that Kara is also going by the name of Linda, it would be redundant and not really make sense.

I can get behind Superwoman being Alura, Cat, Lesla-Lar, Thara Ak-Var, or some other Kryptonian.

Anj said...

I do have one question, though. Forgive me if it's answered in the issue, but do we also get an explanation of how Kara ended up naked when she emerged from the rocket on Earth if she was clothed inside it when she was rocketed from Argo?

Thanks for the post and glad you liked the review.

No explanation for the naked Kara. Maybe that is one detail that will simply never ne mentioned again and therefore be retconned away.

And now here is my coming from way out in left field theory of who Superwoman might be. What if it's CAT GRANT?! Any takers? I know I'm the only one this has probably occurred to, but bare with me. Building along the same lines of the Alura-as-Superwoman theory, what if Cat is trying to teach Kara a lesson and bump her out of the spotlight?

Cat Grant! I have to say I never would have thought of it.

Who the heck knows at this point.

Nikki said...

I loved the shorts, both times they've been used. My main issue with Renato was that Kara was a little chunky. Don't get me wrong she wasn't drawn fat but personally I'm a thin person naturally and when I was kara's age I was even thinner. I didn't think it was bad that she was the same. Maybe Turner overdid it but I felt Churchill's Kara was fine. Strikes me that the 'ideal' used to be the Kate Moss image and now its more curvy. You've got to love how now people who want to fatten Kara up are saying its a better role model and less cheesecake when in fact she's become more a 21st century ideal. I've gone way off topic but yes I liked the issue. I'm back on the Superwoman/Allura side myself. Allura wears a white cape of sorts that fits so well with the superwoman costume.

Mauricio said...

yep, that was me. I considered the preview of the issue and also rely on the use of the family shield.

The Fortress Keeper said...

Kryptonite poisoning, eh? I'll buy it. That explantion, as you noted, works perfectly well given Superman's history.

And I think Superwoman is Kara's mom as well. I still want Lesla-Lar or (the original) Satan Girl to come back though!

Anj said...

I've gone way off topic but yes I liked the issue. I'm back on the Superwoman/Allura side myself. Allura wears a white cape of sorts that fits so well with the superwoman costume.

It's good to hear the hard core fans saying how much they enjoyed the issue.

Another Alura vote ... maybe I don't need a poll.

Anj said...

Kryptonite poisoning, eh? I'll buy it. That explantion, as you noted, works perfectly well given Superman's history.

Thanks for the post.

There couldn't be a perfect explanation, but this one works pretty well.

And I think Superwoman is Kara's mom as well. I still want Lesla-Lar or (the original) Satan Girl to come back though!

Another Alura vote!

I think Lesla Lar would be a good choice and an obvious rogue's gallery candidate.

Eric said...

Like the majority of the time, I agree with a lot of the stuff you mention in your review! I liked how Gates' 'soft reboot' of Kara's origin story didn't completely invalidate the work of previous writers and arcs, but gave some sort of overarching reason for this to be. Good issue and I can't wait for the next New Krypton issue!

ps have you seen the DC Universe Infinite Heroes Pack? http://www.amazon.com/Mattel-Universe-Infinite-Heroes-Wondergirl/dp/B0015H3OGE

I finally came across one today and Kara doesn't look too bad!

Anj said...

Like the majority of the time, I agree with a lot of the stuff you mention in your review! I liked how Gates' 'soft reboot' of Kara's origin story didn't completely invalidate the work of previous writers and arcs, but gave some sort of overarching reason for this to be.

Thanks for the post.

I think the worst thing the new team could do would be to ignore the past of the title. It would lead to too much confusion or questions from the fandom. Better to explain it all away.

ps have you seen the DC Universe Infinite Heroes Pack? http://www.amazon.com/Mattel-Universe-Infinite-Heroes-Wondergirl/dp/B0015H3OGE

I finally came across one today and Kara doesn't look too bad!


I just heard about this. Thanks for the heads up. Nice to know the Kara is decent.

I am going to have to search for one.

TalOs said...

Add me as yet another that truly loved the issue! :D

Alura being the stern one in the 'El' family kind of threw me through a loop (I just expected a more loving, caring, compassionate, down to Earth 84 Supergirl movie's Mia Farrow portrayal of Alura really instead) but made complete sense come what we've all seen of both Alura and Zor-El character portraits being like so far in the whole New Krypton saga.

Also, as for Kara still being found naked upon her Pre/Post-IC continuity Superman/Batman: The Supergirl From Krypton origin debut arc itself i'm just going to put it all down to her Kryptonian/Argonian made clothing beginning to really reek up such a storm after having spent all that time trapped in her Kryptonian ship and she just really wanted to dispatch of them ASAP. Heh.

Although, I honestly to this very day really wish we had her bursting out of her Kryptonian ship and shortly after Gotham lake itself all 84 Supergirl movie Helen Slater like including wearing her Kryptonian Supergirl costume itself at super speed where she then encounters Batman followed by Superman and explains to them that the actual reason for her blue and red color scheme was actually that it's the official colors of the Kryptonian flag and that the "S" shield was to proudly showoff the fact the she was a member of the 'house of El' at that! *Sighs* Ah well.

Lastly, as for our mysterious Superwoman's true identity being I honestly don't think it's Alura-El unlike others here seem to (I actually think her wanting to become Superwoman wouldn't even be something that'd cross her mine at this stage of the game), but I think it might turn out to be either an adult aged version of Lesla Lar OR a possible daughter of Van-Zee here instead! I don't think it'd be Linda Danvers herself because this Superwoman supposedly seems to be that of Kryptonian decent and displayed the ability of Super hearing as well as understanding Kryptoneese (the Kryptonian language) at that!

Anywho, simply kick butt issue out of this here equally kick butt title!

P.S. Anyone else not quite feeling Superwoman's overall costume color scheme intended by Ross? :/

Anonymous said...

Her mask though, seems significant, it says that Superwoman's true identity is supposed to be concealed from Kara, Kal and the aud, thus implying the revelation of SW's identity will surprise all and sundry.
That thesis again tends to favor Alura or some other character close to the prime cast...

DAy-um I and lovng this book...can't wait for next month. Me happy, Kara Uber Alles!

John Feer