Thursday, December 18, 2008

Review: Supergirl #36


Supergirl #36 was released yesterday, representing part 8 of the now 10 part New Krypton storyline. On his blog, artist Jamal Igle had talked about how emotional this issue was for him to draw and I have to say I agree. This was a powerful issue. And when issues move me, I talk a lot.


Of course, now is the time in reviews when I show the variant cover. Here is another winner from Chris Sprouse showcasing our mystery hero Superwoman and a great looking Supergirl. This variant works better for me than Sprouse's variant for Action Comics #872.


The issue starts in the immediate aftermath of Zor-El being struck down by Reactron. A depowered Kara sprints across the battlefield to attend to her father.


She suffers a shoulder injury, gets saved by Superman, and then her powers kick back in.


I almost pity the Brainiac drones who get in her way. Look at the heat vision spread she demonstrates! And that last panel! Whoa! I can't get enough of a mighty Supergirl.


Kara rushes to her father's side and tells him to hang on, calling him 'father' in their native tongue, a show of love and a very nice little touch.


Alas, it's too late for Zor-El. He dies in her arms. But not before he tells her that she should watch out for her mother. “Watch out” as in “take care of her”? Or “watch out” like a warning? He also tells her how proud he is of her. I am somewhat surprised that DC would bring Zor-El back only to kill him off so quickly. But in some ways it gave it more impact. I was not expecting it and therefore was completely shocked. But after years of the mad Zor-El, to see this one's dying words be ones of pride for Kara was a nice capstone to the troubled recent history of the character.


In a very nice 'silent panel', we see Kara's grief as she cradles Zor's body. It is another take on The Pieta but it works here. It is striking to show Kara screaming without sound effects or word bubble. To add a dialogue bubble or text, well it would detract from the art and cheapen the moment. This is just a wonderful powerful page.


In the commotion, Metallo and Reactron escaped through a pre-built escape tunnel. And Alura sees Zor's body and cries that they should have left Earth.


But even the news of her father's death doesn't deter Cat Grant from her 'search and destroy' mission. She will still run her article 'Supergirl: Science Police Murderer'. At first I thought this was a strange scene to cut to, but later I thought how this effectively showed just how petty Cat Grant is. As news of Zor-El’s death come across the airwaves, she is talking about how she will take Kara down.


We cut to Zor-El's funeral and hear Alura's eulogy. There are some nice touches here. She talks about how an alphahedron was stolen while they were in Argo City and he had faith that the thief would return it. An Alphahedron! Of course, it was an Omegahedron that was stolen in the Supergirl Movie so this was a great little Easter Egg for dedicated Supergirl fans.


But that nice homage is forgotten when Alura says that humans attacked Kryptonians and they should not be surprised if Kandor responds in kind. I love the look of concern on Kara's face. She doesn't have to say 'Kal, I'm concerned' ... the art does all the talking.


A more private moment of mourning is shown next. Kara is seen holding Zor-El’s headband in front of a monument for her father. Superman warns Supergirl that despite this tragedy they still need to deal with the police murders. In a moment of self-doubt, Kara wonders if she is somehow responsible for her father's death. This did not sound like the over the top self-doubt we have unfortunately heard from Kara at times in this series. This seemed and sounded natural.


Much more than Alura's angry response where she blames both Kara and Kal. Look at how she derisively calls Kara ‘Supergirl’, blaming her for the state of Earth and therefore her father’s death. This is simply emotional cruelty on Alura's part.

But Kara has grown a lot. She knows she doesn't need to hear this tripe and flies off. I cannot tell you how much I appreciated this scene. This shows just how strong, just how independent Kara has become. She didn’t argue with her mother. She didn’t break down crying.

I haven’t seen a Kara with this much intestinal fortitude in a long time. I have missed her!
And who meets her as she flies off, Superwoman. Hmmm ... lots of clues here. She definitely has blue eyes. She speaks fluent Kryptonese but is only so-so in English. Here is the translated text. “I don’t mean to bother you but with everything that’s happened in Kandor you look like you could use a friend right now.”

She listens to Supergirl talk about her mother's grief. As Kara talks, we see shots of Alura talking to Zod's soldiers asking for their loyalty.


And boy this Superwoman seems chipper. She says she put on the uniform (including lead-lined mask) because Superman and Supergirl inspired her. She tells Supergirl that she wants to be a friend.


But check out the evil look on her face as the issue ends. It seems this call for friendship is all a ruse.


Not to be lost in the shuffle is this scene of Nightwing and Flamebird taking out some of Alura's personal guard and finding the blueprints of the White House in their possession. This does not bode well.

And Flamebird seems more like a true redhead here than the strawberry blonde we have seen prior.

Wow. Another great issue in the New Krypton arc. This one is a bit more introspective than the action packed prior issues, dealing with the fallout from Zor-El's death.

I have to say that the initial scene as he is dying is done just right ... not overly maudlin, not overly emotional, not a lot of improbable speech. In fact, the dialogue throughout the issue is simply spot on. Thank you Sterling Gates! And that silent splash page was just perfect.

But Kara doesn't have much time to mourn does she? Events are spinning out of control, and her mother seems to be teetering on the brink of madness. "Expect a response in kind?" Sounds like a declaration of war. I do have to say we see just how strong Kara has become in this issue. Not only does she risk her own life heroically to try and save her father, she also knows she doesn’t have to be mentally berated by anyone ... not even her mother. Those days are over.

Despite all these things, the part that intrigued me the most was the appearance of Superwoman. Blue eyes, speaks Kryptonese - Alura and Thara Ak-Var remain possibilities. But we see Alura in Kandor while Kara talks to Superwoman. So I don't think Alura is Superwoman.

I also seems to take Linda Danvers and Cat Grant (a dark horse candidate I have read in places) out of the running. She still could be Thara who may feel that Kara didn’t earn her hero status and that she has been a part of all the mayhem. She looks too young to be Karsta.

Ah well ... still early in the mystery.

I have already complimented Sterling Gates for the pacing and dialogue of the issue. I couldn’t finish the review without commenting on how phenomenal the art was in the issue. Jamal Igle really outdid himself here. I really love his Kara ... a healthy-looking strong young woman. And he does expressions so well. You can tell just how the character feels as they speak their words. That adds to the power of the script. I think this is the best stuff that Igle has ever produced.

One small complaint: Alura calls Zod's troops 'soilders'. Isn't there an editor out there? That typo was just off-putting.

I can’t thank the new creative team enough. Three issues into their run and everything seems right again.

Overall grade: A

17 comments:

Heath Edwards said...

'new krypton' is turning out to be a great story. i think the only thing holding me back from truly enjoying it is my personal elevation of kryptonians. in most of the stories we've had in the past, the kryptonians were always too removed emotionally to think about violent action. i've always enjoyed this attribute, and its not sitting well that my kryptonians are resorting to murder and violence to get their way...
'new krypton' is still a good story, though...

and yes, i think if you reran your poll, anj, i'd change my superwoman vote to thara ak-var. i do like her costume, but am left intrigued by the yellow studs. perhaps, she's not truly kryptonian, and thus needs some sort of anti-gravity help to fly...

Anonymous said...

Well, SW ain't Alura dats for sure...
Other than that, Kara's mom sure is a piece of work, she authorizes lethal force when gathering up Superman's rogue's gallery, cares not a whit when said policy leads to human fatalities (and engenders another PR crisis for her embattled daughter) and when the policy gets her husband killed she blames Kal and Kara.
And yet Kara wants to do right be her despite Alura's craven opportunism...oh and Mom is dealing with her grief by treating with Zod's stormtroopers...this woman has a marvelous gift for catastrophe....SG ought to send a hallmark and stay in Metropolis.
Hope the move back home doesn't 86 the new secret ID, I'd hate to lose out on that so quickly, otherwise twas a superb issue.

John Feer

John said...

I don't know if I'd agree that Superwoman has an evil look on her face, but since she's featured on a Faces of Evil cover, then maybe her motivations aren't entirely altruistic. And that's a shame because if SW is a good guy, then there would be another protector for Metropolis while Superman is in space. And goodness knows that Kara could use some more friends and someone she can trust.

TalOs said...

GREAT RAO ON A FRICKIN' CRACKER!!! Not only did this issue give us an official nod the 84 Supergirl movie (thank you Mr. Gates! It seems you took my PM about including the 'Omegaheadron' to heart and decided to run with it of sorts come this very issue! YES!!! Sincerely appreciative!), but we also got a nod to red head band era Supergirl among other such nostalgic easter eggs thrown in for good measure! W00T!

However, in having had said all of that I understand that the overall plan for "New Krypton" was to link Superman and Supergirl more together but to kill Johnathan Kent off only to soon after now kill Zor-El at that seems a bit over kill by wanting to have the 2 "Super cousins" been given a stronger connection here. If you had to kill a Kryptonian member of the house of El then why not Alura! Heck, she's already become Mrs. Zod by her actions alone so why not kill off the one that truly deserves it! It pained me to say it for I've always loved Allura (or originally spelt like) but to only now have her return to main continuity proper as this cold hearted, territorial, maniacal self centered ice witch who again is just about ready to become Mrs. Zod (like Ursa) has really gutted this particular Supergirl fan something chronic as well as deciding on killing off Zor-El.

Lastly, I hope beyond hope that Superwoman truly is a friend of the house of El and that her cover intended for Jan 09's so called "faces of evil" event has her depiction on that particular issue's cover as being the exception rather then being the rule. (In other words I truly pray that she is intended to be a beacon of light/hope amongst those other faces of evil Supervillainry profiles gracing the rest of DC's line wide titles for that month)

Oh and for the love of all that is holy can Supergirl please heat vision Cat's implants till they explode! I mean the woman has no compassion or feelings at the end of the day what so ever! UGH!

P.S. I still believe that Agent Liberty's new Science police boss "Rachel" will turn out to be our here Superwoman in the end. Heh.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

delete the other post i had to edit something!

now.THAT was FRAKIN' AWESOME!

I'm loving this new team!

oh!

and SG kicks some bad guy booty!

lol.

-ealperin

Jason said...

Wow...this story is certainly picking up the pace. I echo the sentiments that it really is a shame to have this loving, caring Zor-El killed just as we (and Supergirl) got him back so to speak. I do, however, see how it provides for a strong plot point for the story.

Alura, though, who knew she'd turn out to be such the ice queen? Anj...I couldn't have said it better than you...Alura's remarks to Kara following Zor-El's death really did amount to emotional cruelty. I applaud Kara for accepting right away that she did not have to stay and listen to that. I'm confident that Kara will decide she doesn't need or want to stay in Kandor with her mother. I'm also willing to bet (or hope, at least) that Alura's harsh treatment of Kara will only serve to make Kara more accomodating to Kal's wanting to bring Alura in to justice.

We can certainly count Alura out as being Superwoman since we saw her w/ Zod's men while Supergirl was talking with Superwoman. It's interesting that Superwoman knew to line her mask with lead. She really does not want to be discovered. She's also certainly Kryptonian, which rules out Linda Danvers, Cat Grant, or any other human female. I guess Thara Ak-Var is looking like the prime candidate now since I agree w/ Anj that Superwoman appeared to be much younger than Karsta.

I still cannot make any educated guess as to who Nightwing and Flamebird might be. I thought the definite red hair for Flamebird was probably a clue, but I just wish I knew who that clue pointed to. Could she be...Lana? Lana is a character we know but "haven't seen in costume yet." Going off that same requirement, I don't know how Nightwing and Flamebird could be Conner and Linda.

If Flamebird is Lana (or human period), then she's clearly using some kind of device for her power of flight. I do have to ask is it just me or was Flamebird's hair-do totally big 80s poofy hair? That made me chuckle.

Anj said...

'new krypton' is turning out to be a great story. i think the only thing holding me back from truly enjoying it is my personal elevation of kryptonians. in most of the stories we've had in the past, the kryptonians were always too removed emotionally to think about violent action. i've always enjoyed this attribute, and its not sitting well that my kryptonians are resorting to murder and violence to get their way...

Thanks for the post.

I think Johns' purposefully put Kryptonians dressed from all continuities to show that there are many factions in Kandor.

I agree that it is weird to see people like Alura so casually jump into battles, but maybe they are just overconfident with their new powers.

Anj said...

Other than that, Kara's mom sure is a piece of work, she authorizes lethal force when gathering up Superman's rogue's gallery, cares not a whit when said policy leads to human fatalities (and engenders another PR crisis for her embattled daughter) and when the policy gets her husband killed she blames Kal and Kara.

It is true that both sides, for fear of safety, went out and killed. Alura seems to addled to have seen the similarity.

Hope the move back home doesn't 86 the new secret ID, I'd hate to lose out on that so quickly, otherwise twas a superb issue.

My guess is we will see more Linda Lang once New Krypton ends. I also hope to see more of the new threads we saw in issue #34 brought to the forefront again once this big arc ends.

Anj said...

However, in having had said all of that I understand that the overall plan for "New Krypton" was to link Superman and Supergirl more together but to kill Johnathan Kent off only to soon after now kill Zor-El at that seems a bit over kill by wanting to have the 2 "Super cousins" been given a stronger connection here.

Thanks for the post!

I agree that there were plenty of future plot potential with keeping Zor-El alive.

But his death certainly is a big catalyst in this story. I can't believe there are only 2 issues left in New Krypton!

P.S. I still believe that Agent Liberty's new Science police boss "Rachel" will turn out to be our here Superwoman in the end. Heh.

It's as good a guess as any!

Anj said...

now.THAT was FRAKIN' AWESOME!

I'm loving this new team!

oh!

and SG kicks some bad guy booty!


Thanks for the post. I agree ... it was a phenomenal issue!

Anj said...

Alura, though, who knew she'd turn out to be such the ice queen? Anj...I couldn't have said it better than you...Alura's remarks to Kara following Zor-El's death really did amount to emotional cruelty. I applaud Kara for accepting right away that she did not have to stay and listen to that. I'm confident that Kara will decide she doesn't need or want to stay in Kandor with her mother. I'm also willing to bet (or hope, at least) that Alura's harsh treatment of Kara will only serve to make Kara more accomodating to Kal's wanting to bring Alura in to justice.

Thanks for the great post.

I agree that unless Alura is somehow miraculously cured of all this craziness she deserves some punishment. And I think Kara will understand and agree to it. But what punishment? Phantom Zone?

Will people feel let down if it all turns out to be K-poisoning?

If Flamebird is Lana (or human period), then she's clearly using some kind of device for her power of flight. I do have to ask is it just me or was Flamebird's hair-do totally big 80s poofy hair? That made me chuckle.

I did note the big hair. Funny.

I hope it isn't Lana. I hope it isn't Linda.

I don't know who I hope it is.

TalOs said...

Anj said...
But his death certainly is a big catalyst in this story. I can't believe there are only 2 issues left in New Krypton!
Y'mean not counting World of New Krypton eh? ;)

I agree that unless Alura is somehow miraculously cured of all this craziness she deserves some punishment. And I think Kara will understand and agree to it. But what punishment? Phantom Zone?

Will people feel let down if it all turns out to be K-poisoning?

HELL YEAH! And the main reason I say this is only due to the fact that Alura has been acting the way she has been even BEFORE ever being exposed to that bolt of K-poisoning! It would make absolutely no sense if PTB ended up claiming that the main overall reason she's acting like an even more irrational cold hearted mega witch is all due to her being K-poisoned when we've clearly seen that through her past characterization Alura has been acting the way she has long before K-poisoning entered the foray.

Send her off to the Phantom Zone! If she can't be rehabilitated to that of respecting non Kryptonian life forms and sees such beings as being "cattle" then she's to dangerous to have around on Earth or even in the DCU itself really.

Lastly er, you hope Flamebird isn't Linda? Dude you feeling alright? :P (JOKE!)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it was a great issue and, as always, you've given an excellent review.

Meanwhile, I just have to ask: How in the hell do you know how to read (and translate!) Kryptonian?!

--Yota.

Anj said...

Lastly er, you hope Flamebird isn't Linda? Dude you feeling alright? :P (JOKE!)

I love Linda so much, I just fear that she will be written all wrong.

So I want her to come back ... but I don't want her to come back. Does that make sense? LOL

Anj said...

Yeah, it was a great issue and, as always, you've given an excellent review.

Meanwhile, I just have to ask: How in the hell do you know how to read (and translate!) Kryptonian?!

--Yota.


Thanks for the post.

I am not fluent. I have to translate. There is a Kryptonian alphabet in the back of the 'Superman/Batman' Supergirl trade.

Should I post it?

Anonymous said...

I would love you forever if you did!