Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Review: Superman/Supergirl Maelstrom #3


Well, all I can do is say I am sorry for the recent lapse in blogging. I consider myself still a newbie to this. It is amazing what a tough week of work and the impending holidays will do to free time usually spent on Supergirl reflections.

I had just such a week and as a result I am reviewing a comic that came out last Wednesday on this week's Wednesday! And with both Action Comics and Final Crisis coming out today, I knew I needed to catch up.

So here we are with Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom #3, a mini-series which I think is slowly improving with each issue.

You may recall that last issue, Superman forced Kara to go with him to a red sun planet and face some dangers while de-powered so she could learn some life lessons. Not the best idea, especially when Supergirl wanders off and is surrounded by some aliens.

She calls out for Superman and again hammers home the point that taking them to a inhospitable planet while they are without powers isn't the best idea. Despite Superman saying he has visited the planet countless times, the two seem constantly surrounded by serious threats, like these gorilla-like creatures.
The whole reason for Superman bringing Kara there was to teach her 'not to rely on her powers' in a fight. Supergirl then reminds him that she doesn't just rely on her powers, that she was trained by Amazons. So maybe this trip wasn't necessary.

Of course, if she was trained by Amazons then how was Maelstrom able to so easily wipe the floor with her in issue one?
Superman continues to play the role of obnoxious older brother. After Kara reminds him yet again how idiotic this trip was he scolds her for being sarcastic and childish.



In a moment of honesty, Kara tells Kal that she might act like a child because she spent her 'entire childhood trapped inside a space ship'.

Hmmm ... I don't necessarily agree with that. She entered the space ship as a 16 year old and left it as a 16 year old because of the suspended animation. It isn't as if she aged in it. So I don't quite understand what Palmiotti was going for there.

That said, the overall characterization of Supergirl in the last 2 issues has been much better than that in the first issue. This Kara, the one that seems self-confident and strong, is a far cry from the little girl crying on the moon at the end of issue #1. This Kara will challenge Superman if she thinks he is wrong.

In the meantime, Maelstrom is surprising all sorts of people on Apokolips. Despite significant torture, she remains unbowed, continuously chanting Darkseid's name. Darkseid himself is intrigued by her resilience and asks that she be brought to him.

After telling Maelstrom that he is not looking for a concubine nor that he feels she would survive the initiation process of his concubines (!!), Darkseid makes a deal with her. If she brings him the head of Superman, he will make Maelstrom his personal slave. And he promises her that Supergirl will not interfere.

As we continue to compare/contrast Supergirl to Maelstrom we see that Maelstrom continues to impress her alpha male figure, while Supergirl is just getting a sniff of respect from Superman.
Listening in to the deal, DeSaad asks Darkseid why he would send Maelstrom off on a suicide mission. The icy evil Darkseid says that when her hope is crushed from her loss that it will cause Maelstrom more mental pain and suffering than any torture device. He will have robbed her of her dreams of being at Darkseid's side.

That guy is pure evil!

Things on the red sun planet move from bad to worse. Superman is knocked into some rapids by a giant toad thingy and subsequently breaks his arm and nearly drowns. Without a moment's hesitation, Supergirl jumps into the river to save him, suffering a minor head injury during the rescue.

As a physician, I had to include the above scene of Kara giving CPR to Kal. Luckily, he begins to breathe again on his own and seems no worse for wear.

His broken arm has a bit of a silver lining though. Kara now takes control of the situation stating that enough is enough and it is time to go home. As they leave for the ship, they encounter some more aliens. These ones appear intelligent, as they are clothed and armed. Interestingly, they have little interest in the Kryptonians and simply walk by the super-cousins.

It's a good thing that Superman and Supergirl are returning to Earth too. Maelstrom has been armed and is going to be sent on her mission to kill Kal-El. Granny Goodness seems a bit put off by the attention Maelstrom is getting and tells Maelstrom in no uncertain terms that she will kill her if Maelstrom fails ... or maybe even before Maelstrom begins the mission.


And who better to run interference with Supergirl while Maelstrom battles Superman? Granny's Female Furies. They also might kill Maelstrom just for the fun of it.

Well, after all that has happened and been divulged on this camping trip from Hell, it seems Superman is finally willing to admit that he may have been too hard on Kara. He tells her that if she feels she did not have a childhood that she could always live with the Kents as a teenager.

I love Kara's response. She says she is a 'big city kind of girl', a little statement of independence and self-realization. Supergirl isn't simply 'Superman in a skirt'; she is her own person. She might be family with Kal ... she might learn from him ... but she is not him, nor is she beholden to him.

But just when it seems that things are on the right track ... that Superman and Supergirl have a new understanding and respect for each other and are heading home, they discover the sentient aliens they ran into before crawling all over their ship.

When confronted, one fires a poison dart into Superman's chest. Boy ... this trip to a red sun world was definitely not a good idea!

Again, I think each issue of this series has been a slight improvement over the last. It seems to me that Palmiotti's idea was to have the cousins explore their relationship in a place where they are on a bit more even ground, a place where they both can be hurt and therefore need to count on each other. A red sun planet makes good sense to move the story along but might not have been the best idea for the characters.

And I also think that Kara's dialogue (outside of the 'lost childhood' comment) and reactions on the red sun planet are actually in line with how I think her character should act. She is smart, resourceful, strong, opinionated ... but also inexperienced and something of a hothead. If only Kara had acted this way in issue #1! That said, the creative team needed a reason to send the cousins to a red sun world to explore their interactions and a disastrous showing by Supergirl was an easy impetus. I still don't like it, but it served its purpose.

I have to say that I am glad the action is moving back to Earth. Two issues of a bad nature walk is enough. My only hope is that in the end Supergirl squares off against Maelstrom and avenges the prior loss.

And I really really like Phil Noto's take on Supergirl

Overall grade: B

11 comments:

Heath Edwards said...

mmm, this mini isn't turning out too bad. its not what i'd call essential supergirl reading (yet), but it hasn't dragged too much...
i'd like to see more of these massive silent aliens. the way they simply strode past/over superman and kara impressed me. we don't get many aliens that ignore superman...
i agree, anj, noto's supergirl is a beauty, and a capable beauty at that...

Diana_Fan said...

This was a HUGE improvement over the first two issues, IMO.

I really like how Kara was portrayed this issue, and I think you nailed it on the head with the "this is how she should act" comment.

Also, I have nothing but love for Noto's art throughout. He's just amazing.

Ayhe said...

I agree, it´s a nice improvement and Kara´s beginning to show herself. Neither bitchy and nor cheesy...
Superman slowly is beginning to know the real Kara, as she´s little by little opening herself.
I liked how she kindly refused Kal´s suggestion of living in Kansas, with his parents. Her reasons are valid.
And what she said about Superman´s idea of teaching not to depend on superpowers by taking her to a wild planet...I agree. He probably watched too many "Survivor" episodes xD

Thanks a lot for the review! It´s a pleasure visiting your blog :3

Anonymous said...

Kara's initial attitude wasn't helping but Kal's central idea "Lets go camping and detach from our powers for a while" wasn't so hot either.
So it's a wash.
My main problem with this issue was this, finally they touched on Supergirl's "amazon training" which apparently she couldn't recall at all while battling Maelstrom, Apokolips' toughest Charwoman....
I guess amazon training ain't what it used to be....

But in a weird way the cousins are bonding...it is just that they are making every mistake possible on the way. That much I like, but the core dramatic conflict Kara v. Maelstrom, is rubbish.

John Feer

Nikki said...

I have uni deadlines so I've yet to pick this up. I'm aiming to get it later today. From the looks of it I'm hopeful. I'm glad she brought the amazons up. I know Clark thinks hes doing best but it would be better to send her to Artemis and her friends and if they are AWOL then Diana. I hope they do Kara vs the Furies well. I would think during her time on apokolips she would have had to spar with them.

TalOs said...

I actually prefer this over the dreck that was that [i]The Brave and The Bold[/i] Supergirl/Raven intended team up themed arc as written by Marv Wolfman ah. I mean YEESH! Compare this here mini special and the way Supergirl is being written like to that of Marv and the earlier actually comes off as a masterpiece really. Heh. :P

P.S. Here's to DC black balling Wolveman from ever being able to write Supergirl period! The guy just truly hates her and you can see this as being the case just from his writing.

Anj said...

mmm, this mini isn't turning out too bad. its not what i'd call essential supergirl reading (yet), but it hasn't dragged too much...

i agree, anj, noto's supergirl is a beauty, and a capable beauty at that...


I agree. If the first issue was better, this might hit 'buy the trade' realms.

It is improving.

And Noto is unbelievably slick.

Anj said...

I really like how Kara was portrayed this issue, and I think you nailed it on the head with the "this is how she should act" comment.

Also, I have nothing but love for Noto's art throughout. He's just amazing.


I just think Kara acts so differently here than she did in the first issue. If she had this attitude throughout it would be such a more wholly satisfying read.

And, yes, Noto is awesome.

Anj said...

Superman slowly is beginning to know the real Kara, as she´s little by little opening herself.
I liked how she kindly refused Kal´s suggestion of living in Kansas, with his parents. Her reasons are valid.
And what she said about Superman´s idea of teaching not to depend on superpowers by taking her to a wild planet...I agree. He probably watched too many "Survivor" episodes xD

Thanks a lot for the review! It´s a pleasure visiting your blog :3


You make a good point about Superman still learning about Kara's character. If this is early in their relationship he might not know that this trip was wrong or that she would clearly avoid living on the farm.

Glad you liked the review and the blog! Thanks so much.

Anj said...

My main problem with this issue was this, finally they touched on Supergirl's "amazon training" which apparently she couldn't recall at all while battling Maelstrom, Apokolips' toughest Charwoman....
I guess amazon training ain't what it used to be....

But in a weird way the cousins are bonding...it is just that they are making every mistake possible on the way. That much I like, but the core dramatic conflict Kara v. Maelstrom, is rubbish.


At least someone finally remembered and discussed the Amazon training. Much of her fights in her main title have seemed clumsy for someone with privy to Amazon military techniques.

And I agree the bonding is 'weird'. Seems like they have disagreed the whole time but they seem closer now than they were at the beginning of the camping trip.

Anj said...

I actually prefer this over the dreck that was that [i]The Brave and The Bold[/i] Supergirl/Raven intended team up themed arc as written by Marv Wolfman ah. I mean YEESH!

I agree. Those B&B issues were pretty awful.