Thursday, January 22, 2009

Review: Supergirl #37


We are fresh out of the official New Krypton storyline but the plots started there are far from over. Supergirl #37 begins the 'Who is Superwoman?' arc but so much more of the fallout from the crossover event is being sifted through.

This was a very good opening chapter. The Superwoman mystery is clearly front and center. But the state of New Krypton and the leadership of Alura are featured too. The Superman fans who are following the aftermath of New Krypton have plenty of hooks here to stick around as readers.


The issue starts from Superwoman's perspective. She talks of how early attempts to terraform New Krypton have been unsuccessful. How she wants to help her people, her family. How no one can know who she is.

She also remembers her murder of Agent Liberty. She talks with resentful respect for General Lane,who "intimately knows the Kryptonian race", "hates them", and knows how to exploit them.

This is a great opening for the issue. Most comic readers like a good mystery and trying to figure out Superwoman's identity is a big draw for the issue. So why not start out with a scene that gives us some tiny clues to help build a case. Her hair is shown in one panel as being dark ... but that seems to be more shadowing than true color. Her eyes are definitely blue. She calls the House of El her family. She may be working for Lane but I don't think she is doing so out of loyalty ... looks more like blackmail. And she has been given orders by Lane. Interesting.

That's a good amount of almost no information ... but what little hard info there is certainly can help build theories. More on that later.

I also find it interesting that New Krypton is no lush paradise. It visually evokes memories of Richard Donner's Krypton from the Christopher Reeve movies, a landscape of ice canyons. Seems not all Kryptonians were happy to leave Earth and go to this ice world.
We cut to Kara in space, soaking in some rays and just getting away from it all. It is a nice touch to hear that this is where she went to grieve her father because she didn't want everyone to hear her sorrow. I also like the smaller font when she says she misses Zor-El. We all have that smaller voice in our head. By simply shrinking the words we feel her inner pain more as a reader.


Superwoman shows up to briefly interrupt the meditation but is clear that Kara and her are becoming friends. Does their near mirror positioning mean anything? Is that a clue?

Earthside, we meet a new supporting cast member. Inspector Mike Henderson is a new Metropolis police officer who investigates metahuman crime. The body of Agent Liberty has been discovered in the harbor. His suit was able to transmit a signal to bring people to his corpse but also may have recorded some pertinent information about the actual act of murder.

Henderson seems like a no-nonsense guy who (I hope) will become a sort of Commissioner Gordon presence for Kara ... a colleague rather than a foe.

Kara seems a bit apprehensive about Superwoman. Who is she? What does she want? Kara also seems surprised to hear that Superwoman was able to search the whole planet for her. That is pretty fast. Is that a clue? Is it speed she has in abundance? Or is there another way she could have tried to find Kara?

Superwoman tries to convince Supergirl to stay on New Krypton and not return to Earth. Superwoman talks about how humans hate the Kryptonians, how Kara should focus on the events on the new home planet. Why would she be so vehement about keeping Kara on New Krypton? Is that what Lane wants? Or is that to protect Kara from Lane's plans?

This is the fun of a mystery like this. Almost every line could mean something ... or not.
Kara does seem pretty happy here though. She seems to be enjoying her time as a 'normal girl'. I am somewhat surprised that Supergirl really seems to want to support her mother and help her. You may recall that in the last issue I thought Kara might have gone to New Krypton to stop Alura from doing further damage, to keep a close eye on her. Instead it seems she wants to be a 'good daughter' and fall in line.


Alura is unhappy with Kara's little jaunts into space and promises punishments. But before that, she has a mission for Kara ... go to Earth, apprehend Reactron, and bring him to New Krypton for justice. The Kryptonians have some intel that show Reactron is going to be in Metropolis that afternoon.

Look at this creepy room. Are the films of Zor-El's murder on continuous loop? I don't know if this is a healthy place for Alura.


Alura asks Kara if she can trust her with this important mission. Kara agrees.
One thing that I really liked about this issue is that Kara's grief over Zor-El's death is not being ignored, swept under the rug. It is effecting her and should effect her. I am glad that it is out in the open and not just inferred. Of course that event is going to have a huge impact on Kara. And what better way for Alura to try and bring Kara into the fold than by sending her out to get her father's killer. In some ways, this is a more decpetive form of emotional blackmail on Alura's part. It might not be as over the top as some of the things she has said to Kara in the past, but it is just as crippling to me. There have to be Kryptonians better suited for this mission than Supergirl, but it is Kara who is asked to go. There is simply too much weight for Kara to say no.


Another surprise was the characterization of Thara. Her brief scenes in the New Krypton crossover made her seem a bit cold and belligerent.

In this issue, she really seems like Kara's old friend. Moreover, she seems to be the voice of reason in her meetings with Alura. She doesn't think Kara should take the mission. She is opposed to Kara bringing Reactron back because Alura will execute him.

What does this mean? Why does she, like Superwoman, want Kara to stay away from Earth? Is she Superwoman? Regradless, her words don't matter to Supergirl. Kara leaves for Earth.

But before Supergirl can get to Reactron, Superwoman stops her. She tells her outright that Kara cannot be on Earth ... it isn't safe. So Superwoman is concerned about Kara's safety. Interesting.
Supergirl isn't going to be told what to do. She is finding her father's killer. She tells Superwoman to get out of her way.


Unfortunately, Superwoman isn't listening. Wow!

From a 'big picture' viewpoint of this title, Supergirl #37 is an important issue. Sales have been up dramatically during the New Krypton crossover. The hope is that those new readers will have liked what they have seen during those issues to give this issue a try and maybe continue to read the title going forward. This issue needs to have enough impact to keep them coming back for more.

I think it succeeds.

First off, it builds on the major beats of New Krypton so those interested in that story will have something here for them.

While there is no Zod sighting, it is clear that Alura's attitude has not changed since the new planet was formed. She seems domineering over Supergirl. She is calling for the head of Reactron.

The murder of Agent Liberty is not going to just go away. That mystery is inextricably linked to the Superwoman mystery and so is a key part of the bigger plot. I certainly like the addition of Inspector Henderson to the cast of the comic. One of my big complaints of earlier runs of this title is that there were no real secondary characters around for Kara to play off of. Now we have Cat Grant, Lana, Inspector Henderson. That's great. I would love for there to be some characters more Supergirl's age to be present in her life as well. I don't know if Thara counts just yet.

But really the big hook for readers (both old and new) is the Superwoman mystery. I think about the other mysteries I have tried to puzzle in my comics life. 'Who is Sensor Girl' is probably my favorite. More recently it was 'who is pretending to be Daredevil while he is in prison?' And there is the ongoing 'who is Rulk?' I mean 'Rulk' is a pretty silly comic but I love the mystery aspect. (For the record I think it's the Leader. My buddy is convinced it's the Absorbing Man.)

So what have we learned?

1) She may have dark hair (I think a red herring)
2) She has blue eyes
3) She calls the House of El family
4) She is reluctantly working for General Lane
5) She wants Kara to stay away from Earth but apparently more out of concern for Kara's safety

Does this change my guess of 'evil Kara clone'? Not yet.

But some other candidates seem more likely now. Suddenly Thara becomes a better guess. But she seems too obvious. I had taken Alura completely out of the mix and I don't think this new information changes that. I have read some people state maybe Superwoman is a future version of Supergirl herself. That is an interesting thought and certainly viable. A recent poster guessed a split Alura (a la the black kryptonite Kara split). That is dark horse possibility ... but actually fits. Any new guesses?

What about Alura's obsequious secretary? Maybe she is such an Alura toadie that she feels she is an El. Maybe she wants Kara to fail so Alura will 'love' her more. Maybe?? Nah .... The bottom line is that despite a lot of bait being dropped, there is no (as far as I can tell) 'a ha' moment in this comic that cements anyone as Superwoman.
The dialogue continues to snap. I think Gates has a nice handle on Kara's inner voice.

The art continues to be superb, although at times the inking seemed murkier than I am used to seeing. I have said it before and I will say it again now. Igle does wonderfully nuanced facial expressions that really help the emotional impact of Gates' words. Look at the joy on Kara's face when she says she is a 'normal girl'. Look at the determination when she says she will take the mission. Or the surprise on Thara's face when Kara snaps at her. The best comics have a symbiotic relationship between words and art and we have seen that here over the last 4 issues.

So, if I run a new 'who is Superwoman poll?' who should be the choices?

Overall grade: A-

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Now I can't wait to save up money and get this series!

Igle draws human expressions wonderfully.

The only thing that I think could be a parallel to the scene wher Superwoman punches Supergirl is the scene in the "Manny Happy Returns" series where the Linda Danvers Supergirl punches the Silver-Age Supergirl.

coincidence?

I think not.

-ealperin

TalOs said...

As I said up at the Bloc both Gates and Igle knocked this out of the park! I know it's good writing and art i'm getting when the comic makes you so emotional that you're more then willing to cheer on the main character in her quest all the while booing the other who organized said quest at the same time. Heh.

10/10

P.S. Jamal, sincere thanks for giving Supergirl her own movie's iconic flying pose in 2 particular scenes at that!!! (The one where she retracts her left arm back in clenched fist while extending her right out also in clenched fist all at same time.

anj said...

rom a 'big picture' viewpoint of this title, Supergirl #37 is an important issue. Sales have been up dramatically during the New Krypton crossover. The hope is that those new readers will have liked what they have seen during those issues to give this issue a try and maybe continue to read the title going forward. This issue needs to have enough impact to keep them coming back for more.

I think it succeeds.

First off, it builds on the major beats of New Krypton so those interested in that story will have something here for them.


Oh in 100% full agreement with!

While there is no Zod sighting, it is clear that Alura's attitude has not changed since the new planet was formed. She seems domineering over Supergirl. She is calling for the head of Reactron.

Not that she'd get off her own butt and do this. No let's have Kara do it instead. Alura isn't royalty and should remember that she can't just go barking orders around at her whim as if she was the QUEEN of "New Krypton". Yeesh.

The murder of Agent Liberty is not going to just go away. That mystery is inextricably linked to the Superwoman mystery and so is a key part of the bigger plot. I certainly like the addition of Inspector Henderson to the cast of the comic. One of my big complaints of earlier runs of this title is that there were no real secondary characters around for Kara to play off of. Now we have Cat Grant, Lana, Inspector Henderson. That's great. I would love for there to be some characters more Supergirl's age to be present in her life as well. I don't know if Thara counts just yet.

Both Thara AND recently debuted Inspector Henderson are God sends if you ask me. Heh.

But really the big hook for readers (both old and new) is the Superwoman mystery. I think about the other mysteries I have tried to puzzle in my comics life. 'Who is Sensor Girl' is probably my favorite.

Mine too! So peeved to this very day that they didn't allow her to actually a time and era displaced Kara Zor-El as originally intended. *Sighs*

Does this change my guess of 'evil Kara clone'? Not yet.

But some other candidates seem more likely now. Suddenly Thara becomes a better guess. But she seems too obvious. I had taken Alura completely out of the mix and I don't think this new information changes that. I have read some people state maybe Superwoman is a future version of Supergirl herself. That is an interesting thought and certainly viable. A recent poster guessed a split Alura (a la the black kryptonite Kara split). That is dark horse possibility ... but actually fits. Any new guesses?


Hmmm, how about Lara-El? Dondra-El (Jor-El and Zor-El's supposed 3rd deceased Jor-El look a like biological twin brother himself Nim-El's widow?)or what about the Pre-COIE E-1 "Cru-El"'s own mom even? Either then them there's still the chance of it being Alura's personal brown nosing secretary "Lyra Kam-Par" or barring that maybe even the very slim chance of her being the actual Pre-COIE E-1 Kara Zor-El/"Linda Lee Danvers"/ Supergirl. :/

What about Alura's obsequious secretary? Maybe she is such an Alura toadie that she feels she is an El. Maybe she wants Kara to fail so Alura will 'love' her more. Maybe?? Nah .... The bottom line is that despite a lot of bait being dropped, there is no (as far as I can tell) 'a ha' moment in this comic that cements anyone as Superwoman. The dialogue continues to snap. I think gates has a nice handle on Kara's inner voice.

The art continues to be superb, although at times the inking seemed murkier than I am used to seeing. I have said it before and I will say it again now. Igle does wonderfully nuanced facial expressions that really help the emotional impact of Gates' words. Look at the joy on Kara's face when she says she is a 'normal girl'. Look at the determination when she says she will take the mission. Or the surprise on Thara's face when Kara snaps at her. The best comics have a symbiotic relationship between words and art and we have seen that here over the last 4 issues.

Oh totally! :D

So, if I run a new 'who is Superwoman poll?' who should be the choices?

Pre-COIE E-1 Kara Zor-El/"Linda Lee Danvers"/Supergirl, Pre-COIE E-1 Cru-El's own mom, Dondra-El (Jor-El and Zor-El's supposed 3rd deceased Jor-El look a like biological twin brother himself Nim-El's own widow?), Lara-El, Alura-El, Thara Ak-Var, Alura's personal brown nosing secretary Lyra Kam-Par, I think that covers all the possible 'House of El' women contenders. :/

ealperin said...

Now I can't wait to save up money and get this series!

Igle draws human expressions wonderfully.

The only thing that I think could be a parallel to the scene wher Superwoman punches Supergirl is the scene in the "Manny Happy Returns" series where the Linda Danvers Supergirl punches the Silver-Age Supergirl.

coincidence?

I think not.


Y'mean you think she's actually Linda yeah? :/

Anonymous said...

maybe...

But I'm open to other suggestions.

-ealperin

Anonymous said...

Did Linda have heat vision in the weary wicked end there? Because that is how she executed Agent Liberty....I dunno? If it is Linda then she did a damn fine job of infiltrating Kandorian society and a wretched job of concealing her identity from the US military.
I just don't see where Ockham's razor leads us here. Right now I'm inclined to regard Superwoman as a non-Kryptonian. That and clearly it's set up to have Supergirl seize Reactron, the US military want the "unpopular" Kryptonian for some nefarious reason.

BTW this is GREAT read...for twenty two years I dreamt of a NEW Supergirl series built around Kousin Kara and writtent to the character's potential, and at last it is here.
I could not be happier.

John Feer

Anonymous said...

I'm probably more of a Linda fan than most, but I'm about positive it isn't her... She's more likely to be Flamebird, but I doubt that we'd be that lucky, and it all depends on the outcome of "Reign in Hell," no?

Meanwhile, I absolutely abhor gratuitous panty-shots (especially of the younger heroines! damn you, cheesecake!!!), so I'd just like to express my thanks to Mr. Igle for the fact that he draws a more conservative Kara, complete with red bicycle shorts under that tricky skirt of hers! :D

--Yota.

Anonymous said...

Plot-wise Linda is a problem as Superwoman, in that Kara doesn't know her from a cord of wood so while it's a surprise to the reader and maybe Superman but to Kara not so much.
And I think her identity is supposed to be a big "shockeroo" event for Supergirl.
Nor can it be Lois Lane, although she IS a member of the family via marriage. recall that SW is a murderess and I doubt that sort of plotline could used with Superman's wife unless approval was given at the Publisher level.
Gates is doing a good job, Ockham's razor isn't being satisfied this month.
:D
John Feer

TalOs said...

Hmmm, what if the Alura that we think we've come to know is actually none other then Lesla Lar herself! What if the 'real' Alura had managed to make it to "New Earth" prior to Lelsa purposely sending Alura to the "Survival Zone" and managed to escape BEFORE Kandor was re enlarged back to proper size by Superman? Could THAT be as to exactly how Sam Lane is apparently so familiar with our here mysterious Kryptonian Superwoman? Is she really the 'real' Alura-El while the "Alura" on New Krypton has been Lesla Lar this whole entire time??

Or could it possibly be Lesla Lar herself that's underneath the Superwoman guise instead? Maybe in the past she saw Alura as being a fitting role model and decided to adopt the 'House of El' linage as her very own until Alura remade a "New Krypton" where she now resents her and wants to tear down anything to do with the house of El starting with Supergirl then Alura followed with Superman? Maybe Lesla Lar aged to that of a young woman unlike Supergirl hence as to why she adopts the name "Superwoman" all together?

What do the rest of you lot think though? :/

Anonymous said...

I do have to say, though, that it is kind of interesting how she talks about her family as her hand lingers over the S shield, but speaks of Kryptonians in the third person...

Also, there are a few interesting visual cues... When Kara returns home after her brief encounter with Superwoman by the sun, she lands on her mother's balcony and is surprised to see her mother, but all we see in the frame is a pair of red boots and a white cape, just like Superwoman wears... I'm sure it's meant to mislead us, but I do firmly believe that these things are very much being planned out to be suggestive and purposeful.

--Yota.

John D. said...

MajorSpoilers.com has a 4 star review of SG #37.

Anj said...

Meanwhile, I absolutely abhor gratuitous panty-shots (especially of the younger heroines! damn you, cheesecake!!!), so I'd just like to express my thanks to Mr. Igle for the fact that he draws a more conservative Kara, complete with red bicycle shorts under that tricky skirt of hers! :D

Thanks for the post.

I also like the bike shorts and I think coloring them red is a nice design.

Anj said...

MajorSpoilers.com has a 4 star review of SG #37.

Thanks for the post and link.

The issue (like all of Gates/Igle issues) is really getting great reviews. It was a Newsarama Best shot, etc.