Thursday, March 19, 2009

Review: Supergirl #39


Supergirl #39 came out yesterday and is the penultimate chapter of the 'Who is Superwoman?' storyline. The issue was written by Sterling Gates and the bulk of the pencilling was done by Jamal Igle.

One thing to note is that inking was done by Jon Sibal rather than usual inker Keith Champagne. Sibal seems to use a finer line and adds more detailing and cross-hatching than Champagne does. It gives the Igle pages a crisper feel than we have seen before.

Also, we see a couple of pages done by Talent Caldwell, the scheduled artist for next issue. Caldwell's art is stylistically similar to J. Scott Campbell of Danger Girl fame. It is a departure of the feel Igle has given the book this last half year, a bit flashier.

As for the story, this was a very interesting issue with some new clues revealed about Superwoman's identity and some suspects essentially eliminated. But as important as these revelations were, what I liked about the issue was the continuing growth of supporting cast and some smoldering subplots.


We had already been privy to the opening scene from the book last week in a preview. Just a quick recap. Superwoman is able to stop Reactron from killing his ex-girlfriend Lori Murphy. We see that her heat vision is a little different from the usual straight lined lasers.

In a startling development, Superwoman states that she has saved Murphy because she needs Murphy's death to look like a accident. She then rips open a gas line and creates a conflagration in the apartment.

Early in the story I actually wondered if Superwoman was a good character forced into doing bad things, someone where the ends justified some questionable means. All those feelings of sympathy go out the window here. To kill an innocent woman like this puts you in the realm of evil regardless of blackmail by General Lane.
In the meantime, Kara has recovered enough from her battle with Superwoman to continue her mission to apprehend Reactron. She flies through Metropolis at high speed so she cannot be seen. She is essentially an outlaw on Earth now given the UN edict that Kryptonians are not allowed here. That message is trumpeted on the Planet billboard to the right, the Cat Grant 'Kryptonians Go Home' headline right in Supergirl's face. It's a very nice and dynamic splash page.

Kara calls upon the one human she knows she can 'absolutely trust', Lana, to help her. It is an interesting line since we know that Lana is hiding her illness from Kara. Will this deception harm their relationship, make Kara question the trust she has given Lana?

Lana is researching the addresses of all the Lori Murphy's who reside in Metropolis. Kara has hunted down 6 of 8 of them, none of them the one linked to Reactron. She is given the address for our unlucky victim, an apartment on the corner of Binder (named for Otto Binder, writer of the first Supergirl story) and Mooney (named for Jim Mooney, legendary artist of Supergirl in the 60's).

I did like this interaction between Lana and a planet worker where she shows some protective maternal instincts. When the gentleman describes Linda as hot in a 'sexy librarian' way, he is quickly chastised by Lana.

Unfortunately Kara arrives only in time to see the emergency crews picking up the rubble. She lingers long enough for a military surveillance drone from Project 7734 to film her.

In the meantime, we cut to Inspector Henderson who is still working on the Agent Liberty murder. It's a quiet moment which gives us some insight into his character. He talks about how unsolved mysteries haunt the police. His old Captain used to lament an unsolved murder of young boy killed by the sound of a woman's voice.

Hmmmm ... sounds like Silver Banshee to me. I like how the Banshee is slowly becoming more of a Kara rogue than a Superman villain.

Henderson is informed that Liberty's suit's memory has been recovered.


With Murphy dead and no new lead to follow, Kara heads back to her and Lana's apartment. Reluctantly, she contacts Alura to report. When Kara tells her mother that she was stymied in her mission by Superwoman, Alura begins her usual rant of emotional torture.

Alura tells Kara that she has 'one more chance'. That this mission was a test to see how 'useless' Kara is. She tells Kara that her best 'isn't good enough'. Bullied and frustrated, Kara tells Alura to shut up, smashing the communication device.

We have seen Alura be this cruel in the past. But this is a pretty concentrated dose of bile questioning Kara's worth. Alura's is a very conditional love, if it is love at all.
The result of this negative barrage is for Kara to finally break down and cry. She voices the horrible thoughts she has been thinking, wishing that Reactron could have killed Alura instead of Zor-El.

Some critics will lambaste Kara's tears as further evidence of her weak character. And I have to say if I don't see Kara cry for a year I'll be pretty happy. That said, tears make sense here. Kara thinks her parents are dead. They are found miraculously alive. Then her father is killed before her eyes. And now her mother has descended into madness and sadism.

On top of that despair, she finds herself wishing her mother was dead.

Or course tears will come.

It is nice to see that Kara has Lana to lean on for some support.


Somewhat jarringly, we switch to the Caldwell pages. We see Superwoman in Project 7734. She tells a soldier that her suit blocked Reactron's kryptonite blasts as she thought it would. She also says she hopes she never finds out what would happen if the suit didn't hold.

Sounds to me like she is worried about Kryptonite. So I think her 'who said I was Kryptonian?' line was a little subterfuge. She is Kryptonian!

She is given her new mission: work with Reactron to capture Supergirl!

Here is a good example of Caldwell's version of Kara.

Inspector Henderson contacts Lois Lane to send Superman to Police HQ to discuss the Agent Liberty murder. With Kal off Earth, Lois sends Supergirl instead.

When a police officer attempts to arrest Kara for violating the UN edict, Henderson tells him to stand down. He knows Supergirl wasn't involved in the deaths of the SciPo officers. And he needs some help. If Superman isn't available, Supergirl will do.

I think Henderson is going the become the 'Commissioner Gordon' equivalent of this book, working behind the scenes with Supergirl despite the new laws.


He shows Supergirl the new evidence he has found. The last image Agent Liberty's suit recorded was Superwoman's face, red eyes smoldering.

Since she is wearing the family crest of the House of El, it makes sense to question Superman or Supergirl about who she could be.

Before Kara can answer, Lucy Lane comes storming in. She was tipped off by someone that Supergirl was at the Police Station, that Henderson was harboring an illegal alien.

Lane thinks Supergirl and Superwoman are working together. After all, Superwoman has just been seen flying in Metropolis with Reactron. It is too much of a coincidence that both Supergirl and Superwoman are together.

I do think it is interesting that Lane doesn't seem to know about Superwoman and Reactron's mission. Maybe Lucy isn't aware of all of her father's nefarious plans.

It also is pretty clear that Lucy is not Superwoman. She can't be in two places at the same time.
This news of Superwoman and Reactron working together is all that Kara can stand. She prepares herself to meet them. Next issue, Superwoman's identity is revealed.

This was another very solid issue as we careen towards next issue's conclusion.

The Superwoman mystery is close to bubbling over. With Thara eliminated and now Lucy Lane eliminated, the list of suspects is smaller than ever. Add in the implied weakness to Kryptonite and I think we are looking at some version of Alura or Kara be it clone, Black K creation, or time split duplicate. My very first guess was Kara evil clone. I switched a while back to Alura clone. I am sticking with that guess.

I also liked the increasing presence and growing characterization of the supporting cast. The scenes with Lana and Inspector Henderson really fleshed out who they are and what their current relationship with Supergirl is.

Sterling Gates seems to have a great handle of Supergirl's voice as none of her lines seem stilted or forced. While I would have been fine without seeing Kara's tears, I think they fit the moment.

The art really continues to sizzle. I have said before how I think Jamal Igle draws the best facial expressions. This issue is no exception. You really can sense what characters are thinking just from the look on their faces. He also adds a kinetic energy to the action sequences as well. You really can feel the force behind punches, the heft needed to carry Reactron, etc. I have to admit I like Jon Sibal's inks a smidge more than Keith Champagne's. But I always prefer a thin lined approach.

So, with Thara and Lucy seemingly out of the running, is it worth running one more 'Who is Superwoman' poll?

Overall grade: A-

26 comments:

Mauricio said...

If you had seem the parallel Supergirl title you would already know who SW is....




SPOILER









It's.. Streaky ! the super intelligent cat suffering the bad effects of a multicolored kriptonite!

with that out of the way... who is Genocide...

Heath Edwards said...

:) this was another great supergirl issue. i'm even enjoying the scenes with the villains, which isn't usual for me... yay creative team...
mself, i didn't find the transition between igle and caldwell's art too jarring. i even found it quite nifty. the scene with supergirl ended, and we moved to another scene with a new artist. truth be told i hadn't noticed that caldwell's first scene was with the 7735 project. it first popped out at me at the police station, which i thought was a good spot, as it was almost another story chapter...

Daniel said...

It's strange that Superwoman says "Let's hope WE never learn", when talking about her suit holding against kryptonite.

It's not like she was worried only for herself. It looks more like something terrible could happen if kryptonite reaches her skin. Does that make sense?

Gene said...

One more Superwoman poll would be cool. I still think its a Alura suffering from the after affects of the Black K...

I think the tears were appropriate. This wasn't a trival matter. Kara is trying to be accepted by her mother and patch things up (which is why she flew off to New Krypton in the first place) but is constantly being cut down emotionally. She needed an emotional release, and share a "Gilmore Girls" moment with Lana.

BTW, I didn't know Supergirl could bleed now. Did that happen because she smashed some Kryptonian crystals?

Did you guys notice the scheduling board in the police station that listed all the people who currently work at DC? Looks like Dido had the week off... :P

Yota said...

I agree with Gene; I can tell you, as a young woman who has had incredibly frustrating moments fueled by the irrational demands of loved ones, the tears are totally appropriate. I actually think her utterance of her wish for her parents to have switched places was very well done, as I know I was shocked by it, even as I felt compassion for the character of Kara.

Guess we know what drives Kara to stay on Earth... Lana had better watch out! She's sure gonna lose the security deposit on her apartment...

I also don't think that Lucy Lane is eliminated as a suspect. I mean, classic misdirection: Lucy shows a surveillance photo of Superwoman, who has just arrived in Metropolis. Yeah, Supergirl just showed up. Sop did Superwoman. So did Lucy! Plus, those eyebeams are bugging me like you wouldn't believe... They're all squiggly and make a VZZT sound... Not very Kryptonian, if you ask me. Plus, Superwoman says she doesn't want to find out what would happen if the suit failed. We know what happens when a Kryptonian is hit by Reactron's blasts; just look at Jor-El. What happens with a human, though..? That's not as clear.

I really think that Lucy Lane is a front-runner... Even though I don't want her to be.

Mart said...

excellent round-up, Anj.

I'm with Yota, although we saw a panel of Superwoman at the end, that could have been symbolic ie showing us she's out there and her story is coming to a head next month.

Mind, she looked a bit robotic in that eyes photo.

And does Kara not think she can trust Lois?

Anj said...

mself, i didn't find the transition between igle and caldwell's art too jarring. i even found it quite nifty. the scene with supergirl ended, and we moved to another scene with a new artist.

Thanks for the post.

Caldwell does all of issue 41 so we will see more of his take on Kara.

Anj said...

It's strange that Superwoman says "Let's hope WE never learn", when talking about her suit holding against kryptonite.

It's not like she was worried only for herself. It looks more like something terrible could happen if kryptonite reaches her skin. Does that make sense?


Thanks for the post.

I thought she meant that she was one of this military team so let's hope the team (we) didn't find out.

But who knows. I am confused right now!

Anj said...

I think the tears were appropriate. This wasn't a trival matter. Kara is trying to be accepted by her mother and patch things up (which is why she flew off to New Krypton in the first place) but is constantly being cut down emotionally. She needed an emotional release, and share a "Gilmore Girls" moment with Lana.

Thanks for the post.

I may have been too hard on the tears. I also agree given the content of the scene (wishing Alura dead) that tears make sense.

Perhaps I was thinking about how the detractors of this arc and creative team will jump on the tears as showing a 'weak' Kara. I just can't deal with the negativity.

BTW, I didn't know Supergirl could bleed now. Did that happen because she smashed some Kryptonian crystals?

I think so. Kryptonian cryttals are probably super-hard and therefore able to hurt Kara should she shatter them.

Anj said...

I agree with Gene; I can tell you, as a young woman who has had incredibly frustrating moments fueled by the irrational demands of loved ones, the tears are totally appropriate. I actually think her utterance of her wish for her parents to have switched places was very well done, as I know I was shocked by it, even as I felt compassion for the character of Kara.

Thanks for the post.

You are right. It was appropriate and well done. I shouldn't worry so much about the nay-sayers.


I also don't think that Lucy Lane is eliminated as a suspect. I mean, classic misdirection: Lucy shows a surveillance photo of Superwoman, who has just arrived in Metropolis. Yeah, Supergirl just showed up. Sop did Superwoman. So did Lucy! Plus, those eyebeams are bugging me like you wouldn't believe... They're all squiggly and make a VZZT sound...

I don't think it can be Lucy. But the eye beams are bugging me too!

4 more weeks to the reveal!

Anj said...

excellent round-up, Anj.

I'm with Yota, although we saw a panel of Superwoman at the end, that could have been symbolic ie showing us she's out there and her story is coming to a head next month.

Mind, she looked a bit robotic in that eyes photo.


Thanks for the post.

Hmmm ... does that mean you are in the Lucy camp? Or the robot camp?

I think we need another poll.

Anonymous said...

I think it may be time for an authoritative list of all the candidates who have been RULED OUT so far based on textual evidence.
i'm gonna go further out on a limb and suggest both Lana and Alura might not be reasonable SW candidates either....I don't think Lana (who is still a playa on Smallville) could be flipped into a killer without approval at the management level, and the sequence seems to be, Kara discovers SW's identity, and then feels she must confront her mother. Unless it's a DarkAlura clone thingie I'm thinking mom is out of the running.
Which is good because pound for pound Alura is the most interesting Supergirl villain since the glory days of Nasthalthia Luthor.
I'm also thinking Reactron is gonna kill SW instead of Kara thus building the emnity there...

2009 is off to a good start for Supergirl....

John Feer

Gene said...

For this new poll I suggest we break it down into specific versions of our list of suspects. For instance:

Superwoman is either
a. Alura (fully concious of her actions)
b. Alura Clone (split from Alura "off screen" after she was hit by the Black K)
c. Alura Clone (created by Brainiac)
d. Split Personality Alura (Suffering from the Black K, Alura does not know that she is flying around as Superwoman at certain times)

My vote is d.

Beam77 said...

I think that Superwoman is Lucy Lane.

Nikki said...

I just noticed, is that painting beind Kara's bed the one she was painting in final crisis. I also like her new costume variant. It looks like amazon bracelets in her sleeve pattern. Thats great, It keeps her connection to them alive.

Anj said...

For this new poll I suggest we break it down into specific versions of our list of suspects. For instance:

Superwoman is either
a. Alura (fully concious of her actions)
b. Alura Clone (split from Alura "off screen" after she was hit by the Black K)
c. Alura Clone (created by Brainiac)
d. Split Personality Alura (Suffering from the Black K, Alura does not know that she is flying around as Superwoman at certain times)


Good idea. Maybe with similar guesses for other characters ... Dark Kara, Split Kara from 52, etc.

Maybe the week before the next issues release.

Anj said...

I just noticed, is that painting beind Kara's bed the one she was painting in final crisis.

Nice pick-up. I missed that. Nice little continuity nugget.

Jason said...

Good review...as always. Wow...this issue looks really good! I think I can agree with everyone regarding the emotional moment when Kara wishes her parents had switched places. Alura just puts her through so much emotional abuse that Kara can't but begin to wish her fater was around instead of her mother.

I can't wait until the Superwoman reveal. This has truly been a great mystery as marked by the fact that I (and others here it seems) can't even fathom a guess as to who she might be. I'm kinda not feeling the evil clone idea only because it's just my personal favorite when it comes to storylines. I'd also like to point out (as others have too) that Alura was acting cruel and mean before she was hit w/ the kryptonite, so I really don't think that could be a cause of splitting her in two (if that's who Superwoman turns out to be). I'm starting to lean toward android since the eyebeams seem to be robotic in nature. But then I guess that begs the question why would she be afraid of kryptonite if she was a robot and not an actual living kryptonian?

Four more weeks to go! :)

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the amazons, I haven't forgotten the low point Kara reached in the "Amazon Attacks" miniseries.
I would really really love to see her give Queen Hypolyta (who has more than a touch of Alura to her) given a good old fashioned punch in the nose by a certain Girl of Steel.
And if Diana and Donna and Cassie were looking on...even better.
:D

John Feer

Anonymous said...

Anj,

Two things. First, Jamal showed me that splash of Supergirl flying toward us at the NYCC. Awesome. He kind of raised his eyebrows in surprise when I mentioned that there are few artists that match his ability to draw facial expressions, but I think most people reading this run would agree with that statement.
Second, I may be stating the obvious and already pointed-out, but did anyone catch on about "Project 7734" and the numbers being "hell" upside down?
And...okay, third...those bright red, perfectly round eyes in the last image of Agent Liberty's suit clearly have something robotic about them. Coupled the awkward, strained interactions between Kara and her mother, my guess is Alura knows more than she's letting on. Meaning...your guess of an Alura clone/robot sounds really plausible at this time. I've gotta think Brainiac's somehow linked to this mess.

Chad

Anonymous said...

I FIGURED OUT SOMETHING OUT IN THIS ISSUE! CHECK OUT THE PROBE THAT CAUGHT SUPERGIRL LOOKING AT THE MURDERED WOMANS APT.. IT SEEMS THAT PROJET 7734-5 UPSIDE DOWN/BACKWARDS IS "S-HELL"!!!

I WONDER WHAT THAT MEANS? ANYONE? MY EMAIL IS VIIC2@YAHOO.COM

Anonymous said...

as I said before I still have a bad feeling about who it is under the lead-lined mask....

but like the others around here I'm psyched for the reveal.

-ealperin

Anj said...

I'd also like to point out (as others have too) that Alura was acting cruel and mean before she was hit w/ the kryptonite, so I really don't think that could be a cause of splitting her in two (if that's who Superwoman turns out to be). I'm starting to lean toward android since the eyebeams seem to be robotic in nature.

Thanks for the post.

Alura's nature pre-K bolt has been talked about. I just wonder if the K-poisoning has made her that much more insane.

I will keep android as a choice in the next poll.

Anj said...

Second, I may be stating the obvious and already pointed-out, but did anyone catch on about "Project 7734" and the numbers being "hell" upside down?
And...okay, third...those bright red, perfectly round eyes in the last image of Agent Liberty's suit clearly have something robotic about them. Coupled the awkward, strained interactions between Kara and her mother, my guess is Alura knows more than she's letting on. Meaning...your guess of an Alura clone/robot sounds really plausible at this time. I've gotta think Brainiac's somehow linked to this mess.


Thanks for the post.

The 7734 = hell upside down has been mentioned here before.

I like the concept of Brainiac and his technology having something to do with Superwoman. It would make some sense. That's another recent guess for android. Interesting.

Anj said...

as I said before I still have a bad feeling about who it is under the lead-lined mask....

but like the others around here I'm psyched for the reveal.


Thanks for the post.

I don't think it is Linda ... if that is your concern.

TalOs said...

GOD LORD! O_O Man that Superwoman is truly one nasty piece of work it seems, and one has to wonder upon Supergirl and Flamebird uncovering the real identity of Superwoman what they'll do in turn? I mean, will they hand her over to E-0 authorities? Hand her over to Alura (all though Alura would most likely praise her instead) on New Krypton? Exile her to an all new Phantom Zone even??

Hm, Superwoman seems to be some one who FEARS Sam Lane, is able to WALK amongst Kryptonians on New Krypton undetected by even Alura herself, and isn't above committing evil deeds while still trying to BE FRIEND Supergirl, WTH!? Man this is seriously one mysterious not to mention one REAL screwed up as all get chick here! The traits displayed lead me to believe that they're almost robotic like in nature, almost like a Eradicator only with a case of serious amnesia and a bout of psycho mentality added in to the mix.

I still vote on Superwoman being the Eradicator taking on the adult appearance of Supergirl under that lead lined cowl. Heh.

Anywho, still loved this here yet another truly kick butt issue! :D