Friday, April 24, 2009

Review: Supergirl #40 - Superwoman Revealed!


We all have been waiting for Supergirl #40 to come out so that Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle can finally reveal 'Who is Superwoman?' There was lots to love about this issue. And I couple of things I raised an eyebrow about.

But overall it was a solid issue ... and of course there was the Superwoman reveal.



The issue starts with Supergirl talking to Inspector Henderson and Lucy Lane about Superwoman. Lucy steps out to take a phone call while Kara opens up a bit to Henderson.

At this point, Kara is convinced that Superwoman is Thara, a bitter pill to swallow because it would mean that the head of Kandorian security and Supergirl's old friend is a traitor and an accomplice in the murder of Zor-El.

It is a nice exchange, especially the line from Henderson where he describes Supergirl's 'big life'. I can only imagine just how mentally fatigued Supergirl is right now - living on two worlds, losing her Dad, suffering with her mother, now with her friend potentially an enemy.

It is a big life right now ... maybe too big for a 17yr old girl to easily deal with.



Lane returns and tell Supergirl that Superwoman has been located on the corner of (Jerry) Siegel and (Dick) Malverne. Here was another nice little tip of the cap to old fans. Last issue it was the apartment at Binder and Mooney. Can (Wayne) Boring Avenue and (Curt) Swan Road be too far behind?

Enraged at Superwoman's deception, Supergirl flies off to capture her. While heading there, Kara imagines how Thara's betrayal would have happened in Kandor. You can see how Kara might be led to think that Thara was behind the whole thing.




Flying at top speed, Supergirl plows into Superwoman ... or rather what she believes is Superwoman. Instead it is a decoy with Superwoman's cape.

Kara admits that she was traveling so fast that she did not recognize that this was a dupe. In other words, there was no warning from her super-senses that this was a set-up. But you can feel how angry Supergirl is, especially thinking this is Thara, and how that rage led to this mistake.


As for why would Superwoman set up a decoy, well that is answered pretty quickly as Reactron jumps down onto Supergirl and presses the attack.

This small scan does not to the splash page spread the least bit of justice. For a better on-line look, you should head to Jamal Igle's blog: http://jamaligle.blogspot.com/2009/04/supergirl40-is-out-today.html



I do like how Supergirl responds to the sudden attack. She displays some nice battle instincts. Look at her fly into a nearby wall to try to scrape Reactron off like a bug. After all, as far as I can tell, Reactron isn't invulnerable.

Pressing the advantage, Reactron exposes the Gold K in his chest. Supergirl feels that twinge of nausea associated with the sudden loss of powers. She shouts 'Rao' as Reactron casually drops her from several stories up.

Another thing I like here is Kara's internal monologue as she plummets. Her mind is jumping back and forth between two trains of thoughts. One is an emotional response - how she is about to die, how she failed her father, how her mother was crying as Zor-EL died, how it can't end like this.


The other train of thought is that of the well-trained hero. We get a quick glimpse at a conversation with Batman who reminds her that her powers can be warped or stolen ... how Kara needs to be able to react when she has no powers. That sort of internal dialogue as the hero pushes down the fear to act was a nice bit of writing.

Remembering this training, she grabs the corners of her cape making an ersatz glider, and is able to make it onto a nearby roof. In no ways does she seem to be flying, this is merely a way to slow down. Her landing on the roof is not graceful.

Still, this was one of the parts that I was a bit underwhelmed with. I just don't know if the 'cape as glider' would slow someone down enough, let alone give some directional control to aim for the roof. It just felt like a minor stumble.


While the Supergirl/Reactron battle ensues, we cut to Jimmy Olsen, Lana Lang, and Cat Grant who all are attending a banquet for journalism students.

Lana does have a costly slip here, as she cannot easily answer Cat's questions about Linda Lang's parents. Cat is no fool and a decent reporter. Such a startled response by Lana might intrigue Cat enough to have her start asking tougher and more pointed questions. Maybe that is an upcoming storyline?

I feel this was another slight misstep. Lana has been keeping Clark's secret forever. You would think that Linda's backstory would have been ironed out and that Lana would be able to rattle it off. So the astonished response by Lana seemed a bit wrong.

Luckily, before Cat can ask anything else, the crowd is distracted by explosions from the Kara/Reactron brawl.


The rest of the battle with Reactron was really the high point of the issue for me on many levels.

First, I love that Gates includes a reference to Reactron's first appearance in the comic back in the early issue of Kelley Puckett's run. Gates even explains the change in Reactron's powers but more importantly the change in his personality. Remember back in the Puckett issues that Reactron was talking about how he had the consciousness of a galaxy, that he controlled stars. He seemed a bit more cerebral than this sadistic version. Even though the explanation (he was being funny the first time) isn't the best, I am glad it was explained rather than ignored.

Then, there is an explanation of his new powers. The star-suit from Puckett's run was curing Reactron of radiation poisoning. But in that first battle, Supergirl destroyed it. That's when General Lane stepped in with a new cure and a new set of Gold-K based powers.

Best of all, these new story elements cement Reactron as a Supergirl villain. He gladly allowed the changes in his body to get his revenge on Kara. And he did when he killed Zor-El. That sort of personal vendetta is present in all the best rogues.

Then we see the still-depowered Kara actually press the battle. She picks up a length of re-bar and gets a few shots in, surprising Reactron who must have been expecting her to cower.

This is my favorite panel of the issue showcasing a strong and confident Kara. That is just perfect.

And she knows first level 'Klukor' - be still my Silver Aged heart. Is that really a reference to the Kryptonian martial art style that Lois used to use?



But a depowered Supergirl still isn't much of a match for Reactron. He moves in for the kill which is his biggest mistake. Supergirl realizes that if it is the Gold K which gives Reactron his powers than maybe it is also what powers him as well.

She reaches into his chest and rips the rock out, tossing it over the roof. He jumps after it and seemingly disappears.

You would have thought that Metallo would have told Reactron about that weakness.

Still, that whole battle was great and showed just how tough and perservering Supergirl has become.



Her powers returning and her body healing, Supergirl takes a closer look at Superwoman's cloak and sees something she had not seen before, something which tells her just who Superwoman is.

I have talked about how great Jamal Igle is with facial expressions; this is another great example. You really feel Kara's shock and surprise.


As Supergirl streaks to face off Superwoman, we see that things are not going well for her friends.

First off, Lana collapses as blood pours from her nose. Jimmy yells for an ambulance. Hopefully we learn more about her ailment soon.

And Inspector Henderson tries to find Lucy Lane but instead runs into Superwoman who blasts him in the chest with her eyebeams.


And so we finally have the reveal. Supergirl crashes into Police HQ and attacks Superwoman, yanking off her cowl and revealing her to be none other than Major Lucy Lane.

Whoa - I have to say I really didn't see this coming. Lucy has never been high on my list of suspects.

So the question now is how to explain everything we know about Superwoman now that we know she is Lucy Lane. And there is a lot to explain.

How is she a friend of the House of El? (I don't think she knows Clark is Superman and if she did I am sure she would tell her father.) How does she know fluent Kryptonese? How can she fly, shoot eye beams, survive in deep space? How can she be in Kandor or on New Krypton undetected? Why would her father tell her 'I know who you are?'

As friends have pointed out, she has had access to Brainiac technology which could answer a lot of things. Or maybe the Lucy reveal is a fake-out itself - and we see who Superwoman 'really' is after this fake reveal.

Anyways, I will need to hear the explanations before I give final commentary on the reveal. I have to wait to read next issue. And the Gates/Igle team have earned enough respect from me to wait for the finale.
Still, even though it surprised me, it clearly was expected by many fans. Lucy was a popular pick on the web.

Overall grade:B/B+

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I claim vindication, I predicted it was Lucy...of course I also predicted SW was Alura, Lana Lang, Lyra Kam Par, Bibbo and golden age Red Bee.
This was a GREAT issue in every way, good brawl, great thought processes from the ever deductive Kara Zor El and as you said, the expressions...well all I can say is Curt Swan lives on in Mr. Ingle!
This book vindicates all my passionate Kara-centrism nigh these past twenty plus years!

John Feer

Heath Edwards said...

:) Lucy, you got some 'splainin' to do...

Anonymous said...

It could be Lucy is one of the Sleepers

Gene said...

Great, now I owe everyone dinner...

Didn't expect Lucy, as if she wasn't disliked enough for leaving her husband and child to go join the Army. That must have been some "Super Soldier" formula they gave her.

TalOs said...

Gene, in accordance to Geoff Johns come post IC/FC continuity Lucy and Ron were never married nor did they have a kid. :/

Now as per the majorly startling revelation here all I can say is that I'm so glad she didn't turn out to be either Thara, Lana or Linda Danvers at that either.

an I truly can't wait for this all to be explained as of next issue and hopefully even more so come #42 after as to exactly how Lucy got her Super powers and all. Heh.

A+ for me! BD

vinniewarlock said...

I have just one comment...
WTF?!!!!

Gene said...

Thank you for the clarification Talos.

How do we know this is the real Lucy Lane? Maybe Superwoman is a genetically altered clone of Lucy? I would argue this because taking a normal human being and giving them the same exact powers as Superman's would tricky, and not without some unpleasant trial and error. It would be easier to start from scratch by taking Lucy's DNA and then modify it with Superman's DNA where needed.

Now, did they train this clone so she would have the same thoughts, memories, and personality of Lucy, or did they somehow transfer Lucy's brain or brainwaves to the clone?

Then again, it could be Lucy herself, but then I would like to see how they got her to shoot heat vision from her eyes and fly through space with part of her face exposed.

Anonymous said...

same here Vinnie....



She definitely has some 'xplain' to do...
-ealperin

Yota said...

Her funky heat vision has always been accompanied by the "VZZZT" sound-effect, which I, in my nerdiness, believe mimics the sound of a large capacitor being discharged... In any event, I figured it meant her heat-vision is technological in origin, not biological. Those little gold oval dealies on her hips are probably the electronic components of her costume, plus, the Government does have Braniac locked up deep in its bowels, so ridiculously advanced technology is probably going to come into those explanations quite a bit, I'd wager.

Also, the whole thing with General Lane saying "I know who you are," plays out in my mind thusly: Lucy takes it upon herself to don the Superwoman persona, General Lane finds out and makes his supposed threatening statement, to which Lucy looks upset, but he soon follows up with something like "And I'm so proud," and Lucy continues on with even more of a fervour, following her Daddy's orders like a child vying for a parent whose affections they're never really going to get...

I could be wrong, but I've been saying it was Lucy all along, now haven't I...? ;)

--Yota.

TalOs said...

Gene said...How do we know this is the real Lucy Lane? Maybe Superwoman is a genetically altered clone of Lucy? I would argue this because taking a normal human being and giving them the same exact powers as Superman's would tricky, and not without some unpleasant trial and error. It would be easier to start from scratch by taking Lucy's DNA and then modify it with Superman's DNA where needed.Er, but then Geoff, Robinson, Gates and Rucka would just be repeating John Byrne's Matrix Supergirl, Kon-El/Connor Kent or even the later Cir-El Supergirl origins by doing that. :/

TalOs said...

Oh and I'm in 100% agreement with all you said in your post too, Yota. ;)

Jason said...

Good review as always. Well I must say I didn't see this coming. But then I had no idea at all who Superwoman could have been. Gates really made this a good mystery. At first I thought it was Cat Grant, then I jumped on the Alura bandwagon, and then I just was unable to make even the slightest educated guess. Kudos to the Supergirl team for keeping everyone guessing.

Now we need to find out how she has powers, especially the heat vision, which clearly seems to come from her eyes. Could it be some kind of Brainiac contact lens technology? I agree the "VZZT" sound that accompanies it very much implies it is technologically-based. Also, the blackmailing from her father still seems to not fit, but I have no doubt Gates will provide a good explanation that will leave us all saying "ah OK, that makes sense."

Anj said...

Gene, in accordance to Geoff Johns come post IC/FC continuity Lucy and Ron were never married nor did they have a kid. :/Thanks for the info and the post.

That at least answers one set of questions that I had.

Anj said...

How do we know this is the real Lucy Lane? Maybe Superwoman is a genetically altered clone of Lucy? Thanks for the post.

This was another thought I had as well. Maybe Lucy isn't really Lucy.

Anj said...

Also, the whole thing with General Lane saying "I know who you are," plays out in my mind thusly: Lucy takes it upon herself to don the Superwoman persona, General Lane finds out and makes his supposed threatening statement, to which Lucy looks upset, but he soon follows up with something like "And I'm so proud," and Lucy continues on with even more of a fervour, following her Daddy's orders like a child vying for a parent whose affections they're never really going to get...Thanks for the post.

I do think that lots of things need to be answered including that 'I know who you are' panel (specifically SW's expression).

Your answer actually makes sense.

I am probably going to do a post retroactively reviewing the clues and trying to explain why it works.

The superpowers part of it is actually the easiest one to answer. Now I need to understand motivation, etc.

TalOs said...

Jamal not to long ago told me that next issue as well as possibly #42 will be explaining this all, Anj. ;)

argocitycub2006 said...

i say kill off lucy and call it a day,i really don't like this version of winey lucy lane. just get rid of her and don't look back

Wendy said...

I'm glad it wasn't Lana but I'm still worried about her. What could be going on with her? -(

Anj said...

I'm glad it wasn't Lana but I'm still worried about her. What could be going on with her? -( Thanks for the post.

It's has to be cancer.

Wendy said...

Thank you for your reply Anji. I hope she doesn't die. I really love the character and was glad when they started using her more in Supergirl. It'll be a shame to kill her now.