Friday, December 18, 2009

Review: Supergirl #48


Supergirl #48 was released this week and was fantastic.

After a year of stories tightly connected to the other super-titles, I have been craving a pure Supergirl story and that's just what this was.

As much as I have enjoyed the Superwoman/Reactron/Alura/Thara/New Krypton issues, I have missed what we first saw way back in Supergirl #34, the first Gates/Igle issue. I have missed reading about Kara and her world without someone else's story butting in a bit. Don't misunderstand me ... those are great issues that I loved.

But this was like a breath of fresh air. It was great to see Lana and Inspector Henderson and a non-New Krypton based villain.

The book opens up with Inspector Henderson investigating a crime in Suicide Slum on the corner of Austen and Byrne (a nice little 'shout out' to some comic professionals).

It is an eerie scene as Henderson and his men arrive seconds too late. After surviving an explosion of magical fire, the police find the dead body of a woman, her body covered in runes.

It is a good opening scene ... short, dense, powerful, creepy. In particular, this last panel with the victim's body awkwardly lying on the floor, bent like a rag doll, her face twisted in terror, her skin covered in magical text ... that's just eerie.


But we leave that supernatural horror for one all too based in the real world. Lana is sick and getting sicker. And now that Kara knows about it, she wants some answers.

The smashing of the fruit bowl is a little strong ... I mean its Supergirl's fruit bowl too.

That said, I can understand Supergirl's anger. Despite Lana's claim that she didn't want to burden Kara more, Kara feels she should have been told. I like how Lana brings up that she didn't want to bring back the feelings Kara had when she tried and failed in the 'Saving Thomas' arc. It was a nice little nod to continuity.

I also think Kara's anger may stem from feeling guilty that she didn't notice Lana's condition. Supergirl has been so busy with everything else in her life that she hasn't been there for her friend.


At least we finally get some answers as to what is ailing Lana. Well ... more like what it isn't. It isn't a typical cancer or infectious disease. It is something new, something effecting Lana's immune system, something even the best doctors in Metropolis can't figure out. Anyone with any new ideas as to what this is?

Before Kara can process all this, she is called to the Metropolis Police headquarters.

It seems that Inspector Henderson needs some super-help with the case he is working on. I really like that he trusts and feels like he can count on Supergirl for help. It is just another tangible way that you see how much Supergirl has grown over this year. The police see her as a hero and an ally.

I am also glad that Henderson addresses the "Metropolis Three' incident. Mon-El and The Guardian have backed up Supergirl's claims of innocence. Of course, Kryptonians are still illegal on Earth as per the UN edict.

Henderson fears the Silver Banshee is behind the killing he was investigating and he fears she is on the hunt.

As always, it is the small things in comics that often make me the happiest. I love how Henderson's board includes the cover of and a panel from PAD's Supergirl #11, a panel from Supergirl #34, and even a still from the recent Superman/Batman Public Enemies movie.



Supergirl provides some exposition, retelling the Banshee's origin albeit with (what I think is) a new wrinkle.

The Banshee is looking to rid herself of the curse placed on her by her ancestors. She can rid herself of it by finding 7 family heirlooms.


In the past, Hendeson was involved in a case where an odd coin was found in the murder victim's hand. The police officer who was in charge of the case, Captain Tanner, was a friend of Henderson's. Tanner was scarred by the case and ended up commiting suicide. Henderson vowed to find out the significance of the coin and solve the case.


Unfortunately, he found out the significance the hard way. It is indeed one of Banshee's heirlooms. And she hasn't been able to find it because the coin hides within the people who have them.

Henderson removes a glove and shows the coin embedded in his palm, the rest of his hand covered in the same glyphs the earlier victim had on her body. The Banshee was able to recover the coin from that murder victim and now she wants the Inspector's.


The Banshee arrives and attempts to cast a spell on Henderson but Supergirl intercepts and the two fight.

The Banshee screams and deafens Kara. In a nice twist, Gates has the last scene unfold just with Supergirl's inner monologue. She cannot hear Henderson or the Silver Banshee. And as readers, we only see empty word balloons. Is he telling her to do something? Warning her about something? It definitely builds the suspense of the scene.

Kara sees a box on Henderson's desk she thinks must hold another heirloom and grabs it.

And then something incredible happens ...

Supergirl hears the voices of what I presume are the Banshee's ancestors and we suddenly have a super-banshee.

Whew ... wow ...

What a phenomenal issue.

First off, this was clearly a Supergirl issue. She was in every scene but the first. The story revolved around her. No one else's story superceded or interrupted hers.

Second, it was great to catch up with the parts of the book that Gates initiated but have been put off for a while .. the Lana/Linda relationship, the burgeoning friendship with Inspector Henderson.

Third, the Silver Banshee is a great villain for Supergirl's rogues gallery. I like the new wrinkle to the Banshee back story. And that cliffhanger was unexpected and intriguing!

Add to that the best art I have seen by Fernando Dagnino and you had the recipe for a great issue. Dagnino's work here seemed softer, more fluid, more polished.

And next issue we have the end of Lana's story and the double sized fiftieth issue after that!

Overall grade: A+/A

11 comments:

TalOs said...

So, Inspector Henderson has one of the actual ancient mystical Irish heir looms Banshee is after literally bounded to his very palm and instead of really needing Zatanna to help him out on this dangerous case he decides Supergirl's would be better suited? *blinks* Ho-kay... I guess he doesn't know that along with Kryptonite and red solar radiation Kryptonians are also severely susceptible to magic too. :/

Anj said..

At least we finally get some answers as to what is ailing Lana. Well ... more like what it isn't. It isn't a typical cancer or infectious disease. It is something new, something effecting Lana's immune system, something even the best doctors in Metropolis can't figure out. Anyone with any new ideas as to what this is?

Seems Jamal may've let that one slip:

1) the origin of Lana's illness being found in Kurt Busiek's run on Superman.

He seems to possibly be referring to Kurt's Post-IC continuity take on the 'Insect Queen' (the Pre-COIE E-1 original was Lana who used a "magic ring" that could summon insects to do her bidding as well as transform herself in to one and eventually even became an 'honary member' of the Legion in the 31st Century) arc where an alien insect queen ends up capturing Lana and uses her very own DNA template to remold the queen's own insect form in to that of an insect/human hybrid who physically resembles that of Lana Lang's very own features (with some extra limbs amongst other extras) who latter did battle with Superman. ;)

P.S. Heh, well I guess those of us who were hoping for a costume change for Supergirl got our wish after all it seems, lol. :P

P.P.S. I also really loved the artist using a cover to PAD's run on the title as a snap shot shown on the board too! :D

Anj said...

an alien insect queen ends up capturing Lana and uses her very own DNA template to remold the queen's own insect form in to that of an insect/human hybrid who physically resembles that of Lana Lang's very own features (with some extra limbs amongst other extras) who latter did battle with Superman. ;)

Thanks for the info! I wasn't reading the super-books then.

Do you know the issue numbers?

TalOs said...

Superman #617 (Feb '08) ;)

Here's even more about the current main DCU Earth's Insect Queen from wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insect_Queen_%28DC_Comics%29

I truly hope Sterling isn't planning on making Lana proper in to Insect Queen Supervillainess 2.0 though. :/

Gene said...

Talos wrote:
"I truly hope Sterling isn't planning on making Lana proper in to Insect Queen Supervillainess 2.0 though. :/"

I can see that happening as a way for Supergirl to demonstrate her quick thinking and compassion instead of brute force to defeat such a villian and restore Lana to normal.

Anj wrote:
"It is something new, something effecting Lana's immune system, something even the best doctors in Metropolis can't figure out. Anyone with any new ideas as to what this is?"

Could be something Lex infected Lana with as payback for her helping Superman while she was still on his payroll.

That shout out to Byrne was fitting since he created the Silver Banshee.

Anonymous said...

Eh the backstory with Henderson and the heirlooms struck me as contrived, and was up with that conveniently located box on his desk...
And the whole bit where the SP suddenly forgive Kara seems a bit forced as well.
On the other hand a knock down drag out with the Silver Banshee is just what the doctor ordered, like the final panel with SuperBanshee and the panel where Kara stands fists on hips like George Reeve scanning Lana with her x-ray vision, demonstrating just how powerful & majestic Kara Zor El really is.
Overall I give the issue a C+ but with good potential set up for the next issue.

John Feer

Saranga said...

I love the Silver Banshee so I was pretty impressed with this issue. Great cover. great Kara centric plot and with the sort of unexpected plot twist that makes comics fun!
Great issue.

Anj said...

Eh the backstory with Henderson and the heirlooms struck me as contrived, and was up with that conveniently located box on his desk...
And the whole bit where the SP suddenly forgive Kara seems a bit forced as well.


I understand all of that. And I can uderstand with those reasons why this would be a C for you.

But there was something just so refreshing about this being a pure Supergirl book (no New Krypton ties) that I was okay with it.

I also don't envy Sterling Gates who is trying to move these title specific plots ahead and already has to add her to Last Stand, etc. So the quick pace was okay with me.

I also don't know if all the SciPo buys in or just some like Hnederson. She did put the trench coat on when she went inside to hide her costume.

Anonymous said...

Well it is the missed opportunity, a whole book could be given over to Supergirl's recovery of her good name with the SP....
However I am in agreement it was good for Supergirl to be the principle actress in her own book once again, I just wish the plot wasn't so clumsy and contrived.
oh well, I'm easily won back with a good fight...So I am looking forward to the next issue.
:D

Mart said...

I'm amazed this issue wasn't more popular with posters here - I loved it!

http://dangermart.blogspot.com/2009/12/supergirl-48-review.html

As for why Henderson didn't contact Zatanna, he doesn't know Zatanna. And why should he be terribly au fait with the Superman Family's weaknesses?

The Busiek Lana issues are terrific. So much for my theory Lana had dug up a treasrue chest on a Silver Age island . . .

Anj said...

I'm amazed this issue wasn't more popular with posters here - I loved it!

http://dangermart.blogspot.com/2009/12/supergirl-48-review.html


I absolutely loved it!

And great review on your site as always Mart!

Adam Smasher said...

Contrived? Not to my eyes, at least not anymore than is the norm for the genre. Sterling Gates is the best thing that’s ‘ever’ happened to Supergirl. He writes crisp, entertaining stories. But his strength -and the one thing that is a must for me personally- is that he creates fully realized characters, they have nuance, they breath. If a writer can get me emotionally invested in the people who populate his stories, that’s 90% of the battle. And Gates has done that and continues to do that.

I dug this issue. I found it a compelling, tightly coiled tale. I was overjoyed to finally have a Supergirl story that was self-contained. I’ve been reading Power Girl of late, and while I don’t fell that’s the greatest comic ever, I have loved the fact that it’s not involved with an event, nor has it (yet) pushed me into crossovers. I get a Power Girl story… period. And that’s been sweet Heaven. I felt that same sentiment while reading SG #48. Great issue, love the panels on the Banshee’s back story - how it went against the natural way I read a comic, drew my eye up and around and back to SG. Also enjoyed that twist at the end, and can’t wait for next issue.

Sterling Gates you rock! Easy A for me. Wish sales were better because folks are missing out on one of the best comics on the stand these days.