Like last year, I thought I would do a' best of' review of Supergirl's comic book moments of the year. A year is a long time and Supergirl has been very busy so this is a very lengthy post.
Overall I would say that 2009 was an unbelievable year for Supergirl fans as the character really solidified her place as a premier character in the DC Universe.
First off, her own title stabilized under Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle. Critically praised with improved sales, Supergirl suddenly became a great and noticed title. She grew tremendously and really left behind the characterization that we had seen early on in the book. For a Supergirl fan, the quality of the main title has to be a high point of the year.
On top of that, Supergirl:Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade was a truly spectacular Johnny DC mini-series, introducing the character to a whole new generation. Like the best all-ages books, Cosmic Adventures was stuffed with moments that appealed to the adult fan with more Easter eggs hidden in six issues than I could count.
But Supergirl also was a major player in all the Superman titles, starred in a well received strip in Wednesday Comics, played a key part in Final Crisis, wrapped up Superman/Supergirl Maelstrom, joined the Justice League: Cry For Justice team, helped set up the R.E.B.E.L.S. team, and continued to appear in Tiny Titans.
And so ... onto my favorite comic moments of 2009. Because there were so many noteworthy moments, I couldn't keep it to just ten.
Here are the three Honorable Mentions, the three moments that almost made the cut.
Honorable Mention 3: Action Comics #881 - 'Little Fortresses'
This scene from the second strip captures all of that. Here she works efficiently to save a news crew endangered by the maddened super-pets. At the same time she is embarrassed that she needs to do so, biting her lower lip and blushing slightly.
With the world's military chasing down the 'Metropolis Three' for their alleged role in the Metropolis Sewer system disaster, Supergirl takes Nightwing and Flamebird to an apartment she keeps in Paris. As Kara happily twirls around, she talks about how she keeps lots of little fortresses around the world.
This reminded me of the famous 'Supergirl's apartment' scene in Final Crisis last year, a little peek into what Supergirl would call home. I also thought it was such a stark contrast to Superman's fortress, a reminder of their differences. Kal probably doesn't have a happy face pillow in the Arctic.
Honorable Mention 2: Cry For Justice #2- "The Arrival"
While the Cry For Justice comic has had its ups and downs, there is no denying that Mauro Cascioli's art has been absolutely stunning. This panel really was jaw-dropping as Supergirl arrives on the scene of a League battle and swiftly eliminates the few remaining villains. This was a powerful almost goddess-like rendition of Supergirl. Wonderful.
Honorable Mention 1: Superman Secret Origins 2009 - "The Tinkerer"
This one was put in and removed from the top ten so many times, it really should be on the 'best of list' as number 11. This was a flashback story looking at the Kara/Thara friendship back on Krypton.
I thought this added to the back story of Supergirl as we really haven't seen much of what she was like in her early years on Krypton. So to see her wearing goggles, wielding an arc welder, and reprogramming a baby-sitting robot was fascinating. It helps explain her decision... her ability to join the Science Guild; she is sort of a tech-y.
This story also showcased Thara's religious faith nicely.
And now on to the Top Ten Best Supergirl Moments of 2009:
Number10: Supergirl Cosmic Adventures in the Eight Grade #2 - 'Belinda Zee'
I cannot put into words how great I thought Belinda Zee was as character. She was the perfect foil for the Cosmic Linda. She was as popular and confident as Linda was shy and awkward. As the title goes on you sense that Belinda actually has feelings and is tired of her empty life compared to Linda who has a true friend.
Here is the moment she first arrives, telling Linda she is an upgrade. This 'Bizarro Supergirl' stirred the drink of the Cosmic mini-series, adding action, humor, and emotion to the story. I loved Belinda so she had to be in the top ten.
Number 9: Supergirl #42 - 'Strongest Girl On Two Planets'
The events of the New Krypton storyline kept Supergirl busy and pushed the Lana/Linda relationship on to the back burner. I was hoping on seeing this relationship grow in this title.
So this small moment in the aftermath of the Superwoman story arc was really appreciated. It showed that Lana and Linda have a great rapport. With Kara heading home to investigate Lucy's presence on New Krypton, Lana tells her she is the strongest girl on the planet. Supergirl playfully responds 'two planets'. There is an easiness about the discussion and Jamal Igle's art really connotes the comfort the two women have with each other. These panels are followed with one where Kara tells Lana to call her Linda from now on, another great moment in their relationship.
Number 8: Superman:World of New Krypton #3 - 'Faster than a Speeding Bullet'
With the Labor Guild revolting, Commander El decides to try some negotiation as a way for the standoff to end peacefully. Knowing that Zod and his crew would try to end the impasse through violence, Kal gives Supergirl an important part in his plan, keep the Labor Guild leader safe. In this scene she stops Commander Gor's assassination attempt by being faster than a speeding bullet and plucking it from the air. It is great to see both Supergirl beaming with pride as well as Superman letting her know he is proud of her efforts as well.
Pete Woods draws a great Supergirl too!
Number 7: World's Finest #3 - 'Hang In There, Catsy.'
This issue just came out but I liked how it re-envisioned a Supergirl/Batgirl friendship so much it warranted a spot on the 'end of year' list. The story shows just how easily Supergirl and Batgirl would become friends. In this early scene, I love how the 2 heroes look at each other and convey how they feel ... to leave Catwoman imprisoned. With that simple glance they know they are both in agreement. So much of that nuance - the expression and body language - is evoked from Jamal Igle's great art.
They both trained with Batman, they both wear the symbol of a legacy hero, they are both trying to figure things out for themselves. They should be friends.
This issue was the beginning of what I hope are many adventures together.
Number 6: Superman/Batman 62 - 'I Am Going To Destroy You ...'
This might win my favorite panel of the year as I loved everything about its composition. This scene takes place in Superman/Batman #62 in which Supergirl and the Tim Drake Robin are called upon to stop an inmate uprising in Arkham. As the story is a flashback, this is probably one of the first times Supergirl is exposed to the madness of Batman's rogues as she walks in to a room with the Joker eviscerating a staff member.
Her quick response ... her anger and actions ... are spot on here. She would (and some might say should) destroy a deviant murderer like him. And that depiction of her in the shadows as she contemplates dark deeds in this dark place is about as perfect as comics' art can get.
I can only hope that I get to see Rafael Alberquerque draw the Girl of Steel again.
Number 5: Wednesday Comics #2 - 'I'm Gonna Put A Stop To It'
I suppose I could have picked the whole Wednesday Comics strip as a moment. It lasted a brief 12 weeks but was a great, sweet, and fun story. This Supergirl seems just older than the Cosmic Supergirl with the same mix of innocence, exuberance, and awkwardness.
The Supergirl strip in Wednesday Comics was a joy to read. This was a young Supergirl as eager to pig out and watch TV as she is to fly to the sun and face aliens. Jimmy Palmiotti really captured that youthful energy. And Amanda Conner's art was simply adorable.As an added bonus, Supergirl sported a 'Matrix' style costume here ... my favorite costume.
Number Four: Final Crisis #6 - ' Eat This Bus'
It is hard to believe that Final Crisis wrapped up within this year. It feels so long ago!
Grant Morrison had a very strong interpretation of Supergirl, describing her in some interviews as the sweetest girl in the universe. She was the exact opposite of the depraved, twisted, and perverted DeSaad-possessed Mary Marvel.
That clash of character and morality reached a fever pitch in Final Crisis #6 where the two go toe to toe in a shattered city. Kara more than holds her own, frying Marvel with heat vision and pummeling her. While the whole fight is really the 'best of' moment, my favorite in-battle moment is when Supergirl force feeds Mary a bus after Marvel calls her a slut. Buses as projectile weapons is one of my favorite things to see in comics.
Final Crisis had a lot of big moments hidden in its confusing plot. This was one of them.
Number 3: SupermanBlackest Night #2 - 'You're Not My Dad'
One of my concerns with the character of Supergirl is that her 'emotional vulnerability' can be overused as a plot point. I can remember comics in the 70s and 80s where Supergirl would break down and cry for mundane reasons like not getting a date. So when there is a prime opportunity for it to be overused and it isn't, I am very pleased.
In Superman:Blackest Night, Zor-El rises from the dead as a Black Lantern to threaten his wife and daughter. He unleashes a diatribe against Kara calling her a failure in every way. He probably is saying all the things Kara fears in her heart. It would have been very easy for James Robinson to have Kara crumple into a maudlin heap crying. And yet she overcomes that psychological assault.
Instead we see a strong determined Supergirl face this abomination of Zor-EL and lash out. That panel of her split between will and rage is fantastic. There is no fear or love or compassion here; she realizes this simply isn't her father and deserves none of those feelings. I think this scene also shows how much the character has grown over this last year.
Number 2: Supergirl #40 - 'I Know First Level Klukor'
Reactron had a significant presence in the main title over this year, facing off against Supergirl multiple times. For some reason, this moment in Supergirl #40 stood out.
Depowered by Gold Kryptonite and battered, Supergirl still shows strength and resolve. She faces off against the super-villain with nothing but her training and a hunk of rebar. I thought it was great that the continuity of her Amazon training and her training with Batman are brought up. Those are huge reasons why she would be able to survive in this fight for the 15 seconds she needs before she repowers. (The first level Klukor comment is the cherry on the sundae for a Silver Age guy like me.) Supergirl not only stands her ground but is victorious in this fight, ripping the gold K from Reactron's chest.
And while I always vow never to bring up the bike shorts controversy again, it was this panel that seemed to set the internet on fire about the topic as they are so prominently displayed. I prefer them red with gold trim but I have seen them colored all red, all blue, and blue with gold.
And the number one Supergirl moment in 2009 ...
Number 1: Supergirl Cosmic Adventures In The Eighth Grade #6 - 'The Krona Hand'
I suppose I tipped my hat with my choice a couple of weeks ago when I said I was planning a 'best of' post. But this was the best Supergirl moment of the year for me. I actually said 'awesome' out loud when I was reading the book for the first time.
For an old school guy like me, I have seen the 'hand of creation cupping a galactic swirl' in DC Comics many times. It is best known (and most seen) as the beginning of creation as seen by renegade Oan Krona. But that scene has been replayed in many places. Heck, it is on the cover of Crisis on Infinite Earths #11.
So when I was reading Cosmic Adventures #6 and saw the hand emerging from that swirl, I knew just what Landry Walker and Eric Jones were referencing. I knew this was 'the hand that Krona saw', the hand of creation. And then we see that the hand belongs to Supergirl!! It was the best mix of DC history and Supergirl that this DC history/Supergirl fan could ask for. Perfect! Readers who don't know the Krona connection probably did not get as big a bang for this scene as I did. But I had a silly grin on my face for a while after reading it.
Well ... that is the year of Supergirl as I saw it. I would love to hear other people's favorite moments or any comments you have on my picks.
I have another 'best of' post coming up next week ...