Friday, January 29, 2010
Review: Supergirl #49
When Supergirl #49 was first solicited and trumpeted the death of Lana Lang, I think it shocked most people. Lana is a pillar of the Superman mythos. She became Supergirl's mentor here on Earth ... a story barely scratched in this title. She couldn't really die, could she?
After that initial gasp, I think we all began trying to figure out what the loophole would be. As a group of Supergirl fans, I think we did a good job of figuring this thing out. In this week's brief poll, 20 of 34 voters guessed the Insect Queen angle. And even some of the 'other' votes were versions of the Insect Queen theory.
One thing that I have enjoyed about Sterling Gates' run on Supergirl is how he is able to imbue small moments with gravitas. We definitely see that in this issue, especially in the hospital scenes.
There are a couple of small editorial things about this issue which I think took a little away from an overall emotionally charged issue. But otherwise, I thought this was another good issue.
I have to give myself a little pat on the back. This is what I said back in December 15th when these pages were first previewed on The Source.
Lana must be running to catch a cab when her condition finally reaches that critical point and she drops. The shocked look on the doorman has to be followed by a splash page of Lana on the sidewalk hemorrhaging.
Okay, so it's not the sidewalk, it's the lobby.
Anyways, this is a pretty disturbing image, with Lana covered in blood. I also think, the blood aside, this is a scary and all too real moment - that moment when someone nearby has a sudden medical emergency.
What I didn't like was the conversation before she drops where it is clear that Perry White is questioning Lana's love for her job. Of course, Lana has been hiding her condition from everyone so he can't know why she is missing work. But, at least from Lana's side of the conversation, it sounds like Perry is really laying into her and that seemed just a little off.
But we already get a little hint of her affliction as we see an insect crawling over the phone.
Meanwhile, 'Super-Banshee' remains in battle with the Silver Banshee.
I really like Supergirl's internal monologue early on here. It gives us a peek inside so we can understand her feelings better. First off, she says how she is upset that she has been pulled away from Lana to help Inspector Henderson. It let's us know how much she cares about Lana.
But the best part is this final part of the monologue. She seems almost matter-of-fact as she talks about how her body has been taken over by the McDougal clan. I can imagine her sighing or rolling her eyes as she says 'I'm Supergirl. This is my life.' Nothing seems easy for her.
The clan spirits that have possessed Supergirl are upset with the Silver Banshee and they seem more powerful as a group than Siobhan is as a person. They silence the Silver Banshee with magical chains and berate her for not having found the artifacts before. How could Inspector Henderson find more than she has?
There is a great panel where Super-Banshee rips the artifact Siobhan has inside her from her abdomen. It seems the clan will now hide the gathered artifacts again, forcing the Banshee to begin her quest anew.
Here is one of those editorial things that bugged me. Why is this red dotted line surrounding this page. I don't think it is an artistic choice. I think it is a misprint.
Supergirl has been trying to wrest control of her body from the clan throughout the fight.
Henderson realizes that the McDougal spirits are tied to those artifacts. If the artifacts are linked to the clan, they can be used to attack them.
He skewers the coin embedded in his hand with the McDougal clan knife. That is enough to let Supergirl break free of Banshee control. It is a nice panel of her literally shrugging off the clan's control.
Matt Camp's art is strong in this scene especially Supergirl's facial expressions.
And Silver Banshee then eliminates the disembodied clan spirits by screaming their name. She has dispelled them and now has control of the five artifacts that Henderson has obtained.
And then this interesting little nugget. The Silver Banshee owes Henderson a favor. Someday he'll hear her true song.
For some reason I love that. What is her true song? Is it lovely? Haunting? Deadly?
With that, the Banshee disappears. It isn't exactly a win for Supergirl, but it certainly isn't a loss.
What follows is a quiet rooftop moment between Henderson and Supergirl where the Inspector talks about the importance of family, how it should always be first, rank before the job. It is ironic as in the midst of that talk, Supergirl hears the doctors discussing Lana's case in the hospital. Kara flies off.
Lana is in the midst of being coded by the physicians. Unfortunately the staff is unable to resuscitate her. The code is called and she is pronounced just as Linda Lang comes crashing through the door.
I could nitpick about the medicine here (improper placement of defibrillator pads, use of defibrillation in asystole) but I understand the constraints of comics.
I talked about powerful small moments in this comic and how much I love them. And, as always, when art and words mesh, I love comics.
So it's great that Supergirl is on her knees here, powerless to stop what has happened to Lana. And then I absolutely love how she simply is so overwhelmed by the moment that she tunes out the physician trying to explain things to her. She says it plainly - she doesn't hear anything. Her mind is reeling, too busy trying to grasp the immensity of this moment to listen. The slow fading out of the doctor's words conveys that so much.
I have to say personally I have been on both sides of this conversation. That blank defeated look on Linda's face is spot on.
In an issue of very good moments, this was my favorite.
It hits Linda that she is now truly alone on Earth and sheds a few tears. I usually rant against Supergirl crying but this was totally appropriate and perfect. It again shows the growth of the character over the last couple of years. Early in the title all Supergirl wanted was to be alone. Now she knows the strength of family.
But after some time, Linda is able to think straight. What studies did the doctors perform during the code? Did they run blood tests? Most importantly, can Linda see the body?
Unfortunately as great as these moments are, I was taken aback by the lack of glasses on Linda Lang. This really stuck out as gaffe for me. We haven't seen Linda that much here but the glasses are a big part of that persona. Otherwise, isn't this just Supergirl in civilian clothes? More importantly, where was the editor reviewing these pages. Would pages of Clark without glasses go unnoticed? No way. This just bothered me.
Before Linda can continue her conversation, her hearing picks up noises from the morgue. She rushes to investigate and discovers this ... a chrysalis.
That's right, Lana's condition is somehow the result of her time with the Insect Queen! I love it!
Does this mean Lana is the new Insect Queen? Is this really Lana or some sort of sleeper clone? Is Lana ... gone?
Again, I love the small things in comics - like the hexagonal floor tiles. I wonder if Matt Camp purposefully made the morgue floor look like honeycomb.
Overall I liked this issue. I thought the emotional moments of the second half of the issue were better than the action of the Silver Banshee piece. The dialogue in those 'small moments' was spot on. The Insect Queen reveal was brilliant.
Matt Camp's art was really slick. I really hope that DC gives him some more work soon.
If only there were glasses on Linda!
Next month is Supergirl #50. Here was the solicit:
Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle reunite to tell an epic, oversized battle royale between the Girl of Steel and a mysterious, diabolical new foe!
I guess the diabolical new foe is the Insect Queen.
Overall grade: B+