Friday, February 19, 2010

Review: Supergirl #50 Part 1

There was a time when I doubted this Supergirl title would make it. There was a time when I thought the powers that be simply had no handle on the character, that they were making her unlikeable and therefore economically insolvent. I thought for sure Supergirl would be cancelled.

So it was with some joy that I bought Supergirl #50 this week, 2 copies no less. It has been 17 issues since the Gates/Igle reboot and Supergirl matters now. So all this pomp ... the extra-sized issue, the Turner cover, the variant cover, the Helen Slater/Jake Black back-up ... it was all icing on the cake. I am just happy this title is surviving and thriving.

I will review the main story here and the Slater/Black/Chiang back-up feature tomorrow.

One quick word about the cover. While I prefer Josh Middleton's and Jamal Igle's takes on Supergirl, there is no denying the splendor of this Michael Turner cover. Turner helped recreate Supergirl and I have always appreciated what he did for the character. Moreover, on a recent interview on iFanboy, Sterling Gates revealed that this cover art was originally a personal piece Turner did for Dan Didio. Didio took the framed piece off the wall to be made into this cover.


The Josh Middleton variant cover is also spectacular ... not that I'm surprised. I am running out of superlatives for his work.

Here, I loved the frightened expression on Supergirl's face. That conveys so much emotion.

But I also like the more technical aspects of the art here. How the the three dimensional nature of the piece really pops. You can see some of Kara sticking out of amber, that hand almost lunging out of the cover. I also like the slight blurriness of the areas that are encased, giving the viewer a feel that she really is embedded. Slick!

This was a 1:10 variant and my local comic book store had 6 copies on the shelf. That's a good sign of a little sales bump.


As seen in the preview on Newsarama, the issue starts with the resurrection of As seen in the preview on Newsarama, the issue starts with the resurrection of Superwoman and her retrieval by the military. This story started in Supergirl Annual #1.

We don't yet know exactly how Lucy has come back. Mirabai (who we haven't seen recently) wonders if it is Lucy's desire to live.

One thing for sure, I don't think she has come back unscathed. Her body is wracked with pain. She seems invulnerable. She kills a soldier with heat vision. And she's doing it all without the suit from which she initially derived her powers. She's enraged ... scared ... it isn't pretty.

I find it fascinating that General Lane can completely shift the blame for Lucy's condition away from himself. He was the one who put Lucy in the suit, sent her on her missions, had her fight Supergirl. And yet, it's not his fault that Lucy has returned this way. It is the Kryptonians' fault. Talk about rationalization and prejudice.

Even more intriguing, Lane says Lucy is now Kryptonian. It looks like she has their powers, but what does that mean?


Back in Metropolis, Supergirl is shown to be encased in amber in a great hive like building. She is rescued by Gangbuster and when she gets out she isn't happy.

It seems that between the surprise of finding Lana cocooned last issue and the power of the Insect Queen, that Supergirl was captured. I'm not surprised. Remember, this Insect Queen kept Superman under her power for 3 issues back in the Busiek run. She's that powerful.

Now, for all of us who have been waiting to see Supergirl pound on someone, this is the issue. This isn't the usual super-villain fight after all. With Lana involved, this is personal. And the anger on her face here is evident. Supergirl is irate. It's a powerful image by Jamal Igle.


Angry or not, the hive has numbers. Despite taking out some bugs, Supergirl realizes that the best plan is to escape.

Look at the size of that hive! Back at STAR labs, Supergirl learns how 2 days earlier, the hospital was engulfed in this hive. Some SciPo officers and others went in but did not come back out. The hive seems to be biding its time. In fact, STAR only found out that Supergirl was in the hive because they had sent in a reconnaisance robot bug. Two days of a giant hive appearing in the middle of Metropolis and no other super-hero came to look other than Gangbuster and Dr. Light?

What I liked about this scene is that despite the necessary exposition, Supergirl's thoughts are on Lana and her condition. She talks with Dr. Light about Lana's condition in hopes of saving her.


And here is my favorite moment in the book.

Supergirl and Gangbuster decide the best course of action is a stealth mission to rescue Lana. Unfortunately the insects hear them. Gangbuster asks Supergirl if she's ready to get the crap kicked out of her in order to save the world. Supergirl simply replies 'always.'

She has such a cooly confident look on her face ... it's perfect. Perfect. This is a Supergirl who will do what's right regardless of the risks. And it shows how much she has matured over the last year.

However, despite getting a few good shots in against some insect infantry, Supergirl is overrun by a swarm and brought before the Insect Queen.


It's Lana ... but it's also not Lana.

The Queen explains how she left a piece of herself inside Lana during her recent run-in with Superman. Over the last year that piece has been slowly rebuilding Lana cell by cell. She remained in Lana to stay close to the Superman family so she could make super-drones to protect her, something she tried back in the Busiek arc.

The Queen also decides to add a layer of emotional anguish to her conversation with Supergirl saying it was the Queen's will that made Lana befriend Kara. Thankfully, Supergirl realizes this is a lie and shrugs it off. This is another recent example (along with the Black Lantern Zor-El) of an enemy trying to take advantage of Supergirl's emotional vulnerability and failing. Hurray!


With the Queen within striking distance, Supergirl frees herself from the amber and calls in a STAR labs bombing run. She then unloads on 'Lana'.

Calling herself a Lang, calling Lana family, Supergirl rips off one of the Queen's wings and gives her a right hook that sends her sprawling.

She ripped off one of her wings!! Fantastic!


It is perhaps the strongest ... the most physical ... the angriest we have seen Supergirl in a while. It rivals her fight with Superwoman.

But more than that, it is her confidence that shines here. She stands over the Queen saying she doesn't scare easily.

How wonderful to see Supergirl so self-assured as she doles out a thumping!


And best yet ... she's victorious!

Somehow Supergirl was able to help design a de-bugging device to strip Lana of her insect DNA.

When the Queen says she will make Supergirl's life hell, Kara quips that Alura does that enough. I loved that as well.

The device is turned on and cures Lana. And without their Queen, the other insects are defeated.

Okay, it was a bit too easy of an answer, a bit too deus ex machina to have this machine designed and built in so short a time ... with Kara having designed it too! But it is about time that Supergirl got to win one. This was a hard-fought and brutal win complete with bloody fists and quick thinking ... but that's what made it beautiful.


And then we take a bit of a left turn.

After all the 'Lana' family' and 'I'm a Lang' and 'Lana's my mentor' talk, Supergirl turns around and tells Lana she is leaving her life because she can't trust her. Kara is still stung by Lana keeping her illness secret.

It's a complete 'about face' emotionally. I suppose once the stress of rescuing Lana was over, once she knows that Lana is safe, Supergirl can reassess things ... that the pain of this secret can surge. With everything that has happened in her life, Kara needs to trust those closest to her. And she doesn't feel that with Lana right now.

It still read a little funny given all the prior dialogue in the book.


Lana tries to explain her secrecy in a way Supergirl can understand. All of New Krypton and all of Earth needed Supergirl. Supergirl was too important to get wrapped up in the problems of one person. Lana feels she did the heroic thing by keeping her illness to herself, to not distract Kara.

But Supergirl still thinks it was wrong and flies off saying she no longer wants to be a Lang or even human.

This response feels like a regression for Supergirl in her recent character growth. But all of this is happening right before The Last Stand of New Krypton and War of the Supermen. Is this Lana/Kara split just a way of setting up Supergirl's sympathies and fidelity in those books? An easy way to set up some conflict to be resolved between the super-cousins?


And speaking of not wanting to be human, back at Project 7734, we hear that Lucy is an amalgam of "all" the alien races whose powers were in the Superwoman suit ... all their powers and weaknesses.

Hmm .. all the aliens? Not just Kryptonian?

With that announcement, Lucy decides to fry the physician with an apparent electrical blast and declare herself ready for active duty. (I know lightning powers aren't inherent in the race, but maybe Lucy has some Winathian genes in her now?) Lucy seemed like a bit of a loose cannon before but I don't think she would have indiscriminantly killed a doctor like this. She seems insane to me right now.

Well what a great main story in this anniversary issue. Not perfect ... but memorable and worthy of an important issue like this.

First off, I absolutely love Supergirl's personality during the fight portion of the book ... determined, strong, unflappable. Kudos to Sterling Gates. In his time on the title, he has really solidified Kara's persona while having her mature into a competent young hero. It really is hard to believe that this is the 17th issue in his and Jamal Igle's run. It feels like just yesterday I was waiting for Supergirl #34 to hit the stands.

But more than that, it was good to see Supergirl unleash her powers on someone and outright win. This isn't a half-win ... like when Superwoman explodes in defeat or Reactron escapes ... this was victory.

On top of that, I also enjoyed the re-introduction of Superwoman as a viable and permanent member of Supergirl's rogues' gallery. An insane and powerful Superwoman is a terrifying opponent.

And, as usual, Jamal Igle's art wonderfully complements the story. Supergirl's expressions and body language bolster her dialogue perfectly. So whether it is that cocked eyebrow in the 'always' panel or the angry pose when she breaks free of the amber or her slumped shoulders when she is talking to Lana, the art just adds such volume to the scenes.

The one smudge in the issue is just that rapid decision to abandon Lana and Earth. It just felt off a bit.

But honestly, the rest of the book is so great I am willing to see where the story goes.

I mean Supergirl ripped off the Insect Queen's wing! It doesn't get much better than that.

Overall grade: A/B+

22 comments:

Jason said...

Wow! What a story! Great review! I love the "my mother does that enough" quip! Haha!! That was great! She still has some animosity toward Alura and rightfully so. I was glad to see the "we Langs" talk but then disappointed to have Supergirl reverse herself at the end. I hope this isn't permanent because we still haven't seen enough of Linda Lang.

Mart said...

Yeah, overall a fine story - and I love having a scientist Supergirl. bring on x-kryptonite!

TalOs said...

OMG how I truly loved loved LOVED this specific milestone issue!

The very cool covers, the captivating writing, the as usual eyecandy enticing art from Jamal, the actual battle against Lana/Insect Queen 2.0, the return of Lucy as Superwoman 2.0 too and yet even another nod to the '84 Supergirl movie where Supergirl introduces herself to the Insect queen (instead of Selena) as being Kara Zor-El from Kandor (instead of Argo City like in the movie) who doesn't scare easily! Just frickin kick ass all around! BD

The only thing that I didn't like was how Kara leaves Lana in the manner she does which felt off after like Anj said Kara was all about being proud to be given the honor of being adoptedas a Lang while she was beating the crap out of Insect Queen at the time. :-/

Anonymous said...

Yeah generally there are two good steps in the right direction in this issue. I'm gonna overlook Gangbuster "saving" Kara in the first few pages because 1.) Kara seems to return the favor, and even the Black Canary gets saved sometimes by Green Arrow and B.) I've always liked Gangbuster who is a low budget "Batman for the rest of us" IMHO. I'd love to see more of him in Supergirl's book quite frankly.
Now my issue is, Supergirl makes her fight with I-Queen on the basis of her familial relation with Lana and then after the battle is won she denies that link and flies off disappointed.
Granted her good will and confidence was sorely tested but ditching Lana seemed extreme and much akin the "old" selfish overwrought Supergirl.
However in many other respects it was a good issue, Supergirl played a leadership role, I loved seeing other heroes defer to her battle plan, Kara the teen scientst - Very Cool! And she must be making some headway on Earth because the Metro SP is actively covering up for her...again muy frio!
I'm beginning to think that "good issues" of Supergirl are what happens in between Giant DCU Global Crossover EVENTS, so we get some character development and an questionable estrangement that could linger for years before the writers get some page space to address it. Recall please how long it took for Kara and Wonder Girl to patch things up and even then that was a lamentably discursive scene.

Anyway...liking the revival of Insect Queen as a villain, formally nominate her for a berth in Kara Zor El's personal Rogue's Gallery.

John Feer

Ayhe said...

I can´t wait to read this, especially after your review Anj :D
And what you said:

But Supergirl still thinks it was wrong and flies off saying she no longer wants to be a Lang or even human.

This response feels like a regression for Supergirl in her recent character growth. But all of this is happening right before The Last Stand of New Krypton and War of the Supermen. Is this Lana/Kara split just a way of setting up Supergirl's sympathies and fidelity in those books? An easy way to set up some conflict to be resolved between the super-cousins?


I agree about the set up to the next saga. But I also think that her reaction is so off.

The girl is 17, and had been going through lots of awful pressures. She hardly has got some peace, neither in New Krypton, nor in Earth. She lost her dad, her mom treats her quite coldly, she couldn´t save a child´s life and almost everybody in earth sees her as a menace. Lana was one of the few she could rely on, and suddenly, her mentor passes away. Then she comes back but..things are not the same anymore.
I think that Supergirl couldn´t take anymore, and needed to shout out all the stress she´ve been keeping inside. Like the drop of water that finally filled the vase.
She couldn´t take anything else!
And I know by experience, when you don´t feel good,, when your heart is so pressured...you will shout to the person you most love.
So I am not surprised she left Lana, but I´m sure Supergirl will eventually have her mind clearer and become a Lang again. :3

Ayhe said...

*is not so off

Jason said...

Maybe since she doesn't want to be a Lang (for now), she'll become...Linda Lee? I know, probably not.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review, Anj. Really gracious.

As for Lana & Kara, stay tuned. :)
-Sterling

Gene said...

Anj wrote:
"Sterling Gates revealed that this cover art was originally a personal piece Turner did for Dan Didio."

Ah! So that is the history of that particular piece. Kudos to Dan Didio for his contribution!


"Even more intriguing, Lane says Lucy is now Kryptonian."

I like how Lane quickly let go of her hand and Lucy became "Major Lane" again. I think Lucy will channel her father's rejection into pure aggression towards her enemies in a misguided attempt to win back her father's favor.


"Back in Metropolis, Supergirl is shown to be encased in amber in a great hive like building. She is rescued by Gangbuster and when she gets out she isn't happy."

I grabbed my Superman/Batman TPB to translate that little bit of Kryptonese and got "zith." What is a zith? Also, what was in that yellow STAR Labs pouch that Supergirl had on her belt?

The panel where Supergirl momentarily thought she killed Lana was very well done. So for her to fly off like she did afterwards was unexpected and a bit of an downer.

I was like "Woo-Hoo Lana is alive! But Oh No! They are now estranged!"

I completely agree with Lana's line of thinking. She did what a lot of military and NASA family members have done when their loved ones were away from home doing their jobs.

Talos wrote:
"and yet even another nod to the '84 Supergirl movie where Supergirl introduces herself to the Insect queen (instead of Selena) as being Kara Zor-El from Kandor (instead of Argo City like in the movie) who doesn't scare easily!"

I agree, that line rocked!

In the future when the historians write the chapters and books about Supergirl, they will have a lot to say about the Gates/Igle years.

Anj said...

I hope this isn't permanent because we still haven't seen enough of Linda Lang.

I agree.

Maybe part of my feelings is that we haven't seen as much of the Lana/Linda relationship as I would like and now it (at least temporarily) over.

My guess is they reconcile down the line.

Anj said...

bring on x-kryptonite!

OMG ... did you just say x-kryptonite!?

Anyways, I agree that seeing a science-y Supergirl is great. We saw it in the Annual when she was a kid with Thara. And her parents are an influence too.

Anj said...

yet even another nod to the '84 Supergirl movie where Supergirl introduces herself to the Insect queen (instead of Selena) as being Kara Zor-El from Kandor (instead of Argo City like in the movie) who doesn't scare easily! Just frickin kick ass all around! BD

Thanks for the post. That completely slipped by me.

The movie is kind of a hole in my Supergirl knowledge base!

I know ... I know ... I need to see it again soon.

Anj said...

However in many other respects it was a good issue, Supergirl played a leadership role, I loved seeing other heroes defer to her battle plan, Kara the teen scientst - Very Cool! And she must be making some headway on Earth because the Metro SP is actively covering up for her...again muy frio!

Thanks for the post.

I agree this was a very strong and respected Kara throughout.
I'm beginning to think that "good issues" of Supergirl are what happens in between Giant DCU Global Crossover EVENTS, so we get some character development and an questionable estrangement that could linger for years before the writers get some page space to address it.


These past 3 issues have been refreshing in their 'Supergirl stand alone' nature. We really got to dive into Kara's story and supporting cast.

I have said being tightly linked to the Superman titles is a double edged sword. I think the current team has done a good job juggling that.

Anj said...

I think that Supergirl couldn´t take anymore, and needed to shout out all the stress she´ve been keeping inside. Like the drop of water that finally filled the vase.
She couldn´t take anything else!
And I know by experience, when you don´t feel good,, when your heart is so pressured...you will shout to the person you most love.


Thanks for the great post.

I can totally see everything you are saying.

And I do think that Supergirl could be fiercely pro-Lana when it was unclear if Lana would even survive.

But once it was clear that Lana was out of the woods, I can see Kara being angry. I can see her thinking 'I am thrilled you're alive. Now let me tell you how much you hurt me.'

And you're right, there isn't anyone else Kara could easily turn to outside of Lana and to find out she was hiding things must feel horrible for Supergirl.

I agree, when the war settles down, I bet Kara dons the glasses and becomes Linda again.

Anj said...

Thanks for the review, Anj. Really gracious.

As for Lana & Kara, stay tuned. :)


Thanks for stopping by and posting.

And thank you for a great issue. I really thought it just clicked - plot, dialogue, art!

Hopefully we'll be talking about issue #100!

Anj said...

I like how Lane quickly let go of her hand and Lucy became "Major Lane" again. I think Lucy will channel her father's rejection into pure aggression towards her enemies in a misguided attempt to win back her father's favor.

Yeah. I think she's crazy. I don't think she'll be able to do any more stealth missions.

I think she is more akin to a weapon now, pointed in a direction.

I completely agree with Lana's line of thinking. She did what a lot of military and NASA family members have done when their loved ones were away from home doing their jobs.

I agree. I can see both sides of that argument.

I hope we actually see some Linda Lang in the future.

Saranga said...

Dammit, I didn't see the alternate cover. I hate the Turner one, but Middleton's one is beautiful.

There was a lot going on in this issue, it needs a re-read I think. I enjoye dit, but won't go into stuff here. may do a special post on just this for my blog. hmm, yes that would work.

Adam Smasher said...

I'm not a fan of Turner's work, but I guess the cover was a nice tribute.

I loved seeing Supergirl kick butt - didn't care some of the abruptness. Maybe cut out the flashback panels (they felt like padding, a quick run through would have been sufficient) and have an extra panel of grieving over the apparent death of Lana, SG reaction was powerful, but instead of allowing this emotion to gestate, it's quickly over and we see Lana's alive.

Devote more time to the development and idea behind the machine that defeats the insect queen.

I too didn't care for the end. I know she's young but it felt forced. Allow these emotions to percolate - don't rush it, lets see SG emotionally and physically exhausted, happy to have her fiend back, but confused and needing time to think things out. The shift from confident protector to flying off stating she didn't want to be part of this family was too jarring and for me, violated the narrative voice of the rest of the story.

So, there's a lot I loved, but I felt it shifted tone to abruptly. Take time to breathe and develop some ideas and emotions... even if that means losing flashback panels or extending certain aspects into the next issue.

Anj said...

Dammit, I didn't see the alternate cover. I hate the Turner one, but Middleton's one is beautiful.

There was a lot going on in this issue, it needs a re-read I think. I enjoye dit, but won't go into stuff here. may do a special post on just this for my blog. hmm, yes that would work.


The Middleton cover does really grab the eye. For what's it worth it was $6.99 at my local store here in the states.

I look forward to reading your post!

Anj said...

So, there's a lot I loved, but I felt it shifted tone to abruptly. Take time to breathe and develop some ideas and emotions... even if that means losing flashback panels or extending certain aspects into the next issue.

I agree that the tone shifted ... but with War of the Supermen looming, my guess is it had to so Kara could be placed where the creative teams want her to be.

The flashback scenes were a necessary evil to explain why Supergirl was trapped and why no other heroes were there. And I loved the action scenes.

But overall, I wish there was another 10 pages in the book so the Lana/Kara talk could have evolved a bit more gradually.

But overall, I still think the book was very good.

Adam Smasher said...

I was speaking more of the rehashed flashback scenes at the hospital (sorry I should have been clearer), seeing panels/dialog I’d just read not long ago bugs me (I’m like, “yeah I know, I read this dang it”) – but having re-read the issue can I see why it was done, there was some foreshadowing and Igle did some great work there. Showing Kara at a slow boil – hurt, angry and planning.

I still wish we could have had something transitional with Dr. Light, more info on how Kara came up with the idea (something she learned in her time with the science guild?) so the machine didn’t come off deus ex machina. And though SG devastation at the thought that she’d killed her friend was brilliantly rendered, another panel to allow the possibility of her death to become real would have helped the scene. What to cut? The ending wasn’t right, at least not for this issue, maybe in the next one. But not now, not after SG just spouted off about family, and not at that time with Lana in recovery. Kara really came off selfish, even for a younger woman she should have known better. Maybe set up something for a future confrontation, have Kara sitting there confused and gnawing over this, throw in some thought balloons about it, but that back and forth at that time was too jarring for me and felt inappropriate.

But it does flow better on a second reading. So a aside from my nitpicks it was an enjoyable issue.

Anonymous said...

Now, I'm definetely getting this issue! MY God! I've missed so much stuff!