The second story in Supergirl #50 was also very good and I therefore felt it deserved it's own post.
Titled 'The Hero's Journey' and a short but stuffed 6 pages long, it reminded me exactly why I am a Supergirl fan.
It is apparent that writers Jake Black and Helen Slater (!) just 'get' Supergirl. They understand the draw and the core of the character. I shouldn't be surprised. Of course, Slater played Supergirl and has a personal grasp of the character. And Jake Black wrote the Supergirl magazine for the Eaglemoss lead figurine and the Smallville DVD documentary on the character.
If I haven't said it plainly before, I am absolutely tickled that Helen Slater is embracing her place in Supergirl history and taking part in the current character's incarnation.
The concept of the story is deceptively simple. Ron Troupe is hosting a 'Meet the Press' style opinion show and the topic of the day is Supergirl. Is she a hero or a menace?
Acting as host, Troupe at first seems pretty unbiased. He takes more of a moderator's role. Much more opinionated is guest Cat Grant who continues to try to besmirch Supergirl's character.
This format affords Black and Slater the opportunity to explore Supergirl's career and the different ways her actions have been regarded by those around her, by the public.
And much of Kara's history is explored. So we see her fight with Power Girl from way back in Supergirl #1. Remember those early issues where it seemed Supergirl only fought other heroes? No wonder she could be construed as a menace.
And we revisit her brief time with the Titans, a stint that ended when an argument with Wonder Girl drove Supergirl away. (I think the issue where Supergirl quits the Titans is the first time Jamal Igle drew the character.)
And Cat even brings up Supergirl's failure in saving Thomas Price from cancer. Surprisingly, this failure is the one that seems to be brought up the most. I wonder if Kelley Puckett knew his story would have such an impact on the character.
When the preview pages of this story were released, I hoped we would hear from Mrs. Price herself. It would be interesting to hear what that character would have to say about Supergirl now that some time has passed. That said, I am glad she was at least mentioned. The 'Saving Thomas' storyline was a decent arc and showcased that lengths that Supergirl will go in order to achieve her goals.
Cat describes Supergirl as irresponsible, like a starlet famous more for being in rehab than for her acting roles.
At that point, Troupe allows a counterpoint to Cat's diatribe. A local expert on anthropology tells Ron that Supergirl is on the hero's journey and is at a point where she needs a mentor to help her. With that we are treated to a nice panel by Cliff Chiangreimagining the 'deep conversation with Superman' scene from Supergirl #34.
But the expert isn't sure if Superman is the right person to guide Supergirl.
I would say that he is obliquely referencing Lana but given the prior story in this issue, maybe not.
As I said before, Slater and Black really delve into this Supergirl's history in this brief story. So we hear from Brooke and Sara from earlier stories ... characters that Supergirl has helped immensely. These characters weren't being attacked by super-villains. They were people with personal problems that Supergirl helped with. They show that Supergirl is more than just a super-strong left hook.
And as a fan, I appreciate this look back. The early years of this title were difficult ... uneven. I am glad that the current Supergirl creators, whether it's Slater/Black or Gates/Igle, aren't just sweeping those stories under the rug.
My favorite part of the story comes right at the end as Ron Troupe signs off and sheds his impartiality. He succinctly states why I am a Supergirl fan.
He starts out by saying she has value. It is a simple statement. But one I sometimes feel I need to defend to other comic fans.
I had to include this panel in the review. It is too good not to share.
Troupe continues. He says Supergirl is trying to find her way, making mistakes but growing. In essence, she is on the hero's journey (hence the title).
On this blog, I have talked about how I think Supergirl is 'becoming'. She is becoming a great hero, but there will be bumps in the road. She learns and matures. That's why I love the character.
And I like that Linda Lang saw the show and appreciates Ron's sentiment. Supergirl needs to know there are people out there who support her.
So this is a great story for many reasons. One, it shows that other writers outside of Gates know the road this character is on. As a Supergirl fan, what could be better than knowing that Helen Slater is 'one of us'.
Second, for any new readers that bought this as their first Supergirl issue, the story gives a quick review of her current place in the DCU ... underappreciated a bit, heroic. But while this story is accessible to new readers it has nods for the more dedicated fan.
And lastly, it boasts Cliff Chiang art. I have gushed about Chiang's art before. I think he is so economical with his line work, his art conveying so much information so easily.
To see things like a couple of extra face lines on Cat Grant which scream 'trying to look young', to see a crooked eyebrow and a half-frown showing how distraught Supergirl is in the #34 homage panel, or the joy exuding from her as she is flying above Metropolis ... it's all there and not overdone.
It's sweet and can be appreciated by both new and established readers. It was a nice capstone for this over-sized anniversary issue.