Friday, April 23, 2010

Review: Supergirl #52

After much anticipation, Supergirl #52 came out this week. And as promised, it brought Brainiac 5 and Supergirl together again ... for the first time. (I have always wanted to say that.

Some of the preview comments about this issue make it seem like Brainy might know Supergirl from another timeline ... maybe the pre-Crisis Earth-1 Kara? But I didn't think that at all. I thought we were dealing with characters from different time periods who are interacting with each other at different points in their lives, but all on the same timeline. I know ... I am confused typing it and I wrote it. I'll try to explain what I mean as this review moves along. The good news is there is more interplay between the two characters to come ... guaranteed.

I really think Sterling Gates does a nice job with the two characters here. I just get the sense he has an appreciation for the history of Supergirl and Brainiac 5 together.

One thing I was worried about was that Supergirl might be lost in this Last Stand issue (the way she was sort of a bystander in the Supergirl issue of Codename:Patriot). Those worries were unfounded. While this is a Last Stand issue, and it does move the bigger story arc forward, Supergirl is the primary focus in the book.


We start the issue looking at the big picture of Last Stand. As seen at the end of Adventure Comics #10, Zod and his soldiers have escaped Kandor, enlarged to normal size, and free on Brainiac's ship.

I can't get enough of Ursa. She is deliciously malicious, saying the wailing cries of fear from the bottled cities are 'motivating'. But look at that smile. I think she is thinking they are 'stimulating'. She is a predator. She doesn't deal in deception and guile like Zod. You always know where you stand with Ursa.


With that stage set, we finally see Supergirl and Brainy. And immediately we get the sense that their relationship will have the headaches and paradoxes that 'time travel' stories usually do.

After a standard condescending Brainiac 5 comment, Supergirl thinks to herself that he is a jerk.

Then Brainy thinks 'she told me the first time she met me she thought I was a jerk.' So this isn't the first time he has met her ... even though this is the first time she has met him. Classic time travel craziness.



Brainy's arrogance and aloofness leads Supergirl to think that the Coluan doesn't like her. Odd, since he chose her to go with him on this mission when the Legion split up. She just senses he has a problem with her.

That couldn't be farther from the truth.

In a brief moment alone, Brainy reveals how hard it is to be near Supergirl ... how much he loves her ... how hard it was when she dies.

Wait ....

What?

Her dying?

What?

My first reaction was maybe he was remembering the death of the 'original' Supergirl, her dying in the Crisis.

But then I realized that Brainy is looking back at Supergirl's life historically. Of course he would know Kara dies at some point. What is hard to know from his words is if he was there when she died.

But I don't know any Supergirl fans who want to hear about her dying again. We are all a bit antsy after the Crisis. We don't even joke about it.


After being omnipresent in the book for almost a year, Reactron hasn't been seen in Supergirl #47. At the end of that issue (which feels like a lifetime ago given everything that has happened in this book since), Alura had faked Reactron's death so she could torture him for information.

It turns out he has been tortured ... and hasn't given Commander Gor the information he wants.

In a sudden turn of the tables, Luthor shows up in the miniaturized Kandor. Lex wastes no time in perforating Gor's chest, killing him. I have to say I won't shed many tears for the boorish and sadistic Gor who always seemed to have the wrong thing to say at the wrong time.

In what is a surprise, this turns out not to be a rescue mission. Luthor isn't there to release Reactron. He is there for something else.

Chances that something else is Reactron's Gold Kryptonite heart? 95%


But more on Luthor later.

Battling their way through Brainiac's satellite, Supergirl just can't shake the feeling she has met Brainiac 5 before. Brainy tries to figure out if indeed Supergirl has met him already but that her memories of the future are being masked by Saturn Girl's mental blocks. I wondered if it was some memories from her time with the other Brainiac 5 (from the Waid/Kitson Legion). Or is it some resonating feeling from prior continuities.

At the very least, they may be memories from the first time Brainy (a younger him) met Supergirl ... a story teased for this fall's Supergirl Annual #2. Two stories representing both sides of 'the first Brainiac5/Supergirl story'? Sounds perfect for such a convoluted chronal relationship.

At least we know what is in store for the Annual. If Jamal Igle is too busy, any guesses on who the artist should be?


Brainiac 5 continues to deny having met Supergirl, even to the point of saying no records of her career exist in the future. Be he slips, calling her Linda Lang and Superman's cousin. It would be hard to know those facts if no records are around.

How is it that a 12th level intelligence make such a boneheaded mistake? Maybe he is flustered around her. Historically, we have seen Brainy stammer and sputter around Supergirl in many stories. Why should this incarnation be different?

Supergirl doesn't like the deception though. Maybe Brainy is hiding something? Maybe he is a threat? There are some nice echoes here back to that first comic meeting in Action Comics #276.


Before she can deck him, Brainiac I flushes them out. Staying one step ahead of the satellites defenses (the dreaded Visper Phages), Brainy divulges why he needed Supergirl with him. Only she would have the power to smash the satellite's power core. Not an elegant plan by any means.

I love how Brainy tries to rationalize it by saying "you can't outhink a fist." And I love Kara's exasperated response "what does that even mean?"

It reminded me of Kurt Russell's character Jack Burton in John Carpenter's Big Trouble In Little China. Burton was always befuddled at the 'wisdom' being thrown at him. He also said 'what does that even mean' when someone told him 'China is here, Mr. Burton.' I can think of no higher compliment than if someone's work reminds me of Big Trouble.


Brainiac 5 implores her to destroy the reactor while he attempts to hold off the Phages. Supergirl adds her own wrinkle to the plan. Assuming that Brainy's force field belt can take the punishment, she carries him with her as she become a battering ram, smashing the satellite's power core. Mission accomplished.

I was glad to see that Matt Camp's great cover was based on an actual event in the book.


Success doesn't make Kara forget all the earlier subterfuge by Brainiac 5. She wants answers and is willing to wring them out of Brainy if she has to.

He tells Kara that she needs to trust her friends who care about her. And she needs to trust him. That said, he can't tell her anything about her future. She needs to live her own life. After hearing so many people tell her how she should be living her life, it must be nice for Supergirl to have someone say she needs to discover her own future.

Supergirl finds it and his brooding ways 'kinda cute'. And while she might not say that, Brainy knows she finds it cute and starts to trust him from there on because at some point in his past (and her future) she told him so.

I can imagine it is hard to write these scenes ... trying to capture that initial magic and chemistry that leads to attraction and romance. But I think Gates does a good job showing how Brainiac 5 could pique Supergirl's interest.


And thanks to her efforts, the reactor is shut down, Brainiac's satellite's force field is down, and Superman is suddenly back on the playing field. On board, Luthor emerges from Kandor and grabs a bottle city for himself.

This was such an interesting issue for me and I credit Sterling Gates for keeping me guessing. As an old school Supergirl fan, I was ready for a Kara and Brainy to be together again. And I was hoping that this would be an old-fashioned romance .. a happy reimagination. Instead, we get just the earliest sparks from Supergirl. We also get outright fatalism from Brainiac 5. In his mind, the relationship is literally over before it has even begun.

This wasn't rainbows on roses and whiskers on kittens. This was bittersweet ... bordering on sad. That was unexpected ... and therefore appreciated. And I can understand that sadness in Brainiac 5. I have seen it in the immediate post-Crisis issues.


It reminds me so much of this panel from JLA #12 (by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter). When time travel gets involved it can be difficult to explain variances with 3 dimensional language. I cannot give a comic a higher compliment than to say it reminds me of Morrison's famed JLA run.

While I know we have the remainder of Last Stand and the next Annual to look forward to, but I sincerely hope we see even more of this relationship. Brainy certainly talks like there is 'history' .. not just a couple of adventures together.

Outside of this interesting first take on the Brainy/Kara romance, I would be remiss if I didn't say that this was another good Last Stand issue with things continuing to move forward.

Guest artist Ivan Rodriguez does a fine job here. His Supergirl looks more like a young woman. I also like that he tweaked her S-shield, making it a unique symbol for Kara.

Overall grade: A/B+

25 comments:

valerie21601 said...

I had to think about the time travel factors in it too.

Then it came to me in the JLU: Far From Home episode. When Brainy and Chuck are talking they said history says, three left but only two came home. They simply "assumed" Kara died in the 31st century. It might have been known she "disappeared or left" the Justice League but the weight of the years it somehow became "died" and became part of the Superman myths in their world.

Depending on how it's handled Supergirl or her body could simply "disappear" and it shows up in the 31st century, waiting to be revived like Conner was. It seems DC Comics is reviving the Anti-Monitor, in the Blackest Night story line, can Kara's "death" be too far behind?

TalOs said...

ARGH! Bite your tongue come that last bit about the Anti-Monitor and Kara's possible death, valerie21601.

Question: Geoff Johns recently claimed that "DC One Million" is in actual main DCU Earth continuity still so if this is the very case then why does Kal-El get the right to actually live out his life right through to that of the actual 853rd Century yet Kara supposedly dies well BEFORE the 31st Century? Doesn't Sterling think Kara deserves the very same longevity treatment like her cousin. >:-(

valerie21601 said...

Not if us, SUPERGIRL fans can help it! TalOs!

Some of us, Kara and Brainy shippers are starting to form plans and possibly making a website dedicated to STOPPING THIS! If they can KEEP Power Girl (another version of Kara) in the DC Universe. And they mainly they keep PG around because the combination of her body and her personality.

We say ship her off to the 31st century to stay with Brainy and the LoSH for good! Where they can stay a couple for a long time until a future writer gives them some problems. Even as a permanent couple it doesn't mean they will have an easy life together, especially if they stay in the LoSH, there are so many possible stories that could be written about them even if they got married and had kids too.

Bubbly Bunny said...

Hey maybe the green skinned Super in Kingdom Come could end up being their daughter. I hope we never actually see Kara die it would be terrible i can't handle another Supergirl there have been like 6.
I sort of felt like after Crisis we had a choice between Power Girl or just deal with not having a Supergirl. And that the only Kara we could talk about was Power Girl.
I am a big shipper of this relationship and hope to see it followed through as long as Supergirl is around. WHICH BETTER BE FOREVER!

valerie21601 said...

I do too Bubbly Bunny.

We may have to unite in order to make sure the death of Supergirl "DOESN'T" happen again. Or at least get her shipped off to a part of the DC Universe where this version of her character can still live and her fans can still enjoy her. After all I have read and heard interviews that one of the reasons the LoSH is a favorite with writers is that the Legion isn't an active part of the DCU except for an occasional story line now and then. All sorts of things can happen in the DCU and the Legion isn't involved in it. Like how they keep Power Girl mostly to JSA stories. This would let them have their "new" Supergirl and screw her up for the next 25 years.

Who knows maybe a great writer will happen along and come up with a great story and a great reason why there are so many Kara's walking around in the DCU one day?

valerie21601 said...

Right now a few people and I are working on planting seeds on Kara and Querl's daughter. Now that we know Kara is still fated to an early death. We got to save the mother too!

Whenever people can politely "chat" with Gates and Igle ask them about Kara Dox, about Kara Zor-El's early death, and about moving her to the 31st century to be with B5. Show them pictures of Kara Dox aka XTC in her pink and white uniform. I have a lovely picture I found and saved on the web of her done by an artist name McKelvey on my deviantart.com profile page. Print out a color copy or two and give them one. But ALWAYS be polite about it.

Be ready for more info later or email me at Deviantart.com and wait for more orders while I/we fumble my/our way around in the dark here.

TalOs said...

I mean, I just don't get it, Sterling has gone on record numerous times claiming to be a "huge Supergirl fan" like the rest of us yet he has out of nowhere came up with deciding on her now having to supposedly die BEFORE the 31st Century (in accordance to adult Brainy) and this out of nowhere startling 180 revelation just does not not only not sit well with me AT ALL but has me truly questioning just how true of a Kara Zor-El/Supergirl fan he is at the end of the day if after having going through all of that effort to build her character up is now more then willing to apparently kill her off! Seriously, WTF?? 0_0

Do PTB up at DC seriously no longer want their Supergirl being known world over as being that of Superman's actual beautiful teen Kryptonian cousin going by "Kara Zor-El" all of a sudden now and would much prefer her being someone else entirely henceforth?? Didn't they learn their lesson the first time upon doing just this with both Matrix (not including Linda) and later Cir-El that it will only bite them in the ass big time and not only cost them fans/readers but long term sales too? And what about DC dedicating the return of Kara Zor-El proper to the main DCU to the late and great Christopher Reeve like they did come that final page of "The Supergirl from Krypton" saga in Superman/Batman title? Was that only intended to publicly greedily cash in on that poor man's death not to mention also Michael Turner's work here too?? As one of MANY longtime loyal fans of Supergirl this all has me seriously worried! DC has already re-established their character Supergirl being Superman's beautiful teen Kryptonian cousin Kara Zor-El for the 21st Century by not only via her return to the main DCU proper via comics but also via TV medium with "Smallville" too and for them to just throw all of that effort away in favour of dabbling on YET ANOTHER possible Supergirl after Kara seemingly now dies well and truly BEFORE the 31st Century just not only makes no iota of sense to me long term sales and business wise but recognition factor wise too when they refer to Supergirl who the general public know her as being this beautiful caucasian, light blue eyed, blonde haired teen girl who is in some way related to Superman's family.

valerie21601, you can definitely include me in trying to get Supergirl shipped off to the 31st Century proper to henceforth reside with her one true love Brainy if it means it will achieve in saving OUR Supergirl in the long run! (And maybe in time (no pun intended) even give us their heir Kingdom Come's own Kara Dox/"XTC" as a bonus. ;-D )

Anj said...

Well, I am hoping that the statement from Brainiac 5 doesn't mean DC is planning Supergirl's death any time soon.

The book is a success, the character is popular, there are mainstream crossovers in clothes and toys. I don't think now would be the right time for DC to pull the plug.

But maybe I am just being an optimist for once.

valerie21601 said...

DC Comics could be planning on playing a long term cat and mouse game with Kara and the Anti-Monitor with us.

UNTIL the final battle between the two, they could have many "small" battles over the years messing with our hearts as well as our wallets too.

I have noticed DCU writers are starting to move up the corporate ladder there. Johns is moving up it, like how it was with Paul Levitz who got sucked in it and away from writing LoSH for decades. It could be only a matter of time before Gates gets offered a carrot or two to climb up that corporate ladder too and leave it all behind. Which I hope will not happen.

TalOs said...

With all due respect, Anj, this is the very same DC that had the audacity to resurrect THE original Golden Age Pre-COIE E-2 Superman (a.k.a. Kal-L/"Clark Kent") from Action Comics #1 along with his wife Lois in the form of Black Lantern Corp zombies only to then have them both end up being totally ahnilated during Blackest Night's mega event itself, so you honestly believe Kara is anymore safe then Kal-L? :-/

Sterling Gates,

if you are happening to read this then I just wanted to say how truly and utterly disapointed I am in you for even willing to consider the very thought of killing off Supergirl for as a supposed "long time Supergirl fan" (as you keep claiming to be) this type of thinking shouldn't even enter your mind and instead you ought to be thinking of ways to further IMPROVE on Supergirl in terms of her characterisation aswell as that of her stories being told and BUILDING this very Supergirl's legacy up and NOT tearing her down by wanting to kill her off! The hells' the matter with you!?

valerie21601 said...

Jamal in his ustownhall internet interview did say there were plans for Kara that he didn't approve of that were planned for Supergirl. But it sounds like he HAS to go along for it and being a team player he can't give away what it is. He did emphasize keeping our eye on Thara for reasons he couldn't go into.

Anj said...

It could be only a matter of time before Gates gets offered a carrot or two to climb up that corporate ladder too and leave it all behind. Which I hope will not happen.

I was just talking about this with a friend yesterday. At what point will Sterling Gates get offered more 'plum' assignments and leave the book.

I hope not for a long time. Peter David stayed with Supergirl for 80 issues.

Anj said...

this type of thinking shouldn't even enter your mind and instead you ought to be thinking of ways to further IMPROVE on Supergirl in terms of her characterisation aswell as that of her stories being told and BUILDING this very Supergirl's legacy up and NOT tearing her down by wanting to kill her off!

Well ... it was one line from Brainiac 5. So I hope it isn't a done deal or even a plan to kill Supergirl.

I don't mind folks being worried ... but nothing has been set in stone.

Anj said...

Jamal in his ustownhall internet interview did say there were plans for Kara that he didn't approve of that were planned for Supergirl. But it sounds like he HAS to go along for it and being a team player he can't give away what it is. He did emphasize keeping our eye on Thara for reasons he couldn't go into.

Do you have a link?

That is a bit more worrisome. I don't want to see Thara (as much as I like the character) take on the mantle of Supergirl if Kara should 'die' or leave.

We had a year of Superman not being in Superman books. Can a Supergirl book survive without Supergirl in it?

valerie21601 said...

http://www.ustownhall.com/USTH-RealStories-Igle02.html

It's in part 2 of a 4 part interview of it.

There was another 4 part Jamal Igle interview done two-three months later about Supergirl and other DC Comics stuff too.

You will need an Windows Media Player version 7 or higher to listen to it. It takes several minutes to download.

Gene said...

Anj wrote:

"We had a year of Superman not being in Superman books. Can a Supergirl book survive without Supergirl in it?"

A year without a Supergirl? We already had that. It was 1987.

Seriously, I highly doubt that Supergirl is going to die anytime soon because its already been done. You can only shoot J.R. Ewing once before that gimick gets old.

I am guessing that we will see a story arc where Brainiac (out of love) rescues Supergirl from death at the risk of altering history. Or, Brainiac mistakes our Kara for an alternative reality or universe Kara that does die. With the DC Multiverse, who knows?

valerie21601 said...

Look at how many other superheros and villains died and came back time and time again and they keep trying out different versions of them and end up coming back to the original ones or original spirit of the character?


Superman
Flash
Green Lateran (Hal Jordan)
Wonder Woman-died (or de-evolved) at least once I can re-call

Darkseid

Brainiac

Luthor

I get the feeling DC Comics is messing with one of Murphy's Laws: If it's not broke DON'T fix it!

I can't help but feel DC is going to try to fix/improve something that's going great and try to change it for the sake of change and big bucks.

Like how Alan Moore said when he made Swamp Thing a MAJOR HIT for DC when the Higher Up's realized it was up there and make him write the stories they wanted him to write and how to handle the characters, story lines and so forth. It's legendary on how it ended for Alan Moore and DC Comics.

Or maybe like your winning a race and suddenly someone pops up and pushes you out of the driver seat saying their taking over because you don't know what your doing and the interloper causes you to lose the race and then has the nerve to blame you for losing it too.

Anj said...

Well, this 'when you died' comment has certainly struck a chord with Supergirl fans. I think we're still traumatized. LOL.

I think we need to wait and see how it plays out a bit. I think Sterling Gates has built up some capital here. He has written the best Supergirl in some time. I am willing to wait to see what comes a bit more before I condemn.

That said ... I'll be a bit upset if Supergirl gets killed off again. Especially when she seems to be at a sort of peak in popularity. I just can't see it happening ...

Anonymous said...

Yeah until I read this thread I thought, I JOHN FEER was the internet's most paranoid Supergirl fan. My distrust of DC was and IS legendary.
And I gotta come down on Anj's side on this, I think it was one stray line with no long term implications. I think Kara's fanbase is a lot more alert and organized now that the right Supergirl is back in continuity, it'd be hard to justify her death a second time around from a creative standpoint.
From a financial standpoint DC would be sacrificing a reasonably popular character who has done well in two TV series (animated and live action) and whose movie (though misbegotten) is still fondly remembered by persons inside and outside Supergirl fan-dom.
And what would they replace her with?
Power Girl, no offense but DC has been trying to gin up PG onto the A-List for twenty five years with entirely indifferent results. Right now her solo book will be lucky to last 25 issues.
Another genderbending glopdroid with a heart of gold some moody teenager who thinks she is an Angel all the disposable pseudo-Supergirls didn't quite take hold in the 80's & 90's is DC really gonna spin that wheel again?
I Think not.
Lets be vigilant, even a little paranoid but lets NOT give into delusions of persecution.
My two centavos

John Feer

PS great issue I love it when Kara has "had enough" and takes matters into her own dainty little hands...

valerie21601 said...

It is a matter of wait and see now. After all where it concerns Supergirl/Kara many of "us" fans have more than one reason to be a bit paranoid about what might be in her future.

Jamal Igle said...

valerie21601: before this goes too far, what I said in that interview had nothing to do with any current plans for the book. It had everything to do with how much I disliked the book prior to coming onto Supergirl.

TalOs said...

Jamal: I'm just going to come out and ask you, are DC so disapointed in sales for Supergirl since Kara's return to the main DCU proper in the pages of Superman/Batman since '04 that they intend on killing her off for good?

valerie21601 said...

Jamal, I listened to your ustownhall interview segment tonight again, I admit somehow some of it got a bit twisted in my mind from the combination of time going by and memories fading a bit. You had merely mention keeping an eye on the Nightwing/ Flamebird story line and nothing else.

After Kara's death by in CoIE and then the character actively messed with in trying to follow the "new" John Bryne model of Superman being the "only" Kryptonian exist. I admit I could be getting a touch paranoid about and for the character. Especially now that there is an excellent team working on her and giving her the proper treatment and story lines she deserves after several years of so-so stuff.

I only "rediscover" Supergirl in the past 9 months and I have fallen in love again with the character. So I could be worried over nothing.

I have noticed how seeds are now planted years in advance in the DC Comics story lines. If the Anti-Monitor is alive again and Supergirl is alive too. Isn't it only a matter of time before they have another pre-destined fight to the death again? I wasn't expecting it to happen in like 6 months or a year but eventually.

Karine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
valerie21601 said...

I have thought things over where it concerns Supergirl. One thing did occur about her death is that it could be on the level of the Orion will one day slay his father, Darkseid Prophecy. Where it's predicted but never allowed to really happen. Even if Orion did slay his father, he won't remain dead too long. As he is too good of a villain to allow to remain dead forever. So this early "death" of Supergirl will be a dangling sword of Damocles with her even if she has small battles with the Anti-Monitor for several years to come.