Friday, February 18, 2011
Review: Supergirl #61
Supergirl #61 came out this week, the second issue with the new direction for the title and the first issue with James Peaty as the sole writer. Nick Spencer is gone after (I suppose) one half of one issue.
Last issue seemed to calm some of the concerns many had with the title and the loss of Sterling Gates as writer. Supergirl #60, while a bit talky, set the table for this arc, laying out the pieces and the overall plot. It wasn't a perfect issue but it was pretty good. Would this issue pick up on the momentum of the first issue? Would the lack of Nick Spencer hurt or help the story?
For me, most importantly, the thing I want to see is the characterization from the Gates' run pulled forward. I don't want to see a regression in Kara's characterization, how she acts, or what she's like. So far ... so good ... sort of.
One thing I did like about these first pages is the opening line of the book: 'My name is Kara Zor-El and this is my life.' Of course these were the opening and closing lines of Sterling Gates' run so I thought it was a nice little technique to make this feel familiar. It also gives us some insight into Supergirl's inner thoughts.
Alex, the villain of the piece and presumed Cadmus super-clone, is impressed with Supergirl's abilities to defeat these villains. And with this initial test run of his Flyover app a success, he decides to leave the hallowed halls of Harvard and move on.
To make sure he is able to walk away without leaving a trail, he seems to mindwipe the students he was chummy with last issue. So the guess someone made last month that maybe some Maxwell Lord is in Alex' genetic mix seems much more plausible.
But this is where I have to question last issue a bit. Apparently we aren't going to see these kids anymore. So why devote so much time to them last month. In fact, why the heck would Alex even be in Harvard anyways? Why would he befriend these people? I wonder if this is the first shakedown of Nick Spencer not being on the book anymore. It seemed that the presence of these college kids served two purposes. One, it provided an easy path to exposition, explaining the Flyover app and Alex' thoughts. Two, it showed that Nick Spencer can write snappy young dialogue. The first might be valid. But the second just wastes page space if it doesn't impact the story.
Still, even if we are not seeing them again, it doesn't explain what Alex was doing there in the first place.
And her lips, which recently kissed Alex, taste like chalk. Hmmm ... sounds like he might be an unstable clone, going the way of the Bizarro.
Meanwhile, the villains that Supergirl defeated disappear as quickly as they arrived, teleported away.
In what I thought was a nice piece of characterization, I liked how Supergirl dealt with the two teenage boys who got her up on that roof to begin with. When they continue to pester her for her phone number, and refuse to clear the scene, she gets all 'Dark Supergirl' on them playfully, showing off the glowing eyes of an 'evil alien'. It seemed playful and confident. It felt right, even in the post-New Krypton world where people still might not trust Kryptonians.
Supergirl needed to roof cleared because she knew that Lois was arriving via helicopter to talk to her. I like how Lois brings her a coffee!
Lois lets Supergirl in on the news of Cadmus' super-clone plans, asking Kara to help out since Superman is still walking all over. In a bit of characterization that felt a little off, Supergirl says she might not be the right person for the job, saying she isn't in Superman's league. While I am happy that Lois stops that train of thought by saying that others should judge Supergirl. Still, even if Supergirl doesn't think she is as good as Superman, I think she would say 'I'll help out any way I can.' I don't need Kara to be awash in self-doubt again. This felt like a little step backwards.
That said, this is the book that Lois fans should be reading. She is being portrayed spot on in Supergirl.
Lois tells Supergirl that she found Kara by using the Flyover app. I thought that showed just how prevalent this thing has become already.
But Supergirl not knowing what a smartphone is? I mean, she is a teenager and a member of the Science Guild. While the 'so like her cousin' was a cute comment, this felt a bit off too.
The app seems everywhere as Linda Lang is browsing it while enjoying a bowl of ice cream. Even the waitress notices and says that she is also on Flyover, trying to snap some pics of heroes.
I can't say how happy I was to see Linda again. I really hope that Linda Lang (and Lana for that matter) remain a big part of this book.
But I also wondered if this scene might be a subtle insight on another part of this arc. Linda eating ice cream alone? Maybe part of this arc is to have her connect (or re-connect) with the younger heroes in the DCU, to create friendships with these heroes so that she isn't eating sweets by herself. Or am I over-thinking this?
While in the ice cream shop, the Flyover app shows Damien in Gotham City ... and then suddenly Damien being flanked by Clayface and Mr. Freeze.
It's a nice little parlay between Damien and Supergirl initially, with him asking her why she is there and maybe she should make herself useful. Together they take out the villains quickly, Supergirl even wondering why Clayface didn't put up more a fight like he did the last time they faced off. Is that from Superman/Batman #19 or Superman/Batman #62? I can't think of another encounter.
I did like how Supergirl is able to figure out pretty quickly that the Flyover app is probably behind these recent attacks. She has seen too much of this app too soon. Even if Damien doesn't buy it, Supergirl is sure. Sure enough to know that Blue Beetle is in danger in El Paso.
I don't think it's a stretch for Supergirl to realize that this app is like a GPS for attacks.
And then we see just how the villains are being defeated so (relatively) easily. They aren't the villains but some sort of android mimicking the powers of the villains. That explains why Supergirl was able to defeat the big guns in the beginning of the issue.
Throughout the issue we see Alex in his secret lab, scheming, and realizing that Supergirl is the biggest threat of them all, and might be worthy of special attention.
So overall, I thought this was a pretty good issue. I think that there were a lot of ups in this book, with a couple of missteps. Still, I think the characterization of Supergirl here was more right than wrong. I think James Peaty is doing his best to pick up right where Sterling Gates left Kara. Yes, the 'I'm not Superman' comment didn't seem right and stood out as being off.
And I'll say it again, I am glad that the college student angle seems to have been removed. Issues are shorter these days as a way to keep the price $2.99. That means I will have little tolerance for wasted space. And the dialogue and back story of those guys last issue now seems meaningless.
Bernard Chang continues to do stellar stuff here. I am glad he has remembered the new short haircut Kara is sporting. And his action sequences have always been top notch.
Will this book remain Peaty's after this arc? When will DC let us know? Or is the 'fear of cancellation' still in the air such that DC isn't going to name anyone long term. I'd love to hear Peaty come out and talk about the character.
Overall grade: B