Supergirl #62 came out yesterday and I have to say I thought it was a great comic, probably my favorite of the week ... and this was a busy week for me and included the first 2 chapters of War of the Green Lanterns. That's saying something.
The issue marks the middle chapter of the Nick Spencer inspired James Peaty and Bernard Chang story. As the middle chapter, it does it's job moving the story forward, revealing more about Alex and the threat he represents.
But for me, this story really is the perfect follow-up to Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle's run. The Gates/Igle run was all about personal growth in Kara. The Supergirl at the end of their last issue was very different than the one in Supergirl #34. She had survived some emotional and physical trauma, she had matured as a hero, and she was happy with who she saw in the mirror. Just writing that reminds me how great that run was.
If those stories were introspective, Supergirl looking at herself, this story is more of an outside look at Supergirl's place in the DCU. This story lets us look at how Supergirl is perceived by everyone else. We have already seen in this arc that Supergirl remains her own worst critic, wondering if she has the stuff to be compared to Superman. We know she still feels isolated, eating ice cream alone in shoppe. But we also know that she is strong and resourceful and respected now. And this story shows us that.
In fact, I have enjoyed these issues so much that I wonder what James Peaty would have done with the character long term. I really wish Peaty had done an interview somewhere so I could hear his feelings on the character. I bet he is a fan.
And the art remains wonderful. Bernard Chang has always been very good with battle scenes. But he really is shining in the quieter moments too. He draws such a great Supergirl and Linda Lang. And the cover by Mahmud Asrar really captures the story nicely.
After Supergirl's victories over drones in Gotham and El Paso, Alex begins evacuating the Harvard campus to clear off the expected battleground. Whoever Alex is cloned from, he knows that Supergirl isn't going to rest until he is shut down. And he also knows that Supergirl has the intelligence to track him down.
I do think it is interesting that he is emptying the campus. Does this show some sort of residual compassion for humanity? He calls them sheep, mindless ... but he doesn't want them hurt? If he was completely ruthless, he might leave the students there. Their presence could be used against the heroes. But it is clear that Alex seems more interested in ridding the world of only super-beings. It makes me wonder who his 'father' might be.
But while the students are filing off campus, one student is working her way towards Alex. He realizes that this is someone Supergirl is sending in to battle. He recognizes that Supergirl is acting like a battle leader now, sending in her troops.
And we have another sighting of Alex' friends who join him in his lab. What's up with those kids?
We then flashback to Supergirl talking to Lois about the Gotham and El Paso attacks.The two meet on the roof of St. Idelson hospital.Matt Idelson is the editor on the book and I am hoping that he is Kara's patron saint, keeping the book alive and thriving.
One thing that concerns Supergirl is the discovery that the drone robots are powered by Kryptonian sunstones. Suddenly Lois story about a Cadmus super-Kryptonian clone hits a little closer to home. That clone is the threat that created FlyOver.
Interesting that Lois decides to kill the story with the discovery of the K-tech. I guess she doesn't want to sully Kryptonians any more than they have been in the immediate post War of the Supermen world.
As great as Peaty has been in capturing Supergirl's voice, he has done the same with Lois.
Here is, perhaps, my favorite moment in the book. Supergirl tells Lois she has a plan to thwart the Cadmus clone, a plan Lois sees as risky. But Kara is undeterred. She knows what she is getting into and for once feels like she is a step ahead.
She is ready, heroic, steely. She is willing to lay it all on the line. It just shows how far along she is on the journey. Supergirl is ready to lead ... ready to be pro-active ... ready to be a hero.
The art on this page seemed fuzzy, as if it was enlarged to fit the page. And it's a shame, because it is a beautiful page with vertical panels.
Part of that risky plan was Supergirl sending Miss Martian in as the capped student seen above.
It has been hard to gauge the power level of Alex. Is he simply a mad genius? He definitely showed powers when he mind-wiped his 'friends' in the cafeteria. But now we get a true sense of his mental powers as he simply crushes Miss Martian in a telepathic battle. He gains control of her.
Alex clearly has significant power. But I am also hoping that part of this is that Miss Martian was simply surprised by Alex to be taken down so quickly.
In the meantime, Supergirl is gathering her other forces. To remain 'invisible' to FlyOver, she has Damien and Jaime meet her in their civilian clothes until they are ready to enter the fray.
In another great moment, Jaime asks Damien why he is following Supergirl as a leader if he doesn't idolize the S-shield. Damien replies that he judges the person inside and Kara has 'passed the test'.
As I said before, I think part of the main theme of this story is Kara learning about her role in the DCU, her place in this world. To hear Damien, who is so hot-headed and narcissistic, accept Supergirl as a leader was wonderful. It isn't easy to earn his respect. Again, it simply shows us how far the character has grown over the last few years.
And I love Linda Lang being part of her character and this is such a lovely rendition by Chang I had to include it.
As the heroes begin making their way to Harvard, Supergirl thinks back to her investigation of the Cadmus lab where Alex was 'born'.
The place is in absolute ruins. There are anti-Kryptonian and anti-superhero pictures plastered all over the walls. There is at least one dead Kryptonian on a slab, someone obviously experimented on. The scenes are eerie and chilling. Supergirl has just got over the trauma of New Krypton. Going into this place with the death and propaganda must have been like ripping a scab off a healing wound, making it hurt ... bleed again.
She is clearly shaken a bit and that makes perfect sense. She is still human. She is still on a journey. I want my heroes to be effected by things like this, not coldly lock it away.
With the campus empty, the heroes take the attack to Alex, 'freeing' M'Gann from a drone.
Except we know Miss Martian is under Alex' control. She attacks Kara.
But M'Gann's words are so interesting. She talks about looking up to Supergirl, being in awe of her. My guess is Supergirl would never dream that young heroes would feel the same way about her that other heroes feel about Superman. Again, I think Supergirl is so self-critical, I bet she worries that other young heroes think she is a failure.
And even if she learns these feelings, my guess is Supergirl will remain humble and lead by example.
Supergirl is able to defeat the addled Miss Martian.
But Alex again shows how tough he is, blasting Supergirl and removing her from the fight.
Is that heat vision? A psychic attack?
Either way, I'm glad he is a bigger threat than someone who builds robots.
But who is he? He clearly has Kryptonian genes. But that doesn't explain the telepathy piece.
Supergirl did have a plan though, knowing that Blue Beetle's armor could thwart the drone-tech. A sonic blast incapacitates Alex' robots and damages the whole Harvard lab. But whoever Alex' 'father' is, he has been watching and teleports everyone away, leaving the unconscious Supergirl alone on the Harvard quad.
Alex's father has been talking to him throughout the issue. But here is my wild guess as to his identity. Part of Alex's genetic make-up is .... General Sam Lane. That would explain the ingrained hatred of both Kryptonians and heroes and Supergirl in particular. But Lane is dead. My guess is Alex or Cadmus made a drone of Lane to help 'educate' the clone. It still doesn't explain the telepathy piece ... but if Superboy has tactile telekinesis I suppose Alex can have telepathy.
So what a great issue. As a Supergirl fan, it really makes me happy to think that she is the symbolic leader of the younger generation of DCU's heroes. And in this arc she is smart, resourceful, and sly.
But best of all, she is still human. To see her shaken by the Cadmus scene was perfect.
And she is still on a journey. She wins some battles, she loses some too.
It's just spot-on. Kudos to James Peaty.
And as I said before, Bernard Chang really is just clicking on all cylinders here. Just smashing stuff.