Amidst all the hue and cry about the DCnU and my waning optimism about Supergirl in the relaunch, Supergirl #66 was released. This was the second part of Kelly Sue DeConnick's three part 'This is not my life' arc, the final story for this Supergirl, a mere 7 years after her introduction.
I will say up front that I thought this was an okay issue, not as great as last issue. I think the thing that detracted from this issue were the somewhat jarring scene transitions. There were a couple of times I had to go back to make sure I didn't accidentally skip a page. That might be more a product of this being the middle chapter of a three issue story. The middle chapter has to fill in almost everything from introduction to conclusion. DeConnick had to stuff a lot of progress into 20 pages. As a result, the lead-in to some scenes might have needed to be truncated.
But there is still a lot of goodness here. As someone who applauded the creation of the Linda Lang secret identity (here undercover as Linda Lane), I was happy to see Kara acting as Linda. For the most part, prior to this story, the Linda identity has been pushed to the background without much story actually showing Kara being Linda. Sure there was a scene here or there but never this much. It also has been fun to see Linda interacting with non-powered people that are her age. No 'feeling alienated or isolated' here, no 'lack of affection' for humanity. Linda is a girl in college, with friends. Add to that some humor and this works. There was just a hint of 'Daring New Adventures' here, Supergirl as Linda with classmates and friends.
I also thought the best part of this issue was how Lois was handled. Now I know that Supergirl should have the best moment in her book but as a Lois fan, I'll never complain when the reporter is treated well. In fact, between James Peaty and DeConnick, Lois has had her best moments of the last year in Supergirl.
And, unlike many of the stories I read, I actually feel that DeConnick brings the story to a place where an effective ending is possible next issue.
ChrisCross art is solid here. As with last issue, some of his characters' expressions are a bit exaggerated and somewhat odd looking. But the panel perspectives are interesting. And I also liked that his panels seem to be laid out on a template with an S-shield. Novel idea.
Last issue ended with Henry Flyte's apparent kidnapping, the latest in a run of highly intelligent college students suddenly going missing. It turns out that Henry, charming rogue he is, was merely trying to trick Linda and her roommate into thinking he was grabbed while he slipped into some of the catacombs below Stanhope.
Unfortunately while in those tunnels, he actually is kidnapped. So I chuckled when the guy said 'Henry!'. It reminds me of old Tom and Jerry cartoons when that usually meant a giant muscle-bound rooster was going to pummel Tom for a bit.
But I also liked that Linda is using her super-senses to try to get to the bottom of what was going on secretly.
The Gardner couple seen last issue working with Professor Ivo, kidnapping the best and the brightest, turn out to be on the administration of Stanhope. The woman is the President. The husband is on several of the university's boards. And they discover Lois snooping around their file room.
I loved this scene as we see Lois start off friendly and unassuming then baring her journalistic fangs. It is like watching a snake circling her prey.
So first this opening salvo, putting the Gardner's on the defensive asking them why they should look guilty. Wonderful.
Lois continues by saying she is concerned for her niece Linda's safety given the rash of disappearances recently. She opens up the wonderfully saccharin line that she is there 'for the children'. Cross works well here with Lois having her go from friendly and unassuming to confrontational and bold.
Lois quickly brings up Charlize Yue, the rescued girl from the beginning of last issue. Look at Lois now, brow furrowed, pointing in an accusatory manner while denying she is making an accusation. This is the Lois I know, asking the tough questions. Just a great scene seeing Lois operate.
But it is too much for the Gardner's and Lois is shown the door.
Lois' investigation pushes the Gardner's timetable up. Whatever they are planning with these kids, they need to do it now. Even with Flyte captured (we see him tied up), Ivo needs more children to complete this experiment.
Ivo is sort of a funny character. Here he is flummoxed by the change in plans wondering how he will get more student material for this plot. Should he wiggle his nose like Bewitched? And then, magically, there is Linda and the crew searching for Henry. Of course, I don't think these other students have the CV that the other kidnapped students have. Is silly Shirley really the cream of the crop?
Ivo sends out a mob of robot rats to surround the group. Thinking quick, Supergirl douses the rats with some nearby water and makes it appear that someone else's dropped flashlight shorted them out, all while she circles at superspeed, frying them with heat vision. Nice double page spread here.
It has been a long long time since I have seen a Linda using her super-powers secretly to stop a disaster while maintaining her secret identity so I liked this.
But it is suspicious to the students who at first didn't even know the rats were robots, let alone wondering how 6 volts of energy from a battery powered flashlight could have enough juice to explode anything.
But as fun as it was to see Supergirl work stealthily, it all ends the next page. She hoists this giant cabinet on her shoulder to block a passageway teeming with more rats.
While I thought it was a bit of a misstep, I did laugh at the internal 'whoops'. With the rats blocked off, Supergirl is able to breakaway and try to save Henry.
Ivo does try to comply with the Gardner's request, tossing Henry into his test tube menagerie. Henry is something of a hoot, singing his Faerie song even in the midst of danger. I know I was never that cool in college.
I still think the goal of this is the create a 'perfect child' or maybe a 'perfect student' for the Gardners. Maybe some Amazo-like college kid to sit on the Stanhope College Bowl team? Or the Gardner's hoping to have a perfect baby from a genetic point of view?
And then a great hook at the end, Supergirl busting into Ivo's lab. This was an all-Linda book except for this last page which I am fine with. But I am ready for some Supergirl action next time. And the panel of her bursting in as well as this one, heroically hovering over the Ivo's robot army are both really great.
So the middle chapter did it's job and we are set up for a Supergirl-style smack down next issue. DeConnick really writes a great Lois so toss her name onto my long list of people I would love to see write a Lois series. And her Supergirl here is smart, wants to do what's right, but isn't perfect, is still learning the job. That's okay with me.
And then, after that issue, this smart, strong, heroic Supergirl, still working towards of her destiny as a hero, will simply go away.
And I'll get to meet (re-meet) a bitter, angry, isolated Kara who either doesn't care or feels above it all.