Friday, July 22, 2011

Review: Supergirl #66

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.

Can't wait for next issue.

Overall grade: B/B+


Anonymous said...

I'm really enjoying Deconnick's run so far. I have not enjoyed the way Supergirl has been portrayed over the past few years (since issue 20) and had stopped purchasing this book. I'm glad I decided to pick up the first issue of her run, as it's the most fun I've had with the book since Joe Kelly left. I can't wait for the new direction in Supergirl #1... although I am still hoping the uniform ends up looking like the movie version/DC online legends version soon enough.

valerie21601 said...

I enjoyed your review Anj, but I am still so bummed out about this version of Supergirl being wiped and forgotten by DC that even though I have this issue at home. I can't get myself to read it for some reason. I'll still get the next and last issue of this series.

While I hope I will be pleasantly surprised by the new series. But from past experience DC too often fumbles the ball after it's been kicked.

Anonymous said...

Same here, Valerie21601, I'll miss this version of Supergirl and I'm sad to see her go. She isn't supposed to be an uber-angsty teenager nor cheesecake for fans. I just hope she gets treated the same way that she does here: with respect to the fans, canon, and the iconic character with a dose of reality pitched in for good measure. -ealperin

Anonymous said...

I love Lois but I miss Lana....

Anj said...

Thanks for the comments.

I wonder if DeConnick would have liked to have stayed on here (if offered). I like the Scooby Gang feel to the other students here. Automatic supporting cast.

And I also miss Lana. I would want her to be there as Linda Lang (could claim her name tage LanE was a typo).

I am going to miss this Supergirl. And I get the feeling the next issue is going to be a great finale for the character!

Gear said...

Darn west coast, always the last one to the party after work.

Great review ANJ. I loved this issue, and I thought ChrisCross' work is settling in nicely. Kara was strong and atheletic, that double-page spread was fantastic.

DeConnick really has a feel for dialog, it's sharp and snappy without sounding forced. Some very funny lines, and like you say she's created an interesting cast here that would be fun to follow. I think I'm really going to miss the opportunities that these stories show, a real "could have been".

And I also miss Lana. I would want her to be there as Linda Lang (could claim her name tage LanE was a typo).

"Lane" makes sense instead of "Lang" here. She's supposed to be under-cover, even more so than her normal Linda Lang identity. It might be hard for Lois to explain back at the Planet why she sent the Intern into an under-cover investigation using her "real" name.

Martin Gray said...

Great review, I was disappointed by this issue as composed to last. I still enjoyed it, but a lot of the storytelling didn't work for me. I had to read the start three times to realise that the kids were laughing because they thought Henry was kidding. And I only realise he WAS kidding because you point it out, Anj (are you sure, he certainly seemed serious about finding the missing kids last issue).

Plus, the mechanical rats were a bit rubbish as a threat to Kara, and the double page super-speed spread never worked for me at all - too fuzzy. And I got so sick of Ivo and his screens (I wish DC wouldn't use Ivo and TO Morrow interchangeably as mad scientists).

I did like the Lois scene with the college couple (did we know the woman wss the college president prior to this issue's recap? Probably me being asleep).

That said, I loved the 'whoops' scene, as I couldn't see why Kara was protectig a fake identity at this point, and the Lois bits were great. I'd still love to see more Kelly Sue and Chris on Supergirl after next issue, and definitely some Kelly Sue Lois Lane.

Great to see you in the lettercol!

Anj said...

DeConnick really has a feel for dialog, it's sharp and snappy without sounding forced. Some very funny lines, and like you say she's created an interesting cast here that would be fun to follow. I think I'm really going to miss the opportunities that these stories show, a real "could have been".

I like DeConnick's feel for dialgue here too. As you say, it sounds natural but crisp.

I agree that Supergirl at college would be a great concept.

I know Sterling Gates was going to do that as the next step in his run. I wonder what his would have read like.

Anj said...

Great review, I was disappointed by this issue as composed to last. I still enjoyed it, but a lot of the storytelling didn't work for me.

I'm with you that this didn't grab me the way the last issue did. Still a good read with some great moments.

I think the table is set for something special next issue.

Anonymous said...

Generally inclined to liking this issue, maybe not loving it due only to the headlong flight towards the last panel. As for the Roborats, the point there is disable the menace and not expose her secret identity a problem Kara hasn't had since 1984 so of course thats the scene I most enjoyed.
My only complaint is, given the pacing given the Neu Ordnung for Supergirl come September not much room can be given to Henry and his touted place in Kara's life. PIty.
Still curious to see what Ivo has planned, idly speculating it's a "Do This or I Kill Them All" scenario.

John Feer