Friday, February 17, 2012

Review: Supergirl #6

Supergirl #6 came out this week and was a big turning point in the life of this new incarnation of Supergirl. I suppose each issue so far has had its life changing moments for this Kara, but this issue had that point, the point where she decides to defend Earth and become a hero and for me that makes it the most crucial issue in the arc so far. She was a fork in the road, so to speak, and she chose a direction.

As we have read in lots of interviews with writers Michael Green and Mike Johnson, the whole Supergirl origin isn't going to be a simple history told in a couple of pages. It is going to be a mystery a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. We are going to learn some things, but that new knowledge is only going to lead to new mysteries. So despite learning more about Supergirl's past and her family here, there are clues that make me puzzle all the more. And that's a good thing I suppose.

And the art remains at its usual fantastic level. I have said here before, 'big moments need big art' and Asrar does it in a couple of key places. That said, there were a few too many splash and double splash pages here for moments which might not merit such a spread. Still, Asrar continues to knock it out of the park.

The book starts with Kara remembering her time on Argo, preparing for her final trials. Here she is sparring with some combat bot, trying to knock it down but failing. And not only failing, but being chided for her poor technique. At first I thought this trial (and Kara's earlier conversation about Zor-El and battlebots) made me think that this was something of a military culture preparing warriors. But the robot says that many think the physical trials are a vestige of a time past. So it is interesting. Maybe it's like the Presidential Physical Fitness Award we all needed to pass in elementary school?

I was delighted when Zor-El stops the fight sequence so Kara can study like the scientist she is. Kara Zor-El has always been a scientist, even being part of that guild in Gates' run, so I am glad that Green and Johnson are continuing that part of her persona. But the bigger mystery is that Zor is stopping it, despite the robot saying Alura wants Kara to continue to train. In the glimpses of Zor and from Kara's thoughts, I suspected he was the one pushing the combat stuff on her. Maybe it's Alura?

That said, it might be his science which created the World Killers?

While Kara is pinned to the wall in Argo, Reign arrives on Earth, at the feet of the Statue of Liberty. We even briefly meet a young girl from Ireland who has to be the new Silver Banshee.

So this is one of those moments that I don't think is 'big' enough to warrant a splash. we have met Reign before. So this didn't add much.

Great picture. Yes.
Nice composition, people worried and little behind her, yes.

But not big enough.

Under the blue sun, Kara has become sufficiently weakened to the point she can't pull Reign's sword out on her own.

However, she sees a vision of Zor-El and Lara who talk of their love for their daughter and how she needs to fight. I think it is interesting that in the top panel, Kara only has one hand on the hilt, Zor the other. But in the bottom, it is Supergirl with both hands on the handle.

Is this a fevered hallucination?
Is this her parents communicating with her from the Survival Zone?
Some weird new power?

I'd prefer the middle choice, even if I have to wait years for it to play out.

And here is another great clue that this is more than some hallucination.

Powerless on Argo which is falling into the blue sun, Kara is given a boost of apparent yellow sun energy by Alura, enough power to make her way off the planet. Hallucinations don't do that. That said, neither do wraiths from the Survival zone. As I said, more mysteries here. I just hope that 'speaking to the dead' isn't one of Supergirl's new powers.

I will say it was great to see Alura again, one of the better (if maddening) characters from the last series.

In a great 2 page spread (of which I am only showing a tiny bit), Supergirl flies into space and watches Argo disintegrate in the blue sun. It is here we get that first step towards heroism as she realizes that this isn't some dream or test. She has no home now. The only place left to go is Earth.

See this is a big moment that deserves big art. This is the end of that life for Supergirl. And Asrar does a great job showing us that despair. Fantastic.

After several pages of seeing Reign beat up on the army (including another splash page of Reign), Supergirl shows up to try to level the playing field.

I said this issue was filled with big moments and I think this is the biggest, even bigger than the destruction of Argo. Supergirl has returned to Earth intent on defending it and its people from Reign. You know what that is called ... being a hero.

Big moments warrant big art. Perfect. I didn't mind this splash.

 I think this Supergirl is a southpaw too. She always seems to be leading with her left.

And then Supergirl vocalizes her intentions. She isn't here to rule Earth. She is here to remove Reign from it.

Nice defiant pose here from Kara. And, as usual, Asrar does a good job of having the action bleed over the constraints of the panels for emphasis.

Wanting some alone time with Supergirl, Reign drops a force field over New York City similar to the one that protected Argo. The history of Krypton and the World Killers and Zor-El and everything is so foggy right now that I don't know who to like or not like. I guess, like with the Byrne reboot, more and more about the culture will be revealed until I have a grasp of it. I still feel like not everything is above board with Zor-El.

Despite having sensed all the super-heroes on the planet (including Superman), Reign states that Supergirl is the only one powerful enough to stop the world killer. It re-opens a can of worms that Jeph Loeb introduced in his earliest issues of the last Supergirl book. Remember when Loeb implied that Supergirl was stronger and faster than Superman? For me, I think Superman needs to be the yardstick of the DC universe ... most heroic, most noble, most powerful. So I hope this turns out to be that Supergirl has something which uniquely suits her fighting these beings.

The issue ends with the reveal that there are four World Killers in all. And they all want a piece of Supergirl.

This is another 2 page spread and I think a one page splash would have sufficed. Great art? Yes. But while a lot happened in this issue (and I loved what happened) I think all these splashes took up space that could have meant 3-4 more pages of story. And I am greedy right now. I want more of this story.

Can this arc be wrapped up in the 22 pages we have next month? I think the answer is yes. Sure, we don't know all the details behind everything ... but I think that is by intention, not poor story-telling. The pieces have been set up for a climactic battle and decent denouement, hopefully with some reveals.

Things I expect to see next month: an assist from the Silver Banshee.
Things I hope to see next month, Kal and Kara meeting and talking again after Supergirl saves the day.

I think the creative team here is firing on all cylinders. Overall, I can't help but be happy with this book so far.

Overall grade: B+/B


Martin Gray said...

Excellent review, Anj. My interpretation of the Alura moment is that it's symbolic, she told Supergirl she has the power within her, and Supergirl is perhaps seeing a yellow sun, just as she sees her parents. I can't countenance her having a 'talking to the dead' power - Supergirl should be all about life.

Anj said...

I can't countenance her having a 'talking to the dead' power - Supergirl should be all about life.

I agree.

I guess we'll have to wait and see if it was symbolic or something more.

Unknown said...

About the wraith like Zor and Alura, what if they are a type of subconscience a-i programed to help Kara. Sort of her own Fortress of Solitude in her mind akin to Kals Fortress and sunstones? That would be cool.