Saturday, March 24, 2012

Review: Supergirl #7

Supergirl #7 came out this week and marked the end of the book's first run, a sort of semi-origin story. I say semi-origin because we don't have all the details yet. Writers Michael Green and Mike Johnson said all along that Kara's origin was going to be a slow boil with more and more details on how she got to Earth being revealed. But this arc accomplished what it needed to. It got Supergirl to Earth and started on the path of heroism.

We only know the broadest strokes of her origin. She was sent to Earth via a pod from Argo City which initially survived the explosion of Krypton. But outside of that we only have some threads and some mysteries. I have to say I have puzzled over these details a lot and have some thoughts. But like Kara, I am flying a bit blind.

But for me, this issue again cemented the fact that the creative team is going to have Supergirl be the sort hero she ought to be. I know I am beating a dead horse here but the initial publicity pieces and the current Supergirl character page on the DC website play up Kara as being an out of control, disaffected, isolated, angry young woman. If this issue doesn't squelch that completely, I don't know what will. I can't thank the creators enough for that.

And, as always, Mahmud Asrar really delivers a completely phenomenal issue full of insane action drawn both big and small. This is a 20 page brawl, no doubt, but with wonderful characterization slid between the punches.

The issue starts with Reign giving some exposition about the origin of the Worldkillers. They were embryos from other planets which were stolen by Kryptonian scientists and experimented on. These manipulations were designed to strengthen and embolden these creatures. And they were named Worldkillers after Kryptonian mythological creatures.

They awaken from their suspended animation on the dying city of Argo, learned what they could there, and have been on the hunt for their own origins since then. It is close enought to Kara's story to make me pause. But more on that later.

Now one thing that remains fuzzy about a lot of Supergirl's origins is the timeline of key events. For example, when was Supergirl rocketed? From Argo before or after the destruction of Krypton? Here, I wonder when did these experiments begin? On the whole Krypton? Or initiated when Argo was shaken free?

My gut tells me this began before Krypton exploded. And these sort of experiments jibe with prior versions of Krypton where genetic manipulation was widespread.

Lastly, where is Zor-El in all this? Was he part of these experiments? Was it the Worldkillers that he wanted to tell Kara about in his end message before he was shot down? Hmmm...

But this story is in the background of the battle happening on in the city. Supergirl is fighting the four Worldkillers and barely holding her own.

The four Killers seem like a sort of slanted Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Reign is the tactical leader, like Death who led the horsemen.
Deimax deals in mass terrain destruction like War.
Perrilus deals in virus generation and population extinction like plague.
And Flower of Heaven is a blaster who specializes in planetary systems overload? Like famine? Stripping the land of its fertility?

Okay, it isn't neat and clean. But that was my first thought.

We also get another look at Supergirl's unique power. It seems female Kryptonians can do some sort of solar flare power. Great panel here.

The fight spills through the city and Supergirl realizes she needs to take the fight into the air because there are 'too many innocents' around. Supergirl already cares about the people of Earth.

The city is encased in a force field which makes Supergirl wonder how the Worldkillers got hold of Zor-El's technology. Now sure, they are in a ship probably from Krypton which may be equipped with the ability. But that seems too easy. What if the Worldkillers were responsible somehow for the field which saved Argo? What if they saved the city while being kept in stasis? And is that what Zor-El wanted to tell Kara? The truth behind how he saved Argo.


Amazed that Supergirl seems to be able to hold her own, Reign offers Supergirl a place within the group. It seems odd that Supergirl has lasted this long since only Worldkillers can defeat other world killers. Hmmm ...

Without a connection to the people of Earth, it is possible Supergirl could have accepted the offer.  But instead Supergirl shows she is not a killer, shouting she is stubborn, and leveling Reign. Now being stubborn is something I can deal with in a new hero. And this was just too great a splash not to share.

One editing note: when Reign says only Worldkillers can defeat Worldkillers, it is written that only Wordkillers can defeat Wordkillers. Typos like that, especially in a key line in the script, distract.

Now there are lots of great panels in this issue. But this one might ... might ... be my favorite. Probably my second favorite.

Supergirl says she won't let anyone else be hurt. She'll die before she let's that happen. She has something to save. That is a sort of  'turn the corner' panel in characterization. This Kara is a hero, willing to die to save an alien race she doesn't know at all.

And those words just wonderfully complement the art which show that death is a possibility and bloody knuckles are a certainty. The angle is looking up on the fierce Worldkillers, tooth an claw bared. The only thing we see of the protagonist is her clenched fist, a sign of defiance against the odds. Fantastic!

But only Worldkillers can defeat Worldkillers. So ingeniously, Kara grabs the poison stingers of Perrilus and impales Deimax. It shows Supergirl is intelligent and battle savvy and gutsy.

With one of her troops down and potentially dying, Reign decides to retreat.

But first, an end speech. The Worldkillers will be back and, as they are still evolving, they will be stronger. Hmmm...

And there was a 5th tube in that deserted lab on Argo. Who is the fifth Worldkiller?

Well, all these 'hmmms' make me wonder if it's Supergirl. She could stand toe to toe with Worldkillers, something only Worldkillers can do. She can do unique things - like a solar flare - that other powered Kryptonians can't, as if she was genetically enhanced or evolved. She has no recollection of the destruction of Krypton or the plight of Argo City ... maybe because she was in stasis in a tube. And maybe that is what Zor-El wanted to tell her ... the truth about her ... that she was experimented on.

As an old time fan, I don't want Kara to have been experimented on by her father, to be a 'Worldkiller'. But we'll see how this plays out.

This is my favorite panel, an ending splash page and great capstone for this arc.

The Worldkillers are gone, the dome has been lifted, and a tired Supergirl sports a sort of satisfied and incredulous look on her face. She says for once she won. Maybe she underestimates herself and needs to become confident along the hero's journey. And what a great natural pose by Asrar here. You can feel her fatigue and happiness. And no needless cheesecake.

That's Supergirl!

The title 'Graduation Day' makes me think that Kara will view this battle as the 'trial' she was supposed to go through on Krypton, that she feels she has earned her uniform now.

So we have learned more about Argo and Krypton. We have a lot of puzzle pieces that need to merge into a coherent history. And we have a Supergirl risking her life to aid others. Not one 'Hell on Wheels', disaffected panel here! And that makes me a happy fan.

Overall grade: A/B+


valerie21601 said...

I still don't care for the solar powers they have given Kara. Her name should be Super Sun Girl not Supergirl. J&G have said in interviews they have a 4 year plan to reveal everything about her origin. Heavily implying Kara is going to be walking the line of will she or won't she become evil.

Don't care for them implying Kara could be the 5th Worldkiller. I agree having Kara being experimented on by her father would be going too far. It would be like Jor-El sending a pregnant Lara to Earth give birth to Kal-El there or turning Krypo into a bird.

All of this decompressed storytelling is what lost me. I am keeping track of it by reading a copy a friend is letting me read.
Wonderful art and not enough story nor character building.

Re-booting can work. I loved the way Star Trek was reinvented and loved it. It would be like instead of where Kirk joined the Academy and it quickly moved to the main story/action they then take 20 minutes to show the little details of his life and the people he meets there. In my opinion the re-booted Star Trek is great balance of character building and action in one.

Supergirl isn't one to me.

Kwaku said...

I think her parents experimenting on her can work if it is from a place of love. Maybe they knew that the Worldkillers would become free and wreak havoc on the universe and any survivors of Krypton in particular. So, they make her not a Worldkiller but an Anti-Worldkiller, to prepare her for the inevitable encounter with the Worldkillers. Maybe Kara even had some choice in the matter. Maybe, who knows.

It might work similar to Naruto's parents sealing the Nine-tailed Fox in his own son even though he knew that would lead to a very heard life for him. And also knowing that in the future he Naruto would need the power of the Fox to save his people.

Martin Gray said...

Spot-on review, as ever. This is how to do an issue-length fight scene, giving us plenty of charactisation along with the fisticuffs. I'm not too keen on the solar flare, I'm a traditionalist who likes all Supers to share the traditional (Silver and Bronze Age) powers. It was a great moment, mind.

I'm even less keen on the idea that Kara was experimented on, or worse, is some kind of modified embryo, a blonde Doomsday. I reckon the writers are just teasing.

Great script, top art and a close that's almost totally satisfying ... my qualm is that the Worldkillers business is left hanging; after seven issues, Kara deserves a clean, total win.

Anonymous said...

I actually like the 'solar burst' power. Thought it was a nice unique ability for SG. That said of course I don't want to many others. Have to agree with everything said in the review.

This version of Kara is sold on me. Hopefully they won't do anything stupid in the next story arc, changing up her character or anything. Will continue to follow this, and so far say that SG is currently a success of the NuDC.

PS: Not that they needed to change her in the first place!

Anj said...

All of this decompressed storytelling is what lost me. I am keeping track of it by reading a copy a friend is letting me read.

Thanks for the comment.

I understand that concern completely as I felt the first couple of issues were a bit too decompressed.

I feel a sort of momentum here, with more story coming through as things move along.

And with this origin being a slow reveal and not neat and clean, I guess we'll be playing something of a waiting game for a while.

Anj said...

So, they make her not a Worldkiller but an Anti-Worldkiller, to prepare her for the inevitable encounter with the Worldkillers

Thanks for the comment.

That's a good spin on the idea (anf the Naruto reference is great).

I also wonder that if they experimented it was to increase her chance of survival, making her stronger.

Anj said...

I'm not too keen on the solar flare, I'm a traditionalist who likes all Supers to share the traditional (Silver and Bronze Age) powers.

Thanks for the comment!

I agree. It will take some getting used to. I hope it becomes a last ditch move, something only done in the direst of situations.

A blonde doomsday? Brrr ...

Anj said...

This version of Kara is sold on me. Hopefully they won't do anything stupid in the next story arc, changing up her character or anything.

Thanks for the post.

I think that this Supergirl seems to have the core of SG character, striving to do what's right.

I do want to see her now a bit more acclimated on Earth, interacting with people, speaking the language, etc.

Lisa said...

Fifth Worldkiller = Doomsday.

Anj said...

Fifth Worldkiller = Doomsday.

Now that makes sense! Thanks for the post!

Anonymous said...

Eh color me unimpressed overall, lotsa Karatharsis in this issue, but the beasties did not grab me one bit. Their character designs reminded me of "Lost in Space" quite frankly.
Otherwise the artwork is flavorsome and moves the action along nicely...Now if they'd only do something about that damn British Union of Fascists lightning bolt on her front...
I am still not convinced that this Kara is a big dial back to Matrix, a sort of cyborg that is one step in evolution higher than the world killers...something with a better solar engine.
No wonder she can't remember how she got to Earth she was in "power down mode" as for interacting with her parents on Argo, internal holograms...
Dunno hope I am wrong.


Anj said...

I am still not convinced that this Kara is a big dial back to Matrix, a sort of cyborg that is one step in evolution higher than the world killers...something with a better solar engine.

I understand your concern. It could even harken back to the 'Kill Kal-El' stuff. But I like the 'feel' of this Supergirl, so willing to put her own life in jeopardy to help the people of Earth.

My guess is her detailed origin will be true to thayt aspect of who she is.

As always, I guess we have to wait and see.

Anonymous said...

I think people are complaining because this was a slow start unlike other titles like WW there isn't much story even after 7 issues the series is starting just now with kara beginning her life on earth,we only take a glimpse in karas caracter but hopefully as her character starts to grow so will the interest of more readers.

As for me i really like the new take on supergirl it feels more like a character of her own than just supermans cousin.

Superbear said...

I'm really impressed with what the Michaels are doing with Supergirl. Her characterization is great, a solid mix of shock/mourning in the beginning leading to true heroism now.

Solar Flare Power: HMMM, is anyone else reminded here of the Telekinetic Blast power the old Matrix Supergirl had?

mathematicscore said...

I concur that Doomsday seems most likely for the 5th. Great issue, great title so far!