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.
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+