Supergirl #10 came out this week and for me was something of an up and down issue for me.
There was a lot of good stuff here, small nuggets that continue to build the foundation of this Supergirl's mysterious origin. Most of that is revealed in the opening scene of the comic. And Supergirl continues to show that her heart is in the right place, risking herself to fight the villain and save the innocent.
But the bulk of the issue takes place within the nightmare world inside the Black Banshee. And since we are in a dream world, basically all bets are off. Physical laws are somewhat meaningless. Thought can become a sort of reality. So the big battle lost some of its tension. The fight itself is inspiring, Kara using every skill she knows to try to get back to Earth. But I felt I simply needed to roll with whatever happened since this was a mutable place. Still, Kara definitely plays the hero here, showing some internal fortitude to keep her wits about her.
Michael Green and Mike Johnson continue to tease us with snippets of Kara's past which I continue to shuffle and reshuffle in my head to try to figure out just who this Kara is. Supergirl #0 is only three months away so things are building to a crescendo. I have to say slowly but surely this Supergirl is winning me over with her voice and actions.
And Mahmud Asrar continues to sparkle here. I have to praise colorist Dave McCaig as well for bringing the marker stylings of Asrar to life. In particular, the use of a dominant burnt orange on this cover, in contrast to the black of the dragon works wonderfully. It really stood out on the rack yesterday.
Inside the nightmare world of the Banshee, Kara relives some memories from her time on Krypton.
First off, we see Kara being scanned by a gene-matcher on Krypton. It is implied that he somehow uses the information from the scan to pick an ideal mate for Kara, some sort of genetic match. This harkens back to a more sterile sort of Krypton, something more Byrne-like where there wasn't necessarily love or physical contact.
And I think you can glean a lot of information about how Kara feels about this by her reaction. She falls asleep. I don't think this was an important event for her. I doubt she is hoping for a computer-picked Prince Charming. She is more independent than that.
That memory swirls into a mother/daughter trip to the Fire Falls. Alura isn't happy with Kara's little nap.
So it is clear already that Kara's relationship with Alura is going to be complicated much as it was in the last Supergirl book. Zor-El is training Kara to fight robots; Alura is arranging her marriage.
I am a big fan of the Fire Falls having written about them before. But here they are stunning cascades. Again, McCaig deserves a lot of the credit.
Kara is angry about the whole thing. She didn't want to gene-scan to begin with and later states it is her choice.
But the more interesting part of this is Alura's comment above. She and Zor-El weren't gene-matched. They found each other ... uniquely. So what does that mean? Is it simply that Alura didn't abide to tradition that time but it was a one time thing. Therefore, Kara has to submit.
Or does it mean more? I keep worrying and wondering about Supergirl's origins. For example, is she made of 'world killer' tech. Could this 'unique' interaction be something more. That outside of the tradition, Zor and Alura were matched for potential super-gene offspring? It is all very Bene Gesserit/Kwisatz Haderach I know. I guess we'll see.
And yet, who knows if any of this conversation is real? This is a fever dream in the Banshee. Maybe these events didn't happen in this manner. In fact, Supergirl even realizes that these are warped memories remembering that she was absorbed.
And that leads to the arrival of the Banshee. He has taken the form of a flamedragon, a mythical monster from Kryptonian fairy tales.
This thing sort of has the feel of the Nightwing creature.
This whole opening memory scene is fantastic, adding another layer to the enigma of Kara's origins. I hope we see more of this mother/daughter relationship in the future. It speaks volumes that Kara's nightmare world is her spending time with Alura.
It does make me worry about one thing. I don't think I will be very happy if it turns out that Alura is the person who shot Zor-El, angered at Zor's plans for their daughter.
This is a dream world, so when faced with a dragon, Kara somehow thought-morphs her clothes into traditional armor. One thing I love about this panel ... it help explains those goofy boots of her current, more cermonial, outfit. The red coloration of the boot carries above the hinge of the joint but exposes another color when bent. That is a slick armor look and it mirrors her current open-kneed look.
Narrowly escaping this initial attack, Kara discovers another soul ... Thomas Smythe, Siobhan's brother.
Usually souls that the Banshee has absorbed don't manifest like Kara has; they are fully absorbed. And Thomas has been roaming around this nightmare world since he was also partially absorbed.
Supergirl realizes that she hasn't defeated the Banshee by overwhelming him with her power. He has to get out of this place to help Siobhan in the outside world.
Again, there isn't much explanation about why Kara or Thomas hasn't been fully subsumed. But I guess I can chalk it up to her power and his familial connection.
The Banshee tracks down both of the lost souls in his world, thrilled to find them both in one place so he can 'kill' them, taking them over completely. And, at least he explains why Thomas' sacrifice from last issue didn't work. The curse needed Black Banshee to absorb his kin who bore 'the mark', Siobhan.
In another one of those moments I have to simply accept, Supergirl uses some of her remaining 'yellow energy' to form a Kryptonian battle sword out of the air. And then she jumps to try to ride the dragon. It seems a bit crazy to think that she should be able to grab a dragon and stay seated on it while splitting her mind sword into two ... but she does it. And then she defeats the Banshee's dragon form, beheading it.
I suppose I should simply think that this shows how strong Kara is mentally, that she can bend this nightmare to her will, doing amazing things in the dream-Matrix. And again, the fact that she is willing to risk everything to help Thomas and Siobhan shows that this Supergirl is a hero.
The 'death' of the dragon affects the Black Banshee and Supergirl and Thomas are both spit out of his body.
And dazed, Siobhan takes advantage and uses her scream to absorb him.
Hmmmm ... do you think absorbing someone as evil as the Black Banshee is going to affect Siobhan in the future? Do you think that maybe she will veer towards super-villain now? Or at least struggle with those thoughts?
Great panel here by Asrar. You feel the effort behind that scream of the Silver Banshee.
But the reunion between friends and siblings has to be put on hold. Guess what happens!
The police/military show up and threaten Supergirl with 'lethal force'. It is enough to make me cry. Supergirl scoops up the Smythes and flies off.
So what have we learned. Kara has a strained relationship with her mother, perhaps one built on the conflict between societal expectations and personal dreams. Zor-El and Alura met in a unique way, which may portend nothing more than luck and love. And that Supergirl will continue to fight to protect people and to defeat evil. All of that was great.
The fight with the Black Banshee seemed a bit too easy and too short (perhaps because there were plenty of splashy pages limiting story telling). And I hope I can get through an issue without the police or the army threatening or attacking Supergirl.
Still, this Supergirl seems to be growing more and more into the sort of new hero I expect 'Supergirl' to be. Now if only she could communicate with people and stop being treated like a villain.