Friday, October 19, 2012

Review: Supergirl #13

Supergirl #13 came out on Wednesday and picked up from the cliffhanger two months ago, Simon Tycho inside an underwater fortress which called to Kara.

There are times, as someone who reviews comics, that I feel for comic book creators. Because I think that sometimes, comic readers are extremely tough to please.

I know from solicits that H'El on Earth starts next month. I know that this issue has to bring Supergirl and her story to a place where she can join that major crossover. And I know that we as readers are reeling a bit from all the info which we learned in Supergirl #0. So this issue has a lot of ground to cover. And in many ways I think it is unfortunate.

Supergirl #13 is a pretty fast read and pretty dense. A lot happens in this issue and Supergirl has to deal with the whole spectrum of emotions as events and information batter her. The problem is that it is hard for me as a reader to reconcile a change from sadness to anger to happiness and back again in the space of a handful of panels. If there was ever a story that begged for 2 issues, a time when more space could have been devoted to exploring how Supergirl is going to deal with everything that happens, it is this story. But with H'El around the corner, we are whisked through this emotional turmoil and slammed into another cliffhanger.

Now maybe this chaos will add to why Supergirl initially listens to H'El. And maybe some people like the fast pace. But for me, the draw of this book isn't punching and heat vision, it is seeing Kara move along her journey. And I hope that at some point we have an issue where she pauses, takes a breath, and takes stock of everything that has happened in her life so far.

This isn't a knock against this issue which I think does what it needed to do and has some very nice moments. I just left it wondering 'what if we had 20 more pages'.

Sami Basri is on art this issue and does a solid job. I enjoyed Basri's work on Power Girl and his smooth lines work well here. I did feel a sort of whiff of Asrar in some of the panels here. I wonder if Basri tweaked his linework here to try to keep the feel of the book in line.

Initially Supergirl responds to Tycho being in this place with anger. She goes on the attack but with his 'brain' body, he is able to hold her off. One thing I like about Kara's response is that she seems truly upset that he is sullying this slice of Krypton. Tycho doesn't have the right to speak Kryptonian or be there.

As for Tycho, he is quite happy with his new lot in life and seems rather blase in his approach to Supergirl. At first he wanted her (turns out he sent the nanobot from Supergirl #11). Here he wants only her alien tech. He doesn't want Kara anymore; he actually semi-apologizes about treating her like an experiment. He is definitely slimy ... now literally.

I was hoping that the 'drop of Supergirl's blood' which was a key part of the ending of Supergirl #4 would somehow be worked into Tycho's new body/powers. But it isn't mentioned.

He unlocks the message we heard before, the message which ended with Zor-El being shot. Except since this crystal isn't broken, Kara hears the whole thing, Alura's questioning of Zor-El and his words as he launched the pod.

In a nice panel, we see that Kara know remembers her last days completely. Nice use of Asrar's work from Supergirl #0 in the background.

But here is the thing. This is a big thing. She recalls everything now. Her father drugging her, lying to her. Her mother shooting her father. Her father still rocketing her away. She has every right in the world to be crying. But we only have a page of her trying to process this in any meaningful way.

Instead, she has to sort of delay dealing with all these emotions because Tycho is still there as a threat. His new body lets him unlock all the red memory crystals that grew in this place. He has access to the info, but not the central command of this place ... and that is what he wants.

The Kryptonian computer is voice activated and the AI calls itself Sanctuary, a gift from her father and a piece of home. So this place is called Sanctuary. I like it.

I also like that it truly is a gift from Zor-El who seemed to think of everything to ease his daughter's transition ... everything except a forewarning that it was going to happen.

Again, I think at some point, Kara has to deal with all this new information ... her father's secrets, her mother's attack, etc.

In control of the place, Supergirl again tries to battle Tycho who demands that Kara turn over control of Sanctuary to him.

I loved this panel where Tycho says that Supergirl is simply 'too nice'. This comic is misrepresented by DC folks as being a bad girl title. The police and military and half the populace (it seems) think Supergirl is a menace. How ironic that the bad guy has a better sense of just who Kara is.

Tycho's new body makes a physical fight a stalemate and he's happy about that. He knows he simply needs to wait for the yellow sun energy in Kara to wear off. It seems a little too easy. He clearly doesn't have super-speed. She could just escape. But more importantly, we have read in this book how her body processes and seems to store yellow sun energy with extreme efficiency, absorbing it to the point it occasionally explodes out of her. Should she really already be winded?

But this battle puts that sadness of her origin and those revelations in the background. She now has to be mad.

If she can't stop Tycho, she'll need something else to. And so she asks Sanctuary to neutralize him. And just like that, Tycho is encased in impregnable crystal. He doesn't need to breathe or eat now. She isn't killing him. Just putting him in a sort of amber. But I wonder just what she'll do with Tycho. Leave him there like a trophy? Seems too risky.

And now we go to a sort of sly happiness.  Even a little bit of indignation as she watches Tycho get sealed up.

This is the second time Kara has had to think her way out of an impossible jam (the last time when she turned the World Killers against themselves). I like a smart Kara who can think on her feet.

Then even that sort of anger slides away and she is shown to be happy, thrilled to have a place of her own.

Only to then slide back into a sort of mild sadness. She is sad about what has happened to her parents. She is sad that her Zor-El didn't give her a choice.  We get to hear her inner monologue reviewing all these details and how emotional it is. But it seemed too quick. If only there was another page or panel or two to have her try to deal with it a bit on her own. As it is, she is sad to be alone on this planet.

Except she isn't alone any more.

How I hoped ... hoped ... this would be a phone call to Kal. She knows Krypton is gone. She knows the details of her origin. She knows Kal was right. And he just helped her out. She should be calling him ...

Instead she calls Siobhan.

And I suppose this is okay if not optimal. There isn't that complete feeling of isolation. She has a friend now, someone she can call on to just talk.

But before she can hash things out, talk about all she has learned with her friend, Sanctuary's alarms pick up yet another Kryptonian presence on Earth.

It's a monster of some sort, attacking Kal.

And just like that we are back to a cliffhanger, back to an action sequence, and ready to plunge into H'El on Earth.

Now maybe I am being premature. Maybe Kara dealing with her origins and her parents' fate will evolve out of H'El. Maybe she will talk to Kal about it all there. Or maybe it is this lack of processing, this sort of raw place she is in right now that makes her contemplate H'El's offers. I still would have loved a bit more introspection here.

Still, this was a good issue, briskly paced, running the gamut of emotions, having Kara learn her origins, having her defeat an arch-nemesis, and adding Sanctuary. And she was called too nice! That's a lot for one issue. I just think maybe it was a bit too much. I needed a moment for Supergirl to catch her breath and let me catch my breath too. (I wonder if the team would have liked to have stretched this to two issues only to have the merging with H'El take over.)

Add to that the smooth lines of Basri standing in for Asrar. (In particular, I think Basri did a great job on Supergirl's costume, minimizing the distracting corners of the lower hem.)

Overall grade: B+/B


Anonymous said...

Good fight, a villain with potential...and Supergirl essentially outsmarted her opponent in what she converted from a brawl to a duel of wits.
Very much reminded me of ye olde Silver Age Supergirl was always thinking and using her brain to defeat her foes.

That having been said, H'El on Earth is likely gonna be tough on Supergirl and her image "within" the DCU...
I"m just waiting for General Ross and the Hulkbusters to show up after that...


Anonymous said...

I really liked the issue. The artwork was really good I a dig Basri art. Especially like SG thinking her way out of this one. We'll see what is going to come for Kara in the current crossover but I felt this was a pretty good stand alone before it.