Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Supergirl Year In Review: Top Ten Supergirl Moments

2012 is lumbering to its end and so my end of year review is also moving forward.

I have reviewed the non-comics Supergirl news and my Honorable Mentions for the Top Supergirl Moments of the year. Now it is on to the cream of the crop, the moments that stuck out in my mind as I recalled everything that happened over the last year.

One of the things that has really struck me recently is just how tragic this Supergirl's story is. Her ability to cope with all the horror that has been heaped on her and somehow still have a moral compass, a solid center, is the theme that has impressed me with this run. We heard the 'angry' 'don't piss her off' publicity pieces. But really what we have is a Supergirl just trying to get settled and take a breath. In the past, with other incarnations, I have complained about Supergirl crying too easily. Here I am surprised  that Kara doesn't cry more.

Anyways, because that theme of perserverance and grace is key to this hero's journey, many of my moments deal with that.

On to the Top Ten! Be ready ... it's a long post!

Number ten: Any Superman Family Adventures appearance
Okay, it is a bit of a cheat to place an entire title on a 'Top Ten' list. But I couldn't let Superman Family Adventures not appear on this list. This is clearly a young teen Supergirl. She is loved by Jimmy. She is loved by the city of Metropolis who cheer for her when they see her. She is just as ready to throw down with the Kryptonite Man as she is to throw a Fairy party in the Fortress of Solitude.

She's sunny and happy. She is determined and strong. She is fiercely proud of her family and has their backs. And she plays with Streaky.

Yes, this is an All Ages book and as a result it is an All Ages Kara. But every so often, it is nice to read that.

Thanks to Art Baltazar and Franco for making a delightful Supergirl.

Number Nine: Person I least want to meet (Worlds' Finest #6)
It might be hard to fathom, but Worlds' Finest makes the Top Ten list 3 times!

This moment from WF#6 is interesting for a number of reasons. As Power Girl re-enters Earth's atmosphere (that comet like streak in the background), she soars over Supergirl. Kara is the person Karen least wants to meet.

I have noticed moments like this where Karen does not want to meet or interact with the Supers of Earth 1. Maybe she isn't ready to see all the differences? Superman was beloved on Earth 2. Here he still needs to prove himself trustworthy.

But I think there is still too much pain. I think she has been hiding her grief behind this semi-party girl exterior and seeing Superman would simply hurt too much.

I also think Karen had a very different relationship with her Kal, a very different relationship with her Earth. She probably doesn't want to meet this Supergirl because it would anger her. She would probably scream to Kara to cherish every moment she has with her cousin since that can end as quickly as Krypton did.

What will happen when they do meet? I hope not a fight. That is cliche.

Number eight: Abomination (Superboy #6)

It was a brief meeting but powerful. In Superboy #6, Supergirl sheds some light onto Superboy's Kryptonian heritage. He is Kon-El, an abomination. He is destined to go insane and go on a killing rampage.

In many ways, it is more of a Superboy moment than a Supergirl moment. But that history is huge in Superboy's story. And this interaction is the shaky foundation upon which Kara and Kon's relationship is built. Does she recognize him as a person? Or is he a thing? Must he be killed? Or can he be befriended?

This has become a crucial part of H'El on Earth. And it could drive a wedge between Supergirl and Superman. It is Supergirl's understanding of this history that is providing the fuel for this confrontation.

Number seven: Re-occuring quirk (Worlds' Finest #0)

I said that Worlds' Finest makes it on this list three times and Worlds' Finest #0 provides the other two moments. I thought this was a phenomenal issue, looking back at Earth 2 in the early part of the Apokoliptian war, seeing the Superman and Batman of that Earth in their prime, and meeting the younger and relatively inexperienced Supergirl and Robin of that planet.

I thought Paul Levitz did a good job here, showing that in some ways Earth 2 was a more innocent place, a place where the Trinity was embraced as heroes. And yet, at the same time, he showed that it was just as if not more dangerous that Earth 1, as we hear about Lois' death and see Catwoman's.

And Supergirl seems to embody the innocence of that place, playful in her training, and willing to bend the rules a bit to see some action. That is all reminiscent of some of her Silver Age stories. And that is physically represented in the first panel and the famous 'finger near her mouth when deep in thought' quirk that we first saw way back in the early Action Comics Supergirl stories and then brought back now and again. Seeing that instantly put in me in a particular frame of mind with this Kara. This isn't a grizzled veteran or an isolated girl, this is the Kara of old.

It makes her losses on Earth 2 and her exile on Earth 1 that much more dramatic.

Number six: Just called it 'he' (Supergirl #14)
Last month's Supergirl #14, one of the early chapters of H'El on Earth, was such a great issue for Supergirl. For me it really felt like the title as a whole was turning a corner, that Supergirl made several steps towards accepting Earth as her home, for accepting Kal as family, and then growing as a person.

There were several moments in that issue that resonated. But for me, the one that stuck out the most was this one, where she stopped thinking about Superboy as an 'it' or a 'thing' but instead thought of him as a 'he'. She even stopped H'El from snapping Kon's neck, something she considered doing herself in the Superboy issue mentioned above. It shows growth by Supergirl. We have always known she believes in the sanctity of life. Here she shows it in the face of a lifetime of fear and prejudice. That is a few steps farther down the road of the hero's journey than she was before.

Number five: My home is gone (Supergirl #6)
As I have mentioned before, the Supergirl story is one that has always had an element of loss and tragedy associated with it. This incarnation seems to be showing us more of that grieving process than others.

This scene from Supergirl #6 really moved me when I read it. Unwilling to believe that Krypton is dead, Supergirl followed a memory crystal to the remains of Argo City. The place is a tomb, covered in dust and without life. After a skirmish with Reign, Kara escapes.

She then witnesses the death throes of the last vestiges of her old life ... her home ... as it sinks into the gravity well of this blue sun, incinerated. That sudden realization that it is all true, that her family and her home are gone. That she is suddenly an orphan in space, dealing with a new world is powerful. And the panels falling away, whiting out Argo, work well. Big moments need big art. This double page spread is wonderful.

This was a major moment for Kara. The question is how would she react to this confirmation of her loss. She responded by flying back to Earth and defending life.

Number four: You could help me (Supergirl #12)
Big moments deserve big art.
Small moments deserve subtle flourishes and need to be cherished.

In Supergirl #12, Kara begins to realize that she needs help to adapt to Earth. She won't do it as a guest in Superman's fortress.

After basically shunning Kal for a while, this small moment of her asking him for help was a giant step forward in my mind. This is a Supergirl that wants Kal in her life, wants to understand Earth and live amongst us.

But it is the subtle addition of a flush in her cheeks that adds so much unsaid depth to the moment. This is a Supergirl not used to asking for help. And asking Kal for help after fighting him and ignoring him can't be easy. It is, in some ways, admitting she made a mistake, maybe even regretting her prior actions. And that tiny blush in her cheeks tells me all of that ... she doesn't need to voice it.

Part of this hero's journey has to be opening herself back up to people, to a world, to her cousin. After dealing with the pain of loss, she might be reluctant to do that all over again. This small step showed me she was on the right path.

Number three: She's a hero! (Supergirl #11)
As important as Supergirl opening up to people is, it is as important that people open up to her.

In Supergirl #11, Kara has to battle a Simon Tycho Nanobot assassin.  During the battle, she constantly is thinking about limiting the property damage, making sure she takes the battle away from people, and actually worrying about killing her opponent. All nice moments.

But it was this one, after the battle, that made me smile. Despite someone shouting out she is dangerous, the bulk of the people are flocking to her, smiling, and calling her a hero.

If Kara was constantly feared and distrusted, if people were running from her and not towards her, it could drive her to a darker place, making her more alienated. That tone has been seen over and over in the publicity pieces. We haven't seen it in the comic. This panel is proof.

There is something just wonderful about that young woman looking towards us, smiling widely, happy to be near Supergirl.

Number two: Secret Weapon (Worlds' Finest #0)
And so we come to the last Worlds' Finest moment on the list.

From Worlds' Finest #0 (again), we have Superman calling Supergirl the 'secret weapon' against Darkseid on Earth 2. The 'secret weapon' idea is such a part of Supergirl's Silver Age past, back when she was hidden in Midvale orphanage, only to act if Superman died.

Here that concept is updated. Superman is training her, preparing to utilize her in a war to save the world. There is some of that Kal Silver Age sterness here, but it isn't belittling or disparaging. He wants Kara to train, to hone her skills, so she can be more effective.

We know that Paul Levitz loved the pre-Crisis Supergirl. We see that love in these moments where her history is modernized and  infused into Power Girl's history. And that concept of being the secret weapon, to step in for Superman just in case, is played out when Superman dies. But now Karen is on our Earth. Levitz talked about that dynamic in a recent interview here:

Newsarama: Paul, one of the driving forces behind this comic has been the mystery behind how they got to this Earth, and how to get home. Is that going to be the focus going forward as well? Even as they're fighting these adventures on this Earth?
Paul Levitz: It's certainly the main part of what drives Power Girl. She's very focused on that. She's very conscious that she would be probably the most powerful character on Earth-2 if she was back there. And she has a responsibility. She's supposed to have been ready to take over for Superman. Superman's dead. And now, where is she? She's not able to be there to do her job.

This sense of responsibility, of honoring Kal and becoming the hero on Earth 2 is a great trait in this Karen. She must feel a tremendous weight on her shoulders, wondering what is happening on her home, knowing she should be there defending it, and not being able to. 

Number one: I won (Supergirl #7)

And so we come to the Number One Supergirl Moment of 2012, the last page of Supergirl #7 showing a victorious Supergirl right after driving the World Killers off Earth.

It is such a powerful moment for this Supergirl. In her brief stay on Earth she has had to deal with incredible loss. She has had to process everything that has happened to her. And she has had to deal with being a stranger in a strange land, a place where most people have tried to capture her, vivisect her, or kill her.

And yet, despite all that, despite Reign tempting her to join them in ravaging the stars, she remains true to herself and her beliefs. She fights to protect people, to save lives, to do what's right. And it isn't easy. It is a brutal fight.

And yet, here she is ... triumphant!

There is so much about this panel that works. Supergirl's body language - looking upward, slight smile on her lips, fists clenched  but at her side shoulder slightly slumped ... fatigued but thrilled. It is perfect. And then signs of the carnage behind her, flipped cars and military all present. And yet, there in the lower corner, just below the 'I won' proclamation, the innocents she defended, an elderly man, a couple with their young baby. There are the people she defended ... she saved.

All of this seemed to just wipe some of my concerns away. This is a Supergirl who is a hero, who is willing to risk herself, to potential sacrifice herself, to defend the helpless, to help people she doesn't know.

She isn't alienated, disaffected, 'Hell on wheels', willing to fight her friends, so 'please don't piss her off.' All of that awful publicity stuff ... everything that worried me ... it just hasn't been in this comic. This moment more than any shows that.

And that is the top ten Supergirl moments of 2012!

Did I miss any?


Anonymous said...

Yes. "It is her! It is the Super-girl!" is one of the few memorable moments of this abismal year for our girl. It is all of "Action 285" in one panel.-
But the light part is, they have all but given the boot to Satanist top honcho Didio, who will give us his "Isis/Semiramis/Ninhursag abomination (under the namesake WW)"
no more!
Then, all light will pour inside the Rockefeller NWO building at long last! after 3 decades of their Maria Magdalena/ww "#$%&/.-
So we have a lot of reasons to be sunny.-
You are a good man. Peace.-

Saranga said...

Anj, what World's Finest issue should I pick up that feature Supergirl (of either world) as opposed to Power Girl? Just the ones you mentioned or are other issues worthwhile too?

Anj said...

The only ones I know of where she is Supergirl are Worlds' Finest #1 and #0 and also Earth 2 #1

Earth 2 has her in the Supergirl costume with art by Nicola Scott.

Diabolu Frank said...

Great list!

Anj said...

Thanks Frank.

With JLA coming out, I want a best of J'Onn list on your site next year!