Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 Supergirl Year In Review: Top Three Supergirl Face Palm Moments

This was the last Supergirl moment of 2012, a kiss with a maniac who has wooed her with promises that seem to have clouded her mind. 

It seems therefore appropriate to finish this end of the year wrap-up with the Top Three Face Palm moments of the year.

This was another good year for Supergirl and I had a hard time limiting my 'Best of' list to ten. In contrast, there were only three things that really really bothered me over the year. And it seemed like a nice little funny post as we approach the new year (although this kiss almost snuck in at number four).

So on to the moments. I present these in no particular order for your consumption.

The Kurt Schaffenberger 'Ridiculous' Award goes to Worlds's Finest for constantly blasting Power Girl's costume off of her for gratuitous and titillating states of undress. (Okay, it's a Power Girl moment, not a Supergirl moment. It's Supergirl-ish.)

Yes, we understand that Power Girl  has great skin ... and so much of it!

It seemed like every issue, no matter what, Power Girl's snazzy new costume or even Karen Starr's business attire would be shredded, burned, or ruined so she could prance around.

Now listen, I have no problem with Karen being proud of her body, having a healthy self-image, and her not having a problem with being naked in front of friends. But the situations are becoming ludicrously common, forced into the script, almost as if it is a recurring theme that every issue she needs to be disrobed in battle. This adds nothing to the scene other than some cheesecake. Would these scenes have been any different if the costume remained intact? When Power Girl is stripped every issue, when it becomes a running joke, or a defining part of the character, doesn't it cheapen the book and her?

And if they wanted to showcase Karen's attributes more, why not keep her in the traditional Power Girl uniform rather than the body suit?

Paul Levitz recently commented on this very issue over on Newsarama:

Nrama: Their clothes are being ripped up quite a bit lately. Are there new costumes on the horizon?
Levitz: No, I just thought we needed a little running gag. Given how many people were annoyed by Power Girl's more covered form, it just seemed to be a fun running gag to go through a few issues of this type of thing. Wally Wood, who really *ahem* developed Power Girl's figure -- Joe Orlando designed the original character, and Ric Estrada was the original penciller, but it was Woody who sort of went out of control on it. Woody, for a number of years, did a wonderfully silly strip for the military newspapers called Sally Forth. And rule No. 1 of Sally Forth, who was this very buxom Wally Wood military gal, was that he had to find a way for her clothes to get ripped every "x" number of pages. Of course, we're not quite doing that with Power Girl, but at least for awhile, it was fun to play with that trope.

Part of my problem with it is simply that it happened every issue. It really was a running gag and when it 'needs' to happen it can feel forced. Think of it like a sitcom catchphrase. It had to be there and those almost immediately become tired. I just think that I didn't need to see this every month.

The SBFF 'Yeesh' Award goes to Scott Lobdell for butchering Supergirl's characterization every time he can.

Supergirl #14 showed a Supergirl thinking about opening up to Superman more, contemplating bringing him into her life more. It showed Supergirl look at Superboy and think of him as 'him' and not 'it'. She talked to her friend on Earth, showing she was warming up to her new home. It showed a Supergirl who listened to H'El, thought about what he said, but not 100% buying into this hype. It was a great issue.

And then came Superman #14. This was one week later! Here she sneers at Superman, telling him not to "ruin" her optimism over H'El and his plan. She called Earth a ball of mud and sweat. She sarcastically calls out Superman for worrying about 'precious humans' and again regarded Superboy as a thing.


Does Lobdell have an idea what Mike Johnson is doing on Supergirl? Has he read that book? Did he want to contradict her character in every way? Why does his Superman seem annoyed every time he sees her?

And where were the editors here?

It is disheartening that her character is considered so meaningless to Lobdell that he hasn't read her stories and treats her like an angry, sullen, patsy for the villain.

The Chris Roberson Seriously Award unfortunately goes to Michael Green and Mike Johnson for one big misstep, the first page of Supergirl #8.

The World Killers battle is over. Supergirl is victorious. She looks up to the sky, half-smiling, fists clenched but hung at her sides exhaustedly, standing heroically. The military are rushing to her in the background. There are saved citizens comforting each other. It is a great moment, number one on my Top Ten Supergirl Moments of 2012. That was the last page of Supergirl #7.

And here is the first page of Supergirl #8, the exact same moment, immediately after the World Killer battle. But the feel here is completely different. She's looking down, her shoulders slumped, her legs collapsing. She is holding her head with a worried expression. The military are now all training weapons on her.

There is no sense of victory here. No sense of happiness. No sense of satisfaction in having done the right thing. This is all negative.

And it takes place seconds after the prior moment. If I have to chastise Scott Lobdell for not knowing how to portray Supergirl and giving her a different feel, I have to question why Green and Johnson would portray things so differently.

Compare the two pages side by side.

After seven issues of running, or being attacked, or questioning herself, of dealing with tragedy, of almost dying, Supergirl #7 ends with a positive moment, a sliver of happiness and acceptance.

All of that is ripped away in the first page of Supergirl #8.

It is a jarring transition. And it only fostered concern that this book would continually alienate and isolate Supergirl. Of course that hasn't turned out to be true. But at the time (and even now) I wonder why the creative team would rob Supergirl of this moment.

So overall, not too big a list and another good year for Supergirl.

Anything I miss on any of the lists? What moments stuck out to you?


valerie21601 said...

In this CBR interview Johnson makes it very, very clear he and Lobdell were working together on the H'El story lines from the get go.

So how can he not know what is going on with Kara?

As I recall from past interviews by Johnson and Green they feel that the best path Supergirl can take is to go down the heroes journey with as little contact from Superman and Superboy as possible. Wanting her to have as much emotional and physical distance as possible from her remaining "Kryptonian family" while planning on bond her to the future Silver Banshee and her brother, Tom.

When I read the various Super boards I notice more and more people are growing tired of this version of Supergirl. I counted four different people calling her a brat, stuck-up, ice queen and so many people posting agreement with them. Counted three men who called for her to be "spanked and made to grow up" by Superman making an hard intervention for her own good.

I worry about what Johnson and Green have planned for Kara. To me it appears they have long range plans to make her the Black Sheep of the Super Family for a long time.

Jay said...

I think she's getting much too criticized for kissing H'el. She doesn't know he's a maniac. Heck, We don't even know he's a maniac yet. Don't get me wrong, I'm highly anticipating a betrayal here, but to Kara he's come across as nothing but genuine. If he's playing everyone, he's doing a good job of it, in other words. Sure she hasn't asked all the right questions, but he seems sincere enough on an emotional level, so it doesn't bother me at all that an emotional attraction would develop. The only thing he's really done thus far that's eyebrow raising was offering twice to kill Superboy, but while that's quite disturbing to us, putting yourself in a Kryptonian's shoes, and how clones are regarded, its easy to imagine Kara being far less disturbed by that offer (the fact she even struggles with considering it a "thing", finding herself calling Superboy "him", is a pretty big epiphany for a Kryptonian, I'd wager).

Dave Mullen said...

"But at the time (and even now) I wonder why the creative team would rob Supergirl of this moment"

RE:Supergirl's treatment and odd behaviour....

Look to Billy Bratson in Justice League for the zenith of this Anti-Social role modelling.

Or Wonder Woman, again in Geoff Johns Justice League. He's improved on her of late but this is by far the worst and most disrespectful treatment I've ever read of her character and values.

Ronnie Raymond in Fury of Firstorms fit the same criteria as Supergirl behaviour, though perhaps not as extreme as the two characters above either.

Superboy... his amoral streak is more forgivable given his background but still not much fun to read about or use as any role model material.

There are other hard to like characters with dubious motives and attitudes - Damien Wayne and Simon Baz for two, so by no means is this just a Supergirl Phenomenon. What's diffeerent is that Supergirl stands on her own two feet and has her own book to support. It stands or falls on how appealing she is as a character and whether the readership responds to her; I don't think it's necessarily as serious a situation as Anj makes it out to be but on the other hand if you're being sent constant contradictory and mixed messages on who and what Supergirl is you do run the risk of the readership tiring of this apparent indescicion and bi-polarising of her character.

Anonymous said...

I'm reading all this as a validation of my notion that the current Supergirl is pretty much DC's answer to the silver age Incredible Hulk.
By that I mean an angry outsider who does good seemingly only by accident and has frequent conflicts with the established superhero hierarchy.
is this a good thing for the character's long term prospects?
My instinct says no, but I'm still willing to see how things play out...

Anj said...

Thanks for all the comments!

Val - I think that despite those early interviews, the essence of Supergirl has permeated into this book. She has never lashed out even when feeling alone.

Jay - I understand that H'El made about as good a pitch to Kara that could be made. She doesn't get he is a maniac. But I still think she should have asked a bit more questions about him and his plans before sinking into his arms.

Dave - This moment bothered me mostly because it took away from the greatness of the end of #7. I think that a consistent vision of a character is important. People who read Superman only might think she is portrayed similarly there and never try the book. People who don't want to read a pissed off character might never buy this title. That would keep readers away. On the reverse, people who want to read that Kara might pick up the actual title and be perplexed.

John - I still think things are going to be okay. But she is clearly the patsy here.

Jay said...

Oh I'm with you there, she's definitely not being interrogative with his story. Whereas I think Superman was a little TOO dismissive, Supergirl in turn is too trusting just because he's Kryptonian (supposedly...I still believe he's Kon 1.0 and is either lying about his origin or genuinely can't remember).

Thanks for the awesome blog, btw. Its a pleasure reading up the summaries and opinions on these titles, especially the ones that I don't get (like Legion). Its a great way to still keep up. :)

Martin Gray said...

Excellent choices, Anj. The opening of Supergirl #7 should have been the public cheering and applauding the heroine who has saved them; the regular people of the Nu52 Universe are as weird as the heroes.

Anonymous said...

It's simple just get back to basics. She's 16 and learning about her sexuality and the journey of becoming a hero. It's only natural for her to want to explore intimacy in an open an unrestricted way. Like most teenagers, Kara will define herself by her choices and lessons learned. Is there a better role model for Supergirl than someone who inspires "HOPE" like Wonder Woman? :-)
Mishama Kara Itto....

Anonymous said...

I was asked by my younger sister, why would anyone be interested in the sex life of a superhero especially a 16 year old? Kara's been seen kissed being both males and females. We all long for intimacy, a communion, a sense that we are not alone and that we are loved.....
Mishama Kara Itto :-)

valerie21601 said...

It occurred to me, J & G said in the past interview that Kara studied to become a scientist. So far as I can tell they also hadn't revealed what field(s) of science she is really interested in.

Martin Gray said...

Maybe it's genetics and she's currently, er, swabbing H'El for claims-testing DNA?

Anj said...

Mart said: Maybe it's genetics and she's currently, er, swabbing H'El for claims-testing DNA?

Now that's funny!!

Thanks for the first laugh of the new year Mart!