Supergirl has been horribly mistreated in the 'first' Super-family crossover in the New 52. It hasn't been easy to read. And then, just when I felt that Mike Johnson had a feel for the character and just might be the guy who could bring Kara back after H'El on Earth, we learned that Johnson was off the book and Michael Alan Nelson was on board. In fact, the DC higher-ups Bob Harras and Bobbie Chase cooed about how dark the book was going to get.
I really felt like all was lost.
And then I read this interview with Nelson over on Comic Vine. Here is the link: http://www.comicvine.com/news/interview-writer-michael-alan-nelson-talks-supergirl/146089/
I highly highly recommend reading this brief interview in its entirety. As with all these sort of publicity pieces, I am taking this one with a grain of salt. But Nelson said some things that made me optimistic ... something I didn't think I would be feeling for a while. Here are some blurbs that stuck out for me.
Comic Vine: Supergirl has spent the last few
issues during this 'H'el On Earth' story arc falling in love with H'el for,
what some might say, all the wrong reasons. Do you plan on building on that
relationship following the end of this series? Michael Alan Nelson:Kara is searching for a place to
belong and the vast majority of people on Earth don't have powers. If she's
going to fit in, she's going to need to relate to the mundane among us. It's
not going to be easy for her and it might not even work out, but I think she
should try. Plus, having a non-super around might help ground her and gain some
perspective on the world around her. Not to mention that I think it could be fun
watching Supergirl not only deal with her own insecurities, but deal with
someone else's when they realize her last boyfriend was [a] super-powered bad
boy who never needed to wear a shirt because his smoldering hotness kept him
warm. So immediately gone is the 'she has no affection for Earth' early tag-line for the book. She is searching for a place to belong and wants to fit in.
One of the problems with the earliest issues of this run was that Supergirl CV: If we had to choose one word to describe Supergirl it would have to be that she is
really stubborn. Lately, she's been doing nothing but butt heads with both Superman and Superboy. What
are your plans for Supergirl's role in the "Superman Family"? Will
she continue to rebel again Kal-El, or will readers get to see their
relationship change? MAN: There's always going to some tension between Supergirl and
Superman/Superboy. Much like realizing that you have to be nice to
your annoying cousins when you see them during the holidays just so you can
make it through dinner without throwing mashed potatoes at each other. It's
only once a year so suck it up and it will soon all be over. But who she
does get to choose are her friends. And it's those friends who eventually
become your real family. It's just like real life. We develop relationships
with friends that can become just as strong as any blood relationship. Even
stronger. And once Kara starts to build that family, she'll start tolerating Superman and Superboy a
Okay, this isn't 100% optimistic. I would want Supergirl to try to mend fences with her cousin. I would expect the same from him. I don't think they should be treated like the relatives you tolerate at the holidays.
On the other hand, it says Kara is going to look for friends and then maybe warm up to Superman a bit more. I took 34 issues (Sterling Gates' first issue) for Superman and Supergirl to act like friends the last go around. Hopefully it won't take that long this time. In the meantime, a Supergirl seeking out friends on Earth is a good thing. Maybe we'll get a supporting cast! CV: In the last 16 issues Supergirl hasn't
really managed to adjust to Earth. Is that something that fans can expect to
see in your take over of this series? Will we witness the character evolve? If
so, in what way? MAN: That's one of the things that I really want to focus on with Kara as a
character. I'm not saying that she will be able to adjust to being on Earth
right away, but I want to at least see her try. That would be a lot of fun to
see. I look at it this way. She had an unbelievably difficult tragedy to deal with. She lost
EVERYONE and there's no one to help her work through that pain and confusion.
She's been having to figure it out all on her own. Now she's coming to realize
that Earth is her new home whether she likes it or not. Yes, it's unfair. Yes,
it's a big bucket of suck. But that's the way it is. So the cloud of losing
everything she ever knew will always hover overhead, but it's starting to
dissipate enough to let some sun shine through. I think it's time she started
asking the question, "Okay, what does this planet have to offer?"
Supergirl is a good person and someone who I think wants to be happy. So I'd
like to see her start trying to find some happiness.
So I think the foundation of tragedy has been built by Green and Johnson. And I think they were starting to have her warm up to the planet .. before the edicts of H'El that is.
But I love how Nelson ends this, saying that Supergirl is a good person who wants to be happy and that she will try to find it. That sounds like a Supergirl I want to read. The fact that he labels her a good person who wants happiness (as opposed to a 'Hell on wheels girl who will fight with her friends so don't piss her off) is a good start. CV: What do you plan on bringing to Supergirl
that we haven't seen yet? MAN: I want to try to bring a sense of fun to the title. Like I said before, I
think she wants to be happy. I'm not going to make it easy on Kara. But I want there to be no doubt
that there is hope in her world. She CAN be happy and it's her struggle to find
that happiness that I want to explore.
Hurray! Fun in this comic! Hope for Kara. An acknowledgment that she can, in fact, be happy.
The fact that we are this far along in the title and fun, hope, and happiness are considered 'new ideas' for the book seems like insanity. But I'll take it.
CV: What have been some of the challenges you
have faced writing Supergirl? MAN: For me, the biggest challenge has been honing in on the right tone of her
character. Too far one way and she becomes silly and annoying, too far the
other way she becomes overly-brooding. So the trick is finding that middle
ground where the weight and seriousness of what she's experienced and what she
must continue to deal with is tempered with a sense of fun, wonder, and
adventure. Kara is a rich character with the full-spectrum of emotions swirling
around inside of her. It's been challenging finding a way to see that internal
chaos manifest itself in a way that makes us love her as a character and want
to follow her story. And I loved this answer too. It seems that there are people who picture Supergirl in her 50s adventure, a sugary pushover. And there are people who see her as an angst-riddled angry young woman.
And then there are her fans who see her as a young hero on a journey who falls between those extremes. And her best writers - Kupperberg, David, Gates, Peaty - have managed that spectrum well. Even Mike Johnson seemed like he was there, finding that inner core of what Supergirl is - a good person trying to help people, learning to be a hero. So to hear Nelson recognize that Kara is more than a one-note character, that she is a 'rich character', makes me happy.
Now to be sure this article wasn't all rainbows. Nelson notes he has a dark side and things won't be easy for Supergirl. The continued holding of Superman at arm's length bothers me. And in other areas of the interview, he states she has to deal with obsession and even a dark part of her own past.
But still, this was a far cry from other interviews and publicity pieces about the character. There was more to be hopeful for here.