Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 Year in Review: Top Five Worst Supergirl Moments

Back in early December, I began to review the Supergirl issues of 2013 in anticipation of making my best of/worst of lists. As I began sifting through the moments and panels, it was clear that the worst moments were going to far outnumber the best moments. It seemed that month in, month out it seemed there were cringe-worthy moments. DC was committed to make Supergirl angry, isolated, and moody. They didn't treat her like a hero. And in crossover stories, she was either the patsy or an unhinged bloodthirsty combatant.

I didn't necessarily want to pick all the scabs of the year, so instead focused on the top five worst moments of the year. And since I don't want to be morose, I will do my best to infuse some humor into the proceedings.

Of note, perhaps the worst moment was the above announcement that Supergirl is abandoning hope, optimism, and love, instead embracing rage, and vomiting blood on her friends. Since these stories haven't happened, they aren't included in the list below. But anyone who sees those images and thinks 'That's Supergirl!' doesn't know the character very well.

On to the Top Five Worst Moments of 2013!

Number 5: The Poor Dad Award Winner: Zor-El

Poor Zor-El. In the post-Crisis universe he didn't exist. Then in the reboot of Supergirl he is a creepy vicious bastard, having his teenage daughter prance around him nude. Then he is pushed to an even nuttier extreme, having visions of spirits from the Phantom Zone possessing Kryptonians. He has Supergirl join him as they gun down her high school. Then he decides the only way the spirits could be defeated was for Supergirl to kill Kal-El.

Even after Geoff Johns washed away that past, bringing back a scientist Zor-El on a domed Argo City, Zor-El wasn't long for the world, killed by Reactron.

In the New 52, he becomes a desperate and secretive man using science and genomics to experiment on his daughter and trying to save Argo City. He leaves his wife in the dark. And his measures fail, killing everyone on Argo just months after the destruction of Krypton.

Now that would be a rough life across 3 incarnations. But things got worse in 2013.

As if being a dad that made his daughter into a potential world-killer wasn't bad enough, he is scooped up, barely living, by Brainiac and turned into the killing machine Cyborg Superman.

That's right, Zor-El is now a supervillain, oblivious to his earlier life as Zor-El and now eager to kill Supergirl. It almost seemed like a parting shot by Nelson, a last dagger to Supergirl.

Number 4: The 'Seriously' Face Palm Award: Supergirl in Krypton Returns

H'El has tried to bring Krypton back for no clear reason. He doesn't think Jor-El is his savior. He wants to rule Krypton. Or he wants to destroy Krypton himself. Or he wants to rule Krypton and then destroy it. Forget it ... his motives make no sense.

Regardless, H'El bring back Krypton has set off a Time Tsunami, a storm destroying the universe one star system at a time. Superman, Supergirl, and Superboy get sent back in time to stop H'El from successfully saving the planet to begin with.


So what does Supergirl think? She is actually happy that Krypton is back. Who cares if untold billions are dying as the tsunami destroys planet after planet. Who cares if the universe will eventually die.

She doesn't see what the big deal is!!!

This is classic Scott Lobdell Supergirl. Self-centered. Gullible. Stupid.

Amazingly, she was treated better in this arc than in H'El on Earth.

Number 3: The Irritated 'Ridiculous' Award - Ame Comi Supergirl

I am usually very happy to see Supergirl featured in as many comics as possible. When she is supposed to be prominently featured, I am even happier. In 2013, Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and a bevy of artists produced an digital first comic based on the Ame Comi statues. This was an interesting world where there were no male super-heroes or villains, Power Girl was the equivalent of Superman, Jimmy Olsen was the Lois equivalent, etc.  I bought and reviewed the print version.

I didn't think I would enjoy the comic but it was a fun and fast little book with an Elseworld sort of feel. Plus, Supergirl was going to be featured and even have her own solo issue!

Imagine how sad I was when Supergirl arrives on earth and a couple of pages later is brainwashed by Brainiac, turns into Dark Supergirl, and fights on the side of the villains. She didn't get treated well in her own issue!

After being cured, she remains in a coma/stasis for several more issues. In the final big story arc, she is seen in the background and got very little screen time.

It was clear ... and appropriate I suppose ... that Palmiotti and Gray wanted Power Girl to shine in this series. But did Supergirl really need to be treated this shabbily? Ridiculous!

Number 2: "What did I just do" Face Palm Award: Trying to kill H'El

I could probably put all of H'El on Earth as one of the worst moments for Supergirl all time. Duped, a patsy, overly emotional, gullible ... it was a poison pill of a story for Supergirl. Looking back at that story, only Mike Johnson's issues of Supergirl tried to show Kara in some sort of favoring light. Otherwise, she is basically one of the villains for the bulk of the arc.

In Supergirl #17, after finally realizing that H'El isn't the dreamy prince she thought he was, Kara decides to take matters into her own hands.

That's right ... Kara decides to try and murder H'El, burying a shard of Kryptonite into his heart.

Now the naysayers will say it showed self-sacrifice on Supergirl's part as the Kryptonite was going to kill her too. And some will even say that this was a justified murder since H'El was going to destroy Earth.

But these are comics and these are supposed to be heroes. Supergirl is supposed to be a teenage girl striving to be a hero. I don't need to see her as a murderer. I don't need to see her burying a weapon into a villain's chest.

That isn't Supergirl.

And this is everything wrong with DC's understanding and branding of the character.

But this is number 2. What could be worse than this??

Number 1 - "Crisis #7" Face Palm - Supergirl Dying

I have talked at length over these 5 plus years about the things I love about Supergirl. One of the things is her bravery. Another is her tenacity. And yet another is her strength.

In Supergirl #23, Michael Alan Nelson brought a Kryptonite poisoned Kara onto the malleable world of I'Noxia, ruled by the Cyborg Superman. In that issue, she is battered about and finally brought into the Cyborg's main lab.

Utterly defeated, she kneels on the ground sobbing and crying, begging to be saved.

Imagine a Batman comic where that would happen to him. A Superman comic. A Wonder Woman comic. Imagine Captain Marvel, crying on the ground begging her enemies to stop.

It just wouldn't happen. It shouldn't happen.

Ah, but we can't end there.

Nope. Nelson has Supergirl actually die!

Crying, screaming 'no', in pain, she is completely disintegrated.

When Superman dies, it is as a hero fighting Doomsday. When Supergirl died in Crisis, she is saving the universe.

Here she is bawling, broken, and vaporized.

It is a terrible moment. And this is in the book she is supposed to star in.

Yes, she returned the next issue. Yes, Zor-El repents and saves her. But that means a good moment for him was predicated on an awful moment for her. And the way she dies is so demeaning.

And those were the worst Supergirl moments of 2013.

Anyone else have a scab they want to pick?


AndNowInStereo said...

I think that sums it up pretty well. I completely agree with your top pick. I've been thinking about it since it happened and came to the same conclusion as you have: Supergirl was fridged, albeit temporarily, in her own book.

What gives me confidence in calling it this is that it serves largely to motivate Zor-El in the next issue, as well as give him an entire Villains issue to himself in the intervening time. Sure, she didn't die completely, and sure, the event motivates her too in #24, but the point is her death affects Zor-El, drives him to do something, and makes the story about him. Absolute textbook use of this trope.

And that's just depressing.

GettinJiggly said...

Great read. I haven't read too much pre-New 52 so don't know much about Supergirl. I'd have to say with your points it does seem like DC is way off. My only theory is that is what they believe teenage girls act like today, and well since I don't hang out with teenage girls I can't give my opinion, but if TV is any indication they are hitting it on the head. But who wants to watch reality TV, especially when it comes to comics, you want a Hero as you said and not some cry baby down on themselves, no hope, anti-hero.

Siskoid said...

I can't add anything, because I try to avoid bad comics as much as I can, and Supergirl's sadly been in that column more often than not (not just this year either). And yet I read 2 of the stories above (Ame-Comi was fun stuff, but not all characters got the best reinvention; and Supergirl's vaporization made me quit the book, again).

It's a hard time to be a Supergirl fan. You're the new Rob Kelly now that Aquaman is shipshape and Rob's consequently dialing back on the Shrine.

Anonymous said...

I too have nothing to add, you've summarized everything that has gone wrong for Supergirl in 2013 with admirable dispatch. It was in sum the worst year for the character since she was killed off in COIE #7 and left to languish in derision & contempt for nigh eighteen years. I'm starting to have second thoughts about Cir El...maybe with a different hairstyle, hmmmmmm


Anj said...

Thanks for sharing in the pain.

Comparing me to Rob Kelly is high praise!

Anonymous said...

Have to say I'm kinda "happy" to see the number one, after the gravity of what happened seemed to pass everyone else by with a solid "meh" and I was left as the one-person QQ Army whining and moaning about her death all over the intertubes until other comic fans finally started to take notice and agree how stupid the death was.

In the end I actually liked the way she was brought back, since it leaves some room for her current incarnation to be shown as either having "come back wrong" or to actually not be the real Kara. All the Red Lantern nonsense could be undone by a Kara vs. Kara angle if the fan reaction is bad enough.

AndNowInStereo said...

To anon,

I noticed as well the fact that a lot of people seemed to just let it pass them by. I was baffled by that, in fact a lot of commentators when reviewing issue 23 said the book was better under Nelson than it had been since the reboot! However... as for Kara vs Kara...

NO. Talk about adding insult to injury! She's fought her cousin. She's fought the Justice League. We don't need her to fight herself! It's not even close to a fresh idea, they did it twice in Volume 5 - in issues that I haven't read yet but that Anj here can't stand and I can see why.

I really don't want some kind of 'came back wrong' cop-out here either. I want character growth, believable conflicts that evolve and get resolved, and interactions. All I'm asking is that the writers not waste my time. If a Red Ring chooses her, I want to believe it makes sense (Soule's Red Lanterns 21 makes a good case for Guy Gardner to be wearing one and that was in about 4 pages that were also a fight scene so I have to believe Tony Bedard can do it in an entire issue), her response to it should be plausible for her own character, and any resolution to the storyline should make sense in the context of her character arc as well. Not retcons. Not handwavy explanations for sudden 180s in characterisation or storyline. And not sacrifices made by the main character for anyone else's story, be it her Dad, her cousin or the Red Lanterns.

elknight20 said...

Nothing to add.

You summed up EVERYTHING.

I just wonder what's going to be on the Best & Worst lists for next year.

Red Lantern SG is DEFINITELY going to be under the Worst section.

Dave Mullen said...

Anj - No mention of Supergirl's unprovoked inhuman beating of Kon-el in Superboy #17?
In terms of appalling behaviour from a superhero this example rates in my personal top three for the last year... it's actually at #1(!)

Anonymous said...

Supergirl 24 included having Kara being willing to destroy I'Noxia, killing the inhabitants and reducing everything to a 'ruin of cinder and ash', then she shows no hint of remorse or thoughts that she was bluffing afterwards. Seeing her portrayed as a cold killer was a low point for me. A single thought balloon could have salvaged it, anything that showed sh wasn't actually going to kill everyone, or even that she was but regretted it. But nope. Just terrible.

Gear said...

Dave, I totally forgot that DeFalco story. That was just terrible.

I think I'll nominate destroying Sanctuary and not being concerned that she probably just killed Simon Tycho, who was her prisoner. Not even a second thought.

The bad parts of this year weren't just badly written, they were moments that would be considered character defining for a newly introduced villain. Amoral, asocial, violent... just yikes.

Anonymous said...

So, what's going to push her over the edge into Red territory?

I hope it's not some kind of lame manipulation or mind control that means she'll be normal again if the effect is removed.

Banshee's death would have been a good final straw but that's ruled out because we know the two of them battle later.

Finding out who Cyborg Supes is has now also been pretty much ruled out, since she barely remembers the events on I'Noxia 9if only we could too).

So...what will it be?

I'd like it to be something hilarious, like a botched restaurant order or Kal not buying her a pony for Christmas. There's so little left that she cares about, it's difficult to think of something bad happening that will drive her bonkers.

Anj said...

Thanks for the comments!

Dave - that moment is such an awful one in H'El on Earth showing a near insane Kara. I could have made a huge list of bad H'El moments.

Anon - that is a bad moment, all fire, threatening to incinerate I'Noxia. Forgot that.

Gene - the destruction of Sanctuary after it had just been made seemed rushed. But the lack of concern for Tycho added a rough layer.

As for what will tip her over, I bet it is nothing. I bet she just lists all the things that have been done to her so far and it happens.

We'll soon find out!

Gear said...

So, what's going to push her over the edge into Red territory?

Any of your suggestions might work anon, I'd like it to be something with a little more weight than a broken fingernail. What I'm afraid of is it's just going to happen because she's just angry, with a tip 'o the hat to the "all teenage girls are like that" mysogyny we've seen since they decided Johnson's Supergirl was too nuanced for the reader.