Saturday, December 14, 2013

Back Issue Holiday Box: DCU Infinite Holiday Special #1

For the first time in a while I actually skipped a day of blogging, not posting on Thursday of this week. I will be honest, I have been running around like a crazy Anj. Between work, standard family fare, and the holidays, I simply ran out of time.

With the holidays on my mind, I thought I would review a Supergirl Christmas story from 2007, one of the tales in the DCU Infinite Holiday Special #1. 

"All I Want For Christmas..." was written by then Supergirl scribe Joe Kelly with art by Ale Garza, who was going to be taking over the Supergirl title soon after. In December 2007, Supergirl #13 was on the rack, the middle of the Power Boy love story with the 'crystal Hell, kill Kal-El' stories right around the corner. For me, this was not a good time to be a Supergirl fan as things were going to get dark and horrible. She seemed weighed down by angst, bratty, and miserable. And yet, Kelly's last issue (Supergirl #19) seemed to turn all that around. I have always wondered if Kelly was hoping to stay on the title longer, ready to right the ship after cleansing her of all the nonsense. The following year's Supergirl story by Joe Kelly was so uplifting. Maybe that is what he wanted her to be.

I hadn't read this story in a while and you see some glimpses of hope in this story. Kelly still has this be an edgy Kara but you get the sense she is ready to be happy and a hero. The ends are there; the means are still rough. It surprises me that, given this story, we still had 7 more months of a terrible Supergirl ahead of us.

But enough dwelling on the bad. This is the holiday season.

The story starts out with Clark extolling the virtues of Christmas and Supergirl being snarky about the whole thing. Santa isn't in the bible. Jesus wasn't born in December. Shops are 'pimping out' salvation. It all seems like a joke to her.

Superman asks her to look past this stuff and instead concentrate on the spirit of Christmas. And maybe a good way to do that is to help out others and answer some of the Christmas letters that get sent to Superman.

Surprisingly, given the feel of the book at this time, she takes his suggestion to heart.

We see her fixing homes, flying with gifts and wearing a Santa hat, playing with kids, visiting babies, and doing flying sleigh rides. She even is smiling in some of the pictures.

But, more consistent with her character at the time, we also get that bored panel in the right corner, as if she is wondering why she is even bothering. Because making kids happy and doing good isn't its own reward.

Well, reality sinks in a bit. One of the letters is from a young girl named Brooke who wants to see her father who is serving in the military overseas.

Supergirl heads to the house to gather some information and is shocked to see the mother slam the door in her face, telling her to mind her business.

So much for Christmas cheer.

Heading to the Batcave, Supergirl tries to figure out what's going on. I do like the winter hat look.

But remember this is the 2007 Supergirl.

She doesn't like to be told what to do.
She doesn't want to do nice things.
She has problem with authority.

Okay, I will say it for the millionth time ... I DON'T WANT A SUGARY SWEET Silver Age SUPERGIRL!

But despite the fact that she really is trying to do something nice here, the trappings are of this irritated young girl.

And the scene ends with her kissing Alfred and leaving a Christmas gift for Bruce!

Can you see why I might have thought that Kelly was trying to show that maybe just bubbling under the surface is a Supergirl who wants to be a hero and do what's right? Did he add this element just for the holiday story?

It turns out that Brooke's father isn't a nice guy at all. Cheated on his wife. Lost their savings. Became a drunk. Thinks the mother 'trapped him' with the pregnancy!

So he also tells Supergirl to fly away and mind her own business.

Remember, we were just at the beginning of the 'mad Zor-El' aspect of Supergirl's story. She has her own Daddy issues. And since this guy has a chance to put things right, she pushes things.

She finds the father again and flies him high into the sky ... and then drops him!

Luckily, she catches him.

But this is her effort to scare him straight. Would he really want to die without clearing things up with his ex-wife and daughter. She can't force him to do anything. But she knows he can make things better.

This is one of those 'young heroes learning' moments that I love. This is the right thing to do. Maybe dropping him wasn't the right means to get to this end. But her heart is in the right place.

Again, you can see why I might be lured into optimism with this story.

And then this ending.

A smiling Supergirl, wanting to open presents, talking about Christmas miracles!

And the last panel has Brooke writing a new Christmas letter to Supergirl now ... not Superman. She has a new hero. And the father is hugging her. Again, isn't this a nice Supergirl story, one built on love and hope and compassion ... albeit with the rough edges of youth.

And yet ... for some reason, the image that was burned in my brain with this story is the mother's expression in the lower panel. She does not seem happy. Even her silhouette in the last panel it is clear her arms are crossed.

This isn't a miracle for everyone. This woman probably still wants this guy out of her life. I can only hope that eventually this guy learns to fly right and everyone is content with this family dynamic. But that sullen expression kind of soured a more magical ending.

Still, this is a pretty good Supergirl story as she learns the meaning of Christmas spirit, as she helps people out, sacrificing her time for the betterment of others, going the extra step to make sure someone is done right by her.

Happy holidays to everyone!

Overall grade: B+


Anonymous said...

Thanks for another great review. My first Supergirl issue was #34, the start of the wonderful Gates/Igle run, which is still my favorite. I recently watched "Superman/Batman: Apocalypse" for the first time, and now I am wondering if the early pre-#34 issues are worth reading. If Supergirl is always presented as you describe in this review, I don't think I'd want to read about such a character. I am currently re-reading the "New Krypton" crossover and its aftermath, which holds up really well as far as Supergirl is concerned: A heroic Supergirl with a supporting cast, a growing rouge's gallery of her own, a secret identity, an apartment, a good relationship with her Super-cousin, and a membership in the Justice League. Those were good times to be a Supergirl fan. I love that version of Supergirl, so any other recommendations for "good reads" would be much appreciated.

Gene said...

I felt that the expression on the little girl's face overshadows her mother's, all things considered. Although that is the end of the story, one can sense it is the beginning of something else, something that Supergirl started for better, rather than for worse.

If I remember correctly the little girl appeared again in the story Helen Slater helped write at the end of Supergirl #50.


Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

While it appealed to some, I found the first 19 issues of that Supergirl run off-putting. It just was the complete wrong tone for the character, something unfortunately echoed in the current run.

And Gene, I am such a pessimist sometimes that I dwell on the bad. You are right, this is the first step in healing for that family and Supergirl brought that about.

You are right, we do see Brooke in that story:

Anonymous said...

I like the panel where she is seated before the batcomputer, christmas hat down around her ears, utterly vexed....its a funny moment in a series that was up to then, bereft of humor.....much like today's Supergirl.