Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Supergirl And The Emotional Spectrum

I have talked about my unease with Supergirl upcoming donning of a Red Lantern ring in the coming months to the point that I don't think I need to reiterate my concerns.

But I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at Supergirl's interactions with the emotional spectrum in the past. I know that this is a different Supergirl in essentially a different universe. But it isn't like that last Kara had an easy life with no concerns. She had just as many bad turns in life if not more. And yet somehow, after some rehab with Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle, and despite ongoing tragedy, she never succumbed to the dark path of rage.

The most we have seen of Supergirl and the emotional spectrum was in the Blackest Night:Superman mini-series, written by James Robinson and drawn by Eddy Barrows. I reviewed these issues when they came out but that was over 4 years ago. I hope this doesn't feel like a retread. You can look at late 2009 to see those reviews.

Given the upcoming change, I thought it would be worth revisiting.

So in 2009, the Black Lanterns were threatening the entire DCU, raising the dead to become an army for Nekron.

But there was a slight problem. You see concurrently, DC was also doing a long arc in the super-books where a New Krypton was in our solar system, on the opposite side of the sun, and filled with the citizens of Kandor.

A city filled with super-powered Kryptonians would be a bit of a wild card in the Blackest Night story arc. Wouldn't thousands of Superman-equivalents impact the threat. They needed to be dealt with and Blackest Night:Superman is where that happened.

There were 2 plot lines in the series. In one, Superman and Superboy (Conner) battle the pre-Crisis Earth-2 Kal-L and Lois (both of who died in Infinite Crisis).

In the other, Zor-El rises from the dead on New Krypton and battles Alura and Kara. Remember, these aren't loving zombies. They are vicious and this Zor-El attacks his family both physically and psychologically.

Let's see how Kara deals with facing her loving father in a cruel undead form.

First a wild conglomeration of feelings.

Fear of this creature.
Hope she can return her father to normal.
Love for her father.
Compassion for what has happened to him.

Zor-El unloads with a string of insults about how Kara has disappointed him, a pathetic creature.

And then the realization by Kara that while this might be her father's remains, it isn't her father.

I loved this panel back then and I love it now. Kara an even mix of rage for this desecration and will to battle him.

I have said before that Kara can be fierce in her desire to do what is right.

And then that continued mix of will to weather the mental and physical barrage by Zor-El and rage for this indignation.

Yes there can be rage. But always tempered by a strong will, a control.

This Supergirl had a rough early history on Earth - brainwashed by Darkseid, split into Dark Supergirl, failing in the phony Kandor when she was seduced by Pru-El. Then she dismissed a life of heroism, went rave dancing, got duped and abused by Power Boy, bled crystals, and tried to kill Superman.

Yep ... DC loves piling tragedy and angst onto Supergirl. Don't you think that this Supergirl could have given into rage and joined the Red Lanterns?

And yet with strong writers and a rehabilitation of sorts, she didn't. Instead she tried to deal with her life, to better herself, to help others. And even after that rehabilitation, when it looked like life had dealt her a bad hand again (here, the death of Alura and the destruction of New Krypton, survivor's guilt), she still strove to do what was right.

See DC! The right writers can bring her there. You don't necessarily need to go darker before turning to the light.

Now maybe Tony Bedard and Charles Soule are planning this redemption. But it is still nice to see that this Supergirl didn't succumb to mindless anger.

As for DC, the took New Krypton off the board of Blackest Night. A force field was erected around the planet, trapping the Kryptonians on New Krypton, negating Nekron's ability to raise the dead and keeping the zombies out.

Personally, I still think Kara would be an Indigo Lantern before she would be a Red.


AndNowInStereo said...

Very interesting! I do like the artwork in the red/green panel, it's great!

From what I've been reading though, all the Indigo's were horrible people WITHOUT any compassion before they were given their rings. This probably rules Kara out unless she'd fallen a very long way indeed.

The basic idea of the Red Lanterns seems to be that they are generally people who've given up on hope (Blue) and replaced it with directionless anger. While clearly Soule is moving away from focusing on this too much in the Red Lanterns book because it seems to be a bit played out by this point (everyone tells me RL was really boring before Soule took it over and at least the Reds have an actual goal now) I think this concept might factor into the upcoming plotline somehow, if I had to guess. In fact in the GL universe right now, after the Lights Out event, the Blue Power Battery is gone and Saint Walker is in a coma. So there are no active Blue Lanterns at all, which is what stranded Guy Gardner with the Reds. A fair number of theories floating around the internet right now is that Kara might play some role in bringing them back. But who knows, I guess we'll find out...

Dave Mullen said...

Thomas Hayes said...

From what I've been reading though, all the Indigo's were horrible people WITHOUT any compassion before they were given their rings. This probably rules Kara out unless she'd fallen a very long way indeed.

Well said, though Guy Gardner and Rancor do appear to overturn the logic. I think the notion that Red Lanterns had to be murderous lost souls to gain a ring comes straight from Atrocitus, he wanted a Corps who had suffered as much as he himself had and who could sympathise with him. And of course it does make sense that the Red rings would seek out proportionally more of these raging lunatics as their anger shines brightest, it isn't the controlled anger of Guy.
Guy Gardner's is anger of a different sort than the typical Red Lantern, his anger is actually coming from a combination of lifelong frustration and resentment.
Supergirl falls into a similar category as him but given there are endless such angry souls on earth and abroad in the universe I'm a little unconvinced that a Red Ring would single her out above all others - is she really angrier than other heroes like Hawkman or Red Hood? What about the villains - Eclipso/Bruce Gordon? The Cheetah? Metallo?

I would suggest Supergirl's anger, like Guy's, is not to be confused with the same that drives the psychotic natures of Bleez & Co. Rather it stems from her unresolved sense of grief and frustration over her sudden exile from Krypton and the alienation she's felt ever since.
Whether this is the territory Charles Soule is going to explore I just do not know, but it is clear to me that not everyone who gets chosen by a Red Ring is of the same mind and is destined for the madhouse forevermore.
The one real concern I DO have is that we know what the ring does to a person physically, and given we now know there is a supernatural component to the transformation her own powers are not going to protect her from a conversion. And as we know the only way out of the curse is to have a Blue Lantern purge you of the power, something that Guy himself is blocked from doing as there are no Blue Lanterns right now...

Jay said...

Man, reminds me of how much I liked post-IC Alura, and how stupid it was to kill her off when they hit the giant reset button just because WONK was executed badly.

Anj said...

Great comments from everyone! Thanks!

Thomas - you are right. I guess I should say I think compassion would be Kara's primary force (hope a close second). You are right though, the Indigos in the book were vicious people who were subsumed by the force. I don't want Kara like that.

Dave, you are also right. The Reds in the book now seem to have righteous fury ... not out of control Rage. I suppose a different sort of Red might make this Kara storyline better.

And Jay, Gates et al wrote such a wonderfully complex Alura. I loved her and hated her and everything in between. I was so sad when she died.

AndNowInStereo said...

Dave, if you look at the bit you quoted of me, I'm talking about the Indigos there. If I'm reading the lore correctly, they represent compassion, but the people who bear the rings are chosen specifically because they previously lacked it, unlike the other colours who are chosen because they already embody or inspire that emotion. That's why I wouldn't be all that happy about Kara becoming one.

I agree with you about Guy, and indeed it does seem like none of the Reds except Atrocitus himself are not going to be angsting around being angry anymore, now that they all have their minds back and they have an actual purpose in life with a Sector to police. But it is indeed a mystery as to what exactly will bring the ring to Kara over anyone else, especially if she's on Earth at the time. Unless she is either forced to put it on, or chooses to do so as Guy did.

But then again if a red ring can choose a Cat as a bearer, I suppose we have to expect some of this logic to be rather flexible. Indeed, Soule is having his merry fun with Red Lanterns and logical leaps right now. Hal sure persuaded Guy to go to the Reds really easily when Guy knew exactly what putting that ring on entails. Guy has gotten away with being found out very easily too, the Reds are certainly proving to be easy for him to lead and there are quite a few other rather convenient plot elements coming up. To be honest though, Soule is getting away with it because the book is really quite engaging and even - believe it or not - fun (yeah I know, who'd have thought that exists in the New52) because of the wit he's putting into the book and how much personality the characters seem to have, and I gather they weren't all that interesting before. There's probably less angst and bickering in Red Lanterns now than there is in a lot of the other DC ensemble books! Character is king, and Soule seems to have that down. This has made a lot of its readers, and indeed me now that I've read it, let some of that other stuff slide.

And yes, I love Alura too, especially after reading Gates' issues. I haven't read WONK or War of the Supermen yet but it's such a shame that they had to get rid of everything that plot gave us. I'd like to see a bit more Alura in flashbacks and less Zor-El in the New52 from now on. She's a bit of a mystery to us.

Count Drunkula said...

The Indigo Tribe were lifelong criminals who were forced into becoming representatives of Compassion in some weird allegory of religious conversion. BUT that does not mean anyone who becomes an Indigo Lantern is automatically "brainwashed" like that. In BLACKEST NIGHT, Ray Palmer's brightest emotion was compassion and he became an Indigo Lantern for a short time, and he retained his own will and personality. I think it depends on the manner in which someone like Kara would become an Indigo, but just because she's innocent wouldn't exclude her.

The Red Lanterns strike me as a bit trickier to get a handle on because Atrocitus' rage and hate is so overt and so pure that it confuses other Red Lantern's, like Guy, who don't have the same motivations or feeling. Recall again in BLACKEST NIGHT that Mera became a Red Lantern? What was she angry about? It wasn't her dead infant child, it was more about her place in the world and feeling pressures from family and stuff like that. Hardly the same as having your entire world butchered by robots. It seems like if you're angry enough to punch a wall, you can become a Red Lantern, but then it doesn't let you go, which is a bit of a story flaw in my opinion.

elknight20 said...

I agree on Kara being an Indigo, HELL, even a Blue one. With her becoming a Red one, though... It still bugs me. She's the embodiment of Hope & Love, for me, not Anger. :(

Anonymous said...

[I had posted this on CBR after seeing the March 2014 solicitations. I apologize in advance for my rant.]

Once again, DC shows how out of touch they are with their customers and at reaching out to new, perhaps young, readers. I can't even complain about how Supergirl seems to get the short end of the stick, not to mention her fans. Well, I can, but it seems that DC is intent on making the Super Family a bunch of villains - they kill off a dubiously heroic Superboy only to be replaced by a villainous Superboy, Supergirl is now full on Satan Girl/ Dark Supergirl (but vomiting blood!), and in so many mediums, Superman is now also a villain, or at least amoral/ rage/ killer. Granted, all their heroes seem to be about darkness and angst these days, but TPTB really seem intent on erasing the iconic heroism that the Super Family is known for. Whether it goes against their own values, or whether they cluelessly want to ruin 75 years of inspiration and idealism, I'm not sure.

Granted, Supergirl, in her many incarnations was not to be pushed ... if she was indignant, watch out. Supergirl had such pure and dark extremes that it's been said that it was this, with Kara's "guardian angel" status from her first appearance, that Peter David took inspiration of her being angel. As with Supergirl and Satan Girl, Kara and Nightflame, (and later Supergirl and Dark Kara), Supergirl was split between two identities, Linda (reincarnation of Kara) Danvers and Matrix/ Supergirl. It was only when they were rejoined (or Kara conquered her death wish in Nightflame) that there was balance. Even with the last appearances of Dark Supergirl, though, Kara had more control, and in some ways this was another form of "Berserker Supergirl" of Mae - the form she took to feel more in control and stronger, a way to channel that rage that roared in her when all the chips were down.

So, while this latest incarnation of Supergirl is facing her own version of the above, there's nothing to counter that. The images we have received of Kara so far, with these solicitations included are nothing but rage and hatred. Maybe it's just me, but if I'm buying a Supergirl comic, I want to feel good. Maybe it won't be as bad as so many are expecting, but I'd hope that at the end, Kara gets to be a Blue Lantern, even for a couple of panels. Supergirl is all about HOPE. I suppose maybe they wouldn't have expected sales to be good enough if she had joined the Blue Lantern Corps ... why not make her a Green Lantern if they're so intent of her being rid of her "S". Let her have cosmic adventures like Carol over at Marvel, or even make her "Batlass" if they want to increase sales. If this is about story and developing her character and getting her past all the rage, fine, but make it fast. That's the big thing ... we've been assured that this isn't permanent, and it's all for her good, but we don't have any idea how long it will be. I think more fans would be inclined not to have their own Red Lantern moment if we knew how long ... I do hope it's only a few issues, and not a year long thing.

If someone had asked me not that long ago if I'd NOT want Kara to be back in continuity, I'd have thought they were crazy for asking me such a thing ... now, I'm not so sure. I just want Kara to be treated with some respect, not to mention her fans - DC's customers.

Anj said...

Thanks for the ongoing conversation here.

It is true that despite their rings, Mera and Atom don't sound like rabid animals and horrific villains respectively. And Guy seemed more in control in the last Red Lantern issue.

Too bad Supergirl is spewing blood and filled with rage in the upcoming solicits. I agree with you Sailor. DC just doesn't get it. I'll post about the solicits soon.