Supergirl #27 came out this week, the second issue of the Tony Bedard era as writer and the last issue before the 'Red Daughter of Krypton' arc.
Given that the next issue starts a new and controversial storyline, I thought that the Lobo story would be completely wrapped up by the end of this issue. Instead, Bedard has this issue end with a decent cliff-hanger, infuses some scenes to help the reader understand the slide into Red Lantern plot, and adds a lot of new plot hooks.
While I know I don't agree with the idea of the Red Lantern arc, it might be a sort of catharsis for the character, literally and metaphorically burning away all the rage and angst in Supergirl since the inception of the New 52. And, now knowing it won't be some drawn out lengthy arc, I am suddenly a bit more accepting of the move.
But setting that aside, Bedard really does a good job beefing up the book immediately. We learn a lot more about Shay Veritas, setting her up as a supporting character in the title. My spider-sense is still tingling about her. I still wonder if she'll end up a villain. And we re-introduce a classic Superman villain to the new 52 but setting her up as a Supergirl villain, a move that already seems so natural I don't know why it hasn't been done.
Yildiray Cinar does the art here and bring a smooth clean sensibility to the book. It is a shame that he will only be on the book for four issues.
Last issue, Supergirl 'killed' the new Lobo when he attacked the Block. After the wicked right hook, Supergirl immediately felt remorse. It is one more brick in the wall of frustration Supergirl has been crashing against Supergirl #1.
Bedard does a good job in this issue having Kara speak about her feelings. There is a hint that everything has piled up so high in her mind, in her soul, that she is simply reaching a breaking point. It makes sense for Supergirl to feel overwhelmed right now. This hasn't been an easy transition. So here, when she talks about simply losing control in the fight against Lobo ... everything going red ... implies she is simply losing control.
This isn't the first Supergirl to have a crazy upheaval in her life. The others have all basically returned to the core of her character ... she wants to do what's right. Like Loeb and Kelly's version, this Supergirl has intentionally isolated herself, not leaving her any access to help dealing with her feelings. If you arrive alone and you make yourself isolated, of course you will feel overwhelmed.
So I am hoping when this whole blows over, we get that likable Supergirl, the one who wants to help back. And I hope she takes a look in the mirror and realizes that she needs friends and family. That she can't do it alone.
Here is one of those panels I love when words and art complement each other so well.
First off, we get a sense of the enormity of the block. This place has to be a tesseract of some sort, bigger on the inside than it is from the outside.
But moreover, Veritas' words about Supergirl being so strong in such a fragile world, 'walking on eggshells' invoked in me a feeling of claustrophobia, or delicacy in movement. And that feeling is contrasted with the space in this place. Kara should feel at home here, or a bit freer than she is on a crowded street.
Anyways, I liked this panel a lot.
And we finally get a bit more backstory about Veritas.
As hinted before, Superman saved the Block from some cosmic storm called the Eternal Maelstrom. But that save had any number of weird consequences. The Block is now out of phase with reality in the core of the Earth. All the other scientists - male and female - had their genetics rewritten with Veritas' genome. And everyone is trapped because leaving the block could cause a space/time rift. Odd.
Her being trapped makes her sort of a technological Baron Winters, stuck forever in her 'mansion' without being able to leave, talking to 'agents' to do her outside work. Plus, there is this odd feel of impending villainy on her part. I don't know if she is evil. But I think she is so obsessed with what she is doing that I bet she doesn't care what happens to those in her wake. She seems so eager to study things that she doesn't think of the consequences. There is a sort of Luthor narcissism mixed with Brainiac thirst for knowledge.
Veritas talks to Kara about seeking help from others and the response is ... no surprise ... anger. In the end, I think some of this is anger by Supergirl inwardly directed for putting herself in this situation but transferred to others.
Supergirl derisively talks of Clark's 'duty and obligation', feelings drilled into his head. And then she yells about how Clark worked towards destroying Krypton again (in Krypton Returns) despite knowing that Krypton's existence was unraveling the universe.
As I said above, I want Supergirl to see the best in people, to want to help people,and to learn lessons on how to do it right ... the hero on a journey. So this set of panels, flashing into anger over Kal who has done nothing but leave her alone as she requested, just seems off. I suppose it adds to why a Red Lantern ring would choose her.
Again, I would be much more upset about this is the Red Lantern story had no apparent ending. This isn't Supergirl.
Veritas offers to be Supergirl's friend. But I am so wary about her. That line read more like 'you can be my test subject' rather than an extended amicable hand. And here, Veritas talks about being interested in lots of things including extra-terrestrials.
I am not convinced that all her science is done for the betterment of the world or humanity. There is something shady about this.
Now I have really glossed over Lobo's part in this story because he is the least interesting part. It turns out he was faking his death, revives himself, and goes after Veritas. He takes out Supergirl with hypersonics, forcing Shay to run for her life through the Block.
First Veritas turns on a 'fusion globe' to flash-burn Lobo.
But then she runs into 'Xenocontainment Module 5'. Hmmm ... is this a prison? A zoo? Natural habitat for something she is studying? This looks like a Escher style labyrinth ... Hellish.
And she asks whatever is housed here to help defend her.
The tone of the conversation makes it sound like the being in this 'containment unit' is being held against its will. Again, the feel of malevolence under the shroud of 'advancing science' is strong. Veritas isn't a wholly good person. And maybe that is another brick in Kara's wall of anger. Even this person who seemingly wants to help her is really hoping to use her.
And then we see who is being housed there ... Blaze.
Blaze was the demon sister of Lord Satanus in Superman lore. A true denizen of Hell. Last time I saw her was in Reign In Hell. Surely she isn't being held in the Block willingly. Maybe the 'phase' of the place crosses dimensions? Either way, it furthers my thoughts of Veritas' character.
I love Cinar's design of Blaze, huge, gangly, powerful, but with the classic helmet shrouding her face with huge horns. Perfect re-imagining.
Lastly, this is such a perfect addition for Supergirl's rogues gallery I am surprised it hasn't been done before. It is a great idea.
But Blaze doesn't need to get involved. Before Blaze can engage with Lobo, Supergirl, revitalized by the 'yellow fusion globe' that Veritas ignited, shows up and she is ... not surprisingly ... angry. I suppose I should have guessed that the 'yellow fusion globe' would help Kara. Those words basically describe a yellow sun.
And, mega-charged, Supergirl talks about killing Lobo on purpose this time.
Okay, there is no stopping this train. Supergirl is going to be a Red Lantern soon. And this story does its best to show just how much Kara has bottled up inside her. As I have said before, I am more easily able to deal with this stuff knowing that the Red Lantern arc seems to be relatively short. If we didn't know when Red Daughter was ending, if I didn't see a 'normal' Supergirl on the cover of the JLU, I probably would be wailing and gnashing my teeth.
And with Blaze and Lobo and Veritas all still active at this cliff-hanger ending, we probably have to wrap things up here before she dons the ring. I wonder if the last page of next issue is the ring arriving.
Despite the rage aspect of the story, there is so much to like in this issue. The increasing details of Veritas' life and her home make her more 3-dimensional. I think she is going to end up heading down the evil road. And Blaze is just an inspired addition to the Supergirl mythos.
Add to those story elements Yildiray Cinar's beautiful art. From the Blaze design, to the expressive nature of Supergirl, to this last power pose splash, this book is just great. And the perspective panel of the Block with tiny Supergirl and Veritas was slick.