Friday, January 24, 2014

Review: Supergirl #27

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.

So we are moving towards a new Supergirl.

Overall grade: B+/B


Thomas Hayes said...

I was wondering what you'd think of that final page, Anj. That dialogue is not what we really want to hear from her, in an ideal world! I do think this issue's progression made me think it made some sense and wasn't massively out of character. This Lobo is a brute and a bully and I'm not shocked she's angry at him after the state her mind was already in. I wouldn't want to be him right now...

It seems to be implied in the early part of the issue that the recharging of Kara by the Sun from a depowered state makes her powers difficult to control and by extension, perhaps her state of mind too. I like this because it helps to setup the final scene after the fusion orb (and Shay probably knows this so she was taking a big risk... or didn't care) but also because this is now an effect we've seen all three New52 Kryptonians experience somewhat - Superman in SM/WW, Power Girl in Worlds' Finest. Superman was scared of himself in SM/WW 3, Power Girl described coming down from it as being like crashing after coffee IIRC, and now it looks like Supergirl's charged up so much she's about to pop like the cork on a bottle of champagne.

Great art in this issue. Good all around from Cinar and lovely colours by Brown, but there are three art choices I particularly liked. One is Lobo's crossed fingers when he's 'dead' - that's cheeky.

Then there's the fusion orb scene with Kara - it seems almost peaceful and she looks a little angelic in it. Contrast that with how Blaze's 'home' looks. It does look like hell, and I'd bet you my hat that the majority of next issue's action, including the main thing we're all anticipating, takes place there. Yeah, I can spot symbolism when I see it ;)

Anj said...

Thanks for the great comments. I missed Lobo's crossed fingers. Nice.

I do wonder if 'yellow sun fluctuations' will be this Supergirl's 'Kryptonite poisoning' - an excuse to explain stuff away.

Certainly the idea of being brimming with white hot energy sort of resonates with rage and anger. Hot-headed as it were.

And the idea of descending into Hell as part of this road to Red Lanterns makes metaphorical sense.

Overall still a good issue.

Martin Gray said...

Yes indeed, this is a very good issue, I cannot wait to see what Bedard has for us when he's unshackled from other writers' storylines.

And great spot as regards Veritas and Baron Winters.

I reckon you're right, Kara will leave her rage behind with the Red Lanterns, perhaps in the shape of an S-symbol ring. And as for that tricky problem of Red Lanterns dying if they no longer embrace rage, perhaps Kara's already having died will provide a convenient out.

Yota said...

So, in my review ( if anybody's interested), I touched on some of the same things, but I really don't see an all consuming rage in this Kara. I see anger and sadness and brattiness, but I swear if she doesn't seem almost schizophrenic at times! I'd think that was a bigger concern than anything! Plus, I doubt that the Red Lantern arc with only be three issues, sorry. I think we've got to settle in for at least half a year...

Martin Gray said...

Oh, another member of the Legion of Supergirl Reviewers. I'm off to read yours now, Yota. And here's mine!

(Hope the plug is OK, Anj! Let's plug you on mine...)

Anonymous said...

Wow! Talk about a name out of the past, I haven't seen Blaze since the Blaze-Satanus War which took place during the Matrix Supergirl era.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments and certainly don't mind cross-posting/plugging. I love to hear all the views!

Yota, I do agree there is a schizophrenic feel to Kara's moods. I wonder if that will play into the cure. That somehow she is addled ...maybe by power fluctuations?

And sadness is there no doubt. I really think she is angry at herself a bit.

Lastly, great point Mart about the 'death clause'.

It really reads like a 'kryptonite poisoning' explanation is being formed here.

Anonymous said...

Another month another SG comic where Kara get crazy angry, acts on impulse, makes bad decisions and whines...We are now 27 months into this mishaugas...and I think I'm not gonna make it to #28.


Things change.


ealperin said...

Blaze? How interesting... I hope there's going to be some sort of Linda Davers reference, later in the series.

By the way, any chance Blaze would be the "Buzz" of this Supergirl's downward's spiral, later on, like what happened with Linda Danvers Supergirl, who then became her own hero, in her own right?

Just a thought.

Anj said...

As much as I wish Linda was going to come back, I just don't think its gonna happen.

And Blaze leading Kara down farther is an interesting idea.

ealperin said...

Found out that the writer doesn't have plans to bring Linda in-yet.


Oh, thanks!

I've been simmering on that thought!