Saturday, February 22, 2014

Supergirl Sanctuary Trade: Mahmud Asrar's Cover Sketches

The latest trade collection of the current Supergirl title came out last week, collecting Supergirl #13-#20.

It is something of an uneven mix. We have the battle with Tycho in Sanctuary. We have three issues of H'El on Earth. And then the crossover with Power Girl.

I am assuming that DC realized that a H'El on Earth trade in and of itself would not sell. But reading three separate chapters in this trade read a bit disjointed.

I will say, reading all these issues in a row, you really get the sense that Mike Johnson was trying to turn the corner with Kara, have her become more invested with Earth, and become a more sympathetic character. The Michael Alan Nelson Power Girl issues were the high point of his run (and maybe the best issues of this title). And the book is mostly done by Mahmud Asrar making me re-realize just how great his art was on this book.

The end of the trade is a great treat for fans of the book and Asrar as we get to see some of the concept art he had for covers and inside pages. As a long time fan, I love these 'behind the scenes' peeks at production. I include just a sample.

Here are the concept covers for Supergirl #14. The picture to the left is a sort of more actualized sketch of the ultimate cover.

But it is the thumbnails on the right that I find fascinating. The first one is clearly the model for the final cover. But the others are so interesting. The second one, with Superboy slumped getting a beatdown is wild.

I have to assume that this was an idea for Supergirl #17, the issue of H'El on Earth where Kara and Diana squared off. The final cover is a shot of Wonder Woman bracing herself as we see her from Supergirl's POV.

But I think I would have liked this one even more. That is a powerful image of Wonder Woman, calmly getting ready to parry the incoming attack of the streaking Supergirl. I wonder if the fact that Supergirl's costume would have a reverse S (as it is a reflection) would  have put off DC. Still ... fantastic.

But this was my favorite page. You might recall that the original cover solicited for Supergirl #18 was one of her crushing the Earth, a dark version of All Star Superman #10. I thought it was terrible and was glad to see it never used. The top left is the thumb nail of it.

So I was fascinated to see these other versions of the cover. I love the one on the top right. It works so much better, Kara being weighed down by the world. She is being crushed by it, struggling with it. This makes her more sympathetic and represented the tone Mike Johnson had much more than the violent one.

And the bottom right also works. The tone of the book at this point was one of grief and sadness. So this one, sitting in an exhausted and defeated pose, shows that feeling of being lost. It even had the faint feeling of All-Star Superman #1. Instead of sitting on a cloud like an angel, looking happy ... she is slumped on Earth looking sad.

Anyways, I am glad that DC included these. I love extras in trades I buy.


lordciaran said...

Hey Anj. First Time commenter here. I have always been interested in Super girl and one of my all time favorite moments in comics is her battle with the Anti Monitor in crisis. I have really being enjoying the Super girl book in the new 52 which I have been collecting in trades now since the new52.

I have to ask. Does Super girl really become that badly written in H'el on Earth and does it make this trade weaker then volume 1 and 2, because that is a shame since I really enjoyed Mike Johnson's work on the book and I have read issue 19 do to the whole being a big Power girl fan as well, so i know that that story is meant to be good.

Also going to say this now. Super Girl has been the best book in the superman family line so far for me. I have to care for Kara quite deeply since her Cousin has become such a useless tool and his clone is such a boring pain in the ass with no character whats so ever.

Lord knows she has become the last good link in the superman family for a guy who once considered Superman and all his side characters and villain's were my favorite characters in comics but lately Its been very hard to be a superman fan especially after the new 52 take on the guy and the new movie. (No offence if you enjoyed the film by the way. If you did you have every right and I am happy you enjoyed it. If not then fair enough you might see where I am coming from.))

Anyway Love the Blog. I admit I am a new fan only been reading for a few weeks now. Think your a great writer and love your work. Look forward to more of your work.

Anj said...

Thanks for stopping by and for the compliments.

I think Supergirl for the most part is treated pretty shabbily in both HEl on Earth and Krypton Returns. But she shines the most, and has her best moments, in the Johnson issues. So buying this trade will probably show you the best.

As for Superman, he has shined in Unchained and recently in Action. And I loved Morrison's run (no big surprise if you know me).

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that you thought H'el on Earth wasn't a very good run! It was my favourite Supergirl arc of the DCnU, I really though it emphasized her youth and hopeless desire to connect with her family, culture, and planet; I found H'el to be an interesting, if melodramatic, antagonist, and a good mirror to Superman. Superman was so disconnected and alien from a human perspective, whereas, to Kara, H'el was so disconnected and alien from a Kryptonian perspective--powers never seen before, physically different, flying. But she could see past that because he was from Krypton. I found that she made the right choices it the end, too, which is always nice. And, man, Asrar was such a fantastic artist, complimented nicely by Kenneth Rocafort (one of my favourite artists, although his run on Superman was undermined by the writing of the character) and his epic shots of the Fortress of Solitude and Kara.
I collected the cross-over piecemeal in comic form, so I don't need the trade, but thanks for posting the add-on art. Always fun.
PS If these posts go on too long or are too boring please let me know!

Anj said...

Not too long at all.

I thought she fell for H'El way to easily, she fought Kal way too quickly, and then tried to kill H'El.

Otherwise, she was great! :/

I think Lobdell set Superboy up to be the hero and Supergirl to be the patsy.

I am glad all things H'El seem to be behind us.

Anonymous said...

It does seem to be behind us, at least.
I did feel as if it was moving quickly, but I often find that to be an issue in the comics genre overall. But then again, maybe I'm not reading the better paced comics…:/
Supergirl was having a rough time, that's for sure, but I liked the direction of H'El as an antagonist/tragic love right up until the aftereffects in "Krypton Returns" (such a bad run…just…no) when, very much so, Lobdell established that "Superboy" was the hero and Kara was the patsy. So annoying.