I am concluding my look back at time 'Supergirl met Supergirl' with Supergirl #18, the penultimate issue of the uneven Joe Kelly run on the book. I have been dreading this review because I have pretty strong feelings about this back issue. As a long time Supergirl fan, I felt that Joe Kelly was deriding me. But I also felt that Kelly got the whole thing wrong, so his derision, his scornful look at Supergirl fans was off the mark ... making it that much worse.
You see, many many people who drop in on this site and read my problems with a dark Supergirl seem to think that I want a super-sweet, super-innocent, super-perfect Kara smiling her way through life and never having a care.
And that is simply not true. In fact, as I have said a million times before, it is Supergirl's youth and inexperience, her growing into the role of a hero, her failing and picking herself up and trying again that made me fall in love with the character to begin with. She is striving to be something more. And she has passion and drive. She will do whatever she needs to do to help. But she is an optimist ... and a young hero. She wants to do as much good as she can.
I could not say that about Kelly's Supergirl. This was someone who was trained to kill Kal-El, who gunned down her high school with her father, who came to Earth and began hitting the bars and clubs, sold Kryptonian tech to Batman to set herself up for an easy life, and tried to not be a hero at all. And that was simply unacceptable in my mind.
Many Supergirl fans complained about this direction of a dark, jaded, petulant Supergirl. Those few who liked the direction said that the complainers were 'old fans' who wanted stories similar to the early 60s Supergirl ... the saccharin adventures of a young girl helping orphans and quaking in Superman's shadows. But that wasn't true. We simply wanted a heroic Supergirl.
It amazes me how history repeats itself. Because now we are having the same argument about the new Supergirl. . DC wants a dark Supergirl. Supergirl fans want a heroic Supergirl. And again, we fans are looked at scornfully as being anachronisms.
We'll start with the cover, a riff of the other time 'Supergirl met Supergirl' in this book, when Kara met the Dark Supergirl made by exposing Supergirl to Black Kryptonite.
At this point in the book, Zor-El was on Earth. He and Kara were dealing with Phantom Zone spirits possessing people. Supergirl was bleeding crystals, fighting normal people, and generally confused about what was happening. And now she was faced with another Supergirl, dressed in a more classic costume.
It isn't surprising that Kelly calls the story 'Little Miss Perfect.' I think this other Supergirl is his perception of what Supergirl fans wanted to see in the book. So we get this vapid, ever-smiling, overly optimistic, overly sweet, caricature of Supergirl.
I can't think it is a good idea to taunt the fans of your character. I was pretty angry after this issue.
This smiling mockery laughs her way through a fight with the 'real' Kara. But she does point out some of the problems with this version of Supergirl. She did try to kill Superman for a chunk of time in the book.
But ... again ... this other Supergirl is so over-the-top in the other direction. Did Kelly think people really wanted that?
The battle heads through the city and the current Supergirl keeps trying to deal with the possessed humans. But things seems off. She sees people who aren't there.
Here we see Kelly's misinterpretation again. This Supergirl 'does the right thing all the time and does it with a smile'. Yes, I want my Supergirl to *try* to do the right thing all the time. I would rather her try to save people instead of complaining that a disaster interrupted her rave. I don't want Supergirl using a 'tight t-shirt' to get herself into a bar. I don't want her leaning over a pool table, teasing guys in their 20's about her 'nice 'S''.
Look at two of the more popular runs on Supergirl - Peter David's and Sterling Gates'. Were those Supergirl's constantly smiling? Always getting everything right?
This venom about Supergirl fans wanting a perfect Supergirl is wrong ... but Kelly keeps jabbing.
Crying alone in bed.
And then Kelly drops the boom. This has to be sarcasm. The fake sweet Supergirl says 'Supergirl is happy. I'm fiery! I'm inspirational! People look to Supergirl to FORGET their problems, to see someone who can teach them to do it better. Who wants a Supergirl with the same problems they have? It just doesn't make sense."
Kelly is saying that a young woman striving to be better, trying to inspire ... is unrelatable, a joke.
Does that mean he is saying that girls reading this Supergirl should act like her? Avoid her problem? Sneak into bars? Not be a hero?
Is he saying that the PAD Linda Danvers didn't have problems?
Didn't we see Gates and Igle show us a Supergirl dealing with adolescent problems but still trying to do what was right?
These pages irked me. If being a hero is so disconnected from reality, why write these books?
And it amazes me that this is the guy involved with Ben10!
And more perfection talk. More misunderstanding of what Supergirl is.
This phony Supergirl says she is 'perfect, not ugly, not frightened, not selfish ... a good girl blessed with the same disposition as her cousin.'
The Supergirl I want isn't selfish ... that is true. But I don't want a perfect Supergirl, I want a girl with a different take on justice than Superman ... but striving to be as heroic as her cousin. And she is an optimist, seeing the best in people.
If this 'phony Supergirl' is Kelly's response to the complaints, what does he want? Does he want a frightened, selfish, ugly bad girl??
Isn't there a Supergirl in the middle of these two extremes??
After the verbal beatdown, the perfect Supergirl asks the 'real' Supergirl to step aside.
And amazingly, she does, allowing the good girl Supergirl to 'absorb' her.
But it is a fake out. Once 'inside' the 'perfect' Supergirl, the current Supergirl shatters her way out.
Supergirl calls herself a crazy chick! Ugh.
And then she says all the things I like about Supergirl. 'I make mistakes all the time. But I get myself up. I try to do better. I always try again.' Hey ... that sounds like the Supergirl I would read.
But I want that attitude in a different person. I want her to be striving to do good, to be a hero, to help. This Supergirl rarely did that. What did she fail at? Underage drinking and angst?
The Monitor shows up, chastises his herald, and tells Supergirl she does belong. Amazingly, this could have been a reset card for Kelly. He could have made everything ... the crystal blood, the kill Kal-El memories, the Phantom Zone ghosts ... all of it could have been Monitor hijinks. Instead, Kelly says that all that stuff is indeed true. Supergirl still has to deal with it.
Thankfully, Kelly's run only had one more issue. This issue made me think he had absolutely no understanding of the Supergirl character or her fandom. He basically ridiculed her fans with this empty shell of Kara this whole issue, not understanding what it was we wanted to see and mocking us anyways.
And so ends my look back at issues where 'Supergirl met Supergirl'. Sorry to end on a sour note.
Overall grade: D-