Friday, March 21, 2014

Review: Supergirl #29

I don't know if I will ever agree with DC's decision to make Supergirl a Red Lantern or the fact that her story was written in the New 52 such that a Red Lantern ring would actually seek her out.

But writer Tony Bedard has promised to make this Red Lantern storyline be a transformative arc, a way to make Supergirl be more likable and relatable. I guess the lower fall, the higher you climb when redemption occurs.

Supergirl #29 was the second part of Red Daughter arc and, in the end, was a very good issue. Part of that assessment includes that this is a redemption story leading to newer more heroic Kara. I reserve the right to retrospectively pan this if the mindless fire-spewing Red Lantern becomes the long term reality.

But it is clear that Bedard at least sees something other than angst and isolation in Kara. In flashbacks we see her smiling, laughing, and being a good friend. While wearing the ring, she seems to be fighting its influence on her. Bedard sets up Siobhan as a nice foil, a good friend for Supergirl in the future, both of them struggling with the pressures of their lives.

And, in the most excellent portion of this issue, Bedard sets up some subplots! Three of them!!!! Showing he actually has a long term plan with the character! Like he wants to stick around and include elements that usually mark a successful book - hooks for the future and a supporting cast! That is the part of the issue I liked the most!

Sadly this is the last issue for artist Yildiray Cinar. His art has really shined in this book. While the action sequences here are great, I think the quiet scenes, the flashbacks, are were his art sparkles. There is nice expressive work there.

Last issue Supergirl first donned the Red Lantern ring and Siobhan ran out to investigate.

Bedard opens up the book by flashing back to the times when Kara was living with Siobhan, before Kryptonite poisoning, self-exile into space, death at the hands of Cyborg Superman, reconstruction, hoping the universe implodes so Krypton can live, etc. Yes, Supergirl has had very very bad things happen to her for 2 years of stories.

But look at this!

In this flashback, Supergirl tries to toast a marshmallow with her heat vision but burns it. She and Siobhan laugh like old friends! I think this may be the first time I have seen Supergirl smile and laugh since the New 52!

But it shows that Kara isn't so isolated, alien, angry that she can't form friendships, relationships.

I loved this scene for showing a personable Supergirl, a human Kara.

As I said above, Siobhan is a nice character reflection of Supergirl. She is possessed with the demonic Silver Banshee curse of her family, tempted to give in to her dark side, and pretty much alone. Supergirl's parents weren't exactly a loving supportive group. She is also alone. And she also has the whole anger/alienation/isolated thing going on.

It is pretty much laid out on the table by Bedard. Siobhan says they are each battling their demons.

But I like how Supergirl seems to be struggling a bit here. Sure she says she wants to hurt things, but she isn't exactly lashing out here. She's holding back a bit.

Subplot #1: Blaze is free in the Block and has probably escaped. I like this tall, gaunt, gangly Blaze. And she simply says 'Blaze Begins'. I like it. Ominous in its brevity. She turns into a gaseous form and takes off.

Just how big is the staff in the block. That's a whole lot of Shay Veritas's walking around.

If they all live there, is it Chez Veritas?

Eventually Siobhan realizes she needs to intercede as the Banshee to keep Supergirl from killing her or anyone else around her.

Hmmm ... Siobhan, who has many reasons to be jaded, and has a demonic source of power, is somehow able to realize what is right to do and be a hero.

Again, some nice nods to Supergirl here. Even the words of being adrift in power, drowning in it is evocative of the Red Lantern experience, drowning in the sea of blood. If she gives in, only the banshee will exist.

I really like Siobhan here, more than I did in her first appearance.

Subplot #2: Alexa, Siobhan's roommate isn't an innocent young woman. She has some ulterior motives. It seems she knew Siobhan was the Banshee and has been watching her.

She contacts someone named Meg meaning she isn't acting alone.

While Siobhan seems good, her powers are evil. Maybe Alexa is a hero in her own way.

Who is she? Some member of Siobhan's clan? Part of a group that hunts demons?

I will admit when we first met her I wondered if she would be a new incarnation of Roxy Spaulding. We already have Caitlin Fairchild in the New 52. Why not Freefall?

Then I thought, given the magical bend, maybe she was some Equestria Girl style Twilight Sparkle.

Okay, the second one is a joke.

Wisely, the Banshee uses her powers to teleport the two away from the city. In fact, as the Banshee is magical, her attacks are capable of holding Kara at bay. Of course, I think that he fact Supergirl is out of control with rage makes her an easier opponent.

I do like how the Banshee spirit keeps promising  Siobhan greater power, trying seduce her into giving in. Siobhan certainly is showing some strength of spirit to be able to hold this thing at bay. The lure of the Banshee power is similar to lure of the Red Ring.

I do think that Bedard is setting up Siobhan to be a good friend and sounding board for Kara.

We then flashback again to when the two were roommates.

Much like the earlier scene with Kara laughing, I loved this where she says she cleaned up the apartment.

Such a mundane little thing but it shows she is a good friend to Siobhan. It also isn't something that someone who hates the world and everyone/everything in it would do. These were two small scenes that humanize Supergirl, make her more likable immediately. It is like Bedard is starting to scrape off the angry, bitter shell that Supergirl has been encased in for the last 3 years.

This has to be a good omen.

Supergirl is shown to be fighting the influence of the ring throughout this issue, much like she seemed to be in the Green Lantern/Red Lantern flip issue.

Here she grunts that she can't stop the red ring but she seems to be in pain, struggling. And, obviously, in the end, the ring wins out.

Siobhan tells Supergirl that what she is raging against isn't on Earth so Kara streaks into space, bringing us to the present.

As I said, I wish things never got this low for this character. I wish DC had seen the good of this character as she was in the last several years of that DCU, as a leader in her generation of heroes, as the muscle in the JLA.

I just hope from this fire, a new Kara emerges.

But before the issue closes, Bedard starts one more plot thread. That's three plots bubbling away now!

Subplot #3: We see the first WorldKiller out in space, with an army, killing worlds. Nice design here, demonic.

So overall, this was a good character issue for this Red Daughter intro. We learn a lot about the internal struggle that Siobhan fights daily with the Banshee within. We see Supergirl dealing with similar struggles but having let them consume her. At least Kara is trying to maintain control.

We also have Bedard setting the table for future arcs - Blaze, the first WorldKiller, and Siobhan's roommate. Hopefully DC will let Bedard stay on the book long enough to bring about the changes he wants and the stories he is planning.

But the big win were the glimpses into the recent past of Supergirl, cleaning the apartment and laughing with her friend. We simply haven't seen that sort of characterization with Supergirl in the New 52. Tony Bedard has said he wants to rehabilitate Supergirl's character, make her likable and heroic. These scenes were a good way to start the softening of the gruff angsty Supergirl.

And a thanks and goodbye to Yildiray Cinar. Cinar's work was exemplary during his brief stay on the book.

Overall grade: B+


Gear said...

Cinar's art was great here, and Bedard told a very engaging tale. Lots of hints for future plots laid down, some great characterization, there wasn't anything about this as a stand-alone story that wasn't great other than Ragegirl. Unfortunately it's not a stand-alone, it has to carry the last year and a half of the book on its back, and that's a heavy load of bad for even a well crafted story to have to have to deal with. If Bedard, and now Soule as well, can keep telling good stories it might eventually help wash away the bad.

It was really nice to see Siobhan narrate the story and get a feel for her as a character. And the flashbacks to scenes (only a month has passed?) when they lived together were a breath of fresh air. Seeing them as flashbacks rather than as current events in a story reminds me of the opportunities lost when scenes like this could have been part of the story currently being told. I hope we can have more of that in the future, but not as flashbacks.

Can Bedard pull the book out? Can he resuscitate Supergirl as a character and actually make the book readable again? He's got a good start here, this book was a great read. The jury is still out on Kara herself I guess.

Anj said...

Thanks for the comments.

And you are right, having Siobhan narrate was a nice device.

I do hope we get to see these two hang out in the future.

Martin Gray said...

Lovely review of a rather fine issue, I agree, we need Bedard to stick around and continue the rehabilitation Supergirl. I don't doubt he'd like to give Kara a few more smiles.

AndNowInStereo said...

I liked this one a lot, especially because of both flashbacks. Like Gear I was almost shocked it's only been about a month since Kara moved in with SIobhan. That means a month since issue #10! That's a lot of event in a short amount of in-universe time!

Also I wish scenes like the flashbacks had been what Johnson and Green could have actually given us at the time instead of rushing into H'el on Earth.

Anonymous said...

I appreciated Johnson/Asrar's beginnings with Supergirl and imagine that Bedard's flashbacks fit in quite well with the intermediary Silver Banshee and Sanctuary arcs…before things got a little /too/ rage-y.
While I agree that, hopefully, the following arc will provide Supergirl/Kara with a stronger focus on what it means to be a hero (or just to have superpowers, generally speaking), I'm also really looking forward to it! Not just as an interlude (fingers crossed for what comes out on the other side though), but also as a chance for Supergirl to meet Soule's hilarious Red Lanterns. I even bothered to pick up the Red Lantern back issues to prep for this run, which I never do (good job DC).