Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: Supergirl #33

Supergirl #33 came out this week, the conclusion of the Red Daughter storyline and the beginning of a 'new' more heroic more likable Supergirl.

Here's the bottom line. I very much liked Red Daughter. There ... I said it. You can quote me. Because in the end, this arc did what Charles Soule and Tony Bedard said it was going to do. It was a transformative story, a redemption tale, where the grim, angry, angsty loner Kara was burned away to reveal something more classic, something more worthy of the moniker Supergirl.

Now do I like that in the 3 years of the New 52 that Supergirl was so distorted that it actually made some sort of sense that a Red Lantern ring would find her? No ... no I do not.

But once again, after another failed experiment ... ANOTHER attempt at making Supergirl a dark and brooding character, DC realized that a bitter Kara does not work, that not all their books can be painted with the same cynical brush, not all characters work as disaffected anti-heroes filled with hate and feared and loathed by the public.

If it took some sort of cathartic arc like Red Daughter to return a true Supergirl to the racks, then I applaud it. And I have to applaud Charles Soule and Tony Bedard because ironically, Kara sounded the most like Kara while wearing that red mask. And here, in this issue, she sounds truly classic! It is refreshing!

Art this issue is split between regular artist Emanuela Lupacchino and Jeff Johnson. Their styles mesh well and this issue is filled with wild moments, from straight up fights to terrible body horror to stellar storms and it all shines.

In the Kryptonite haze over Earth (from the K-bomb/Metallo over in Doomed), Supergirl has to rely on rage and the red ring to battle. Her cells are dying.

There are so many nice little flourishes in the book as Supergirl fights World Killer 1. Bedard goes through a nice progression of recognizing the rough parts of this Kara's past, showing how much she has grown, and finally getting her to embrace life.

And it is these moments that I adored in this book.

So as the World Killer symbiote tries to overwhelm her and take control of her body, she comments on how violated she feels, even worse than how she felt with H'El!

And even more good Kara moments.

WK-1 takes the fights to the crowded city streets of Rio de Janeiro, battering through homes and causing property damage.

I love Supergirl's response to this too. She worries about the people surrounding them and how one false move or blast will kill innocents.

Imagine how different this sentiment is from the Supergirl that called Earth 'a ball of mud and sweat' and thought about blowing up Earth to save Krypton.

Nice character progression!

To show Kara he means business, he takes over a human who literally melts before Supergirl's eyes. The energy of WK-1 is too much for the average human. When he fries one, he jumps into another. And he is pretty determined to merge with Supergirl. He keeps talking about becoming one with Supergirl. It is borderline creepy. '

I love how Kara is nauseated by his bizarre words. That is so different than the gullible swooning Kara who fell for the nonsense that H'El said.

And then to save this man, Supergirl promises to give herself up.

Imagine that. Supergirl is so worried for this anonymous human that she would sacrifice herself.

Again, amazing growth. Yes we saw some of this sentiment throughout the title but it wasn't consistent and it wasn't this dramatic.

Ahh ... but this is also a crafty Supergirl. She isn't thinking with just her fists. She allows WK-1 to start to sink into her body. But then she flies directly into the Kryptonite cloud at ground zero. This weakens both of them (he is linked to her) but with the ring she is able to grab him and fly off into space, warping to the sun.

The idea of weakening herself to weaken while he is linked to her again shows some sacrifice from her.

Unfortunately, the World Killer is still incredibly powerful.

The only way Kara can think of stopping him from taking her over is to truly sacrifice herself. And so she removes the Red Ring, a move that has been fatal to all before her. She is dying here. The World Killer won't take her failing body and instead dumps her in the sun. Besides, he can always take over Superman, an idea he plucked when he merged minds with Kara.

There is so much to like here. She sacrifices herself to try to save the world from this threat. She actually worries about Kal, asking for his forgiveness. And I can't help but think that this panel is somehow a sideways homage to the cover of Crisis on Infinite Earth #7. Nice subtle homage without being obvious.

This all works. This is who Kara should be. Fierce in battle. Fighting injustice. Thinking of others. Learning. Heroic.

Shockingly ... I guess ... dumping a Kryptonian into a yellow sun isn't an effective way to kill them or dispose of their bodies.

Rejuvenated by a solar shock to the system, Kara emerges from the sun ... cured and stronger than ever.

And then this fantastic moment of self-revelation.

Her mind is free of all the rage and confusion! That's right ... no more rage. No more angst. No more nonsense.

And the World Killer, a mockery of life gets vaporized.


The story ends with a glorious moment of victory.

A heroic pose, near splash page. And then a determined Supergirl goes to start a new life. Mop up the Diasporans. This is just a beautiful page by Lupacchino.

And make a life for herself on Earth!!

Finally .... FINALLY ... after 33 issues, I get the sense that I am reading a true Supergirl comic!

There is so much to love about this issue but I highly recommend you go out, read it, and rejoice. This was a sort of hero's journey writ small. This mini-journey ends with Kara in a very different place, her past behind her, trying to move forward in her new life.

And I am frankly thrilled to read it.

Supergirl #34 is the beginning of a new era in Kara's life. One where she accepts Earth and strives to be a hero. One where she makes a new life for herself in her new home.

Sorta sounds like history repeating itself.

Remember this Supergirl #34? Also a turning point.

Maybe DC will finally learn their lesson!

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

Wonderful review, you make so many great points. Without doubt, this is the best New 52 yet. I can't wait to see where she goes next.

Martin Gray said...

PS Does your silence as regards the 'epilogue' speak volumes?

Anonymous said...

I don't know. We've seen Kara save people plenty of times before this story arc.
Also, is anyone scared of a "Born Again" effect? If this becomes the most popular and well-known Supergirl storyline in this continuity will future writers attempt to recreate it over and over again?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review Anj, now I REALLY can't wait to pick up this issue!

> Also, is anyone scared of a "Born Again" effect? If this becomes the most popular and well-known Supergirl storyline
> in this continuity will future writers attempt to recreate it over and over again?

> Remember this Supergirl #34? Also a turning point.
> Maybe DC will finally learn their lesson!

Done right, the story of redemption works. Taking 30+ issues to figure it out twice in a now? Well, let's just say
that's why I don't work sales in real life...

For now, just hoping that any further backwards steps are well and truly behind us as Supergirl fans.

Anonymous said...

...also I see I'm not alone in twigging to the fact that we're at the same point issue-wise pre-New 52 where things
fell to their worst / started to pick up. I've my fingers crossed things only get better from here rather than worse.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad for you and other Supergirl fans that this issue brings back the classic Supergirl fans know and love. It's ironic that it took a rage fuelled Red Lantern turn of events to bring back Supergirl's real character. Excellent review and points made as well Anj, DC are finally learning to pick themselves up again.

Anj said...

Thanks for all the comments!

Mart, this is the best she has sounded! So glad to see this turn. And yeah, I don't need 2 pages of Gen 13 here.

I suppose I might try the inevitable book.

Anj said...

Anon said:
I don't know. We've seen Kara save people plenty of times before this story arc.

I say somewhere in the review that we have seen in it before. But we have also seen the opposite as well. This was the most consistent heroic Kara we have seen.

I also don't like seeing heroes deconstructed and reconstructed over and over. Daredevil does come to mind.

Anj said...

Different Anon, I do think there is a weird karma that once again it took 33 issues to revamp things.

Looking back at the last incarnation, I thought Kelly Puckett's arc wasn't all bad - just as in this incarnation there have been some nice moments.

But I am glad that we are finally looking forward to something brighter.

Anonymous said...

I'll play devil's advocate was a mediocre issue notable that at long last Kara gave up her inexplicable mask and castoff Ms Marvel costume and went back to the red & blue (with that awful quasi fascistic s-icon).
The whole "removing the red ring is FATAL meme" got disposed off awfully quickly dispersed in a cloud of technobabble..and Supergirl is still endlessly talking and thinking to herself...that aspect makes the book maddening to read it should be titled "Alone in My Head Starring Supergirl".
But at least she might be back to where she SHOULD HAVE BEEN thirty plus issues yay.


Anj said...

Well John, 2 years of 'crystal hell, kill Kal-El' were explained away with Kryptonite poisoning.

So long as it is behind us, I can look past the explanations.

And yes, there was a lot of internal monologue but it added so much to her actions, letting us know her motivations. I do hope that a supporting cast will be here to allow truer conversations.

But the bottom line ... as you say ... is 'yay!'

spaPolaris117 said...

IT was a amazing issue but Anj , you forgot to put the grade.

Anj said...

Can't believe I forgot the grade!


Kim said...

"The whole "removing the red ring is FATAL meme" got disposed off awfully quickly dispersed in a cloud of technobabble"

I disagree, hyperpowering kryptonians via suns has been long established. Was it "Our World's At War" which had the "sun-dipped" Superman who basically became uber-super? And then in Waid's Brave & Bold, 3 yellow suns supercharged Kara. And there is a SA story where a blue sun (= the most energetic sun-type) gave pa Kent superman-like powers and made Superman... more Superman-y. I think this was a good idea with lots of precedent. And I am sure I missed several stories with the same theme.

Also, the issue was good overall, and I like the cover *a lot*. It makes me think of Lord of the Rings. Only Kara did what Frodo lacked the willpower to do :)

John said...

Yes, a great issue and another great review. One thing that grabbed my attention was Kara's words when she emerged from the Sun: "... this insignificant yellow star has been the wellspring of my power ever since father sent me here". Is she beginning to realize that her father's decision to send her to Earth was based on sound reasoning that she hasn't really appreciated until now? Just a thought.

Bartiemus said...

Finally Supergirl can move past her grief and rage!

It seems like DC is waking up to the fact that not all the books need to be dark and gritty all the time.

The new direction for Batgirl and Gotham Academy seem to indicate as such.

But really looking forward to the future only the doomed tie in to make it through next.

JT SG FAN said...

OMG this issue was awesome!

Kara shows off how clever she is, how much she's grown, and acts like the Supergirl we all know she can be! Plus the image of her coming out of the Sun, OMG that might be my favorite image of Nu52 Kara yet! She's so heroic by the end of this book, do I dare hope that we've hit a turning point? Please oh pretty please :)

Great review Anj!

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I will miss the Red Lantern uniform. I hope they make a figure soon. Now i am wishing for an epilogue chapter.

Anj said...

Thanks for continued discussion!

John - nice pick up on the line about Zor-El, something I glossed over. I wonder if that sentiment will be carried over to the Cyborg storyline.

Kim - nice LOTR pick up. It is very Frodo!

Bartiemus - the revamp of Batgirl and the addition of Gotham Academy is fascinating. I think Supergirl will still be the most edgy of the young heroes. But hopefully not overwhelmingly dark as we have seen earlier.

And Anon, I'd love an RL SG figure too!